Sky Q 4K TV box now on sale
Sure, the Sky Q box looks different to what might currently be shoved under your telly, but new hardware is only half the story.
Sky Q is getting a brand new user interface (UI) which is certain to banish the old, cumbersome Sky Guide in to the darkest recesses of your memory.
The new look interface puts images front and centre, with a cleaner look and less clutter onscreen at once to make it easier to find something to watch.
So, new box, new on-screen look but what can it do, and how much will it cost?
Sky Q choices
The basic Sky Q box will hit you up for £42 per month. This has the power to record three TV channels at once in 1080p on a 1TB hard disk – while you watch a fourth.
Fork out for the 4K-ready Sky Q Silver box though and you get a 2TB hard drive for recording up to 350 hours of HD content from four channels at once whilst you’re watching a fifth one live! This will cost you £54 per month. It plays nicely with Sky Q Mini boxes for multi-room viewing, too. Each one will set you back an extra £99.
You’ll get a discount on installation if you have Sky Broadband, Sky Sports or Sky Movies when you order Sky Q. Existing customers will automatically get the cheaper price. There’s still no word on whether 4K will cost extra, though. It won’t be ready at launch either, but should be coming later in the year.
Silver’s less-powerful sibling, simply called Sky Q, does everything the more potent one can albeit to a lesser degree. Yes, it has less storage (1TB) but it’s physically smaller too, coming in at 330mm x 210mm x 43mm and 1.47kg.
If you don’t need everything that Silver offers, then this might be the way to. I am sure this will prove to be the most popular.
The Sky Q Hub is packed with the latest Wi-Fi processing gubbings that a gadgety family of content hungry folk will need.
Under the hood is 5GHz wireless AC but it can also act 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 an so will squirt the interwebs in to every nook and cranny of your homstead.
However, this feature is only available if you have a Sky broadband router. So, shame for BT and TalkTalk users.
Yes, it is but a fraction of the size of the other two, hence its name, but the Sky Q Mini box doesn’t need to be connected to a dish, instead you get 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. This makes it more like a NOW TV box but with the new Q interface.
After connecting it to the new Sky Hub broadband router, the Sky Q Mini box also doubles up as a Wi-Fi booster.
Sky seems to have worked hard on the new interface. In fact the only thing left appears to be the famous blue colour scheme.
There is much emphasis on movie cover art – think your Netflix selection page.
My Q is where to head for recommendations. These will update with 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 just want something the same but, you know, different.
You can now search for shows by title, actor or team name for those that love sports. It’s easier to manage your rentals and disk space too.
Since everything is now judged upon its apps, Sky has 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.
This has nothing to do with the Excalibur scene from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ – this is all about being able to watch what you want on what you want.
Fluid Viewing is one of Sky Q’s major draws and enables you to watch content 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.
The Q Touch remote controller is definitely from the same school as the latest raft of smart TV remotes from the likes of Panasonic and Apple.
The unit features 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 clear line-of-sight in order to zap at the box.
There’s also Voice search, though it won’t be available right from the off.
I particularly like the fact that should the remote become hidden/lost all you have to do is hit the Q logo on the front of your set top box and the pesky device will call out with a beep.
Sky Q price and release date
Sky Q is now available to purchase right now, 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.
Naturally, being Sky, there’s 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.