How is Sky Q different from standard Sky TV? Is it worth getting? And, more importantly, how does it work in your home? Let’s take a look at what Sky Q is, its new features, and how it works in practice
Sky Q is currently the latest iteration of Sky TV, unless you go with Sky Glass, of course. Most new users of Sky will be using Sky Q, so we’re going to take a deep dive into Sky Q today, examining how it is different from the old Sky, its new boxes, the new Sky remote, and its new functions and abilities. There’s a lot to get through, so let’s get started…
Sky Q is now Sky’s defacto service, replacing Sky+ which launched in 2001. If you sign-up to Sky today, you will automatically become a Sky Q customer. Sky even offers Sky Q discounts for existing Sky+ customers in a bid to get everybody upgraded to Sky Q. You also have Sky Glass to consider as well – but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.
What is Sky Q?
Unlike Sky+, Sky Q isn’t just about the software that is running on your Sky box. Instead, it relates to Sky’s entirely new platform of hardware, including a trio of new Sky boxes, a new Sky remote, and, of course, enhanced mobile functionality inside the Sky Go app which is available for iPhone and Android. In this respect, Sky Q is a more modern, reimagining of the Sky platform with mobile connectivity at its core
One of the main things you will interact with, however, and where most of Sky Q’s goodies are stored is inside the Sky Q box. But, as noted above, there are a few options when it comes to Sky Q boxes that are designed with different users in mind.
Let’s look at all the current Sky Q box models that are available right now.
Sky Q Box Options
- 2TB Sky Q Box – The 2TB Sky Q Box is Sky Q’s flagship box. It has the most storage overall, so if you record A LOT of shows and movies in 4K, this would be the option to go with. This box can record six channels at once, supports 4K Ultra HD recording, and HDR. This is the one to go for if you have a very impressive TV.
- 1TB Sky Q Box – The 1TB Sky Q Box is a bit cheaper than the 2TB flagship model. Like the main Sky Q box, it can record in 4K Ultra HD and newer boxes support HDR too. The main difference between the two boxes is that this one has less storage, so it is limited in the sheer number of content it can store. It’ll still hold up to 500 hours of Full HD TV shows and movies though.
- Sky Q Mini Box – The Sky Q Mini Box serves a dual purpose: it is part WiFi extender and part Sky Q box. If you want Sky Q in another room in your home, say a bedroom or a secondary sitting room, you can buy and install a Sky Q Mini Box using powerline networking, a feature ALL Sky Q boxes support. They deliver all the same channels and services you get with the 1TB and 2TB boxes, although recordings are limited to 720p resolution which isn’t ideal.
Running Apps Like Netflix & Apple TV+ on Sky Q
One of the coolest things about Sky Q is that Sky is essentially given up trying to pretend that services like Netflix, Apple TV+, and Disney+ do not exist. With Sky Q, Sky makes accessing and browsing popular video-streaming apps like Netflix simpler than ever with dedicated, native applications that you can access inside Sky Q.
New features are being added all the time too. Since I’ve had Sky Q, there have been many updates, adding in support for things like HDR, Dolby Atmos, and the ability to subscribe to Disney+ and Apple TV+ as part of your overall Sky package – the fee is just added to your monthly Sky bill, making it really easy to manage.
The New Sky Q Remotes
As with its boxes, Sky has also completely redesigned its remotes for Sky Q. You now have two options when it comes to Sky Q remotes. I have the older version, which doesn’t include touch controls, but since my toddler has destroyed that remote completely, I will soon be getting the updated, touch control-enabled Sky Q remote. Let’s look at the two Sky Q remotes in more detail.
The New & Improved Touch-Control Sky Q Remote
The latest and greatest Sky remote is smaller and more compact than the “traditional” Sky remote we’re all used to. It favors using touch – so, swiping around rather than pressing buttons – to access and select options inside Sky Q. Like the more traditional Sky Q remote, it too features voice control – just tap the blue button to access it – and this, to my surprise, is one of Sky Q’s best new features. I use it ALL the time.
The latest, touch-focussed Sky Q remote also works via Bluetooth, not IR, so there is no need for a line-of-sight connection between it and the Sky Q box. Again, this is a massively handy feature if you have small kids that love destroying TV remotes, as mine do. Because it uses Bluetooth, you can hide the remote anywhere you like, so long as it is within 20 meters of the Sky Q box, and it will work just fine.
How To Use Voice Controls In Sky Q
I just explained how good Sky Q’s voice control functionality is, but how does one access voice command in Sky Q? It depends on which remote you have.
If you have the older, more traditional Sky Q remote, there is a blue button with a microphone symbol on it – it is located just below the home button – and to start using voice controls, just press the button and issue a command like, Open Netflix and Netflix will open.
On the newer Sky Q remote, the smaller, fancier one, the voice control activation button is located on side of the remote. It works exactly the same as the older remote’s too – just press the button and speak your command and Sky Q will do your bidding.
To be honest, prior to getting Sky Q my expectations about its voice control abilities were very low – most voice-enabled devices, whether it is a phone or inside a car, are laughably useless at the best of times. But Sky Q is completely different – its voice control is actually very, very good.
The reason for this is simple too: Sky spent A LOT of money on Sky Q’s voice control performance. It switched to Comcast’s voice recognition system, which has been around almost as long as Siri, for one, and it has continually updated and evolved Sky Q’s voice capabilities since the service launched.
Even today, new work and updates are in the pipeline for it. Again, I use Sky Q voice control all the time. It is a great feature, so hats off to Sky for finally making voice control on something actually useful.
What is Sky Q Multiroom?
If you have multiple screens in your home, a fact of life for homes with multiple young kids and/or teenagers, Sky Q features a new and massively expanded Multiroom experience. Thanks to Sky Q’s multiple tuners, you can now record as well as share content around your home to a number of different TVs.
You also DO NOT need to connect your Sky Q Mini box to the actual dish either; the Sky Q Mini box will work wirelessly or through a powerline connection, so it is the ideal choice for pumping Sky Q into additional rooms in your home. But you don’t NEED a Sky Q Mini box to view Sky Q in other rooms in your home.
You Can Do It With The Sky Go App…
You can do it instead with the Sky Go app for iPhone and Android.
In order to use Sky Go, just download the app via the App Store or Google Play, sign in, and you can start watching Sky Q content on your phone and/or tablet, as well as in the web browser of your computer.
All teenagers have phones, so this would be an ideal solution for getting your teenager or young child set up with Sky Q in their room. With Sky Go, you can download content, save content, and watch/access recordings – even when your Sky Q box of offline. The Sky Go app is free too, unlike the Sky Q Mini box. All you need is your SKY ID to sign in and you’re away.
The Sky Go app can also be used to interact with your Sky Q box as well. You can select shows to watch and stream them to a screen, any screen in your home, so long as it is connected to the internet and has casting abilities. Sky Go is limited to two tablets or smartphones at any one time. If you want more devices added, you’ll need to pay a small fee for Sky G0 Extra which adds support for four mobile devices.
What does all of this mean? It means you can basically watch Sky Q content all over your home, either on a screen or on a mobile device. No additional wires and/or boxes are required. This makes getting new users connected to the service a lot simpler than before when additional boxes and wires were required. The new, more modern Sky Q is all about simplifying connectivity, harnessing the power of mobile devices, and making on-the-go content easier to access.
Case in point, my spouse hates F1, so whenever there is a race on – or, let’s be honest, a practice or qualifying session – she can go and chill in another room and still use Sky Q and watch whatever she wants. It doesn’t require anything other than her phone and the Sky Go app. You don’t even need to be on the same network either; you could go to the pub and watch Sky Q on your phone via the Sky Go app. Double bonus.
The New Sky Q UX Design – A More Intuitive Home Menu
I’ve had access to Sky TV, either through my parents or my own subscription, since the mid-1990s, and in that time the design and layout of Sky’s UX has changed massively, as you’d expect. UX is a funny thing, it constantly evolves and changes based on how we interact with hardware.
Back in the 90s, UX design was focused on buttons and pressing because we didn’t have touchscreens. Nowadays, it is more visual and image-based because that’s what we’re more used to. Sky Q takes elements from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as well as its own, unique UX philosophies, and used them to create a more modern, easier to use UX for Sky Q.
How Sky Q’s UX works is really simple. You press the Home button and you’re taken to the main screen. On the left side, you’ll see options for TV guide, Recordings, Catch Up TV, On Demand, Sky Cinema, Sports, and Apps. The main window, which sits squarely and prominently in the middle of your screen, is where you browse and make selections within certain applications and settings.
For instance, if you open Recordings, all of your current and scheduled recordings will appear in the main window. To access any of them, simply click the icon and it’ll start playing. You also get a nifty little live TV window that plays whatever you’re currently watching in the top left corner, so you can still view content while making changes to certain settings inside Sky Q.
As noted earlier, Sky Q also supports third-party applications now, so you can run things like Netflix, Apple TV+, YouTube, and Spotify directly on your Sky Q box. Sky Q also supports Chromecast, so you can cast content from your phone to your Sky Q box. Sky Q even has AirPlay support but, annoyingly, it is only for audio – it will NOT cast video from your iPhone, although this is likely more down to Apple being Apple than Sky.
And even if you find the Sky Q menu structure tricky, you don’t really need to bother it anyway, as you can just use Sky Q’s voice controls instead. This is handy if you cannot find a certain app, for instance, or you’re unsure how to find a specific film. You can pretty much as Sky Q anything you like and, so long as it is related to Sky Q, it will pull up useful, easy to action results for you. For me, Sky Q’s voice control capabilities are one of its main selling points. I am so impressed by what Sky has achieved in this department.
Sky Q 4K Ultra HD TV
One of Sky Q’s biggest selling points is that it has A LOT of 4K Ultra content. You have sports, movies, box sets, and TV shows all in 4K Ultra, so if you have a badass 4K TV, you’ll probably want to go with Sky Q because it has some of the best 4K Ultra content services on the market.
There are caveats, however. With films, to REALLY take advantage of Sky Q’s 4K Ultra content you will need to subscribe to Sky Cinema. This is the same for sports. Want to watch the F1 in 4K Ultra? You’ll need to subscribe to the appropriate package. You can, however, download and save 4K Ultra content to your Sky Q box to watch later in the highest possible quality.
In addition to this, the Sky Store now has loads of new films and films that have just come out in the cinema. These are also available in 4K Ultra HD. For instance, the new Matrix film was available inside the Sky Store more or less as soon as came out in cinemas. The ability to rent new blockbuster films in Sky Q is great. It is expensive, however, but that’s the price you pay for early access (and not having to drive to the cinema).
How Much Is Sky Q Per Month?
How much does Sky Q cost per month? Prices start at £25 a month – this gets you the 1TB Sky Q box and the basic channels. If you want more options, things like Sports and Movies, for instance, which are all extras. Sky offers a range of Sky Q packages – you can view them all here – from relatively cheap to very expensive.
The best one, of course, is the one you can afford. My advice? Take a look at all the available packages, assess your budget, and then make a decision. You can also add things like Sky Sports or Sky Cinema later.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
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