May 31, 2011

Free V HD box activation until 29th June

Virgin Media is offering all its TV customers free V HD box activation until 29th June – normally £49.95.
The number of HD channels you receive will depend on your TV package. If you have the M+ or L packages you’ll receive 6 HD channels or if you have TV XL you will receive 19 HD channels.
If you already have a VHD Box you can activate the HD channels on your V HD box now for free, saving £49.95.
Activate me now
If you don't have a V HD Box there's a £20 quickstart installation option so that you can upgrade your current V box to a V HD box with free HD activation.
Upgrade me now

May 30, 2011

What are your TiVo top tips?

Streaky 7 commented:
Maybe a top tips post would be good? Then you could take the tips people leave in the post and then make up a top 10/20 section on the home page in an easy to read, easy to find section. This could be updated over time as and when new tips get found out.
Which is a mighty fine idea. So please let me know what your top TiVo tips are and I'll compile a list for this blog.
Here are a few of mine to begin with:
  1. To reboot the TiVo don't yank out the power lead without trying to do a soft reboot on the interface first: Thumb Down - Thumb Up - Play - Play
  2. To move up and down a list a page at a time, use the Channel Up and Down buttons
  3. To quickly delete a recording, select and press Clear
  4. To improve the picture quality of SD channels, ensure that both 720p and 1080i are selected in video out
  5. If (4) makes your TV judder too much when switching between SD and HD, just select 720p

May 29, 2011

Has your TiVo slowed down recently?

If so Nick from Virgin over on the Virgin Media TiVo forum is investigating:
OK, we're looking into this issue. Send me a private message with the title "Box slowing down - latest update".
I need the following:
Installation date:
Hard drive remaining capacity:
Last (known) reboot, whether manual or not:
Please only post if you truly think your box has slowed down since the 1.01 update, otherwise you'll affect the results.
Nick Ontiveros
TV Strategy, Digital Entertainment

TiVo 500gb - anyone got one?

Has anyone had a 500gb box installed? Care to post a comment on it?

May 26, 2011

Recording the buffer

One of the features that I was anticipating with the TiVo was being able to save buffered content, but I cannot figure out how to do it.
For example, I've been watching something on BBC1 HD for half an hour and decide I want to keep what I've watched so far and the rest of the programme. I understood that the TiVo would do that, but I can't figure out how to do it. Any ideas? Or did I imagine this feature??

May 23, 2011

An HD alternative to Virgin's TiVo

If you are considering your HD options and are not convinced that Virgin's TiVo is the way you want to go then a new Blu Ray player from Samsung may be of interest.
The BD-D8500 has twin Freeview HD tuners (currently BBCOne HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD and 4HD), a 500GB hard-disk drive (which records up to 120 hours of HD thanks to MPeg 4), a 3D-ready Profile 2.0 Blu-ray deck and a wide range of networking features that includes LoveFilm and BBC iPlayer.
All for a list price of around £400 (although you can probably find it for less - Amazon has it for £329). More details at Home Cinema Choice or

May 19, 2011

Last week's TiVo software update

According to VM, here are the bugs addressed in last week's TiVo software update (1.01):
  • The picture no longer freezes on HD channels within seconds of tuning
  • Catch-up assets now display the correct date and time of airing
  • Box rebooting without return path now recovers when restored
  • Boot-up splash screen has been updated
  • Cast information in EPG updated where missing for many programmes
  • Correct time now shown in "Already Scheduled" pop-up
  • LED lights remain on during boot-up
  • 11% improvement in stability over previous build (Beta test results)

May 18, 2011

Rebooting the TiVo

I haven't had to reboot my TiVo but if you need to don't yank out the power lead without trying to do a soft reboot on the interface first:

Thumb Down - Thumb Up - Play - Play

Virgin comment on SD picture quality and invite beta participation

From the Virgin Community Tivo Picture Quality thread:

Nick has been keeping the TiVo team here at Virgin Media on top of all the hot topics raised on the forum and this particular discussion on TiVo box picture quality has been one that has had us a little perplexed. As some of you may be aware, we started our testing process for the TiVo box last year, and gradually started to roll out the service from the end of last year, before making the product more widely available from April. During this time we've issued numerous software releases to ensure the product is something we can be truly proud of.
However, despite following a rigorous testing process, following an investigation prompted by this thread, we've now discovered a small filtering issue affecting the upscaling of SD channels which can lead to the TV picture on those services looking softer than those produced by our V+ boxes on some TVs. The good news is that filter settings exist within the firmware, meaning that creating a fix is a case of issuing a software update, and hence won't need any sort of box replacement.
We'd like to thank those eagle-eyed members of the forum who've brought this issue to our attention and we are now working with our hardware partners to resolve this issue which will go into a software release later in the year.
As this update also contains new features, it will be a few months before we're able to release it, however we appreciate some of you with certain set-ups where the issue is more pronounced may wish to get the issue resolved as soon as possible, so we'd like to invite some of you to join our beta trial panel. It is important to understand that by joining this restricted group you will receive software at an earlier stage of development which may contain other issues, but at the same time we'd love some of you on board to help make this great product even better. The only caveat is that you will be required to undertake regular 'homework' assignments testing new functionality and you agree to certain restrictions on public discussion.
That's pretty good. So Virgin acknowledge the SD softness problem on the TiVo, plan to fix and are even offering an option for those who can't wait for the next software upgrade to try it early. Nice one VM. I'm happy to wait as I watch little SD and have adjusted my settings to compensate, but for others this is good news indeed.
To participate in the testing, go to this Virgin Media thread and see the May 17th post from NickO which has details of how to contact him.

May 16, 2011

French Open Tennis in 3D

Press Release:
Virgin Media is bringing live 3D tennis to millions of fans’ living rooms for the first time in the UK. Virgin Media will showcase Eurosport’s live and exclusive programming from centre court at this year’s French Open tournament.

With Rafael Nadal defending his title against Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and in-form Caroline Wozniacki taking on returning champion Francesca Schiavone, Virgin Media’s pay TV customers1 will be able to enjoy every big forehand, backhand, volley and smash from the centre court at Roland Garros, Paris, in glorious 3D.

Live action will be broadcast in 3D on Virgin Media channel 523 as the tournament opens on Sunday 22nd May and concludes with the final on Sunday 5th June. Tennis fans wanting to relive the action will also be able to watch top matches on Virgin Media’s ground-breaking 3D on demand service2.

Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “We’re delighted to be adding one of the year’s most prestigious sporting events to our calendar and giving our customers more of those ‘wow’ moments in breath-taking 3D. With Sky Sports, Eurosport and ESPN all available in HD and SD and a great choice of sport on demand, Virgin Media is the perfect choice for sports fans everywhere.”

Jean Thierry Augustin, Eurosport’s Managing Director, Distribution, Rights Acquisition and Development said: “This agreement with Virgin Media will enable UK sports fans to experience Grand Slam tennis as never before. The iconic clay courts of Roland Garros are the perfect stage to demonstrate the progress being made in 3D sports broadcasting. It will be the first time an entire Grand Slam event has been accessible in 3D to viewers at home from the opening day to the final and it reinforces Eurosport’s commitment to innovation and new technology.”

Virgin Media is showcasing Eurosport’s 3D coverage of the French Open. Live action from the tournament will also be available on Eurosport HD (Virgin Media channel 522), British Eurosport (channel 521) and British Eurosport 2 (channel 525).

More than 1.5 million households already have a 3D-ready Virgin Media set-top box at home3.  Virgin Media offers a choice of 3D content to its TV customers for no extra monthly fee4.
1 Eurosport’s 3D coverage of Roland Garros is available to Virgin Media’s M+, L and XL TV customers for no extra fee

2 Selected 3D matches will be available on demand as part of Virgin Media’s XL TV pack

3 VHD, V+ HD or Virgin Media TiVo set-top boxes receive 3D content. Customers will also need a 3D TV and 3D glasses to watch in 3D

4 All Virgin Media TV customers can enjoy a taste of 3D for no extra monthly fee. A range of 3D documentaries and animations is available to Virgin Media’s XL TV customers for no extra monthly fee and 3D movies on demand are available as 48-hour rentals

May 15, 2011

More cancelled US shows

It's axe swinging time at the US networks and a number of popular imports have already fallen victim and won't be returning next season. So, don't hold your breath waiting for the following as they've all been announced as gone baby gone:
  • Stargate: Universe
  • Brothers & Sisters
  • V
  • No Ordinary Family
  • The Event
  • Human Target
  • Chicago Code
  • Law & Order: Los Angeles
  • Lie To Me
Update: two more I've just learned of: 
  • $#*! My Dad Says  
  • The Defenders
Pretty big blow there for those channels that are built around US imports as shows get axed no matter how popular they are in the UK.

My TiVo Suggestions get better and better

I may have had a moan yesterday about TiVo Wishlists missing some obvious films, but Suggestions are getting better every week on my box. Okay, so I seem to have Top Gear and The Gadget Show suggested (and recorded) regardless of how many thumbs down I give them, but some of them have been pretty impressive and helpful. For example, I have a Wishlist looking for repeats of Firefly, and the TiVo has recorded Castle for me, which I've not seen as it's on Alibi, a channel I pretty much ignore. It stars Nathan Fillion (also of Firefly) and it's pretty darned watchable - not a classic but a step up from the standard cop shows.
The TiVo also suggested repeats of classic Father Ted and Spaced tucked away in the More4 schedules, has recorded Match of the Day for me (when I didn't realise it was on) and found a couple of Terry Gilliam and Martin Scorsese documentaries on TCM I didn't know where coming soon. Cool.

May 14, 2011

TiVo wishlists

Love the idea: you have an actor or director you really like, create a TiVo wishlist and every show/movie they've made gets recorded wherever and whenever it's shown. Well, TiVo wishlists would be indispensable ... if they were reliable.
For example, I've set up one for Steven Spielberg movies, probably the most famous director alive today. But it tells me there are no forthcoming Spielberg movies in the next two weeks. Odd. Schindlers List and Catch Me If You Can are both on Sky movies tomorrow, and Minority Report follows a few days later. What's more, my Orson Welles wishlist missed the BBC's showing of Citizen Kane and Magnificent Ambersons and Sky's A Touch of Evil.
Anyone else had this? It's a great feature but only if, as I say, it is reliable. I realise that with a new service these things improve over time, but it's disappointing when one of the great promises of TiVo isn't working consistently already.

May 11, 2011

Virgin Media launches the 500Gb box

Just got this from Virgin Media:
Great news, we've launched our new Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo 500GB box early for existing customers. From today M+, L and XL TV customers will be able to get their hands on Virgin Media's next-generation entertainment service, packing all of the same power and great functionality of its bigger brother but for just  £49.95 plus standard installation charges.

Existing XL TV customers can enjoy the TiVo service for an additional £3 per month and now M+ and L TV customers will be able to experience the power of TiVo for an additional £8 per month, all they need to do is call to upgrade on 0845 650 7777.

We'll be making our TiVo 500GB box available for new customers this summer, watch out for more news!

Screen resolutions on the TiVo

Have you tried the multiple output resolution settings for your TV? I had my TiVo set for 720p for SD and 1080i for HD which made switching between the two slow and jerky as the TV would "ping" and adjust each time. I've now switched back to 720p for both and it's back to being a smooth operator. Probably more my TV than the TiVo, but it was particularly annoying when the TiVo menus switch to SD as you go past the initial HD screens.

May 10, 2011

New TiVo software update

TiVo users are reporting receiving a software update last night. Anyone know anything about it? My software version is 15.1-01-3C00. Cable Forum discussion thread.

May 04, 2011

More on the TiVo Standard Definition debate

For those unhappy with the TiVo's upscaling of SD, here's an interesting table posted by Kettle on a thread over on Virgin's own support forum: Picture Upscaling. According to his tests the best option is to select 1080i and 720p in the Video Output settings - the former will be used for HD, the latter for SD channels. It should switch intelligently, but unfortunately that's where any "intelligence" ends. Ideally the TiVo would use 576i for SD and the TiVo would leave your TV or AV equipment to do its own upscaling (Virgin Media currently broadcasts SD in 576i and HD in 1080) but the TiVo doesn't actually do it.
(If you want to see how your TV or AV equipment would handle the 576i output just select that option and try a few SD channels. Not recommended for HD of course but it will give you some idea of whether it being "forced" to 720p is desirable for your set up.)
According to Virgin Media (NickO) this isn't considered a "bug", but Nick does say that they continue to look in to this issue and he will report back to the thread with a statement when it's available.

May 02, 2011

TiVo wins $500m patent settlement

From PaidContent, some interesting news about a big win for the TiVo company in the US:
TiVo CEO Tom Rogers hailed the $500 million patent settlement with [US satellite company] Dish Network as a historic day for the DVR company. The agreement represents the “one of largest technology patent settlements of all time,” the TiVo CEO said.
“In addition to highlighting the significant value of our intellectual property, it creates a recurring stream of high-margin licensing revenue that enhances our financial profile while also removing the overhang inherent in this kind of protracted litigation,” Rogers said during a hastily arranged conference call with investors and the media.On top of the $500 million settlement, Dish has also paid $100 million in licensing fees to TiVo for the Time Warp patent, Rogers noted. Over the next several years, TiVo says it will realize at least $50 million in additional annual revenue tied to licensing fees through 2017, when the patent expires.
TiVo has a number of other similar actions for patent infringement against other companies (including Microsoft, AT&T and Verizon). Some times the good guys do win it appears.

Sky now "unassailable in pay TV"

Hardly news, but an interesting read nevertheless from The Guardian: Pay TV player BSkyB is winning the war to dominate digital

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!