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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

Interface

On to the user interface, and we see just how different the TiVo experience is. This is a flash UI modelled strongly on TiVo's US interface, and it's a big part of why Virgin Media decided on a partnership.

It's a beautifully thought out UI, not perfect by any means, but more powerful than anything else on the market.

Virgin media powered by tivo: homescreen

Finding content is the key to the new box, and from the first press of the home button, you will begin to see why.

The home screen immediately includes some of the big ticket offerings of TiVo. At the top is a bar filled with television shows. This is called the discovery bar, and as you move through various options it will be ever-present.

More impressively it will dynamically change depending on what you are looking at. The offerings are a mixture of shows that have been plucked out by the Virgin Media team and choices based on what you are watching and recording.

Virgin media powered by tivo: discovery bar

Pressing the up button on the remote will highlight a show and tell you why it is in the discovery bar (expect to see a lot of 'We love it, we hope you will too' when you start). If you watch a lot of sci-fi, for instance, you are likely to get a sci-fi flavoured recommendation – and the explanation of 'It is similar to other shows you enjoy.'

Pressing the okay button brings you to the show's 'hub' allowing you to decide if you want to record the show, check out the cast or set up a series link. These hub pages are central to TiVo's UI; you'll arrive at them every time you get to a programme, and options are grouped in.

Virgin media powered by tivo: detailed programme info

There are hub pages for every show, every movie and ever actor; every page acts as a conduit to other hub pages and programmes and it's at the heart of the TiVo experience

From that hub page you can choose recording options, see what episodes are coming up, see an episode guide and cast list and see bonus features that include YouTube search results. There is also an 'If you like this...' option to check out similar shows.

Back to the home screen and you can see a now familiar mini-television screen showing whatever is playing or showing on the last linear channel you were on.