May 01, 2011

Virgin Media TiVo - most comprehensive review so far

If you are still not decided on whether TiVo's for you or not and are waiting for a full review on this blog, I've got some news that may disappoint you - I'm not writing one. Why? Well quite simply the Virgin Media Tivo blog has such a comprehensive and well-written review that I can't really add anything to Jason's excellent comments and observations. Check it out at TV Reloaded? Virgin Media's TiVo Reviewed. Good work fella!


Moroboshi said...

Good review which covers pretty much all my issues with the TIVO box as it currently stands.

I would add a couple of things though:

- EPG data is often missing. Despite the box apparently going off and fetching new EPG data, I usually have to manually force it to update. Even then some channels will be listed as 'to be announced' for anything more than a week in advance.

- I get stuck with the spinning red 'wait' circle from time to time when backing out of some menus. This thing doesn't want to leave my TV screen, and can be there for 10 minutes or more.

As for some of the other issues mentioned in the review, I'd like to see the lack of auto padding fixed, and whatever argument with the BBC resolved so the catchup links can be put into the EPG. Once you've found something interesting in the history EPG it's absurd to have to then find it all over again in the rather limited, clumsy, and painfully slow to load iPlayer app. It makes the TIVO feel needlessly limited and slow to use.

On the subject of picture quality, I would describe the SD upscaling as 'sympathetic'. The old V+ kept things pretty sharp, which on a good TV equates to blocky and low-res. By keeping things a little softer it helps hide some of those ugly jagged edges. The HD picture quality looks the same to me, except for iPlayer HD, which looks quite a bit worse.

The elephant in the room here however is the glaring lack of Sky Atlantic. With virtually all interesting high-end US content locked away behind Murdoch's paywall now, having the best PVR is meaningless if it can't access the best content. I can certainly find plenty to watch on BBC HD and increasingly BBC Four (which I really, really wish was in HD!), but it would be nice to have a legal option to get Game of Thrones, Broadwalk Empire Mad Men, The Borgias, and many others.

Interesting to hear that Virgin are open to third party apps, such as LoveFilm. (although their streaming service at present is mind bogglingly awful) If only we had NetFlix in the UK...

Nialli said...

Good points. I'd like to be have more Options in the My Shows listings - I know I could use Wishlists but some genre or channel sorting would help no end.
The SD quality drop is annoying - I compared a Freeview recording of Rubicon this week with that from my TiVo and thought the former superior, at least in terms of colour and sharpness.
The constant asking for a PIN number is getting to be more than an annoyance - it's on almost everything I've recorded. Damned irritating.
I still love the TiVo, but then I would have thought a V+ with a 1Tb drive pretty decent, too. TiVo is good to my mind, but not quite great yet. There's room for improvement but at least my box is proving stable - no reboots in week one. No noticable glitches apart from a "hiccup" when recording Great Gatsby this week off ITV3 - missed 5 mins and clipped it into two recordings around 3am. Odd.

Moroboshi said...

Agreed on the PIN entry issue. It will pop up asking for a pin, claiming a recording was made after 9pm when it's own on-screen meta-data shows it was on much earlier.

It's a bug and one I hope Virgin will squash soon. An option to turn PIN entry off completely would be very welcome.

D said...

I have just had my second Tivo box installed,although the engineer was very good and could not be faulted,At 7.30pm in the evening i could lot stand the poor hd.picture any more i changed it back to the Samsung V-Plus box.I have now got back my pin sharp H.D picture on my Panasonic 42in. plasma 3d.television.I rang Virgin Media and had no problem cancelling the Tivo.They will pick it up on Friday.After a week of stress i can now sit back with my wife and enjoy watching television again.

Darren said...

There's a little thing annoying me with the Tivo at the moment and that is when you're watching a recording and press stop, it takes you back to the info screen, but the recording keeps playing in the corner screen.

Is there anyway to change this? At the moment I have to pause the program rather than stop.

Richard said...

good review. as a Tivo S1 owner I have soooo missed tivo when using the V+. As the review nicely summarised, 'Going from the V+ HD to TiVo is like using a Smartphone for the first time.' No matter how much people like me used to say 'tivo is great', you have to try it to understand.

For all those asking why they have spinning balls and long waits when backing out of menus... sorry its the way tivo works. If you change anything in your recording options that will cause a change in the priorities, all the tables for recording are rebuilt. so every season pass, wish list and recorded program has to be checked and if there is a conflict, an alternative recording option found.
The more season passes and wishlists the longer the rebuild.

There are other things that cause a long wait but this is the main one.

Philip Guest said...


Thanks for mentioning that, I thought it was just my set!

After a few days' use, I'm more than satisfied with my Tivo - it's great to just freely record HD without having to constantly keep an eye on what space is left. The Suggestions have been surprisingly accurate too.

The different reactions to the Tivo's handling of an SD broadcast are very interesting. Personally, I'd say it's about 90% as effective as my old V+ box - and I'm watching them on a 48" plasma.

Yes, I have niggles - the SD menu screens, the lack of flexibility with folders, accessing BBC programmes via the iPlayer app - but certainly none of them are deal-breakers for me and could easily be fixed in the future via software updates. One thing - I'm particularly pleased to be rid of the "rattle and hum" sounds my old V+ box used to emit!

I guess my only major gripe is the "peanut" handset - the layout is fine but the curvy body means I'm constantly knocking it off my side table!

Square eyes said...

What a great review, seems to be fair & honest.

My only issue with the TIVO box is when you come to delete content from the deleted folder. When you delete content from any of the folders you create or even from the suggestion folder, you can delete all in one go, however you cannot clear all the conrent in one go from the deleted folder, they have to cleared one at a time.

And thats it for me...

Moroboshi said...

One more niggle I have with TIVO, - the suggestions stuff is great but why on earth it thinks recording episode 20 of season 3 (for example) of a series would make for a good suggestion is beyond me.

Season 1, episode 1, by all means, but anything else is absurd.