Sky Q installation

To review Sky Q, we were given a bundle that included a 2TB Sky Q box, two Sky Q mini boxes and a Sky Hub. The Sky Q mini boxes have a similar design to the hub, meaning that they are even smaller than the main Sky Q system.

The reason they are smaller is because they only stream the content from the main box - all recordings are made on the main box, then mirrored to each Mini box.

As with all Sky setups, a Sky engineer will have to come around your house - and be warned, setting up will take longer than normal Sky.

Not because it is more complicated to do - getting the boxes to speak to each other is a little fiddly but the software side of the setup process has actually been shortened - but because they will want to talk you through all the new features. Of which there are plenty. Oh, and they'll need to make changes to the dish itself.

Sky Q review

If we were you, we would make sure you do the following before the setup takes place: keep a note of your current series linked recordings and binge-watch as much as you can on your current Sky setup.

This is because, all of your current saved programmes will be lost. Sky has no way of replicating the programmes you have on a HD box and porting them over. Thankfully this isn't too much of a pain. We saw it as a programme purge, given the amount of shows that were gathering dust on our HD box.

Sky Q review

While it's not a pain, it is frustrating. We can understand that once you figure out a way to open up the Sky HD hard drive, it will be a gift to hackers but the amount of advanced technology on show with Sky Q, you would think the billion pound company would have figured out a way to help its users.

In total, the installers - there were two, Sky is still finessing how it installs this new system - were in the house for two hours.

Sky actually replaced my entire satellite dish. People with newer dishes won't have to have the whole dish replaced, just a new LNB (Low Noise Block Downconverter to give it its fancy name).

Sky Q review

Once this is done, Sky hooks your system up with the hub and figures out the best way to map the devices in your house - this is the longest part of the installation, as Sky need to make sure that nothing interferes with television signal and vice versa.

Sky Q review

As mentioned before, each box you install in this modular system then acts as a hotspot. So even if your internet connection isn't the best, Sky will make the best of it with its new technology. The hub makes use of the 5GHz band as well, so it really doesn't interfere with any gaming or movie streaming you may want to do while watching television.

One of the key features mentioned at the launch of the Sky Q system was that the boxes would try to use regular Wi-Fi to connect your mesh together, but when the signal was too poor courtesy of multiple stories or just extra solid walls, it had the neat ability to use your power lines.

Somewhat frustratingly this feature is not currently enabled. So if you have a concrete house - like one of the reviewers - you will have to either accept holes in walls and more cables, or a Wi-Fi extender.

It's a shame that the feature isn't available at launch and it's something you should actively think through if you are looking to put in multiple boxes and you have already had problems with the Wi-Fi reach in your house.

Sky Q remotes

The new Sky Q box also comes with a brand-new controller. Actually, it comes with two. It has a touch controller that's half the heft of the traditional Sky remote and a Bluetooth non-touchy variant.

Sky is bundling them both as it is a little unsure if people will take to the touch one. That's probably not their official line but that's what it feels like.

Sky Q review

The touch remote is fine. It does take a little getting used to but the touch part - which is situated on the top - is intuitive and it will have you swiping through all the different menus and services in no time.

That said, it's clearly going to be divisive for many, at least until they have come to adjust to the new system. Of two longer-term testers we spoke to, one actively disliked the touch remote whilst the other loved it - which replicated what our reviewers thought.

Sky Q review

And, and this is the most important bit, fast-forwarding is precise enough. We all try and get that perfect sweet spot of forwarding through all of the adverts and hitting Play just before anyone on a show or movie starts to speak and the touch control is capable of doing this with a bit of practice. 

As of March 2017, the touch remote now also accepts voice input, letting you search for shows just by talking to the remote. Keep a button the side of the touch remote held down, and the Sky Q box starts listening, ready for your queries.

It works surprisingly well – the remote obviously accepts voice commands like simple show and movie titles, but can also understand more complex requests. Searching for "dramas rated five stars with Tom Hanks", and it'll duly provide you with Forrest Gump. It's not 100% perfect, but easily as good as any other TV and movie voice search application we've used, and certainly a step up from searching using the Sky Q's frustrating scrolling text input method.

If you lose the remote, click the glowing Q on the front of your box for a few seconds and the remote will emit a whistling sound, which you stop by finding the remote and clicking any of the buttons.