Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Virgin TiVo Files, Part 2: Finding everything and everyone

With normal PVRs, when you wish to find content, you usually have to think first of the channel that content is on.

Want to record Chuck? Ok, sure. What channel is it on? BBC 1? E4? Maybe Living? What day is it on again? Hell, is it even on this week? It might be available via VOD. Might. But where? In Catch-Up or On Demand? You dunno? Oh well, have fun scrolling through the EPG.

Now, to be fair to the good old V+ HD, it can actually find content via a search feature, but it only returns results from VOD. With TiVo, you can decouple channels from the content you love and wish to find, from dozens of linear channels, hours of Video-on-Demand, and even internet content sources.

The screenshot above shows off TiVo's Search screen. As you type in the name of the content you're looking for, TiVo will update its suggestions for content in real-time. The beauty of TiVo is that those suggestions will come from the 14-day EPG (yes, 14 Days!), Catch-Up VOD content and On Demand VOD content, and it will tell you if the content you're looking for is on right now; available from linear channel(s), or available from VOD. It will even tell you if the content is available in HD.

Once the content you love is located, you can, according to the TiVo Premiere Manual:
Schedule a recording or a create a [Series Link] from the Details screen. You can also view upcoming episodes or browse the episode guide, explore details about the cast, learn about other shows that might interest you, or view bonus features.
And the left-hand side of this screen shot from Crave's excellent photo gallery proves that those options will be available for Virgin Media's TiVo (since the software written for Virgin is branched off the TiVo software code tree):

Again, with TiVo, content is decoupled from channels. When TiVo searches for content from linear channels, it doesn't care which channel that content is on. If upcoming episodes of Chuck are on both Living and say, Channel 1, then TiVo displays upcoming Chuck episodes from those and any other channels. If you set up a Series Link, you could record all Chuck episodes from those channels, or even record new episodes only.

TiVo's Search functionality isn't just limited to content, but Actors, Actresses and even Directors. You could search for, say, Yvonne Strahovski, and then see what's content she's been in, like playing the role of Sarah Walker in Chuck for instance. You could even read about Yvonne's career to date.

This image from Crave's TiVo photo-gallery shows off TV content which features Hugh Laurie, after a previous search for House led Crave to this screen:

But wait, there's more. Remember those bonus features mentioned eariler? Well, that's where you'll find any internet content sources which Virgin have added to TiVo, including from the initial launch, YouTube. Any previously entered search keyword is passed to YouTube (and presumely, other future content sources Virgin will add) allowing you to view content related to your keyword, as this search for Friends on YouTube shows:

With TiVo, you can spend less time searching for content and more time actually watching it, and with the next instalment of The Virgin TiVo Files, you'll see that TiVo can find and record content that you like, leaving you with the mere problem of finding the free time to watch it all.

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