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Virgin Media Unveils V HD Box

Gordon Kelly


Virgin Media Unveils V HD Box

Time to rattle Sky's cage?

Up until now if you wanted to watch Virgin's HD channels you needed a high end V+ box, but now Branson's company has brought HD to the masses with the new 'V HD'.

For a one-off cost of £49 and with no additional monthly free, the V HD is an extremely affordable new option to bring access to ESPN HD, FX HD, National Geographic HD, MTVN HD, BBC HD and Channel 4 HD. These six channels don't compete with the 40+ HD channels on Sky now, but with ITV 1 HD, Sci Fi HD, Eurosport HD, Discovery HD, E4 HD and Film 4 HD also arriving soon and the considerable cost saving it is an extremely affordable option nonetheless. It is also a wonderfully cheap way of watching this summer's World Cup in High Def.

On top of this the V HD can tap into the extensive on-demand content Virgin offer with HD movies such as the superb Hurt Locker (I'm still thrilled it beat Smurfahontas at the Oscars) available at the touch of a button. On demand is an area Sky still hasn't properly addressed ('Anytime' isn't fooling anyone, Rupert) and Virgin's integrated support for BBC iPlayer and 4oD is also well worth having.

As for connectivity, the box is what you'd expect with HDMI, SCART, USB and Ethernet while it is 3D-ready for future broadcasts.

Where the V HD box reveal its budget routes is the lack of any PVR (Personal Video Recorder) functionality meaning no recording or time shift capabilities (pause/rewinding live TV, etc). This will no doubt be addressed with a new flagship V+ box before too long, but given on-demand services are the true future of TV viewing it shouldn't a deal breaker for those on a budget.

The V HD box is available now and installation costs £35. Rather strangely it still costs £15 if you do it yourself (wise since you're only swapping cables). You will need to be on the Virgin M+ TV package, but this is just £5.50pm with a Virgin phone line or £11.50 without and is free for the first two months. M+ provides 65 channels and HD channels have no premium.

Yep, it's a contender.


Virgin HD Box

Virgin M+ TV Pack


March 16, 2010, 7:06 pm

They need to have sky and virgin boxes built in in TVs instead of making plasma super thin. Then through clicks of a button or something you can subscribe to sky or virgin for their services.



March 16, 2010, 7:14 pm

About bloody time too!

Actually the timing is all to do with the increasing no. of HD channels provided by OTHER broadcasters. Whereas Sky took the lead with its own channels - please feel free to correct me as I am not a Sky subscriber.

I read somewhere that V-media were in negotiation to offer Sky HD channels.

£15 is fair as it should cover delivery/handling (admin) costs - provided we don't pay anything for 'returning' the old box. Given the box costs the subscriber £49 I would guess the wholesale price paid by VMedia is between £10-20 a box!! If you don't believe me go on the internet and check out the wholesale prices -v- what you pay on various goods!

Now all we need is a THOROUGH TR review of the box with the conclusion TR recomended badge for me to finally retire (donate to the local charity shop) my 'HD' Sony tv purchased in 1995!!!! Crikey! I hear you say. Still in mint condition. Actually I was waiting for the LED backlight TVs to become afordable (i.e. priced reasonably).


March 16, 2010, 7:15 pm

Good news for VM customers! Some of those HD channels will need an XL tv subscription though ;-)


March 16, 2010, 7:18 pm

@xbrumster wholly agreed.

Clearly demonstrated by Freeview and Freesat. However, there are other reasons for set top boxes, like making money out of us!


March 16, 2010, 7:30 pm

I can see it in 5-10 years time, all you will need is tv, built in wireless connection to internet, everything will be delivered through IP. No cable, no satellite, no antenna required.


March 16, 2010, 7:44 pm

I don't know if Virgin read these comments. But would be very cool to be able to manage recordings on your new V+ box from an iphone app. A bit like you can with Sky and 'TVPlus'


March 16, 2010, 7:49 pm

@Peter - yep, it does. It's a good suggestion, fingers' crossed.


March 16, 2010, 8:12 pm

Can't be worse than the current V+ box.

Slow channel changing, frequent lockups, inability to record off the radio, constant cutting short the end of recordings, etc.

VM Support have constantly assured me these problems would be fixed in May 2009...Still waiting.

Creative Radio

March 16, 2010, 8:13 pm

Well at least it is a cheaper option to watch HD via cable. I have a V+ box with XL package which now struggles to record HD shows, it fills up after about 5-6 recordings - I get a lot of hard disc messages saying 'critical' all the time.


March 16, 2010, 8:14 pm

@quartermass - yep, never been a fan of the V+ box and don't even get me started on the remote control!?!


March 16, 2010, 9:16 pm

@Peter I'll tac on to that request an android app... no need for favouritism. :D


March 16, 2010, 9:44 pm

Or how about just a web app which is platform agnostic.

Technology changes, and so sho

March 16, 2010, 9:48 pm

Somewhat more boringly (sorry), since this is something that's going to be plugged in all of the time, could you press Virgin for active and standby power consumption?

My last Virgin box drew the same power when 'off' as when 'on', and it wasn't insignificant.


March 17, 2010, 12:42 am

@Gordon: The Virgin Media cable remote is really one true monstrosity and the worst part is that you can't replace it with a universal one.


March 17, 2010, 12:54 am

Re: Smurfahontas

Avatar immediately made me think back to Fern Gulley... but with Smurfs.

I completely understand big budget films having to recoup costs by appealing to a broad demographic, but that film's plot had all the depth of a pancake. But, like a pancake, it was fun and yummy.


March 17, 2010, 2:09 am

@quartermass - I'd try and get yourself one of the new Samsung V+ boxes. The Scientific Atlanta (SA)ones are known for their slowness and bugginess, but the Samsungs are much faster and more reliable. My SA V+ developed a fault, and I received a Samsung as replacement - it's made using my V+ a more rewarding experience.

Ben 3

March 17, 2010, 2:13 am

@ffranmccaffery. The V HD box, both V+HD boxes and the Samsung SD boxes all work fine with Universal Remotes.


March 17, 2010, 4:45 am

Nothing like a good bit of healthy competition to drive doen prices!!! Hopefully this will urge sky to drop the £10 after the world cup is done so I can go ahead and enjoy my HD telly in all it's glory!!!!

p.s. yay to TR to modifying the login so it goes straight to the comment box of the page you were on.


March 17, 2010, 4:49 am

@asanka - "yay to TR to modifying the login so it goes straight to the comment box of the page you were on."

A LOT more than that on the way, but a bit still to go yet ;)


March 17, 2010, 1:45 pm

Re V+ boxes: yes, the samsung is v quick and responsive, and the remote is fine.

Re HD recording on the V+: the 160 gig disk is COMPLETELY inadequate - it says 80 h recording but for HD each hours takes about 5 SD hours so that is more like 15 h, and you cant use the last 16h for recordings anyway, so in reality you get about 12 h. Rubbish.

One can only hope the new boxes later this year have at least a terabyte. How much is a large hard disk these days anyway?


March 17, 2010, 2:28 pm

Is this really that much of a "wonderfully cheap way of watching this summer's World Cup in High Def"? Surely freeview or freesat (if you happened to have a spare satellite) HD makes more sense than signing up to a 12 month subscription? Or have I missed something?


March 18, 2010, 1:30 am

Its cheaper than freesat and not available on freeview as far as I know.


March 18, 2010, 5:29 am

@Ben: thanks for that bit of info. I was told by the lackey at my local Currys that it wasn't possible.


March 18, 2010, 10:52 pm

SO hang on, no monthly fee?

I currently have a V+ downstairs and an extra SD box upstairs, I pay 15 quid a month for the extra box

So cant I cancel the extra box and save a 15 quid a month fee then buy the V HD?

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