Sky has opted for an app centric home screen. On the left-hand side of the screen are a number of default apps, including Now TV itself and BBC iPlayer. To add more to the home screen, I had to go into the Roku channel store.
Here there were will around 50 apps available, the pick of the bunch being: Sky Store, Sky Sports News HQ, BBC News, Demand 5, TED, Spotify, Sky News, BBC Sport, ITV Player and All 4.
Anyone familiar with Roku's lineup will know that this is an extremely cut-down version of what is available through the official channel store. Notable apps that are absent are Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Although I would have loved the Now TV box to come with those sorts of options, I can understand why Sky would want to ring-fence its own box from direct rivals.
This is definitely a closed Roku box. There's no Plex on board, so media streaming isn't available through the box (although a quick Google reveals that you may be able to side-load the app) and gaming is also non-existent, but the cut-down price does reflect this.
XXXThere is an option to get rid of modifying the apps selection. To do this I pressed the Star option on the Now TV remote and found I could remove as many apps as I wanted. There is also a choice to move them around to suit preference. I could also rate content this way.
With apps on the left, on the right of the screen was a constant reminder of the content I could have.
XXXThis is the beauty of Now TV: you only pay for what section you want. So if you just want movies, that's all you pay for; if you want entertainment then you'll get those channels; if you want sport – well there are a options but this is by far the most expensive part of the package.
It's worth noting, however, that you can watch Sky Sports News HQ with any of the Now TV packs that you choose, not just the sports one. This is a good move by Sky, as the channel is an essential addition to any package for sports lovers.
Regardless of the package you have, the UI is the same. At the bottom of the screen are the following options: Sports, Movies, Entertainment, My TV Search, Help and My Account.
To make sure that Now TV isn't just seen as an on-demand platform, Sky has also added a Live section to Movies and Entertainment.
With Movies, this doesn't really make much sense – all it does is give you a list of what movies are playing on Sky at any given moment. Click into the one you want, and if you missed the beginning then tough – you have to watch it from that point. It makes much more sense to go and find that movie on-demand and watch it that way.
Live works better on the Entertainment side of things. Here you can channel-hop between Sky Living, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts, Sky 1, MTV, Gold, Fox, Disney, Discovery, Comedy Central, Nick, Nick Jr and ITV Encore.
Again, you have to watch from whatever the live point is, but it does mean that you can watch shows such as the Simpsons on Sky 1 – something that isn't in Sky's on-demand catalogue.
Quality-wise, it all really depends on your internet connection. The Sky box can do surround sound, which is a bonus, and video quality is no longer capped at 720p – you can pick up Full HD 1080p content now as well.
I tried the box with an 8Mbps and a 100Mbps connection, and it worked great. There was very little buffering and startup was extremely quick.
One good thing is that there are no adverts to sit through – as you would expect in return for paying a premium – but you still have to put up with the Sky indents that appear throughout programmes. I didn't find them that distracting, but it's strange that these are still in place when they aren't followed by any advertising.