At its event in central London, Sky has made one of its most important and biggest announcements of recent years. Sky Q is the new premium service and there's a lot to it including the Sky Q Mini and Sky Q Hub. Here we explain what Sky Q is, the release date, price, bundles and new features. See also: Best media streamers 2015.
Sky Q Dolby Atmos
There's good news for Sky customers as the new Premier League season starts as the firm has launched Dolby Atmos support in time for the first match. Those with an Atmos sound system can expect 'cinema quality' immersive sound.
Sky has also added 'watch from the start' so it doesn't matter if you miss kick-off, you can simply choose to go back to the beginning - just remember you're behind when checking social media. You can also use it to skip to key moments which are highlighted in the progress bar.
The feature will be available for Premier League games and 124 matches will be available in Ultra HD.
Sky Q Voice Search
The first new feature on Sky's 2017 roadmap (below) is now available for Sky Q customers. The microphone built into the remote control can now be used to quickly find content by speaking to it. Sky says you can search via title, actor, director, genre, time and star rating - combining them to create a more specific search. Find out more on how to use Sky Q voice search.
"Movie buffs wanting to be a little more adventurous can even search using some of the most iconic quotes, including “Say hello to my little friend” and “I'll have what she's having.” And to discover something new, search a genre with a specific time, age or star rating, such as ‘comedy movies,’ ‘live cricket on this weekend’ and ‘Tom Hanks’ movies rated five stars’. Or find a movie and filter by award-winning actors and directors, including ‘films with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone’ or ‘movies directed by Michael Bay’," said Sky.
Other tweaks for Sky Q customers include My Q becoming the homepage of the interface - with Recordings and TV Guide a swipe away - and the ability to watch Facebook videos with the My Photos app.
Sports fans will be pleased to hear that Sky is exclusively showing all F1 races in Ultra HD on Sky Q with the first race of the 2017 season starting on 26 March.
Sky Q new features coming in 2017 and beyond
• Record up to 6 channels while watching a 7th (Silver 2TB box only)
• Personalise the homepage
• Formula 1 in 4K Ultra HD
• Restart on Sky Sports (Football, F1 and Golf)
• Restart on Sky Entertainment
• Voice search
• Voice control
• Dolby Atmos support on UHD content
Sky has also confirmed that customers will no longer need a satellite dish to subscribe to its TV service. The major breakthrough will launch next year, 2018, and we'll update you with details when they are available.
The firm has launched the Sky Q mobile app. This lets you watch recordings on your phone, stream live content and do tasks such as send recordings to the box from wherever you are.
As you can see there are lot of great new features coming for Sky Q owners. The stand out things are voice search and Dolby Atmos. You can see the roadmap below, via What Hi-Fi, but there is no set time frame for the features.
What is Sky Q?
The company itself is describing Sky Q as a 'next-generation home entertainment system' and it's a relatively good way of summing it up since it's not just a new box or an online service. There are many things which make up Sky Q including hardware, content and apps.
"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," said Jeremy Darroch, chief executive at Sky.
The system will feature 'Fluid Viewing' which describes the way that customers will be able to consume content in more and better ways than previously. Read on to find out what Sky Q consists of and when you'll be able to start enjoying its benefits. See also: Best Blu-ray players 2016
Sky Q release date: When can I get Sky Q?
Initially pegged for 'early 2016', we now know that it will launch in the UK on 9 February with home installations beginning at the end of the month. You can pre-register here. Sky Q will not replace existing products, such as Sky+ and Now TV, but will instead launch alongside them as a premium option.
Sky Q pricing: How much is Sky Q?
Sky Q pricing is now official with new customers looking at £42 per month and setup fees starting at £99 - the firm's lowest ever setup cost. Existing Sky customers are expected to pay £12 extra per month which is very close to the rumoured £13.
An installation charge of £50 applies to existing Sky customers. Sky Q Bundles are 18-month contract terms. Click here to build your Sky Q bundle.
• Set-up costs for Sky Q will be from just £99 - or free to some Sky VIP members
• The typical monthly cost for existing Sky+ customers will be around £12 extra compared with their current Sky+ package
• For new customers joining Sky, the ongoing monthly cost for Sky Q will start from just £42
Update: Sky Q is now available from just £22 per month making it more accessible for consumers on a budget.
Sky Q bundle - £42 per month
The Sky Q Bundle gives customers the benefits of Fluid Viewing, together with the very best range of entertainment content from Sky – including:
• Over 50 HD channels and 300+ Sky Box Sets as standard, accessed via completely new TV guide and home page
• Record 3 shows and watch a 4th live
• Pause on one room and pick up the action on a tablet around your home
• Stream your TV around your home via the Sky Q app, and take your recordings with you
• Download shows to your tablet to watch offline
• All new Sky Q touch Bluetooth remote
• Browse Facebook photos and stream music wirelessly over your TV sound system with Bluetooth or Apple’s AirPlay
• Brand new interactive sidebar apps for catching up with the latest from Sky News and Sky Sports without interrupting the big screen experience
• Brand new Online Video section – with videos fully on demand from YouTube and Vevo, plus a curated service which showcases a wide range of the best of the web– including videos from GQ, Vogue, WIRED, Red Bull Media House and Funny Or Die.
Sky Q Silver Bundle- £54 per month
This gives you everything from the Sky Q Bundle, plus:
• The ultimate Fluid Viewing experience, on multiple TV screens around your home – letting you watch on two additional Sky Q Minis (second box costs £99), and the option to stream your TV to two tablets all at the same time
• Record and watch even more: record 4 shows while watching a 5th live
• The top of the range 2TB Sky Q Silver box, which is Ultra HD ready in advance of Sky launching the UK’s most comprehensive Ultra High Definition service later in 2016
Sky Q Optional Extras
Sky Movies +£17 extra a month
11 movies channels and 1000+ movies on demand
The biggest box office hits 12 month before online subscription services. Plus enjoy Sky Movies Disney, including the latest releases and all-time classics.
Sky Sports +£25.50 extra a month
7 dedicated sports channels
Including live coverage of the Barclays Premier League, Sky Bet Football League, domestic and international cricket, F1, boxing, golf and many more of the biggest events in sport.
Sky Movies AND Sky Sports +£34.50 extra a month
Sky Q additional hardware costs
Sky Q bundle
Sky Q box - £99 with Sky Broadband and/or Sky Sports and/or Sky Movies (£249 without)
Sky Q Silver box - £149 with Sky Broadband and/or Sky Sports and/or Sky Movies (£299 without)
Sky Q Silver bundle
Sky Q Silver box & one Sky Q Mini - £99 with Sky Broadband and/or Sky Sports and/or Sky Movies (£299 without)
*If a customer currently takes HD or Multiscreen they will get the discounted one off cost for taking the Sky Q Silver Bundle. Those choosing the Sky Q Bundle will pay £249/£299.
Sky Q kit is loaned to Sky Q customers at no cost and needs to be returned at the end of the relevant subscription. Mechanical faults with the Sky Q kit will be repaired at no extra cost. Customers can also upgrade their cover to include Accidental Damage with Sky Protect+, the only Insurance endorsed by Sky.
Sky Q poll
What it is like to use Sky Q: podcast discussion
Sky Q features and hardware
Since Sky Q is many different things we're going to split it up into digestible sections to help you get your head round it.
Sky Q: Fluid Viewing
The so called Fluid Viewing part of Sky Q is all about providing a seamless experience. So you'll be able to do things like pause what you're watching and carry on in another room or different programmes simultaneously on up to five screens around the home while recording four other channels. You'll also be able to transfer your recordings to devices like tablets so you can take them with you – unsurprisingly the most requested feature.
As you might expect, the new Sky Q box supports 4K, also known as Ultra HD, and the firm announced in July it will launch 4K services on 13 August. Sky claims its Ultra HD service will be 'the UK’s most comprehensive' including sports, movies, and entertainment.
Customers with a Sky Q Silver box will get the service at no extra cost and will include live and on-demand content such as sports, movies, documentaries and dramas. However, you will need a TV which supports 2160p at 50 frames per second and HDCP 2.2.
Sky Q 4K content will include 124 live Premier League games, every Formula 1 race in 2017, 70 movies including Spectre and The Revenant, 30 hours of natural history and new dramas such as The Blacklist.
Customers will be able to browse the 4K content via dedicated 'Ultra HD' sections. See also: Amazon Prime Instant Video vs Netflix.
Sky Q box and Sky Q Silver
With a new service comes new hardware and there isn’t just one box, there are two slim boxes for you main TV. As well as 4K support, they feature up to 12 tuners and up to 2TB of storage. You can record up to four channels simultaneously, while still watching a fifth channel live.
The Sky Q Silver is the more powerful of the two, offering the ability to record four channels while watching a fifth, with 2TB of storage space.
The lesser Sky Q box offers the ability to record three channels while watching a fourth, and 1TB of storage space.
YouTube, Spotify and Apple's AirPlay will also be supported.
Sky Q Mini
The Sky Q Mini is an additional box. It can plug and play into another screen in the house giving wireless access to Sky Q in other rooms without running cables from the dish. It features dual-band Wi-Fi, Ethernet, optical output and a USB port for 'future use'.
When used with the Sky Q Hub (see below) it can also act as a Wi-Fi extender/hotspot which may be a handy feature for those with larger homes.
As mentioned above the Sky Q Silver bundle will come with one Sky Q Mini but customers can buy a second on for £99.
Sky Q Hub
The new Sky Q Hub is the firm's new router and comes with built-in powerline networking technology, so it can use in-home electrical wiring as well as Wi-Fi to communicate with Sky Q boxes (not compatible with other products).
As mentioned above, the Sky Q Hub can turn Sky Q boxes into Wi-Fi hotspots where they sit around the home for better coverage. It supports 5GHz 11ac Wi-Fi with 3x3 MIMO as well as 2GHz 11.n with 2x2 MIMO.
"All customers who already have Sky Broadband or who purchase Sky Broadband when buying Sky Q will also receive our new Sky Q Hub" confrimed Sky.
Sky Q app
As alluded to already, the Sky Q app will most importantly allow you to take your recordings from the Sky Q box out of the house with you. You'll also be able to use the app to live stream content around the home.
Sky does specify that these features are for tablets so it seems that this won't work for phones, at least initially. What we now know is that Sky is working on bringing apps to smartphones later this year but only when they are ready. Update: The mobile app is now available.
"I can’t get into specific dates but it’s something that we're definitely right in the throes of [developing] and we’re working hard to get out as quickly as we can. You’ll be seeing some great improvements on those apps and some exciting new stuff throughout the year," Andrew Olson, director of new products, told Recombu.
Sky Q touch remote and new interface
As you can see the new Sky Q touch remote allows you to scroll and swipe with a, erm, touchpad. It also connects via Bluetooth so you don't need line-of-sight for it to work and can be found when lost by pushing the Q button on the front of the box.
An entirely new service and set of hardware wouldn't be complete without a new interface. Sky said it has 'tried to simplify how we find and watch all the shows, movies and TV we love'.
The Sky Q interface starts off with the new Home Screen but there are plenty of other areas including the Sky Store, Top Picks and My Q. There is, of course, sections such as Recordings and TV Guide.
"The new guide provides a great combination of recommendations - a curated Top Picks selection on the home page, alongside personalised options found in the new My Q section which are based on what you have watched at different times of day. My Q lets you pause what you’re watching in one room and carry on in another on a TV or tablet. It also lets you easily find and watch the next episode of a series," says Sky.
You can also use the new software to search across multiple areas. One search will look across live, recorded and on-demand content in one go. It will also suggest similar shows you might like at the same time.