Spotify on Virgin Media TiVo: App Review

Virgin Media customers in the UK can now access a new Spotify app on their TiVo boxes. The Flash-based app lets Spotify Premium users browse and listen to playlists through their TV/hi-fi using the TiVo remote, all from the comfort of your sofa. Read on for more on Spotify for TiVo!

 

Following a much-needed software update, Virgin Media introduced folders to the Apps & Games section on their TiVo box. Select the Music folder to access Spotify:

The Spotify app takes a moment to load before displaying a login screen (or if you’ve already logged in before it takes you directly to a What’s New home page, so no need to log in every time). You enter your details using the TiVo remote control (there’s no pop-up keyboard like in the YouTube app), but luckily you can multi-press the buttons like on a mobile phone to quickly enter letters and symbols. New customers to Virgin Media can get Spotify Premium free for 3 or 6 months (depending on the package you take) while existing Spotify Premium users can just use their current details to login.

Once you log in you’re presented with a What’s New page divided into albums, tracks, and a currently-selected area on the right:

A What's New page is used as the Home Page

Navigation is easy and intuitive using the up/down/left/right buttons on the TiVo remote, and you can press the Play or OK button at any time to start the music. Playback is near-instantaneous, thanks to the dedicated modem in the TiVo box. While playing, the fast-forward and rewind buttons skip through the track and you can use the TiVo Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down buttons to quickly star and unstar the current song. Pressing the Blue button pops up some track options to Star, Browse Album, and Browse Artist; pressing the Yellow button accesses the top menu where you can switch between the What’s New page and your own Playlists view.

Once in the playlist view, all your playlists are listed on the left with playlist tracks shown in the middle and current track on the right:

My Spotify playlists

The Full Screen button does what you’d expect, displaying a nice big cover art image, minimal controls, current track details and next track details too:

Listening in Full Screen mode

 

A basic but slick Spotify player then. So what’s missing? Well, the most obvious omission is the lack of a search bar, so you’ll need to set up all playlists on the desktop first. The Browse Artist option is a reasonable search compromise, provided the artist you want to browse is already included in a playlist somewhere. [ I find it useful to maintain a single playlist to use as a launch-point into a particular selection of albums or artists. For example, I have one called “Best of 2011” where I add the first track from each artist’s latest album; I can then use this one playlist to single-click artist or album links . ]

The "Browse Kate Bush" page

There’s also no song shuffle or repeat, no radio and no option to scrobble to Last.fm, set the stream quality, or share with Facebook. You can also still only listen on one device at a time: if you’re playing music on Spotify for TiVo then start a track on Spotify for desktop, the TiVo stops playing and pops up a message to say “Spotify has been paused because your account is used somewhere else.

 

Despite its limited “listen only” features, Spotify on TiVo is a fantastic app that looks great, is simple and fast to use, and streams the music with the speed Spotify is famous for. Virgin Media are offering some sweet deals too for both new and existing subscribers, so if you’re a UK music fan in a cabled area then this is definitely something worth looking into.

 

  © 2018 Jer White / Pansentient League.
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