V+ (previously known as TV Drive) is a product from
Virgin Mediawhich provides Personal Video Recording (PVR) and High Definition (HD) functionality to customers who subscribe to the service. Virgin Media have taken a different approach to rival Sky's HD service, by implementing a rental scheme for the V+ set top box. When Virgin Media was launched, there was an installation charge of £100 (waived under certain circumstances) and a monthly charge of £15 for TV M and L customers or £10 for XL customers. On 1st June 2007 pricing was revised, with all customers paying a one-off £150 setup fee and then TV M and L customers paid a £5 monthly charge, while TV XL customers had no extra charges. From November 2007 until 31st of December 2007, the price of the installation fee had been halved to £75, with the same £5 monthly cost applying for TV M and L customers, this promotion was continuously extended until June 30. [http://pressoffice.virginmedia.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=205406&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1081290&highlight= Virgin Media sleighs price of V+] ] [http://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/specialoffers/vplus.html Half price V+ installation] ]
The box is technically on lease, still owned by Virgin Media, who will provide technical support for their STB free of charge if a problem occurs for the life of a contract.
An all new V+
set top boxis currently in development with a release date scheduled for latter half of 2008 at the earliest. [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a90540/new-v-box-likely-in-second-half-of-2008.html New V+ box likely in 'second half of 2008'] ]
The V+ box derives from Telewest's TVDrive, and was previously only available to Telewest cable customers. On the
16 November, 2006it was made available to ntl cable customers in the Teesside and Glasgow areas. In January 2007, ntl:Telewest began renting the STB nationwide, and since the acquisition of the Virgin Media name it is now officially available in all areas with the new V+ branding.
set top box(STB) is based on the 8300DVB set top box from Scientific Atlanta. The STB uses two 250 MIPS 32-bit RISCprocessors, 4 tuners (3 video, 1 data), a DOCSIS 1.x cable modem, a full graphics engine, 2 HD and SD video decoders, dual audio decoders and contains one Western Digital or Maxtor 160GB hard disk, capable of storing up to 20 hours of HD Content or up to 80 hours of SD content.
For connectivity the box has 1
HDMIoutput, 1 YPbPr HD Component output, 2 ScartOutputs, 1 optical audio output, 1 dual channel analogue phono output and an RF input and output. There is also an Ethernetsocket for Internetaccess, a USBport and an eSATAport which are currently disabled but may be enabled in the future for external storage.
The V+ Box has three video tuners, allowing the user to record two programs to the hard drive whilst watching a live program which can then be paused. V+'s main competitor on the British market, the
Sky+box, has two tuners. As with all other Digital STBs from Virgin Media, it has access to Video On Demand. This service includes chargeable film rental from Filmflexand the ability to view a selection of the previous weeks TV, although content does vary between the different Virgin Media areas. The STB supports 720p and 1080i high definitionvideo via HDMIand component output and is capable of upscaling SD video to HD resolutions. The copying of some programmes may be restricted by using HDCP. The STB also supports Dolby Digital5.1 surround sound, which is currently broadcast on BBC HD, Sky Moviesand some video on demand content.
At product launch the only HD channels available were
BBC HDand ITV HD. These two channels provided high definition coverage of almost every game in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Both channels were trials however, and since then ITV HD has been removed.
Current HDTV content includes the BBC HD channel and On Demand content which includes
Filmflex, BBCand HBOprogramming. Notable content includes "Planet Earth", "Hotel Babylon" and "The Sopranos".
In September 2007, the BBC Trust called for a full version of BBC HD to launch as soon as possible, which would put an end to the trial period [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/broadcasting/a75892/bbc-hd-should-launch-as-soon-as-possible.html BBC HD 'should launch as soon as possible'] ] . Both
ITVand Channel 4have announced plans to launch high definition channels [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a75516/hd-version-of-itv1-to-launch-next-spring.html HD version of ITV1 to launch next Spring] ] [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a75939/channel-4-hd-to-launch-in-december.html Channel 4 HD to launch in December] ] . So far no announcement has been made as to whether ITV HDwill be available. Virgin Media will be adding Channel 4 HD content to its on-demand service but no date has been given for carriage of the actual channel. [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a77218/virgin-to-show-channel-4-content-in-hd.html Virgin to show Channel 4 content in HD] ] [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a81532/no-fixed-date-for-c4-hd-on-virgin-media.html 'No fixed date' for C4 HD on Virgin Media] ]
List of channels on Virgin TV
High-definition television in the United Kingdom
* [http://www.virginmedia.com Virgin Media Homepage]
* [http://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/dtv/vplus/index.html What is V+ ?]
* [http://www.virginmedia.com/customers/pdf/V+Manual.pdf V+ Manual]
* [http://www.sciatl.com/customers/Source/7004921.pdf Scientific Atlanta 8300DVB datasheet]
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