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NOW TV box review

NOW TV Smart Box review

The NOW TV Smart Box is the provider’s higher-end set-top box. Here’s how to make the most of it.

NOW TV’s Smart Box lets you combine Freeview and pay TV channels on a flexible, contract-free basis. For example, you can buy an Entertainment Pass in October to watch the new series of The Walking Dead, cancel it in December when the show has its mid-series break, then purchase a new one in February without paying any cancellation fees.

NOW TV also has passes to watch Sky Cinema, Sky Sports and kids’ content, too, all of which are available on the same flexible basis.

Although you don’t need a set-top box to watch NOW TV, there are some benefits to using the NOW TV Smart Box instead of other devices. And if you opt to take a combo broadband and TV deal from NOW TV, you’ll receive a Smart Box as your set-top box.

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What’s the difference between NOW TV boxes?

NOW TV offers two different set-top boxes: the NOW TV Box and the NOW TV Smart Box. The biggest difference between the two is that you can watch Freeview channels through the Smart Box (provided you have an aerial and a valid TV licence.

The NOW TV Smart Box also lets you pause and rewind live TV, both on Freeview channels and channels included with your NOW TV pass, which you can’t do through the regular NOW TV Box or app.

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Using the NOW TV Smart Box

The NOW TV Smart Box is very easy to set up as it’s essentially a plug and play. Just log in through your NOW TV account and connect to the internet, and you’re good to go.

Once you’ve got the box online, here’s how to navigate through it.

Home

NOW TV homescreen

Home is the hub of all your NOW TV Smart Box activity. It shows you the last live channel you were watching, programmes airing live, things you’ve been watching on NOW TV, programmes or films you’ve added to your watchlist and recommendations — all of which should be included in your NOW TV passes.

This section also displays highlights across all of NOW TV’s passes, so you may see some things that aren’t included in your passes in this section. If that’s the case, you’ll be prompted to buy the relevant pass, which you can do directly through the Smart Box.

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Best of Catch Up

NOW TV catch-up

This section shows you the highlights of what’s available across the catch-up services you have access to, including NOW TV, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4. It’s a quicker way to access popular shows than having to visit each individual app. If you can’t find what you want to watch there, you can also open the apps directly from this menu, too.

TV Guide

This does what it says on the tin: It’s your standard EPG to show you what’s currently on. It’s broken down into free to air channels, NOW TV channels and radio stations so you can quickly find what you’re after. You’ll have to set this up in the Settings menu.

My Apps

The NOW TV Smart Box comes preloaded with 13 apps:

  • NOW TV
  • Sky Store
  • Sky Sports News HQ
  • BBC iPlayer
  • ITV Hub
  • All 4
  • Demand 5
  • Sky News
  • YouTube
  • VEVO
  • Box Plus
  • BBC News
  • BBC Sport

In the Sky Store, you can buy or rent films and box sets that aren’t included in your NOW TV passes.

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App Store

If that’s not enough for you, you can go to the app store and download more apps. Their selection of TV and film apps is limited (no Netflix or Amazon Prime here), but you can boost your box with a range of music, kids and sports content, plus other internet video services like Vimeo and Crunchyroll, and international channels.

Settings

Here’s where you can change the settings of your Smart Box, including setting up screensavers, subtitles and adding live TV channels. If you have an aerial connected to your box, you’ll need to head here to set up access to live channels. This is also where you set up your internet connection to the box.

NOW TV Smart Box: hardware

NOW TV Smart Box and remote

The NOW TV Smart Box is powered by Roku, so it may already be familiar to you.

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The box

The NOW TV Smart Box is much smaller than more traditional set-top boxes like the Sky Q, TiVo or YouView boxes, probably because TV recording isn’t supported, allowing for a smaller hard drive. It has a quad-core processor in it, making it pretty responsive to commands.

Although you can connect to the internet wirelessly, it also has an Ethernet port to connect direct to your router, as well as USB and micro SD ports, too, so you can view photos or films on your TV through the box. It supports up to 1080p to give you HD-quality TV, but it won’t support 4K or UHD programming.

The remote

The remote is very similar to a standard Roku remote, but even simpler to use. It’s got standard buttons to scroll through menus, get to the home screen and play, pause and rewind or fast forward. It also has a button to get you directly to NOW TV and another to access the Sky Store — quicker than scrolling through the main menu.

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