Sky Q deals – everything you need to know
In this guide
- What is Sky Q?
- The Sky Q boxes
- Which Sky Q box do I need?
- Sky Q TV packages and extras
- What are the alternatives?
- Frequently asked questions
The days of the Sky+ box are long gone. Sky Q now sits in its place. But Sky Q isn't just a box. Rather, it's a number of different boxes and technologies that work together to deliver a unified home entertainment and connected experience.
It's no wonder that many find Sky Q as a concept somewhat confusing. Even Sky's own website won't sit you down and outright explain what it is, what it does, which bits you need, which you don't and so on. But that's why we're here. Without further ado then.
What is Sky Q?
As a whole, Sky Q is a set-top box, an app, several smaller boxes (Sky Q Minis) if you're after multiroom TV, and a broadband router (Sky Q Hub) if you're bundling broadband. Together they are designed to bring a seamless, integrated internet and entertainment experience to your entire household. Here are the services Sky Q can deliver, depending on the type of package you choose.
- Satellite TV – Sky TV is still delivered primarily through a satellite dish. Sky has been promising to change this for a while now – to offer a version that is delivered purely over the internet. For now, though, if you want Sky Q, you're going to need a satellite dish installed on your property. Through it, Sky Q can deliver in excess of 400 channels
- Catch-up TV – This is a combination of Sky's rolling 30-day catch-up service, which essentially stores all programmes from the major channels for 30 days, and what used to be called Sky Box Sets – ongoing access to over 300 shows. These aspects combined are now called 'Sky Ultimate On Demand'
- Multiroom TV – You'll only need one main Sky Q box to sit under your main TV. Additional TVs you would like hooked up do so via miniature versions called Sky Q Minis. You can add as many Minis as you have TVs in your house. Each will connect to your main Sky Q box via wifi allowing them to offer all the services and features of the main box
- Broadband when bundled – If you bundle Sky broadband in with your Sky Q TV deal you'll also get the Sky Q hub – an exceptional broadband router. If you also opt for multiroom TV, your Sky Q Minis will also boost your wifi signal around your home
The Sky Q boxes
Sky Q as a whole is not one box. In fact, it's four. Now, if you decide you just want Sky TV, with no Sky broadband and only in one room, then you'll only need one box. Anything more than that and you are going to need more boxes, which Sky will supply you, depending on what you pick. Let's take a look at them to get a clearer idea of which you'll need.
- Sky Q 1TB – This is the entry-level set-top box. It has four tuners, so you would in theory be able to record three programs while watching a fourth. It has 1TB of hard drive storage available, which is enough room to store around 500 hours of standards definition (SD) content, or around 300 hours of high definition (HD) content. This Sky box will also stream video directly to your phone, tablet or laptop should you so desire
- Sky Q 2TB – Is everything the 1TB Sky Q box is only more so. Now you have 2TB of hard drive space, which means you can store up to 1,000 hours of SD content and around 500 hours of HD content. Its seven tuners will let you record six shows at once while watching a seventh, though lord knows when you'd ever need that. The 2TB model is the only one that can deliver 4K ultra-HD content. However, getting the 2TB box on its own won't let you do that. You'll need to purchase additional services for, which we'll cover a bit further down. Selecting any package that contains the Sky Q 2TB will also incur an up-front fee
- Sky Q Mini – These are tiny versions of the main boxes that, rather than contain all the features and wizardry you'd find in either of them, connect to the main box allowing you to access all of its features. They're a great solution for multiroom TV, and rather cleverly they also act as wifi signal boosters
- Sky Q Hub – If you opt for a Sky Q bundle that includes broadband you will get a Sky Q Hub – Sky's top of the line broadband router. The Sky Q Hub really is a spectacular piece of kit, so do consider bundling broadband if you haven't already thought about it
Which Sky Q box do I need?
Sky does make things somewhat complicated here. But we'll explain it in as few words as we possibly can. As outlined above, there are essentially four different Sky Q boxes. The 1TB, the 2TB, the Mini and the Hub.
For basic Sky TV all you'll need is the Sky Q 1TB. That's it. Nothing else. If you want those extra four tuners (see above for description) or you feel you need the additional hard drive storage space, you can opt for the Sky Q 2TB, albeit adding an up-front cost to the deal you choose.
If you also want broadband, you should select a bundle that includes both it, and your preferred Sky Q box. This will mean you get the Sky Q box and the Sky Q Hub (your router).
If you want to watch Sky on more screens, you will need additional Sky Q Minis. To get Sky Q Minis you will be railroaded into getting the Sky Q 2TB, and you'll have to stump up that additional up-front cost. This forms something called the 'Q Experience' – a Sky marketing term for where you essentially get everything.
Finally, here's the element of Sky's Q offerings that we just can't get our heads around. If you have a 4K TV and want to watch Sky's – somewhat limited – 4K programming, you will have to opt for the entire Q Experience. Although the Sky Q 2TB can output a 4K signal, Sky won't let you have it without subscribing to Sky multiscreen and taking on at least two Sky Minis. This means that if you have just one TV, and it's a 4K TV, and you want to stream Sky's 4K programming in 4K, you will have to pay for multiroom, even if you don't need it. It's totally barmy, but there it is.
Sky Q TV packages and extras
All Sky TV packages come with the basic Sky Q 1TB, unless you choose to upgrade, add multiscreen, add broadband and so on. Likewise, with the services themselves, everything starts with basic Sky TV, which in this case is called Sky Entertainment.
- Sky Entertainment – Is the name Sky has given its most basic TV package. All Sky TV packages begin with the Entertainment pack, then allow you to bolt on whatever additional bits and pieces you like at various additional costs. The Entertainment pack comes with over 300 channels, including Sky Atlantic. It also comes with Sky Go – the mobile app – that allows you to enjoy your Sky TV subscription anywhere on your laptop or mobile
- Sky Sports – Most of us are familiar with Sky Sports. Golf, Footballs, F1, more football, Cricket, Rugby, even more football. Sky Sports has the lot. It's not cheap, but for sport nutter it really is quite special. All Sky Sports channels are delivered in HD
- Sky Cinema – Offers access to over 1,000 movies at any given time, all in HD. Furthermore you'll get the Sky Cinema app, which will allow you to watch the Sky Cinema channels and on-demand movies while you're on the go
- Sky Kids – You can bolt on an additional 11 kids' channels and over 5,000 kids' TV episodes to watch whenever you want for very little additional money. If you have children, this is a no-brainer
- Ultimate On Demand – Used to be called Sky Box Sets, and offers over 300 different TV shows (many thousands of individual episodes), plucked from Sky's best channels, including Sky Atlantic. It's a rolling catalogue, so it changes all the time. It's also an absolute goldmine of quality television
- Sky HD – While you will get a fair bit of HD content in the standard Entertainment pack, Sky still charges extra to have its 40 most popular channels in high definition. While the likes of Netflix have moved onto delivering 4K picture with Dolby Atmos soundtracks and Dolby Vision high-dynamic range (cinema quality, basically), it does feel a bit like Sky is stuck in the past here. At the very least, it shouldn't be charging for high definition, which these days is the minimum we should expect. But it does
What are the alternatives?
Of course, Sky isn't the only game in town when it some to TV. There are currently six providers, including Sky, that offer some form of subscription TV deal on top of their broadband offering. Let's take a quick look.
- Virgin Media – Offers a service that in most ways is as good as Sky's own offering. It only offers one type of set-top box, which is free, and which can play 4K content and store masses of recorded shows. Also, Virgin Media TV arrives via a cable, so no messing around with a satellite dish. You can't get Sky Atlantic on Virgin Media, but in most other ways it's, dare we say it, better
- EE TV – Is a pretty bare bones TV service, offering mainly Freeview channels. However, the set-top box is good, there's an app that allows you to watch on mobile and tablet, and you can bolt on Sky Sports, BT Sport, Sky Cinema and a wealth of other stuff to bring the whole thing up to spec. You have to be an EE customer to get EE TV
- BT – BT TV is currently in third place as the UK's most comprehensive subscription TV provider, sitting some ways behind both Sky and Virgin Media. The jewel in its crown is BT Sport, which all BT TV customers get for free. BT TV offers a 4K box on its most expensive packages, nearly 200 channels and the option to bolt on additional services such as Sky Sport and Sky Cinema. You have to be a BT customer to get BT TV
- TalkTalk – Very similar to EE TV, albeit with an even more basic set-top box, TalkTalk TV is pretty much a Freeview box with the option to bolt on more services. You have to be a TalkTalk broadband customer to get TalkTalk TV
- NOW TV – Is also a Sky service, offering a lot of its content – entertainment, sport and movies – via streaming. It can be a good option if you just want to dip in and watch something in particular then depart again, since there are no contracts. You can get a dedicated NOW TV box, streaming stick or access the entire service via the app on your smart TV, games console, mobile device or dedicated streaming device. One noteworthy downside of NOW TV to watch out for is that it only streams content in 720p (not full HD), and in stereo. With TVs getting bigger and sounds systems getting 'surroundier', it's pretty far behind the times
Frequently asked questions
Are there any special Sky Q offers for new customers?
They come and go. Most of the time, depending on what you get – TV, broadband and TV bundles and so on – you'll find some sort of introductory offer. This will usually take the form of a voucher, cashback or some sort of free gift for signing up. You can see what's available right now on this very page. Just go to the top of the page and check the 'includes offer' box on the left, under 'Pricing and contract'.
How much does Sky Q cost?
Sky Q deals start from £29 per month but it depends what you're getting. The Sky Q box itself will only cost you extra if you opt for the 2TB model, while the deals and bundles vary in price depending on what's included.
What's the best current Sky Q deal?
It changes constantly. And what do we mean by best? Cheapest? Most channels? Best can mean different things to different people. The best way to find the deal that's suited to you, however, is right here on this page. Use the filters and tools in the main list to hone down exactly what you want.
What sort of TV do I need for Sky Q?
Any sort will do, so long as it's not absolutely ancient. Any reasonably modern plat-panel television with an HDMI input will suffice. If you're opting for Sky's top-end package the so-called Sky Q Experience and want to make use of the 4K (very, very high resolution) content available, you will need a compatible 4K TV.
Can I get Sky Q with Sky broadband?
Yes. In fact, Sky would prefer you did. And if you want the full Sky Q ecosystem, it really is better to go with Sky broadband bundled with Sky TV.