UK home cinema nuts have been waiting years for the return of TiVo -- and it's finally here, courtesy of Virgin Media. We got a quick look this morning and it's everything we wanted: an incredible PVR with a powerful recommendation engine and a brand-new user interface.
The strength of TiVo comes from this simple interface, and its thumbs-up or thumbs-down approach to TV. If you like something, give it the thumbs-up, and TiVo will make suggestions of what else to watch, based on your ratings. Soon you'll start to see programmes you might not previously have encountered.
The hardware itself is fascinating. It comes with its own dedicated 10Mbps broadband line, so the streaming services don't slow down your broadband connection. There's potential for online news, video and other services, which is a new angle for Virgin. The storage capacity is generous, with a 1TB hard drive built in.
Virgin tells us it may be possible, in the future, to stream video from this box to another hard-driveless box in your home. This will make TiVo the hub at the centre of your home-entertainment system -- really exciting stuff.
Available to pre-order soon at a cost of £200 up-front with a £40 installation fee, we know this isn't the cheapest service in the world, but from our short time with it today, we're pretty sure it'll change the way you watch TV. It certainly offers more on-demand content delivered seamlessly than Sky+HD. Keep your eyes peeled for our full review soon.
The grid view will be familiar to anyone who's used a PVR, but Virgin allows you to scroll back through time, and use the historical programme information to find catch-up TV shows, indicated by a little 'c' in a round arrow. Very clever.
TiVo suggestions are based on things you've watched and things you've rated. The higher the rating you give something, the more likely it is to influence what the TiVo suggests. It's well worth rating your favourite -- and least favourite -- shows, as this builds the suggestions much faster.