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Living with Sky HD remote record

Virgin Media users may be browned off with Murdoch now that Sky channels have vanished from their line-up, but I couldn't be happier

Virgin Media users may be browned off with Murdoch now that Sky channels have vanished from their line-up, but I couldn't be happier. As a Sky HD user, I'm over the moon that Sky has finally launched the killer app I've been waiting for since I played with my first Tivo -- online remote record.

It gives you the ability to set your Sky box to record TV programmes via the company's Web site. First, you need to associate your HD or Sky+ box with an online account by entering your mobile number onto the Sky Active service using the remote control. Once that's done, simply log onto the Web site and take a look at the telly listings.

Click a programme you like, press record and the system sends a signal to your box at home via the satellite feed to schedule a recording. It may sound like it won't work, but it did for me on Wednesday night.

Fed up with being excluded from conversations with the CNET.co.uk team about the Sci-Fi Channel's smash hit Heroes because I kept forgetting to set the HD box to record at home, I used the Web to tape the programme from work. When I got home, Heroes was there waiting for me. Unfortunately, I'm still a pariah because I didn't have time to watch it, but the point was proved nevertheless.

I know that Sky has let you program Sky+ and HD boxes via phone browsers and by text message for some time now, but I've never owned a compatible phone and SMS-ing has always seemed too complicated to be worth the bother.

Sending commands to your video recorder at home via a Web browser is as good as it gets. There are things I'd like to see improved, admittedly -- the programme guide only covers the next seven days (at home you can see 14), you can't set up series links and very last-minute instructions to record may not get through, as commands can take 30 minutes to reach the box. But for now, I'm happy I'm part of Murdoch's gang and not Branson's.