Monday, 30 May 2011

Updates for Virgin Media TiVo Review and PVR Comparison Document

The review I did for TiVo has been updated, mainly with a 'for' (series links can find alternative broadcasts of a programme on the same channel if the original recording of that programme couldn't be completed), and, an 'against' (no access to live PPV events content until a future software update).

The PVR Comparison Document has also been updated, now that the 500Gb version of TiVo is available to existing customers.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Register reviews Virgin Media's TiVo

The latest review of Virgin Media's TiVo has been published by The Register. Reviewer Ian Calcutt gives the next-generation PVR 80% and notes that:
When it first appeared, TiVo was well ahead of its time. UK viewers can now have a TiVo suited for video-on-demand and HD, in addition to its many other assets, but there are rough edges that need sorting, such as the fragmented TV catch-up situation and the over zealous PIN protection that, at the time of writing, can’t be deactivated.

Overall, it’s an impressive and promising (re)start. While some people may prefer the familiar simplicity of Sky+, others will welcome this smart recorder with open arms – and thumbs resoundingly up.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

New reviews for Virgin Media's TiVo

Expert Reviews reviewer Seth Barton took a good, comprehensive look at Virgin Media's TiVo and eventually gave the next-generation PVR 5 stars out of 5:
If you’ve got a V+ box at present then TiVo is a huge step forward and worth the extra £3 a month for anyone who watches more than the most minimal amount of TV. The interface is improved, the content is easier to find, plus you can record much, much more of it. At present the 500GB box is a much better deal for existing subscribers at £50, with the 1TB box looking overpriced by comparison.

It’s hard to put a score on a device like this, as its pricing and usefulness is inextricably linked to Virgin Media’s other offerings. However, it’s simply a must-have for the vast majority of those on the TV cable service, and a serious weapon in Virgin Media’s armoury to tempt current ADSL and Freeview users into the world of cable services - so we’ve given it our Best Buy award.

Meanwhile, the Magicorp Tech Blog also reviewed TiVo and came to the conclusion that:
Virgin have taken a huge step forward and brought their PVR kicking and screaming into the new decade and while it has a few niggles that need sorting out, it has been worth the wait! I highly recommend upgrading, the disk space alone is worth it if you tend to record a lot of HD. With Tivo prepared to defend their patent portfolio aggressively in court (as shown by their long running court case with Echostar) a lot of these features may never make it to other PVRs and this should give Sky plenty of restless nights.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Revealed: Change Log for latest software update for Virgin Media's TiVo

Remember that software update which was released last week for Virgin Media's TiVo? Well, Virgin Media Staff Member NickO has posted the change log for that update over at Virgin's TiVo Help and Support Forums:
  • The picture no longer freezes on HD channels within seconds of tuning
  • Catch-up assets now display the correct date and time of airing
  • Box rebooting without return path now recovers when restored
  • Boot-up splash screen has been updated
  • Cast information in EPG updated where missing for many programmes
  • Correct time now shown in "Already Scheduled" pop-up
  • LED lights remain on during boot-up
  • 11% improvement in stability over previous build (Beta test results)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Future software update to fix standard definition picture issue for Virgin Media's TiVo

The picture quality for Standard Definition (SD) content on Virgin Media's TiVo has been a hot topic of discussion on various forums and blogs, with several customers commenting on the reduced quality of that content compared to the legacy V+ HD box. In my review of Virgin's TiVo, I said that:
If I was to set the SD picture quality provided by V+ HD at 100%, then I'd say that TiVo's SD picture quality comes in at around, say, 92%. For me at least, SD pictures from TiVo are definitely a tad softer than I previously received from my V+ HD on the same TV, at the same viewing distance.
After some serious investigating into this issue by posters over at Virgin's TiVo Help & Support Forums, Virgin Media Staff Member stephenfeatham posted the following:
As some of you may be aware, we started our testing process for the TiVo box last year, and gradually started to roll out the service from the end of last year, before making the product more widely available from April. During this time we've issued numerous software releases to ensure the product is something we can be truly proud of. 
However, despite following a rigorous testing process, following an investigation prompted by this thread, we've now discovered a small filtering issue affecting the upscaling of SD channels which can lead to the TV picture on those services looking softer than those produced by our V+ boxes on some TVs. The good news is that filter settings exist within the firmware, meaning that creating a fix is a case of issuing a software update, and hence won't need any sort of box replacement.

We'd like to thank those eagle-eyed members of the forum who've brought this issue to our attention and we are now working with our hardware partners to resolve this issue which will go into a software release later in the year.

As this update also contains new features, it will be a few months before we're able to release it, however we appreciate some of you with certain set-ups where the issue is more pronounced may wish to get the issue resolved as soon as possible, so we'd like to invite some of you to join our beta trial panel. It is important to understand that by joining this restricted group you will receive software at an earlier stage of development which may contain other issues, but at the same time we'd love some of you on board to help make this great product even better. The only caveat is that you will be required to undertake regular 'homework' assignments testing new functionality and you agree to certain restrictions on public discussion.

More information on how to apply to join the beta trial panel can be located in the same discussion thread over at Virgin's TiVo Help & Support Forums. In the meantime, this news will be good news who have noticed a drop in SD picture quality from the V+ HD, and for potential customers who have been put off getting TiVoed due to this issue.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

500Gb version of Virgin Media's TiVo now available to existing customers; £49.95 + installation

Get TiVoed for one of these, plus installation fee.
The 500Gb 'Baby' TiVo is now available to order from Virgin Media's website for existing customers:
The 500GB box packs a mighty punch - it stores around 250 hours of standard TV or 50 hours of HD TV. Our 1TB box is the big daddy - it stores around 500 hours of standard TV or up to 100 hours of HD TV. They both have the same fantastic features, so just pick the one that gives you the right amount of storage.

Swap your existing box for a TiVo box and you'll pay an activation fee of just £149.95 for the 1TB box (our new customers pay £199.95) or £49.95 for the 500GB box. Once you’ve got your new box of tricks you can enjoy our TiVo service for just £3 a month on top of what you pay now.
Unlike the 'Big Daddy' 1TB TiVo, the 'Baby' 500Gb version is available to TV customers on the M+ and L TV packs, as well as XL. M+ and L customers pay an additional monthly fee of £8, those on XL pay £3 per month. The installation fee is £40.

The 500Gb version will be available to new customers in July. For now, the availability of the cheaper TiVo marks a key moment in Virgin's plans to assimilate its existing TV customer base into the TiVo Collective.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Software update unleashed for Virgin Media's TiVo

Virgin Media this morning released a software update for their next-generation PVR (version 15.1-01-3-C00, if you must know), which (according to spiderplant at Cable Forum) fixes issues with some random reboots, picture freezes, and loss of the PIN. There's also some unspecified user-interface changes.

The latest update comes before the arrival of the 500Gb 'Baby' TiVo, available to existing customers later this month, and new customers in July.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Virgin Media to ramp up TiVo deployment

Broadcast Engineering has an article on-line on how Virgin Media has committed itself to TiVo. The article mentions that Virgin will start advertising TiVo later this year to existing customers, as well as customers of Sky and BT Vision. The article also looks at how Virgin intend to increase deployment of TiVo:

So far, Virgin Media has been constrained by the time taken to show customers how to use the TiVo content discovery features, which takes on average at least an hour on-site. By training existing engineers and fine-tuning the process, Virgin Media has been able to ramp up TiVo box deployment to 1000 a day, which means it is heading for about 300,000 subscribers by the end of 2011. At that rate, it would take a decade for the TiVo box to make it through even the existing customer base, but Virgin Media plans to ramp up deployment further as its network continues to be upgraded and expanded in the move toward “through the middle” delivery to all customers. Through the middle is a term adopted to describe a kind of hybrid IPTV/Internet TV service that delivers pay-TV content through a dedicated portion of the operator’s broadband spectrum.

In the case of cable TV, this is over DOCSIS and ensures that the TV service is independent of broadband Internet activity, making it easier to ensure high QoS. In effect, this makes it a walled-garden IPTV service, but it also brings genuine over-the-top (OTT) Internet content to subscribers. In the latter case, QoS is largely beyond the control of the operator at present and is dependent both on the wider Internet and on the third-party content providers themselves.

For the Virgin Media TiVo subscribers, all content is delivered via the TiVo box, including scheduled services. TiVo has therefore had to adapt the box to integrate with both Internet content and Virgin Media’s own catch-up service with the normal linear broadcast schedule. This was a challenge for TiVo because it has not so far had to integrate catch-up services to the same extent for its existing U.S. customers.
The article also mentions how Virgin intend to become a customer of the proposed Fujitsu-built fibre network, which would allow Virgin to expand their cable network, "across a further 20 percent of UK homes initially, with the help of its TiVo box, in effect as a hybrid IPTV/OTT provider outside its footprint."

Read the full article at Broadcast Engineering.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

TV Reloaded? Virgin Media's TiVo reviewed by the Virgin Media Blog

My review of Virgin's next-generation PVR is now online. Grab a cup of tea and join me as a take a closer look at TiVo, now I've finally got one and had time to explore its features, potential and current flaws.

The review has been published as a separate page on this blog, which you can also access via the tab link at the top of every page.

My Blog List