Virgin Media Powered By TiVo - Remote, Interface And Guide

David Gilbert

By David Gilbert


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

The peanut-shaped remote control is a big change from previous versions. Like the system as a whole, it took some getting used to, but after a few days using it, it became a lot more familiar, though selecting buttons was far from second nature. The numeric buttons are on the bottom of the remote with the play, pause, fast-forward and rewind buttons occupying the centre of the unit. The unique 'Thumbs Up' and 'Thumbs Down' buttons sit either side of the record button, above which sit a plethora of navigation buttons.

While the remote itself feels rather nice in the hand, if you need to switch between using the navigation buttons on the top of the remote and numeric buttons on the bottom, it's rather awkward. Another problem with the remote is there are too many small buttons on the top of the remote, making it virtually impossible to pick the right one without studying it intently - which is awkward when watching TV in the dark.

The Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for TiVo has been completely redesigned and those used to the old Virgin set up will initially find it strange to deal with. With a new remote and new system to navigate, it took quite a while for us to be able to use it instinctively and even a couple of weeks in, there are still times when it's not altogether natural. The major change comes in the homepage, where you are greeted with a list of six options on the left hand side and a visual Discovery Bar across the top where program icons are dynamically displayed while you browse through the homepage. The Discovery Bar includes a combination of programs TiVo thinks you would like and programs promoted by Virgin. There is still all the stuff you would find on the V box menu including On-Demand content and My Shows and Recordings.

Overall the redesigned homepage and guides are a lot brighter than the previous versions and once you get used to the left and right selection method, they are intuitive to navigate your way around. First up is the TV Guide, which has been redesigned to include more information such as which programs are available via catch-up - indicated by a little 'c' symbol. Where things begin to get interesting is that the new EPG allows you to scroll forward and back, up to seven days. Any programs in the last seven days you see with the catch-up symbol can be clicked and two clicks later you are watching the show. This is a very slick system but we just wished the BBC on-demand content could be accessed this way too rather than via a dedicated app or the red button.

While watching TV, the program guide gives us a lot more information than previously, including a program description and what channels the other two tuners are tuned into. It is also possible from here to go directly to either of these channels and rewind to the point when it tuned into that channel. While watching a show you can press the green Thumbs Up or red Thumbs Down buttons to let the system know this is the type of program you like or dislike. It is these actions which help TiVo to predict what you like and make suggestions about shows it thinks you may enjoy.

In the My Shows menu from the homepage (also accessed via a dedicated remote button), you will find all the recordings (organised into folders if there is more than two of one series) and Series Links you have scheduled, but you will also find a folder entitled Suggestions. It is in here that TiVo places the shows it thinks you would enjoy based on your viewing habits and Thumbs Up or Down selections. For the most part, TiVo gets it spot on, recording shows and films in the same genre as those we would normally watch anyway. While most of the programs are fairly obvious choices, there were a few we hadn't seen/heard of before and this is where TiVo excels, by introducing you to content that otherwise would have completely passed you by.

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April 14, 2011, 2:34 pm

Strangest business model ever... renting a box when you must first pay a non-refundable lump-sum £200 for the privilege of never owning it!


April 14, 2011, 7:41 pm

Was genuinely interested in this (anything has to be better than the V+ box).... right up until I saw the price. £150 is far too much for a rental box I'm afraid. The 500Gb version at £50 sounds like a far more attractive deal until you notice they want to stick an extra £40 on for installation. Such a shame, it's got the potential to be a fantastic system but it's just too expensive right now.


April 14, 2011, 9:53 pm


£200 lump sum is for new customers - whereas existing Virgin customers can pick this rental box up for an up-front investment of £150.

Think someone at Virgin needs to gain an understanding of the concept of 'rental' and 'deposit'.

I'd honestly be more interested in hooking Virgin's TV service up through Windows Media Centre - but I gather that's not exactly straight forward either.


April 16, 2011, 12:15 am

No one is going to buy the big-boy, but the 500 Gb at £90 installed + £3 per month must be tempting. Not a bad price for a PVR with a fair few tricks up its jumper.


April 16, 2011, 1:22 pm

It's a good deal. The £150 buys you free lifetime service and/or replacement of units if they are unfixable. The £3 pm is for the TiVo software interface, which does a lot more than competitors'.

With Sky you pay for any repairs or any replacement of units.


May 6, 2011, 2:37 am

I am about to loose my beloved first generation TiVO in a month's time when they finally turn the EPG off thanks to the new box being launched with Virgin.

I have yet to see a PVR that comes close to TIVO in terms of its ease of use and features that ensure there is always something worthwhile that I will want to watch on the hard drive, even if I didn't know I wanted to watch it!
It takes about a month of use to thumbs down all the stuff you really aren't interested in but it keeps learning.
If I lived in an area with Virgin Media I would bite their arm off for one of these boxes.


May 10, 2011, 3:54 am

"Knight Rider's KIT", it should be "KITT" or K.I.T.T with 2 T's, someone did not watch the classic 80's show me thinks ;)


September 18, 2011, 8:51 pm

The Virgin Tivo still has several faults - it cuts the end off recordings - it looses channels - it is difficult to use - it has no interactive feature. Don't go there - wait until Virgin gets it sorted.

Doug Gordon

October 18, 2011, 3:08 pm

I have to say I am amazed at your review. I have been a Virgin media customer since before

their takeover of Telewest.

The original Virgin V/V+ box UI (user interface)

was far superior to the new Tivo box UI. Why?

[1] The original menu deign and navigation was

simple, easy to remember and required few steps.

[2] You could set multiple channel/time reminders (one of best and most useful features of the box/IU).

[3] recording was simple and easy to cancel.

In-fact it's only miss giving was that the box was old and the UI a bit slow. Apart from that it was extremely easy and clear to use.

The new Tivo box UI is almost the exact opposite.

[1] The menu design and navigation is clearly the implementation of a power point presentation and have never been used by its designers (else they would not have released the product with such a painful UI).

[2] The channel/time reminders feature has vanished! How mind numbing annoying is that. I mean to say you would think that that would be a prime requirement of such a *wonderful*

box UI? and in software its a such a no-brainer to implement. In-fact if you hit the 'ok' button on the remote, it will mark the program to record. If you hit the 'ok' button again it will not cancel the recording. The only way to cancel the recording is to leave the TY guide menu completely, navigate to 'your planed recordings' menu, find the planed recording, hit the 'ok' button there, hit the 'ok' button again to 'confirm' and the go all the way back through the menu system to the TV guide. How rubbish is that!

I could go on and on about the Virgin Tivo UI

and it's horrible design and navigation. Best you try one out for 'real' before you upgrade.

I am moving to Sky..........




October 18, 2011, 3:27 pm

I think the idea is that it records everything so you should never need set a reminder - just schedule a recording instead. If you don't want to keep the recording, you just delete it. Form what I've seen of the interface it seems pretty easy to use as well. And in long term testing - David has it installed - he's never reported any problems.


December 31, 2011, 5:33 pm

Had my Tivo box fitted on the 21/12/2011. Used it to record stuff over the christmas holidays and everything seemed great. Yesterday it had ' just wait a few minutes...' on the screen then kept going through a rebooting cycle. Got through to VM who said that they would get an engineer out the next day. To be fair the guy came out at 9am the next morning. End result was that the box had to be replaced, said that they had received a bad batch of Tivos. This means that I have lost everything that I have saved, not happy. Looking at the net you find that this must have been one big batch as a lot of problems seem to have been experienced with the Tivo. It is a great piece of kit, very impressive, but it certainley has reliabillity problems. I have no confidence in it, will continue to use Pc to save stuff that's important to me.


February 14, 2012, 9:32 pm

Initially, I made a decision based on the user reviews here not to migrate over to VM from Sky. But something didn't feel quite right. Then I came across this thread on the avforums:

So I put all their objections to the 'resident expert user' there (Carl Waring). I'm so glad I did. Carl answered all their objections to my satisfaction, and I'm now moving over to VM from Sky. There is a reason this site is called Trusted Reviews. David Gilbert has it just about right - he knows what he's talking about, and the user reviewers here (Gordon, Sanchez and Trammess) are just plain wrong. The moral? Make sure you are thorough in your research before you dismiss a viable alternative Tv services provider.


February 27, 2013, 12:24 pm

I'll keep it short, Remote way too awkward, you need to put a light on to see buttons if your using it in an evening. menus way to complicated. Stick with virgin HD or sky.

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