What is Sky Q? Prices, release dates and specs

Sky Q is the name of Sky’s fancy new connected TV platform, consisting of a 4K-ready set-top box, mini streamers and a hybrid WiFi and Powerline router. It’s due to launch in February 2016, subscriptions will start at £42/month and set-up will start at £99.  

Sky Q sits somewhere between Sky’s traditional TV offering and Now TV. Linear TV channels will be delivered through a satellite dish but instead of having to shell out for a separate set-top box for multiroom viewing, you’ll be able to pick up a smaller mini streamer that’s delivers Sky content to other rooms over a broadband connection. 

Apps for iOS and Android devices will let you take TV shows with you in a manner similar to how EE TV works – if someone comes in to the front room and wants to watch the football on the big TV, you’ll be able to carry on watching Game of Thrones, Minions or Peppa Pig on your phone or tablet. 

Tying all of this together is the Sky Q Hub, a new dual-band router that also uses the wiring of your home network to deliver streams to devices throughout your home. 

That’s the short version answer to the question ‘What is Sky Q’. We’ve got more detailed explanations of all the products below as well as specifications and basic costs. A full breakdown of Sky Q prices can be found here

Sky Q Silver: A 2TB set-top box with 12 tuners that’s also a WiFi hotspot

Sky Sports 4K Ultra HD demo: First impressionsWhile ‘Q Silver’ sounds like the alias of a rubbish Bond villain, it’s actually the name of Sky’s new set-top box. It comes with a 2TB hard drive which Sky says is capable of recording up to 350 hours of HD content. 

It’s also packing a huge number of tuners – 12 – inside its sleek matt black and silver plastic body. These will let you record up to four programmes at a time while watching a fifth, supply the Sky Q Mini streamers with live TV and support streams for up to two tablets using the Sky Q app. 

Sky spokespeople at the launch event were cagey when asked if 12 tuners would be needed to deliver all of that – isn’t that overkill for supporting up to four separate streams and four simultaneous recordings? It’s not clear what the extra tuners will be used for yet, but we understand that they’re being kept in reserve for future plans – whatever those are, Sky’s keeping quiet for now. 

We do know that the Sky Q Silver box is 4K Ultra HD ready. We’ve been told that it will support 4K video at frame rates of up to 50fps but we don’t yet know if it’ll include support things like HDR and 5.1.4 surround sound down the line. 

At any rate, Sky’s 4K offering – which will include sports, movies and entertainment channels – is due to launch later this year. 

The Sky Q Silver box can be taken with both the £42/month Sky Q Bundle and the £54/month Sky Q Silver bundle. Installation ranges bewteen £99 and £349Ingenuously, the Sky Q Silver box also doubles as a WiFi hotspot, which is perfect for syncing with and downloading content to your tablet. 

One thing that current Sky TV customers will want to ask is ‘Do I need a new satellite dish to get Sky Q?’ The answer to that is no, the same dish will be fine. However, you will need a new LNB fitted. 

An LNB (low-noise block downconverter) is the thing that sits on the end of the dish’s arm and converts all of the radio waves from the satellite into information that can easily be transmitted to your set-top box over cables. Sky’s engineers will do all of this during the installation process. 

One thing that you’ll stand to lose if you’re moving over from Sky+HD to SkyQ is any recordings you’ve already made. We understand that there is a process in place, but Sky’s not been able to tell us how this will work just yet. 

Sky Q Box: Eight tuners, 1TB hard drive, Full HD as standard

The ready salted Sky Q box might not be 4K-ready like its Silver counterpart, but it’s a powerful device nonetheless, boasting the ability to record up to three programmes at once while freeing you up to watching a fourth.

The 1TB drive, 700GB of which is available to the user, lets you store up to 150 hours of HD content. You can also access live TV, recordings and on-demand content through extra devices including up to one iOS or Android tablet and one Sky Q Mini set-top box, via the basic Sky Q box.  

Like all set-top boxes in the Sky Q range, the Sky Q box can also double as a WiFi hotspot, but only if you take it with Sky Broadband.

The Sky Q Box can only be taken with the entry-level Sky Q Bundle, which costs £42/month. 

As with the Sky Q Silver box, installation prices start at £99 but can go up to £249, £299 or even £349 depending on whether or not you’re a Sky TV customer upgrading and whether you’re signing up for extra Sky TV channels and/or Sky Broadband. 

Sky Q Box specifications

Sky Q Silver official specifications

Sky Q Mini: Say goodbye to Multiroom

In the past, if you’ve wanted to get Sky TV in more than one room, it’s been an expensive proposition. 

While we’re not armed with any pricing information today, Sky Q Mini promises to change that; these mini streamers have more in common with Now TV boxes than they do with a separate Sky+HD box. 

The idea is that the Sky Q Silver box will sit in your living room and you’ll set up Q Mini streamers in up to two other rooms. 

These connect to your TV via HDMI and to your home network over WiFi and via a Powerline adapter, completely doing away with the need (and expense) of having extra satellite cables running up and down your home. 

You can get access to the same content as you would on the Sky Q Silver box, although apparently not any Ultra HD content – the spec sheet lists 1080p as the maximum supported resolution. 

Like the Sky Q Silver box, a Q Mini streamer also doubles as a WiFi range extender, killing two birds with one stone. It’s supports dual-band WiFi, so you can give any devices with 5GHz antennas access to this less crowded, faster frequency. 

Sky Q Mini official specifications

Sky Q Hub: Wanna route? 

Tying everything together on the hardware front is the Sky Q Hub. Not only is this an ADSL2+ and VDSL compatible router, it’s designed to communicate with the Sky Q Silver and Q Mini, handling programme requests and sending content to the boxes over WiFi and Powerline. 

The Q Hub will search for and select the least-congested path on the home network at the time, whether that’s the 2.4GHz WiFi channel, 5GHz or your home’s wiring. 

We’ve already talked about how Sky’s new set-top boxes can double as WiFi hotspots, which is obviously great, but there’s a catch – this feature is only activated if you’ve got a Sky Q Hub and to get a Sky Q Hub, you’ll need Sky Broadband. 

While the TV set top boxes will still work regardless of who your Internet supplier is, the WiFi hotspot feature only kicks in if your ISP is called Sky. 

Sky Q Hub official specifications