I have the original Humax Youview box from 2012, supplied as BT branded. I was one of the early adopters where you paid a monthly fee and after 12 months the box was yours. I moved house and eventually changed to TalkTalk. When on BT the box got BT branded updates but once on Talktalk it just got standard updates (I think) - I got the big software update that made it much more responsive.
Recently I noticed that it has Talktalk branded software. If I'd bought it as a retail box I'd be surprised Talktalk could take over it, but maybe they can't distinguish BT from their own - perhaps they identify the same and get the updates from whichever server on provider side.
Anyway, I'm not usre that makes much difference - I don't use the talktalk facilities on it.
Two months ago, mid contract, TalkTalk just added a £4 charge to my bill. I noticed this month and they've cancelled it and refunded. Is this something they're trying with everyone with their own box attached? Is it possible my young son managed to initiate it by trying to access talktalk TV from the box? They tried to pass it off that they were charging everyone but when I pointed out I had not accepted any contract for the service they refunded.
They're currently trying to get me to lock in for another 2 years with a mid contract renewal at the same £25 price. It's put me off wanting to have much to do with them. I only need fibre broadband and landline.
It doesn't matter where your YouView box originates from, if it is connected to a TalkTalk line it will show the TalkTalk interface, similarly if you were with BT. And it doesn't matter whether you use any TalkTalk services, or not.
TalkTalk introduced a £4 TV fee some months ago, this was notified to all customers and was widely discussed on these forums. The fee is optional as you have found.
I can't see the connection with your final point to be honest, whether or not you choose to renew and on what terms is entirely up to you. Personally I always look for the best prices TalkTalk advertise generally and then contact the loyalty team directly.
I've been with various ISPs over the last 20 years and can honestly say that the best deals I've had were from TalkTalk, and NO, I have no connection to them other than being a satisfied customer.
True, their customer service centres can be tedious to deal with, but then I found BTs to be far worse, and Sky weren't much better.
It seems to me that I have had the last 9 years with a pretty decent service from TT, though cheaper deals can still look attractive, at least take the time to read their reviews.
How did they decide who to add the £4 charge to? From their point of view I've never had a TV service from them, how do they know I even have a TV - did they stick it on everyone's account.
Without paying the £4 the box should still function as sold - recorder / freeview / on demand apps from BBC/Netflix shouldn't it.