Yep, ideally you'd have to press it just the once. But as I mentioned, often pressing it once didn't seem to do anything for me :doh:...in that situation, where I hit it multiple times to get it to start, what I'd do is set it for an hour for a 30 min recording, set it for 90 minutes for an hour long recording - you get the idea
With each button press, it should say on your TV screen something like "recording time 0:30" or "recording time 1:00" - your display might be a bit different to mine though, as mine was the later DVDR-5500.
As for question 2, I'm not quite sure. I think you have your V+ box set up the same way as I had my regular Virgin box set up, and if the timer actually starts counting down when you hit the read TV button on your remote, it sounds right - I'm guessing when you check the disc afterwards it's recorded something?
If it locks up (and trust me that happened constantly with my DVDR-5500, one of the reasons I replaced it), I would suggest unplugging it from the mains for a couple of minutes, then plugging it back in again. Then eject the recorded disc, and reload it.
There should be a Finalise option on the unit (can't remember how to access the menu via the remote, though I think it's under the Edit options), in case it doesn't finalise the disc first time round. Hopefully that should do the trick, after a reboot of course.
As for discs...I found my own Philips was pretty good in that department, it would accept practically any brand I threw at it. I'd recommend Verbatim for the best stuff though. DVD-R/+R won't need formatting before use...not sure about RW discs, as my Philips never needed to format, yet my new LG one does.
Hope that helps a bit, and you're welcome BTW