September 21, 2015

September news thin on the ground

I just realised that I haven't made a single post on this blog during September. This isn't due to time constraints on my part (I've had plenty of time to be honest), more a reflection of the lack of news on Virgin Media services, Netflix UK and the other areas covered by this blog. Not much going on out there I'm afraid. All I've got of late is a story regarding a 4K TiVo rumour in the US I picked up:
Personally, I am as excited about the arrival of 4K in the home as I was about 3D (i.e. not at all) - you need a TV at least 55in to really see the full benefit (I think Sony do one at 43in but I can't really see the point) and the amount of genuine 4k content available is minimal. Sure, it may become a standard with new sets even if people don't watch much 4K on it (3D was similar) but as long as they don't degrade HD streams to sell it, I won't be interested. Views?
And, whilst you're kindly reading this, does anyone else think the picture quality on Sky Movies has taken a dip of late? I watched a recording from Film 4 HD the other day and thought it was so superior to another from Sky Movies Premiere HD I had to check the latter hadn't been recorded from SD by mistake. Similarly, BT Sports HD footie coverage looks sharper and handles motion better than the games on Sky Sports HD. The studio footage is fine and suitably sparkly, but the games themselves look, at best, average PQ.


Tom Chiverton said...

For sure SD on demand content is now very poorly encoded. Color banding is the most obvious artefact, but also the red in the BBC breakfast sofa was crawling in the shadows this morning too (live).

4k is yet another piece of marketing. No one is going to replace a TV set over it. Hardly anyone did over 3D. Yes, if you're TV breaks, by all means get 4K - but an upgrade ? Nah. Just hype to sell TVs.

Stephen Young said...

As far as improvements to services it all the company seems focused on broadband rather than tv, with a new round of download speed upgrades apparently rolling out from October.

As for 4k, does anyone know if the current tivo box could output a 4k stream say from an updated Netflix app? I seem to recall when VM launched the tivo that it had an inbuilt modem with a dedicated 10mbs connection for apps. Given that Netflix's 4k stream needs 15mbs or so can this be upgraded or is it hardware limited?

rowland2008 said...

I must admit i was blown away by the quality of 4K i have seen in a Sony centre,i've also been impressed with OLED tv's in the same way i was impressed years back when i first saw HD demos on a Pioneer tv or channel i have seen since has come close to that kuro and i doubt 4k in the future will have the quality of these 4k demo's.
Some years back the BBC HD channel suddenly dropped in quality and has since had a slightly grainy look about it the thing is HD seems to vary wildly, film 4 bless em seem to go the extra mile to put on a good picture,funnily enough i think films on channel 4, channel 5,and E4 in HD on my 50" plasma can look very clean but as you say Sky movies and sky sports can look ropey its the reason i have cancelled my subscription,personally i still think a good Blu Ray film is the best solution,i recently saw Man of Steel in 1080P which looked stunning i think i am quite happy with this for the forseeable future....David

Jon said...

Although 4K resolution itself is unlikely to make a significant difference for most people (with <65" TVs), HDR, Extended colour gamut (both part of the UHD spec) and OLED - will make a huge difference to picture quality. All of them are pretty much tied to 4K, so even though 4K is of minor benefit, a 2015/16 "full" UHD TV is a massive step forward.

And, to answer Stephen, no, the current TiVo cannot handle 4K. It can't handle the codecs required and the HDMI port is not really up to the job either. Technically the port might be able to do 24fps 4K content, but not 50/60fps and not HDR or extended gamut (which, as I said, is probably the main benefit anyway), and you've still the codec problem.

Virgin talked about releasing new TiVo kit when they renewed their agreement earlier this year. TiVo are expected to launch their UHD box later this year. I would imagine Virgin must have it in development too as both BT and Sky are pretty firm on their "4K" plans.

Stephen Young said...


Thanks for the reply/info. Not surprising really and tbh I wouldn't mind shelling out for a new box as long as the improvements weren't confined to 4K. I've never found the VM TiVo to be particularly fast/responsive but since the last major firmware update its been noticeably worse.

tassiekev said...

Bit lare to the party but here's my 2 bob's worth:

I recently quit VM for a number of reasons - Tivo hardware is slow, Tivo software is just not up to the job, OD selection very poor, lack of 5.1 sound, EPG not dynamic etc.etc. For a few months I had both VM & Sky and the difference in PQ alone was worth the switch. I completely agree that C4 & Film4 seem to have the best HD PQ but Sky movies on a Sky HD+ box is chalk & cheese compared to the Tivo.

As was mentioned earlier, VM seem to be putting their eggs in the BB basket (they need to because BT, Sky, Talk Talk are catching up fast with fibre & G.Fast technology) and seem to be ignoring TV. Everyone is very similar in pricing terms with landline rentals and packages so I wonder what VM see as their USP.

They'll need to come up with something really special to get me back.