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 TV guide is standard fare, but it looks much smarter than it used to. It's HD now, which the old Virgin hardware didn't support.
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.
Searching is now much quicker and simpler. Notice you can search YouTube videos too.
As you enter text, the box works out what you might want, and presents options to you. This is fast and awesome.
Searching for a show also enables you to watch it via catch-up services, as well as set a recording.
There's series link too. In the US this is called season pass, which is some TiVo trivia for you. TriVia? Never mind.
When you search for House, TiVo presents Jeeves and Wooster as an option for you to enjoy more Hugh Laurie. Clever stuff.
All the upcoming shows are available, and you can see if they're in HD and when they air.
Explore the cast and find out what other programmes they've been in. Shame there isn't any classic Neighbours catch-up on Virgin, you could check out Jesse Spencer in his first role. Aww.
So you can see everything else Hugh Laurie is in. He was in Friends?
You can then extend that search to YouTube.
Handily, it takes your search and transfers it to the YouTube search box.
This is what you'll see when the box is doing something.
Here's a YouTube video in super-stretchy-vision.
Wishlists allow you to set up recordings for people, shows, genres or other search results.
This wishlist would record anything that had Hugh Laurie in it. Genius.
Virgin will build suggestion packs for you too, which is a good way to discover new shows.
Virgin has set up a Bafta award winners and nominees pack, which lets you see award-winning and nominated shows in full.
There's also a genre-based movie search.
With rom-coms, for example.
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.
Angel is suggested here. And why not?
TiVo's thumbs-up and thumbs-down ratings are world-famous. It's what makes the service unique.
Apps are also included. Here you can see an eBay app and some other video-based stuff.
Virgin has its own content, which it draws from its website. This includes Flash video, which is awesome.
Note how Gatwick is shut because of half an inch of snow. Epic.
The remote is similar to the original UK controller. It features the directional control and dedicated thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons.
The box is smaller than we expected, and 10 per cent more ugly than we anticipated. The hardware is made by Cisco.
There's a power button, and a Virgin Media logo etched on the top.
Here's the surprisingly compact box from the front.
Signals go in here. Pictures come out the HDMI.
The rear of the box contains several inputs and a slot for your Virgin subscriber card.
HDMI handles HD video, including 3D, should you fancy watching a movie in stupid-glasses-o-rama.
Look, it's got a side too.
As excited as we are about the service, we don't think the box is going to win an award for most beautiful hardware any time soon.
There's a dedicated record button on the front of the machine.


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