Sky Q Silver Review: Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

The future of television is here, but it's not cheap...

08/06/2016 15:49

Sky Q is here, and for the last five months we've been living with what the company is heralding as the future of television.

Boasting a seamless viewing experience called 'Fluid Viewing', Sky Q allows you to pause a program in one room and pick up right where you left off in another, or on your phone or tablet.

It isn't just about the bells and whistles though, Sky Q is a fundamental reimagining of the TV experience that millions of people around the UK know and love.

Well after five months we've experienced Sky Q's positives, its negatives and just about every other emotion in between and we're finally ready to give our verdict.

Sky Q Installation

Booking your Sky Q installation is relatively straightforward, however there are a few things to bare in mind. The engineer needs access to your dish as for Sky Q to work they'll need to do a simple swap over of some components.

It's not a requirement, but it is also recommended that you have Sky's broadband service up and running as well. Many of Sky Q's most useful features stem from its ability to wirelessly send content to each of the Sky boxes around the home.

Sky's new Q Hub is the root of this, you see it's the only router that's compatible with Sky's networking technologies including Powerline (we'll get onto that in a bit).


Once the engineer arrived it became clear that wireless connectivity between the boxes was paramount. Sky Q works by sending TV content from the main box in the living room out to the smaller boxes throughout the house. To do this it uses a powerful 5Ghz wireless network which is entirely private and solely used for this purpose.

5Ghz is pretty powerful, but it's not flawless so it's worth taking a look at the rooms where you'll want Sky Q and then letting the engineer know if there are any WiFi "notspots" in those areas.

We had one such issue with the far bedroom and after a few weeks it soon became clear that all was not well.

An engineer was called back in and installed a Booster which strengthened the signal and has, thus far, resolved the issue.

Sky Q Silver + Sky Q Mini box:

At the heart of the service is the Sky Q Silver box, a sleek, minimalist reimagining of the classic Sky box which contains a gargantuan 2TB hard-drive and a comically large 12 tuners.


What this essentially means is that you can record four shows at the same time while watching a fifth live.

All of the content you record, or download from On Demand in any of the rooms is then saved onto this box.

The Silver box will then wirelessly stream its hard drive to each of the Mini boxes.

So while you might have recorded a bunch of shows on the Q Mini in the kitchen, everything you're then playing is actually being streamed from the Silver box in the living room.


This is an important distinction to make because it highlights just how important it is to get that wireless connection right. If for even a moment it starts to lose signal the Mini Box becomes useless and you lose access to Sky.

This is frustrating for a number of reasons, the first primarily being that you're essentially relying on a technology that is already inherently a pain to get right. WiFi is bad enough, but to make sure that every room has flawless signal can be a real nuisance.

The second is that it actually doesn't have to be this way. Sky Q actually has a wired technology called a Powerline built in. What this does is effectively turn your home's electrical wiring into a data line, sending all your Sky content straight down the power socket.

Sadly it isn't active at the moment, and while Sky says it will activate the feature soon it seems frustrating that the one feature that could eliminate all those wireless woes is in fact just sitting within the box waiting to be turned on.

Sky Q TV Guide:

Sky has completely revamped the guide, and we really do mean completely.

This is not the Sky look that you recognise, instead it's a more visual, touch-focused interface that works by sifting through layers of content over the traditional menu.


If we're honest we're still getting used to it and there are some journeys you make through the system that feel disjointed.

Where it shines though is in creating the feeling that there is quite simply a limitless library of content at your disposal.

Whether it's using the search function, scrolling through the TV Guide itself or browsing the Sky Store they've really nailed the idea that there will always be something for you to watch.


The boxes are pretty clever too, each one learns that room's viewing habits and so every time you switch on the 'My Q' section of the site you'll be shown the programs that Sky thinks you'll want to watch.

What's even more impressive is it's time-sensitive as well, so if you always sit down for a bit of Made in Chelsea on a Monday evening it'll make sure that Made in Chelsea is one of the first things you see when you turn the box on.

Sky Q Remote

You engage with Sky Q using the all-new Sky Q Touch Remote. For many this will be the end of an era and while we will certainly miss that iconic remote the time has come to move on.


The directional arrows have been replaced by a large touchpad at the top. To navigate you either swipe or swipe and hold to scroll quicker.

There's also a touch-sensitive "rocker" at the top that allows you to slide back and forth between fast forward and fast rewind.

Finally there's a mic on the side which will soon enable Sky Q users to do some pretty advanced voice searching.

So what's it like to use? Well it's a mixed bag. We love how much nicer it is to hold in the hand. The rocker at the top as well is a stroke of genius.

If we have one complaint it's the central touchpad, it just doesn't feel sensitive enough which means that scrolling feels very different to the ultra-zippy responsiveness we've come to expect from our smartphones.


Interestingly half of the household uses the standard Sky Q Remote which ditches the fancy touch buttons, while the other half of us have stuck with the flash new remote.

Living with Sky Q:

Has Sky Q's 'Fluid Viewing' concept really shone through as the future of TV? Well sort of, but not in the sense that we're throwing content around the house like it's going out of fashion.

Instead we would argue that Sky Q as a complete package is the future, not just one single feature.

It's knowing that everything everything you've ever recorded is available in every room. It's knowing that you can download any recorded show onto your iPad. It's also knowing that every Sky Q box also doubles as a WiFi hotspot.

This is where Sky Q makes sense. This is an all-in-one system, it does literally everything. There's no switching, no painful tinkering, it all neatly fits together and if there's one thing us humans like it's everything working just as it should.

It is in many ways an Apple way of thinking - every single software and hardware feature on Sky Q has been designed side by side from day one, and it really pays off.

Just like Apple though, this way of thinking comes at a premium, a big one. Sky Q with all the bells and whistles is around £100 per month if you include broadband and movies and sports.

That is a lot, and while we're sure Sky wants everyone converting over, that's just not going to happen. Not yet anyway. For now this is Sky's ultimate package, it is their Mac Pro.


Tv Sky Television
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