I upgraded to a Virgin Media V+ service three months ago. Although I have had some initial teething problems, I am pretty satisfied with the V+ service.

The V+ box is a personal video recorder (PVR) similar to the Sky Plus service. The V+ box contains a 160GB hard drive which can store 80 hours of recorded TV programs.

Recording a TV program is very easy. You simply navigate through the 7 day TV guide, select the desired TV program and hit ‘Record’. You get the option to either record the individual broadcast or the series (if appropriate).

This is much preferable to finding an old video tape, wondering what is on it and inadvertently erasing 4 hours of Olympic Gymnastics from Sydney 2000. The whole operation is so easy, the rest of my family have mastered it and my only problem now is educating them to erase programs once viewed. Although the V+ box does have an option to automatically purge the oldest recordings.

You can pause and rewind live TV too. This is especially useful for ‘Have I Got News For You’ which requires ones full attention to appreciate all the one-liners and rapid fire jokes. So, if the wife wants to discuss GCSE options for next year or the mother-in-law calls, you can simply pause the program, make a cup of tea and resume when the coast is clear.

I once suspended a football match for 75 minutes and I assume the duration of ‘Delay TV’ is only constrained by the amount of free disk space. The football match was a excellent example of the benefits of V+. In the olden days, I would have to record the game on a tape, then wait until the game had finished before discovering, to my horror, the tape ended abruptly mid-way through the second half. With ‘Delay TV’, I was able to resume watching the game (exactly where I left it) while the actual match was still in progress.

You can rewind and forward at varying speeds (2, 6, 12 and 32) which makes finding the crucial moment much quicker than tape technology.

The other great feature of the V+ box is that you can watch one program while simultaneously recording two other channels. You get a warning if you try to record three overlapping programs. This feature essentially completely negates the need for the VCR for recording purposes, at least.

Another useful feature is that if you watch a recorded program, you get the option to resume viewing from where you left the program which saves you having to waste time, fast-forwarding to the correct place.

Tapes do have only minor advantage though. You can play them back in any TV with a VCR while V+ programs can only be played back on the V+ box. This sounds obvious but my children did once ask ‘Why can’t I watch the recorded program on the little telly ?’ And when the program in question is ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Breast Reductions Gone Badly Wrong’, they do indeed have a valid point.

I also assumed the V+ box was intelligent enough to decode signals to indicate the start and end of a program to cater for the World Snooker Final overrunning by 3 hours. However, on one occasion, I swear ‘Jonathan Ross’ was replaced by, err, 60 minutes of World Championship Snooker.

Overall, the introduction of the V+ box has changed the way I view TV. I tend to select programs I really want to watch, hit ‘Record’ and forget about it. Then, instead of mindlessly channel flicking, I simply scan the library of recorded programs.

I can’t comment on the High Definition service as I don’t have it nor have I ever transferred recordings from the V+ box to DVD which is also possible.

More info on V+: