Sky has announced one of its most major advancements in the history of the company, Sky Q.
Sky Q is not only a new set-top box but also touted as a new way of watching television. Indeed, it covers a whole family of products.
A Sky Q Silver box is the main new addition to Sky's line-up, with 12 TV tuners so people in other rooms can set up to four recordings and watch live TV on other screens - up to five at the same time. There's also a second living room box, simply called Sky Q, with less tuners and a smaller hard drive. Other devices include a Bluetooth Sky Q touch remote control and a Sky Q Mini box that doesn't require connection to a satellite dish, to share and watch all the programming the main box accesses.
In addition, there is a new Sky Q application for popular mobile devices, that are able to watch recordings from the main box, on demand, and live programming. You can even take recordings with you by downloading them for offline viewing. And there is a Wi-Fi router that rounds off the new collection.
Primarily, Sky Q will enable Sky to start broadcasting in 4K UHD resolution. When launched, this is likely to be a premium service that costs extra, just as HD did when Sky first launched that. And only the Sky Q Silver box is UHD ready.
The main boxes will allow viewers to watch and record several shows at the same time on multiple devices in the home. And there's a new Sky Q interface that is more intuitive than the current offerings, relying more on pictures and tiles to make the experience more accessible.
The divide between online catch-up TV, live broadcast and recorded shows is going to become more blurred thanks to the new user interface. It will also be able to learn a viewer's tastes to tailor the options available based on favourites. Much like Netflix and Virgin Tivo currently offer. It is calling this feature "My Q".
In addition, there will be third-party applications added to the service, including the VEVO music service and YouTube. And because the Sky Q Silver box also incorporates Bluetooth, you can stream music from your mobile devices to the box. It also includes Apple AirPlay technology for lossless tracks.
Sky Q is being introduced to allow Sky to stay competitive while over-the-internet services like Netflix, Apple and now BT offer on demand content for affordable prices.
Sky Q should be available from early 2016.