Monday, 10 October 2011

Why you should consider turning off Overlap Protection for Virgin Media's TiVo

When TiVo encounters a recording clash, it will (by default) clip the lowest priority recording by up to 5 minutes, instead of cancelling that recording.

That sounds nice, but, why have your recordings clipped? Why not have the whole recording plus your padding too? There is indeed a way to have all of your cake and eat it too. How? Simple:

Turn off Overlap Protection.

What I hear you cry? Didn't your father teach you to always use protection?!!? Bear with me.

TiVo is smart, in that when a clash occurs, it will attempt to locate a repeat of the cancelled recording and it will record that instead. For Series Link recordings, it will search for a repeat on the same channel. For Wishlists, TiVo will search all channels.

Turning off Overlap Protection tells TiVo not to clip any recording when there's a clash and to always hunt for a repeat to record. The trick is, to reorder your recording priorities so that the programmes which aren't repeated have higher priority compared to the shows which are repeated. As I've previously stated, you can have a quick look at the upcoming episodes list to see if episodes of a programme are repeated throughout the week.

For instance, I've noticed that programmes broadcasted on BBC 1 HD (including the likes of Doctor Who, Merlin and Waterloo Road) don't seem to be repeated on that channel, but they are repeated on the BBC HD channel (while we still have it that is). If you have a Series Link for a BBC 1 HD programme, give that high priority.

If in doubt, give your Series Links higher priority compared to Wishlists. A Series Link for Castle on Alibi for instance, will hunt for repeats on Alibi, whereas a Wishlist for the same programme will find repeats on Alibi, Alibi +1, Alibi HD (when that launches next year) and any other channel Castle is on.

Overlap Protection is switched on by default. Since turning it off 3 weeks ago, I've not missed any recordings, and that's with padding set to 1 minute before and 5 minutes after for all recordings. There's some vigilance required on your part as far as checking for repeats is concerned, but in return you can use padding without worrying about programmes not being recorded as a result of a clash.

Still not convinced? Well, bear in mind that when Overlap Protection is on, and a recording will be clipped by more then 5 minutes, TiVo will cancel the recording and go hunting for repeats anyway.


MegaZone said...

Note that you can also setup multiple Series Links for the same show - one per channel - if a Wishlist is just too broad (matches too much, etc). So if you know a show airs first on Channel A and repeats later on Channel B, you could setup two Series Links with A higher than B, so it will only record from B if A does not record. (The '28 day rule' to prevent recording the same episode twice is global, not by channel.)

spk said...

This blog is becoming invaluable in helping me get the best out of TiVo. It is regrettable that Virgin don't offer a similar service of tips and tricks -- but I suppose to do so would be to call the eccentricities of the TiVo software "features". Reordering recordings is so counter-intuitive as to be bizarre. But it works, so thanks again!

James said...

What would be great is if TiVo/Virgin implemented the "hack" that used to be available on the old Series 1 TiVo.

Called "endpad", it did "just in time padding". It worked like this:

Leave all scheduled recordings without padding so that other schedules will work fine as expected. But then, about five minutes before a recording is about to start, check to see if there's a tuner free. If so, quickly change the schedule to include five minutes of padding. Then, just before the recording is scheduled to end, if the tuner is still free, pad the ending by 5 (or 10) minutes.

It worked really well, padding when it could, and not if it couldn't.

See here for more details:

TiVo should implement this, and also allow the end of one recording to be the start of the next if they're on the same channel (copying the same data from one to the other).

MegaZone said...

The 'endpad' thing was a hack - it'd be better to have real soft padding:

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