Sky will introduce a third way to watch its exclusive channels, boxsets, blockbusters and sports fixtures later this year. Starting in a few months, you’ll be able to purchase the award-winning Sky Q box, which is powered by a satellite dish on the outside of your home, Sky Glass, a custom-designed 4K QLED television that bundles everything you need to watch Sky and a soundbar into its design, or Sky Stream Puck, these lightweight boxes are currently only available for Sky Glass owners who want to watch Sky in other rooms of their house – but when bought standalone it will offer the same experience as the all-in-one 4K TV but can be plugged into your existing telly. There are advantages and disadvantages to all three of these methods, which Express.co.uk has broken down below…
Unfortunately, there’s no word on UK pricing for the Sky Stream Puck quite yet. As it stands, Sky Glass customers will be charged £5 a month per Stream Puck.
Sky Q is the longest-serving set-top box in the lineup, but don’t hold that against it. This dependable box has been winning industry awards for years and still offers a great way to watch live television, on-demand boxsets and streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. It’s the only box available from Sky that’s still powered by its once-trademark satellite dishes, so if you’re living in a block of flats without a communal dish (or a dish that hasn’t been updated to support Sky Q) or don’t fancy an unsightly dish on your outside wall, then this probably isn’t the best choice for you.
However, if you’re plagued with sluggish broadband speeds in your local area, Sky Q is easily the best choice. Although your poor internet connections will prevent you from accessing the full catalogue of boxsets and blockbusters available on-demand with your Sky TV subscription, you’ll still be able to watch live channels, pause and rewind the action whenever you like. The same cannot be said for Sky Glass or Sky Stream Puck customers with poor broadband (or suffering an internet outage), who will be left staring at a blank screen when they try to tune-in to Sky Atlantic.
There’s one other benefit that you’ll only enjoy with Sky Q – built-in storage. Yes, Sky Glass and Sky Stream Puck forgo a traditional hard-drive in favour of a new system, dubbed Playlist, that organises on-demand shows, movies and sport from various catch-up services, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, UKTV Play, Disney+, and Sky’s own catalogue of on-demand shows. When you click on an episode in the Playlist menu, it will begin to stream from the relevant catch-up service.
However, if you don’t subscribe to all of the streaming services listed above, you could be left unable to watch something included with your Sky TV package after-the-fact. It also means that some items in your Playlist won’t be around forever. For example, the Beeb often removes episodes from its catalogue after 30 days, in the case of Match Of The Day, deletes all episodes after a fortnight on iPlayer. If you haven’t watched the show that you added to your Playlist during that time …it’s gone.
By comparison, Sky Q records everything to the 1TB hard-drive inside the box. That means it’ll be available to watch until you delete it. For example, if you record a blockbuster from one of the Sky Cinema channels, then cancel your subscription to Sky Cinema, the film will still be there to watch on your Sky Q box until you decide to delete it. Likewise, you can set a Series Link for Match Of The Day, go on holiday for three weeks, and you’ll have all three episodes that you missed ready-and-waiting for you when you get home. That’s not something that can be said for Sky Glass customers.
Elsewhere, Sky Q has all of the usual tricks you’d expect from a modern set-top box – it has voice search built into the remote control (so you’ll never have to worry about methodically typing out the name of shows or actors using the keypad), Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Fiit, and Spotify apps preinstalled, it offers AirPlay 2 so that iPhone, iPad and Mac owners can wirelessly beam lossless music and podcasts to the sound system connected to their telly, support for 4K Ultra HD and HDR with blockbusters, sports and some streaming services. Classic Sky TV functionality, like Series Link – which automatically records new episodes in an ongoing series, and the ability to pause and rewind live telly, are also included with Sky Q.
While Sky Q shares a number of the same features as Sky Glass and Sky Stream Puck, the user interface isn’t quite as shiny and new. There’s no doubt that Glass has a more modern appearance to the software design, with high-resolution artwork featured throughout the menu, the ability to bring together episodes from streaming services and your own recordings in the new Playlist section, and a translucent effect when selecting items in the main menu.
Sky Glass is a custom-designed 4K TV with everything you need for a good night of telly baked into the box – a QLED panel with support for 4K Ultra HD and HDR, a built-in soundbar, and the ability to watch live TV channels, on-demand content and streaming services over your Wi-Fi connection. Yes, unlike the Sky Q box, there’s no need for a satellite dish with Sky Glass. That means anyone who lives in an apartment building without a communal dish, a rented property with strict rules about drilling satellite dishes into the side of the house, or who live in a location without a clear dish signal can still access the full library of channels, boxsets, sports and movies from Sky. Ahead of launch, Sky revealed that a dish-less system would bring Sky TV to some six million households across Europe, including two million in the UK.
If you’re one of those two million – Sky Glass or Sky Stream Puck is the only choice for you.
Of course, there is still one potential hiccup. Since the signal isn’t being transmitted via satellite but over your home Wi-Fi connection, you’ll need to ensure that you have solid broadband speeds. Sky says that you’ll need a minimum of 10Mbps to watch Sky Glass, which is currently available across 98percent of the UK. However, that’s the bare minimum – and extras like multi-room viewing and 4K Ultra HD broadcasts will require a lot more bandwidth. For example, if you want to watch Sky TV in multiple rooms in the house, you’ll need to add a few Sky Stream Pucks to your package and Sky says you’ll need an extra 5Mbps for each of these diddy set-top boxes added to your system. So, if you want to watch in the kitchen and two bedrooms – that’s a minimum broadband speed of 25Mbps for your Sky Glass setup.
For those who want to take advantage of the 4K resolution and HDR support built-into Sky Glass, you’ll need a minimum download speed of 25Mbps to watch in Ultra HD with Dolby Atmos. And if you want the highest quality available and multi-room support, you could be looking at 40Mbps minimum to enjoy telly. Given that the average home broadband speed in the UK is estimated to be somewhere between 50-70Mbps, it would only take another family member to make a FaceTime call, start an update on their laptop, login to online an multiplayer game, or backup photos to the cloud …to cause your Sky Glass streams to buffer.
Aside from the fact that you won’t need a satellite dish, there are a number of other reasons to pick Sky Glass over Sky Q. Since everything is combined into a single unit with Sky Glass, the UK broadcaster says it uses up to 53% less energy compared to the most popular TV models with a Sky Q box and comparable soundbar. The comparison was based on 4.5 hours of viewing each day, with 19.5 hours in a standby mode.
Sky Glass is also capable of a number of tricks that you won’t find on Sky Q. First up, it not only has voice search built into its remote (no difference with Sky Q there), but it also offers hands-free voice search – so you can bark orders from the sofa without stopping to search for a missing remote. Just like with an Amazon Echo or Google Nest smart speaker, you’ll need to use a wake phrase to tell the telly to tune-in and listen to what you’re about to say. With Sky Glass, you’ll need to say “Hello Sky” followed by your request. You can use voice commands to quickly switch between channels, load streaming apps, navigate to your recordings, search for films from a particular director or starring a chosen actor, and you can also locate movies with famous quotes – for example, saying “Hello Sky, Show Me The Money” will load Jerry Maguire in the Sky Store, as well as any streaming services that you’re subscribed to that feature the film in their catalogue.
Elsewhere, Sky Glass can be set to automatically wake the screen on when you walk into the room. When it detects a presence, it will begin automatically shuffling through its latest suggestions for live sports, blockbusters and series based on your tastes, viewing history, the time of day, and the subscription services and channel bundles that you have enabled on Sky Glass. If you pick-up the remote during this slideshow, you’ll be able to jump straight to the episode or film featured on-screen and start watching.
Sky Glass is fitted with a six speaker array capable of producing 360-degree Dolby Atmos sound. Sky has created a clever new system, dubbed Auto-Enhance, that recognises what you’re watching on-screen – like a bombastic action movie, or quiet yoga session within the Fiit app – and tunes the speakers to optimise the sound for the content. There are also dedicated sound profiles to reduce the loudest rumbles from the speaker at night, so you can watch a blockbuster in the evening without waking the kids.
Sky Stream Puck
The Stream Puck combines the all-new user experience that was created for Sky Glass, but ditches the QLED TV panel, the six-speaker soundbar, and everything else. What you’re left with is a diddy set-top box, measuring just 10.8 x 10.8cm and standing 1.8cm tall – that’s small enough to fit in any media unit, or tuck beneath your telly. The Stream Puck ships with a power cable, an HDMI 2.1 port, and an ethernet port for those who want to hardwire their internet connection. And that’s it.
Plugged into the telly, you won’t be able to spot any difference between the menu on-screen from the Stream Puck and Sky Glass. The only difference is that you’ll be able to use your current TV, or upgrade to one with better specifications than the 4K QLED panel fitted in Sky Glass. For those who want the ultimate viewing experience, that means you’ll be able to upgrade to an OLED from LG or the latest generation of Neo QLED from Samsung. Likewise, you’ll be able to customise the soundbar. There are a number of choices out there, including compact designs with support for Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and AirPlay wireless streaming, as well as Dolby Atmos-certified speakers from Bowers & Wilkins and Sonos.
And as the name suggests, everything is streamed over Wi-Fi, so there’s no need to install a satellite dish on the outside of your home.
Sky Q vs Sky Glass vs Sky Stream Puck: Which Is Right For You?
If you don’t fancy a satellite dish installed on the outside of your house, you’ll need to pick between Sky Glass and Sky Stream Puck. That’s a pretty simple choice – if you’re happy with your current telly, or want to upgrade to something with better components than you’ll get with Sky’s custom-designed QLED TV, then you’ll be better picking the Stream Puck. For those who were looking to upgrade to a 4K QLED TV anyway, want an extra telly in their home, or like the environmental credentials that an all-in-one system provides… then Sky Glass is the way to go.
And if your home internet connection isn’t good enough to beam 4K Ultra HD blockbusters, live sports fixtures in HDR, and live channels throughout your home, then Sky Q is the best choice. Even when your home broadband is down, you’ll still be able to watch live television and record your favourite shows in high definition. Since you’re not buying the television hardware at the same time, it’ll also cost you less than Sky Glass too.
Published at Sun, 17 Apr 2022 09:01:00 +0000