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How to upgrade your Sky Q box for HDR

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(Image: © Sky)

Good news, Sky Q subscribers: the UK streaming box finally has HDR support.

HDR (or high dynamic range) expands the color gamut of the content streamed to your television, ensuring you get richer pictures and enhanced contrast over regular old SDR (standard dynamic range).

It's not as easy as hitting a button, though, as only some Sky Q boxes are currently HDR-compatible, and others will require you to upgrade your streaming box if you want to access an HDR-ready world.

Support for HDR came to Sky Q on May 27 – well after an initial expected date of 2019 – but there's been plenty of confusion over how you access it, what hardware is compatible, how to upgrade, and what else you need to figure out before streaming in HDR.

1. Check you have an HLG TV

Before you get up in arms about your Sky Q box not funnelling you the finest HDR images, it's worth checking your TV can actually display Sky's HDR format of choice.

Sky Q uses HLG (hybrid log gamma), which is a kind of dual SDR-HDR format able to output on both SDR and HDR TVs.

If your TV can't display in HLG, then getting an HDR-ready streaming box won't be of much use to you. Sky has collated a handy list of links, which you'll find below. These will help you check the format support on your television if you're unsure:

The Walking Dead on Sky Q

The Walking Dead on Sky Q (Image credit: Sky)

2. Check your Sky Q model

Next, you need to make sure you don't already have the right hardware.

You can do this by pressing Home on your Sky Q remote, going to Settings > System Info > Hardware version, and seeing if your model is one of the HDR-capable models below. (The 'xx' can refer to any two numbers.)

  • 32B1xx (Sky Q 2TB)
  • 32B203 or 32B204 (Sky Q 1TB UHD)
  • 32B205 or 32B206 (Sky Q 1TB or 2TB)

If so, don't worry! You're all set to enjoy HDR viewing. If you have any of the models below, though, you're in dire need of an upgrade:

  • 32B0xx (Sky Q 2TB)
  • 32C0xx (Sky Q 1TB)
  • 32C1xx (Sky Q 1TB)
  • 32D0xx (Sky Q Mini box)
  • 32D1xx (Sky Q Mini box)

Sky Q

The Sky Q box (Image credit: Future)

3. Upgrade your Sky Q streaming box

If you have the right TV, but not the right streaming hardware, you're going to need to upgrade.

If you sign in to your Sky account here, you'll be shown options to upgrade, though there is a small price uptick to get the new hardware sent your way.

If you have a 2TB box with a 32B0xx model number, though, you'll have to spend £50 to upgrade to an equivalent HDR model. We're told that this fee covers "postage, packaging, admin fees, and the return of your old Sky Q box" (via Forbes). 

If you have a 1TB box with a 32C0xx or 32C1xx model number, you'll have to spend £25 to upgrade to an equivalent HDR model. We're told that this fee covers "postage, packaging, admin fees, and the return of your old Sky Q box" (via Forbes).

If you have a 2TB box with a 32B0xx model number, you'll have to spend a larger £50 fee – though this upgrade option isn't yet available, due to issues by Sky customer services processing model upgrades in their system (again, via Forbes).

Sky HQ didn't initially foresee needing to switch customers from a 2TB model to anything else – HDR, or otherwise – meaning there isn't currently a way to process the move. We expect this to get ironed out in the coming months, though. Hold tight, folks!

  • What's all the fuss about? See our Sky Q HDR guide for the full lowdown
Henry St Leger

Henry is TechRadar's News & Features Editor, covering the stories of the day with verve, moxie, and aplomb. He's spent the past three years reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as well as gaming and VR – including a stint as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.