By Marc Shoffman | Monday, February 25th 2019
Looking for superfast broadband that is faster than any other and a range of top family-orientated and entertainment channels?
If so, you may be considering Virgin Media’s Mix bundle of TV and broadband. The package sits as a mid-level offering, providing more than the Player bundle below but it is also two places behind the premium V.VIP package. But this offering still punches pretty well above its weight.
Virgin Media’s Mix bundle offers up to a whopping 100Mbps of broadband That technically qualifies as Virgin Media’s middle-of-the-road offering, squeezed between its 50Mbps offering and faster packages offering up to 200Mbps and 500Mbps.
But 100Mbps is actually a higher target than most other competitors. Rivals such as BT and Sky typically averaging just 67Mbps and 58Mbps in their premium packages.
You also get upload speeds – the measure of how long it takes to open pages or send emails – of 5.97Mbps. This may be slower during peak times of 6pm and 11pm daily when Virgin Media operates traffic management to ensure its network isn’t flooded by data, but it says 95 per cent of users who just use the web for emails and gaming or to watch films or listen to music won’t be affected.
It promises to have enough capacity to handle between five and nine devices at once.
The speed is best for busy households where there are lots of demands on your internet at the same time. So one person could be streaming on Netflix, while someone else listens to music and another plays computer games and there will still be room for more users without any buffering or slowdowns.
This is of course just a target, so there is no guarantee you will get this speed, but Ofcom research in 2017 showed that customers using this service did manage an average of 91.4Mbps, and Virgin itself now claims that 50% of its users actually get more than 100Mbps. You also get unlimited downloads and Virgin's fastest-ever Hub 3.0 router.
Virgin runs its own cabling network using its own DOCSIS 3 cabling, unlike other providers who rely on the Openreach network. This means you may be able to get faster fibre broadband but it will also depend on whether Virgin operates in your area, so use our Virgin postcode checker before signing up.
Virgin customers also get access to wi-fi points on the move. You just need to download the Virgin Media WiFi app and enter your details and then connect to available hotspots.
It can be used across the UK in cafes and restaurants, and if you are travelling in London you will also be able to access the internet while at many of the capital’s Tube stations.
This is the mid-range package so you won’t get all the premium channels, but there is a good selection of 231 channels as standard (although some of those are just HD versions of the same channel – or radio stations). You can see the full list of Virgin Media TV channels here.
You get all the usual free-to-air channels such as BBC, ITV and E4, but you will also receive more premium channels such as Sky One, Sky Living, Fox, GOLD and MTV. These are not available on the Player bundle, so you are already doing one better with the Mix offer.
Sports fans will enjoy Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Mix, which the Player bundle doesn’t offer.
However, the Mix bundle stumbles when it comes to HD versions of the premium channels; the higher level Full House and V.VIP customers will get the likes of Sky One and Fox in HD, while Mix users have to make do with standard definition. Mix users also miss out on the Universal Channel, Sky Arts, BT Sport and Sky Sports.
There is also a more limited range of kids channels on the Mix bundle. You will get CBeebies, but there is no NickJR or NickToons on Mix, in contrast to Full House and V.VIP customers. You can always add other elements such as BT Sport or Sky Cinema, but the extra expense involved makes it worth going for more premium packages.
Virgin customers may get different speeds depending on the hub they use, but everyone gets the same hub. This can be of benefit if you decide to upgrade later as you won’t need a new router or anything else to be installed.
The Virgin Media Hub 3.0 offers four ethernet cables and a 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless channels.
It also has five internal antennas which should help boost your speeds.
If your home is already wired for Virgin Media, you can get your services up and running in as little as four days with its QuickStart self-installation pack. You will get everything sent in the post and you just follow the instructions to plug it in and away you go. No need for technicians bringing their dirty shoes through the door.
However, if you haven’t had a Virgin Media connection in the previous three years, you may need to pay for an engineer to come and install the hub.
Virgin’s V6 set-top box is pretty classy. You can search through recommended box sets or catch up TV and can do the usually pausing, rewinding and recording of programmes.
You get a whopping 1TB of storage, which means you can record up to 500 hours of shows in SD or 100 in HD. Even better than that, you can record six shows at a time while watching a seventh live.
For the sake of comparison, Sky will let you record three shows while watching a fourth, while BT’s YouView box lets you record two channels at the same time but you can only watch one live while another is recording.
The actual box is ready for 4K TVs, something only the more premium range of TV boxes from Sky and BT offer. You also get streaming apps such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Netflix loaded up.
Sky does try to beat this with a 2TB Sky Q box that has space for 1,000 hours of recording and will let you record six shows while watching a seventh. But customers would need to pay £200 extra to get this.
Virgin is offering the V6 set-top box as standard on all its packages. Even current customers using the previous TiVo version can now upgrade.
Virgin includes line rental in its bundle deals and the Mix comes with a Talk Weekends package. This gives you unlimited calls to UK landlines and Virgin mobiles on Saturdays and Sundays. You can choose to pay a bit extra for other packages that let you call every evening or at any time. There is also an option for anytime international calls.
You can also choose not to have a phone plan but this will actually increase the cost as you are no longer benefitting from an all-inclusive bundle price.
This is a great bundle for busy households, especially if you are not fussed about sports. There is lots of capacity with 100Mbps broadband, so plenty of people can be streaming, viewing or browsing at the same time. Figures show that Virgin regularly gets close to – and even beyond – this speed so you should always be able to enjoy fast, reliable broadband.
The TV choice isn’t the biggest and it is more limited when it comes to kids and sports channels, but you do get some decent premium channels such as Sky One, Sky Living, FOX and MTV.
The beauty of Virgin is that if you want to upgrade or downgrade, it is pretty seamless as the same powerful hub and TV box come with all the packages. Highly recommended.