In the not-too-distant past, TV consisted of 4 channels – and if you were lucky, you had a VCR to record to. Skip forward 20 years and we have hundreds of channels and an ever-increasing amount of ‘On Demand’ content.
Over two-thirds of us now use on-demand services as part of our TV entertainment. With the exception of live sport, we have consumed all of our TV viewing this way for over 2 years. Ever-increasing broadband speeds, coupled with flexible lifestyles will only push this forward and increase demand for such services.
The past year has seen more and more options available to viewers – boxes such as the Roku and Apple TV allow us to stream viewing straight to our TV, but live TV options have been somewhat limited – until now.
Sky have introduced the NOW TV Box – which is essentially a Roku box minus network streaming, but with the addition of NOW TV, which allows you to view all Sky Sports and Movies channels without singing a contract or having a Satellite dish hanging outside your house. Best of all, the box costs less than a DVD – only £9.99
The box itself has the footprint of a beer mat and is only 23mm high. The rear features power socket, HDMI and A/V Line Out. It works over wi-fi only, with no ethernet connection – so you’ll want to ensure you have stable Wi-fi before you consider one of these.
It streams in 720p rather than 1080p, which is to be expected at the price, but is perfectly adequate in any event.
Everything you need to get up and running is included in the box – including a remote control, batteries and HDMI cable.
It’s quick and easy to set up, though you do need to do some of the setup process on a computer or laptop – which I find frustrating. It surely can’t be that hard to integrate a signup procedure in the software? Fortunately, you’re not committing to anything during this process – you don’t even need to give payment details to get up and running. If you only want the box to get iPlayer on your TV, there’s no need to worry.
Although the box itself is inexpensive, there’s no getting around the fact that NOW TV as a service is a little pricy – especially for sport. A 24 hour day pass gives you access to all the Sky Sports channels, including Sky Sports F1, for £9.99. If you watch live sport on a regular basis, you’re probably going to get better value from a normal Sky subscription. If, on the other hand, you only want to watch the odd match, or perhaps the US Open, it’s a great way to watch without committing to a contract.
Movies are a better proposition – a 3 month trial is available costing only £8.99 (£15 a month thereafter), but you get access to all the movie channels for the entire month for that price.
Access to other services such as iPlayer, Demand 5, Spotify, Sky News & Facebook are all free and don’t require any subscription. If you don’t already have a ‘smart’ TV, but want to watch iPlayer programs on your TV, the £10 cost for the box alone is great value.
Sky have promised that additional services will be added in the near future, which will presumably include things like ITV Player and 4oD. I doubt we’ll see the likes of Netflix or Lovefilm on it anytime soon though – for those I’d suggest the Roku, which also now supports NOW TV.
In use, the blue & white user interface is basic, but easy to navigate. The remote features a number of shortcut buttons, making it super-easy to get where you want – not that it’s especially easy to get lost!
The only ‘live’ free channel available ‘out of the box’ is Sky News – the BBC News app features regular newsclips, but not the live broadcast. The quality is determined by your broadband connection to an extent, but in our case (with Fibre broadband) it was close to broadcast quality. If you have anything above an 8Mb connection, I’d expect you to see the same.
In a nutshell, the NOW TV box is good value if you want iPlayer on your TV and/or want to watch the occasional live sports. At £10, it’s hard not to see these being popular.
You can buy the NOW TV box directly at NowTV.com and a FREE 30 Day trial of Movies. PLUS – start a trial today and get either a £20 Next Voucher (click here) or £20 M&S Voucher (click here) if you remain a paying customer for at least 1 month (cost £8.99) – this effectively makes the box, and 2 months worth of Movies FREE!
I was sent the Sky NOW TV Box for review purposes, but all words and opinions are my own.