Technology is advancing and upgrading at an incredibly fast rate. Our smartphones are upgraded on a yearly, if not monthly basis. Our computers are becoming smaller, lighter, faster, stronger all the time, and apps that can make some aspect of our lives easier are coming out every single day.
One piece of technology that hasn’t really changed that much in the last couple of years is our television service. While our actual televisions are changing and becoming larger or clearer, our service providers aren’t exactly jazzing up the way we watch TV – until now, that is.
Launching in autumn 2012, Virgin TV Anywhere from Virgin Media is one of the most exciting things to happen to TV since TiVo. It means you’ll never have to panic that you forgot to record Doctor Who, or experience that horrible moment when you go to watch the latest Question Time to find that you were out of storage space and it didn't record, thus ruining your evening, if not your entire life.
Virgin TV Anywhere means that Virgin Media TV customers will be able to watch TV on their iPad, laptop, PC or any other device when they’re out and about. This means you can literally watch live TV on the go, as well as managing your content stored on your TiVo box. Sweet.
What Exactly is Virgin TV Anywhere?
To start with, Virgin TV Anywhere will be two services.
1. On VirginMedia.com there will be a new area that will allow you to watch Live TV, Video on Demand (VOD), log into your TiVo box, as well as a new electronic program guide (EPG).
2. An app for your iPad that provides live channels, access to record shows, manage your TiVo recordings, and use the iPad like a remote control.
I’ve had a chance to see a demo of both services, so here’s the lowdown (aka WHY YOU SHOULD BE SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS.)
The Online Service
Using the online service is quite cool, and much easier than actually using the TiVo interface which I usually find to be sluggish and a bit finicky. Many times I’ve wished my TV were a touchscreen so I could just deal with my TiVo recordings that way, and the online service makes this much easier.
You can watch live TV on a number of channels – the channels have a nifty icon next to them so you know they’re available online – and you can also watch the Video on Demand (VOD) service, which is super exciting. Even better, if you realize you forgot to clear off some storage space before leaving the house, you can do this online by tapping into your TiVo box. You can also manage recordings, wishlists and series links online - it's basically just your TiVo box, online, plus a bunch of treats.
The Virgin TV Anywhere app is basically one of the most exciting apps I’ve seen in a while. Sure, you can’t throw tiny birds at blocks of glass to kill little pigs with it, but it’s so useful, you’ll soon forgive the lack of birds.
Like the website, you can use the app over WiFi on your iPad to log-on to you TiVo box even when you’re nowhere near home. You can watch live TV, and basically do anything that the online version does like managing your wishlists, creating new series links, control your TiVo box at home, and use it as a remote control - using buttons or their nifty touchscreen gestures.
The only thing you can’t do on the app that you can with the online version is watch VOD, but Virgin say this feature will be made available further down the line.
On the app there are also less live TV channels made available due to fun and games with licensing, but, again, this is an issue Virgin Media say will be smoothed over in the months to come.
As my TiVo box is my life, I cannot wait to start using Virgin TV Anywhere. The app and the website do everything that you’d expect, and rather interestingly, logging into your TiVo box remotely works faster than it does when you’re sitting right in front of it, connected to the same WiFi network.
I also love that even if you have someone watching TV at home while you've logged in remotely, it won't disturb whatever that person is watching. (Although, they might be cross if you've remotely deleted that episode of Top Dog Model they were hoping to watch while pulling a sickie from work.)
Even better, if your housemate or partner is watching something you don't like, you can stream a different live TV channel on your iPad or laptop without it messing up what they're watching. It also means that if you lose the TiVo remote, your life will not end. You can just use the website or app!
My only complaint about Virgin TV Anywhere is that you can’t watch shows or films you’ve recorded to your TiVo box, which seems like an obvious want from most customers. I’m told this will eventually be something Virgin will look at introducing – but in the meantime, just being able to hack into your box from, well, anywhere is pretty exciting. (I've had far too many run-ins with a full TiVo box and an impending episode of Sherlock...)
Virgin TV Anywhere gets three big, green thumbs up from me. (See what I did there?)
The Virgin TV Anywhere app will be available on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and will be coming to the Android Market in 2013.