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(Pocket-lint) - For the first time in its illlustrious history, Sky will offer its full, unrestricted TV service to customers without a satellite dish.

Sky Glass is available from 18 October 2021 and is the brand's first smart TV. It provides the entire Sky experience over broadband, while also giving users Dolby Atmos sound and 4K HDR visuals in one simple and neat package.

But how does that compare with the existing Sky Q experience and is it worth upgrading to Sky Glass if you are already a Sky Q customer?

Here we compare the services to help you make that decision.

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Hardware

  • Sky Glass: All-in-one 4K HDR TV, Dolby Atmos sound system, Sky over broadband service
  • Sky Q: Set-top-box connected to satellite dish, provides on demand content via broadband

Sky Q is an ecosystem that comprises a Sky Q satellite box that you plug into your TV and optional Sky Q Mini boxes that can be used around the home to provide a multi-screen experience. It requires both an internet connection and a satellite dish. You get a voice remote with Sky Q, with voice commands activated through a button press.

Sky Glass is a television, with its own screen and Dolby Atmos sound system. It requires a connection to the internet, but is a dish-less experience. You also get a voice remote with Sky Glass, but the TV has its own far-field microphones too, so you can use voice commands through a wake word as well as a button press ("Hello Sky").

Multi-room viewing is available with Sky Glass too, through new devices Sky calls "Stream Pucks".

One extra thing to take note of is that, while both Sky Q and Sky Glass required internet connections they work in different ways. Apart from streaming services, on demand content on Sky Q is generally downloaded to your box. You can watch it soon after hitting play, with the rest downloading as you watch.

Sky Glass, on the other hand, streams content immediately. This is especially important when it comes to internet speeds. You could get away with slower internet speeds for Sky Q, for example, although you will have to wait longer to view your TV show or film. Sky Glass requires at least 11Mbps broadband for HD viewing, 30Mbps for 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos.

Picture and sound

  • Sky Glass: 4K HDR - HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound
  • Sky Q: 4K HDR - HLG, Dolby Atmos sound output

Sky Q is capable of outputting at up to 4K HDR (through the HLG format) to a compatible TV. You do need a more recent Sky Q box however, as earlier models were not capable of sending HDR signals.

It can also output Dolby Atmos audio on movies and sporting events. You will need a compatible surround sound setup or soundbar to make the most of it though.

Sky Glass is also 4K HDR capable, but through its own display. It supports HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision.

Dolby Atmos is also supported, but Sky Glass has its own six speaker sound system built into the TV. That includes upfiring drivers that add extra height channels for a more immersive experience.

Experience

  • Sky Glass: Full Sky experience plus apps - Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, etc
  • Sky Q: Full Sky experience plus apps - Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, etc

While the content is (obviously) the same across both Sky Q and Sky Glass, the experience is a little different.

They share similar design language, but Sky Glass offers a cleaner user interface that keeps things a little more simple.

Both enable access to Sky content and the entire gamut of live TV channels - they have full electronic programme guides too. And, each also includes third-party apps and integration of their own shows and movies, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. However, Sky Glass starts with a homepage where your most recent viewings, favourite channels and even connected devices are front and centre.

You get similar on Sky Q (without separate connected sources), but with a more obvious sidebar menu system.

One major differennce between them is the addition of Glance on Sky Glass. This is like a screensaver for the TV, which activates when a motion sensor detects you are in the room. It currently shows adverts for highlights on Sky and its partner's services, but could include artwork and your own custom images in future.

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Recordings

  • Sky Glass: No recording functionality
  • Sky Q: 1TB & 2TB HDD options

Another major difference between Sky Q and Sky Glass is there is no recording functionality on the latter. While it contains a modicum of internal storage, that's for software updates rather than customer use.

It offers a feature called "Playlists" instead, whereby you can tap a Playlist button on the remote and store the show or film into your Playlist rail. That then will make it simple for you to revisit down the line and instantly find the episode or series to stream on demand. This can be from the many TV channels, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer or other supported streaming services.

Like Series Link on Sky Q, it will also bring up new shows if it's an ongoing series, as they are added. Plus, it draws all episodes that are available no matter the source. For example, if you Playlist a show whereby some episodes are on Amazon Prime Video, but later series are part of Sky's own on demand service, they will all be listed regardless of host.

A standard Sky Q box has a 1TB hard drive to record programming (including the ability to set Series Links). You can also get a 2TB version on request, but will cost a fair bit extra as an initial outlay - £99 currently.

Multiscreen

  • Sky Glass: Multiscreen through Sky Stream Puck - up to 4K HDR
  • Sky Q: Multiscreen through Sky Q Mini box - up to 1080p

Sky Glass wins when it comes to multi-room streaming.

Sky Q Multiscreen is through separate boxes, called Sky Q Mini boxes. Each one is like a Sky Q box in itself, but only outputs 5.1 audio and 1080p video. There is no 4K HDR nor Dolby Atmos.

They are great for watching all Sky content and your recordings in other rooms in your home, but cannot view Ultra HD shows or films. That includes anything recorded from a 4K channel or source. Your 4K recordings simply won't play through a Sky Q Mini box.

Sky Glass' Multiscreen boxes - the Sky Stream Puck - is 4K HDR enabled so can present the exact same content on a separate screen to the main Sky Glass TV.

One major benefit to this is that, if you do not want to replace your living room experience with a Sky Glass TV but still want the experience, you can put Sky Glass in a separate room and use a Sky Stream Puck in your main viewing area.

Pricing

Pricing for Sky products is relatively complicated, as it depends on the channel packages and whether you need a multi-room solution or not.

Sky Glass is available on either a one-off or monthly payment basis, but it's worth noting that you will need a Sky Ultimate TV package at the very least.

The TV itself comes in 43-, 55- and 65-inch screen sizes (Small, Medium and Large), costing a £10 free upfront, plus £13, £17 and £21 per month respectively payable across 48 months. A 24-month option is available too, at £26, £34 and £42 per month respectively, with a £20 upfront fee.

Alternatively, you can purchase them outright for £649 (43-inch), £849 (55-inch) or £1,049 (65-inch).

You then add your TV package on top, which is similarly priced to Sky Q equivalents. For example, Sky Ultimate TV is £26 per month for both Sky Glass and Sky Q.

Multiscreen on both costs £10 per month extra, but you then have to purchase the Sky Stream Puck devices for Sky Glass separately (up to six in total). You get one Sky Q Mini box with Sky Q Multiscreen, but also have to purchase additional ones (up to four).

Additional Sky Q Mini boxes cost £99 each. A Sky Stream Puck costs £50. They are not interchangeable, nor work on their own so require Sky Q or Sky Glass respectively.

Add-ons for Sky Q include Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, Disney+ and Ultra HD. They are priced from £7 per month extra (for Ultra HD on Sky Q) up to £27 per month for all BT Sport channels.

Sky Glass also has add-ons from £5 per month for Ultra HD HDR and Dolby Atmos, to £25 per month for Sky Sports. BT Sport channels are also available on Sky Glass, at an extra £24 per month.

So, if you took the hardware cost out of the equation and wanted Sky TV (+ Netflix), plus Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and Ultra HD, it'd cost you £67 per month for the TV package alone. The exact same would cost you roughly the same - £68 per month.

The best way to compare the overall Sky Glass and Sky Q pricing though, is to look at an equivalent TV set and soundbar package too (as you get all of that wrapped up into Sky Glass).

An LG 43-inch LED TV (43UP8100) will cost you around £450, while a reasonable Dolby Atmos soundbar, such as the LG SN7CY, will set you back around £399 - so roughly £850 together. That's already £200 more than Sky Glass will cost for a similar solution.

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You also have to pay a £20 installation fee to have the Sky Q box set up in your home. We're not yet sure if that will be needed for Sky Glass too, as that will also be installed by a trained engineer.

Conclusion

While Sky Q and Sky Glass offer access to the same live and on demand content, the latter has some obvious advantages. You don't need a satellite dish, for starters. Although you do need decent broadband.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is that you get everything in the same device - a TV, Dolby Atmos speaker system, and all the content live and on demand you could ever hope for. Plus, the Multiscreen proposition is better, with Pucks offering a higher resolution and HDR.

However, if you already have a decent TV and sound solution, and don't want to swap either, Sky Q is your only real option. We haven't yet fully reviewed Sky Glass, but our inital impressions of the picture quality are that it doesn't compete with the higher-end TV technologies, such as Samsung's QLED or OLED from many manufacturers. Still, it's a very decent LED set and that six speaker Dolby Atmos array might swing it for you.

If you want to know more, you can check out our in-depth feature on Sky Glass here: What is Sky Glass, how much does it cost and how can I get it?

Writing by Rik Henderson. Editing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 11 October 2021.