Join Date: Jun 2004
Services: Virgin Media 1TB TiVo, 500Gb TiVo, TV XL, 60Mb Broadband, Phone
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.
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?
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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Last edited by spiderplant; 06-04-2012 at 12:56.