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Sky 4K: Will the ‘SkyQ’ box deliver Ultra HD with a Netflix and Apple-style UI?

Sky’s next-gen TV box will apparently be called ‘SkyQ’ and promises 4K Ultra HD content accessed through a Netflix-style user interface. 

The new hardware will build on last year's updates to the ageing Sky+HD platform, which placed access to on-demand content side by side with linear broadcast channels (see above).  

This will give the Sky user experience that is, in the words of an industry insider speaking to the Telegraph, more ‘Netflix and Apple TV-like’. 

Instead of content being aligned to a grid as it currently is, titles will be presented in a flowing carousel which is “much more visual” and was “really very slick”.

On top of boasting a fresh new interface, SkyQ is said to come with some new tricks running under the hood. Perhaps taking a leaf out of the EE TV book, SkyQ will wirelessly beam programmes to tablets and phones around the home. 

It’s rumoured that you’ll be able to watch content on up to four extra devices around the home, although it’s unclear whether or not you’ll be able to carry on watching when you’re disconnected from your home network. 

Sky Go, which is made available as standard to all Sky TV subscribers, lets you watch live and catch-up content on up to two devices anywhere you can get a 3G, 4G or WiFi connection. Sky Go Extra bulks this up to four, for a £5/month premium. 

The Telegraph’s tipster says that content accessed through the SkyQ box will also be side-loadable on mobile devices, which chimes with earlier rumours that Sky was preparing a cloud PVR (personal video recorder) service

This would see recordings stored in the cloud instead of a hard drive, which would drive down manufacturing costs as well as adding convenience for customers. 

Meanwhile, pay TV and broadband rival BT has pipped Sky to the 4K post with the announcement of BT Sport Ultra HD, the first 4K subscription service from a UK broadcaster, which is due to launch on August 2. 

BT’s new set-top box, the DTR-T4000 is made by Humax and comes with a 1TB hard drive. This will let you store up to 600 hours of standard definition recordings, 250 hours of HD TV and 60 hours of Ultra HD TV. 

The Humax DTR-T4000 is also a YouView-based service, so access to BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5 and other services are built right in to the programme guide. The nearest BT TV equivalent of Sky Go is TV Everywhere, which lets you live streams of Premier League games and other content, if you've got the Entertainment Plus package (£10/month). All BT TV customers can also stream live sports through the BT Sport iOS and Android apps. 

Sources close to Sky suggest no announcements for SkyQ are planned within the next few weeks and there's no official word coming from Sky spokespeople. 

Sky is also due to launch a new Now TV Box next month, which will improve on 2013's mini-streamer.

Now TV allows non-Sky TV subscribers to stream premium Sky content, including movies and sports on a range of devices. 

Update: This piece was updated at 16:20 to include additional information about BT TV Everywhere. 

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