If you’re not particularly up to speed with all the latest technology, it can be frustrating to hear new shorthands like ‘Sky Q’ thrown around. Whether you haven’t had the time to read up on it, or you just can’t keep track of which letter or number corresponds to which piece of technology any more - we get it. Fortunately, we at Selectra are here to clear up the jargon for you. So what is Sky Q? Let’s set the record straight.
Sky Q - what is it?
Actually, we’re not even sure it’s a name that can be pinned to one specific feature or gadget. When you say Sky Q, you could be referring to one of a few things - the series of 'Sky Q' gadgets that have been rolled out, or the Sky Q experience. As far as Sky is concerned, these two are linked but do not necessarily go hand in hand, and just because you have the former doesn’t mean you get the latter.
We’re going to run you through each of these, beginning with the most elusive and the one of which Sky is most proud - the Sky Q experience.
What is the Sky Q experience?
Essentially, Sky Q is an add-on to your TV package which allows you to link all the televisions in your home and give each one access to your package. This feature will add £13 per month to your bill, and the main benefits it adds are the following:
- Watch everything included in your package around your home.
- Pause in one room and resume in another.
- Q Mini boxes act as WiFi hotspots for improved signal in each room.
If you were crying out for an end to the war over the remote for the big telly, the Sky Q experience is here to end your woes. For the extra money you can banish series binge-watchers to another room when live sport is on without a family fallout over it. They can just pause and pick it up on another TV, and they won’t have to sit through a 5-day test match while they wait!
This seems like an excellent idea to us, but we’re not sure whether it would be worth the extra cost. There’s also a one-off cost to view on each additional TV. It all adds up, and whether it’s worth your while depends on how much of a problem viewing on one TV is for your household at the moment.
Sky Q box
Sky Q also refers to Sky’s new range of boxes. You'll need one of these boxes in order to get the ‘experience’, but the experience won't come with it. It goes without saying that to get a box you need to sign up for a Sky TV package, which will set you back at least £22 a month for the most basic package.
Regardless of which box you get with your package, you’ll have to pay an extra £13 a month to get multi-room viewing and other features associated with the experience. This isn’t to say they don’t have their own appeal, however, so let’s take a look at what you get with each:
Sky Q 1TB box
Sky Q 2TB box
Sky Q 2TB box + Q Experience
| Record 3 shows while watching a 4th
Store up to 500hrs
| Record 6 shows while watching a 7th
Store up to 1,000hrs
| Record 6 shows while watching a 7th
Store up to 1,000hrs
HD and Ultra HD
Multiple room viewing
Sky Go Extra
We’ve italicised the features that only come when you add the Q experience. Though without the experience the 2TB box offers quite a bit more than its sibling, we wouldn’t bother with it unless you’re set on the Q experience with all the trimmings. It’s a lot more expensive to set up, and the full deal would cost you more per month as well.
You’ll notice that the full Q experience can only be added to the 2TB box - this is because only the 2TB box has the storage capacity needed to support Ultra HD (UHD), the next level of display resolution that Sky is now offering. You can, however, it seems, add the Q experience minus Ultra HD to a 1TB box if you choose to.
To be honest, UHD isn’t a clincher for us. How much higher can the pixel definition of my TV get? You also need to bear in mind that your TV needs to be UHD ready and only certain channels and box sets offer UHD. Those of you who simply have to have all the latest tech, however, might be more persuaded by this addition. It’s also true that as more people adopt the technology, more channels will offer UHD content, and it sometimes pays to be ahead of the curve.
Another important feature to mention is that with the (link coming soon) Sky Go Extra app, you can watch your Sky Q recordings on the go on up to four compatible devices.
Sky Q Mini box
Apart from the main boxes, you might also hear Sky Q used to reference the Mini boxes which come exclusively with the Q experience. These are the boxes that extend your WiFi connection and connect to your main box to let you watch in more rooms. You can connect up to four of them and watch on two different TVs at the same time with the 1TB box, or on three different TVs with the 2TB box.
Each of these Mini boxes is wireless, so they won’t cause any mess or fuss in terms of installation - but each, as we’ve mentioned, will cost you. If you’re with (link coming soon) Sky Broadband as well as TV, you’ll be drawn in by the Mini boxes’ function as WiFi boosters around your home to improve your internet coverage.
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Sky Q app
The Sky Q app is soon to be no more! Sky have announced that a new and improved version of the Sky Go app (link coming soon) will incorporate features of the existing Sky Q app instead. The app was (and still is for now) a way for Sky Q Multiscreen users to access their shows and recordings from their devices.
The app allows you to pause whatever you’re watching on your TV and resume watching on any Android or iOS device in another (or on the go). You can also set your Sky Q box at home to record something on your phone via the app. These features, it’s assumed, will be carried over to the new Sky Go app, about which you can find out more in our My Sky page. For my info on the current Sky Q app, however, go to the help centre on Sky's website.
More Sky Q tech
Apart from the above, there are a few more gadgets that come as part of the Sky Q brand. Here are the other new things you can expect when you get set up with Sky Q:
Sky Q hub
If your deal includes Sky Broadband, you also have the option to upgrade to the Sky Q Hub. The hub offers a few features which may interest you:
- ‘Smart WiFi technology’, which Sky claims offers 3x faster speeds than its previous generation of router.
- ‘Smart signal technology’, which optimises your WiFi so you always have the best connection.
- Better coverage for Sky Q experience customers, whose Mini boxes act as WiFi boosters throughout the home.
All new Sky Broadband customers will receive the Sky Q Hub. If you’re a Sky customer and don’t have it yet you can upgrade, but unfortunately you’ll have to pay the same £9.95 postage and packaging charge that everyone else does.
This upgrade may not be worth your while if you’re a broadband-only customer - some reviewers on the independent review site Trustpilot have complained of the router’s “extremely poor quality in terms of the WiFi range.” If you’re a TV customer, this shouldn’t be an issue, but otherwise it looks like Sky has done little outside of its TV offer to improve its service.
Sky Q remote
Sky Q boxes, you may not be surprised to learn, don’t just come with the same old remotes. They’ve had an upgrade. The new remotes are called Sky Q Touch remotes and have touch-screen capability. They also come with a Bluetooth feature which allows you to control your TV when the remote is shut away in a drawer somewhere. Sky has also added a built-in microphone allowing for a voice search function - simply tell your remote what show you want to watch and it will find it for you.
Most importantly, we think, Sky has answered a more basic need with these new remotes. If you lose it, you can press a button on your Sky Q box and an alarm in your remote will sound letting you know exactly where it is. Now this is a feature we’ve been waiting for!
You might have guessed that the new remote doesn’t come free. You’ll have to fork out another £39.99 for one of these.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I set up my Sky Q Mini box?
Sky do offer some advice on setting up your Mini box for the best signal quality. We recommend you follow its advice to avoid any issues in getting signal. Here’s what Sky suggests:
- Ensure your box is at least one metre from the ground and not too close to the ceiling.
- Ensure your box is easily seen so you don’t knock it over and break it!
- Ensure there’s a good distance between your box and other electrical devices.
Can I get Sky Q installed without any drilling?
You will need to have a dish installed, which you won’t have if you’re not already a Sky customer, so there may be some drilling required. Sky’s engineers, it says, can advise you on your options on the day of installation. If, however, you live in a block of flats with a communal dish, you won’t need to have a new one installed.
I already have a Sky box, will I still need an engineer visit?
Yes. To make sure you get set up without a hitch, Sky always sends an engineer to come with the new equipment and get it set up for you.
What content is available in Ultra HD?
What content you receive is also dependent on your package. You won’t get any UHD channels that aren’t included in your deal just because you have access to UHD. Here’s a guide to what you’ll see in UHD according to each package:
- Within Sky Entertainment: Documentaries on Nat Geo and the Discovery channel, live music events, plus catch up drama and comedy.
- Within Ultimate On Demand: a selection of UHD box sets and Netflix Ultra HD shows.
- Within Sky Cinema: 200 films in UHD, with new ones every week.
- Within Sky Sports: live sports events, including Premier League, F1, darts, rugby and boxing.
If you have a question that wasn't answered here, you could ask Sky yourself! Find out the best way to do so on our Sky contact page.