March 23, 2017

TiVo developing for ... Sky Q?

Believe it or not, TiVo is providing Sky Q with a natural language, voice-based search solution, making it quicker and easier for Sky Q customers to find the content they are looking for. Honest.
More details here.

March 05, 2017

New function on the V6 remote

I found a new capability of the V6 remote the other evening: if I hold down the TV button for a few seconds it brings up my Sony TV's AV input menu. My old TiVo's remote doesn't do this but it's a useful feature and means I no longer need the telly's own remote very often now.

March 02, 2017

Where's the Store?

On November 30th Virgin Media announced:

Virgin Media Store
To give Virgin TV customers a new way to own the entertainment they love, Virgin Media is launching Virgin Media Store to bring viewers some of the biggest movies first out of cinema before they are available to buy on DVD alongside a huge range of box sets to download.
Through the Virgin TV V6 and TiVo boxes, desktop and a Virgin Media Store app for iOS and Android, viewers can simply browse the store, buy what they want and then watch it straight away on a TV or mobile device such as Virgin Media’s TellyTablet. For films, a DVD copy will be automatically put in the post for keeps. The Virgin Media Store will launch in February and will be available for non-Virgin Media customers on desktop and mobile.

No word of it since. Nor have I heard of anyone having a "Telly Tablet" either. Anyone know anything about these?

February 23, 2017

VMHD and 4k coverage

It was recently suggested that I update the focus of this blog (which is ten years’ old later this year) to campaign for more 4k content on Virgin Media, much like I originally did for HD. I’ve given it some thought but will keep it running with general Virgin Media TV news (including HD, Netflix and any 4k content) rather than running a 4k or HDR campaign. I’m more than happy to support anyone who wants to campaign and can help promote one on VMHD but I don’t have the time (nor a 4k TV) to run one myself.

February 17, 2017

Another review of the V6 - three stars from What Hi-Fi

What Hi-Fi magazine’s review of the V6 is less positive than most, and is particularly negative about the lack of content and pricing on Virgin’s new box. Here’s what they conclude:
The V6 is a frustrating beast. Hardware-wise it’s mostly good, and if it doesn’t quite beat Sky Q it’s a fairly close-run thing.
The interface could do with a further refresh and it seems a little prone to crashes, but it’s a notable improvement on the TiVo box. If you’re a current Virgin subscriber and intend to remain one, you should upgrade for the speed boost alone.
But it all falls down a bit when it comes to content. There are no Sky Atlantic-rivalling exclusives here, and you can’t even pay extra to get Sky’s best shows on your Virgin box.
What’s more, there’s no 4K content outside of Netflix or YouTube. If that changes, the V6 might well be a proper contender. Until then Sky Q still leads the way.
Although What Hi-Fi has always been a bit of a rabid Sky fanzine I think the comment on the lack of 4k content is not so wide of the mark. It would be great if VM made some announcements on this front. Read the full review at They award the V6 three stars out of five, but I’d suggest the actual review is actually a fairer, four star one.

February 11, 2017

V6 Review from Pocket Lint - "Better than Sky Q"?

Overall Pocket Lint gives the V6 a positive review and concludes:
There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that if you are an existing Virgin Media TV customer you should upgrade to the V6 box...
The fact that the box works so well with an existing TiVo device to provide a multiroom solution should be considered too. It’s a great upgrade option for existing TV subscribers.
Read the full review here: Virgin TV V6 and here’s their review of the Sky Q system, too

[Original post edited after Sky updated Sky Q firmware]

February 10, 2017

Another attempt to clamp down on Pirate Bay et al

The press this week has been getting its knickers in a twist again about illegal downloads, peer-to-peer distribution of pirate content and the like. Here’s one example, from the Birmingham Mail:
Customers of Sky and Virgin Media found [to be] users of these sites will be issued a warning.
The warnings, which are part of the government-backed Get It Right campaign, will inform customers they have 20 days to stop downloading content illegally.
The campaign is attempting to educate web users about the dangers of piracy.
“Copyright owners are monitoring peer-to-peer (file-sharing) networks to identify instances where their content is uploaded and shared without permission,” states the campaign.
“They will note the Internet Protocol (IP) address and then contact the appropriate ISP – including BT, NowTV, PlusNet, Sky, Talk-Talk and Virgin Media.
“The account holder may then receive an Educational Email from their ISP referencing one or more instances of peer-to-peer uploading and file sharing activities that have been confirmed to breach copyright.”
Click here for the full story. Bizarre that the Mail story on the web is packed with ‘How to use Kodi’ videos, isn’t it?

Anyway,  the actual measures to stifle piracy are still laughably half-hearted and the ‘stop, or else...’ threat is completely toothless:
Sky says that any users who receive an educational email won’t have their broadband suspended.
“Your broadband service won’t be affected as a result of receiving this email alert,” the company wrote.
“However, if you continue to share content illegally using your broadband connection, Sky will request that you take immediate steps to remove or disable any file sharing software that is being used to share copyrighted content illegally.”
Ow! Stop slapping my wrists! It won’t work of course - Pirate Bay users (and wasn’t that supposed to be blocked?!) know full well what they’re doing and aren’t going to be deterred by a tepid telling off in an email. What is more, according to uSwitch; “Internet providers will not actively monitor people’s online activity in order to find instances of illegal file sharing, nor will copyright holders. Instead, copyright holders will track activity on peer-to-peer networks to identify instances where their content is being illegally uploaded and shared.” So they’re not even going after downloaders so any Torrent users who are smart enough to throttle their upload channel won’t even get the email. Pathetic
And let’s not forget that there are still (I think) Usenet communities sharing content that presumably isn’t being targeted by this campaign either.

February 02, 2017

What's your favourite feature of the V6?

Okay, so we all love the fact that it’s not just faster than the old Samsung/Cisco TiVo boxes, but actually BLOODY FAST, sometimes surprisingly so, but what else do you like about it?
Me? I love the fact that I can watch recordings from either of my V6s on my main telly. With my old set up I had a 500Gb TiVo in the basement that my wife would watch her favourite movies on (recorded in SD as it’s only a 24in TV) but inevitably we’d decide we wanted to watch one of them on the bigger telly upstairs ... but couldn’t as they weren’t recorded on the 1Tb TiVo upstairs.
However, with our two V6 TiVo connected not only do we record everything in HD thanks to the bigger, shared capacity but we can watch everything on either TV - perfect. I’ve even taken to recording all our movies on one box, keeping the other for everything else. It’s fantastic and I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone who has yet to take the leap.
What does everyone else like? Anyone used all six tuners yet (more if you have linked boxes)? Offline viewing on your tablet/computer? iPlayer you can watch the same day as you fire it up? The improved responsiveness of the new remotes? Anyone played with 4k content? Let me know.

January 31, 2017

Discovery channels on Sky

Today’s is the last day for Sky and Discovery to agree a deal on these channels

  • Discovery Channel
  • Eurosport 1
  • Eurosport 2
  • Animal Planet
  • TLC
  • Investigation Discovery
  • DMAX
  • Discovery Turbo
  • Discovery Shed
  • Discovery Science
  • Discovery History
  • Home & Health
  • Quest

and all of their HD and +1 siblings. If there’s no 11th hour agreement today then that’s a lot of blank slots on the Sky EPG tomorrow. As carriage disputes go, it’s a doozy, and possibly a taste of things to come as the channels and platforms start to feel the commercial squeeze of those billions being invested in football.
Will people jump from Sky (and NowTV, which is also affected) because of the (temporary?) absence of a dozen or so documentary channels? I don’t think so. Discovery may be a big name but it’s hardly a big channel with compelling content these days. And that content is so widely available now that I’d be surprised if anyone made it a sole determinant of which provider they go with - I’d suggest availability, price and performance are more important. How many Virgin Media customers have a cheap NowTV box on stand by when Sky Atlantic has something interesting on? I do, and I would guess I’m by no means alone.
But maybe that’s just me. I don’t watch any of the Discovery lineup and if it disappeared from Virgin tonight I wouldn’t even notice. However, I have a friend who enjoys several Discovery shows and for him it’s a deal breaker - he’s had enough of Sky and is planning to try Virgin or BT, so what do I know?

Susanna Dinnage, managing director, Discovery Networks UK, said in a statement: “We want to thank our millions of viewers and fans for their overwhelming support over the last few days. We have reached a new agreement that guarantees Sky’s customers access to Discovery’s wide range of channels and programmes for years to come."