Television and how we watch it, is changing. We have more screens, from living room to tablet and there’s a growing stack of shows that include those we’ve always watched and new ones that someone’s suggested we’ll love. Watching television shouldn’t be a chore. It should be intuitive and accessible ensuring that we get the most important thing out of the experience, entertainment.
Sky Ireland launch Sky Q on Tuesday which is a huge overhaul of their TV viewing experience. Sky say that they’ve ‘re-imagined television’ and with so much content flooding into our homes it’s good to hear that someone is trying to tackle the challenge of getting the entertainment we want, on to our various screens in the the easiest possible way.
Sky Q comes in a variety of bundles and I’ve looked at the top of the range Sky Q Silver coupled with Sky Broadband. The new Sky box looks more like a device from a mainstream tech company than a TV company, significantly sleeker than the current Sky box, despite its 2 terabyte hard-disk. It’s Ultra-HD ready in expectation of the launch of an Ultra HD service later in 2016.
The accompanying new Sky Q Bluetooth remote control is as attractive as it is intuitive with it’s new super-responsive touchpad for scrolling and selecting. The new set-up also means that if you’re like many homes and have the best sound-system in the house connected to the TV, you can play your music library from your phone via Bluetooth to those speakers.
If you’re a Sky broadband customer you’ll be able to take advantage of the new Sky Hub which turns the Sky Q boxes in your home into Wifi hotspots, ensuring a better signal throughout the home.
The new interface on Sky Q makes navigation and discovery, or finding new things to watch a pleasure. Finding your favourites is easy, but finding other content is just as intuitive. You can search by genre, by actor or say, you’re keen on live sports of any kind, rather than a specific game, Sky Q will serve up matches tagged as live up for your consideration. They’ve added beautifully simple, but useful features all around the system. Pressing the record button when you find a program records the series, press again to make it just one episode of the show.
These subtleties are dotted all around the Sky Q system adding up to an enhanced viewing experience. The introduction of sidebars, the type we see online, to get updates from Sky News or Sports on the screen are a clever addition and they’ve also integrated online videos giving viewers access to YouTube, Vevo, GQ and others, all displayed within the new Sky interface.
It’s the new fluid nature of viewing on this platform that is probably the biggest draw of Sky Q. Multi-room is a concept we’ve been familiar with for a while but now Sky brings your entertainment all around the home, and beyond. You can add two Sky Q Mini boxes for multi-room viewing that allows you to start a program in the living room and pick up where you left it later from the bedroom. Sky Q Silver makes it easy to store up the whole family’s favourite programs for watching later as you can record four shows while watching a fifth live. When you want to watch all of this content the Sky Q app is the most convenient way to do it and in they’ve made a huge stride in adding the ability to download those recorded shows to your tablet, and bring them with you for watching outside the home.
As impressive as Sky Q is, there are improvements that could be made. As attractive as the the trimmed down remote control is, it does require the selection of individual letters to search or enter a word onscreen. I find this a tedious feature on other platforms and Sky plan on avoiding this by adding voice search, which cannot come quick enough. Hopefully it won’t be long before they add more personalisation features which make the experience more about the individual in the living room or in front of second screen. Right now, this system is family centric but online we’ve learned to expect personalisation for our own viewing habits and a sophisticated system like this could the first to bring that experience from online to on-the-sofa.