Launching in mid-December the receiver combines the familiar TiVo interface, revealed by Broadband TV News last week, with a library of on demand programming, a personal video recorder and web based applications. Initial shipments of the Cisco-manufactured device will feature two tuners; a three-tuner version will launch early in 2011.
Customers will pay £199 for the receiver itself and £26.50 for the 160-channel XL big basic package where Virgin continues to place much of its value. Customers not also taking a telephone line – at a cost of £12.24 per month – will have to pay £32.50 per month. There is also a £40 installation charge.
“This is a landmark moment in the UK’s digital revolution and vividly illustrates why Virgin Media is the only company who can provide the ultimate digital lifestyle,” said Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media. “For the first time, viewers will have a truly personalised viewing experience so they can get the most out of the wonderful worlds of the internet and TV all in one place. We’re really excited to bring our customers what is just the first of successive generations of transformational services based on this unique TiVo-powered platform.”
The search technology will help users find films, music, TV shows and online content as well as being able to pull up information and details about actors and directors. Users will also be able to create a ‘WishList’ search based on a particular show, theme, actor or director and all future content relevant to that will be automatically recorded.
The peanut-shaped TiVo remote control will also give viewers the chance to rate shows through the instantly accessible TiVo ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ buttons. Using the feature will help the device learn viewer preferences and download recordings direct to the box without prompting.
The service will launch with apps from major web brands including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, videos from YouTube, shopping from the online marketplace eBay, Tweets from Twitter and photos from sites such as Facebook. It is anticipated further apps will be added in coming months.
The PVR functionality has 1 terabyte of storage – equivalent to 500 hours of standard definition programming. The in built 10 Mbps modem means there will be no drain on broadband elsewhere in the household.