A change in how you’ll watch TV, in and out of the home
It might finally be worth dusting off that little shelf under your telly: Sky has just given its TV services the biggest update in the company’s history. Called Sky Q, on a basic level it adds a new set-top box to the mix, along with 4K TV support. But that’s only the half of it. If Sky has its way, it means to entirely change our TV-viewing experience – melding together the modern world of live and on-demand content with multi-screen viewing.
With the addition of multi-room enabling Sky Q Mini boxes and dedicated apps, Sky Q hopes to take the service well beyond the living room experience – with live, on-demand and recorded content viewable across three TVs and two tablets simultaneously. Cherry-picking the best elements of Netflix, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV and squeezing them together into a single box, Sky Q is designed to be the ultimate menu to service our greedy, mass-consumption ways.
Of course, aside from 4K resolutions, the content itself is unlikely to change that much. And one key aspect was missing from the announcement – the price, with some experts suggesting an all-in Sky Q package could top £100 a month. But ahead of its consumer release in “early 2016′, we’ve had a brief play with the big brother to Sky+ HD. Here’s what we made of it.
Sky has a whole new look and feel, and it’s a good one. The new ‘Fluid View’ UI instantly makes the company’s existing platforms feel positively antiquated. The tile-based system is reminiscent of the navigation panel of Netflix or Fire TV. A manoeuvrable list of content types (TV guide, recordings, catch-up, box sets), are offset by image-led tiles on the right of the screen.
This makes searching for the content that you want more immersive, engaging and less text-heavy. It’s a notable and instant step up on the current Sky+ HD set-up, and one which feels heavily focussed on enjoying on-demand content more than live showings.
With the Sky Q remote adding touch controls, this side-scrolling interface is effortless to navigate, too. It feels more intuitive and is likely to improve content discoverability (although it’s too early to say for sure just yet). There’s a pleasing uniformity to the design too. Whether accessing Sky Q through the new set-top box, Mini boxes or tablet app, it provides the same, simple to navigate, easy-on-the eye experience.
Sky’s set-top boxes have been calling out for an update for sometime. Well, now, with the arrival of Sky Q, that time has come and the broadcaster has taken the opportunity with both hands. Physically, its a typical set-top addition, pairing a matt black plastic top with the white, matt base. It’s not the unit’s looks that impress though, it’s what it can do.
Dubbed the Sky Q Silver box (there’s a lower spec Core Sky Q box, too), it lines up at half the size of the firm’s existing Sky+HD boxes. Despite its newly compact form (OK, compact is a stretch, it’s still pretty sizeable), it plays host to 12 tuners. This allows you to record up to four separate shows simultaneously, without interfering with what you’re watching live. Add to this additional Mini box and tablet viewing and that’s a heck of a lot of TV watching – those days of content clash should be over then.