First look at Virgin Media powered by TiVo
1st Dec 2010 | 11:30
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 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: 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 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: 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
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
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
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
Virgin Media TiVo: UI more pics
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.