Sky has launched the first NOW TV Smart Stick, which promises access to live and on-demand content for less than the cost of its Amazon and Roku equivalents.
The £14.99 HDMI dongle goes on sale in February and introduces a remote control with the ability to use voice commands for the first time.
The plug-and-play Smart Stick is also the first Now TV device not to require an additional power source, making it a tidier solution for viewers. The power cable simply plugs into the TV set’s USB port.
For an extra fiver, Sky is offering the dongle, plus a two month pass to the Now TV Entertainment Pass, which features Sky Atlantic and access to “300 binge-worthy Box Sets.” Alternately, you can grab the stick with a one-month Sky Cinema pass for £19.99, or with a month of Sky Sports for £29.99.
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Not interested in packages? Sky is really trying to give its users some flexibility and to that end the company is also introducing the Now TV standalone broadband. No longer do you have to commit to an entertainment package or streaming device if you already have those.
Now TV will also be allowing offline downloads for the first time. You’ll be able to store shows on your mobile device and watch them away from an internet connection. This starts with the Kids pass in spring, then the Movies and Entertainment passes in the summer.
Sky is also in the process of rolling out full HD streams for its marquee content, and the Smart Stick will support those.
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While the Now TV Smart Stick is cheaper than the Fire TV and Roku efforts, the choice of applications is much more limited.
Naturally, there’s a focus on Sky’s offerings, so there’s access to Now TV and the Sky Store. You’ll also get the terrestrial on demand services and apps like YouTube and Spotify.
Unfortunately, there’s no Netflix or Amazon Prime, so if you want to run those apps you might want to check out the Google Chromecast, Apple TV or a Roku Streaming Stick, which all have the Now TV app.
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