Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tivo Letdown

So, a brand new Tivo box from Virgin Media sits in our living room and, after a day using it, I have to say I'm bitterly disappointed.

The navigation seems to have been copied wholesale from the V+ box, with the same annoying looped messages and disjoint between the VoD and scheduled services.

The interface is slightly easier to use, but the remote control is a triumph of 'and let's add another button' over functionality. Why do you need more than five buttons if the interface is properly designed ?

The picture quality on SD is significantly worse than the V+ box, but the record quality seems about the same.

The ability to record series is nothing new - it existed on the V+ box, and the biggest disappointment is that I can't see a way to record the same show across channels.

Sure there are some more options, in terms of selecting how many shows you record, etc.. but these are fiddly to set up for the average user.

The recommendations engine is good, but the search function is primitive and often wrong (e.g. a search for rugby didn't show up Aviva Premiership rugby on ESPN didn't show up at all).

Worse still are the omissions - no red button functionality, no PiP for premium channels such as Sky Sports.

The video overlay functionality is slow and blips as you move between views, causing the video image to disappear for a few seconds.

Clicking from the EPG to on demand doesn't take you to the programme you clicked on - just to the On Demand interface. Barking.

The apps are a joke: one of them is a trailer for the last Harry Potter movie that was launched weeks ago.

The only OTT content seems to be the ubiquitous YouTube.

And the very worst thing is that the main thing I want from an EPG is the ability to remove channels - there is a Favourites function, but you seem to have to click over and over to get to it, just like the V+ box.

On the positive side, the programme information is better and the EPG is smaller so you can see more choices at the same time, and the 1TB holds twice as many programmes as the old V+ box, but is already 3% full after a day - I suspect that it will hold a month's programming.

After over a decade you'd have thought that Tivo would have been much further down the line than this. I waited several months after launch to get this box in the mad hope that the service would get honed down in that time. It hasn't.

I'd go as far as to claim that the internet TV service my company developed for Telewest nearly a decade ago is better in most ways than this. I remember at the time writing a document trying to persuade the company to launch a hybrid service where TV and internet based content would seamlessly be integrated in the same UI both as VoD and scheduled content - it was reasonably easy then and it much easier now, but as consumers we seem to be subject to the same old lash ups.

I guess we'll just have to wait for Apple to solve the problem that is a usable telly in the 21st century.