What is Sky Q?
Sky Q is Sky’s new home entertainment system, a new way of watching TV that they called “Fluid Viewing”. Sky have created a new eco system that enables viewers to consume content in many different ways, thus bringing them in line with current viewing habits. It’s not just a new service but a family of new devices.
Some of the features include being able to pause any program whether recorded, live or on-demand and pick up where you left off on another television or mobile device.
Another very useful feature allows you to upload a recorded program from your sky box to a tablet or phone for viewing on the go, very handy when you are about to travel where there is no data connection available.
There is a new and improved remote control with touch control. The flagship box will also allow you to record four programs while viewing a fifth. Solving all those recording clash problems in one fell swoop.
Sky Q also has some smart features like YouTube and Facebook apps, Bluetooth and Airplay streaming.
Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Chief Executive, commented: “Sky Q is a brilliant new way for customers to experience TV on their terms. We wanted to re-imagine TV so that it’s flexible and seamless across different screens and to put a huge choice of entertainment at their fingertips. We think customers are going to love Sky Q and the great news is that it will get even better with much more to come in the future.”
The new hardware
There are five new hardware devices with a slick new modern look with modern hardware specs.
Sky Q Silver
Sky Q Silver is a new super slim set top box that would replace your existing Sky HD box under your TV. This will be the main box in your Sky Q entertainment system, allowing you to record four channels whilst viewing a fifth. There is a new EPG with extended search features enabling users to find content much faster and more intelligently. Offering 2TB of storage that’s 5 times more than standard Sky HD boxes and allows up to 350 hours of HD recording. Syncing recorded programs to mobile devices such as a tablet or a mobile phone is available. The Silver box allows simultaneous viewing on 2 tablets and 2 Sky Q Mini boxes.
There are actually 12 tuners in this box, compared to 2 in the current Sky HD boxes. Before you ask, you wont need 12 cables between the box and the dish, just 2 cables will suffice so this box can be installed without additional cabling if you have Sky+HD installed. The Sky Q boxes utilise a new type of tuner and LNB that can broadcast more than 1 channel down each cable at the same time to achieve this.
Built in Wi-Fi takes care of the online streaming, the Wi-Fi supports all standards including wireless ac (the current fastest standard), Bluetooth 4.0 LE is also supported.
Now the big question, does Sky Q support 4K UHD? The answer is no initially but the Sky Q Silver box is UHD ready and Sky has stated that they will introduce UHD services later in 2016.
The Sky Q box is the little brother of the Silver and includes most of the features except for the following differences, 1TB of storage rather than 2TB, 8 tuners rather than 12, thus users can record 3 shows whilst watching a fourth. Simultaneous viewing to other Sky Q devices is also reduced down to 1 table and 1 Sky Q Mini box. Also future support for UHD is missing from this box.
Sky Q Mini
The Sky Q Mini box is a genuinely new addition to the Sky family, the Silver and the Q boxes are updates and refinements of an existing product, but the Mini is new. This box streams your channels from the main Sky Q, or Silver box in the home and other than a power lead and an HDMI connection to your TV, requires no other cables. No more running coaxial sky cables around the house to get Sky into other rooms in the house. Streaming is carried out over the air using Wi-Fi, and if you have Sky Broadband the box can act as a hot spot thus extending and improving your home’s wireless coverage. Unfortunately there is no Ethernet port, but it does support Powerline AV 1.1 so you can use your home electrical wiring as Ethernet. Note that this only works with other compatible Sky devices. You can view, pause rewind and record any program like the main box but everything is streamed from the main box.
Sky Q Touch Remote Control
Gone is the now very familiar Sky remote control, it has been thoroughly reworked with new touch capability including touch slider controls to pause, rewind and forward TV shows. You can now search using voice control and the remote uses Bluetooth so it doesn’t have to be pointed at the box. This also enables a very useful feature, if you loose the remote you can press the Q button on the box and the remote will start to beep.
Sky Hub is the new Sky Broadband router, it communicates with Sky Q boxes through Wi-Fi or using Powerline technology. It will use whichever provides the best connection automatically. The Hub also enables the use of the Mini as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The hub only works if you have a Sky Broadband Internet connection, if your Internet connection is supplied via another provider then you do not need the Sky Hub. You do loose the ability to use the Powerline networking feature and you can’t use the Sky Mini boxes as Wi-Fi hotspots.
When is it available?
Available early 2016, Voice search and UHD will be available later in 2016.
No pricing has been announced. Sky say that this is a premium production so expect this to sit above Sky HD as their new flagship production, so expect premium prices.