July 22, 2016

VMHD hits five million pages served!

How about that? Almost ten years old and we’ve now served over five million pages to the great cable viewing public.

Virgin shuffling channel numbers next week

Virgin Media’s shuffling around some of its channel numbers on July 26th. Here are the HD changes:

BBC Four HD moves from 164 to 163 (why they haven’t moved it to the slot vacated by BBC Three SD (106) is beyond me)
Sky Sports 1 HD moves from 502 to 501, and similarly
Sky Sports 2 HD moves to 502
Sky Sports 3 HD moves to 503
Sky Sports 4 HD moves to 504
Sky Sports 5 HD moves to 505
Sky Sports News HD moves to 506
Sky Sports F1 HD moves to 508

Nothing in 507, which could be being left open for possibly Sky Sports Mix HD or whatever else they’ve got up their sleeves to (possibly) justify the cost of the Sky Sports lineup.

July 07, 2016

Ultra HD Sky Cinema on Virgin Media in 2016?

That's what this week's Virgin Media Presents email is promising!

Sky Movies is now Sky Cinema

SPECTRE + Sky Cinema round-up

What do you think of the new look? Welcome to Sky Cinema, the new (and improved) home of Sky Movies. Oh yes, it's had much more than just a name change…
Sky Movies customers can now kick back and enjoy more of the latest blockbusters than any other subscription service. And that's not even the half of it! You'll get a new movie premiere every single day, over 1,000 films to choose from on demand, new and improved HD as standard, sound closer to the cinema… (draw breath)… a chance to broaden your horizons with World Cinema Wednesday and, to give you even more to look forward to, Ultra HD films by the end of the year

July 01, 2016

New Now TV combo deals

Sky has announced the launch this month of new “combo” deals that will compete with Virgin Media, TalkTalk, BT and the other multiplay vendors. Here’s the pricing with the Now TV Entertainment package, but you can have it with the Movies and/or Sports collections too:

‘Brilliant Broadband’ is speeds up to 17Mbps, ‘Fab Fibre’ (up to 38Mbps) and ‘Super Fibre’ (up to 76Mbps). Similarly, there are three call package options too. These are the self-explanatory: Pay As You Use package, the Evenings and Weekends option and Anytime Calls.

The cheapest combo comes in at £9.99 plus £17.99 line rental, though if you opt for an Unlimited Brilliant Broadband package, you’ll also need to part with a £40 set-up fee. That rises to £50 for Unlimited Fab Fibre and Unlimited Super Fibre.

One of the biggest attractions is the flexibility to change or cancel the combo whenever you wish, though that doesn’t apply to the 12-month Saver, which removes the setup fee.

Virgin’s list bundles are:

June 30, 2016

New Now TV box

The new Now TV Smart Box will be available as a standalone purchase for £40 from early July. That’s quite a price hike, but I think it’s still excellent value.

The new Now TV Smart Box is larger and slimmer than the current Now TV box, measuring 165 x 165 x 20.5mm (HWD), weighing 432g, it’s gloss black with the Now TV branding in blue. I think the logo that makes it look a bit cheap but that’s probably just me.

Sky has added a Freeview tuner to the box so it’s equipped with a digital aerial socket, alongside an HDMI out to connect to your TV. It has 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound over HDMI, but the video output is limited to 1080p full HD and the NowTV service is currently limited to 720p. Given that Sky’s regular satellite service is only 1080i, I’d expect it not to go up to full HD until Sky launches its 4K TV services. Other connections include an Ethernet port for a wired internet connection - the box does also have built-in wi-fi - a microSD card slot, and a USB connection for viewing media on external devices.

So not all the rumours were true. No 4k (never likely, despite the fact that it’s competing with Amazon and Netflix) and no built-in hard drive (and you can’t connect an external one), so there’s no option to record. However, you can pause live TV and rewind programmes by up to 30 minutes.

I'll do a separate post about the new Now TV Combo bundles that offer a combined Sky phone and Broadband package that make this a very real alternative to Virgin Media and the aging TiVo box.

June 19, 2016

TiVo Apps - the verdict

I ran a poll on this blog last week regarding the Apps on TiVo and I must say that the results probably aren’t a great surprise. Over half of the 280 respondents said that they never used the Apps, whilst a further third said they used them rarely. In fact, only 6% said they used them regularly, and I’m guessing that would be Netflix, iPlayer or Spotify (the first two might not be considered ‘Apps’ by most as they can be accessed without going into the Applications menus).
Not surprising though, given how shockingly poor the Apps are.

June 16, 2016


I normally try to keep this site on topic, but this week I’ve just published my first novel so I hope you don’t mind me just dropping a little ad on the right here for When She Was Bad, which is available on Amazon.

June 15, 2016

Sky Movies becomes Sky Cinema, and HD as standard from July 8th

Sky Movies is being replaced by Sky Cinema to give customers "even more of the biggest and best movies closer to cinema release than any other subscription service."
Launching on July 8th, Sky Cinema customers will receive a new movie premiere every day, more on demand films, pop up channels as well as better HD picture and sound quality. All of these extras are designed to take them "closer to the cinema experience," according to Sky.
Among the first films featuring on Sky Cinema in July are Spectre, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Ant-Man. In August, The Martian, Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens and The Man from U.N.C.L.E will be added.
And here's the important bit for us: Sky Cinema will be available at no extra cost to existing and new subscribers. This includes customers who currently access Sky Movies on NOW TV, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk.
HD content will be offered as standard to all Sky Cinema customers on the Sky and Virgin Media platforms.

June 14, 2016

TiVo speed improvements

I haven’t had the new update to the TiVo in my area yet (it’s still being tested in only a few areas) but this quick post from Jobbie8 at Cable Forum suggests it’s going to be worth the wait:
I’ve just had the new software update this week, the TiVos are so fast now, almost instant page loading and page up and down in TV Guide.
There’s also the suggestion on the same thread that resetting your Thumbs Up/Down in Settings can improve the speed of your box. I haven’t tried this but that would explain why one of my TiVos, which has lots of ‘Thumbs’ is notably slower than the other (which has none).

June 11, 2016

TiVo apps poll

The quiet announcement that the Spotify app is disappearing with the new TiVo software update is the latest step in the demise of the disappointing tale of the TiVo app. Do any of them work anymore? Has anyone got the patience to use the TiVo's cumbersome YouTube or BBC iPlayer sloths? They're either broken or unusably slow these days, which makes me wonder if anyone actually uses them. I've set up a poll (top right) to see what you think. Let me know.