Stream from Virgin Media preliminary evaluation: Contract-free IPTV

(Pocket-lint) – Virgin Media O2 has gazumped Sky in getting its web TV platform to market first.

Stream from Virgin Media follows Sky’s comparable Stream Puck when it comes to announcement, however will probably be out there as a standalone product from 27 April 2022. Sky’s various is coming “later this yr”.

It successfully affords Virgin TV and streaming platforms side-by-side, all accessible by one tiny field and with no long-term contract. It is unique to Virgin Media broadband prospects however does not value the Earth. Is it any good although?

We received a demo of the system and repair at its launch occasion to present you our preliminary ideas.

Design

The Stream system is a small set-top-box – far smaller than the distant that accompanies it.

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The design is just about par for the course with such issues – suppose traditional Roku or Amazon Hearth TV packing containers – besides there’s materials on high that appears like a little bit of carpet. It is not actually and at the least softens the plasticky nature of this type of system.

Its distant is extra just like the kind of factor you get with Virgin TV’s cable service, with the usual button array and form. Maybe probably the most attention-grabbing bit is the voice management button as we’re certain that’ll get loads of use.

Stream is straightforward to arrange, connecting to your community wirelessly and TV by HDMI 2.0. You can even hook it up through Ethernet with wired community passthrough out there by the Micro-USB port that is additionally used for energy. Nevertheless, the demo mannequin we noticed was linked through Wi-Fi with simply energy and HDMI cables protruding of the rear, and ran easily and shortly in operation (even from a room in a London resort).

Specs

  • Connections: 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x Micro-USB
  • Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.2
  • Wired web connection out there by Micro-USB
  • HDR10, HLG, Dolby DIgital, Dolby Atmos (passthrough)

We do not fairly know which chipset or RAM it makes use of, though Virgin Media has confirmed that it’s able to outputting 4K HDR (HDR10 and HLG) and at as much as 60Hz.

Dolby Digital audio decoding is supported, plus passthrough for Dolby Atmos. That is most related for the likes of Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon’s Prime Video companies, plus the BT Sport Final channel.

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The service requires a minimal broadband pace of fifty Mbps, which is among the causes it’s possible unique to Virgin Media broadband prospects solely. That approach, the model can guarantee your web connection is quick sufficient for it to function appropriately.

The distant management connects over Bluetooth.

Expertise

  • Supported companies: Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, YouTube, Vimeo, Britbox
  • Free companies: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, STV Participant

We actually have to get Stream into our testing labs to get a greater thought of the way it operates on a day-by-day foundation, however from our demo to date it is pleasing to notice that the person expertise is uncluttered and easy to navigate.

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The Stream idea is that you simply by no means have to enroll to a long-term contract, whether or not that be with Virgin Media or different supported streaming companies. And, you possibly can add and take away them on an ad-hoc foundation – simply paying for 30 month entry at a time.

The person expertise is geared that approach too, with an general homescreen pushing apps, reside TV, on demand and catch-up content material in their very own sections with out overcomplicating issues. Plus, should you do decide so as to add Netflix or Disney+, say, their content material is added to the homescreen in their very own rails. They do not seem on the UI for individuals who have not added them.

Which means the whole lot that seems on the display screen is accessible to look at immediately. Aside from field workplace films and leases, you will not be served content material you do not already pay for. And, if you wish to add a partnering service to your expertise, you are able to do so on the contact of a button.

There’s voice management too, for search inside the principle expertise and inside apps, plus opening channels and apps full cease. That makes issues extra easy nonetheless.

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Virgin Media additionally affords a crafty 10 per cent credit score scheme whereby you obtain a reduction every month for every of the companies you pay for on the identical invoice. You’ll be able to log into your present Netflix account on Stream, however should you take it by Virgin Media, you get 10 per cent off the subscription payment. It is a very first rate incentive and one thing we might like to analyze extra.

Apart from that, reside TV is supported with a full digital programme information (EPG). Nevertheless, it is price noting that there is no such thing as a tuner contained in the Stream field so you will not be capable of watch broadcast reveals in case your web connection goes down.

To recap

Stream from Virgin Media is a long-overdue strategy to get Virgin TV and partnering streaming companies within the one neat package deal and no difficult cable set up. Maybe its coolest and most stunning facet although is that you do not have to enroll to a long-term contract and may add leisure packs and platforms on a 30-day rolling foundation. This makes it a really engaging possibility for these trying to simplify their TV viewing and are involved how the price of dwelling might have an effect on them in future.

Writing by Rik Henderson.