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Sky Glass Review

Verdict

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Consider Sky Glass for what it is rather than what it’s not (or what the marketing may lead you to believe) and there’s a good experience to be had. It’s not a TV for all people, though, a bit pricey for what it is, and the picture quality rather undermines its ambitious content plans.

Pros

  • Great content library
  • Better sound than TVs at its price
  • Stylish looks
  • Playlist is a cool idea

Cons

  • Not for everyone
  • HDR performance is underwhelming
  • Subscriptions can build up in price
  • Needs plenty of bandwidth for all the features

Key Features

  • Sky Stream puckTransfers the Glass interface to another screen in the home
  • SoundBuilt-in Dolby Atmos speaker system
  • HDR supportHLG, HDR10 and Dolby Vision

Introduction

Sky Glass arrives on a wave of hype as the British broadcaster’s first TV looks to shake up the market.

It’s a TV designed for easy digestion, smoothing out the rough edges of the TV buying experience by taking care of picture, sound, and content without need for additional soundbars, set-top boxes or streaming sticks.

And at the centre of it all is Sky’s interface, offering all the content you might need in one place. This is likely the TV many have been waiting for – Sky without the dish. It’s a gamble but Sky has never been shy on betting big.

Price and availability

Sky Glass can be purchased directly from Sky in 43-, 55- and 65-inch options. The TV can be bought outright (£649, £849 and £1049); or on a monthly basis in 24- and 48-month instalments. Prices start as low as £13/month on a 48-month contract for the small size.

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In terms of add-ons, there are plenty. Choose from the Ultra HDR and Atmos package to Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, multi-room, the Sky Stream puck and more. Though the costs rise up even more if you do. You can read more about the packages here.

Design

  • Big and heavy
  • Minimalist looks
  • Several colour options

Viewed from head-on Sky Glass looks elegant. With its minimalist stand, thin bezel trim, anodised finish, and acoustic mesh speaker grille, it has an understated, classy appearance.

Sky Glass stand

Viewed from an angle and the illusion shifts. The Glass is a hefty unit with a depth of 4.77cm. The 55-inch model weighs 28kg if you include the stand, so it’s a relief that installation is performed by the courier service. Shift it on your own and you might put your back out. A solid surface to plant this on is a must.

Sky Glass installation

Irrespective of its dimensions, it has attracted admiring glances from members of the Trusted Reviews’ team. The review sample is (disappointingly) the black Anthracite version, but Sky Glass brings colour to a living room with a choice of Ocean blue, Ceramic white, Racing green and Dusky pink to match your décor.

Sky Glass speaker grille

The speaker grille area can be customised with magnetised attachments, and Sky says special editions are in the offing (let’s hope for a “winter is coming” version).

Sky Glass TV buttons

On the right-hand side are two buttons, one for disabling the TV’s far-field microphones and another for power. Cast your eyes to the top and there’s a perforated acoustic grille to disperse the sound from the upfiring speakers, while around the rear there’s a stanchion to keep the TV upright. If you want to wall-mount, give Sky a call and they’ll do it for you.

Interface

  • Playlist collates saved content
  • Easy to use interface
  • Sky’s voice control solution

The interface is what makes Glass a unique proposition, aggregating all that Sky has to offer alongside content from other providers.

Sky Glass home screen

It uses the same rail system as Sky Q for navigation – and there is a lot of content. The top rail offers quick access to recently used apps, inputs and spotlighted content in ‘top picks’. Below is a rail divided into TV Shows, Movies, Sport, Kids, International, Audio and Music, News and Fitness. You can browse these sections to discover content and scan TV guides specific to each one. The breadth of content impresses, as does the way it’s been knitted together in a coherent, easy to decipher manner.

Sky Glass apps

Most Sky Q apps make their way over, and while the number of apps is fewer than other TV smart portals, there’s something to be said about quality over quantity. Apple TV+ has been added and NBCUniversal’s Peacock has launched, adding to the options.

There’s plenty to discover and flicking through the various rails with the remote is swift enough. If you don’t want to use your digits, there’s built-in voice control. Initially voice control was flaky, acting like a surly teenager with its lack of responsiveness. It’s become more receptive in the weeks since the TV first came out the box.

Search results have also improved. In the beginning, a search for John Wick also conjured up Escape Route, Danny and Passenger to London. A few weeks later and John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 are the only results. Given the nature of the platform, expect constant usability updates going forward.

Voice commands via the remote’s near-field mic don’t require the ‘Hello Sky’ prompt, and in general, voice control gets you to where you want to go or to what you’re looking for. At a loss for what to watch? Say “What should I watch?” and you’re served rows of recommended content.

Sky Glass remote

The remote itself is a neat affair with a rubbery texture for a grippy hold and backlit buttons for use in the dark. It attracts fingerprints and smudges, but they’re easily wiped off.

Sky refers to its Playlist feature as ‘cloud DVR’, but I suspect this has the potential to mislead. There’s no tuner like you’d find in a Sky Q box, so in this context it acts more like bookmarks of saved content. Playlist collates all the content you’ve watched, are watching and plan to watch, and it’s a great way to keep track of your favourite shows and films.

Sky Glass Playlist

You can’t add content directly from apps such as Netflix, though. A search must be performed, and you can add there, or if you happen to come across something you want then a press of the ‘+ button on the remote adds it to your Playlist. It’s nice and easy to do.

But there are rights issues. For example, Match of the Day or MotoGP Championship can be added as a series, but once an episode hits its expiry date it disappears into the digital ether. From that perspective there’s an air of impermanence, as content is only there for as long as it’s allowed to be.

Sky Glass Playlist Saturday Night Football

Add a TV series to Playlist and it’ll string together all the seasons, regardless of the apps it’s spread over. Or at least that’s what Sky says. I added the CW’s Arrow series to Playlist and up popped series 7 and 8 (via Sky Max). However, it’s not available to stream elsewhere, only to buy, so the first six series don’t pop up. Potentially the Sky Store could fill this gap.

There are no individual profiles, so the home page refreshes content six times a day. If a child watches in the morning, and a parent at night, it’ll reflect those times in the programming served up.

Sky Glass accessibility interface

The recent progress Sky has made in accessibility features crosses over to Glass, incorporating the High Contrast interface, Audio description and highlighting of content in the TV Guide for easier recognition.

Features

  • Not gaming orientated
  • Enhanced experience for instant wake-up
  • Stream puck copies interface to other screens

There are things that Sky Glass is, and things that it’s not – and it’s not a gaming TV. With no game mode, latency is a measly 66ms. And with no Auto Low Latency Mode, 4K/120fps or Variable Refresh Rate, Sky Glass isn’t looking to play in that gaming sandpit.

The three HDMI inputs support the HDMI 2.1 spec, with HDMI 2 the eARC port for pass-through of higher quality audio to an external sound system. As Sky Glass has a built-in Atmos sound system, you could leave it at that.

Sky Glass connections

Other connections include (curiously) USB-C, Ethernet, and a DTT DVB-T/T2 aerial. That offers basic Freeview and acts as a backup in case the Internet goes down. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 (for the remote) and Wi-Fi 6 onboard. Sky Glass requires a minimum speed of 10Mb/s.

During start-up you’re given a choice of Default or Enhanced experiences. Enhanced activates voice control and the instant wake-up features, so the TV can be turned on via voice or by shuffling past, though the latter feature is not the most consistent in behaviour.

Sky Glass Default or Enhanced settings

More times than I can count I’ve walked past and nothing has happened. Other times I’ve absentmindedly walked by to find it’s woken up. Waking it with your voice is more consistent and since launch has become quicker in the time it takes to boot.

I wasn’t supplied with the Sky Stream puck that transfers the Glass interface to another screen in the house. Though it works independently of Glass, it can’t be bought separately. As it uses around 10Mb/s of Wi-Fi bandwidth, those with lower speeds will want to give that some thought.

Picture quality

  • Underwhelming HDR performance
  • Lacks brightness
  • Lacklustre viewing angles

Picture quality from Sky Glass is no disaster – it’s simply fine – but for £849 it’s not unreasonable to expect better.

The HDR performance suffers from a lack of brightness, the 55-inch model measures at a peak luminance of 430 nits. That’s not quite at the level needed to realise the potential of HDR. Highlights – the brightest part of the image – are dimly rendered whether in HDR10 or Dolby Vision.

Sky Glass John Wick 3

While watching A 4K Dolby Vision presentation of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, the scene where Wick faces off against two shinobi assassins depicts contrast that’s mildly described and a picture somewhat two-dimensional in scope. Watching Netflix, even the lights in the background of Seinfeld’s stand-up sets seem to lack luminosity.

Dolby Vision Bright mode ekes out more brightness, while the Dark profile provides better blacks. But even with Dolby Vision, when Wick visits Angelica Huston’s The Director, there’s visible blooming.

Sky Glass blooming John Wick 3

More brightness can be found by turning off the light sensor, but it’s disappointing to resort to that. I’m not all that convinced by Sky’s Intelligent Zonal Technology’ local dimming system as it seems to have little impact. Apparently, it’s been updated to be more aggressive, but there’s not much brightness to emphasise contrast.

For a Quantum Dot panel, there’s a surprising lack of punchiness, saturation and expressiveness to HDR colours. When Luv visits Wallace in Blade Runner 2049, the orange glow of his chamber is wanly described, the colour gradations lack finesse. Fine tuning is required to get more out of the image.

Sky Glass Spurs v United

A watch of Spurs against United in 4K HLG HDR, and though colours are firmer and more naturally conveyed than the HD presentation, the whites of the Spurs’ player shirts lacked the gleam and brightness I’d expect. Sky has released an update to boost HLG brightness, but overall, there’s a reserved feel to this TV’s HDR skills.

A strength of LCD TVs is dark detail and Sky Glass handles that aspect well enough for a revealing picture, though this is more apparent with brighter images. Confronted with a dim image, such as when Starforce infiltrate the planet Torfa in Captain Marvel, and the lack of brightness makes digging out detail harder.

Sky Glass Tenet airport scene

Black uniformity is fine, avoiding a washed-out appearance and ascribing a decent level of depth. However, with every bit of praise there’s a caveat. Viewing angles are average and it doesn’t take a big shift off-axis to reveal washed out colours and blooming.

Sky Glass Tipping Point HD streaming

HD streaming is decent, but like the story of Sky Glass’ picture, it’s up and down. At times sharp and clear enough to pick out fine detail, in others it produces a softness to faces, as well as hardness and shininess to edges that distracts. Reducing sharpness helps but finding a middle ground is tricky. Motion handling isn’t the most adept either, with a slight blurriness noticeable even when people turn their heads.

There’s a great deal of great content on Sky Glass, but its picture performance doesn’t wring the best out of it.

Sound quality

  • Decent, punchy bass for a TV
  • Polite impression of height channels
  • A soundbar would offer better focus

The audio system derives more enjoyment. The first sample had a faulty woofer that caused distortion with the mildest of low-end frequencies but the replacement was free from issues.

Sky Glass’ 215W Dolby Atmos system is made up of six speakers: three that fire towards the listener, two that fire up and a woofer for the low frequencies. It’s an improvement over TVs in its price bracket, putting in a solid, weighty, and spacious presentation. Is it better than a budget soundbar? No, but this 2.1 system will suffice for the less demanding.

Sky Glass upfiring speakers

Vocals are emphasised, though not quite naturally, especially when two voices speak at once. Pump up the volume and voices have a sharp sense of tone but avoid sibilance. The effect of the Enhance Speech Quality setting is most evident on Sky content, with voices more prominent but the naturalness of the delivery a little stifled.

The sound system can register the difference between voices though, the bassy register of Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton in Blade Runner 2049 clearly distinctive to that of Ryan Gosling’s K.

Sky Glass Dolby Atmos setting

Effects are steered across the screen well, creating a soundfield that spreads beyond the TV’s four corners. In The scene in Tenet where The Protagonist is interrogated in a train yard as the trains creak past the width of the soundstage is effectively extended.

High frequencies have clarity (if not overall sharpness), and bass is punchy though lacks real low-end authority, with impact sounds (punches, gunshots) softly described. Even so, it’s better than most TVs even attempt to do.

And with Atmos there’s a tall reach to the Glass’ sound in Blade Runner 2049 as Spinner cars and futuristic advertisements sit above and around the TV. An Atmos soundbar would evoke better definition, but compared to other TVs around its price, this is an improvement.

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Should you buy it?

For Sky customers who want a simplified TV experience, Sky Glass distils the TV experience into a streamlined form in a way that hasn’t been attempted. And it succeeds in some ways but not in all of them.

If you are after best picture and sound If you want the best picture and sound, then Sky Glass isn’t – and never really was – aimed at you.

Final Thoughts

In terms of streamlining the TV experience, there’s plenty to laud about Sky Glass. It has its faults, but no one has attempted this before, which makes it tricky to judge.

But there’s a sense that Sky Glass is not quite where it needs to be. This is not trying to be an OLED or premium QLED, but Glass’ picture doesn’t derive the best from the content Sky has assembled. And while it’s not a premium TV, add everything up and the subscription model incurs a premium price.

Sky Glass doesn’t ultimately succeed (yet) on its goal of unifying content, picture, and sound, but it’s an admirable first attempt. Updates will improve its current state, and with that in mind, it may be best to wait.

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Tested over several weeks

Tested with HD, 4K and HDR content

Used as the main TV for review period

FAQs

What Internet speed is required for Sky Glass?

Sky says a minimum of 10Mb/s is required for the Glass TV. Minimum download speed for UHD is 25Mb/s.

How much does Sky Glass cost?

At its cheapest option, the 43-inch Sky Glass TV plus the Sky Ultimate TV package costs £39/month.

Trusted Reviews test data

Input lag (ms)
Peak brightness (nits) 5%
Peak brightness (nits) 10%

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Size (Dimensions)
Size (Dimensions without stand)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
Resolution
HDR
Types of HDR
Refresh Rate TVs
Ports
HDMI (2.1)
Audio (Power output)
Connectivity
Colours
Display Technology

Jargon buster

QLED

QLED stands for Quantum-dot Light Emitting Diode. It’s a display technology that uses small particles (called Quantum Dots) made up of slightly different sizes that produce different wavelengths (colours) when light is shone through them. This filter helps to emit a brighter and wider gamut of colours than a conventional LED TV is capable of.

Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision is a variant of HDR, adding a layer of dynamic metadata to the core HDR signal. This dynamic metadata carries scene-by-scene (or frame-by-frame) instructions from content creators on how a TV should present the images to improve everything from brightness to contrast, detailing and colour reproduction.

4K Ultra HD TV

4K (or Ultra HD) refers to the resolution of a TV’s display, which equates to the number of horizontal and vertical pixels that it can display. 4K TVs have a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (8.3 million pixels), which is four times that of a Full HD TV. With more pixels, you get a sharper, clearer picture than is possible from an equivalent sized 1080p display.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format. It expands on 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks by adding overhead channels. Sounds are referred to as “audio objects”, of which there can be up to 128 audio channels, and these ‘objects’ can be accurately positioned within a 3D soundscape. This allows soundtracks that support the technology to place sounds above and around the listener with compatible kit.

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