If you're looking for the very best subscription service that Sky offers, Sky Q is it: You get eye-popping 4K content, a huge range of channels, smart streaming and networking features, voice search and much more besides.
Sky Q is the top-end TV tier offered by Sky. Indeed, new customers have to purchase a Sky Q box, even if they don't choose packages that offer the full Sky Q experience. Existing Sky customers on older plans can also opt to upgrade and get a new box and more features.
Sky Q ushers in a refreshed user interface, support for 4K content, clever ways to watch programs on multiple devices, plenty of on-demand shows and a box capable of recording six different channels at once (though some of these features depend on which Sky Q package you go for).
In terms of hardware, you need a satellite dish (though a Sky Q that runs solely through your internet connection is on the way), plus a main Sky Q box. You can also opt to add Mini boxes for other TVs around the home, which also act as Wi-Fi hotspots as well as let you watch different channels or recordings in different rooms.
It's Sky's vision of what TV and movie watching should be in 2018 and beyond, and after some initial teething troubles, it's starting to hit its stride. Sky has also been pushing out plenty of updates to the Sky Q platform since it launched in 2016.
Sky offers and deals change all the time, so we encourage you to check out the latest prices and packages on the Sky website before you buy. That said, we'll give you a general idea about them by listing the prices of some of the deals available at the time of writing.
At the moment, the Sky Q Entertainment Bundle – which is the basic list of entertainment channels, like Sky One and Sky Atlantic, without sports or movies – will set you back £32 a month (with an 18-month contract). You'll also need to pay a one-off £75 setup fee for a Sky engineer to install your Sky Q 2TB box.
As is usual with Sky, you can pay more for more content. Sky Sports is an extra £22 a month;Sky Cinema is an extra £10 a month; more kids' channels come in at an extra £5 a month; and if you want access to more than 400 box sets on demand (including Atlanta and The Walking Dead), that's another £5 a month.
If you want to watch Sky Q around the home with Sky Q Mini boxes, that's at least an extra £12 a month, though Sky is currently providing extra boxes for free to new customers (it has charged for them in the past).
You can save some money by opting for a cheaper 1TB box, with room for 500 hours of content rather than 1,000 hours, but you do miss out on 4K – which is something you really want to invest in if you want to keep using this TV system for years to come.
Sky is keen to get Sky Q out to everyone — existing customers and new punters alike — so it's always offering discounts on packages, both on the initial setup costs and the costs of the channel bundles. A wizard on the Sky site will help you decide which bundle is right for you. Please remember to check the length of the contract you're signing up for.
Sky Q brings with it a host of useful features for modern-day TV viewing, like the Sky Q Mini boxes, for example, which you can choose to purchase for one or two for separate rooms. They stream video from the main Sky Q box in your house, so each member of the family can settle down to something different.
Then there's the Sky Q app for Android and iOS, which lets you watch your shows on mobile devices. While you can only stream to a phone or tablet when you're at home, you can sync your recordings to a device before you head out to watch a program while you're on the go. You can even start a programme on one device and finish it on another.
The main Sky Q box and the main Sky Q interface give you easy access to all your recordings, all your live TV choices and a host of catch-up services (including the official ones from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5). And Sky has promised Netflix will be available inside the Sky Q interface beginning November 2018.
Everywhere you dig into the Sky Q experience, there's something new to discover: You can run certain channels (like Sky Sports) in split-screen mode, to keep an eye on two feeds at once; and you can run voice searches from the sleek Sky Q remote (which is a lot easier than typing, as far as we're concerned).
At the center of everything, though, is a fluid and fast TV-watching and -recording system that gets you right to the stuff you want to watch. You can easily set recordings, browse through channels and download movies on demand. And, as with the earlier Sky platforms, you can buy more content (such as movie rentals) direct from Sky.
In the two years since its launch, Sky Q has evolved into a very good service, but there's no doubt that it's expensive. If you're already paying for a Netflix subscription, for example, and can get all the Freeview channels for no extra cost beyond the TV license, you'd be right to think that you've already got a lot of viewing options.
If you're on a budget, there's a cheaper Sky option to consider in the form of Now TV, which lets you sign up for Sky Sports and Sky Cinema on a monthly or even a daily basis (if there's a big match on, for instance). It works over the web rather than through a satellite dish, but you are restricted to 720p resolution rather than 1080p or 4K.
If you do have the budget for Sky Q, though, you won't be disappointed – early bugs and problems have largely been ironed out, and if you're after premium sports and entertainment channels in 4K UHD, then this is just about the best option out there.
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