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Sky's Now TV Smart Box finally has a launch date. Sky teased the box right at the start of this year, and now six months later we have some more details.

When it launched in 2013, the original Now TV Box shook up the streaming box market.

It cost just £10, and while the price has since increased to £15, it's still an absolute bargain.

As well as offering catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and All4, it lets you buy 'Passes' to various bundles of Sky channels on a pay-as-you-go basis. That means you're not tied into a contract.

You can choose from a Sky Movies Pass for £9.99 a month, Entertainment Pass for £6.99 a month, and a Sky Sports Pass for £6.99 a day (or £10.99 a week, or £31.99 a month).

Even if you don't use any of the Sky services, it's still one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get iPlayer on your TV.

But what will its successor do? How will it work? And crucially, will it be as cheap as the current model?

We'll find out at the end of the month, but before then, let's look at what we know right now.

1 It'll launch on June 29th

now tv smart box invite

Sky recently sent out an invite to a launch event on June 29th which will feature the Now TV Smart Box.

But the event is "so much more than that", according to the promotional video. Like what? Sky wouldn't say.

We knew the box would launch at some point this year, and many pegged summer as the right time for Sky to announce it.

We expect the box to go on sale soon after the event, certainly no more than a few weeks later. But Sky is yet to announce when.

2 It'll offer live channels

new now tv box 3

As well as the standard catch-up and on-demand services we know and love, the new box will offer live TV. Specifically, more than 60 live free-to-air channels.

This effectively turns it into a set-top box, as opposed to the likes of the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, which only stream content from the internet. If your Freeview box is looking a little knackered, this could be a decent replacement.

There's no word yet on which channels it'll offer. But we would guess the standard terrestrial ones will be there, along with the usual Freeview fare. Though we won't know for sure until June 29th.

3 It'll have a 'Best of Catch-up' section

A new section called 'Best of Catch-up' will bring together shows you might have missed. Which is handy if you're wondering what to watch.

It will be curated by content partners, according to Sky. Presumably this will mean they promote shows based on what they are pushing at the time.

This is bound to be a lot less useful than Sky Q's clever algorithm that knows who's watching the TV and what their tastes are. But then that would be asking quite a lot from a budget streaming box.

4 The Passes will remain

now tv movies pass

Now TV actually launched a year before the Now TV Box, back in 2012. It introduced the idea of paying for Sky's content on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than being tied into a contract.

Seeing as that's the bedrock of the whole Now TV platform, Sky will surely keep the Passes for the new box.

Indeed, it recently expanded its range of Passes by introducing the Kids Pass. This offers a selection of children's TV channels – Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Nicktoons, Boomerang, Cartoon Network and Cartoonito – for £2.99 a month.

Who knows, maybe Sky will unveil some more Passes come June 29th. Any guesses what they could be?

5 It'll be made by Roku

new roku streaming stick (2016)

Roku is the firm behind the Roku Streaming Stick. It basically rebadged one of its streaming devices to make the Now TV Box, so it's no surprise that it'll be behind the next model too.

Recently, Roku started bundling a free Now TV Movies Pass in with its Streaming Stick, giving buyers free films for two months. So the two firms are obviously still in bed together.

And a few things we don't know

Will the Now TV Smart Box have a new remote control? Sky went all touchy feely on us with the Sky Q remote, eschewing navigation buttons in favour of a touch-sensitive pad.

Again, it's maybe asking a bit much from what will supposedly be a budget streaming box. But we'll have to see.

Voice control would be another great addition. Rivals like the Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV let you search and control the device just by speaking, so if Sky didn't add it it would be missing a trick.

The Roku 4 features a headphone port on the remote control – when you plug in, only you can hear the audio, so you won't disturb (or be disturbed by) anyone else in the house.

This would be another string to the Now TV Smart Box's bow.

Finally, how about a hard drive? We heard rumours concerning this a while ago, but they have gone quiet of late.

A hard drive that lets you record programmes would step it up from a simple streaming box to be a proper PVR.

Sky has already added the live free-to-air channels, so why not take it a step further and add a hard drive too?

This hinges on the crucial question of price.

A hard drive would make it more expensive, and chances are Sky wants to keep it around the £15-20 sweet spot that made it such a hit in the first place. We'll see on June 29th.

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