Sky has launched a new wireless device that will connect to your Sky box allowing you to listen but not watch your favourite Sky TV and radio channels in any room of the house? How does it work, and is it any good are the first questions that spring to mind so we grab our magnifying glass and find out.
Compatible with all Sky boxes and with no additional subscription charge, Sky Gnome will offer a wireless connectivity up to a range of 30 metres from your Sky box.
Like other Sky products setup is simple and involves following a set of short instructions to make sure everything goes to plan. The crux of it is that you connect a wireless transmitter to your Sky or Sky+ box and then have a wireless receiver with built in speakers at the other end called the Sky Gnome.
Everything you need comes in the box and we were up and running within 5 minutes. Sky customers already savvy enough to be running a second RF cable out to another television in the house will be pleased to hear this doesn’t interfere and you can even change channels and volume via the buttons on the Gnome.
Although lacking a mute button or any of the Sky+ live pause features, the Gnome does allow you to play back pre-recorded programmes or store 10 stations in its memory bank, either from the vast array of radio stations that Sky broadcasts or from television channels such as news or sports.
The wireless unit can be plugged into the wall or run off the rechargeable battery for about 8 hours and has a range of around 30 meters - enough to get it to the bottom of most gardens.
The unit itself features a set of fairly decent speakers and the sound quality is very good - not as good as digital radio, but certainly better than FM and you won’t get any hiss. In our tests these performed very well, once we had sorted the sound settings on the Sky+ box - at first we were getting some reverberation.
What’s the catch? Well just like plugging in a second television to the same box you have to listen to whatever is on the Sky+ box. While this is fine if the television is turned off (the Sky box is still on of course) if someone starts channel hopping while you are getting to a good bit it can become very frustrating.
At £70 this is just as affordable as a Digital Radio, but with more channels. In our tests we especially liked the fact that you could listen to a rolling news service like BBC 24 without the distraction of the pictures.
Mrs Pocket-lint liked the fact that she could multi-task around the house between the lounge and the kitchen without missing a moment of her soaps as she encased herself in sound between the two rooms.
If you're already shelling out a subscription fee for Sky and feel that you want to benefit from the radio element or the footie without being stuck in front of the television or worst still having to result to turning the volume right up, this is a no brainer.