Are you a Virgin Media customer who’s spent the last year pining for something like Sky Q sat under your TV? Well, that’s what Virgin Media has delivered today with its Virgin TV V6.
A set-top box for watching broadcast and streamed TV, this thing can handle 4K content and record up to six shows at the same time. Plus, it’ll stream any recorded content you have to a smartphone, tablet, laptop or another V6 box for multiroom viewing. Sounds tidy, right?
Having witnessed the launch of the Virgin TV V6 in London today, here’s our rundown of the six ways it’ll change the way you watch TV.
1) 4K HDR streaming straight from your box
OK. So this is a bit of a weird one. Like Sky Q, the V6 has been built to handle Ultra High Definition (a.k.a. 4K) content and will be able to stream this fancy stuff from Netflix and YouTube at launch.
Predictably, this thing won’t serve up UHD Premier League Games from Sky Sports or BT Sport or 4K movies from Sky Cinema. More surprisingly, Amazon Prime Video is missing from the box as well. That means the V6 doesn’t come with the full complement of apps you’d expect to find pre-installed on any 4K TV at the moment.
In future, when the BBC decides to stream a World Cup or Olympics in 4K, the V6 will have you covered. And that’s the important thing. Plus, it’ll handle High Dynamic Range content, which the Sky Q box can’t.
2) You can record six shows at once
A classic bit of tech willy waving, this. With the standard, 1TB Sky Q box you can record four TV shows and watch a fifth show at the same time. That seems like quite a lot to be getting on with, right? Well, the Virgin TV V6 box will allow you to record a whopping six TV shows at a time, and in Sky Q world to get that much simultaneous broadcasting action you need to go up a level to the 2TB box. At least until sometime next year when Sky opens up an extra tuner on the standard box.
By allowing you to watch/record six things at once with the standard V6 box, Virgin's going all out to woo those big families that can't go a single evening without fighting over what to watch, and the 1TB of storage (good for 500 hours of standard definition recordings or 100 hours of HD shows) you’re certainly not going to run out of space anytime soon.
3) Multi room is supported
To ensure you can plough through what’s sure to be a mass of TV recordings, Virgin has gone big on multi room with the V6. Details are a tad vague at the moment, but it’s promised that you’ll be able to stream or download shows from the V6 to pretty much any device you own with screen. So the little ones can get their Peppa Pig fix, while you catch on last night’s Match of the Day. That’ll do nicely.
4) It comes with a HD Android tablet
But what if you don’t have a spare tablet to chuck in front of the younglings? Virgin’s got you covered here as well with a new 14in Android TellyTablet that it’s bundling together with some TV packages.
With its TV Anywhere and Kids apps pre-installed, plus an 8 hour battery life and handy kickstand, it exists to help you get the most out of multi room. And nudge you towards spending a little more on your TV contract.
5) It sells movies through the Virgin Media Store
Virgin is pitching to be your modern day Blockbuster of choice with its new Media Store that’ll allow you to buy and keep the latest movies and TV shows, such as Suicide Squad and Game of Thrones, by downloading them straight to your box.
Unlike Amazon’s Video service or iTunes, you can’t rent new titles, but any title you do buy will be supplemented with a free DVD that’ll be sent out to you. Thinking that sounds a lot like how Sky Store works? You’d be absolutely right.
6) There’s a new UI (if you haven’t got it already)
Getting to watch the shows you want on a TV box can be quite the faff sometimes. So Virgin is aiming to eradicate as much hassle as possible from this experience with its new user interface (available for all existing boxes as well).
With a focus on icons and simplistic menus it looks like a handy way to nip straight to the latest Bake Off episode. Plus, the new Series Link+ recording feature collates both streamed and broadcast content mixed in together so you can stockpile as many episodes of your favourite shows as humanely possible.
Fancy upgrading to your old Tivo box to the new V6? You’ll be able to do so by the end of the year and new customers will be able to order their own before January 2017. The price of the Virgin TV box is £99.95, unless you subscribe to a Full House or VIP bundle. Then it’ll be £49.95.