Being involved in and around IT for my entire life, I have more than a casual interest in technology and the ‘next big thing’. So when Sky Q was launched back in early 2016, I was very interested in the concept and what changes had been made from Sky HD which had been sold since 2006. Sky (previously BSkyB) has become synonymous with satellite TV over the last two and a half decades, and although other providers are out there offering alternatives it’s hard not to default back to Sky when looking for TV services. Over time my wife and family have become ingrained in the ability to watch and record particular channels, as well as the ease of use of the remote. The Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF) always needs to be considered.
Back in February, the biggest block to jumping straight in with the Sky Q was the price tag, I think originally it was £299 to buy in to the Silver package (the 2TB box with Touch Remote and additional Sky Mini), this quickly dropped to £199. With additional subscriptions to Amazon Video and Netflix, I felt that it was time to reassess my Sky HD package and at the beginning of November took the plunge to ring them and cancel. This decision was not taken lightly and the loss of Sky Atlantic and ScFi would be a blow, but I figured that with Christmas round the corner I’d stock up on a few box sets.
To cut a long story short, I didn’t cancel – I upgraded! My negotiation with the Sky representative was firm but fair, and with recent ‘special offers’ on installation the leap to Sky Q was just too good an offer to turn down. So why have I bothered to write this article in the first place.. hopefully this will become a diary of my experiences of the coming months with my new toy, although things did not get off to a good start.
The combination of having a Home Lab, and equally NOT Sky Fibre, caused a few issues for my engineer – but to give him the credit he deserved he stayed with it and after disabling a few Firewall rules, we finally got On-Demand and Catch Up working. I was well aware that engineers only have a limited amount of time allocated to each visit, so I had to poke a few holes in the short-term in order to get the installation signed off. I could always go back later and improve the configuration.
One of the draws of the 2TB box is the Touch Remote, offering a tap and swipe interface which should be reminiscent of a mobile phone. All I can say about it, is that I absolutely hate it. The remote (pictured right) looks similar to a traditional Sky remote but with a large circular pad in place of the direction keys. The pad is very sensitive, and can either be ‘stroked’ or pressed – unfortunately this process is very hit and miss, and is not very intuitive which is contrary to the whole purpose of the pad.
Also just to add more confusion, around the pad to the top are icons showing; rewind, play/pause and fast forward. These are just painted on the silver strip and don’t press, although they do align to the pad, and as such are somewhat useless. As if designed by a completely different development team, the icons around the bottom DO actually ‘click’ and perform these functions; exit menu, home and side menu.
I’ve not quite figured out these options yet, as in some screens they appear to do nothing? Maybe over time I’ll get the hang of this.. The button which appears to be missing is a back button, to go backwards through the menus – all I appear to be able to do is go deeper in the menu’s OR exit completely to the TV. Something else to Google..
All I can say is thank goodness that a tradition remote is included in the package, this is almost exactly the same as the Touch Remote, except with the good old direction keys back. The massive plus is also that the back (left) button actually works. I can now work my way in and out of the menus without having to start from the top every time.
Oh, and finally the Blue LED on the front of the main box is too bright, it’s so distracting when positioned under the TV screen! Many BluRay and DVD players have had the ability to dim or even turn of their display for years.. I’ve yet to find this option on the Sky Q menus, maybe it’s there, maybe it’s not… I look forward to finding out.
I expect to be writing another update in a week or so after I’ve got the whole networking thing sorted, the sky mini box and maybe the Touch Remote – stay tuned.