Saturday, 6 October 2012

Thanks for the reminders, Virgin Media - but why the record for TiVo?

Well, the 15.3 software update has been out for a while now. Among the improvements are the arrival of reminders for fans of Live TV events. Or rather, 'Record & Remind' as its known on TiVo. Some of you may be wondering why TiVo can't remind you without recording. Well, its partly to do with the way TiVo's tuners work.

On the legacy V+ HD, there were 3 tuners available. But only 2 of them could be used for recordings. The remaining free tuner was always dedicated to showing whatever live TV or VOD content you were currently watching. Hence, when a reminder was activated, it could use always use the 'live tuner' in order to switch over to the programme you wanted to be reminded about. As such, reminders would never conflict with scheduled recordings.

Compare that to TiVo. Like the V+ HD, TiVo has 3 tuners. Unlike V+ HD, all 3 tuners are available for recordings. While this offers more recording flexibility, it also means that in order for a TiVo reminder to work, it effectively has to grab a tuner for the entire duration of the 'reminded' programme, in order to prevent it from being grabbed by a scheduled or suggested recording.

Now, you could ask "why not reserve a tuner for the reminded programme without actually recording that content?" My response would be a question: "yeah....why not?", followed by a questioning look at TiVo.

I'm guessing that the resulting rewrite and re-testing of TiVo's recording logic wouldn't be worth the hassle (or the resulting wait for the result to be deployed to Virgin's TiVo  customers), especially compared to the minor inconvenience of having the reminded programme appearing in the My Shows list. Bear in mind that this 'reminded' programme would be deleted anyway if and when lack of recording capacity became an issue.

Virgin would say that having the reminded programme recorded for you is convenient in case you're unexpectedly away from home when the live, super-duper TV Event blockbuster you wanted to be reminded about is on. Readers of this blog know that I don't always agree with Virgin (the recording defaults feature in 15.3 comes to mind), but in this case, its hard to argue with their logic.

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