Sky unveiled its much-rumoured Sky Q new TV service earlier today and perhaps surprised many by announcing a whole family of devices rather than one set-top-box, with a Sky Q Hub broadband router as part of the set-up. It makes sense as Sky Q is very much a system for a connected home, with different devices serving television content into different rooms.
That could give you the idea that the entire system is required to be able to savour what Sky Q has to offer, and that you will also need a Sky broadband subscription to get it to work - after all, BT's Ultra HD YouView service requires a BT broadband connection.
However, Pocket-lint discovered that you will not need to be a subscriber to Sky's internet service to use Sky Q. Nor will you need the dedicated Sky Q Hub. You can have your broadband provided by rivals, such as Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk or any other ISP. There might be a minimum bandwidth required, which we'll find out more on in the coming months, but the Sky Q Silver and Sky Q Mini set-top-boxes will still work with alternative internet sources.
There are a couple of caveats though. We spoke to Sky's TV brand director Luke Bradley-Jones at the Sky Q event, who told us that while the new platform will work on others' broadband services, it will lack a couple of key features.
"It will work with other broadband providers and hubs as well, but you will miss out on two things," he said. "First of all, creating a whole set of Wi-Fi hotspots, which is what the router turns all the Sky Q kit into to give a stronger signal. And secondly, the powerline functionality. The set-top-box will decide which is to be the faster method to send content over, in order to deliver the best experience for the viewer.
"It all works that much better with Sky Q broadband – a really superior experience – but it also works with other broadband services."
Not all Sky Q recordings will work offline
One of the other features of Sky Q that we asked Bradley-Jones to clarify is the ability to take your recordings with you when out and about. And namely whether all of them will be available for offline viewing.
The service will provide the option to download your own recorded programmes to a tablet or smartphone. However, previous discussions we've had with other service providers and manufacturers about similar concepts have always pointed to rights issues as a major barrier to viewing recordings on mobile devices. Even elsewhere in the home.
That will prove be a slight hurdle in Sky Q's case too, with some recordings not cleared to be viewed out of the home. But the Sky exec explained to us that those shows will be in the minority. And as time progresses, further talks with partners could eliminate rights issues entirely.
"We work very closely with our content partners week in week out. It’s put us in a strong position to get these rights," he said. "As a result, at launch the vast majority of recordings will be available to sync and take with you on the go.
"It’s not going to be 100 per cent on day one – in the same way as when we launched Sky Go, we didn’t have 100 per cent of our content available. But we scaled up pretty quickly.
"Likewise, with Sky Q we’ve got the great majority of shows available on day one and I’m confident we’ll round that out in the coming months."
Sky Q will be available from early 2016 and will develop and grow in time. Exact pricing details are yet to be revealed.
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