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Virgin Media TiVo 1TB review: Still going strong six years later

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £49
inc VAT

You've still got some navigation issues, but TiVo's wealth of content puts it up there atop the best PVRs around


The TiVo’s ability to watch iPlayer content isn’t as remarkable as it once was, with both Sky and YouView also doing this – and the latter also having timeline integration for such catch up. You can also access iPlayer (but not other catch-up content) through a dedicated app. The app is very familiar to us from other devices, such as the Xbox 360, as it’s the current layout used widely across numerous set top boxes, smart TVs and Blu-ray players.

iplayer iPlayer on TiVo has been updated to the latest version

The iPlayer app works well, it’s easy to navigate and you get HD content; though as usual you only get seven days of catch-up TV, rather than the wider range of programming accessible through the website. Also it’s worth noting that there’s no TiVo thumbs-up option while viewing this content, thoug you can thumbs-up catch-up content on the timeline.

Coming back to the EPG, it’s well designed and easy to navigate. You get two weeks’ worth of listings going forward, as well as the week just gone. You can see two hours of TV, and eight channels, onscreen at any one time. There’s a box in the top right-hand corner showing what you’re watching currently, and a description of the selected show on the top left.

Whatever package you’re on, you’ll have a lot of channels. Thankfully, you can flick through pages of channels using the volume up-and-down buttons, or slim down the selection using a variety of genre filters or by setting up a favourites list.

Virgin Media TiVo guide Shows in the past are marked a darker colour on the EPG, and some have the catch-up symbol next to them

If it’s all still too much, you can search for future or catch-up content from the search menu. This is a great tool, as it refines your searches in real-time as you type and brings up both shows and actors – so you can easily find programmes with people you like in, or find a programme where you’ve forgotten the name but remember the actor. We’re not keen on the square layout of the onscreen keyboard, but thankfully you can now enter characters using the alphanumeric keypad on the remote – just like texting in pre-smartphone days.

Virgin Media TiVo search The as-you-type search function is excellent


Recently, the TiVo box was among the first to benefit from the BBC rolling out its Red Button content online. Pressing the red button on BBC One for example will bring up a menu of programme-related content – such as games on other courts during Wimbledon. More commonly, you get a list of News, Sport, Weather and others, with each providing a list of recent programmes or smaller TV pieces that aren’t available elsewhere. It’s a great addition to the wealth of content already on the box.

BBC Red Button Red button content extends to much more than just convenient iPlayer links


VIrgin Media has fixed a lot of our issues, and yours, with navigating the menus on the TiVo box. A record and remind function has been added, so it warns you that you’re favourite show is about to start (if you’re still keen on watching live TV), though a remind-only option is still missing. It’s not something we missed (given the recfording space on offer we’re happy to record anything we want to be reminded of, just in case we’re unexpectedly out) but it seems to be a big bugbear for some users. Series link has been much improved too (as we mentioned above).

It must be said that the actual physical remote is a delight to hold, with a great layout of buttons, all clearly labelled and with good feedback. The TiVo box itself has no internal volume control, but the menu system has a built-in function to teach the remote to control your TV or AV amplifier. We had no problem getting it set-up to control the volume on our Onkyo amplifier.

Virgin Media TiVo remote The remote control itself is a great design – click to zoom in

There are still a few niggles though. The window-to-full-screen button will take the TV playing in the corner window of any menu and make it full-screen, but pressing it again doesn’t then put it back in the window and bring up the menu you were just browsing.

Virgin Media TiVo mini guide Navigation has been much improved since its launch

We were also annoyed that there’s no consistent way to simply stop watching TV. The stop button has no effect on live TV, even when it’s playing in the corner window. To browse the guide in peace-and-quiet you have to pause or mute the currently watched programme. In the recordings menu, and some others, you can remove the corner TV window by pressing the Slow button on the remote – given how often we use slow motion, it should really have been relabelled.

Finally, when entering certain menus in the interface, such as the on-demand section, you get promotional videos running in the top right hand corner. The Slow button won’t get rid of these, so had to pause them every time we entered the menu to have a browse through the content without it distracting us.

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Analogue tuners0
Digital tuners3
Hybrid tuners0
EPG days14
Dual-channel recordingyes
Series linkyes
Video recording formatMPEG2
Teletext (analogue/digital)N/A
Certified Freeview Playbackno
Picture in Pictureno
Interactive content supportno


Analogue tuner RF inputs0
Digital tuner RF inputs0
Hybrid tuner RF inputs0
RF passthrough sockets0
HDMI outputs1
Component outputs0
Output resolutions576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets1
S-Video input0
S-video output0
Composite inputs0
Composite outputs0
Stereo phono inputs0
Stereo phono outputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF outputs1
Surround sound formatsDolby Digital
Other ports2x USB, Ethernet


Optical driveno
Optical drive typeN/A
Audio playback formatsN/A
Video playback formatsN/A
Image viewing formatsN/A


Power consumption standby19W
Power consumption on19W

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