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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

The first option on the page is the TV guide – you may think that this needs little mention in these EPG enabled days, but actually this guide does have a very cool trick; namely you can move backwards as well as forwards and see what shows are available in on demand catch-up.

Virgin media powered by tivo: epg

Obviously, not everything can be viewed from the past seven days, but as more and more catch up TV channels arrive, expect this feature to become a familiar and welcome site.

You can also narrow down your channel choice to favourites that you set, HD or genre.

Next up on the menu is the Catch up and on demand menu – taking you to an alternative way of looking through what is available to instantly watch courtesy of the always impressive Virgin Media on demand service.

Third down is the search and browse section, allowing you a powerful search engine for your television shows and access to YouTube.

Virgin media powered by tivo: search

Tapping in a search brings up the most popular options – a bit like Google Suggest – which means that the mainstream your tastes, the less likely it will be that you are having to type in more than a couple of letters.

Once you have run your search you then have the option of setting up a 'wishlist' search. Every time you pick out, say, an actor or director you have the option of making it a wishlist search – namely one that you can quickly run again from this section or, you can tell TiVo to record everything that appears in that wishlist search.

Virgin media powered by tivo: series link

You'll never miss a Tom Cruise film or interview again…

Having someone or something selected in your wishlist searches also helps TiVo decide what you would like to watch.

Which brings us neatly to TiVo's suggestions. We called the hub pages the heart of TiVo, but it is the recommendation engine that is the brain of the operation.

TiVo thumbs

TiVo learns what you like. It looks at what you record and it asks you to mark programmes with those thumbs up and thumbs down buttons and then it uses other (anonymised) user data and meta data to make (generally) sensible decisions on what to record for you.

These TiVo recommendations live in their own folder in your 'My Shows' and, don't worry, they are the first recordings to be sacrificed if you manage to fill that terabyte with your own recordings.

Virgin media powered by tivo: my shows

In essence, as you go through grading programmes with thumbs ups and thumbs downs even as you just use the box, Virgin Media powered by TiVo learns the kinds of things that you like and starts to record programmes that you might like.

You may look at the screenshots, and read about all the features (including YouTube and apps) and begin to worry about how this will affect your internet connection.

Virgin media powered by tivo: grpahical browsing

But fear not, with a built in modem, the box and the mass of data it pulls in to give you a fine experience is not going to clog up your broadband. With Virgin's cable offering a nice fat pipe, all that data arrives quickly and, only occasionally, does the box take a little while to process it.