Sky Q is the future of TV. Sky's biggest hardware and software update in ages, Sky Q puts 4K, multi-room, multi-device TV and movie streaming into the most attractive package the UK has yet seen. We got to play with the upcoming 4K TV service back in January, and have now had the chance to publish our full Sky Q review.
It felt safe to say earlier in the year that TV's definitely heading in the right direction –in fact, we thought there'd never been a better time to own a TV. And it seems like we were right. Here are the key things you need know about the exciting new service, including the Sky Q price, its availability, and finally our full verdict in our Sky Q review.
Sky Q Review: Our Verdict
Where better to kick off in our run down of the Sky Q service than by first touching upon our Sky Q review. We've now had some quality time with Sky Q in our own home and, while there's still some creases to be ironed out, it's safe to say it's one of the most impressive set-top box TV-viewing set ups in the UK. With robust multi-room support, future-proofed (if absent-at-launch) 4K features and an intuitive UI, our Sky Q review happily and easily recommends the new service.
Make sure to give that a read if you want our critical analysis of the new Sky+ HD successor, but if you just want a look at the key features and nitty-gritty details of installation and pricing, read on.
Sky Q Silver is the Daddy of Set-Top Boxes
Here’s the big boy. Sky’s new main set-top box is called Sky Q Silver, and it looks excellent. It supports 4K video, lets you record up to four live shows while kicking back and watching up to five different channels on the screens around your home, and comes with 12 tuners and a 2TB hard drive, which is enough to store 350 hours of HD content.
Despite the name, it comes in silver and black variants, measuring 330 x 210 x 43mm and weighing 1.7kg. Top-notch Wi-Fi connectivity should ensure streams and downloads are slick, and with My Q (the new interface hub), you’ll receive suggestions on new shows to watch, based on your viewing history, among other features.
Sky Q – The Little Brother
Sky Q is Silver’s less-powerful sibling, and does everything the big beast can, but to a lesser degree. It features half the storage (1TB), and allows you to record three live shows while simultaneously watching live TV on up to four screens around your home. It’s physically smaller too, coming in at 330mm x 210mm x 43mm and 1.47kg. If you don't need everything Silver offers, this'll be the cheaper option, though Sky still hasn't revealed price plans.
Sky Q Hub with Powerline Smarts
The internet's fairly important. As you'd expect, the Sky Q Hub is stacked with the latest Wi-Fi-pumping innards, using 5GHz wireless AC, but is also capable of acting as a Powerline networking hub. Once you've connected your Sky Q boxes to the same network as your Sky Q Hub, they all magically become Wi-Fi hotspots, boosting the areas of your home that have poor signal coverage. However, this feature is only available if you have a Sky broadband router. BT and TalkTalk users, bad luck.
Sky Q Mini Box
A fraction of the size of the other two, the Sky Q Mini box doesn’t need to be connected to a dish, instead offering plug-and-play access to live TV over a broadband connection.
You can also hook the Mini up to one of the larger Sky Q boxes, letting you share recordings between boxes in different parts of the house. It doesn't, however, have its own local storage. So think of this as a souped-up NOW TV box, using the Q interface, with live TV and multi-screen features. After connecting it to the new Sky Hub broadband router, the Sky Q Mini box also doubles up as a Wi-Fi booster, which is pretty handy if you’re rich enough to live in a large house with Wi-Fi blackspots.
Sky Q Interface and My Q TV Guide
It's not just new hardware of, course – there's a brand new TV guide and interface coming with Sky Q, too. Sky’s sexed up its interface, keeping that famous blue colour scheme but going heavy on movie cover art. If you like your posters, you’ll definitely enjoy flicking through the listings.
My Q is the new one-stop-shop for recommendations, with the selection of suggestions continually changing, depending on your viewing history. Top Picks is a similar, albeit less personal option, consisting of a bunch of Sky-recommended shows, while you can also hit More Like This once you’ve homed in on a program you know you like, but perhaps don’t want to watch all over again.
One of my favourite new additions is the ability to search for shows by either title, actor or team name (I’d kill hours watching nineties and early-noughties Blackburn Rovers highlights). It’s easier to manage your rentals and disk space too. Sky will regularly switch up its collection of on-demand films and TV shows, and its new Showtime deal could see favourites like Ray Donovan, Penny Dreadful and Dexter land on Q.
Sky says it will be launching Ultra HD sports, entertainment and movie channels "later in 2016" but they won't be ready for launch (think new football season in the Summer). That's a shame, but Sky clearly feels the consumer requirement for Ultra HD isn't there yet.
Since apps now run the world, Sky’s included a few of those too. A sidebar offers Sky News, Sky Sports News, Weather Help and My Photos, which allows you to show off your Facebook snaps without any of the risk that comes with handing your phone over to someone. YouTube and Vevo have also got some Sky Q love, and the boxes also support Apple Airplay and music streaming over Bluetooth for wireless tunes.
TV, welcome to 2016. Fluid Viewing is one of Sky Q’s major draws, enabling customers to watch their favourite stuff on the go, and on multiple devices. If you decide to grab more than one of Sky's fancy new boxes, you’ll be able to watch your favourite TV shows on up to five screens at the same time, including mobile devices. You can also pause a recording in one room and pick up the action right where you left it on another TV or tablet, and anything recorded to your Sky Q box can also be downloaded to your mobile device of choice.
Simply put, you can kick off an episode of Dinner Date on your TV in your living room, continue through the app on your tablet in the kitchen, pick things up again on the bog with your trusty smartphone (just give it a wipe down after), and then finish up (if the action’s still on-going) on the Tube or bus.
Sky Q Touch Remote
The Q Touch Remote is cut from the same cloth as the new Apple TV controller, featuring a swipe-ready touchpad, as well as Sky's familiar physical buttons. It connects to your box over Bluetooth, which means there's no need for a line-of-sight zap at the box – you no longer need to awkwardly dodge feet and mugs in order to change channels.
It takes a few minutes to get used to its circular, swipeable touchpad -- think back to the first time you used a touchscreen smartphone -- but it could barely be easier to figure out. You can flick through menus quickly and easily, with a big swipe taking you up or down a single slot, and swipe-and-hold letting you fly through listings.
Voice search is another fresh addition, though it won't be available right from the off, and if you ever happen to lose the remote down the back of the sofa, you'll be able to find it easily by hitting the Q logo on the front of your set top box, causing the remote to beep.
Will Sky Q Get Netflix or Amazon Prime Video?
At this point, no. While Sky is open to having web content on its new player, it's not willing to do so without having control over the way these players look on its new interface. With Sky, Amazon and Netflix all investing heavily in their own players, it's hard to imagine any budging on this point. But speaking to TechRadar, Netflix at least seems open to the idea, with executives Joris Evers VP (Head of Communications) and Chris Jaffe (Global VP for Product Development) expressing surprise that they weren't included. It's safe to imagine royalty issues playing a part here, too, not to mention Sky wanting to up the value of its own pay-on-demand content.
Sky Q Price and Release Date
Sky Q is now available to purchase (as of February 9th), and will be available to UK and Republic of Ireland customers.
Sky Q packages will start at at £42 per month with a £99 one-off set up fee. On average, Sky reckons those upgrading from Sky+ boxes can expect to pay an extra £12 a month.
Depending on the size of your wallet, your love or dislike for sports and movies, and potential need for a broadband connection, there will be a number of bundles on offer. As a rule, the more TV packages and broadband deals you sign up to with Sky, the further down you drive the cost of the hardware.
Grab Sky Broadband, Sky Movies or Sky Sports with the £42 a month package, and the Sky Q box will cost you just £99, with the top spec'd Sky Q Silver set-top box costing £149. Drop Broadband, Sports and Movies and the boxes rise to £249 and £299 respectively. So it's worth having a look at which services will offer the best bang for your buck. Existing customers can take advantage of cheaper set-up costs, with just a £50 installation fee required of loyal Sky viewers.