October 04, 2015

New on Netflix UK in October

Here are some of this month's Netflix new arrivals, courtesy of Vodzilla:

Scream: Season 1 – 1st October
Stewart Lee: 41st Best Stand Up Ever – TBC
Atlantis: Season 1 – 1st October
About Time – 3rd October
A time travel rom-com from Richard Curtis
What We Do in the Shadows – 10th October
Brilliant comedy from the Flight of the Concords guys
The Pirates! Band of Misfits – 10th October
Better known in the UK as "Pirates in Adventures with Scientists". From Aardman Animation and top stuff.
The Muppets – Sunday 11th October
The 2011 movie
Homeland: Season 4 – 12th October
Season 4 of the spy thriller arrives just in time for Season 5’s broadcast on Channel 4
Archer: Season 6 – 15th October
Super – 15th October
Beasts of No Nation – 16th October
Idris Elba stars in Netflix’s first ever original feature film. 
All Hail King Julien: Season 2 – 16th October
Netflix’s Madagascar spin-off
Alfie (2004) – 17th October
Jude Law remake
American Horror Story: Freak Show – 21st October
Just disturbing...
Kung Fury – 22nd October
How to Get Away with Murder: Season 1 – 22nd October
Hit US show stars Emmy winning Viola Davis 
Saving Mr. Banks – 24th October

September 30, 2015

4k TiVo unveiled in the US

TiVo in the US has announced the latest addition to its Series 6 lineup of players with the arrival of the TiVo BOLT (pictured above). Breaking with TiVo's customary black finish, this white player offers 4K support as well as a revamped user interface that introduces new features like the ability to skip commercial breaks on recorded content as well as the ability to speed up playback 30 percent faster while listening to pitch-corrected audio. Four tuners, too.
Here's the tech breakdown:
  • Cable + OTA support 
  • CPU Cores/DMIPS: 2/11,000 
  • DDR memory: 3 GB 
  • HDMI Output: 4K/HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 
  • 4K decode: Yes – HEVC/VP9 
  • HDD: 500 GB or 1 TB 
  • Transcode/#Streams: On-Chip/1-2 
  • Wired Networks: Gigabit Ethernet 
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac/n 2×2 
  • MoCA: MOCA 2.0 
  • No. of tuners: 4 
  • Control Input: IP/RF4CE/Bluetooth (future) 
  • 11.4″ W x 7.3″ D x 1.8″ H 1.9 lbs. 
  • Smaller footprint with modern design 
  • 4K/Ultra High Def Platform 
  • Upgraded software 
  • Better performance 
  • New features including “QuickMode” and “SkipMode” 
  • In-home and out-of-home streaming (out-of-home in 2016)
That odd design isn't just to make the box distinct: TiVo claims that the gentle curve that lifts part of the player up also helps with heat dissipation. That’s useful given the hardware’s upgraded internals, which include a CPU that’s three and half times as fast as the previous (Roamio) model and three times the memory.
I see the disc storage hasn't been increased to accommodate 4K recordings: as this model is actually described as "entry-level" by TiVo it is perhaps an indication of where the next generation of TiVo hardware and software is heading. However, that probably is the box we are likely to see in the UK if Virgin Media continues to provide TiVo hardware beyond the current generation of DVRs.
More information can be found on TechCrunch and I'll post more on the new HTML5-based UI shortly.

September 21, 2015

September news thin on the ground

I just realised that I haven't made a single post on this blog during September. This isn't due to time constraints on my part (I've had plenty of time to be honest), more a reflection of the lack of news on Virgin Media services, Netflix UK and the other areas covered by this blog. Not much going on out there I'm afraid. All I've got of late is a story regarding a 4K TiVo rumour in the US I picked up:
Personally, I am as excited about the arrival of 4K in the home as I was about 3D (i.e. not at all) - you need a TV at least 55in to really see the full benefit (I think Sony do one at 43in but I can't really see the point) and the amount of genuine 4k content available is minimal. Sure, it may become a standard with new sets even if people don't watch much 4K on it (3D was similar) but as long as they don't degrade HD streams to sell it, I won't be interested. Views?
And, whilst you're kindly reading this, does anyone else think the picture quality on Sky Movies has taken a dip of late? I watched a recording from Film 4 HD the other day and thought it was so superior to another from Sky Movies Premiere HD I had to check the latter hadn't been recorded from SD by mistake. Similarly, BT Sports HD footie coverage looks sharper and handles motion better than the games on Sky Sports HD. The studio footage is fine and suitably sparkly, but the games themselves look, at best, average PQ.

August 29, 2015

Lifetime HD to launch on Virgin Media

Apparently. It used to the Biography channel, then got re-named Bio (like some kind of washing powder) and then Lifetime. Not sure how much of the programming will be actual high definition, but just because it's not a channel I watch doesn't mean it won't have an audience of course.

Coming to Netflix UK

(Nialli recommendations in BOLD)
1st September
The Reconstruction Of William Zero (film, 2014)
Banshee Chapter (film, 2013)
Dark Summer (film, 2015)
The One (film, 2001)
Badults (TV, season 1)
Still Game (TV, season 4 and 5)
1971 (documentary, 2014)
Capital C (documentary, 2014)
Aliens On The Moon: The Truth Exposed (documentary, 2014)
Living On One Dollar (documentary, 2013)
4th September
Bad Night (film, 2015)
Entertainment (film, 2014)
Nas: Time Is Illmatic (documentary, 2014)
I Dream of Wires (documentary, 2014)
5th September
Left Behind (film, 2014)
6th September
All Things to All Men (film, 2013)
9th September
Starry Eyes (film, 2014)
11th September
Monsters University (film, 2013)
Toy Story (film, 1995)
13th September
Still Life (film, 2013)
Promised Land (film, 2012)
The Wise Kids (film, 2011)
15th September
Only Fools and Horses (TV, seasons 1 and 2)
16th September
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (film, 2014)
Swing Vote (film, 2008)
The Odessa File (film, 1974)
18th September
Return to Oz (film, 1985)
Toy Story 2 (film, 1999)
Keith Richards: Under The Influence (documentary, 2015)
20th September
R.I.P.D. (film, 2013)
23rd September
From Beyond (film, 1986)
Night of the Comet (film, 1984)
Stargate: The Ark of Truth (film, 2008)
Stephen King's Thinner (film, 1996)
The Kite Runner (film, 2007)
24th September
Thor: The Dark World (film, 2013)
Iris (documentary, 2015)
28th September
Planes (film, 2013)
Housebound (film, 2014)
Spring (film, 2014)

August 13, 2015

Curzon Home Cinema App launched on Virgin Media TiVo

If you're tired if the constant overloud battering of Hollywood's blockbusters, you may be pleased to hear that Curzon Home Cinema has launched a new App on Virgin Media's TiVo.
The pay-per-view VOD platform, which offers independent and art house films to rent, is operated by the Curzon Cinemas chain and offers smaller titles that may not receive a wide theatrical release in UK.
David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media, says: “We’re delighted to bring Curzon Home Cinema’s films and curated selections to our customers across the country. We’re passionate about keeping people entertained with an ever increasing movie offering which is why TiVo is the perfect home for Curzon’s app.”
A quick look at the Curzon Home Cinema site will give you an idea if this is for you. Current cinema releases are £10, older releases £2. Streams are usually in 720p.

August 12, 2015

AMC Global heading to Virgin Media?

There's a rumour over on Cable Forum that Virgin Media will be getting the new AMC Global channel this  month, in time for the launch of the Fear The Walking Dead first season. Nothing official yet, but the source is pretty well connected. No word if it will be SD or HD. BT were touting the channel as a BT "exclusive", so let's see what happens.

August 11, 2015

When TiVo die

I knew it was coming, but the failure of all my attempted recordings this weekend and the noises from within my TiVo not dissimilar to a washing machine going into the spin cycle were the final death throes of my original TiVo.
VM have quickly replaced the ailing relic from 2010 with a new box (Samsung, for those who keep notes on these things). Very efficient, all done within 24 hours of me calling 150.
But (and it's a big but) I've lost over 500gb of recordings as they couldn't be copied over to the new box, including some series I was halfway through watching (notably Humans and Wayward Pines) and others I hadn't started yet. Frustrating.
Now I'm somewhat naive about the technology inside a TiVo, but presumably it's not too dissimilar from a computer, so surely in this day and age copying data from one disc to another is not that difficult? Or am I missing something? Sure, it would take a while, but couldn't an engineer do this whilst he's filling in the paperwork (that seems to take an age)?
As it is, I will finish watching series using the 4 and Fox catch up services, but it is strange that in this day and age when 1Tb isn't a massive amount of data any more that a transfer process still isn't on offer.

August 07, 2015

New Now TV box: 1080p capable, but the service remains at 720p for now

There's a new, £14.99 Now TV box launched this month that boasts a faster processor, ethernet port  (if you find that more reliable) and is 1080p capable. (There are also USB and MicroSD slots, but apparently these aren't active at launch according to the Now online help.)
It's price leaps up 50% to £15, but I'm not sure if it's worth it as Sky is keeping the service at 720p for now. Still no Netflix on it either of course. Here are a couple of reviews:
Pocket Lint
Trusted Reviews
And thanks to Stephen Young for directing me to this review of the new box on TNW.
The v1 white box appears to be no more: the Now website is only offering the new model (which is black): http://www.nowtv.com/box

Virgin Media Q2 results: TV subscribers take a tumble but overall numbers are up

First the good news: more people are signing up to Virgin Media’s broadband and mobile phone bundles, helping the company makes its highest number of customers in five years, with an extra 19,000 taken out.
Now the bad: the number of its TV subscribers continued to fall in the UK (and Ireland) down 19,400 in the second quarter. Whilst the broadband service grows the TV service appears to be floundering, with the imminent XL price hike in September likely to further the customer drift to Sky or other services. I'm probably not alone in questioning the value I'm getting for my £119 a month cost, especially as Now TV seems to have sorted out its act and is a viable service at last for a reasonable cost. If the new Now TV full HD box launches this month then I will weigh up my options come the autumn.
Back to the results: the rate of people deserting Virgin Media fell to 14.1 per cent in the second quarter, down from 15.3 per cent a year earlier. Overall VM added another 106,000 customers on a net basis - those joining less those leaving - in the second quarter, giving it a total of 5.02 million UK customers. Overall UK revenues of £2.1billion for the first half of 2015 were reported, up 3.1 per cent on a year earlier.
Sky last month reported an 18 per cent jump in profits and an extra half a million customers in the UK and Ireland over the past year.