Monday, January 23, 2012

Comparing Sky+ and Virgin Tivo

Yeah, yeah, I know. I swore that I wouldn't do it, but it was the red button wot did it.

I paid for Sky Sports online and on Virgin and was still unable to watch Welsh rugby teams play in Europe (without resorting to Justin.tv, of course..), so our home in Wales now has BSkyB TV, along with Sky Sports (and that pesky red button).

So, now I have full on experience of Sky+ and Virgin's Tivo box, so here here are my impressions.

The interfaces are both far from perfect but Sky gets 7/10 and Tivo 3/10. Sky has fewer services and plugins, but everything works seamlessly and is very fast, with a great remote control that works from a good distance (this may seem a minor point but is my single biggest bugbear, click, click...nothing..). The Sky interface is more logical and takes far fewer clicks to achieve anything. The Tivo interface seems to be a cobbled together bunch of services that have nothing to do with each other which take days to load and navigate. The Sky box seems to be on rocket fluid compared to the Tivo interface. I often give up on trying to reach content on Tivo since the process is so painful.

The Tivo remote gets 2/10 and the Sky remote 6/10. The Tivo remote is barking - the buttons are all in the wrong place and are totally illogical. The Sky remote has far too many buttons, but at least there is a logic to the layout and functionality.

The picture quality on Sky gets 9/10 and Tivo 6/10. To be fair, this may be an aspect of my screens, but both are of the same age and I can get HD on the Sky one, but not on the Virgin box; even this notwithstanding, the image quality on Sky is significantly better .

On recording functionality Tivo gets 7/10 and Sky 6/10. The gap here really should be greater since the Tivo box has an additional tuner and can record three channels to Sky's two, but the Tivo box is just hopeless. You can adjust the top and tail time, but then you lose the end of programmes, or you can record three programmes, but then nothing for the following hour. Sky somehow seems to manage this a bit better, but the Tivo functionality is better on this measure.

Tivo also wins on the marginal ability to find the beginning of a programme when fast forwarding, but knowing that the box can actually automatically wind past ads, but doesn't do this for commercial reasons, is a bit annoying.

Of course, Sky has better content, including the red sky content and the HBO driven Sky Atlantic.

Overall it's a total walkover. Tivo is a disaster. It's what a medieval knight would expect from a STB (although still a bit up the food chain from Humax's dreadful, dreadful Freesat offerings). Sky looks like a decent sixties chevy. God knows what a decent product could do in this market.

Game, set and match to Apple TV ?

We'll see..