With a Virgin Media tie-up looming in 2010, US PVR giant TiVo has announced its latest boxes, with the Premiere and Premiere XL set-top boxes bringing a host of new features that take advantage of an internet connection.
Virgin Media's UK customers will be keen to see exactly what the next-gen features offered by TiVo are, with many of the concepts likely to feature in the new V+ boxes that will arrive later in 2010.
So the TiVo Premiere – billed as 'one box to rule them all' – will be particularly exciting, showing what the US company believes is the future for personal video recorders.
Internet meets TV
Those features include a major new way of integrating internet content, with the Premiere's search functionality offering users the ability to find programmes from many sources – including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand or Blockbuster On Demand plus 'options from the web.'
The user interface is obviously key to a product that taps into so many sources, mixing IPTV with cable television in a format that will also allow you to seek out information on actors, series and individual programmes.
"Premiere is at its best when you want to browse, discover and explore the almost infinite array of TV options," says TiVo's release.
"Every show, from every source, is organised by category or topic. With a full-screen display that includes a rich display of movie posters and TV show logos for exploring it's simple to stumble upon interesting things to watch or record."
The addition of IMDB-like information is also interesting, allowing users to click on an actor or show to get masses more information.
TiVo's technology and UI is built on Adobe Flash technology, which offers, in the company's words: "a pathway to user-generated experiences and development opportunities."
Specs wise, the smaller Premiere box comes with a 320GB HDD, wireless N and G network adapter support, and video formats from 480i right up to full HD 1080p.
The XL carries a 1TB drive, and also comes with THX Optimiser – a video tool to let users have more control over features like black levels.
Price-wise the standard Premiers box will cost $299.99 (£200) and the XL $499 (£334), but UK users will of course have to wait until Virgin Media integrates the technology into its own next generation of boxes later in the year.
A UI as fun as the shows themselves?
"It has never been this easy to get all your entertainment in one place, on the big screen, in HD, right at your fingertips," said TiVo's president and CEO Tom Rogers.
"And the beauty of TiVo Premiere is that finding what to watch is just as fun as the watching the TV shows themselves.
"We accomplished it by using pictures and graphics to make the whole television guide experience come alive in a way that it never has before.
"TiVo Premiere is your new cable box, it's your movie box, it's your web box and music box; it's the one box that can give you access to almost anything you want, whenever you want it .
"We've taken millions of pieces of content and organised it for you in a way that makes so much sense you'll wonder how you ever lived without it."