Virgin Media TiVo review

Virgin Media TiVo review

T3 5
  • Once the brightest TV UI in the world, this service faces competition from Sky, Freesat and YouView. Find out how it compares in our Virgin Media TiVo review

    Virgin Media TiVo review

    Love

    • Triple tuner recording
    • Excellent image quality
    • Extensive on demand content

    Hate

    • Slow operating system
    • Netflix Profiles not supported
    • UI needs a revamp

    So successful when it launched Stateside that it became a verb, TiVo is the original smart set-top TV box. With its innovative recommendation engine and intelligent search functionality, it redefined what a TV recorder could do. But in 2014 it has serious competition.

    The latest iteration of the Sky+HD box, with integrated Wi-Fi, is enjoying a user interface overhaul with massively improved search functionality, while free-to-air satellite service Freesat offers Freetime with roll-back EPG and catch-up on both a low-cost zapper (the Humax HB-1000S) and advanced PVR (Humax HDR-110S).

    And for terrestrial viewers, there's catch-up rich YouView, available as both a no-strings PVR or as part of a broadband package from both BT and Talk Talk. So is Virgin Media TiVo managing to hold its own under this onslaught? 

    Virgin Media TiVo: Size and build

    From a design point of view, TiVo gets the thumbs up. That aerodynamic matt black cabinet, which measures a relatively compact 370 x 237 x 68mm (w/d/h), still looks futuristically sleek. The use of LEDs is understated and build quality is high.

    Connections include HDMI, Scart, two USBs and Ethernet (both currently disabled) and an optical audio output. The viewing card slot is rear mounted.

    Virgin Media TiVo: Features

    TiVo is available in both 500GB (good for around 50 hours of HD) and 1TB (100 hours of HD) configurations. With three tuners as standard, allowing you to record three programmes simultaneously while watching a fourth, there's good reason to opt for the larger capacity.

    TiVo also has its own dedicated 10Mbps modem, which means IPTV use doesn't impact on traffic around the rest of your Virgin broadband fibre network. However, given that Branson's boffins are now offering speeds north of 100Mbps, that dedicated pipe is beginning to look a little tardy.

    TiVo will auto record programmes of interest, as guided by the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down functionality provided on the peanut-shaped remote. Thumbnails across the top of the screen provide yet more launch points for browsing viewers. There's a small selection of apps onboard too, the most notable of which is Netflix.

    While TiVo and Netflix may seem odd bedfellows, the relationship transpires to make a lot of sense. Unfortunately the version of Netflix on TiVo does not support Profiles. Other apps include YouTube, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport and News, Spotify, plus assorted causal games.

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