The [Unofficial] Virgin Media TiVo Blog had an interesting report today. It seems a couple of posts on the UK Cable Forum boards leaked a list of new features and fixes supposedly coming in the October.
The first post listed:
- Improved 1080i up scaling so improving the picture quality.
- HDMI connection reliability fixed
- Info button now provides programme information in guide and mini guide
- SCART aspect ratio corrected
And the second post listed:
- Express Series Link – You can set your series links in a flash
- Padding – Automatic padding around the start and finish of new recordings and series links (doesn’t change existing series links)
- Multi-tap text entry – You can now search using the number buttons on your remote, just like texting on your mobile phone
- More flexible parental control – If you don’t want to be asked for your PIN when you’re playing a recording from My Shows, you can now switch it off!
- Skippable playlists – Full skipping functionality for Music On Demand playlists will be available
- Live Events – Great news! You can now buy a live event on your TiVo box
- BBC iPlayer – Full integration of all the content from the BBC iPlayer is now available in the TV Guide, the Catch Up & On Demand menus and in TiVo Search and Browse
- PIN access on Apps – You can now control access to Apps and Games
- YouTube app – The YouTube app has been given a whole new look with more videos than ever and now supports HD quality video
- TiVo Buddy App – Just after we launch the new code you’ll be able to download this great new tool from the Apple App Store. If you connect your wireless router to the TiVo box with a cable you’ll be able to control many features from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Watch this space for more info!
These sound interesting, and I wonder if we’ll see some of these come to the US in the expected fall software update. Maybe around the time the TiVo Premiere Elite lands?
The Express Series Link sounds interesting, I wonder how it works. Multi-tap text entry is something people have been asking for in the US for ages now, pretty much since the TiVo launched. We now have the TiVo Slide remote, but that’s still an add-on sold separately. I could see TiVo not releasing this feature in the US as it could cut into sales of the Slide, but personally I love my Slide and multi-tap is no comparison. Which does beg the question – why not add support for the TiVo Slide to the UK units? Something Virgin doesn’t want for some reason?
The YouTube app being new sounds interesting. The YouTube app on the US units is getting very long in the tooth, and it seems that some of the features have stopped working correctly as YouTube has changed their site and interface. So we could really do with a new app as well. The TiVo Buddy App sounds like it is just the Virgin Media version of the TiVo iPad App, announced a couple of weeks ago.
But most interesting to me is the default padding. This feature was confirmed by a forum team member on the official Virgin Media support forums:
Automatic padding? will be available later this year. It defaults at 1 min before and 4 mins after for all recordings, which seems to be the best way to avoid recordings cutting off early. You will still be able to change this on individual recordings.
Based on the subsequent discussion it sounds like what they’re doing is defaulting the padding to 1 minute before and 4 minutes after, instead of 0 as it is today. I really hope that’s wrong, because that sounds like it would SUCK! The only way I’d find that acceptable is if it is soft padding, something that’s been requested for years in the US. The idea with soft padding is that you could set padding that is used only if there is no conflict with another recording. Basically “Record an extra X minutes, unless doing so will cause you to be unable to record something else.” So you won’t have any problems with back-to-back recordings, or having to play games with clipping, priority order, etc. If they’ve just set the defaults for the normal hard padding across the board, so you have to make a special effort to not have padding, that sounds like the cure being worse than the disease. And that seems to be the gist of the reaction on the forums too.
I think the way to do it right is to:
- Allow users to set global default padding values for start and end.
- Make these default values soft padding.
- Allow hard padding settings on individual recordings, SPs, etc. which will override the global soft padding.
If I could use soft padding and record just an extra minute or two on the end of all of my recordings, except when the tuner is needed for another show, I would use it in a heart beat. But I’d absolutely hate having default hard padding I had to fight with every time I setup a recording to avoid worrying about artificial conflicts due to padding collisions.
This is a case where I really hope the discussions are incorrect and the actual implementation is not what everyone thinks it is. If it turns out to be soft padding I’ll be thrilled and hope it comes to the US. If it is default hard padding as believed I’ll feel sorry for UK users and hope fervently it never happens here.
But that one issue aside, this sounds like a good update for UK TiVo users and I hope we see at least some of these features in the US as well.
Just not default hard padding.