Virgin Media rebrands its personal video recorder

Virgin Media is rebranding its personal video recorder (PVR) as a VPlus box, inviting copycat comparisons with rival company BSkyB’s Sky Plus service.

The cable company, which is relaunching from NTL and Telewest brands, is calling its standard set-top box V Box, which is also the name of the just-launched BT Vision box.

A Virgin Media spokeswoman confirms that Telewest’s TV Drive box, which was introduced last year, will be renamed VPlus and rolled out to NTL customers. The two cable companies merged last year and took the Virgin name after the subsequent acquisition of Virgin Mobile for £960m in July 2006.

The service, which launches imminently, will also feature a new-look electronic programme guide, which will reflect the Virgin Media branding.

Sky refuses to comment on Virgin’s use of the “Plus” name, but executives are said to be amused at the cable company’s “nerve”.

The Sky Plus service PVR launched in August 2001 and this year announced it had installed more than 2 million boxes with customers.

The service allows users to record programmes to a hard-drive, whilst watching another, and can also be set remotely. Users can pause and rewind live TV through the set-top box.

However, Virgin Media, which is renaming the Telewest TV Drive box, points to its “superior” service. The box allows viewers to record two programmes while watching a third.

The spokeswoman says: “VPlus will be the most advanced and best value PVR on the market with three tuners, high definition capability and a 160GB hard drive.”

BT “soft” launched its hybrid IPTV and Freeview service before Christmas. Its hardware is known as the BT Vision V Box.

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