Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Which should you get?
Sky doesn’t release much hardware, but when it does, it’s pretty good. The Stream puck and Q set-top box are two products that sit beneath your TV and feed it picture and sound, unlike the Glass TV which does picture, sound and content without needing extra sources.
Both Stream and Q fulfil similar requirements but do so in slightly different ways, and although they cover similar ground, their differences are wide enough that they’ll appeal to different audiences.
With that in mind, if you’re looking to jump into the Sky ecosystem and are deliberating on the best way to do so, let this Sky Stream vs Sky Q article instruct you on the best way forward.
Sky Q with the Sky TV and Netflix add-on costs from £26/month on an 18-month contract. Sky Stream is currently slightly cheaper at 24/month, and there’s a choice of an 18-month contract or a 31-day rolling contract at £27/month.
Normally, Sky Stream is £26/month, matching Sky Q’s price. The difference is the option of a 31-day rolling contract which can be cancelled at any time. Sky Q doesn’t have that option.
Sky Q requires the need for a satellite dish to be installed by a professional, so you will need to have the ability to install one to get the Q service. Sky has made a few changes so if your satellite connection goes down for any reason, you can rely on broadband to watch TV.
Sky Stream requires no satellite installation as it runs straight off the internet. All you need to do is plug it into the power and connect to the internet through its Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi. If your internet goes down there is a backup in the form of a terrestrial antenna.
Of the two, Sky Stream is easier to set up.
Sky Q is the bigger device of the two, its smooth curves and simple front design give it an elegantly minimal appearance. The Stream puck is similarly simplistic in its design but takes on a much smaller footprint. The Q is best served placed within an AV cabinet, while the Stream can be positioned next to a TV without drawing attention.
In terms of connections, the Q has an HDMI port, satellite, USB, optical and Ethernet LAN. The Stream puck works over the internet so there’s no satellite, optical or USB option provided, but there is an aerial port in case the internet goes down so you can watch terrestrial content via more traditional means.
It really depends on what you’re looking for here. The Q set-top box offers more connections, and if you already have an existing satellite installation then that makes it easier for Q to be installed. However, the direction trends are heading in, content is moving online and the Stream puck provides a gateway to streaming.
It’s also more discreet and is better suited to those who don’t have access to satellite or who don’t have space for a ‘bigger’ box next to their TV. In this respect, the Stream is the more convenient of the two.
Channels and content
Access to channels and content depends on your subscription, but in a general sense, Sky Q and Stream present a similar amount of content.
Sky Q has a greater number of TV channels, partly because it also includes standard definition channels. Q also has the likes of BoxNation, FreeSports, Al Jazeera and a few dozen international channels which aren’t on Stream. You can find out which channels Sky Stream is missing on this page.
Sky Stream (and Sky Glass) stream in HD and above, so the number of channels you have access to in the EPG (electronic programme guide) is fewer, but that also means not having to wade through redundant channels in a lower resolution.
The difference between Q and Stream is how content is delivered. With Sky Q, content is sent over a satellite connection, while Stream is fundamentally an internet streamer. Both have all the free-to-air channels and access to premium Sky channels, as well as VOD apps in form of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV+, Lionsgate+ and more. With certain Sky subscriptions, content from Peacock and Paramount+ are included as standard.
If you’re not interested in receiving content over satellite, or indeed a satellite dish can’t be installed in your area, then Sky Stream is the better choice if you have access to the internet.
But note that 4K streams will take up more internet bandwidth, as will adding more pucks. If you intend to watch in 4K HDR you’ll need a reasonably high download speed and some headroom on top of that to accommodate more Stream pucks.
Sky Q carries 12 tuners to record content with 1TB and 2TB storage options available. Sky Stream takes a different approach to ‘recording’ content. With its Playlist feature, content is ‘saved’ (a better word would be bookmarked) because all content is streamed (therefore there are no means to download content). This stores content in the cloud, accessible when you want to watch it, but it has its disadvantages.
The main disadvantage is that content that’s subject to rights agreements will disappear from your Playlist when it expires. Sports shows or events like Match of the Day and the NFL Super Bowl are subject to these types of agreements, so once it expires you won’t be able to watch them again on Sky Stream.
On Sky Q the benefit is that a recording never expires unless you delete it from storage, so you can watch content repeatedly for as long as you want.
So, if you prefer to keep hold of content, Sky Q can do that. If you’re not fussed or the lack of recording ability makes no difference to your enjoyment, then Sky Stream fits your needs better.
When it comes to multiroom, each device tackles it in a different manner. If you want to add access to other screens in the home with Sky Q, that can be done with Sky Mini boxes. These connect directly to the main box and stream live channels from the satellite connection. Recordings can be downloaded over your home network, and the only time the Mini boxes will need to connect to the internet is to stream from the likes of Prime Video or Disney+.
With the Stream, Sky offers the Whole Home package. This allows for watching Sky in different rooms, and you can have up to six Stream pucks streaming simultaneously. As each one connects to the internet, they will each use up bandwidth (10Mb/s for HD, 25Mb/s for 4K), so a speedy internet connection and high download speeds is recommended if you go down the multiroom path with Sky Stream.
Both Sky Q and Sky Stream have their positives and negatives, and each device carves out its own path in how it operates.
Boiled to its simplest terms, Sky Q is for those who can get a satellite connection and are interested in keeping their recordings. Sky Stream operates over the internet and has no facility for storing recordings unless it’s in the cloud.
Otherwise, they’re a fairly even match on the content side, with Sky Q offering more channels but all the major (and most probably the ones you’ll actually watch), are included on both devices. The prices are similar too, with Stream including the option of a rolling contract that can be cancelled at any time.
Of the two, Sky Stream is the more accessible in its design, payment options, installation and approach to streaming content; but Sky Q can do much of what Stream does and throws in recording too, and is less reliant on requiring plenty of bandwidth and high download speeds as Stream is, especially if you go down the multiroom path.