November 23, 2011

"What to expect from your Virgin Media TiVo 15.2 Upgrade"

There's a great post over on Cable Forum that I'm taking the liberty of repeating here (hoping that main man zekeisaszekedoes and the guys at Cable Forum don't mind). The full thread is well worth a read, but this post alone is detailed and a great summary of what you get with the TiVo 15.2 update:

Just wanted to make a thread to point out how much the TiVo has improved with the new firmware version 15.2, as opposed to version 15.1 which I used for a couple of months before I got the update.

I have the 500GB TiVo on the M+ package. My firmware update was done between the hours of 2am and 4am… can’t be more accurate as I was asleep, however a friend of mine in the same area was using his at around 3am or so says that is when the upgrade “kicked in”. Some on this forum have reported that they had theirs either at 2am, or slightly earlier at 1:45am.

The headend for my box is Fareham which is covered under the Solent (Portsmouth) rollout area scheduled for early morning of the 22nd, so the update was delivered on-time, more or less.

There are four lists:
  1. Positive Changes, which are things I’ve noticed that fix old problems or introduce great new features.
  2. Negative Changes, which are things that were better in the previous 15.1 firmware.
  3. Still To Fix/Add, which are any old issues or missing features identified by myself and others that remain to be (hopefully) repaired or added in the next version, presumably 15.3.
  4. Untested, for any features touted as new or improved by VM that I am unable to test, or alternatively can test and have not yet for whatever reason. [I've not copied this piece: check out the CF thread if you want to read more on the stuff zekeisaszekedoes hasn't looked at yet]
If I’ve missed things I’ll add them to the first post as and when I find them.
If anyone else wants to contribute I’ll add their findings to the list with the appropriate credit.

  • Speed increase.
    • It’s not a huge increase, but menus (especially Flash HD ones) are notably faster than before. Thumbnails on the Discovery Bar seem to cache a little faster and so do the previously very sluggish ones in the Home -> Help & Settings -> Help menu. Jumping from full EPG to Home or vice versa and setting new Series Links is swifter, with the nasty problem where the currently viewed channel jumps from PiP window to fullscreen and back again much less obvious.
  • EPG tweaks.
    • I thought the EPG was good before, but it has been made even better.
    • Start/end times appear in brackets just before the program description.
    • There is a green button Options menu allowing navigation to various times/days without scrolling endlessly.
    • When using the reverse EPG the channel number/name moves to the right which makes a lot more sense visually.
    • Pressing OK on something in the reverse EPG with a catchup icon brings up “Go to Catch Up TV On Demand”… I believe it had this feature before but having never really used reverse EPG before now couldn’t say for sure.
  • Full-screen info improvements.
    • If you’re recording the show you’re watching, another ® icon appears after the VM logo and before the thumb rating (if any) and channel name, plus in many cases shows will feature both a genre and “first aired” label to the right of the description. Small touches, but nice ones.
  • Activation of Ethernet port.
    • This is possibly my favourite improvement that has been made as it really extends what the VM TiVo can do; I have mine plugged into a 16-port switch (see signature).
    • After enabling certain networking options you are able to use an Android app called TiVo Commander (or VM’s proprietary iPhone/iPad app but I didn’t test that) to control the TiVo by a visual remote.
    • Better still, TiVo Commander can manage available content on the hard drive and make it play directly without having to go into the My Shows part of the Flash HD interface. This is a much faster and cleaner way of controlling the box; I really like it, even though sometimes the link between my Samsung Galaxy phone and TiVo was broken, solved by relaunching the app easily enough.
    • Also now Multi-room Streaming is possible (check for other TiVos on the network with Help & Settings -> System Info -> Multi-Room Streaming) although I’m not able to test this because the household only has one TiVo. If all is well other TiVo units should show up at the bottom of the My Shows list. (As a side note, the TiVo Ethernet port appears to be 10/100Mbps.)
  • Express Series Links.
    • A much easier way to setup Series Links is here, and it’s pretty much one click.
    • Defaults are: start 1 minute early, end 4 minutes late, 10 episodes until speed needed, new & reruns. These are now the default options for regular Series Links too, which can be changed of course.
    • If you want to make regular Series Links use the Explore this show -> Get this show -> Get a Series Link -> Options menu chain, which incidentally keeps you in the Flash HD part of the TiVo rather than to the old SD one without the PiP in the top right.
    • (When you manage Series Links, that’s still in the old SD menu style though.)
  • Disable PIN on recording playback.
    • It was annoying to have to enter a PIN to watch shows recorded after the watershed time(s) in non-watershed times, but this has been mostly done away with now.
    • I still received a PIN request for a show rated by age (18 in that case) rather than time of day though.
    • You can lock apps with the parental control as well, but for some reason the only one that shows up on my list is the old YouTube one.
  • Multi-tap text entry.
    • I’ve wanted this feature for a long time, and now it’s here I am not disappointed.
    • So much quicker to enter text on the Flash HD menus using the numeric buttons like writing SMS on older mobile phones.
    • iPlayer app always had it (still does), old YouTube doesn’t as it hasn’t been updated and the old SD parts of the TiVo menus (i.e. when creating or modifying WishLists) still doesn’t so it’s a mixed bag, however.
  • All channels in PiP Window.
    • Yes, even the Sky ones. I didn’t expect this to be looked at until 2012 so I’m impressed it’s already been dealt with, because it was a senseless limitation.
  • USB keyboards are working. - thanks to mikerr
    • It wasn’t just the Ethernet port that got switched on, the USB ports were activated too.
    • Interestingly if you press F11 you can toggle between Flash HD menus and faster but older original TiVo SD ones which have some “hidden” options. I’ll post the keyboard layout when I’ve tested it more. From what I can tell though, there is no rewind/fast-forward/play/pause ability which is a shame.
    • My Logitech MK250 wireless USB mouse/keyboard set works perfectly, well the keyboard does anyway! I also tried one of those generic PS2 mouse/keyboard to one USB adapters, and with only the Keyboard plugged in it worked perfectly too.
    • Sadly no support for generic USB Mass Storage devices which don’t need complex drivers like external HDDs, flash memory sticks or smartphones with SD cards.
  • Info and Stop button functionality improved.
    • “You’ll be able to use the ‘info’ button in the TV programme guide and the mini guide, while the Stop button now works as you would expect.” That’s what Virgin said and so far I agree with them.
  • New YouTube app. - thanks to the_pidgeon
    • I did receive the updated YouTube app, contrary to what I first thought.
    • Both old and new are now present on 15.2 VM TiVos.
    • New one is found under Featured apps and Music while the old one is under All Apps & Games.
    • Some have said the new YouTube app is buggy, but in my experience it's okay, just not as loaded with features as the old one.
    • New one autoplaylists by default, plays an annoying VM promo video at launch and lacks features like Subscriptions
  • Sorting of Apps & Games into folders.
    • This adds nothing when you consider at the moment there are only 14 apps on the TiVo (both old and new YouTube), just results in more button presses to get to what you want.
  • Films no longer show the year in brackets in My Shows. - thanks to mikerr
    • For example The Matrix [1999] now just displays as The Matrix.
    • This was a good way of instantly telling films apart from other programmes and it is a shame to lose it
  • Aspect ratio on 4:3 content when using PiP in Home menu is wrong.
    • A minor issue, but noticeable.
    • When you’re watching an old show or film, anything non-widescreen is displayed correctly in the EPG when the Aspect Correction Mode is set to Panel, i.e. with black bars on either side.
    • In the Home menu, all non-widescreen content is stretched out to fit even when Panel is selected.
  • YouTube/old style TiVo SD menus don’t support multi-tap input.
    • The new YouTube app might, but I don’t have it to test.
    • Old style TiVo SD menus still force you to input letters, e.g. for wishlists, by use of navigation keys only.
  • Still using old-style TiVo SD menus in some parts of the interface.
    • This will probably never change with VM’s Premiere TiVo derivative, but there’s always a disappointment when going from the slick, fairly decent looking Flash HD menus to the TiVo SD menus that haven’t changed much in a decade.
  • No Spotify.
    • It was promised but doesn’t appear to be available yet… I was expecting the app to be downloaded to the TiVo at least, even if it wasn’t usable.
    [Nialli comment: it's coming November 29th.]
    • Disabled TiVo Desktop support.
      • You can’t download content from the TiVo still; hopefully in the next update, since the original Premiere is capable of it.
    • Can’t use pyTiVo or Streambaby third-party streaming apps.
      • As the VM TiVo differs from the Premiere quite a bit at this point, these excellent features which allow you to stream content from other devices (i.e. a NAS or PC) with transcoding where necessary.
      • Features like this would push the TiVo closer towards being a true media centre hub, but even with the Ethernet port activated and Multi-room/network remote features added we’re unlikely to see support for these at any point. More of a pipe dream, really!
    • Negligible difference to SD channel upscaling.
      • I never saw much (if any) difference between the upscaling on Tivo and older V HD /V+ HD boxes but VM did promise an improvement here, which in my opinion has not arrived.
      • My recommendation is, if you’re connected by HDMI it’s wise to turn the Sharpness control on your set up somewhat. All VM boxes I’ve tried benefit from a clearer picture when doing this, which is quite noticeable on SD content and even more so on HD content.
    • No red button support.
      • Yes, red button still just takes you to Catchup style options, not proper Freeview-esque support of true red button services.
      • In my case not a big issue as it is something I rarely use (TV has built-in Freeview anyway) but it will undoubtedly tick off some TiVo users.
    • No Reminder feature.
      • This legacy function is still missing.
      • Easy enough to implement, so hopefully 15.3 will include it.
      • I see it as a transitional addition to make migrating from V HD and V+ HD boxes easier, especially if you have those and the TiVo in the house.
    Overall the 15.2 can be considered a big improvement over the 15.1 in a variety of ways, with some of the lingering problems due to be removed in the next firmware upgrade. Well done Virgin Media, and TiVo US!


    BuddieBoy said...
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    BuddieBoy said...

    BBC Red Button is coming to tivo before the end of the year.

    @virginmedia The website is wrong if it does not launch this year.

    @buddieboy2011 It's not wrong as it says we're adding new Red Button services before the end of the year (BBC & ITV) with more early 2012.!/buddieboy2011

    This means it will have to launch this month because there is a change freeze in december.

    It looks like the sky sports red button will come in early 2012 ie by the end of march. Going by this.

    BuddieBoy said...

    Also when you create a wishlist In the 15.2 update there is now a subcategory after you select the HD category.

    streaky_7 said...

    Well, had update and a quick play. Have to say the speed scrolling through pages and going from home to my shows etc has noticeably improved. Haven't had any red donuts - but they may have gotten rid of them? - but it's definitely quicker which is great. And i Love being able to turn off PIN request.

    All in all some nice little touches which I really like.

    One thing though, when I first got TiVo I found the "suggestions" we're being prioritised for recordings i.e. if I had 3 recordings going and it needed to record a 4th, it would cancel one of my shows NOT the suggested recording. I was led to believe from different sources this was a known problem and since I turned off suggestions I have never had a failed recording. But Does anyone know if this has been sorted out now and I can safely turn on suggestions again without missing my shows?

    Still some improvements to be made but very happy with the latest update so far. 2012 will hopefully see some more great improvements pushing TiVo well ahead of its rivals in every sense!

    streaky_7 said...

    Also, another nice little touch to do with how its all running a little quicker is when you put in a channel number - before, if you were on 108 (BBC HD) and I wanted to change the channel to 517 (Sky Sports 1HD) I would type 517 then have to push OK then wait 2 seconds for it to switch over - now you just put in the channel number and it jumps straight away to new channel......not revolutionary, but its another little something that all helps and shows they have made the whole thing run quicker and smoother!!

    Andrew said...

    Any sign of the iPad app? I can't seem to find it.

    Andrew said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    nick said...

    Can Multi-room Streaming only be used if both boxes are networked via ethernet?

    Seems a bit strange to me considering when I go to the option I can see both boxes in my house on the mneu option but can't access anything from them, unless I'm doing it wrong obviously :-)

    Anthony said...

    @ Andrew - i'm still patiently waiting for the iPad app too, hopefully it's release is imminent!

    The app, along with the 15.2 update, will make our TiVo boxes a sure-fire Sky HD box killer!

    Andrew said...

    Yeah, really looking forward to the iPad app. It should make interacting the box much easier.

    There is one other feature I'd really like to see: The ability to stream content from iTunes or Media Centre or whatever. Imagine being able to get all your photos, music and downloads on there too. Epic.

    kenny said...

    i do like the 15.2 update but im still having issues with hdmi connection it still pops up the odd time hdmi not permitted not half as bad as the last time but unfortunatly for me its still there....

    BuddieBoy said...

    US Tivo slide remote now works on the 15.2 update.

    Martin1887 said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    ethernett001 said...

    HDMI Ethernet Cables for Australia.