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Virgin Media TiVo review

Does the Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo box get three green thumbs?

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Our Verdict

For

  • Incredibly powerful
  • Huge range of functionality
  • Highlights the benefits of a cable connection
  • Makes finding content easy
  • TiVo recommendations are fabulous

Against

  • Occasionally overcomplicates things
  • Lacks polish in several places
  • Could do with a QWERTY remote control

Virgin Media powered by TiVo has been a long time coming, with the cable giant finally taking the plunge and updating some ageing hardware with an exciting, fresh and powerful set top box that takes advantage of the growing world of on demand video and internet television and provide credible competition with Sky.

For those not familiar with the TiVo brand - the US personal video recorder specialists are the brand that took time-shifting to the masses in North America, bringing a host of recommendation features that became a huge hit and featured heavily on shows like Sex in the City.

TiVo box

A brief foray into the UK years ago and in partnership with Sky ended in acrimony, and now where many say "I'll Sky Plus it" in Britain, Americans will be talking about "TiVoing" programmes.

The time was ripe for Virgin Media to move from its old V+ HD box and software and look for a fresh approach, not only because the box and its software was showing its age, but also to take full advantage of the company's enviable instant on-demand service.

TiVo has always prided itself on 'surfacing' content - making it easier to find your favourite programmes and the television you weren't even aware you would like - so it made a huge amount of sense for Virgin Media to agree a partnership.

That news was welcomed to a small but vociferous group of TiVo fans in the UK who have kept hold of their boxes and still give the service three green thumbs up, and you can see why.

TiVo home screen

But, from the outset, one thing is clear, this is not a perfect product, it lacks the polish and finesse that would have made it a darn-site better and although the sheer power of the box makes it a seriously tech-friendly piece of kit, it comes at the risk of making it a little over-complex for less tech savvy people.

However, if you have Virgin Media, or are thinking about upgrading, this is the box you should be demanding. Once you get used to it (and, wonderfully, once it gets used to you and your viewing habit) this is a piece of kit you will be showing off to your visitors and talking to people about in the pub.

This is not so much a step change for Virgin Media's offering as a bound up a fairly steep staircase.