Virgin Media has lifted the lid on its long-awaited, new set top TV box, teaming ultra high-definition 4K video with a Sky Q-style function that enables you to stream recordings on set top boxes around the home.
Dubbed the V6, Virgin Media's box, which is once again based on Tivo technology, allows you to record six channels simultaneously while watching a seventh.
That’s in line with Sky’s plans to for its Sky Q service, which is due to be upgraded with a software update next year.
In another echo of Sky Q, customers will be able to start watching recordings, streaming services or live TV on one TV and pick up exactly where they left off on further Tivo boxes in other rooms.
Because the multi-room service is compatible with Virgin Media’s current-generation Tivo boxes, you won’t need to invest in more than one V6 box.
You can also access and pause-and-pick-up recordings and view TV channels and on-demand content on smartphones and tablets by downloading the new Virgin Media TV Anywhere app.
This function works over 3G/4G and Wi-Fi.
And you can stream recordings you’ve made on a V6 box to your smartphone or tablet, provided you’re in range of Wi-Fi.
To be able to use the multi-room function you’ll need a Powerline adaptor or Ethernet connection. This incurs an extra charge, which is payable during the installation process.
Equipped with 1TB of capacity and space for up to 500 hours of standard definition TV and billed as Virgin Media’s ‘smallest, fastest and smartest box yet’, the V6 features a more intelligent recording feature called Series Link +.
Like standard set top boxes, this records all episodes of customers’ favourite shows, but also trawls streaming services, on-demand and catch-up for further episodes of the same series and pulls them together in a single location, like a playlist.
There’s a new remote too, which eschews the touchpad design of Sky Q’s in favour of a more traditional layout and a familiar array of physical buttons.
However, despite looking much the same as the current Virgin Media TV controller, the internal components are entirely new. And there’s a welcome ‘Find’ feature that helps you locate your remote when you’ve misplaced it by ‘beeping’.
It also works when the V6 is stashed away in a cupboard and is home to a dedicated ‘search’ button, which should mean you spend less time digging through menus to find what you want.
Customers can use their smartphone as secondary remotes with the TV Anywhere app too, and change channels and search, as well as pause, rewind and fast-forward through programs.
Other new features include a 14-inch, HD-quality TellyTablet designed to work snugly with the V6 box’s multi-room functionality, a fresh Kids app and the Virgin Media Store - a buy-and-keep service for movies and TV shows.
The box will be offered initially to existing Virgin Media customers on the Mix package and its pricier bundle options. They’ll be able to get it before the end of the year.
New customers face a longer wait. Virgin Media plans to start offering the V6 to them from January next year.
From launch, the V6 features a one-off charge of £99.99. But if you’re on a Full House or VIP package, it’s being offered at £49.95 as part of a limited-period promotion.