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Virgin Media’s new TiVo 2016 4K box is coming and with 4K content to rival Sky Q

by on August 9, 2016

Stephan Jukic – August 9, 2016

Courtesy of reporting from PCadvisor of the UK, here are some of the core rumors around Virgin Media’s reported 2016 4K UHD video set-top box release, which is expected to arrive later this year.

First of all, Virgin’s existing set-top box technology is definitely in need of a revamp. Offering only 1080p Full HD resolution content and rather clunky in terms of its look, the existing TiVo box is falling well behind its rival Sky Q Silver and BT Sport YouView set-top boxes with full 4K UHD and even High Dynamic Range content support for both canned and live ultra HD entertainment.

With that being the case, Virgin Media CEO, Tom Muckeridge, while speaking at a recent August 5th Investor call, that Virgin Media will launch the revamp of the current TiVo service later in 2016 and that the new device will be called the EOS box.

Along with this new name, there will also be an entirely new user interface for simplified usability and content access and a host of additional advanced features which Muckeridge claims will make the EOS “the perfect migration path for us not just to stay relevant but lead in the video space in the UK”. In other words, we can likely expect the 2016 TiVo box from Virgin to be a cutting edge set-top entertainment platform which more than firmly competes with Sky Q or BT and YouView.

Vrigin plans on heavily updating the UI in the EOS box from the interface of the existing TiVo device

Vrigin plans on heavily updating the UI in the EOS box from the interface of the existing TiVo device

The EOS and its new interface will offer a very “significant step up” in Virgin’s capacity for delivering on-demand programming and a wide range of over the top internet-based applications for streaming media of all types, including 4K video sources.

Given that the original, existing TiVo is from all the way back in 2011, long before the new 4K entertainment era, these sorts of updates are seriously overdue, competition or no.

Muckeridge has also explained that the new EOS TiVo box will come with a slicker more picture-based series of on-screen menus and will include specs for 4K content support. The confirmation of 4K content inclusion comes directly from an official Virgin Media statement about the launch of the new box, so we can take it a solid thing instead of mere rumor.

Currently, Sky Q, YouView from BT both offer 4K ultra HD content entertainment in both streaming and on-demand formats. However, the selections of content remain slightly limited. BT’s box offers only one 4K content channel which includes streaming canned content from Netflix and others while Sky Q is working on offering first-run movies in 4K along with regular live sports content streamed in the resolution.

What we don’t yet know about the Virgin Media EOS box for TiVo in 2016 is how much it will cost, whether the 4K content will cost extra or not (on top of existing subscription pricing for Full HD entertainment) and if downloads of 4K and other content will also be available for offline viewing. Other specs for internal storage space and streaming to external devices besides a 4K or HD TV are also still unknown.

One thing to keep in mind however is that if Virgin is serious about playing a “leading” role in the set-top box space, then it will have to outdo what Sky’s 4K Sky Q Silver box offers to users. This includes 12 tuners, a product-specific tablet app, an accessory mini box and the ability to stream content to multiple TVs and displays in a home. Thus, if it wants to compete seriously, the Virgin EOS box will have to let customers do things like display content on multiple screens, pause it on one screen and restart it on a second screen elsewhere in a home. We should also probably look forward to streaming content apps like Netflix and possibly even Amazon Prime Instant video, with 4K and HDR support as well if Virgin is serious about staying on the cutting edge of home video entertainment.

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