Now TV has a new streaming device, the Now TV Smart Stick.
As the name suggests, it's a streaming dongle that plugs into your TV's HDMI socket and sits around the back of your TV, out of sight, rather than taking up space below your telly like a streaming box. Think the Amazon Fire TV Stick, or Roku Streaming Stick+ and you get the idea.
It comes with some new powers, as well as news that Sky is beefing up Now TV with some new features. Want to know what they are? Read on for all the info.
1 It brings Now TV to your TV
While it does have some new bells and whistles, it still brings the same Now TV we know and love. And it brings it to the big screen, which is really where it belongs.
You plug it into one of your TV's HDMI sockets, just like you would with the Now TV Smart Box, or standard Now TV Box (both of which remain on sale). But because it's a stick, it doesn't take up any room under your TV.
Of course, there are other ways to watch Now TV. You can watch on your smartphone or tablet using the app, through your set-top box, or on your desktop or laptop through a web browser. It also works on games consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4, and on select smart TVs.
For all of the above, you just need to download the Now TV app and sign into your account.
For a full list of supported devices, see here https://help.nowtv.com/article/what-devices-can-i-use-to-watch-now-tv.
2 It costs just £15
Now TV claims the £14.99 RRP is the cheapest of any streaming stick in the UK. And it's hard to argue.
It's half the price of the Roku Express, £25 cheaper than the Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Remote, and £65 cheaper than the Roku Streaming Stick+. The Smart Stick is made by Roku, as was the Now TV Box and Now TV Smart Box.
However, there are some limitations.
There's no 4K, for starters, which you do get with the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick+. You can also only access Now TV services, along with terrestrial catch-up like BBC iPlayer and All 4. There's no Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.
3 New remote
The Smart Stick comes with a new Wi-Fi remote control. This brings one killer feature: voice search.
That means that, just like Sky Q, you can say a search term and the device will show you results. Say you want to watch something starring Harrison Ford. Just hold the voice search button, say "Show me films starring Harrison Ford", and the Smart Stick does the rest.
Unlike Sky Q, however, you can't change channels or volume just by speaking. You can, however, control the TV with it by pressing buttons, so there's no need to dig around down the back of the sofa for the dedicated telly remote.
It can also pause live TV for up to 30 minutes, though only on Now TV's premium channels. These include Sky Sports, Fox, Comedy Central and Sky Atlantic.
4 Now TV is getting beefed up
Sky is also supercharging Now TV, so if you buy the Smart Stick, you'll have more ways to watch.
Starting this spring, the service will let you download shows and films to your smartphone or tablet using the Now TV app. That means you can watch when you're out and about and don't have reliable wi-fi.
By the end of the year, Now TV will also stream both live and on-demand in full HD. At the moment, the maximum quality is 720p – that is high definition, but not quite as crisp as the 1080p full HD standard. So you should notice an improvement in quality.
Full HD content will come from the likes of Sky One, Sky Atlantic and Sky Sports.
Plus Now TV is launching its own contract-free broadband packages. (Previously, broadband was only available bundled with a Now TV Pass.) The options are: Brilliant Broadband (speeds up to 17Mbps), Fab Fibre (up to 38Mbps) and Super Fibre (up to 76Mbps).
These broadband options will launch in the next few weeks, with prices starting at £18 a month.
The Passes remain the same as before. The Entertainment Pass (£7.99 a month) gives you over 300 boxsets and 11 entertainment channels not on Freeview. The Sky Cinema Pass (£9.99 a month) brings over 1,000 films on-demand, and a new premiere every day.
The Sky Sports Pass (£6.99 a day, £10.99 a week or £33.99 a month) serves up all 10 Sky Sports channels, while the Kids Pass (£2.99 a month) gives you six live kids' channels and thousands of episodes on demand.
As ever, you only pay for which Pass – if any – you've picked.
5 Out next month
The Smart Stick goes on sale next month. As well as coming standalone for £14.99, it can come bundled with a two-month Entertainment Pass or one-month Sky Cinema Pass, both for £19.99.
It also comes with a one-month Sky Sports Pass for £29.99.