Sky-backed Now TV has launched a new £15 Smart Stick to go up against Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Google’s Chromecast.
It’s based on the latest Roku Streaming Stick that debuted late last year and comes with voice search, the ability to pause live TV (coming in a later update, available on all premium channels) and support for content up to Full HD.
The HDMI stick will be available in stores and online towards the end of February and will go on sale as another option alongside the Now TV Smart box.
The catch is that Now TV’s resolution is currently limited to 720p (which has long been a criticism) but the stick supports Full HD and “by the end of the year” Now TV will be “introducing the option of streaming Now TV both live and on demand in full HD, with content from the likes of Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Sky Sports”. That sounds like it will cost more to us, but we’ll see.
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Now TV is the pick and mix streaming version of Sky that lets you choose from a range of programming packages (known as "passes") without a contract.
Essentially, buying the stick and a pass is by far the cheapest way to get access to Sky channels without that costly long-term deal.
There are monthly entertainment, movies, sports and kids’ passes, while the Now TV Smart Stick will also give you access to catch-up services including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 and you can download over apps including YouTube, Sky Store and Vevo.
The Now TV Streaming Stick comes with a remote giving you easy access to a simple-to-use guide. There's also specific buttons for Sky Store and voice search as well as a shortcut to the MyTV section of the guide.
While the stick will sell for £15 alone, it will also be available as part of value-packed bundles - £20 will get you the stick plus two months of the Now TV Entertainment Pass which will get you access to 11 pay TV channels and hundreds of boxsets.
You can also pay the same and get a month of Sky Cinema or pay £30 and get Sky Sports, again for a month.
Now TV has also said it will be rolling out downloads to its app, starting with kids content this Spring (you’ll need a Kids Pass to take advantage of this).
And it's also making its value broadband bundles available as contract-free without the need to team it with a Now TV pass.
Three speeds will be available starting at £18 for 17Mbps Brilliant Broadband, followed by 38Mbps (£25 per month) Fab Fibre and 76Mbps Super Fibre (£35 per month) .
Check out our guide to the best smart TV media streamer.