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Virgin Tv Anywhere – my initial review

Review of iOS App VirginTvAnywhere (after hands on use for a week)

What is this app for and how will it improve my enjoyment of consuming Virgin Media TV using TiVo?

The ‘about’ and ‘help’ sections in the app are noticeably devoid of an over arching vision of its purpose. The help files are mainly about how the app functions technically – with little about why I may want to use those functions or how it’s better than using the standard remote control. I had to spend sometime with the app to discover what it would and wouldn’t do before I could think about how I might use it.

 

I asked myself three questions 
  1. Is this just a bigger remote control for TiVo?
  2. How does this app deliver TV Anywhere?
  3. How might I use it?
  1. On the first question – it certainly is a bigger remote control. It’s also smarter most of the time. It delivers improved content management. Shows can be scheduled, deleted and previewed without interrupting the family viewing on the TV screen (except for the odd slip when I press a button that I didn’t realise would affect the TV screen in real time). The app also gives access to many of these functions away from home – via WiFi. 
     
  2. I have to admit that my expectation of the app when I was recruited for this trial was that at the very least I would be ableto watch live streaming of my Virgin TV package on the same WiFi network. At best I would also be able to watch shows recorded on my TiVo anywhere at home or away – a sort of Slingbox for Virgin. In the event only a handful of mainly obscure channels are available for live streaming and there is no access to recorded programmes. So I am puzzled by the name of the service because it doesn’t deliver TV anywhere. Shouldn’t it be called TV Remote Control Anywhere? It would be a truer, if rather long winded, title.
     
  3. There’s a novelty value – O look I can control my TiVo from my iPad! (I tried this once before using a long lead to connect the TiVo to my Router. I downloaded an App called Peanut. I wasn’t impressed and decided it was wasn’t worth persuing it as I would have to find a more practical way of making the network connection permanent – The app was fine but so was the dedicated TiVo Remote.)

    So how will I use it? 

  • I will occasionally use VirginTVAnywhere to browse the guide.
  • I will probably use it extensively to manage recordings. The TiVo interface on TV is somewhat ‘clunky’ and slow; the app is faster. 
  • Network required
    My final comment is about connecting the TiVo to the router. Mine are in different rooms so I have attached a WiFi adaptor to the TiVo. Isn’t it time TiVo was fitted with an integral WiFi card – after all it would add little to the cost of the box and apps like TVAnywhere could connect without substantial extra cost to the customer.
    Manage Expectations
    I assume that when the app is launched it will be free. If so then Virgin Media has a lot to gain by good marketing. Without it, the title raises expectations above it’s function. 

    So what do I like about VirginTVAnywhere?

    • Ability to browse the programme guide without interrupting the programme being viewed by others in the room.
    • Being able to manage recordings
    • Limited TV streaming – although there are better apps in the App Store.
    • Greater control of the TiVo box using the app

    But I won’t be taking the batteries out of my TiVo remote just yet. For basic use it’s still quicker to pick it up to select a show or a channel.

    I also think I may have found a bug.
    1. Select a folder in My Shows
    2. Delete the series link.
    3. Delete the shows one by one using the swipe- delete method
    4. When the last show is deleted (leaving an empty folder) the app loses connection with the TiVo – presumably because it’s trying to connect to a folder that no longer exists.

     

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