Sky has lifted the lid on its much anticipated Sky Q premium TV product, as it bids to see off the ever-growing challenge from BT and the likes of Neflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Dubbed a “whole new way of watching TV” by Sky CEO Jeremy Dalloch, at the heart of the service is a 4K-ready set top box with 2TB of memory, 12 tuners and which allows people in different rooms to watch five channels at the same time and record four channels simultaneously.
It’s controlled by a rethought remote with a touchpad and features a revamped electronic program guide with a more powerful, more intuitive search facility and smarter recommendations for stuff you might like. And it runs apps that sit in a sidebar on the TV screen too.
Alongside the centrepiece Sky Q box is a comparatively lo-fi plug-and-play box predictably dubbed Sky Q Mini.
This is likely to be keenly priced and eliminates the need to shell out for expensive set top boxes to get multi-room TV in your home. Although we suspect a monthly premium will still apply.
Provided customers have also got also Sky broadband, the Sky Q Mini also improves WiFi signal around the home.
Also new is a revamped app for smartphones and tablets and the Sky Q Hub router, which features built-in Powerline networking technology. This means it uses electrical wiring around the home to communicate with Sky Q boxes, in so doing ‘automatically giving the best connection available’.
The panoply of devices are intended to allow for a ‘fluid’ TV experience, with users able to seamless transfer between devices and screens and watch live, recorded and on-demand shows from their main box on another TV or tablet.
You can also now pause a show in one room and resume your viewing in another room. And you can save your recordings on your tablet, so you can watch them on the move.
Sky plans to offer the Sky Q box in early 2016, but is staying tight-lipped about prices for now. In keeping with its premium profile, though, don’t expect the service to be cheap.
Next year, but some way later it seems, will also see the launch of what Sky is touting as the 'UK’s most comprehensive 4K Ultra HD service', as well as more apps and web video.
Ewan Taylor Gibson, TV expert at uSwitch, said: “Streamlining the customer experience with multi-room viewing, plus the ability to watch and access recorded content on multiple devices from anywhere, will make life easier for telly fans.
"Using the box as a supercharged WiFi hotspot is an intuitive way of boosting your Sky broadband connection, whilst accessing a wider range of entertainment, such as YouTube and Vevo, is playing catch-up with functionality which is already available on streaming boxes like Apple TV.
Taylor Gibson added: "However, all these features will likely come at an extra cost. We already pay an average of £24 a month on our TV, so we will have to wait and see whether customers are willing to fork out additional cash for a range of fancy, yet intuitive, TV features."