On the face of it, Virgin Media Powered by TiVo (or TiVo as we'll be calling it from now on) is just another set-top box giving you access to a host of channels, HD content, some 3D content and on-demand services. It is only when you begin to play with it however that you realise just how much more powerful it may be. It claims to be innovative and intuitive and will know you better than you know yourself - only after it gets to know you a little though.
What sets this box apart from its rivals, such as the 1TB Sky HD box, is that TiVo will predict what you like to watch, based on your viewing patterns and record the shows you may want to watch, without you having to lift a finger. It claims to revolutionise the way we consume TV, not constricting us to the TV schedules any more, but allowing us to watch what we want, when we want. Read on to see if TiVo really can change our lives.
First up, lets have a look at the hardware. The TiVo box on an aesthetic level is quite an improvement over the V box, which frankly looks like a remnant from a 1980s Eastern Bloc country. The curved lines of the TiVo box mean it will sit nicely in any modern sitting room set-up. You could easily imagine the red light from Knight Rider's KIT flashing across the front before the intelligent box starts to talk to you. On the front, it does away with any LCD channel display, opting instead for two green and three red buttons to indicate power, remote and the number of tuners in operation. For some this will be a flaw in the design, but for most people it won't impact too heavily.
Also on the front are eight buttons you hope you never have to use, but just in case you do lose your remote, the buttons will allow you to navigate the EPG while crouched below the TV. There is also a Power button and a Record button. Looking at the rear of the box, we find the usual assortment of connections including power, cable, optical audio, Scart, HDMI, 2x USB, Ethernet and the slot for your Virgin Media smart card. Inside, this box contains a 1TB hard drive (good for 500 hours of SD recording), three tuners and a dedicated 10Mbps modem which works totally independently of any Virgin Media broadband you may have in your house.