Virgin Media – V+ Box

As I hinted on Friday, I have a new toy from those Virgin Media people. V+ is the latest name for what used to be called TV Drive (or something like that). It’s a replacement for my old digital cable box with some rather tasty extra features. The key one is that it’s a hard disk recorder, with capacity for up to 80 hours of TV.

Virgin V+ Box

Virgin V+ Box

New toy....

Readers with long memories may be wondering about my existing hard disk recorder. Well, that’s still working just fine, but it does have a quite severe limitation. It can’t control the cable box, so if I wanted to record something on a cable channel, I had to make sure the box was correctly set first. And of course, it couldn’t record a different cable channel from the one I was watching, which has occasionally been annoying. But it did work, which is why I hadn’t been in any rush to upgrade to the V+ service. The price of it has changed several times, going from a relatively low installation cost plus a monthly service charge to a higher initial cost with no service charge, so long as you subscribe to one of the bigger TV packages. Towards the end of last year, the cost was £150, but as that was a one-off charge, I was vaguely considering it. But only vaguely.

Then, I got a call from Virgin. They’d noticed that I’d had to reset my old cable box several times, and were most apologetic about the inconvenience, and err, would I like to upgrade to V+ for the £25 cost of an engineer visit? At that price, I couldn’t resist, and we agreed an installation date, which was Friday. And on Friday, the engineer turned up and performed a painless installation, gave me a quick demo and left me to play with my new toy.

The V+ box gets around the problem of picking cable channels to record quite nicely. It can record up to two channels while I watch a third one. It’s not often that I need to do that, but it’s nice to know I can. The dual record thing means you can safely allow a margin around the start and finish times of programmes even if you need to follow a recording with one on another channel starting immediately afterwards.

Not only that, but it has that nifty “pause live TV” thing. This is clever stuff. As soon as you start watching a channel, the box starts recording it. You can press the pause button at any time, go away and do something else, and resume when you’re ready. If you’ve been away for a while, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to fast forward through ad breaks.

It does the expected things like recording a whole series of a programme for you and warning you if there’s a clash in your recording settings. The quality of recorded programmes is, on my 26″ LCD TV, indistinguishable from the original transmission.

And as an added bonus, the box can output in full HD. So when I get an HD TV, and Virgin have some HD content[1], I’ll be all set up.

So far, it’s working nicely. I’ve seen some reports of people having issues with the V+ service, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

One final detail – the remote control is much, much better than the old one. That one was getting a bit old (six years? seven years?), and the buttons were a bit spongy. I sometimes had to hit the “1” button a few times to make it register. This one has nice, positively clicky buttons and it’s gently curved to fit comfortably in the hand.

Update: Click here to see how I’ve been getting on with the box.

[1] At the moment, they just have the BBC HD channel. Mind you, that would give me Robin Hood and Torchwood in HD, so it’s probably worth it…

25 thoughts on “Virgin Media – V+ Box

  1. David

    i have sky+ and the recording feature rules my world! lol.
    although, my box is being a bit flakey recently, so i shall have to get them to give me a new one lol

  2. Sam Judson

    We also have some on-demand HD content, including the Blue Planet and Planet Earth (yum, can’t wait for my HD TV[2]), as well as some rather disappointing FilmFlex movies in HD[3].

    [2] Soon, oh yes, very soon…
    [3] Wild Hogs anyone? No, didn’t think so…


    I dont know how you got the box for £25 I tried to negotiate a price with virgin as we have been with them for 8 years and my old pace box was rubbish the heat from it had burnt a hole in the card but they charged me £75 which is half price to all customers at the moment just got a new 32INS HD TV box coming on Thusday be back to let you know what i think :bouncy: :coffee:

  4. Les Post author

    To be honest, I’ve no idea why they offered it to me for £25 – I didn’t even have to ask them, they just called me and made the offer. Maybe they just like me :laugh:


    Got my new v+ box on Thusday I am not impressed tried to connect the DVD VCR and sender like we had with the old box but would not work I believe scarts are disabled in HD mode whats the point in that only just bought the sender £99 also recorded some programs in the night and only partial record on two of them engineer coming on Monday afternoon i will see how it goes :duh:


    Had a good fiddle about over the week end got everything working, with the help of another forum I can now change between HDMI and normal to use the scarts canceling the engineer in the morning the other forum reckons there will be fixes for some of the other problems partial recording and fail to record happy for now :laugh:

  7. Den

    I am considering geting the V+ box, having had NTL/Virgin for many years.
    What is the gerneral opinion?
    Should I procede? :?:

  8. Sam Judson

    The V+ box gives you many benefits over the standard box. These include the fact that the V+ box is a full Personal Video Recorder (PVR) and allows you to record two programs while watching something else, plus the ability to pause and rewind live TV.

    Then on top of that you have the fact that you need the V+ box to enjoy the High Definition content supplied by Virgin (currently not a huge amount, but there is enough there to keep you interested).

    So if either of these things sound to you like they are worth the £10 a month extra then yes, you should proceed. However if you don’t want a PVR and don’t need HD content then no, don’t proceed.

  9. Les Post author

    Now I’ve had it a while, I’ll post an update soon. One thing to note is that if you’re on the XL TV package, there is no extra monthly charge for V+, which makes it a much more attractive proposition (especially if you can get the deal I did).

  10. tim wilcox

    I just saw Mawson’s comment on 20th about changing between HDMI and normal to be able to use scarts. We have a similar problem – we run the tv in the kitchen and the one upstairs in the bedroom from the RF cable out of the V+ box (because we used to do that from our old box). If I change the settings to use HD on the brand new tv in the living room, we no longer are able to see the programs in the kitchen or bedroom.

    Does anyone know how I can view HD in the living room and ‘normal’ in the kitchen/bedroom (at the same time). PS senders are any good to me, we tried them before but the signal doesn’t reach upstairs.

  11. Moon

    My question is why are there no subtitle on the hd content on the HD content. The 5.1 sound is very nice but for those who have hearing problems it is a big drawback, I thought the DDA was there to stop this sort of thing from happening?

  12. Les Post author

    Hi Craig

    Unless they’ve changed the box (and I don’t think they have yet), you don’t need a HDTV – the box has a standard SCART connector for normal TVs, but it also has the HDMI port for HDTVs. There isn’t a lot of HD content on Virgin so far, so I don’t think we’re missing much by not having HDTVs. Though I’ll probably get one sooner or later…

  13. Richard Blenkiron

    I have just had installed the V+ box which is good, but i used to also run the aerial lead from my old pace box to my kitchen and the picture was fine. Tried the same arrangement with the V+box and the picture is snowy. I rang virgin and they said they dont support this and i would have to get another cable box to watch it in the kitchen.
    Yet my old pace box can do this so why not the V+. Any suggestions.

  14. Les Post author

    Never tried that (with either kind of box). If I wanted to watch in another room, I’d have looked at some kind of video sender. Maybe an aerial amplifier might help, but you might find it just amplifies the snow.

  15. Ellen


    First time posting here for me, so a big hello and excuse the length of this post.;-)

    I just wanted to let you know that I am in the process of upgrading to a V+ box on Virgin Media.

    I rang up customer service last night (150 on Virgin phone-freecall) Had to press option 2 for changing-deallocating TV services and after 5 mins waiting, eventually got through to a customer service chap. Basically I said I was thinking of moving to SKY due to their HD services and what did I need to do.

    I then got a standard response/script from him and because I have been a customer since 1995(yes I am the one..), they offered me the V+ box for £30 fully installed rather than the usual £150 or £75 promo, and I also got offered a £20 discount on my monthly bill, which is usally around £75. I have the XL TV pack, phone and broadband (M) service.
    I suppose some money from me is better than me going to SKY
    and giving it to them.

    They are coming in on Dec 4th to install. I will let you know how it goes, but wanted to let other Virgin Media users know that you can ask for a discount if you try and get the V+ cut-price.

    Kindest Regards

  16. Mike

    I phoned Virgin and was told that the deal of £75 plus £5 per month does not apply to existing customers. I would have to pay an extra £5 per month to keep my old box. As I don’t have an extra TV, that would be ridiculous. I told them that I would consider leaving Virgin and research Sky. No deal was forthcoming, so it looks as if they are willing to lose another long-standing customer.

  17. Mark

    We have V+ via HDMI to an HD TV. The V+ TV SCART is disabled in HDMI mode, but not the V+ VCR SCART. So, we have the V+ VCR SCART is connected to an old VCR recorder. The VCR is tuned to A1 (the SCART input), and then the V+ picture is sent down the RF cable to a 2nd TV in the kitchen. It works fine, other than a slight time delay between the two sets.



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