Virgin Media has formally unveiled its latest set top box, with a TiVo powered UI, a built-in modem and three tuners all bringing the cable giant's television service bang up to date for the modern market.

The company believes that a partnership with US PVR specialist TiVo has brought a 'game-changing' user interface as it looks to modernise its offering and compete with Sky, BT Vision and the forthcoming slew of IPTV services.

The box will be available this month for existing customers, costing £199 for the box and a £40 install fee.

"The new service will lead a much-anticipated revolution in the way people find and enjoy their favourite content," said Virgin Media.

Graphical interface

"An easy-to-use graphical interface will combine the live TV schedule with catch-up TV, a huge library of on-demand programming and popular web-based applications alongside a market-leading personal video recorder," it added.

"As a result, Virgin Media customers will never miss out on great programmes and will find it easier than ever to discover new types of entertainment to match their tastes and preferences."

The new platform will offer instant (and potentially HD or 3D) content on demand – still a huge selling point over its rivals, and the new box offers 1TB of storage and three tuners, allowing two things to be recorded while a third is watched live.

However, the box will initially only launch with two tuners, with the third being added to new boxes early in 2011.

Virgin media powered by tivo
Virgin media powered by tivo

"This also means that – unlike other internet enabled TV services – customers will be able to watch what they want at the click of a button, rather than waiting for time-consuming downloads," adds Virgin Media.

"As Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo utilises dedicated channels of bandwidth, the user's viewing choice will not come at the expense of their broadband connection, so households can watch and surf simultaneously without interruption."

Recommended

The TiVo recommendation engine will be a major new addition – but it will be the way in which content is grouped and surfaced which will be the major pluses in a revamped UI.

Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said, "This is a landmark moment in the UK's digital revolution and vividly illustrates why Virgin Media is the only company who can provide the ultimate digital lifestyle.

"For the first time, viewers will have a truly personalised viewing experience so they can get the most out of the wonderful worlds of the internet and TV all in one place.

"We're really excited to bring our customers what is just the first of successive generations of transformational services based on this unique TiVo-powered platform."

Get connected

Connected television is a massive part of home entertainment's future, and Virgin is hoping that the inclusion of a separate modem in the box will help push its offering ahead of its rivals.

"Through its dedicated 10Mb cable broadband modem, which is built into the personal video recorder, the new platform will also bring the ever-growing popularity of the app store to the living room for the first time, doing for TV what the iPhone and Android have done for the mobile phone," the company stated.

"Built on an Adobe Flash-based platform, the latest videos, social networking and information apps will be updated regularly.

"The service launches initially with apps from major web brands including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, videos from YouTube, shopping from the online marketplace eBay, Tweets from Twitter and photos from sites such as Facebook, and the app line up will expand over the next several months."

TechRadar will be getting its hands on the new box very soon – so keep an eye out for a full review in the coming days.