Virgin Media has just announced their new Stream device. It's an all in one streaming box that plugs into your television set and lets you access tonnes of TV shows and movies without the need for a satellite dish because it only needs Virgin Media broadband to work.
I was given a demo of the Virgin Media Stream, but you won’t have to wait around to try it yourself because it’s available from the 27th April 2022 for Virgin Media customers.
It can literally turn any TV smart, upgrading your set with features like voice control. You’ll be able to watch everything and anything from live TV and sports to Disney+ and Netflix, and you'll also be able to stream in both Ultra HD and HD.
The only serious rival that's available right now is the Sky Glass, a streaming TV loaded with Sky's interface as well as quick access to on-demand content and live channels. Packages start from £26 a month for their most basic plan.
It's worth knowing that Sky has just announced their upcoming Sky Stream puck which will work in a similar way to Virgin's new device, but it's not available until later in the year so if you'd rather stream through Sky and you don't want to buy a whole new television set, you will have to wait for that to be released.
While we don't know anything about the pricing for Sky's Stream puck just yet, the Virgin Media Stream is likely to be cheaper because to get it up and running you only need to pay a one-off £35 activation fee and then it’s all yours, there’s no monthly subscription to use it although you will need to be paying for Virgin Media broadband as well as your selection of streaming services.
In a world of mounting costs, Virgin seems to have got it right because they've come up with a way to make managing your streaming subscriptions easier than ever.
You’ll be able to see everything you pay for in one place, and you'll be billed on everything at once on a 30-day rolling contract. Each month you can choose to get rid of the services you haven't been using or decide to sign up to those that you might have been a bit hasty in unsubscribing from.
Want to know the best part? You'll also get 'Stream credits' where Virgin will give you 10% off on your final bill each month making this the most cost-effective way to pay for your streaming services.
When I tried it out, the Virgin Media Stream device seemed very easy to use. It's just a tiny little box that plugs into your TV through an HDMI cable and connects wirelessly to a Virgin Media broadband router.
The home screen is simply laid out and only displays the services you actually pay for. It's fast and efficient to use, while the voice search functionality works surprisingly well. You'll also get personalised recommendations based on what you usually watch as well as a watchlist of content you want to see later.
Admittedly the interface isn't quite as user-friendly as Sky Glass, you won't get as much on-demand content included in the package, and most importantly you will have to be a Virgin Media broadband customer to get it, but if you're watching your wallet then it could be worth considering as an alternative.