Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Networking your Virgin Media TiVo

A new page devoted to networking your Virgin Media TiVo is now online, and can be located via the hypertext link at the top of this and every other page on this blog.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Spotify App is live for Virgin Media's TiVo

Virgin said that the Spotify App would be deployed on the 29th of this month. They lied. Its actually gone live now and you can find via Home >>> Apps >>> Music.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Time for a new blog (and its related to Virgin Media's TiVo)

As Netflix prepares to invade the UK, how will Lovefilm respond? What's happening on Sky Anytime? Any streaming apps coming to Virgin Media's TiVo? What do BT Vision think about all this and how will their VoD sevice respond? Any new movie and TV content on YouTube? And what about YouView? Will Apple be looking to take a fruity bite out of everyone? What about the PS3 and Xbox 360? Is that Roku coming over the hill?

Will The UK TV Streaming Services Blog answer all these questions and more? Probably not. Will it have a go now and then? Probably.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

15.2 Software Update for Virgin Media's TiVo - First Impressions

TiVo from Virgin Media. Now with more performance, less PIN nagging
and remote buttons which actually do what their supposed to!
Its here! First impressions.
  • Its fast! It took around 5 to 7 seconds for 15.1 to display My Shows on my 1TB TiVo (77% capacity used). It takes 15.2 just under 3 seconds! Everything has been given a performance boost, from changing channels to flicking through menus to Wishlist lookups to viewing information regarding shows and actors. Its early days yet but so far, I've yet to see the spinning 'please wait' red doughnut.
  • The PIN nagging is over! You can now stop PIN requests for content recorded after 9pm.
  • Pressing Info produces programme info!
  • Stop really means STOP when playing a recording!
  • Finally, I can watch Sky Sports News (and other Sky channels) in the mini-window.
  • As previously mentioned, multi-room streaming is in 15.2 but at present the broadcasters are preventing content from streaming (or so says the on-screen message). It will be interesting to see if Virgin get permission from Sky to allow their content to be streamed.
  • Because the Ethernet ports are now open, that means all sorts of potential fun for those customers who have connected their TiVo(s) to their home network (via CAT 5 or Homeplugs). Got a Android phone or tablet? Check out TiVo Commander, which allows you to remotely control your TiVo! TiVo Net Controller does the same thing for Windows PCs (Windows 7 & Vista).
  • Those USB ports are open too. Time to get hold of a wireless keyboard.
  • Standard definition content looks a little better on my Samsung 40 inch TV, from 8ft away.
  • Entering search words for content is a lot quicker thanks to SMS-style entry.
  • Channel names are now displayed on the right when viewing past days in the EPG.
  • Programme start and end times are now displayed in the EPG.
  • Is it me, or has 'View from On-Demand' replaced 'View Available Episodes' for the button linking to VOD content for a show?
  • 1 step forward for the (new look) YouTube app, which can now playback HD content.
  • 3 steps back for the YouTube app, which no longer allows you to log into your account (which didn't work properly anyway).
  • Express Series Link - only record 10 episodes by default? Really? What's the point? I can see some people getting caught out by that since most shows have more than 10 episodes per season. The ones not caught out will have to manually change the number of episodes, a process which due to its non-expressly nature, makes this new feature near useless.

In short: 15.2 is a big improvement. The performance improvements and other tweaks (like Info and Stop buttons actually doing what they're supposed to do) make the box more pleasurable to use, with the exception of the YouTube app which has improved in looks and has lost functionality.

Longer term, there are potential issues (and recording clashes) which may arise due to the default padding which 15.2 introduces, which is now 1 minutes before and 4 minutes after. The lack of a global option to change these defaults is glaring. The continued, inefficient use of tuners in 15.2 (especially when recording back-to-back recordings on the same channel) doesn't help and both of these issues should be on TiVo's fix-it list for future sofware updates.

Still, everything else is faster, a little snapper, sharper (in standard definition) and in places, easier to use with 15.2, and that's only a good thing. I'll take a more in-depth look at 15.2 later this week.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

And so it begins: 15.2 software rollout underway for Virgin Media's TiVo

The first major software update for Virgin Media's TiVo is underway, and initial feedback at Virgin's Help & Support Forums looks promising, with reports of improvements in performance and SD picture quality, along of course with the other features previously mentioned, including one which wasn't previously mentioned - the start and end times of programmes are now displayed in the EPG.

The software version is SW: 15.2.RC8-VMC-2-C00. The Flash Player version is 15-2-mr/2011.10.26-1905, while the user interface version is HDUI: compass-2/2011.10.28-1830

Functionality for Multi room streaming is in the update, but this thread indicates that the actual streaming is being blocked by broadcaster restrictions.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Virgin Media spread the word for TiVo 15.2 software update; Spotify app launching soon

Virgin Media continue to spread the word about 15.2 - TiVo customers have (or will shortly) receive a letter regarding the update and why you should kill anyone that interrupts it. Most of the letter is a word-for-word copy of the on-screen message which first appeared on TiVoed TV sets last night.

The rear of the letter mentions some of the key features of the update, and also mentions that the Spotify app will be launched on November 29th.

An online version of the letter is erm, online now, and its also available via your TiVo (Home >>> Help & Settings >>> Customer News >>> Your TiVo Service, but better). Update Alerts are also being delivered via TiVo's Discovery Bar.

You can find a link to all the 15.2 related posts on this blog, via the link around the top right of all pages, as we prepare to say goodbye to 15.1 - the deployment of the 15.2 updates are scheduled to start tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Virgin Media: "We're updating your TiVo box (and don't you dare interrupt us!)"

The 15.2 software update is coming, and so is a warning delived by the pop-up messages via a TiVo near you:

Ok, that's normal, leave the box on standby between 17th to 24th of November and its really, really important that you don't interrupt the update, reading the rest of the message reveals why:

Whoa! Saved settings and recordings will be nuked wiped if the update is interrupted! The staff at the nearest power station have just become my new best friends!

Tell your family and your pets that the update shall not be interrupted. Also tell them that their scheduled, early morning recording of....whatever, may not record. That actually shouldn't be a problem if the programme to be recorded is repeated, because TiVo should hunt down the repeat without mercy and kill it record it.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Examining the energy cost of Virgin Media's TiVo

After recently becoming a member of the Dual-TiVo club, I started to wonder how much energy that 2nd TiVo was using, and how much extra I would be paying on my electric bill.

So, how much does Virgin's Media TiVo cost to run?

The answer will partly depend on what cost your energy supplier charges you per unit for electric. 1 unit equals 1 Kilowatt hour (kWh). 1 kWh equals 1000 watts of electricity. A Kilowatt hour is the measurement of energy used by UK energy companies to charge customers on their bills.

Virgin's TiVo uses around 20 watts. Lets assume (for now anyway) that everyone gets charged what I do for 1 unit, which is 10p.

So, first we calculate the number of kilowatts used:

20 watts divided by 1000 = 0.02 Kilowatts

To get the Kilowatt Hours, we multiply the number of Kilowatts by the number of hours the device is on. So, assuming you're leaving your TiVo on 24 hours per day (which is recommended to receive EPG downloads, eagerly awaited software updates and of course, to, you know, record stuff from time to time), then:

24 hours x 0.02 Kilowatts = 0.48 kWh

And at 10p per unit/Kilowatt Hour, the daily energy cost of Virgin's Media TiVo is:

0.48 kWh x 0.10p = 0.048p per day

That means that leaving a TiVo box on all year will account for around £17.52 of your annual electric bill.

By comparison, V+ HD uses at least 27 watts (or it did before the recent software update which among other things, turned off the retina-burning halo lights in standby), and uses 0.648 kWh per day of electric, meaning a daily cost of 0.064p and a yearly energy cost of £23.36.

At first glance, both Virgin PVRs compare well against Sky+ HD, which (according to the user manual) uses an maximum of 45 watts, that's 1.08 kWh per day, that will cost you 0.108p per day and £39.42 per year. However, in standby its been reported that it uses around 18 to 19 watts, so it will cost you around the same as TiVo.

I think there's room for improvement as far as energy consumption is concerned for TiVo. At the moment, the hard drive is constantly spinning, even in standby. That's nice if you come in from work and you want to watch something which has gone into a tuner buffer but then, if that's the case, chances are you'll record that programme anyway.

V+ HD did the same thing for a while, until a software update automatically turned off the hard drive when it wasn't in use (cue sigh of relief from the UK's power stations). It would be nice if TiVo did the same thing, perhaps with an option to 'opt-out' of that feature in order to keep users who really want triple tuner buffering 24 hours a day.

Monday, 7 November 2011

15.2 software update rollout schedule for Virgin Media's TiVo released?

Media Boy has revealed information regarding the rollout schedule of the 15.2 software update to each regional headend on Virgin Media's Cable Network. Virgin themselves would like to remind everyone that the rollout dates haven't been officially confirmed.

Meanwhile, its also been revealed that the pause timeout for VOD content during playback has been increased from a 'barely time to make a pee' 3 minutes to a 'take a pee and make yourself a sandwich' 10 minutes. Also, the number of skip bars within content has increased to once every 5 minutes from the current 10 or 15 minutes.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

And the winner is....Virgin Media's TiVo!

Virgin Media's TiVo has won Stuff's Home Cinema Gadget of the year Award for 2011:
Allow us to present Stuff’s First Theorem, a formula tells us that as TV gets ever more overrun by idiots making fools of themselves to amuse cretins, you need a really good PVR to cut through the rubbish. Virgin’s TiVo is that PVR: it learns from your viewing habits, suggesting and recording shows it thinks you’ll like. And most of the time it gets it right. With super-smart search features, three tuners and 1TB of space for recordings, the only barrier between you and a perfect night’s viewing will be your own good taste.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

More news snippets for Virgin Media's TiVo: 15.2 rollout; TiVo Monthly Charge

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