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Sky Q introduces HDR support

Sky Q introduces HDR support

After months of initial delays, Sky has actually introduced its long-awaited HDR support function a little earlier than expected.

First penciled in for 2019, then later pushed back to the end of 2020, this part-surprise was rolled-out on compatible Sky Q boxes in May and marks Sky’s first venture into the format already serviced by Disney Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others.

Here’s everything you need to know about the announcement, including where it’s available, and how to get it if you’re a Sky customer.

What Sky shows can I now watch in HDR?

With the promise of many more titles over the next few months and years, Sky has made HDR available on three of its Sky Nature shows for now:

  • Gangs of Lemur Island — A tongue-in-cheek nature docuseries that follows five conspiracies of lemurs (yes, that’s what they’re called!) as they fight to survive in one of their species’ last remaining sanctuaries on Earth.
  • Malawi Wildlife Rescue — Following a vet in a wildlife centre based in Malawi’s capital, this show sees her team venture out into the wilderness to rescue and rehabilitate at-risk wild animals.
  • Pridelands: Wilderness Reborn — Meet a Sydney family who up-ended their lives to convert an old South African hunting ranch into a local wildlife sanctuary.

Can I get Sky Q HDR?

It depends on the Sky Q box you own. According to Sky’s Ultra HD help page, the Sky Q 1TB UHD and its 2TB version will be the only boxes to support HDR, but all new UHD boxes going forward will.

So it’s bad news if you have an older Sky Q UHD box — you’ll need to upgrade to a newer one if you want the benefits of HDR. But for people looking to get their first taste of HDR on Sky, all current and future Sky Q UHD boxes that are available to buy will have HDR compatibility, so you needn’t worry about choosing a certain version in order to get it.

How can I watch HDR content without a new Sky Q box?

Sky has been running a similar technology to HDR for the past few years called Hybrid Log Gamma (or HLG). It’s the same system that the BBC used to broadcast the 2018 World Cup matches to our screens and is informally considered to be ‘basically HDR’.

You’ll likely have access to this technology at the moment if you have an older Sky Q box, and it’s still used for the majority of Ultra HD programmes on the newer boxes too. It does a very similar job to actual HDR, so it’s understandable that Sky has held onto it for so long.

Your Sky Q box also offers a range of TV apps for streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, both of which boast a 4K HDR add-on for a small extra fee. Lots of their original content is now readily available in HDR, so you needn’t worry about upgrading your box if you’re happy to just use it then.

Of course, everything above only applies if you have a 4K HDR TV. New ones come pretty cheap these days in comparison to 1080p models, and in much larger sizes too. And you won’t need to stress about finding an HDR-compatible one — almost every 4K TV on the market will be.

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