The new TiVo box launched yesterday by Virgin Media will change the way video contents are consumed from now, not least because it will be rolled out on a wide scale with potentially hundreds of thousands of customers.
What makes the box so special is the fact that it offers the prospects of the same level of functionality as any decent entry level media server on the market and indeed even smartphones.
Virgin media is already talking of an App store which may allow you to install applications like a bit-torrent client, a simple word processor, Skype or Angry Birds something that you would normally do on a laptop or mobile phone.
The TiVo box has an inbuilt 10Mbps broadband line, natively supports Adobe Flash and has a huge 1TB hard disk drive but doesn't offer some more advanced features like 802.11n Wi-Fi or a keyboard-like remote control like the Boxee.
But we wouldn't be surprised if these would come in future versions; ultimately, the TiVo box may turn into a supercharged Apple TV, one with a decent user interface but which may also be used as a wireless router and a modem.
After all, it would make sense for Virgin Media to get one single box rather than four at the moment because it would ease set up and maintain and would cost cheaper to operate.
A STB that can be used as a wireless router, print server, stream content from Youtube or Lovefilm, do some Facebook, pen an email, download and share torrents, record from two different tuners and play Flash games will easily find an audience.
Virgin Media TV is the first of a generation of Set Top Boxes whose purpose go beyond that of a dumb box. Youview's device will almost certainly have similar features and one can expect that Sky will release an improved version of its 1TB STB to compete with the Virgin Media's TiVo box.