First Look: Virgin Media Player (beta)

Pocket-lint has been giving the Virgin Media Player Beta the once over to see if and what sets it apart from the other IPTV players. First up, we think it's only right that we point out the Virgin Media Player is only available to its XL TV customers using Virgin Broadband. We didn't want you reading through the whole review only to read this point at the end and realise you'd wasted 5 minutes of your life. So, if you've got both of those things then what can you expect?

Well, don't expect anything that stretches the boundaries of innovation, you're not likely to see anything that you haven't already seen from other video-on-demand services, like the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player or 4oD. But, what you have got is a vast array of content from multiple broadcasters - you're not limited to the output of just one channel with Virgin Media Player. Programming comes courtesy of tie-ups with ITV, Living, Disney, The Cartoon Network, MTV, National Geographic and Comedy Central. And, whilst you're not likely to get any shows that have been recently aired, you have got a massive amount of choice.

Streaming quality is, on the whole, pretty good as well. Most programmes will go full screen (and still look okay on a big screen TV as well), although some classic (i.e., old) shows do struggle when maximised.

If you only get half way through a show, the platform will remember where you were and you can resume next time that you log in, using the “Now Playing” feature.

Personalisation is definitely the strong point of the Virgin Media Player. Not only are you given personal recommendations based on your viewing history, you can also create playlists (of up to 12 shows) and personalise your browsing pages so programme genres that you are more partial to are most prominent.

You can watch Virgin Media Player on as many computers as you want - it is browser-based and simply requires your broadband credentials to sign in. However, you can only watch on one machine at a time.

It's family friendly as well, if a show contains adult material a disclaimer comes up and you have to verify that you are of a certain age. Sure, a keen kid could just tick the box, but that is hardly Virgin's fault, or a unique problem to this service.

Verdict

The Virgin Media Player is a decent, if not revolutionary VoD service that we're sure has some content for everyone available. If you can't find a show that you like in its huge database (there's over 160 different programmes available) then you've obviously got some very niche tastes.

The content plays back well and the service is very simple to use. It remembers what you've watched, recommends what to watch next and even lets you create playlists. And these personal touches are definitely the main selling point of the service.



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