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Virgin Media Powered By TiVo review

David Gilbert



Our Score



  • 1TB hard drive
  • Three tuners
  • Clear and instinctive interface
  • Suggests shows you would like
  • Scroll back 7 days in TV schedule


  • Features not fully formed
  • Remote too complex
  • Interface can be slow

Review Price free/subscription

Key Features: 1TB hard drive; Three tuners; Dedicated 10 Mbps modem; Intuitive recording system; 7-day scroll back menu; Catch-up and On-Demand services; Apps and Games

Manufacturer: Cisco

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.

Virgin Media Powered By TiVo

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.

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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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