On Thursday, January 25th Now TV announced the launch of the company’s first streaming stick, as well as news that it’ll be offering untethered Broadband plans plus the promise of offline playback via the Now TV app in the coming months.
Meet the new Now TV Smart Stick
Until now, Now TV’s hardware lineup has consisted of three boxes; the company’s original white box, which arrived in 2013, the second-generation black box which replaced it in 2015 and the Now TV Smart Box from 2016, which mirrors the standard box’s functionality in addition to accommodating more power, a digital TV tuner and the ability to pause and rewind up to 30 minutes of live TV.
The new Now TV Smart Stick marries the compact nature of the standard box with the ability to pause and rewind up 30 minutes of content, akin to the Smart Box. According to Now TV, it’s also supplanted itself as the UK’s most affordable streaming stick at just £14.99.
As with Now TV’s existing hardware, the Smart Stick supports over 50 catch-up services and apps, covering everything from All4 and BBC iPlayer to Crunchyroll and YouTube. It doesn’t stop there, however, with a swanky new remote that brings some completely fresh functionality to the table as well.
The Smart Stick’s WiFi remote features a familiar design but includes the ability to power your TV on and off, as well as change the volume (supported TVs only), and the new Voice Search feature works by way of an integrated microphone, so you can search for your favourite film, actor, TV series or even genre by simply holding the microphone button and talking. In practice, it works extremely well, with speech taking a matter of seconds to be understood and a search to be carried out.
Now TV has also added direct access buttons to the remote, allowing you to quickly jump to the My TV, TV Guide, Kids and Sky Store sections of the interface with a single press.
Should you want to pick the Smart Stick up with a Now TV pass, there a host of introductory bundles that save you even more money:
- Entertainment Bundle = Smart Stick + two month Entertainment Pass – 300 box sets, 11 non-Freeview channels for £19.99 (one month Entertainment Pass usually £7.99)
- Cinema Bundle = Smart Stick + one month Cinema Pass – Over 1000 movies on-demand for £19.99 (one month Cinema Pass usually £9.99)
- Sports Bundle = Smart Stick + one month Sports Pass – Live matches and events across ten Sky Sports channels for £29.99 (one month Sky Sports Pass usually £33.99)
- Kids Bundle = Smart Stick + three month Kids Pass – Six selected live channels and 1000s of on-demand episodes for £19.99 (one month Kids Pass usually £2.99)
Now TV Smart Stick: Specs at a glance
|Dimensions (mm)||84 x 20.3 x 12.6|
|Power consumption||< 3.5W when streaming HD|
|Video modes||720p, 16:9 anamorphic, 4:3 standard|
|Video outputs||720p, 1080p|
|Audio features||Digital HDMI (7.1 & 5.1 surround pass through)|
|Networking||802.11 dual-band (a/b/g/n/ac compatible) with WEP, WPA and WPA2 support|
The Now TV Smart Stick will be available to purchase online (at NowTV.com) and in selected retailers from the end of February.
Based on user feedback and in the pursuit of bringing added flexibility to the Now TV app, the company confirmed that it will allow offline downloads and playback, starting with Kids content in Spring 2018, whilst both Entertainment and Cinema Pass content will receive the same added functionality during Summer 2018. There’s no word yet on whether Sky Sports viewers will be able to download matches for offline viewing at all.
Files downloaded for offline viewing will expire after 30 days but there is no limit to the number of files you may download for offline viewing. Now TV says it’ll be prioritising iOS and Android devices such as iPads and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab lineup.
Full HD streaming
Now TV presently presents content at a maximum 720p HD resolution, despite the fact that the hardware that most users are watching on is capable of displaying content at full 1080p resolution or Full HD. Now TV representatives promised a late 2018 arrival for the new, higher resolution streams to surface.
Untethered Broadband packages
Until now, those interested in Now TV’s Broadband packages would have also been expected to fork out for a Now TV box and some services too. Now you’ll no longer have to accommodate a Now TV box if all you require is internet access.
Each Broadband package includes Now TV’s latest Hub Two router, which features dual-band WiFi, support for up to 64 devices wirelessly, ports for both ADSL and Fibre connections, and easy connectivity by way of secure WiFi Protected Setup (WPS).
As ever, you can opt for a no-strings contract-free package or a 12-month plan which includes a saving of £35 from the activation fee (reducing it to £15 from £50). As before, Now TV offers three different speeds, each with its own discount during the first 12 months:
- Brilliant Broadband = Now Broadband Hub Two + 17MB speeds for £18 a month (up to £25.99 a month after 12 months)
- Fab Fibre = Now Broadband Hub Two + 38MB speeds for £25 a month (up to £35.99 a month after 12 months)
- Super Fab Fibre = Now Broadband Hub Two + 76MB speeds for £35 a month (up to £43.99 a month after 12 months)
These new Now Broadband tariffs will be available to purchase from next week and all include a £15 one-off setup fee and a £9.99 postage fee for delivery of your Hub Two router.