Gadget review: Virgin TiVo

Virgin offered us the chance to test-drive their flagship TiVo personal digital recorder and viewing box. As a self-confessed loather of TV, I wondered whether I really was the ideal person to carry out the review. However, in the end up I was quite surprised and have to say it I was blown away by the new technology.

Virgin TiVo is effectively a modern multi-channel video recorder without the need to buy video tapes or recordable DVDs. Virgin has taken the technological leap forward in the digital TV race, hooking up with leading video hardware and software manufacturer TiVo. The partnership is a strong one with TiVo’s years spent making computer video solutions.

A partnership formed to topple competitor SKY, the TiVo box offers viewers up to three recordable video streams - you can watch, pause, record or rewind your favourite TV shows with the freedom to watch them whenever you want.

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This means everything to household tranquillity by removing hassle over who wants to watch what and when. Naturally the bill payer gets first dibs on the live stream relegating the rest of the family to catch up TV. At least it’s now an option.

Further advancements trump the usual TV Guide with an intelligent monitoring system. TiVo will ‘suggest’ programmes based on your viewing habits. A feature which makes similar digital TV systems look out-dated. Even though you may not like some suggestions TiVo can make sure that at least you’re given a little help finding something to watch. When confronted by so many channels, clarity is a necessity.

‘Suggesting’ works as such, when you view your TV Guide you will notice a number of shows highlighted by green thumbs up icons. If you don’t like the suggestion then press the red thumbs down button on your remote control and future suggestions become more specific. Therefore tailoring your viewing experience with a much more personal choice.

With so many options. I found that even after a short while I had too many shows recorded and not enough time to catch up. To be honest I would complain if it was the other way around.

All the usual functions are available that are on other systems, such as setting up your TV schedule through mobile phone and laptop. The only real nag I have is the menus aren’t as intuitive as I expected. Being the sort of guy who throws the instructions away and dives straight in I found navigating menus clunky and confusing. The company colours for all the menus didn’t help, being fiery red I was hurled toward ‘TV rage’, almost switching over to Sky to get a breather in blue. Perhaps reading the quick guide would be advantageous certainly more than the colour scheme.

A further enhancement to the service is the possibility of seeking out old shows. You can browse an entire series archive and download it to your TiVo box. Internet TV browsers such as BBC’s i-player and YouTube can now be viewed like separate channels.

Take note, gigabytes of storage will disappear very quickly as your ‘record’ addiction spins out of control resulting in having to select shows to delete. That’s all fine and well but what can you do if you delete the wrong programme? Select the ‘undelete’ function - advantageous to the trigger happy and rather accommodating, as is Virgin’s choice to give you all Freeview channels in Hi-Definition, brilliant.

Virgin TiVo is a bang up-to-date TV system, perfect for anyone who wants the most features out of one box.

I have been left horribly aghast that I am now a TV convert, armed with important information to converse with fellow viewers on serious topics… Who’s entered the jungle or is it just time to get me out of here?