European TV giant Sky has launched the next generation of its home entertainment system in the UK and Ireland. Sky Q is aimed at providing a seamless viewing experience: like similar offerings from US providers Dish and DirecTV, Sky's version of the modern TV ecosystem lets users watch shows on different TVs and devices, pause and resume in different rooms and save recordings onto tablets.
Sky has 21 million customers across Italy, Germany, Austria, the UK and Ireland. In addition to its existing TV services that allow users to pause, rewind and record shows, it also offers over-the-top streaming and broadband services, as well as running its own content production arms.
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The new Q service is made up of a wirelessly connected family of products, including a set-top box (either HD or UHD), a touch-control remote, a mini box for use in different rooms to the main set-top box, and a broadband hub. Like other modern set-top box offerings, Sky's version is aimed at allowing users to watch what they want, when they want, where they want and on the device they want (Sky calls this "Fluid Viewing").
To begin with, Sky Q allows customers to watch different programs on up to five TV screens, useful for family members who might each want to watch something different. This room-to-room viewing is made more seamless still by users being able to pause viewing in one room and pick it up where they left off in another. On top of that, it's possible to record a further four channels for later viewing.
Again, none of these are new innovations, but this is Sky's first big foray into a Dish Hopper-like modern viewing experience.
In addition to being able to watch live, recorded or on-demand content on different TVs around their home, users can also watch content on a tablet, extending the Fluid Viewing concept across devices. It's also possible to save recordings onto a tablet to watch anywhere at a later point, such as during a commute.
Sky Q can be controlled using a new touchpad remote or via a tablet using the Sky Q app. New TV guide and search interfaces are aimed at making it easier to find content, while it's also possible to use apps (such as YouTube and Vevo), view Facebook photos and stream music via the system. Sky Broadband customers, meanwhile, can increase the reach of their Wi-Fi by using all their Sky Q boxes as Wi-Fi hotspots.
Sky Q is available with setup costs from £99 (about US$140) and subscription costs from £54 ($80) a month for new customers. It is available now, with the first installations expected at the end of February. A UHD service to accompany the UHD set-top box will roll out later this year.
The video below provides an introduction to Sky Q.