Ahead of Sky Q’s ‘early 2016’ launch we’ve been able to get some hands on time with the slick new service.
If we had to pick one word to sum up Sky Q it would indeed be slick. Not just because of the spit and polish that’s gone into the UI, but because of the way everything works together.
As you can tell from the screenshots, the UI is incredibly heavy; there’s a lot going on there in terms of information, images and picture-in-picture windows. Bar a couple of issues of menu lag (which, if we’re honest, only occurred when we were really pushing it, hooning around the EPG), everything looked flawless. It’s hard to believe that it’s a near to release product.
It’s not all glitz and glamour though; Sky’s director of new products Andrew Olsen was keen to stress the myriad ways you can access content and set recordings on Sky Q.
Related: Sky Q box UI eyes-onOne thing we didn’t get to see during our eyes-on last year was a new Mini Guide sub-menu that serves up a series of links at the bottom of the screen with the touch of a button. This scrollable ticker-tape lets you check out what’s coming up on the channel you’re watching as well as what’s on the Sky Store, on demand players and other channels for related content.
On top of this, there’s a traditional programme guide and a search function, which lets you scour upcoming programmes as well as your recordings.
It’s now even easier to series link with Sky Q; just one touch of the red record button will see series link actioned by default. If you just want to record one episode, simply press the record button again and press it a third time to de-schedule any recordings.
Perhaps the most radical change Sky is bringing to customers homes with Sky Q is My Q.
Related: Sky Sports 4K confirmed along with Movies and entertainment TVAs we revealed last November, My Q is an umbrella feature that aggregates content from a variety of sources. Olsen called it a “personal centre” of Sky Q, which will be populated with quick links to recent recordings, purchases and recently watches or streamed shows.
This will naturally evolve over time and will change depending on the device you’re using. Because Sky Q is designed to be a modular multiroom system, this means that the My Q centre that mum and dad will access in the living room will look very different to the ones used by the kids on their tablets or set top boxes.
Olsen says this is all about making connected TV seamless: “Each box has a profile that evolves naturally and doesn’t require a sign in.”
During our time with the Sky Q boxes we also quizzed Olsen about those 12 tuners present in the Sky Q Silver.
Sky Sports 4K Ultra HD demo: First impressionsWe were told that the first tuner is dedicated to the live TV experience at all times while the second supplies feeds for picture-in-picture services.
Two others are partitioned for streaming to tablets while another two are set aside for streaming to the Q Mini set-top boxes. A further four are used for recordings – meaning you can record up to four shows at once – and the eleventh tuner is used for receiving UI data. As for the twelfth?
We received a cryptic response about ‘future services’ and immediately asked about 4K, only to be told nothing; Sky isn’t talking about this at the moment although Olsen did clarify one thing for us. Despite what’s suggested by the official Sky Q Silver spec sheet, Sky’s 4K content will be shot and broadcast at 50 frames per second.
The Sky Q Mini boxes won’t be able to access 4K content but 1080p Full HD will be ‘the standard’ definition for Sky Q. The eight tuners will allow for three simultaneous recordings and one stream to a tablet.
Sky has still not furnished us with anything so much as related to prices for Sky Q. The launch date hasn’t moved from that nebulous ‘early 2016’ timeframe either; we’ll keep you posted.