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Virgin Media TiVo chooses cheaper option with 500GB box for £50

If you've been salivating over the thought of a telly that records stuff it knows you'll like but you've been balking at the price, we have good news.

If you've been salivating over the thought of a telly that records stuff it knows you'll like, we have good news: a Virgin Media TiVo box could be yours for as little as £50 up front. But if you're not already a Virgin Media customer, keep saving those pennies.

TiVo is the ace set-top box that allows you to rate what you watch, training the box to automatically record stuff you'll like. You can search programmes, make wishlists of things you want recording before they're in the schedules, and even watch programmes you've missed over the last week -- but all for an eye-watering price.

There's a new box packing a 500GB hard drive, half that of the 1TB monster that introduced the service to Virgin Media customers. Like the existing box it packs three tuners and a dedicated built-in modem to connect to the Web. It'll cost just £50 to Virgin customers, and will be available on all tariffs.

Virgin's TV packages start at £6.50 per month, but you'll need to pay a TiVo fee on top of that. Virgin's impenetrable pricing makes it tough to say exactly how much each customer will pay, but we'll keep you posted when the service becomes available.

The current TiVo box is a 1TB monster and costs a whopping £200 followed by around £3 per month. It's only available to customers of Virgin's XL top-tier tariff, and even to that elite the supply is very limited. If you're an existing customer the 1TB will cost you £150 -- but that's still just to rent the box, as you have to give it back if you cancel the contract.

Watch it later

The news comes on the same day that announced the results of a survey into our telly-watching habits. We don't usually set much store in such surveys, but more than a third of the 1,763 Britons surveyed said they never watched live TV.

About half of those refusing to be shackled by the shogunate of the schedules record their stories and watch them later on a service such as Sky+ or Virgin Media V+ -- known as time-shifting.

Other avenues for catching TV shows some other time include DVD box sets and online catch-up services such as iPlayer, 4OD and DemandFive.

TiVo too much?

The new 500GB box will be available in mid-May. To see TiVo in action, check out our hands-on photos. Now there's a more wallet-friendly option, will you be teeing up TiVo -- or is it still too expensive compared to rival services? Would you pay that much just to rent a box, even if it's as good as TiVo? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.