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V+ Faq
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Old 29-12-2006, 22:31   #1
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V+ Faq

There are two models of V+ box, one made by Scientific-Atlanta, and one by Samsung. This FAQ covers both. Where there is a difference between the two boxes, information about Scientific-Atlanta boxes will be shown in red and Samsung in blue.

Q: What is the V+?
A: It’s Virgin Media's Personal Video Recorder (PVR) which contains a 160GB Hard Drive and allows cable viewers to enjoy the delights of High Definition Television (HDTV). Instead of recording onto VHS tapes, programmes you record are saved onto the Hard Drive. Welcome to the era of digital recording.

Q: What’s so great about digital recording?
A: Well, for starters, you don’t have to buy any blank VHS tapes, or worry about recording over your wedding. The Hard Drive in the V+ is large enough to contain around 80 hours of Standard Definition TV recordings, or 20 hours of High Definition TV recordings. And the quality of the recording is exactly the same as the original programmme.

Q: Any other great features? Can it make the tea?
A: It can’t make the tea. But you can watch a recording while it's still recording. Or even pause live TV whilst you make your own tea.

Q: Eh?
A: When watching TV, the V+ will silently record what you’re watching on the current channel for up to 90 minutes. You can then ‘rewind’ what you’re watching, and ‘play’ the current channel from that point.

Q: What’s the point of that?
A: Say you’re watching a football match on Sky Sports. You step out of the room for a moment and in the process, you miss a goal. With the Delay TV feature, you can 'rewind' the match and see that vital goal, and then if you wish, watch the match from that point (or return to 'live' TV).

Q: So what else has V+ got?
A: Three tuners.

Q: Yeah, so?
A: With three tuners, you can watch one ‘live’ programme, while recording up to two other programmes at the same time.

Q: Three tuners, sounds like overkill! I’ll never use them all!
A: You’d be surprised. Compared to the standard boxes, the V+ offers total recording freedom. You can set recordings from the EPG with one button press. Did I mention the series links?

Q: No, you didn’t.
A: Instead of having to set up individual recordings for series like Torchwood, The Unit, Eastenders etc – you can tell the V+ to record all new episodes of a series. And away it will go, merrily doing exactly that when necessary, without any further instructions from you.

Q: Nice – but what happens if there aren't enough tuners to record multiple programmes which are on at the same time?
A: The V+ will warn you when there’s a ‘recording clash’, and you can even give each series a recording priority. For example, you can tell it that in the event of a recording clash, Eastenders is more important then say, The Bill. You can even give recording priority to different types of recordings.

Q: Which are?
A: Planned Series (or series links), Planned Programmes (which you set from the EPG) and Manual Recordings.

Q: What the hell is a Manual Recording?
A: Instead of telling the V+ to record a series or even a programme from the EPG, you can set it to record from a specific time and date, from a specific channel. It can be useful if you are going away on a long holiday and want to record a programme that you haven't got a series link for, and it isn't listed in the guide yet.

Q: Sounds like a marriage saver. What else?
A: You can add padding before and after all recordings, so that if a programme starts early or ends late, you should still have all of that programme.

Q: What about the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG)? How does it compare to the EPG on the standard boxes?
A: It's been turbocharged on the V+.

Q: It couldn’t get much slower! How many days worth of programming does it contain? On the old boxes, apparently a programme called “Searching…” was on most of the time on most of the channels.
A: The EPG in the V+ contains seven days worth of programming data and the dreaded “Searching…” is a thing of the past.

Q: Can I record Subtitles and/or Audio Description on the V+?
A: Yes. If the channel has subtitles or AD, they get recorded, and you can switch them on or off as required for playback. The V+ displays teletext page 888 subtitles itself, so you'll be able to see these even if you are using HDMI or Component. Note that subtitles won't get recorded on your DVD/VCR if you use the archive feature.

Q: What connections does this V+ thingy have?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Two Scart sockets, HDMI output, Component video output, optical audio output, stereo phono outputs, aerial input and RF output. Plus a RJ-45 Ethernet socket, a USB port and an eSATA port.
(Samsung) Two Scart sockets, HDMI output, optical audio output. Plus a RJ-45 Ethernet socket and a USB port

Q: Do I need a HDTV to use V+?
A: No, just use a SCART lead as you would on a standard V-box.

Q: What connections can I use for HD output?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) HDMI or Component. Note you can't get SD out of the Component output, and some copy-protected movies can't be viewed over Component.
(Samsung) HDMI only.
Note that when you have the V+ set to a HD mode, the TV SCART and RF outputs are disabled. The VCR SCART socket remains active.

Q: What HD video resolutions are supported?
A: 720p and 1080i. There are 'wide' versions of these if you are one of those odd people who like 4:3 video stretched to fill the whole screen. Note that the menus can look a bit blurry in 1080i mode on the Scientific-Atlanta V+

576i is available on HDMI when the box is in SD mode. This is mainly to make it easier to switch from SD to HD. But it doesn't help everyone as some TVs don't support 576i.

Q: My TV doesn't have an HDMI input, but it does have DVI. Can I use that instead?
A: Yes, but you'll need a HDMI to DVI cable or adapter. You'll also need separate audio cables because DVI only carries video. The Samsung V+ doesn't have audio phono sockets. You can solve the problem with a SCART-to-phono lead, plugged into the VCR SCART socket, but this means you can't use the Copy to DVD feature.

Q: How can I back-up a recording to an external device?
A: Connect your DVD/VCR to the VCR SCART output, and use the "Copy to DVD/VCR" function in the V+ Extras menu.
(Scientific-Atlanta) You can continue to watch another programme or recording via the TV SCART, HDMI, or Component output whilst the back up takes place.
(Samsung) Whilst using backup, you can only watch a different programme or recording if your TV is connected by HDMI. If you use SCART, the TV will show whatever you are backing up. But you can turn the TV off and let the V+ get on with the job if you like.

When you're not using the archive function, the VCR SCART socket shows the same as the main TV output, so you can feed this to a second TV.
(Scientific-Atlanta) You won't be able to see the V+ menus on the second TV, just the video
(Samsung) The menus will be shown on the VCR SCART socket unless you're using the archive function.

Q: Can I get an RGB signal when backing up to DVD?
A: Not when using the VCR SCART socket. Like all STBs, the RGB pins on this socket are wired as inputs, so that you can play back an RGB signal through the V+ to the TV SCART socket. If you want back up in RGB quality, you'll have to connect the DVD-R to the TV SCART socket, then use the normal V+ playback function.

Q: So what can I do with the Ethernet, USB and eSATA ports?
A: Nothing. None of them are enabled.
(Scientific-Atlanta) Some people have reported that USB keyboards work, but it's not a supported feature. Others have powered a PC cooling fan off the USB, but that really isn't necessary. Just keep it well ventilated and it'll be fine.

Q: Can I have broadband through the V+ like I do with my current STB?
A: Nope. If you have broadband through the STB and you switch to V+, Virgin Media will install a separate cable modem for you.

Q: So how can I get the recordings off onto my PC?
A: You need to use a TV/video capture card, and record analogue video from one of the SCART sockets or the RF output. You can't get recordings off in digital form - without DRM, the owners of the content would never allow it.

Q: Well OK then - can I record from a source other than the Virgin Media cable channels?
A: No, you can't do that either.

Q: Can I record On Demand or pay-per-view programmes?
A: No.

Q: How can I tell how full my disc is?
A: When you are using the guide, it shows a "fuel gauge", and a rough estimate of how many hours recording space is available. But be aware that this is for SD content. HD content will eat up your disc space around four times as fast.

Q: How big is the V+?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) 400mm Wide by 285mm Deep by 83mm Tall. And before you ask, it weighs 3.7kg. But leave plenty of ventilation space around it if you're putting it in a cabinet.
(Samsung) 350mm Wide by 250mm Deep by 62mm Tall, and it weighs 2.6kg.

Q: How quiet is it?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Well, mine is 5” away and is quiet as a mouse, even when recording. Others have complained of disc noise. You can reduce this by standing the V+ on something soft, such as blobs of Blu-Tac, but don't block the cooling vents. There is no cooling fan in the Scientific-Atlanta V+.
(Samsung) The Samsung V+ does have a fan, but generally is quieter than the Scientific-Atlanta box. The fan speed varies depending on the temperature, so ventilate it well to keep it quiet.

Q: Anything else?
A: Yes, you're only half way through. Keep reading below.

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Old 12-07-2008, 19:00   #2
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V+ Faq Part 2

Welcome to the V+ FAQ part 2

Q: What’s the picture quality like from V+?
A: From Standard Definition (SD) channels, it's very good, better than the standard boxes. If you have a HD Ready TV set and are connecting to it via HDMI or Component, the V+ will upscale all SD content to the HD resolution you have selected.

From High Definition content into a HDTV set – it's bloody excellent. Of course, the actual quality will vary due to a number of factors (Brand of TV; Picture enhancement hardware inside TV; Screen size of TV; Viewing distance; Number of lagers consumed ) but watching Planet Earth at 1080i is breathtaking.

Q: So is the picture quality of Samsung V+ as good as the near-legendary Scientific-Atlanta?
A: Oh, yes!!!

Q: So what HD channels are available on Virgin Media?
A: See here : http://www.virginmedia.com/customers...nnel-guide.pdf.

Q: Do I have to pay extra to watch the HD channels
A: To access the Sky Movies HD and Sky Sports HD channels, there is a charge of £7 per month for each STB. The rest are part of the standard channel packages. Note that if you downgrade your V+ to the standard V-box service you will not be able to access the HD channels.

Q: Any other HD content can I enjoy?
A: Within On Demand, there is some HD content in the BBC iPlayer, TV Choice, More On Demand, Music, Movies and Adult sections. The HD adult content and FilmFlex movies are usually £1 more than their SD counterparts. Most films included the Picturebox subscription package include HD versions (£5/month).

You can find what's available on On Demand here.

Q: Why can't I find the HD channels in the guide?
A: They aren't listed under the standard genres such as Factual and Sports. They are all grouped together in a High Definition section. To access this, press Home, select "TV Guide", then "High Definition".

Q: Can I watch HD content if I don't have a HDTV?
A: You can watch the linear HD channels (downscaled to SD, of course). You can't watch HD On Demand content.

Q: There must be some flaws with V+, surely?
A: Well it does have its ‘features’. At the end of the day, it's a pretty complex computer, and it will have bugs. But there have been several software updates to fix these, and it's pretty reliable now.

Q: Anything else I should know?
A: Some people have complained about the series links not working properly. The data for series links are occasionally wrong. Other complaints are recordings that refuse to play back, short recordings, the V+ rebooting, fuzzy menus in 1080i mode, and the volume setting creeping downwards by itself.

Note that by design the series links only work for the current series. So when a new series of your favourite programme starts, you'll have to set up a new series recording, even though the old series will still be listed under "Planned Series".

Q: Will the bugs get fixed?
A: It is unlikely there will be any more software updates for the V+. The creeping volume may be a fault with the remote control - see the "mute icon" question below.

Q: Where can I buy a V+ box from?
A: You can't. In fact, you can't get one at all any more, except as a replacement for a faulty one. V+ has been superseded by TiVo.

Q: What's the difference between the black and the silver Scientific-Atlanta V+ boxes?
One's black, and the other's... you guessed it! Inside they are exactly the same. However, the black and silver remotes aren't the same. Most of the black ones can control the volume on the V+; the silver ones can't.

Q: How can I program my V+ remote to control the TV volume?
A: See here: http://tinyurl.com/cm3ryyo

Handy tip (with thanks to richelleking): Keep a little piece of paper in your battery compartment of your remote to remind you how to switch between controlling the V+ volume and the TV volume.

Q: I want to use an IR remote sender with my V+. What type should I get?
A: Get the cheapest you can find. Despite what some websites might tell you, the V+ does not use IrDA protocol.

Q: I want to use a video sender with my V+. How should I connect it to the V+?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Plug it in to the VCR SCART socket - unlike all other VM boxes, it's the bottom socket on the Scientific-Atlanta V+. You won't be able to see the on-screen menus or subtitles, but you should be able to channel surf using the channel up / channel down buttons ok.
(Samsung) Plug it in to the VCR SCART socket - that's the top one. No trouble with missing menus or subtitles on the Samsung.

Q: I have a HDTV with a HDMI connection. Do I have to buy a HDMI lead for the V+?
A: No, the installer should bring one with him, but it's a good idea to confirm that you want a HDMI lead when you ring to make your installation appointment.

Q: I've had V+ for a while but I've just bought my first HDTV. Do I have to buy a HDMI lead?
A: No, VM will send you one for free if you ask nicely.

Q: I have a HDTV with a Component connection, but no HDMI. Do I have to buy Component leads?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Yes. Virgin Media won't provide Component leads. In fact, officially Component is not supported by VM at all. (But if you have a problem there are some helpful people on this forum)
(Samsung) The Samsung doesn't have Component connectors so you'll have to use SCART instead.

Q: I don't get any sound on BBC HD, but the rest of the channels are fine. What's up?
A: You've got the V+ set to output Dolby 5.1 audio where available, but your TV doesn't support it. To fix it press Home, then Settings, then Display and Audio Settings. Set "HDMI Audio Override" to Off, then press OK, then TV.

Q: So what does "HDMI Audio Override" actually do?
A: With HDMI Audio Override switched on, the V+ will output Dolby 5.1 through the HDMI and optical port whenever it is available. Dolby 5.1 is available on most channels, but is not broadcast for every programme. With the override switched off, the output is always stereo.

Q: A new series of Top Gear / Torchwood / Britain's Greatest Celebrity Police Vet Rescue has started. Why isn't my series link working?
A: The clue is in the name. A series link records one series. If a new series starts, you'll have to set up a new link, and you can delete the old old.

Q: Why can't I record radio channels?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Technical reasons! The speed of playback off the disc is controlled by looking at timecodes in the video stream. Which is a bit of a problem if there's no video.
(Samsung) Whatchamean? Of course you can record radio channels

Q: Help! My V+ has a fault and I think VM are going to swap it for a new one. How can I keep my precious recordings?
A: All you can do is copy them off to your VCR or DVD-R using the archiving function. Virgin Media can't keep the data or swap the hard drive over for you.

Q: Well can I swap the hard drive myself then?
A: No, it won't work. The recordings are encrypted on the hard drive, and each V+ has its own unique encryption. Not to mention taking the lid off being against VM Terms & Conditions and potentially dangerous.

Q: My V+ is playing up. How do I reset it?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Press the RESET button on the front panel.
(Samsung) Press and hold the Standby button on the front panel until the display says 'StoP', then let go.

Q: How do I reformat my hard drive?
A: Think long and hard about whether you need to do this. You will lose all your recorded programmes, plus all planned recordings and series. But it might be necessary if your V+ is playing up badly. Remember that if Virgin Media swap the box you'll lose your recordings anyway, so it's worth a go as a last resort.

If you decide to go ahead with the reformat, this is how you do it. You need to do all this using the remote, not the front panel buttons.
1) Press the Home button.
2) Press and hold the Play/Pause button until the display says 'E-00'.
3) Press the 'V+' or 'TVDrive' button. The display will say 'E-01'.
4) Press the 'ch-' button 4 times. The display will say 'hdd4'.
5) The V+ will then begin the reformat, and the display will say 'rft'. This may take up to 5 minutes. Afterwards the V+ will reboot normally and all should be well.

If you get in a muddle when pressing the buttons, reset the V+ as above, let it reboot, then try again.

Q: My V+ keeps rebooting every couple of minutes. Help!
A: Try to reformat as described above. To get chance to do the reformat without it rebooting, try either removing the smartcard or disconnecting the cable feed. If that doesn't work, you'll have to ring the VM Faults team, and they'll probably swap the box.

Q: Why can't I see the on-screen menus?
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Probably because you are using the wrong SCART socket. Make sure the TV is plugged into the 'TV' SCART socket - that's the top one on the Scientific-Atlanta V+.

If this happens on a newly-installed V+, and you've checked the SCART is plugged in the right place, it might be that the account hasn't been set up properly. Give VM a call.

Q: Why can I only see the on-screen menus, not video?
A: The HDCP copy protection mechanism has failed, maybe because of a bad connection. Power off both TV and V+, then reverse the HDMI lead (or replace if you've got a spare handy). If that still doesn't fix it, ring VM.

Q: Why has a mute icon appeared on the TV screen?
A: There is a fault where the volume creeps downwards, or mutes completely.

If you are using SCART connection, and have a blue remote for another STB, you can use that to turn the volume back up. Or use the volume control in the Settings menu.

Other people have reported that simply putting the box in and out of standby, or rebooting, makes the mute icon go away.

Q: When I press the red button, it just says "Please wait" but nothing else happens. What's wrong?
A: Try rebooting the V+, then wait a few minutes. If the red button still doesn't work your account probably hasn't been set up properly. Ring VM about this.

Q: How do I set the V+ output to HDMI? I've tried but it keeps going back to SCART.
A: There's a knack to this. After you've selected HDMI output from the Settings menu, the box does a test to make sure you really can see HDMI. Note: You need to press the 'Text' key on the remote during the test, otherwise it will revert to SCART output after a few seconds. This is to try to stop you accidentally putting the box in HDMI mode when you haven't got an HDMI telly - but see below if you still manage!

To make things easier, the software has been changed to detect when you have plugged in an HDMI lead, and guide you through the switch-over process. You still need to press the all-important Text key, though.

Q: I've set my V+ output to HD, but I don't have an HDTV and now I can't see any pictures
A: (Scientific-Atlanta) Hold in the Stop and Play/Pause buttons on the front panel, and press Reset. Keep Stop and Play/Pause held in until the display says 'boot'. After a few seconds the display should say 'outpt'. Press the Fast Forward button several times until the display says 'Sd', then press OK. Wait for the V+ to reboot then you should be back in SCART mode.

You can also use this method to switch the V+ into HD mode - either select "Hdrni" (HDMI) or "YPbPr" (component) before you press OK. And if you use the Rewind button, you can switch between 720p and 1080i

(Samsung) Temporarily plug the TV into the 'VCR' SCART socket on the back of the V+. You will then be able to see the menus so you can switch back to SCART mode. Don't forget to move the SCART lead back to the 'TV' socket when you've finished.

Sources and useful links:

V+ user guide: http://www.virginmedia.com/customers/pdf/V+Manual.pdf
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%2B

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