Claire Nottage | January 31st, 2022
Sky Q is one of the leading subscription TV services in the UK, although, as of summer 2023, Sky has begun encouraging new customers to consider their Sky Stream TV services as an alternative. Originally launched in 2016 as the successor to Sky+HD, it has become a very popular product for millions of customers looking for a comprehensive, premium TV set-up for their home.
Sky Q offers an integrated and flexible system for watching TV around your home and on the go, with easily accessible content tailored to your preferences. With mini boxes for watching in multiple rooms and the Sky Go app for watching when you are away from home, Sky Q has every viewing scenario covered, so you need never miss the latest shows on Sky Atlantic or the crucial match on Saturday afternoon.
Sky keeps pace with ever-changing technology and as a result, Sky Q continues to evolve, with exciting new features being introduced on a regular basis. So what exactly is Sky Q, how does it work, and is it the best option for your home? In the guide, we take a look at all the details and go through the various features on offer, so you can decide if Sky Q is right for you.
Sky’s flagship TV service is a total home entertainment set-up, rather than just a TV box with a fancy name. Although the Sky Q box is at the heart of the system, there are another three types of box available that you can choose to integrate, depending on your own home requirements.
|£19 per month
|Up to six channels
|Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos
|4K, UHD, HDR, 2160p, 1080p, 1080i, 720p,576p
|Up to 2TB
|2 x HDMI, 2 x USB, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x Optical, Wireless
|345mm wide x 210mm deep x 43mm high
The standard Sky Q box supplied with any Sky TV package comes with 1TB of storage, giving you plenty of space to record your favourite TV shows. It can record on up to three channels at once and comes with the ability to pause and rewind live TV, along with voice search and access to hours of on demand TV shows and films.
If you want to be able to watch in Ultra HD, you will have to pay for an upgrade to the Sky Q 1TV UHD box or to a Sky Q 2TB box. (Note that you will need a UHD TV in order to enjoy UHD programming and you will also need to pay for the UHD monthly add-on.)
If you want additional storage space as well as access to UHD, the Sky Q 2TB box is the better bet. Both these boxes also come with the option to record up to six channels at once rather than the three channels you are limited to with a standard Sky Q 1TB box.
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If you want to have the option to watch your Sky subscription on more than one TV at once, you will need to sign up for Sky Multiscreen. Sky will then provide you with a Sky Q Mini box to put in a second room. If you want more than one Mini box, you will have to pay an extra £50 for each additional box. You can choose to have a maximum of four Sky Q Mini boxes, but bear in mind you can only watch TV on two of them at once.
The Sky Q mini boxes “talk” to the main box, and give you access to all the same content. The only exception to this is that anything in Full HD or UHD content will only be viewable in standard HD (720p as opposed to 1080p) as the Sky Q mini boxes do not offer full HD as of yet.
Sky Q also remembers where you stopped watching, and so you can simply select the show or film you were midway through and continue watching it on the Sky Q Mini box. You cannot record on the Sky Q mini boxes, but you can watch anything you have already recorded on your main Sky Q box.
If you sign up for Sky broadband with Sky Q, you will also receive the Sky Hub router. Designed to work smoothly with the Sky Q boxes, it has multiple antennae to provide a reliable wifi signal around your home that ensures your Sky Q experience will run without any hitches. Although you can watch Sky Q without a broadband connection, you won’t be able to enjoy many of the features offered by Sky Q; on demand TV in particular.
When it comes to the latest home entertainment technology, Sky still leads the way. The Sky Q system creates a seamless TV experience, with a stylish and accessible TV guide, voice control, the ability to record numerous channels at once, plus Dolby Atmos sound and UHD and HDR picture quality.
Sky Q’s technology means you no longer have to jab buttons on the remote all the time. Simply say “home” to return to the Sky Q home page, “Netflix” to launch the app, or even “watch” and a channel number to view a certain channel. You can also use the “record” command to commence recording or simply call out the name of a film or TV show you want to watch.
All the big-name apps are now available to watch via your Sky Q box, including Netflix, iPlayer, Apple TV Plus, Disney+, YouTube, Spotify and Amazon prime, meaning you can easily access all your favourite TV from one box. Note that some apps are subject to subscription fees, although Netflix and Disney+ are also available to buy as part of a Sky Ultimate TV package.
Sky offers its Sky Q mini boxes for customers wanting multi-room. As well as enabling you to watch all the same content as you can on your main box, you can also start watching a film or TV show in one room and pick it up again in another room with the intelligent Sky Q mini system. As well as providing this fluid viewing experience, the Sky Q mini boxes also act as wifi hotspots and create a mesh system in your home, improving your wifi signal for other uses as well as watching TV.
Miles apart from its old-fashioned grid system of listing channels and programmes, Sky Q now has a clear and accessible vertical design, in line with the likes of Netflix, iPlayer and other popular apps. This makes finding what you want quick and easy, and when combined with the voice-activated remote, creates an extremely flexible and easy system to find your way around.
The EPG also allows users to have apps open at the side of the screen, where you can keep track of the latest info from Sky News or Sky Sports.
In order to watch your Sky TV content on a tablet or smartphone, you will need the Sky Q app. Once installed, it instantly picks up your personalised Sky content and you can continue watching whatever you were watching on your main box or pick something new. The Sky Q app will not work when you are away from your Sky Q home network, however. For that you will need the Sky Go or Sky Go Extra app.
The Sky Go app is free to all Sky customers, and the Sky Go Extra app is free to multi-room subscribers or costs a small monthly fee otherwise. Sky Go Extra enables you to watch Sky on four different devices at once, rather than the two devices permitted by Sky Go.
Introduced in 2020, High Definition Resolution (HDR) is now available in over 100 Sky movies and TV shows, offering a superior visual experience in terms of depth of colour. With crystal clear 4K also on offer, Sky Q offers the best in the latest picture quality technology. To watch in UHD 4K, you will need to upgrade to a UHD box or a 2TB Sky Q box.
Along with superior visuals, Sky also now supports overhead Dolby Atmos audio in several movies. This enhanced sound quality, combined with HDR/4K picture quality, provides a more cinematic experience in the comfort of your home.
When Sky discontinued its classic, ergonomic remote control, there was something of an uproar, but its new remotes are slowly gaining popularity. There are now three on offer – a Bluetooth touch control, a more traditional control with buttons that click, and a third option, which is a hybrid of the two. To use any of the remotes with voice control, simply hold down the button on the side and speak your command.
Sky provides comprehensive parental controls with Sky Q to protect younger members of the household. You will need your Sky TV PIN in order to set up the controls. You can then block all adult channels and content and also stop any purchases being made. You can also restrict viewing by age certification and even block specific channels.
There is really only one serious competitor to Sky Q in the UK and that is Virgin Media. However, depending on what you are looking for, BT is also a strong competitor in the TV market, and NOW TV, Sky’s subscription TV service, is also a great alternative if you want access to the best of Sky TV without the commitment.
Virgin and Sky have been best of enemies for years, constantly vying for new customers by improving and updating their technology. Virgin’s latest offering is the 360 TV box, launched in clear competition to Sky Q. Like Sky Q, Virgin 360 enables users to record multiple channels at once, and its 360 mini boxes provide a multi-room experience whilst also emitting wifi signals and creating a mesh network around your home.
Virgin 360 also offers voice search and its own TV Go app – again, comparable to Sky Go. When it comes to apps, Virgin 360 is not as comprehensive as Sky Q, as you cannot watch Disney+ or Apple TV Plus. It’s worth knowing that the Virgin Media 360 mini boxes do offer the ability to watch in UHD however, which, as yet, the Sky Q mini boxes do not.
Although lagging behind Sky and Virgin when it comes to fancy technology, BT TV instead puts its energy into offering superb content. With NOW TV Entertainment and Netflix at the core of its TV bundles, customers can also watch Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video on the BT YouView box.
There is no integrated voice control option, but you can connect an Alexa to your YouView which will enable voice search. YouView does not offer the option to record TV, but then with almost everything now available on demand, the requirement to store lots of TV shows and films on your TV box may be less of a priority for most people than it once was.
Sky’s streaming service does not offer any cool tech, but if you’re more interested in content rather than anything else, then signing up to NOW TV is an excellent idea. Enjoy access to Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and the best of the Sky entertainment channels on a rolling monthly basis without any long-term commitment. You can watch NOW TV on a Smart TV, via a games console, on a computer or on a tablet or smartphone.
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Sky Q TV packages start at around £19 per month. A basic Sky Q package will give you access to the best Sky entertainment channels, including Sky Showcase and SKy Atlantic, and also a Netflix Basic membership. The cost increases if you want to add broadband, or any TV extras.
No. Sky Q requires a satellite dish in order to provide you with the service. If you don’t want a satellite dish, it might be worth considering NOW TV, or Sky’s new premium service, Sky Glass.
Technically, yes, you can choose to get Sky Q on its own, but it has been designed to function optimally with a Sky broadband service. Some customers have reported problems when mixing Sky Q TV with broadband from another provider.
No. Because Sky Q requires the installation of a satellite dish, you will need a Sky engineer to complete the set-up.