Following the announcement of Sky Cinema, the broadcasting behemoth has made a double launch with both a new Sky Now TV Smart Box media streamer and the UK's first non-contract triple-play bundle in the form of Sky Now TV Combo. Here we answer 'what is Sky Now TV Combo?' and provide the Sky Now TV Smart Box release date, price and specs. Click here to find out about the new Sky Now TV Smart Box and Now TV Combo. See also: Best media streamers in the UK.
Update 7 July: The Now TV Smart Box and Now TV Combo packages are now available to buy in the UK.
Ever wanted to get free-to-air TV, Sky's TV channels, on-demand content such as movies and box sets, broadband and calls in one package without a contract? Well you'll be pleased to find out about the new Sky Now TV Smart Box and Now TV Combo. Read our hands-on Sky Q review.
Sky Now TV Smart Box release date, price and specs
As expected, there's a new Now TV media streamer for 2016 and it's the best yet. Once again, it's based on a Roku and this time around it's the Roku 4 which hasn't even launched in the UK yet. The existing Sky Now TV Box will sit alongside the new one.
Although it's not far away, Sky doesn't have a specific Now TV Smart Box release date – instead stating that it will be available 'early July' for customers.
If you want to get the media streamer on its own, the Sky Now TV Smart Box price is £39 with no obligation to splash out on things like Now TV passes. There are, however, many other ways of buying the new Smart Box via Now TV Combo starting at £9.99 per month without a contract. See details below.
In terms of specs, the Now TV Smart Box has the kind of ports you'd expect such as HDMI, Ethernet, USB and a Micro-SD card slot. If you don’t use a wired connection for internet it has dual-band Wi-Fi 11b/g/n (no ac here). The Smart Box also has an aerial socket so you can pick up free-to-air live TV.
The spec sheet and the settings menu on the box (we checked at the launch event) both state the Now TV Smart Box is limited to 1080p video output. However, we're waiting for an answer from Sky as to whether 4K streaming might be a possibility which can be 'unlocked' at a later date. It's feasible that Sky will reserve 4K content for Sky Q customers.
Here's the official comment from Sky: "The Now TV Smart Box isn’t a 4k box as its aimed at a freeview audience who just want to watch free tv topped up with a little bit of Pay. These customers want a simple yet affordable way to watch the TV they love. 4k is aimed at a different customer at a different end of the market to the customers who use Now TV."
The other thing you need to know on video quality is that while you can get some HD channels, all of Now TV is still delivered in 720p.
As usual, you'll get a remote control which uses the traditional Infrared (not Bluetooth), but the box is compatible with most universal remotes.
The Smart Box cleverly combines free TV (which you can pause and rewind) with Sky's range of on-demand content and live TV channels (if you take the Entertainment pass). As usual, you also have access to catch-up TV via services like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5. Other apps include YouTube, Spotify and the Sky Store.
Sky Now TV: Podcast discussion
Sky Now TV Combo
As mentioned already, Sky Now TV Combo is the UK's first triple-play bundle which is contract free. It means customers can get Sky services including TV, broadband and phone without having to sign up for a lengthy period of time. All packages include the Now TV Smart Box and Sky's new Now TV Hub router.
In simple terms, Now TV Combo means customers can choose exactly what Now TV content they want (movies and sport etc), the speed of their broadband, and what call package suits. It starts at £9.99 per month although that doesn't include line-rental which is £17.99 per month.
With four different Now TV passes, three different broadband speeds, and three different call packages, there are a wide range of mix-and-match options. Now TV Combo really does live up to its name. Here are the breakdown prices for each element but see the table below for an overview of the Combo options.
Sky Now TV passes
• Entertainment – £6.99 per month
• Cinema (formerly Movies) – £9.99 per month
• Sports – £6.99 (day), £10.99 (week), £33.99 (month)
• Kids – £2.99 per month
Sky Broadband choices
• Brilliant broadband – up to 17Mbps
• Fat Fibre – up to 38Mbps
• Super Fibre – up to 76Mbps
Sky call packages
• Pay as you use
• Evening and weekend – unlimited to UK landlines and mobiles, 7pm-7am and weekends
• Anytime calls – Unlimited calls any time of day
See below for an outline of the Sky Now TV Combo prices and packages. They are split up into the different Now TV passes and broadband speeds, the regular prices against the Combo price followed by a total including line rental.
The table doesn't even include all the options as all are with pay as you use calls and with monthly costs for the Now TV passes. You could decide take any passes or take all four.
A one-off set up fee of £40 for Unlimited Brilliant Broadband and £50 for Unlimited Fab Fibre Broadband and Unlimited Super Fibre Broadband is payable