Virgin Media dropped me a line last month to offer me a new, free V6 TiVo. Not for wholly altruistic reasons of course, they want to shift everyone off the old boxes so that they can do some other technical changes… but free is free, so I got one.

But VM’s Quickstart installation process leaves a lot to be desired, so I thought I’d document my experiences, in the hope that it makes life easier for others. You know me. My thanks go to Scott (who, pleasingly, is Scottish) at VM who I spoke to on Sunday, and who is a credit to call centre staff everywhere.

The kit

First thing to note is that, although the V6 is their smallest box ever, the box it comes in is pretty hefty. In part that’s because it also includes a new router; in part it’s because of the way the contents are arranged inside the box. Too many companies taking lessons from Amazon, but it did, just, fit in the large bag I’d taken to carry it home from the collection point.

The new router is slightly larger than the old one, as it has two extra sockets on the back for telephones. My flat has lots of phone sockets and I don’t have a home phone at the moment, so I haven’t been able to test those.

The kit includes a small, plastic spanner for unscrewing the cable connectors. I had so much trouble with it I resorted to using an adjustable spanner to loosen the nut, then unscrewing the connector by hand. You might want to have one, or a set of pliers, on-hand – just in case. For my setup I didn’t bother changing the HDMI or router cables, so they’re going into the spare cable drawer shortly.

Unless you’re going to attach your old TiVo box to a cable elsewhere, make sure you’ve viewed all your recordings. You can’t plug simply it into your TV to watch them, it won’t work once you switch the box off after it’s deactivated.

The installation

Read the instructions. Seriously, read them. They’re pretty sensible, apart from the TV bits that are missing!

Call the number on the box/installation guide. This will transfer you to the regular call centre team who are pretty clueless on the V6, and who will immediately transfer you to a different team. They will deactivate your old box and activate the new one, so don’t call until you’re ready to actually do the swap.

Broadband

The instructions in the guide are clear enough: disconnect the old router, connect the new one, wait three minutes, turn it off and on again. You can’t go wrong here. You will have to get all your wireless devices reconnected, of course, which is a pain, and your router’s password will also change. If you use reserved IPv4 addresses for any of your equipment (I do, for one) then check that address is still valid in the Advanced Settings section.

TiVo

Also simple. Switch off the old box, pull out the cables, plug them into the new box (but swap the power brick to the new one). The only different thing is the cable connector; you have to use an adaptor (supplied) to connect it to the new box, which has a pleasingly old-fashioned coaxial socket instead of a cable one. When you offer the cable from the wall box up to the cable-socket end of the adaptor there will be a gap between them; push the adaptor firmly onto the cable end so that the two ends are close enough to be screwed together.

Switch the new box on and let it do its thing. Notice how quickly it starts up, compared to the old box…

The things they don’t tell you.

Your Series Links and Wishlists are not automatically transferred across. Apparently, most people don’t bother asking for it. You’ll need to visit the Virgin Go website, choose Manage My TiVo and log in. At the bottom of the left-hand menu it says “Copy TiVo Settings” – choose that, then follow the instructions. It took less than 10 minutes for my links to be copied across, it depends on how many you have and how many recordings are due to be made.

The adult channels now appear in the programme guide, whether you’re subscribed or not. If you want to hide them, on your TiVo remote press Home then choose Help & Settings > Parental Controls. Enter your PIN (1234 by default), and the first option is “Hide adult channels”. That’s it.

Recording lights on the front? Gone.

There’s a new play speed as well. Press the Play button on the remote, then the OK button, and the speed will increase – but keeping the sound, as opposed to pressing the fast forward button, which increases the speed but cuts out the sound. Quite funny when istening to music, a bit like playing a 331/3 rpm album at 45 rpm.

After that, sit back and enjoy working out what’s different on the new, smaller remote…