Saturday, 26 February 2011

Compare Virgin Media's TiVo to other PVRs

I give you the first version of the Virgin Media TiVo Blog's PVR Comparison document.

I'm sure there's a few things in there which are a) incorrect, b) just daft and b) missing, so, with your feedback, I can improve the document so people can compare TiVo to other PVRs. At the moment those 'other' PVRs are Virgin's V+ HD and Sky's HD 1TB box.

UPDATED: Now contains details for Power consumption, HD Channels, VOD (Pull and Push), Search capabilities, Red button services and more.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A review and screenshots galore for Virgin Media's TiVo

Digital Spy Forums poster annax has posted a very detailed review of you-know-what:
As for the good stuff, well, let's just start by saying that for the last week, all I've been thinking about is "TiVo's coming back!" and ever since the install, I've had a huge grin on my face when watching TV. TiVo just makes you feel better. No matter how many bells and whistles and features, etc, TiVo simply makes TV watching, recording and exploring enjoyable. None of that is lost with this Virgin Media TiVo.
Meanwhile, Cable Forums poster pythagoras has posted several screenshots from using you-know-what.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

New Videos for Virgin Media TiVo; Explore Shows, Tweet away and win a Million pounds on your telly

TivoCentralCoUK have uploaded 3 new videos showing off use of Virgin Media's TiVo. One of the videos shows Exploring shows on Virgin Media's new TiVo, another reveals the addictive-looking Who wants to be a Millionaire game.

The third video below shows off TiVo's Twitter app:

Why we need to wish for better Wishlists from Virgin Media's TiVo

Judging by this discussion thread over at the TiVo Community Forums, the Wishlists feature on Virgin Media's TiVo is lacking a channels filter, resulting in too many programme results from Wishlist searches.

On the Series 1 TiVos, it was possible to filter out channels supplied to you - those channels wouldn't be displayed in the EPG, or show up in Wishlist searches. That functionality has been removed from Virgin's TiVo, due to commercial agreements with UK channel providers.

This means that creating a Wishlist to search for say, 'football' would return results from various radio channels like BBC Radio Five - if you set that Wishlist to automatically record content, then all football content would be recorded from the radio channels - regardless of if you wanted to record football from the radio channels or not.

Likewise, a category Wishlist to locate Sci-Fi programmes would return content Sci-Fi related content from kids channels like CBBC (and potentially auto-record that content too), regardless of if you ever watched that channel.

However, there is hope that Virgin will come to their senses and at least allow us to restrict Wishlist searches to the 'favourites' channels defined by the users. Virgin Staff Member and TiVo Community Forum poster Digital Fanatic has confirmed that:
It would be a good idea to implement [the Favourites channels filter into] the WishList search. This has already been fed back to VM.
There also appears to be issues with specifying negative keywords when used with categories, as noticed by TiVo Community Forum poster mikerr in the same discussion thread.

Lets hope Virgin roll-out out the Wishlist fixes for these issues soon.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Poll Results: 1TB Hard Drive is most desired feature of Virgin Media's TiVo

Voting for the first poll on this blog ended on Thursday after 157 votes (apologies for the crappy display of the poll), and to recap the results:

Which feature of Virgin Media's TiVo are you looking forward to the most?

1TB Hard Drive for recording more content, especially HD
  84 (53%)
  18 (11%)
TiVo Suggestions
  10 (6%)
Search & Browse for Content and related actors
  8 (5%)
Rating shows and movies
  0 (0%)
Extended EPG (including 7 day catch-up)
  13 (8%)
TiVo Apps (including YouTube & other IPTV apps)
  10 (6%)
Mobile & online recordings
  6 (3%)
Better looking user interface
  8 (5%)

That 1TB Hard Drive should be enough to contain 500 hours of standard definition recordings, or around 125 hours of high definition recordings - more if Virgin ever decide to use the more bandwidth efficient MPEG 4 codec for their HD channels instead of MPEG 2.

By comparsion, the 160Gb hard drive in the V+ HD boxes only has enough space for 80 hours of standard definition recordings, and a measly 20 hours of high definition recordings. With 17 HD channels on Virgin's XL pack, that really isn't enough.

Wishlists, TiVo Suggestions, extended EPG and TiVo apps were also highlighted as the most worthwhile features. As for rating shows and movies, I guess people will more interested in watching the content than rating it.

Friday, 18 February 2011

UPDATE: Virgin Media's TiVo could start with you and 999 other XL TV pack customers

It looks like you don't need to wait for one of these to come in the post after all:

...because tonight a page went live on the Virgin Media site which accepts registrations without the Unique reference number which has been printed on the 'It all starts with you' cards.

So, if you haven't received the above card in the post yet, and you fancy a chance of getting your hands on one of "1,000 TiVo boxes which you could enjoy on us for an entire year", then click here, good luck, and ignore the 'thank you' message after registration which assumes your first name is Phil.

You'll also receive an email from Virgin confirming your registration, mine said this:
Thank you for your interest.

We will be in contact by 20th March 2011 if you are one of the lucky ones to receive a TiVo box on us for a year.

Best wishes,

The Virgin Media Team

Thursday, 17 February 2011

50,000 pre-registrations for Virgin Media's TiVo

Virgin's CEO Neil Berkett revealed to (and Dow Jones Newswires) that so far, 50,000 pre-registrations have been received for the next-generation PVR.
Our new TV service, powered by TiVo, will provide a real step change in home entertainment as customers benefit from the unique power of the Virgin Media network. have also revealed their own guide to Virgin's TiVo:
This broadband connection will allow you to browse the web on your TV as well as enjoying a vast array of games and applications, including those that use Adobe Flash technology. The new Virgin TiVo will integrate television and the online world in a way never before seen in the UK.

Gameloft planning to bring games to Virgin Media's TiVo?

Digital gaming publisher Gameloft announced a partnership with Samsung to supply titles for the company's Smart TV range of sets. Gameloft's senior vice president Publishing, Gonzague de Vallois, also revealed (while talking to Pocket-Lint) that their games could be coming to a TiVo near you (or soon to be near you):
It's the same on the set-top boxes. We know the roadmap of the processing power from Intel, and from the chipset guys, and they will catch up - with better experiences. It's going to be very exciting.
Could that include the Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo box, with its Flash 10.1 platform and processing power?
"Yeah, sure."

TiVo talk from Virgin Media's CEO; iPad app is coming; No fear towards potential Blockbuster-Lovefilm apps

In the afterglow of Virgin's impressive 4th Quarter results for 2010, CEO Neil Berkett spoke to PaidContent:UK about the potential impact which TiVo will have on the company and its customers:
In the second half of the year, we’ll start running TiVo applications on remote device. There is a (TiVo) iPad app available today which we will launch in the second half of the year.

[TiVo] will be our middleware in a few years time, It will be the glue that brings the PC, TV and mobile screen all together.

We have no fears about bringing a Blockbuster or a Lovefilm [TiVo app] in to Virgin.
Coming soon to a TiVo near you?
The application and content is the key to the wallet but, in our case, it is not the wallet. It allows us to be completely open versus our competitors, who need to be closed.
By competitors, Berkett means BT and mainly, Sky, who have to push VOD content via copper-line phone wires. No such worries for Virgin who provide a 10mb (well, at least 10mb and maybe 20mb) fibre optic broadband connection for every TiVo box and who these days focus on providing content via their network instead of owning and providing content.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Virgin Media's TiVo: Available for existing customers in late March; New customers from April

Just got this via email from Virgin:

The countdown is on!

A little while ago, you let us know you were interested in our new TV service, Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo®. We’re delighted you’re as excited about the new service as we are! We’re looking forward to bringing it to you as soon as we can. In fact, that’s why we’re getting in touch.

Here's the latest...

The new TiVo service will be available to the general public in the next few months. But you won’t have to wait that long to get your hands on it.

At Virgin Media, our customers come first. That’s why we’d like to offer you the chance to order your TiVo service before it goes on sale to the rest of the Great British public which we expect to be in April. What’s more, we’ll make sure you’re first in the queue to have your service installed, with priority installation, just for Virgin Media customers.

If you’re interested, you don’t need to do a thing. We’ll be in touch around the end of March to let you know how you can get the TiVo service before it goes on general sale. For now, you can sit back, relax and wait for all the good stuff to come to you.

Yours sincerely,

The Virgin Media team.

I'm coming soon.....really!!

Virgin Media's TiVo could start with you and 999 other XL TV pack customers

Virgin Media today annouced the chance for its XL-pack TV customers to enjoy a TiVo box free of charge for an entire year.

But first, you'll need one of these cards:

...which, if you're on the XL TV pack, the nice postman should be delivering soon, if he hasn't already.

The card comes with a Unique reference number, which you should enter at the 'One of the First' registration form on Virgin's web site. 1,000 customers will be chosen by Virgin "in order that successful registrants comprise a representative sample of eligible customers." You must register by February 24th.

If you are indeed one of The Chosen Ones, then you'll be entering a new 12-month contract, and:
Must remain at least an XL TV customer for the duration of your new 12-month minimum term. At the end of the 12-month minimum term: (a) if you wish to keep your TiVo service, you will be charged the then applicable monthly TiVo fee; (b) if you do not wish to keep your TiVo service, certain functionality on your TiVo box will be disabled; (c) if you cease to be an XL TV customer, V+HD monthly fee may also apply on top of your TiVo monthly fee. All other services you take remain chargeable; only the monthly TiVo fee is waived. One TiVo box per account.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Virgin Media TiVo Updates: Sky; EPG; Interactive; Videos; Series 1

Some TiVo updates while the majority of us wait for a certain phone call from Virgin:
  • Its looks like Sky are preventing any of their channels from being shown in the Mini-TV box when you use Virgin's TiVo's TV guide. Sky: Believe in Pettiness.
  • Some of the programmes in the Catch-Up part of the EPG don't link directly to that programmes VOD stream yet, instead, selecting those programmes from the EPG merely takes you to the Catch-Up VOD Menu.
  • Interactive functionality isn't working yet, but it will soon, along with the much requested Red button for Sky Sports.
  • Three more videos showing off Options when recording a live show and Recording a program with padding can be located at the UKTivoBlog.
  • Posters over at the TiVo Community Forums report that the service for Series 1 TiVo Recorders will be discontinued from 1 June 2011.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Virgin Media 'delighted' by customer demand for TiVo

Broadcast Engineering reports that Virgin...
....has been delighted by demand given that the service has been offered only to existing customers and promoted on its website. At this stage, Virgin Media is testing the waters for what is a high-cost sale at present, given that its engineers spend some time with customers at the point of installation to show them how to use all of the additional features, particularly accessing Web content and interacting with Facebook. Virgin Media provides VOD and catch-up services within its existing lineup, but the new service combines these with the additional Web access within a new EPG. The main EPG enhancement is a recommendation engine that monitors the viewer’s preferences, records the content automatically to the DVR and makes suggestions.

Virgin Media anticipates that the cost of sales will fall, and the TiVo functionality will be extended gradually across the rest of its services as customer familiarity grows. It will also be advertised more aggressively as Virgin chases customers from its rivals in an increasingly saturated UK pay-TV market.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Which feature of Virgin Media's TiVo are you looking forward to the most?

That's the question I'm asking in the first poll on this blog, which can be located to the right of this page. The poll runs until Thursday 17th of this month, so vote away.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Search/Browse & Wishlist functionality shown in latest Virgin Media TiVo video

UKTivo.Blogspot.Com just keeps on uploading the videos showing us functionalty from Virgin Media's TiVo. This latest video production shows off the Search and Browse functionality, focusing on searching for an actor (in this case, Angelina Jolie), and showing some information about Angelina, followed by movies which features her.
That's followed by the opportunity to play Salt from the Filmflex VOD service; a quick drive through a Wishlist; A glimpse of the cast for Salt; And finally the creation of an 'Angelina Jolie' Wishlist which is then used to view upcoming programmes on multiple channels which features you-know-who. Its a pretty comprehensive video which shows off a few of TiVo key features:

Video of YouTube video search on Virgin Media's TiVo

The videos just keeping on coming from the new UKTivo.Blogspot.Com Blog. Tonight's video features a search on Virgin's TiVo box for one of the YouTube videos uploaded eariler this week by big_dirk at the TiVo Community Forums:

"You're special, you've been chosen for Virgin Media's TiVo."

"You're special, you've been chosen for Virgin Media's TiVo."

"Damn it! It was just a dream!"

Going on hunger strike until the nice people from Virgin deliver your TiVo isn't a good idea

"YES!!! I'm one of the chosen 1,000 lucky winners of the TiVo Lottery! Its great, I can record loads of HD and everything!"

"Its time, for another TiVo Lottery."

Yes, love - you have been chosen...for TiVo.

Virgin take office security for TiVo apps development VERY seriously!

Rumours of Organic Technology being used within Virgin Media's TiVo box are completely untrue.

Rumours of Scarlett Johansson coming around to install your TiVo are also untrue

"Sir, shooting me won't increase your chances of winning our latest TiVo lottery, I only work here at Virgin Media Customer Services. In the meantime, can I interest you in Sky Sports HD on top of your XL package?"


Rogue Virgin Media staff decide to ignore their NDAs and make a run for it to tell customers about TiVo

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Yet Another Virgin Media TiVo Blog is here, with another new video

The new Blog went live eariler tonight, created by big_dirk from the Tivo Community Forums. His latest video shows some inconsistencies in the performance of the software:

Square Eyes left a comment on the Virgin Media High Definition & TiVo Services Blog yesterday which gives us hope that later builds of the software will improve the performance shown in this and the video clip posted yesterday:
Right - just to clarify. At this moment in time this is not the finished article, there is still a fair bit of testing going on. The menu is much faster than what you can see on this video clip. Most of the menu is HD as well.

Virgin Media announce another TiVo Lottery: Will you be one of the lucky one thousand?

Virgin Media staff member James Skelton posted the following message on Virgin's Sofa Forum:
Thanks for your interest in our TiVo powered service. We've had an amazing response since we launched this product.

You may have heard that some lucky Virgin Media customers have been sent a TiVo remote control alongside a special offer. These people were randomly selected from a group of our longest serving customers. But don't worry if you weren't one of the recipients of this offer - we've got something else up our sleeve. We'll soon be offering all our VIP 50, VIP 20 and XL TV customers (who also have Virgin Media Broadband and Phone) the chance to become one of 1000 lucky customers to win a special TiVo deal and we're continuing to prioritise our existing customers to make sure they are the first people in the country to get a hold of this fantastic new service.

We'll also be doing something special for our non XL TV customers that have registered their interest online at We've been busy collating all of their details and will be in touch very soon to let them know when they will be able to get the service. We'll be making sure that they get a chance to get their hands on TiVo in a pre-sale window, before we make this available to the general public. But more about that soon.

We know that people are excited about getting our new TV service, and we're working hard to make sure our customers find out about the great deals that will be available and get installed as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, a post over at Cable Forum indicates that so far, Virgin have received 25,000 pre-registrations for the next generation PVR.

Monday, 7 February 2011

QWERTY keyboard on the sofa? Not on Virgin Media's TiVo Watch

Ian Mecklenburgh (Director of Digital Entertainment at Virgin Media) spoke to Videonet about the PVR box the vast majority of us are still waiting for. Ian mentions that the dedicated broadband connection could be used to deliver the proposed local TV services, as well the confirmed use of extended IP-based VOD services above and beyond the existing VOD services such as BBC iPlayer:
"There is a massive advantage for cable when you see how we are segmenting the pipe. DSL offers a relatively small and hard to manage [Quality of Service] pipe. What we are offering through our fibre optic network is what I call real television."
As for the vast number of customers currently on Virgin's legacy TV platform, "As customers move onto the TiVo platform it will not be totally unfamiliar to them. It is a better version of what they have now."

Referring to the coming invasion of TiVo apps, Ian mentions that:
"We can introduce more services faster than we could have before. Part of it is opening it up for alternative content providers and application providers and service providers. We are starting by replicating what we have today but will build different options into it."
And when you finally get your TiVo installed, the technician will then show you how it works, because "More than anything else this is about television. It is not just about on-demand content or [Over-the-Top] streaming or YouTube. People buy a TV to watch television and it has to be a simple-to-use service. It has to provide a simple interface and we have spent a lot of time on that."

"This is about television services and managing that for people and about how many remote controls you want to end up with. I don’t want a QWERTY keyboard on the sofa.”

Read the full interview at Videonet.

"So, did you listen to what the nice technician told you about me? Did you?"

Sunday, 6 February 2011

New YouTube video reveals real-life performance of Virgin Media's TiVo

A new TiVo video is up on YouTube, showing a Virgin Media TiVo user selecting various menus and options. For those of you curious about the real-life performance of the box (and the layout of various user interface screens), its an interesting watch:

Thanks to big_dirk at TiVo Community Forums for the video.

The Chosen VIP 50 customers should prepare for glory! (And a free TiVo) from Virgin Media

This thread at Cable Forum reveals that 1,000 customers on Virgin's VIP 50 (Mb broadband) package have been sent a TiVo remote along with a unique number to enter on a personalised webpage.

The page features a woman who talks to the user and shows you your remote with your name; followed by a link to a Virgin Media TiVo forum which doesn't seem to be working yet.

The letter confirms that for these 1,000 customers, they can then receive a TiVo box for free, with the £3 monthly fee waived. Lucky buggers.

My Blog List