Virgin Media is launching a serious overhaul of its V6 set-top box, with the introduction of Virgin TV 360, a home entertainment box that integrates voice search., personal profiles and more for a real breakthrough in set top box streaming.
There is a new interface that aims to make navigation lighter and easier, as well as a voice remote to quickly switch between apps. User profiles are also coming, meaning you can customize your favorite apps and channels without stepping on family members' toes.
It builds on the success of the V6 set-top box, which provided support for Ultra HD and HDR, but adds smart features to really compete with the world of streaming devices and smart TVs. However, you will need Virgin Media broadband to subscribe to the box, whether you already have it or are considering getting a TV / broadband package.
The new line includes a 4K compatible Mini box, which can be placed in another room in your home for multi-room viewing, meaning one person won't be able to take advantage of the 360's capabilities.
It is worth noting that many of these smart features are available through existing Alexa-enabled streaming devices, like the Fire TV Stick 4K, and the Fire TV platform also gets user profiles ahead of the 2020 release. However, the full suite of live TV, smart TV apps and multi-user/multi-room sync features all add up to a better entertainment experience through Virgin TV 360.
Virgin TV 360 expected to be available to new Virgin Media customers (and those upgrading to the Ultimate Oomph plan) 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, which includes 250 channels including all Sky Cinema, Sky Sports and BT Sport channels, two TV set-top boxes, M500 ultra-fast fiber broadband, a SIM card for unlimited landline and mobile phones. Currently available for €79.99 per month. Virgin Media has also just announced a speed boost to 600Mbps for current Ultimate Oomph customers."
Disney Plus is coming
However, one of the most exciting details we've managed to get from Virgin Media has been the arrival of Disney Plus. Disney's streaming app launched in the UK in March and has so far been noticeably absent from Virgin Media boxes.
However, Virgin Media isn't the only outlier, while Disney Plus is available on most home game consoles, Nvidia and Apple TV streaming boxes, Fire TV and Roku streaming sticks, and Samsung and Sony TVs, but you still won't find it on Panasonic TVs.
A Virgin Media representative told us in a statement that "starting next year I am confident we will have [Disney Plus] on the platform."
We were also told that the Alexa integrationAlthough not present at launch, it could well be in the works by 2021, which would mean you could connect your Virgin TV 360 box to smart speakers. Alexa as the new Amazon Echo (2020).