Post: From Sky HD to Virgin Media’s Tivo Box

I think I have been spoiled with Apple.  I expect perfection. I expect not to have to think.  I expect things to be clear, to work, to make sense.  I wasn’t aware that I had these expectations until yesterday, when I switched from Sky HD to Virgin Media, with their Tivo box.


So as soon as the engineer goes, I try to work it.  I pick up the remote, note how cluttered it is, how unfriendly it is, and proceed to try to work out which arrow pad controls the interface.  I then managed to get to a search screen.  It crashes.  Nothing works.  Just a continuous negative sounding THUD, THUD, THUD, as I press the buttons trying to get them to do something.  I switch it off at the mains and back on again.

Search Pains

So I don’t watch much TV, but I do love Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model.  So I painfully navigate to a search screen, and unsure of what I was searching through – was it collections, tv shows, hd content, on demand content (all these items and more were listed down the side to aid my confusion – I just wanted to search the TV guide!); I proceeded to search for BINTM.  It finds it, but…in HD.  I’m not subscribed to HD.  So I look down the list for the SD version.  Nothing.  I know it’s on!  I wasn’t sure when though.  So, I think, maybe I’ll remote record it via Virgin’s website.  I go to virgins website.  I can’t find anything anywhere about remote record.  I give up and go to google and search for virgin remote record.  Result!  I click to go though to Virgin’s website, sign into this tv guide (so it can record to my box) then look for the search box to search for when my program is on.  I look, I look some more, I scroll down, I try different links.  THERE IS NO SEARCH BOX!  What are they thinking?  So, I went to sky’s tv guide instead and searched for it.  

Now I had my time and date, all I had to do was find the tv show on the tivo box.  I managed that and chose the red record button.  Several options came up, one of which was express series link.  Now, is this different for normal series link I wondered?  Hmm let’s look.  Oh, there is no series link, only express series link.  So why call it express?  It’s the only one there is, so it’s not in comparison to another series link. Talk about confusing!  

So I pressed express series link and was presented with a horrendous upscaled standard definition screen with massive blurry fonts on asking me what I wanted to do.  I couldn’t believe it!  Who on earth authorised the release of the Tivo UI without these screens being done in HD?  It’s half finished, it’s terrible!  I was shocked and from then on had no respect for Virgin’s integrity.  Sure they’ll spend millions on advertising but they wont spend anything on getting the UI finished.  Can you imagine apple doing that?  Releasing iOS7 with the general scree in settings really blurred because they hadn’t got round to finishing that? 

Remote Control HELL

Oh it was painful.  I wanted to go back often.  Where was the backup button?  There’s one near the bottom of the remote, so whilst I’m up the top of the remote browsing, pressing select, to go back, I have to look down and move my whole hand down to navigate to the back button.  Bad, bad, bad design.  Bad user experience.  There are too many buttons.  It’s no clear what any of them do.  Some of them that are really important are tiny, such as the guide button.  There are two direction pads, one at the top and one at the bottom.  The one at the bottom has pause in the middle.  This is the biggest button.  Pause?  Come on, do they think this is what people do most often?  Play I could kind of understand, but select, that makes most sense, you are continuously selecting things you want to do via your remote.

Lesson Learned

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Last year I went from iOS to Android and hated using it for a full 8 months until I went out and bought an iPhone 5 about 2 weeks ago.  I missed the simplicity and the friendliness.  The absence of clutter.  The reliability.  It seems the same has happened here.  Thankfully, I have a cooling off period.  Phew.