Sky Q review

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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Every viewing option covered
  • Lovely new UI
  • Watch recordings on the go

Cons

  • Gimmicky touch remote
  • Not cheap

What is Sky Q?

When Sky rolled out the Sky+ HD box at its last major hardware launch, most of us were still using dumb phones with physical keypads. The PS3 hadn’t launched – and, more importantly, Netflix was still mailing out DVDs.

The world’s moved on at a mighty pace, and Sky Q is proof that Sky has laced up its running shoes and done a lot of catching up.

The blockbuster feature is Fluid Viewing. Using the top-tier Sky Q Silver box tested here as a 4K-ready base, you can wirelessly connect two Q Mini boxes to watch Sky and all your recordings in other rooms in the house – without the need for a second satellite dish. And you can do the same with two tablets, taking your recordings on the go, thanks to the new Sky Q app.

Sky has also added its new Sky Kids app into the mix, as well as making a huge effort to make the Q menus more helpful for finding child-friendly content.

Is the Sky Q the ultimate TV solution, or is it just trying to do too much?

Video: Trusted explains the Sky Q remote

Sky Q – The boxes

The Sky Q Silver package has the flagship Q Silver box at its heart. Despite being much smaller than the Sky+ HD box, it houses a whopping 2TB hard drive for storing 350 hours of recorded HD video, as well as five tuners. This provides the capability of recording four programmes at the same time, while watching a fifth channel.

It’s also ready for 4K/UHD, which might be of no use right now, but it will certainly become a huge deal when Sky starts offering 4K content later in the year. Currently, though, the highest resolution option is 1080p.

Related: Sky Q tips and tricks

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The Sky Q Mini boxes look like shrunken versions of the main box, and can be used to connect two other TVs to Sky. Unlike Sky multiroom solutions of the past, the Minis don’t need to be connected to the main Sky dish. Instead, when plugged in they wirelessly stream from the Q Silver box.

A setup that includes a Q Silver box and two Q Minis is akin to having three full Sky boxes in the house, all with access to your recordings, and each being able to show the full range of channels.

The Q Mini boxes aren’t 4K ready, though, so you won’t be able to enjoy Sky’s UHD content in your spare room.

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The Wi-Fi is run by a new Sky router – the Sky Q Hub. Neatly, the Q Hub shares the same styling as the other boxes.

Sky claims the Q setup will eventually support Powerline to send the broadband signal over your electrical wiring, which will be useful in homes where Wi-Fi signals struggle.

Sky Q – The new UI

The moment you turn on the Sky Q box, the company's acknowledgment that viewing habits have changed in recent years becomes apparent. Rather than opening onto a broadcast TV channel, the Sky Q box takes you directly into the menu, leaving you to decide whether you want to watch catch-up TV, a recording, on-demand content or live TV.

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Related: Best TVs You Can Buy Right Now

The whole UI is light years ahead of Sky’s previous menu system. There’s extensive use of cover art and background images – no more spreadsheet-like recording lists – and a large preview pane for showing the contents of each sub-menu.

The default menu item highlighted when you turn on Sky Q, or press the Home button on the remote, is Top Picks. This is a selection of Sky’s currently featured shows; nothing clever or contextual, just whatever Sky’s pushing.

The My Q page is a little more interesting. It works to locate shows that you didn’t finish watching, or what it thinks you’ll want to watch next. If you’re watching a series, it will automatically add the next episode, which is great – no need to hunt around or enter the same search term every time you want to dip back in.

Backing this up is the enhanced search function, which not only displays exact matches to your queries, but it also now pulls in related shows and timings for when the next episode of your search topic will air.

One of the cleverest features, and one that’s a real headliner for the Fluid Viewing concept, is the smart pause function. This allows you to pause content you're currently watching on one box and then move to another room, or fire up your tablet, and continue watching the same item from the same point. You can even do it with live TV, as long as you start recording it before you pause. Very neat.

The Online Video option is another attempt to offer as varied a viewing selection as possible, providing access to YouTube and Vevo through your Sky box. There’s also curated content from partners such as Red Bull and GoPro.

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Also interesting is Music. In addition to curating various shows from Sky Arts, MTV, VH1 and so on, the sub-menu also contains dedicated options to access Vevo or browse radio stations. Best of all is Your Music, from which you can play tunes through Sky Q via AirPlay or Bluetooth. If your TV is connected to a soundbar or home cinema system, Sky Q could be your perfect all-in-one entertainment system.

Prem Desai

November 18, 2015, 6:54 pm

Eagerly awaiting its release (and pricing).

They may not be first, but whatever Sky do, they usually do it well. You can bet it's gonna be expensive though.

Michael Barrett

November 19, 2015, 10:27 am

Wonder if it will let you migrate content from an existing sky box, probably not.

Zubeir

November 19, 2015, 10:58 am

Sky have been slow off the mark, but I agree they will make a good job of it as it progresses with software updates. What concerns me is that the box has Hdmi 1.4b and HDR requires Hdmi 2.0a. Also the cost I think may be high.

Den72

November 19, 2015, 1:03 pm

Sky Q Silver box will offer HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, The Sky Q Mini will be 1.4b. I would post a link to the source, but the last time I did that, Trusted Reviews deleted my post.

Prem Desai

November 20, 2015, 9:03 am

True, but Sky have always done it their own way. Look at their HD and 1080i - it works. And their 3D too.

Let's see the reviews when it comes out ....

Zubeir

November 20, 2015, 1:21 pm

Saw the official spec, and it is HDMI 1.4b.

Den72

November 20, 2015, 2:41 pm

The specs you saw are wrong.

Sky didn’t give much away about its 4K plans at the launch, beyond committing to a service launch in 2016. In conversation with Inside CI, Sky Q mastermind Andrew Olson said that the Silver box will be HDMI 2.0 HDCP 2.2 equipped, with all that that entails.

Joining the line-up is the Sky Q Mini. Without a hard drive, this is a small client which exactly replicates the Sky Q experience in a second room, streaming live content from the main Silver STB, as well as offering access to any recordings resident on the main box. According to Olson, the Mini has an HDMI 1.4 output.

Nick

November 30, 2015, 1:38 pm

Give us a Netflix app as well. Will make my life easier.

MattMe

January 26, 2016, 10:02 am

TR still publishing incorrect specs then?

Gasp.

HDR requires HDMI 2.0a, so if it's 'just' an HDMI 2.0 port it'll not support HDR.

pimlicosound

January 26, 2016, 10:55 am

Sky seems to be taking an awful lot of trouble to adapt old-fashioned broadcast TV to help customers "watch what they want when they want". Wouldn't it be easier to convert Sky into a fully web-based on-demand service?

Matthew Bunton

January 26, 2016, 11:21 am

Gauranteed high costs, it's Sky after all.

Den72

January 26, 2016, 12:38 pm

TR is never wrong then?

Gasp.

The port is compatible with 2.0a, but will require a software update at a later time to enable it. Try googling 'sky q hdmi 2.0a'. There is a ton of info on it.

MattMe

January 26, 2016, 12:45 pm

Thanks for the info.
I chose to read the article and incorrectly assumed the journalist paid to write it would have done the research. In honesty I don't often read an article about something like this and then search to see if I can find contrasting information. Unless it's something I care about particularly.

Good news for the wealthy Sky customers then :)

I'd say HDR support was more important that 60fps.

dpanch_89

January 26, 2016, 1:34 pm

Hahaha. Going to be over £50pm. Forget that.

Noel Grundy

January 26, 2016, 1:37 pm

Fist question, Does it output 1080p . 3 or 4 articals on here, nto one of them mentioning if there is actually any upgrade for full HD t.v.s

pablouk

January 26, 2016, 1:45 pm

Its probably the greatest thing since sliced bread, but knowing SKY its going to be extremely overpriced and quite simply not worth the money, which was the reason I recently cut my SKY package to down to the bare minimum.

Den72

January 26, 2016, 4:44 pm

I read the specs first on another AV site, so was confused when I saw conflicting information.

I agree, HDR is more important. I have a Samsung 4k TV already, but will (if Sky Q doesn't cost the earth) upgrade to one of Samsung's 2016 HDR models along with Sky Q.

Jjames

January 26, 2016, 6:54 pm

I believe HDMI 2.0 can be software upgraded to HDMI 2.0a. If on the other hand Sky are using HDMI 1.4 then this box is doomed to failure. However the timing of this release points to SKY using HDMI 2.0 though as that is pretty much standard for the last 12 months on 4K TV's ...

MattMe

January 26, 2016, 6:57 pm

I believe you are correct, and certain ports can be upgraded, if they are running teh correct chipset.
You can use 1.4b to get a 4K resolution, it'll just be at a lower frame rate, which probably won't matter for OTA transmissions so much.
I certainly will not be buying any Sky products or subscriptions, but it does seem a shame if they don't go 2.0a

iFrank

January 27, 2016, 2:32 am

With two Sky Q articles on the same page, are we to assume an announcement from Sky this week?

I planned to elbow Sky in April, this could wreck my alcohol budget!

DonJuan

January 29, 2016, 12:08 pm

Set-up costs for Sky Q will be from just £99

The typical monthly cost for existing Sky+ customers will be around £12 extra compared with their current Sky+ package

For new customers joining Sky, the ongoing monthly cost for Sky Q will start from just £42.

Not too shabby.

NotOverlyConvinced

March 11, 2016, 10:52 am

they are going to learn the hard way that bundling the packages as they do is not good enough. without sports i dont use sky (just cancelled my subscription). Amazon prime and Netflix for £16 a month more than does the job.

I only watch a bit of rugby and a bit of cricket, but have to sign up to an £80pm sports package (for a year) where i subsidise football, and don't get domestic rugby or 6N.

I cant see many people signing up to Q (that wouldn't sign up to sky anyway) until this model changes. in 5-10 years will they be able to compete with a nationwide fibre network?

Ushio

March 11, 2016, 1:17 pm

Within 5 years Netflix and Amazon will only have their own original content as the other media companies make there own streaming services.

Take Disney who are planning the Marvel, Star Wars, ESPN, ABC, Disney and A+E streaming services.

That's the future of streaming.

Jordan McClements

March 11, 2016, 3:54 pm

What is the streaming range? If my main box is 20 meters from my mini box with a couple of walls in between will it work reliably?

Beyond HD

March 11, 2016, 4:22 pm

so no 4K possibility then. That sucks big time..... my roku4 beats this hands down and does 4K ....and now ROKU4 is the NOWTV imposter.

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