A Complete Guide to Sky Q – UPDATED

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Update: Since late 2016, Sky have moved to make Sky Q the standard system for all new and upgrading Sky customers, completely replacing the Sky+ HD box. They’ve also moved to simplify their pricing structures for those who call Sky, thanks to a great deal of public feedback.

For well over a decade now, Sky + has been an essential part of all of our lives. It introduced the concept of pausing live TV, and recording programmes without having to rummage around through VHS tapes for a blank. Over the years, the Sky+ experience has grown to encompass box sets, catch up TV, movie rentals and even 3D, but the general experience has remained much the same.

That’s hardly a bad thing, but with competition fierce in the pay-tv industry and new technologies like 4K ready to burst into the mainstream, Sky’s relatively antiquated technology just won’t cut the mustard for much longer.

So, on the 18th of October, Sky took to the stage to announce the next generation of Sky hardware – Sky Q, a complete reinvention of the Sky TV platform, and one loaded with strange, futuristic technologies. In this guide, I’ll cover every aspect of the Sky Q platform so you can figure out if it’s right for you before it launches on the 9th of February.

The Hardware

Unfortunately, we have to begin at the confusing part, because unlike Sky +, Sky Q isn’t just a box, it’s a whole family of boxes that you spread out across your home.

The first of those boxes if the Sky Q box. There are two versions here, a Sky Q Silver box which comes with 2TB of built in storage, the ability to record 4 channels whilst watching a fifth and support for 4K Ultra-HD content. There’s also a lower specced Sky Q box which has 1TB of storage, support for 3 simultaneous recordings whilst watching a fourth and no 4K support. Sky Q Silver also has the ability to stream live TV, recordings or catch-up TV to up to 2 tablets and TVs, whilst the base model can only handle one.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Sky Q box is also a Wi-Fi router to connect all your devices together, and all boxes have Powerline technology which uses your home wiring to send Internet around the home, completely eliminating blackspots.

Then there are the Sky Q Mini boxes. These little guys are capable of pulling down live TV from the main Sky Q box, so you watch TV in other rooms around your house. Essentially, anything you can do on your main Sky Q box, you can do through the Mini boxes. There’s also some neat software tricks, like pausing a programme in one room and having it automatically play when you enter the other room.

There’s also a brand new Sky Q remote to get used to. Gone is the familiarity of the Sky + remote and in its place is an all new, ultra-sleek unit that has a built in circular touchpad for navigating the interface. Don’t worry though, there’s still all those buttons that are just asking to be pressed. Oh, did we mention that if you press a button on the Sky Q box, your remote will start beeping? Say goodbye to lost controllers!

The Software

Sky have, rather sensibly, opened up their platform for the first time, which means that alongside your normal programming, you’ll also have access to YouTube, Vevo, Red Bull Sports and GoPro applications, with things like Netflix soon to follow. It also supports Airplay and Bluetooth, so you can beam content from your devices to your main screens. The basics of navigation have also been rewritten, with a focus on sliding transparency panes and speedy navigation.

The Cost

This is where reality starts to bite. At launch, Sky wouldn’t talk about how much Sky Q would cost customers, though it did say that Sky+ would continue to exist as a cheaper alternative. Since then, customers have flocked to the Sky customer service number to enquire about cost. Now, just one week away from launch, Sky have announced how much it’ll set you back.

All packages come with over 300 channels and access to Sky’s Box Set catalogue as standard, but adding Sky Movies and Sky Sports costs an extra £15 and £25.50 per month, respectively. You can add them both for a discounted rate of £34.50 a month. Every package comes on a 18 month contract, and costs are the same regardless of whether you’re a new or upgrading customer.

Sky Q: Basic cost – £42 per month. With Sky Movies – £59 per month. With both – £76.50 per month.

Sky Q Silver: Basic cost – £54 per month. With Sky Movies – £71 per month. With both – £88.50 per month.

Aside from contract costs, there are also set up charges. Every Sky Q package carries with it a £50 installation fee, and if you don’t take Sky Broadband, sports or movies you’ll have to pay £249 for the basic Sky Q Box. The upgraded Sky Silver box costs £299.

If you’re willing to take Sky Broadband (or Sports or Movies), you’ll get a free Sky Q Hub which adds that Powerline technology and Wi-Fi repeater tech to your Q boxes and a serious discount. Under those conditions, a normal Q box costs £99, whilst the Silver bundle costs £149.

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