Updated: We recently got the chance to try out Sky's enhanced app functionality and alert features and have updated our review to reflect the additions.
Sky Q represents a massive leap forward for Sky. The company has badged the new service as "the biggest re-imagining of Sky ever" and this isn't hyperbole - it's a Sky system built from the ground up, for those who no longer just want to watch shows in their living room which is, well, pretty much all of us.
Sky has tried this before. Its multi-room package was a successful attempt at spreading Sky channels throughout the house but this relies on installation. Sky remedied this somewhat with the opening up of its Sky Go app to other platforms. The app's appearance on Xbox and PlayStation meant that you could have multi-room, through the web, without having to get a Sky engineer in.
Then there was the introduction of its contract-free streaming option Now TV. All of these are good services in their own right but they are silos - they don't connect with each other.
Sky Q is the connective tissue for its television service and it is something that has been sorely needed. Since the launch of Sky HD a decade ago, the broadcast game has significantly changed.
It is now fighting against a number of content providers, namely BT, Netflix, Amazon and Virgin. Business models at Sky are being re-evaluated because of this. It's tougher than ever to sell content 'packages' - consumers are looking toward all-you-can-eat non-contract offerings.
Design and setup
Sky has always been a step ahead with technology, however. And Sky Q is packed with cutting-edge ideas - some of which Sky customers won't even see for the first couple of months. Sky Q feels like a package that is one step ahead of what the customer wants, and Sky will want it to be that way for years to come.
Sky Q is completely connected - each box you add to the system speaks to each other so if you have recorded something on the main box downstairs, then you will be able to access it upstairs. If you are mid-watching something then the idea is you can pause (as long as it has been recorded or is being recorded), then pick up from where you left off anywhere in your home, thanks to the inclusion of an iPad app.
There are two options with Sky Q. The version we reviewed was the more premium Sky Q Silver option but there is a standard box that can still take advantage of the Fluid Viewing experience, but isn't quite advanced.
The standard Sky Q box offers 1TB of storage, the ability to record three things at once and watch a fourth, and you can also stream to one tablet. Both boxes also act as a WiFi hotspot. Sky Q Silver ups the storage to 2TB, can record four things and also watch a fifth and you can stream to two tablets.
There's no difference in size when it comes to the main boxes. They both measure 232 x 155 x 34mm, which is a severe reduction in footprint when compared to the current HD box - which varies in size depending on the makers of the box but the biggest measures a chunky 398 x 283 x 81mm.
These main boxes are part of a bigger mesh network. The network is powered by a new Sky Hub that offers dual-band wireless 5G technology.
Creating its own mesh network means that there's no additional pressure on your normal WiFi connection. In fact, it will help WiFi flow better through your home as each box you add to your Sky Q setup also acts as a WiFi hotspot.
The technology behind this mesh network is being provided by AirTies. According to this company, the service allows 10 premium video streams simultaneously from multiple sources including live broadcast, recorded on PVR, OTT from the internet or from a local NAS server.
So, Sky isn't quite using the tech to its limits yet but this doesn't mean it won't - Sky has made its boxes Ultra HD (4K) compatible, though this feature is currently dormant.