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Sound and Vision: I want Sky Glass, just without the TV

OPINION: Our in-depth review of Sky Glass went up this week, with our resident TV expert Kob Monney giving his final verdict on Sky’s first TV set.

I’ve been intrigued, rather than necessarily excited, about Glass since it was unveiled. I liked the unique style and the approach to software, while having an in-built Atmos-capable ‘soundbar’ couldn’t be a bad thing.

But after reading Kob’s review, and spending some time with our Sky Glass review unit at Trusted Reviews HQ over the past few weeks, one thing sticks out for me – can we just have a Sky Glass streaming stick?

Read the review and you’ll notice most of Kob’s issues with the product revolve around the actual TV aspect. He criticises it for lacking a 120Hz refresh rate (something more than achievable at this price), calls the HDR performance ‘underwhelming’ and condemns the ‘lacklustre’ viewing angles. These aren’t the sort of things I want to be hearing before I make a hefty TV purchase.

I also have a fairly ok TV at home and while it’s not a fancy OLED or anything like that, it does the job and I don’t really want to get rid of it. What I do want though, is the software side of Sky Glass that sounds like it works very well.

Streaming sticks and boxes are all the rage now, with Amazon, Roku, Apple, Google and more all vying for an HDMI slot. If Sky offered this dishless Glass experience without needing to have the TV, I’d sign up for it in a heartbeat.

Sky Glass Playlist Saturday Night Football

Where I feel Sky Glass beats out other streaming boxes is that it fantastically combines traditional television (BBC One, ITV, Dave etc) with the more modern streaming services (Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime). No other UK box does this in the manner of Sky Glass and it genuinely feels great to combine the two.

Sky also has the content in the best quality, something you can’t get with its NOW streaming service. I pay through the nose every month for a NOW Sports Pass, only for it to be streamed at 1080p. With Sky Glass, I could stream football in 4K HDR, and F1 in 4K. The same goes for Sky Original shows – many of these are available in 4K HDR through Sky Glass, but top-out at 1080p on NOW.

I also really like the whole Playlist feature, which lets you pull shows from multiple platforms, both streaming and traditional TV, and have them all show up together in a watch list. Granted, there’s no actual recording going on – but it sounds like a good way to keep my watch list in good order.

I have tried just about all the current streaming boxes and while many are good, nothing is perfect. Fire TV is too jammed with ads and has an awful UI, while Roku has the apps but in an ugly shell with a cheap-feeling remote. The Apple TV 4K is great (if very expensive) but the Apple TV app doesn’t integrate Netflix – the streaming service I use the most. Then there’s Google TV, which is great aside from the lack of support for many UK-specific catch-up services. And, of course, none of these gives me what I really want by combining TV and streaming services into one package.

Dishless Sky has been a dream for years, and with Sky Glass we can see that dream becoming reality. The next step is for Sky to untether this seemingly excellent software experience from a TV that doesn’t quite match it. I’ll be first in line when that day finally arrives.

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