First look at Virgin Media powered by TiVo

1st Dec 2010 | 11:30

First look at Virgin Media powered by TiVo

The remote, the UI, the box - all here

Virgin Media TiVo: Hardware

Virgin Media's new set top box and the brand new TiVo-powered user interface have been officially unveiled, and TechRadar has all the pictures.

The Virgin Media powered by TiVo concept has been in development for over a year – with the first public announcement made back in November 2009 – and will begin to roll out this year.

The TiVo user interface is the headline-grabber for the new box – bringing a wealth of connected features and the famed recommendation engine, enabling people to mark programmes with thumbs up or down and allowing the box to record things you might just like after analysing your choices.

Virgin media tivo box

Virgin Media TiVo set top box: Looking quite PS3-like

First up, the new box itself which will have offer 1TB of storage and, interestingly, comes with its own built-in modem. This means that the box can be hooked up straight to your cable connection, so any internet use on it won't impact on your normal web connection.

It also has the expected three tuners, although only two tuners will be active at launch, with a firmware upgrade bringing the third tuner into play in 2011.

"In due course, there will also be the facility to set recordings remotely via online and mobile devices," adds Virgin Media.

"Featuring cutting edge hardware design, the Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo box will have three tuners, allowing viewers to record two channels whilst watching a third so recording conflicts become a thing of the past."

Virgin media tivo remote

Virgin Media TiVo remote: Featuring TiVo 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' buttons

The new Virgin Media box remote control is hugely reminiscent of the current TiVo remote control – and features the distinctive 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' buttons.

Virgin Media has not gone down the route of having a full QWERTY keyboard – which may surprise some people given that search is such a massive part of the 'discovery' experience in the user interface.

Virgin media tivo box - back

Virgin TiVo box:exclusive shot of the back of the box

Last but not least, here is a picture of the back of the TiVo box – complete with ports.

Virgin media tivo box - ports

Virgin Media TiVo: UI home

The user interface for Virgin Media's television offering has needed an overhaul for some time, and the TiVo deal has obviously provided this in spades.

The new interface, which is very similar to the US TiVo offering, is bedecked in Virgin Media's red, black and gold and the TiVo branding is fairly muted.

"Through its dedicated 10Mb cable broadband modem, which is built into the personal video recorder, the new platform will also bring the ever-growing popularity of the app store to the living room for the first time, doing for TV what the iPhone and Android have done for the mobile phone," states Virgin.

"Built on an Adobe Flash-based platform, the latest videos, social networking and information apps will be updated regularly.

"The service launches initially with apps from major web brands including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, videos from YouTube, shopping from the online marketplace eBay, Tweets from Twitter and photos from sites such as Facebook, and the app line up will expand over the next several months."

Virgin media tivo ui - home screen

Virgin Media TiVo UI:Home screen

The Home screen is an immediate showcase for just how different the user interface is – with a so-called discovery bar running along the top and showing off a much more graphical experience.

Options include Apps and Games, My Shows and Recordings and Catch Up & On Demand – along with a host of options for each.

Virgin media tivo ui - epg grid

Virgin Media TiVo UI:EPG Grid

The familiar EPG is in place – as you would expect – although it has been given a huge overhaul and is far more pleasing on the eye.

Virgin media tivo ui - my recordings

Virgin Media TiVo UI:My Recordings

My Recordings has been given a welcome spruce-up as well – grouping programmes and, again, using the discovery bar to make things look a little more exciting.

Virgin Media TiVo: UI search

Search is a key part of the TiVo and Virgin Media experience, enabling you to look by type, programme name and even things like actor or director.
"The game changing platform features a highly intelligent recommendations engine which will learn to predict the type of shows that a particular customer loves and, just like a personal shopper, will recommend great content on offer," adds Virgin Media.
"The superior search technology will find films, music, TV shows and online content as well as providing rich programme information and details about the actors and directors, allowing viewers to discover even more content connected to the cast and production.
"The user will be able to create a WishList search based on a particular show, theme, actor or director and all future content relevant to that will be automatically recorded."
Virgin media tivo user interface - search
Virgin Media TiVo UI:Finding a programme
Searching by programme is the most obvious thing; with the discovery bar again prevalent. Search is done through rather clunky multi-tap entry on the remote control number keys.
Virgin media tivo user interface - discovery bar
Virgin Media TiVo UI:Discovery bar
Choosing the discovery bar gives you a drop down box of whatever is being shown – the bar is contextual, meaning that it changes depending on where you are.
So if you're looking through sci-fi then it will only have the key sci-fi shows and if you're on the Home screen you will get a mix of popular or noteworthy shows.
Virgin media tivo user interface - pick of the week
Virgin Media TiVo UI: Pick of the week
Of course, Virgin Media's UI will offer a pick of the highlights for the week ahead – with the graphical nature again obvious.

Virgin Media TiVo: UI more pics

Virgin Media's UI also brings a lot more information to the fore, with detailed programme info. Also worth a look is the series link page, which allows you to not have to worry about forgetting to record each week.

It's not a groundbreaking new feature, but the way it's been packaged up is slick and will help make sure you don't miss the shows you've been looking forward to for months.
Virgin media tivo user interface - programme details
Virgin Media TiVo UI:Programme details
Virgin media tivo user interface - series link
Virgin Media TiVo UI: Series link
Virgin Media TiVo Virgin Media powered by TiVo
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