Damn it, Virgin Media, take responsibility for your services..

I’m generally happy with my Virgin Media package.  Okay, I’m not – I love the broadband, but the problem is with TV.  A number of artefacts appearing in recorded programs, along with a poor catch-up service, plus an app that constantly forgets my login credentials is making me regret my decision to move to Virgin Media in the first place.

Yet, Virgin Media keep rolling out the boilerplate, “Catch up is a free value added service” as if they are washing their hands of responsibility.  While I appreciate they get their feeds from multiple sources, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come down hard on their suppliers to ensure a hassle free service.

Sky’s catch-up service is/was practically impeccable in comparison – as was the image quality.  Sure, the navigation system was as weird as hell, but it worked.  I do seriously regret switching TV to Virgin – and come next year, I’ll be cancelling (and moving back to Sky[1]) unless I see a significant investment in time and money from Liberty Global in improving the service.  I gave up on Sky Cinema with Virgin because an increasing number of films weren’t available in HD.  I get better service with the NOW TV app on my LG TV.

Here’s a typical Virgin Media response:

Downloading ALL the things! Switching from Sky to Virgin.. part one

For the past year, I’ve been pretty happy with Sky Fibre Broadband Pro with its static IP and IPv6 address.  But with anything that works well, I get restless. Actually, what I’m not so happy about is Sky Q, and Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox wanting to buy Sky.  But I can’t do anything about Sky Q until the end of August/early September.

So I’m intending to move to Virgin Media in small increments, starting with broadband and finishing with their TV service – albeit with a few changes.

The first is that I’m not going to have the Sky Cinema channels.  I find it’s better to rent (or in most cases, buy) movies on iTunes.  I’m also not as keen on the numerous TV channels out there – I barely watch more than 1% of them, so I don’t need the full TV package anymore.  My viewing mainly consists of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube (there are some surprisingly good vloggers out there).  So I’ll probably take out the basic Tivo 6 package come September.  For watching Sky Atlantic shows, I’ll probably just buy them on iTunes (Westworld, Game of Thrones) – cheaper than a subscription in most cases.

So I’ve ordered the Virgin Media HomeWorks package that delivers up to 300Mbs download and 20Mbs upload, with no traffic management.  The additional feature is that if things go wrong with the broadband connection, there’s next day engineer on-site call out available.  Plus a 24/7 helpline. Designed to cater for home workers, it seems the perfect package for my needs (I usually work from home at least once a month – plus there are all the times I’m on-call).

I’m switching my landline back to Virgin too (since Sky have increase line rental). While the vast majority of calls are made and received on my mobile phone, I find it’s still handy to have a landline.

So we’ll see how things go.  In particularly, I’ll be interested to see how well the Sky Q kit works with Virgin Media broadband.  I’ll write up my experiences, as always.

Sky’s Pie in the Eye

After nearly a full year of Sky Q, I’m almost ready to give up.  Except I can’t – not until August (blasted 18-month contracts).

The biggest problem with Sky Q for me is the user interface – requiring far too many actions to get to where you want to go.  I’ve barely used the Sky Q minibox. I’ve had to power cycle the minibox a couple of times as there are a few Wi-Fi devices upstairs that rely on it and stopped working after the box went a bit wonky (technical term).

I detest Sky’s series record.  It doesn’t work very well at all.  I often find it records new episodes and repeats of the same episodes, completely stops after a series ends and never picks up the next series, and all manner of silly things.  I use Sky’s web-based Never Miss to fill in the blanks, but honestly, this just isn’t good enough.

I gave up using the fancy pants Sky touch remote a while back.  Scrubbing through adverts is too sensitive – often going way beyond where I want to end up. The IR remote also supplied works well enough.

UHD 4K content is still sadly lacking too.

I also find that adding/removing packages is horribly inconsistent too.  Sometimes you can use the web interface to manage this, other times you need to speak to somebody by phone.   Why can’t we manage our account entirely online?

The only good thing about the whole package has been Sky Broadband Fibre Pro. Rock solid, with static IP and IPv6 address and everything.

But I think that come August I’ll be switching to Virgin Media.  Now they offer upload speeds up to 20Mbs and download speeds up to 200Mbs, with IPv6 coming later this year (apparently) – and a new, faster (and tiny) Tivo box that offers even more simultaneous live channel recording than Sky Q, albeit with a smaller capacity hard drive (doesn’t bother me – I’ve barely filled the Sky Q box HD).  I’d be happy to get rid of the Movie channels.  I don’t watch them as often as I used to – I find these days Netflix & Amazon take up most of my viewing time.