Saturday, 6 August 2011

Virginmedia Tivo

Sometimes, I dont understand the web. If you read the reviews
of Virginmedias Tivo product, they all rave about how good it is.

But it isnt. The interface is buggy and designed by people who havent
tried to read the text from across a living room, even on a big screen.

The fact that you cannot archive programs from the device without
watching the same program on the main TV is, well, somewhat myopic.

The ethernet and USB interfaces do nothing (as yet). Why? Its 2011.
(I think I know why, because the film industry doesnt want people to watch
films away from a DRM controlled environment).

The on-demand and catch-up services are badly thought out and confusing.

The remote control is as bad as all other remote controls - it
cannot be held in the hand and used in a one-handed mode - not if you
are fast forwarding.

The fast forward on tivo is very badly thought out and confusing.
Its idea of fast forward is 2x or 3x. One cannot quickly scroll
through without a lot of button pressing. (The jump in 10min
intervals is broken and confusing).

The suggestions do not understand recording and watching something -
it only seems to work based on thumbs up/down.

Tivo does not understand a family who have different tastes and

The YouTube app is a joke. Watching 240x320 youtube videos in
degraded quality on a 40" TV is about as ugly as you can get.

The above is typical of the glowing self-satisfying reports on
the product. Multi-room streaming? How will that work? If that means I
can watch tivo on my PC in another room, then I am salivating.

If it means I can watch one tivo from another room, then think on! Who
is going to have two Tivos in a household?

Applications on the tivo are just a real joke. On the ipad,
applications are great because it allows a degree of 'context'
without having everything coming through the browser.

BTW the virgin Android TV guide app is poor. Very poor. It is welcomed -
it is better than nothing, but it is one of those 'why am I wasting
storage space on my device' apps. (You can control your
tivo device from this app, to do remote recordings; but theres a serious
glitch in the way it works - you cannot record a program if it is
on in less than 35mins from now. Why?)

The tivo is 'not bad' but its certainly not a step up from the
prior Virgin+ device.

Post created by CRiSP v10.0.13a-b6043


  1. Hi Paul,

    I've got a Humax Foxsat HDR as a PVR

    It's an HD Freesat device so no monthly fees and I get most of the HD content and extra BBC channels, Film4 etc and none of the paid for dross (YMMV).

    The menus and remote are not perfect, but the displays are readable from some way away, and the remote is pretty decent for most common use. You can customise the jump intervals for example (I have the buttons set to jump forward 30s and back 15s, great for ad breaks), and the FFWD/REV switch smoothly between 2x and 64x for when I want to whiz thru a recording.

    The USB port lets you plug in extra storage and archive recordings to it if needed, but most importantly I can upgrade the hard disk myself (now got a 1TB drive) and some ingenious folk have replaced the busybox in the image so I now have SSH and Samba access to the contents (encrypted shows are of course still not much use remotely but they're in the minority) and some people run things like Twonky on it so they can easily stream recorded shows to laptops etc around the house.

    Ivor would laugh and point at his mythtv box(es), but for something low maintenance the whole family can use, the Humax devices are pretty good, and not paying a monthly fee has a certain appeal :)



  2. Thanks for the post Tim. I am getting used to the Tivo - i can archive the recordings via live playing of the programs. I am using HandBrake to recode the files (but this is very expensive - 2h+ on Intel Dual Core 2GHz). I keep experimenting with ffmpeg but the options drive me insane.

    I dont have freeview (not available in this area, and need an ariel. Will have to investigate at some point - and then there is lots of choice. Thanks