Perhaps the most important part of the 15.2 software update for Virgin Media's TiVo is the Ethernet ports being enabled. This is required for multi-room streaming, a feature which is almost but not quite there. However, there are other uses for networking your TiVo as well, which you can do right now.
But first, why can't you use Virgin's own network to connect your TiVo(s)? And how do you connect your TiVo(s) to your home network?
- Why should you use your own network instead of Virgin's?
Well, the typical home network (LAN) will have an maximum upload speed of 100Mb (1000Mb for Gigabit networks). That's compared to the 1Mb upload speed for the dedicated broadband connection for each TiVo. So, its better for Virgin, and you, to use your home network to steam content rather than upload that data back to the regional headend, and then back to your other TiVo box. There will be much less traffic on your own network and more chance of content streaming without interruption, especially when streaming HD MPEG 2 content.
- How do I use my own network with my TiVo(s)?
Well, you need to connect your TiVo(s) to your router, via the Ethernet port at the back of the box. But connect it with what?
- Ethernet Cable (Best choice)
The 1st and best choice. Connect from your TiVo, to a spare port on your router. That's great if your TiVo is near your router, but what if it isn't?
- Homeplugs (2nd best)
Homeplugs use the spare frequency in your home's electrical ring-main circuit to establish a network connection. You'll need at least 2 Homeplugs to establish a connection, one connected to your router, and the others connected to your TiVo(s).
Better yet, consider purchasing network switches and connect your 'slave' Homeplugs to them, that way, you can use the connection for other networked devices apart from your TiVo, such as game consoles, networked TVs, Blu Ray players etc.
Homeplugs are rated at different network speeds, including 85Mb, 200Mb and 500Mb. In theory, 85Mb Homeplugs should be sufficient for HD MPEG 2 streaming. Real life network performance will be a bit less than 85Mb, but it should be good enough to stream HD, considering that the bitrate for a typical MPEG 2 HD channel on Virgin is between 13 - 17Mb. As always with purchasing computer and network technology, if you can afford more performance, then you should spend the extra money, because one day, you may need the extra performance.
- Wireless (3rd best)
Compatible Wireless N Network Adapters are available for the TiVo Premiere but at the moment, Virgin don't have any plans to sell their own branded adapters. Given the bitrate of MPEG 2 content (especially HD), I'd say wired or Homeplugs are the better option and are more likely to produce better streaming results.
- Prepare your router and your TiVo(s)
If you have a restricted range for your DHCP addresses on your router, you'll have to go to your Router Configuration page and reserve a new DHCP address (or 2) for your TiVo(s) if they don't appear on your home network. Next, on your TiVo, you need to goto Home >>> Help & Settings >>> Settings >>> Network Remote Control, and allow network-based remote controls to access your TiVo.
You'll also need to get the Media Access Key for each TiVo, this is a code which allows devices and applications on your network to connect to your TiVo. You can find this via Home >>> Help & Settings >>> System Info >>> Media Access Key.
So, after you've put all this effort in, what do you get out of it?
|Its a 'blockade' alright, and not just for the episode title|
- Multi-room streaming between TiVos (eventually)
If you have more than one TiVo and both of them are networked, you'll be able to see the other TiVo at the bottom of the My Shows list, and you can select that TiVo and view its My Shows list, as well as delete content from that list. Eventually, you'll also be able to stream recorded content from TiVo to another.
I say 'eventually' because at the moment that functionality is restricted by the broadcasters. I suspect that Virgin will have to get approval from various broadcasters in order to stream their content, and I also suspect that we may not be seeing Sky content streaming from TiVo to TiVo anytime soon, considering that Sky are pushing their own streaming services for their own content to their own customers.
In the meantime, all we can do is wait. When Virgin does get streaming enabled for TiVo, it will prove to be a significant feature - at present, other UK PVRs such as Sky+, Sky +HD and BT Vision don't support multi-room streaming between boxes.
You can view all TiVos currently linked to your home network by selecting Home >>> System Info >>> Multi Room Streaming. Each TiVo has a service number and that's how its identified on the Multi Room Streaming screen. The TiVo you're currently using will have a * next to the last 4 digits of the service number and selecting it will show the connection status, TiVo Box Name, Model, Home Network (LAN) address and software version.
- Remote Control
IMPORTANT: There's a pilot version of the TiVo software (Version 15.2-01-2-C00) which disables third-party apps from accessing TiVo!
There's software programmes available which will let you remotely control your TiVo. As already mentioned, you must enable Network Remote Control for your TiVo and as well as the Media Access Key, you'll also need the home network (IP) address for your TiVo, usually it will be something like 192.168.something.something.
- From your web browser
You can access a list of recorded content from your PC by going to the home network address from your browser: https://192.168.[something].[something]. So, if your TiVo's IP address is 192.168.0.10, then go to https://192.168.0.10
Once there, TiVo will ask you for a username and password, which are:
Password: [TiVo's Media Access Key]
Once you've entered that info, you'll see a Now Playing list of recorded content, with subfolders for programmes with more than 1 recording, episode titles, descriptions and recorded dates, along with the file size of each recordings. Don't hold your breath waiting for the images to load - they never do.
- From apps/software programs
(I'll try to update this list as more options become available):
- TiVo Commander (Android)
No need to wait for Virgin to release the Android version of the iPad app, because the Commander is waiting to obey your commands. Remote control your TiVo; View My Shows; And search for content - all from your Android phone or tablet. That's the good news. The bad? Gizmo Lovers reports that the app has been removed from the Android Market due to a request from TiVo.
- RCX for TiVo (Android)
More remote control fun for Android and a great option now that TiVo have removed TiVo Commander.
- VM TiVo Net Remote (Windows)
Remote control your TiVo and change the TV channel from your own desktop. The latest version now displays Virgin's TV Guide.
- TiVo Net Remote (Windows Phone, Version 7.5 or higher)
I don't have a Windows Phone so I'm unable to test this app, but the description says that it will work on a TiVo Premiere (so there's a chance that its Virgin-TiVo compatible) and that "The app uses your home network to control the TiVo by sending commands to it via its IP address. The keypad makes text entry of WishLists and Searches a breeze."
- From your web browser