Sky has announced that it is overhauling its offering in the home, creating a new premium tier service to entice movie, sport and TV viewers to an all-new platform.

But is it just a rehash of the current Sky+ service or really the evolution of how we will watch television in the home?

There are so many elements to the new system that to call it a single set top box experience would not only be a misunderstanding, but also an insult.

In a world where we are trying to consume television in various rooms around the house, the Sky Multi-room service remains, but the Sky Q version is so much more; mainly focused on a new Sky Q Mini box that can sit in a separate area of the home.  

But the core of the Sky Q ecosystem is the main Sky Q Silver box that sits under your TV. The box, which comes with a mighty 12 TV tuners is much smaller than the current Sky+ box and looks to be quieter two. A button on the front helps you to find your remote if it's vanished down the back of the sofa - the remote will beep. Very handy.


That remote is new and Bluetooth connected this time around, so you can point it anywhere to get it working. It has a touch sensitive control pad and a number of new buttons, including dedicated search. It's light in the hand, smaller than the current Sky+ offering, but should be easy to use (we were able to touch it but were not allowed to control anything at this stage).

Sky told us a lot of work has been done to improve usability, including hours spent with customer focus groups. Judging by the speed that our demo assistant whizzed through the interface without issue, that seems to be time well spent.

Connection to a satellite dish is the same as any conventional Sky box - you won't have to have new wires in your house - but you will still need a specialist installer to adjust the technology on your dish to get it to work effectively.

There will also be a second main box, simply called Sky Q, but it will be a cut down version of the Silver box - presumably at a lower price. It has just eight TV tuners and no Ultra-HD support.


The Q Mini is smaller than the main box and is plug and play so you won't have to worry about feeding wires into your house. Press the connection button and you're connected. It can connect via wireless or wired, and if you've got the Sky Q Hub and Sky Broadband it also doubles as a hotspot extender. A clever move and one that will be welcomed by many.

It can also be connected through Powerline technology, ensuring homes with good wiring can transmit data without needing Ethernet in every room, but in a more stable way than Wi-Fi.

The Q Mini comes with its own remote, gives you access to all the content and TV from your main box and works as a separate Sky box in its own right. Although it utilises the recording functionality and TV tuners of the Silver box, for all intents and purposes it is like having the whole experience in another room.


The Sky Q Hub is a new broadband router that connects all the dots. It is possible to use the Sky Q Silver box and Mini boxes with other internet service providers and their own hubs, but you don't get the wireless hotspot or Powerline networking if that's the case. You will need the Sky Q Hub for those features.

Its design matches the Sky Q Mini boxes most closely, and it brings the faster 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard to your home. Designed to compliment the Sky Q ecosystem, it will be a defacto of the new standard. One that you won't have a choice about having, but one that will be welcomed.

Yes, there are 12 tuners in the new box, more than a slight increase from the two that you currently get with the Sky+HD device. Those 12 are broken down as follows: four for recording, one for constant watching, one to preview other channels while watching TV in picture-in-picture mode on the mini EPG, two for the Sky Q Mini boxes (you can have two further boxes in your home), two for tablet viewing around the house, and finally two spare for further expansion down the line.

If you are a Sky customer, then you won't have to change your satellite dish set up or the cables that come into your house, with Sky telling Pocket-lint that it has managed to split the current two tuners into 12 signals through technological advances rather than replying on new cabling.


The UI has been completely overhauled from what you already know, that's the main take-away here, with Sky trying to cram as much on the screen as possible to make the interface easy and simple to use. From what we've seen so far, the experience seems to have worked. The user interface is very Plex and Roku like with a heavy focus on cascading menus rather than the box silos of before.

On the left is what's happening now, with a second tier giving you access to things like My Q, or your recordings, or Sky Store, or Top Picks, with those choices seamlessly going into more granular detail.

Splash pages are fresh, bright and colourful, with Sky following the current trend of using the eye-grabbing stills from shows and movies to bring life to the page.

Rather than lists upon lists, there is also a greater focus on box art and that not only gives you a more Netflix like experience (Sky also use this in the Sky Store and Movie sections at the moment) but allows you to quickly find content to watch without having to read too much.

It works with Hollywood blockbusters, but it will be interesting to see how it works with a Thursday episode of Hollyoaks.

One of the biggest features and appeals of the new Sky Q system is going to be the ability to start watching a show and then pick up where you left off on another Sky Q device around your home. We've seen this work across the ecosystem - from the Sky Q Silver to the Sky Q Mini to the Sky Q app on an iPad. It works just like Netflix, and it will certainly appeal to multi-room or multi-screen fans.

Watch something on the television, transfer to your tablet for the bath, and then if you are still watching, to the bedroom to finish it off. Lovely.


Like Apple TV, Sky has introduced an handful of apps that can be run in a panel on the side of the screen so you can check stuff while you watch television. At the moment those apps are curated and limited to Sky created apps. That's great if you are a Sky News or Sky Sports fan wanting the latest headlines on transfer day while watching the latest episode of Peppa Pig, but beyond that, limited.

Sky tells Pocket-lint there are no plans to offer an API for developers, but does suggest that there will be more partnerships in the future. The same goes for online video services. YouTube and Vevo are in the party already, but there's no Netflix or Amazon Prime. That's understandable, but as far as we can tell reading between the lines, not ruled out in the future.

Sky Q is a platform, and one that will grow over time, leading us to believe that what we've seen today is only the start of the Sky Q experience. This isn't a static thing, this is something that will continue to grow, and grow with pace.

Ultra HD support, voice search and more has been promised for 2016, showing that Sky sees its new set-top box as an evolution rather than a line in the sand.

The company has also promised smartphone support beyond the tablet, and we can tell that's just the start.

First Impressions

As a Sky customer there is lots to like about the new Sky Q system. Even if not, it is likely to turn your head when you are looking for a new TV service to subscribe to.

It addresses a number of issues Sky customers have had over the years, as well as bring the viewing experience up to scratch with - or even beyond - many of the services and offerings already available from digital rivals streaming rivals, such as Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Roku.

They are perhaps the biggest challenge to the way television is watched in the UK these days, and Sky Q seems like the broadcaster's answer to addressing it.

Does it overly change the way we plan to watch television in the future? Who knows at this stage. As Sky said itself, it is a platform that will be improved and upgraded over years. The launch version will be just the start.

What we are sure of is that Sky's current experience is already very good, and some might see this as merely a rehash of a number of existing features already available on their boxes or through accompanying apps. Pricing could be key therefore.

When it comes to enjoying a premium TV experience this will be hard to beat, especially the enhanced multiroom features, but there are clearly still plenty of ways the service could get even better.