Move over Sky+, here comes Sky Q...

New premium system supports Ultra HD, oodles of flexibility

Sky has launched a new system of products that looks set to appeal to devoted telly addicts and 4K enthusiasts. Dubbed Sky Q, it includes two flavours of main set-top box, multiroom box and hub. Hardware is scheduled to surface early next year, where it will sit alongside Sky+ and Now TV products in the satcaster's stable.

The flagship Sky Q product is the Sky Q Silver set-top box (pictured below). This is Ultra HD ready (content, including 'sports, movies and entertainment' is confirmed for later in 2016, according to Sky Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch) and features a 2TB hard drive. It's about half the height of an existing Sky+HD PVR. It packs 12 tuners, enabling you to record four channels at once while watching a fifth.

What those other tuners are for is where Sky Q gets really interesting. A Sky Q system can support two further Sky Q Mini STBs, feeding other screens in the house. So far, so standard multiroom. However, these dinky boxes don't connect to the dish, instead drawing TV (live or recorded) from the main Sky Q silver hardware via Wi-Fi or powerline.

Furthermore, up to two connected tablets/smartphones can be part of a Sky Q system, as beifts the brand's new 'set your TV free' slogan. And recorded content can be downloaded to smart devices for out-of-the-house viewing.

A less powerful main box, simply called Sky Q, will offer a 1TB drive, Full HD output (so no 4K upgrade) eight tuners and simultaneously support a single Sky Q Mini and tablet.

Other new features of Sky Q include a revamped interface, introduction of video and music-on-demand services (including Vevo and YouTube), Facebook-synced photo viewing, and a newly-designed Bluetooth touch remote (which will eventually support voice search). A neat trick of the handset is that should you lose it, you can instruct it to emit a beep tone via the main PVR.

Sky Q pricing is still be to be announced, but as this will become the brand's premium option you can expect it to be priced accordingly. Those who do choose to sign up will require an engineer installation even if they are an existing customer as an LNB upgrade is necessary – but the existing dish and cabling can remain. Note that it won't be possible to integrate Sky's new hardware with existing Sky+HD gear.

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