Recently Virtual full backups
can be created for source jobs that produce forever incremental backup chains i.e.Backup jobs with forever forward incremental backup method or Backup copy jobs. The source backup job configuration must not have scheduled synthetic or active full backups. If it does, the virtual full will be disabled even if configured in a tape job and you will have Fulls + increments on the tape.
If you want to avoid extra read I/O, I would suggest to keep using Forward Incremental backup method with Active Fulls and copy backups to tape. You can set a proper retention on the tapes to keep as many restore points as you need.
And you are correct, there is going to be some improvements and new tape features in the new v9 version. Thanks!