I can’t remember the last cold call I received during the day where I came from the call happy. I’m registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) although this doesn’t seem to stop the endless stream of calls to help me claim PPI, damages from no-fault insurance claims, home improvements, etc. To be honest, the call in question was probably best described as a ‘warm’ call, as it was from Virgin Media and even though I didn’t ask them to call, I have been a customer for several years.
I get my broadband, telephone, and cable TV from Virgin, with the latter through a fairly old TiVo box. It works fine, but is very slow and has limited internal storage that is almost always full. I knew Virgin had launched a newer box, but when I checked, they were charging existing customers just under £100 with a £20 activation fee. I decided to leave it until my 12-month contract was up when I usually call them to renegotiate the cost with the aim of saving a few GBP’s!
To be honest, if it weren’t for the super-fast broadband and a daughter who likes watching the Disney channels, I’d probably switch to another provider as we don’t use it for much more than that, and could get a reasonable channel line up through Freeview. Virgin broadband is more than twice as fast as BT Infinity, so this is the main reason for handing over almost £70 a month.
Anyway, Virgin called me on Friday last week and offered to send me a V6 box free of charge! No activation fee, no change to my existing packages or contract. What most people would call a no-brainer, so after checking this a couple of times on the phone (expecting a catch) I happily accepted and was told to expect the new box today. They had checked I was happy to self-install, and
They had checked I was happy to self-install, and as I had expected, it wasn’t much more difficult than disconnecting a few cables and reconnecting these to the new box. I probably spent longer than required trying to tidy up the cables, as the new box is much smaller and doesn’t hide them quite as well as the old one. That’s probably the only real criticism though, and I’m not sure making it smaller is something to grumble about. If I was really finickity, the lack of indicator lights on the front is slightly disappointing, as with the old box I could tell it was recording by some red LEDs. I guess it will make the room a little darker in the evening, and given the new box has six tuners, I probably won’t need to know it’s using some of them to record programmes. Not sure I can imagine a situation where there are seven shows on at the same time that I might want to watch!! It also has twice the capacity (1TB) of the old box, so shows I’ve recorded will hang around a little longer before being removed for newer recordings.
So what’s it like? Other than being significantly faster, there’s very little difference, and I’m sure my partner wouldn’t even notice if the box looked the same! But the speed does make a massive difference, as the old one was so so slow. Navigating menus is snappy, and they open almost instantly, whereas on the old box there was always a delay. Using other services like the BBC iPlayer and Youtube are also much quicker, although I typically watch those through my Apple TV. The remote is also a little smaller than the old one, although it feels a little fatter in hand. I don’t actually use the remote as I have a Harmony Elite that controls all my devices, and is much easier to use for everyone which I blogged about here.
One thing worth knowing if you switch from an old box to the new is that it’s possible to copy across all the series links and thumbs. I knew I’d lose all the recordings, but being able to copy the series links means things will automatically start recording as they did on the old box. A big help when you have 50+ series links! Go to http://anywhere.virginmedia.com/tivo/boxswap and simply select the old and new boxes. I think it will work up to two weeks after you’ve removed the old one or it’s been taken away by an engineer!
I suspect I might have been a little disappointed if I’d paid £120 for the upgrade, but given it didn’t cost me anything I’d have to be a very grumpy old man not to be happy 😉
Here’s a summary that I posted for a Youtube review:
Self-installation is no more complicated than disconnecting the cables from the old box and connecting them into the new one, after phoning the Virgin activation number. I already had a wired network connection to the old box, so this wasn’t a problem for me, but could be if your hub and TiVo box are in different rooms like mine. Set-up took about 20-30 minutes as it restarted after completing the first time set-up as an update was required. Once complete there’s very little difference between using the old box and the new V6 box, as the interface is identical. What is noticeable straight away is the speed of using the interface, which is much much more responsive and with hardly any of the lag of the old box, which was painfully slow at times. The remote layout is almost identical, although it now has a search button and some of the FF-RW controls have been rearranged into a circle. It’s also a little smaller but fatter, and felt a little less comfortable in hand, although this might be down to me being used to using a Harmony Elite which controls all my AV devices in a single remote. It’s also possible to copy across series links and thumb settings from the old box, so while you’ll lose all the saved programmes, at least it will continue recording things on the new box without having to add them all again. Had the upgrade cost me £120 I might not have been too impressed, but given it was free it’s hard to complain. It’s much faster to use and still familiar so that other in the family don’t have to learn anything new. I miss the LED indicators on the front to show things are recording, but with an extra three tuners available (it can now record six programmes at the same time) I suspect I won’t need to know. It also has twice the storage capacity (now 1TB), so programmes will hang about longer before they are deleted to replace newer ones. Overall, a happy customer, although I’ll still be ringing Virgin in a couple of months when my contract is due to see what I can negotiate!