Yes, it really is only £10. Back in 2013, Sky’s Now TV box was a game changer. It provided a cheap way to make any HDMI-equipped TV a smart TV.
But since then streaming has taken off, with new devices now promising more features than the last. And so it is time to revisit this budget wonder.
What you’re getting is really a last-generation Roku LT, subsidised and rebadged by Sky. The company isn’t shy about this, either: the shape, remote control and menus are all unashamedly Roku. But regardless of the manufacturer, this is Sky’s show.
The Now TV branding is everywhere. It is the top app in the menu, and there’s even a dedicated Now TV-button on the remote. So what is Now TV? It is a stripped-down Sky service, divided into three sections: Movies, Entertainment, and Sports. You buy passes for each of these. A Movies pass gives you unlimited access to Sky Movies for £10-per-month.
There are over 1000 titles, with an emphasis on newer releases (there are classics too). The Entertainment pass gives you TV content for £7 per month – programmes are from 13 major channels, including Sky 1, Arts, Living and Atlantic as well as ABC and Comedy Central.
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Alongside big hitters (24, Futurama, Modern Family), you get some of the latest shows before they’re even on disc. Sports passes are a different deal. You get day passes and week passes (£7 and £11 respectively), with access to all six Sky Sports channels.
Each of these passes let you catch up TV you’ve missed, or tune into live broadcasts. So essentially, you get most of the benefits of Sky, without hefty subscription fees and satellite dishes.
A recent development is the availability of box packages: £20 gets you a box and a three-month Movies or Entertainment pass (or two-day Sports passes). The Roku Channel Store has a decent choice of free apps: the UK’s four main catch-up services, as well as BBC News, Sky News, Spotify and YouTube.
However, Netflix, for example, is nowhere to be seen. Nor Amazon Instant Video.
On the hardware side, the Now TV box is unsurprisingly stripped-back – the back features an HDMI output, mini-jack AV-out for analogue audio and video, and a power connection.
Internet connection is strictly wi-fi – there’s no ethernet port. There’s a maximum resolution of 720p, with 5.1 surround sound capability. However, many rivals offer Full HD 1080p to further outgun the Now TV box.
Then there’s the ubiquity of the Now TV app, which transfers the Now TV Box’s presence to just about any other smart device (including newer TVs and consoles), making this kit less essential.
But despite all this, we still have a soft spot for this miniature hero. It is still a decent, smart offering for people with older TVs, and that price has yet to be beaten.
Even after a year-and-a-half, Sky still offers great value for money.
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