Virgin Media is launching a serious overhaul to its V6 set-top box, with the introduction of the Virgin TV 360 – a home entertainment box that throws in voice search, personal profiles, and more for a true step up in set-top streaming.
There's a brand new interface that looks to slim down and simplify navigation, along with a voice remote for quickly jumping between apps and channels. User profiles are arriving too, meaning you can customize your favorite apps and channels without stepping on your family members' toes.
It builds on the success of the V6 set-top box, which brought in Ultra HD and HDR support, but adds in smart features to truly compete with the world of streaming sticks and smart TVs. You will, however, need Virgin Media broadband to sign up for the box, whether you have it already or plan on getting a TV / broadband bundle package.
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The new line-up includes a 4K-ready Mini box, which can be placed in another room in your home for multi-room viewing – meaning one person won't be able to hog the 360's capabilities.
It's worth noting that a lot of these smart features are available through existing Alexa-capable streaming sticks, like the Fire TV Stick 4K – with the Fire TV platform also getting user profiles before 2020 is out. However, the complete package of live TV, smart TV apps, and synchronized multi-room / multi-user features do add up to a greater entertainment experience through Virgin TV 360.
The Virgin TV 360 is set to be available for new Virgin Media customers (and those upgrading to the Ultimate Oomph (opens in new tab) bundle) before the end of the year, though it may take until early 2021 for other existing customers to be eligible for the new box.
A press release states that "The Ultimate Oomph Bundle offers Virgin Media’s premium TV package, including 250 channels such as all Sky Cinema, Sky Sports and BT Sport channels, two TV set top boxes, ultrafast M500 Fibre broadband, landline and an unlimited mobile SIM currently available for £79.99 per month. Virgin Media has also just announced a speed boost to 600Mbps for existing Ultimate Oomph customers."
Disney Plus is coming
One of the most exciting tidbits we managed to get from Virgin Media, though, was the arrival of Disney Plus. The Disney streaming app launched in the UK back in March, and has been noticeably missing from Virgin Media boxes so far.
Virgin Media isn't the only outlier, though – while Disney Plus is available on most home game consoles, Nvidia and Apple TV streaming boxes, Fire TV and Roku streaming sticks, and Samsung / Sony TVs, you still won't find it on Panasonic TVs.
A representative for Virgin Media told us in a briefing that “As of next year I'm very confident we will have [Disney Plus] on the platform”.
We were also told that Alexa integration, while not present at launch, may well be in the pipeline for 2021 – which would mean you could connect your Virgin TV 360 box to Alexa smart speakers like the new Amazon Echo (2020).
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