As any expert or novice streamer knows, these days it’s not only the content on offer that makes or breaks your streaming experience – the power you have under the bonnet is key. Sky’s position is the UK market leader is at least in part underpinned by the superb Sky Q Box. From recording several stations at once to delivering crisp pictures and great functionality, the Sky Q might just be the best box around.
The Sky Q has for a long time been a market leader. Recent changes and improvements however have seen it solidify its position as the best box available in the UK. In fact, describing Sky Q as a set top box really seems to understate how great this technology is. While Sky already has one of if not the best ranges of programming available in the UK, the Sky Q box enables you to truly unlock it.
Sky Q is particularly great for families, as it enables multi-room viewing and multi-program recording. It’s funny that even in the present day – with the onset of watch-when-you-want streaming and a wealth of content to match that of any childhood video store – we are often still forced into the age-old battle for the remote. With the Sky Q box, debates and arguments about what to watch will be over – that’s how powerful Sky Q is.
Unlike their stablemate Now TV which offers shorter and more flexible contracts, Sky’s deals are all available only on 18-month deals other than a few exceptions including Kids and Sport. As it stands, you’ll also still be required to bolt a satellite dish to the roof or balcony in order to watch Sky TV, although industry insiders are tipping that to change sometime soon – and perhaps even this year.
Sky Q: What’s under the bonnet?
There are three Sky Q models along with a Sky Q Mini when you want to hook up other rooms in your house. The basic model – which in fairness isn’t basic at all – comes with 1 TB of memory, which is already at the top end of the boxes out there on the market. The premium model is the 2 TB Sky Q, which has double the storage space and enhanced functionality. Then there’s the Q Experience box, which also allows you to watch in Ultra HD and watch in multiple rooms (with the Sky Mini).
The 1TB model gets you up to 500 hours of storage along with the capacity to stream to one device (smartphone, tablet, etc). You’ll be able to record three shows at once while watching a fourth. That not enough for you? Then the 2TB version doubles your storage capacity at 1000 hours, while letting you record a massive six shows at once while watching a seventh. You’ll also be able to stream to two devices at once.
The Sky Q Experience is really where things start to get space age. In addition to the functionality of the 2TB box, the Sky Q Experience lets you watch in Ultra HD while also connecting your Sky content to multiple rooms (for which you’ll need the Sky Mini). With this you’ll also get access to Sky Go Extra, with which you can download shows to watch later on your smartphone or other device. Even better, if you’re thinking of bundling in Sky broadband as well, this box will enable extended Wi-Fi coverage throughout your house.
The boxes are small and discreet despite their serious capacity. Each of the 1 and 2TB models measure up at 330 by 210 by 43mm, while the Mini is smaller at 232 by 155 by 35mm. This means they’ll fit in seamlessly in pretty much any TV unit – perhaps without you even noticing.
The Ultra HD – otherwise known as 4K Ultra HD – includes an ever-expanding range of content in all different genres. Currently this includes documentary content from National Geographic and Discovery, along with live music. A range of drama and comedies are offered in HD, along with Sky Sports sporting events including the Premier League, the best of international Cricket, Formula One and loads more.
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What Makes Sky Q Different?
The main difference, to put it bluntly, is simply that it’s better in pretty much every way. The capacity is greater, the cost is relatively reasonable (considering the specs) and its integration with other Sky boxes and your own devices is second to none. It helps that the Sky range of content is relatively extensive anyway – an excellent box with an excellent range of content is likely to make your watching experience, well, excellent.
First things first, calling Sky Q a box might sell it short somewhat as Sky Q is designed not only to operate as a set-top box but to link well with other boxes and devices to significantly improve your TV experience. This includes the Sky Mini box which is used to run Sky on other televisions in your house. You can link up to four Sky Mini boxes off the one Sky Q. Sky Q also links with your devices through Sky Go, which is Sky’s revolutionary app that lets you watch your favourite programs from your smartphone, tablet or other device on the go.
What New Content Does Sky Q Deliver?
Sky Q was introduced in 2016, meaning that it’s not a new box. It does however represent a significant improvement over the previous box, so if you’re still using the Sky+ HD (otherwise known as Sky Plus) it’s definitely time to upgrade. One of the major improvements is picture quality, with the higher end of Sky Q coming with Ultra HD potential.
Other than dramatically improving on the storage space and the capacity to watch and record at the same time, the Sky Q box is smaller and sleeker than its previous counterpart. Also as we said above the potential for linking with other devices is considerably better. Sky Q also includes Netflix capability, bringing it well and truly into the new millennium.
Sky TV has the widest and most extensive range of content available anywhere in the UK. The content available will depend on which package you take, but given the variety there’s no chance you’ll be disappointed. There are several packages including Entertainment, Kids, HD, Ultimate On Demand, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. Each has an extensive range of channels that include the most popular TV shows in the UK, and you can pick and choose which packages you want – and don’t want.
How to Get Sky Q
We consider the Sky Q box to be the best in the business – but fortunately for customers the prices are relatively reasonable. There’s a flat fee for Sky Q and an extra fee per month for Sky Q Experience, although the amount you will pay depends largely on whether or not you are an existing Sky customer – and which of the Sky Q boxes you take.
For existing customers, installation of Sky Q will cost you for either the 1 or 2 TB box – although there’s an option to pay a lower amount for the 1 TB box if you sign up online. If you don’t get a Sky Q Experience subscription, installation will cost more. Want to watch Sky in another room? You need to spend for Sky Q Mini boxes too.
For new customers, remember that the costs for installation of the boxes and the associated monthly fees do not include the amount you’ll be paying for your Sky package. Therefore, you’ll need to weigh up which one of these you’ll need. Installation costs are the same as for existing customers.
How about Sky on the go?
Want to watch Sky on the go? The solution is simple. Every Sky subscription comes with Sky Go, which is a free app that allows you to stream Sky from your smartphone, tablet or other device. Want to record to watch later? Then upgrade to Sky Go Extra for just a small addition fee per month. Sky Go is not available without a Sky subscription, but it can be put on up to two devices at once from the one account.
Devices supported on Sky
– Laptops, tablets: Yes
– PC/Mac: Yes, via browser – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari
– iPhones: Yes
– Android devices: Yes, 4.0 and above
– Game consoles: Yes, with Sky Go Extra
– Smart TV: Yes, select models
– Streaming stick: Yes, select models
Summary: The best box in the business
Anyone who has anything to do with Sky will know that the company doesn’t like to do things by halves. This is the same approach they’ve taken with Sky Q. If you’re going to establish the market-leading provider on the UK television landscape, you’ll need to give them the best box in the business to unlock this power.
Perhaps the best thing about Sky Q isn’t just the box itself – although it packs some serious punch – but it’s the way in which it links with other devices and boxes to improve your entire television experience. So far the Sky Q is the best box we’ve reviewed – and the rest are playing catch up.