Newest Review: ... ever since fibre optic services became available in our area via Telewest. It's a superior technology in many ways, with high capac... more
Top set top box?
V Plus Digital Box
Member Name: steves001
V Plus Digital Box
Advantages: Wide range of programmes; easy recording; picture & sound quality; 'free' HD
Disadvantages: Not quite the latest set top box functionality; can freeze and quite slow to reboot
When our combined DVD/VHS recorder finally died a death some time ago we needed to replace it as soon as possible, preferably with something a bit more up to date. Upgrading our existing cable set top box solved the problem; it also had a number of other significant benefits.
The main enhancements are:
1. Access to High Definition (HD) channels
2. Superior TV recording facilities and usability
3. Easy access to 'TV on demand' (catch-up programmes & films)
4. Ability to pause/rewind live TV programmes
~~A better viewing experience~~
Our overall experience has been a general improvement in the quality of our viewing. It's essentially the ease of finding something worth watching - precisely when you want to see it. Nothing is perfect, but it's fair to say the V+ box mostly delivers, with excellent picture quality and sound.
~~Making the most of what's available~~
It's not really possible to discuss the equipment in isolation from the service it provides. This brief non-technical review is based on several years' subscription to the Virgin Media XL TV package using this set top box.
We've been cable customers ever since fibre optic services became available in our area via Telewest. It's a superior technology in many ways, with high capacity (bandwidth), resilient and discreet infrastructure with no obtrusive external satellite dish required. So it made sense to take better advantage of this potential with a more capable box, especially as our TV was already 'HD ready'.
Of course technology never stands still these days ... since acquiring this, expectations have risen generally with Freeview Plus, Sky HD etc. Many features have become more familiar, like high quality digital recording,'one touch' series recording and simultaneous programme recording. Indeed, new packages are already superseding this - but for now at least, there's more than enough functionality here for our purposes.
It still impresses me that you can actually record two digital programmes while watching a third. I believe this is still unique here. Also, there has been no extra cost to us for an increasing number of HD channels as XL TV subscribers.
The recording/storage capacity (hard disc size) remains more than sufficient for our purposes. We've never run out of disc space as we don't keep many recordings for long. I believe there's room for up to 80 hours. Having said that, I understand newer boxes have an even greater capacity (up to six times as much?!) It's also possible with the V+ box to archive programmes on to other media, though we haven't yet felt the need for this.
It didn't take us long to become familiar with the main remote control buttons, the menu systems and programme guide. There could always be some room for improvement here but no 'show stoppers' as far as we're concerned in our household.
If pressed, I might concede that 'scrolling' through guides and menus, plus winding back/forward can all feel a bit slow at times.
~~Reliability and performance~~
This device can 'freeze' from time to time, though it's not frequent and difficult to judge how far this is due to the local equipment or to problems with the cable service. Either way, a 'reboot' invariably restores things to normal, even if it does take a minute or two to complete.
One minor niggle: from time to time the response can be quite slow to remote control buttons. Normally, however, this is not a problem.
~~Help and support~~
There is a fair amount of help and guidance built in and fortunately we have very rarely had to call on customer support. Perhaps this speaks for itself?
As stated above, this is a non-technical review. Not all of this device's capabilities are regularly used in our household. But on the whole, we remain more than satisfied with its performance and value for money.
This device has greatly improved our TV viewing experience. It may not be perfect and you might like to investigate the latest offerings. Meanwhile, thoroughly recommended if you live in a cabled area.
Wide range of programmes - both live and on demand; easy digital recording; great picture & sound quality; 'free' HD for existing Virgin XL TV customers
Not quite the latest set top box functionality; can freeze and quite slow to reboot
* Virgin Media : www.virginmedia.com
[© SteveS001 2011. A version of this original review may appear on other review sites]
Summary: Still a good package: wide range of programmes; great picture & sound quality; 'free' HD
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