Dan Howdle | September 22nd, 2023
Technology gets smaller over time as a general rule and the increasingly ill-named set-top boxes of the 2020s are no exception. It's incredible the amount of technology you can cram into something the size of a pack of chewing gum, or, at the higher end, something about the size of a squared-off hocket puck.
Technically, yes, the Sky Stream puck – which comes free with a subscription to Sky Stream – is a set-top box. However, it's so conveniently small, and most TV's so razor-thin, no one will be putting it atop their telly. But is it any good? Can something so small really compete with the giant set-top recorders of yesteryear such as the still-available Sky Q? Let's take a look.
Up until fairly recently, when you ordered a Sky TV package you had just one option: Sky Q – the set-top box that delivered Sky's satellite TV service to your TV or TVs. But in the last couple of years Sky has begun to offer a second option: Sky Stream – with it's smaller 'Puck' which delivers almost all the same services via the internet, and without the need for a satellite dish.
If you're interested in the nitty-gritty detail of exactly what you get with Sky Stream and its 'Entertainment Pack', we have a full guide that goes into every tiny detail. But that's not what we're here for. We're here to look at the Sky Stream Puck, the small, physical device Sky gives you to plug into your TV with Sky Stream.
First off, let's take a look at the features of the Sky Stream Puck. What can it do? What can't it do?
There's more to this device than just the physical hardware (which we'll cover in all its geeky detail in the technical specifications section). After all, the resolution or sound codecs it offers aren't all that relevant to everyone in the same way that pricing, packages, software, software, user interface, installation etc. are. So let's take a look at these features first.
The Sky Stream Puck comes with any Sky Stream package. And like traditional satellite TV from Sky before it, services are offered with a variety of extras and price points, from the most basic Sky Stream Entertainment pack, all the way up to packages that include every premium sport and movie channel, as well as high-end technical features. Here are a selection of current Sky Stream deals you can get right now. Alternatively you can visit our dedicated Sky TV comparison to see the full range of what's available.
This, in our opinion, is one of the best features of the Sky Stream Puck. It's small. Really small. Just 10cm square, by a couple of centimetres in height, in fact. If you've ve ever seen an Apple TV device, the proportions here are similar. In fact, it's so small, most people will be able to tuck it behind their TV and never see it again. It doesn't matter which way up you keep it, so you can do that even with most wall-mounted televisions.
The Sky Stream Puck remote is also small, but by our reckoning that isn't necessarily a plus point. Your mileage may vary, but our experience of smaller remotes – and they have gotten smaller generally across the last decade or so – is they're simply easier to lose, and the fact it's black doesn't help with that either, especially if you like to watch movies and TV in a dark or dark-ish room.
With most streaming sticks either using their own proprietary software to run its user interface and access content, or falling back on the trusty old Android OS for TV, the Sky Stream Puck falls into the former category with its Sky Entertainment OS (OS stands for operating system).
The Entertainment OS has a lot to do since, unlike your typical streaming stick you will have access to 150+ live channels as well as all the catch-up content, and of course apps such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ and so on.
On the whole it does so admirably. Channels are easy to find, or to flick through, while apps and Sky Boxsets (its included catch-up catalogue of TV series).
Here is a complete list of the apps you can download and use on the Sky Stream Puck. If you can't see the one you're looking for on the list, chances are it's not available. However, this will change as time goes on, so it's always worth checking with Sky if you can't find what you're looking for.
And now, for all you nerds, here are the full tech specs for the Sky Stream Puck. One thing to bear in mind when reading through these is that although the device can output at 4K resolution and with Dolby Atmos audio, Sky demands you pay an additional monthly fee for said high-end audiovisuals. Cheeky really, but that's Sky for you.
|4K HDR support
|Dolby Atmos ready
|10.8 x 10.8 x 1.8cm
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In short: You can't. We're sorry if the title of this section led you to believe you could, but hear us out. Because maybe 'can I record shows on my Sky Stream Puck?' is simply the wrong question, and should perhaps be replaced with: Can I watch shows I missed?
The answer to the latter question is yes. Yes, you can. All shows on the Sky Stream service can be watched on catch-up for a limited time. And you can bookmark shows you don't ant to miss to easily access on catch-up at a later date. The length of time during which those shows are stored however is limited, unlike if you recorded said shows on your Sky Q.
For some, this will be seen as a major drawback. For others it won't matter. It is, however, worth making a point of, since traditional recording and storing is off the table.
Dare we say something as noncommittal as your mileage may vary? There's no doubt that there are some notable drawbacks to the device compared to Sky Q, but we would argue the benefits outweigh them greatly.
Sure, you won't be able to store 800 episodes of Eastenders till the year 2500 as you would with a Sky Q recorder, but the Sky Stream Puck doesn't need a whacking great dish on the side of your house. It's snappier to use, offers arguably superior video and audio quality, and you can tuck it completely out of sight if you so desire.
We would choose the Sky Stream Puck over a Sky Q set-top box any day of the week, but we do get that people tend to get used to what they're used to and recording shows for posterity remains important to a minority. If that's you, stick with Sky Q. If it's not, the Puck is the way to go.