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Sky Store review

Michael Passingham
11 Sep 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
4.49
inc VAT for SD movie rental

With rentals limited to SD, poor-quality HD content and a fairly small library, Sky Store is only redeemed by its free DVD offer

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Specifications

Platforms: Web, Roku, Sky+ Box, iOS, Android 

Content: Max 1080i quality including closed captions and 5.1 surround sound

Sky's pay-per-view film service is called Sky Store. This should not be mistaken for the Sky Shop, where you buy TV and broadband packages, and is also entirely separate from Sky's Now TV subscription service, and it isn't part of Sky Films, either. What's more, it has no connection to Sky On Demand, which is a TV streaming service for Sky+HD subscribers.

Find the best movie streaming service for you with our indepth guide

Content

Sky Store is only for films, and there are no TV programmes available. Sky claims there are "more than 1,200" titles available, which is a fairly paltry selection. Still, we found all the latest releases on Sky Store, so if you're only after films you missed in the cinema recently, you'll probably find what you're looking for here.

If you only want to rent a film, Sky Store is to be avoided. Not only are rentals only available in SD, they're priced at the same level as HD rentals on other services: £4.49. By comparison, most services charge £3.49 for an SD film rental, so Sky's offering is simply not competitive. If for some reason you choose to rent something, you have 30 days to start watching and 48 hours to finish once you press play.

The service has one redeeming feature that physical media enthusiasts will love, and it's something that's unique to Sky Store. If you buy a film to keep from Sky Store (typically £13.99 for a new film), you will also be sent a copy on DVD. This means you can have a physical representation of your digital library. It's a shame it's only DVD quality - Blu-ray would be preferable, especially as you've already bought the film digitally in HD. However, the DVD would either make a low-cost gift or a way to show off your extensive film collection to your friends.

There are other drawbacks to the digital portion of the service. There are no subtitles, for example; a fact that Sky does not acknowledge in its FAQ section. You also don't get 5.1 surround sound and HD content is all 720p and not Full HD. The only exception is when you watch a rental on your Sky+ box, at which point you get a 1080i file, which still isn't as sharp as 1080p HD.

The library is fairly well laid out, with a menu on the left breaking the catalogue down into genres. There are also sections for the latest releases, and a section for British films. There's a 99p rental section akin to a bargain bin at a supermarket, full of films you probably don't need to watch. There's also a Deal Of the Week section, which has some reasonably attractive £5.99 digital HD + DVD offers including, at the time of writing, Turbo, Psycho and Les Misérables.

Video quality

Sky Store's video quality is very poor indeed. The amount of visual noise makes it look like a film grain effect has been added, and colours are squashed with contrast very low indeed. You don't even need to zoom into a frame like we have below, and it's a very disappointing experience overall.

Click on either image below for a bigger view.

Platforms

As with most video-streaming services, you can access your Sky Store library from a web interface. You can watch purchased 720p HD video on a Windows PC from a web browser, although you won't be able to watch in Chrome because Sky Store uses a Microsoft Silverlight-based player that Chrome does not support. If you don't want to have to use another browser, you can download the Sky Store application for Windows. This program, as well as allowing you to stream content, lets you download films you've bought. You can't download rented films, however, which is a big drawback if you wanted to rent a film for watching on your laptop on a flight but don't want to pay £13.99 to buy it outright.

Things are even worse for Mac users, who are limited to SD content only. Mac owners will be much better off with iTunes. The same is pretty much true for iOS owners, although the iOS app does at least have the saving grace of 720p streaming and downloads.

Android tablet and phone users also get 720p streaming and downloads, but you can't buy films from within the app, so you'll have to buy or rent films from your browser before downloading and watching them on your Android device.

The only caveat with downloading your library is that you must occasionally connect your device to the internet so Sky can validate your video licences. Sky doesn't specify how often you'll need to do this, but it may become a problem if you're spending a while somewhere without Wi-Fi.

Unusually, you'll find a Sky Store player on your YouView box, which is a handy addition if you have no other means to rent films on your TV. However, there are cheap ways of getting access to other streaming services, such as with a Chromecast or Roku. If you have a Roku, you can play your purchased Sky Store content in 720p. The same applies to the Sky-owned NowTV box.

Overall, Sky Store feels a little bit detached from Sky's mighty empire, hosting a fairly small library of films and not catering at all well to the rental market. The gimmick of getting a DVD copy of every digital purchase might appeal to some, but in the hotly competitive world of pay-per-view, we expected better from the masters of paid-for UK TV content. 

BEST FOR: DVD collectors

Pricing
HD Film (rent/buy)No/£13.99 + DVD
SD Film (rent/buy)£4.49/No
HD TV series (buy only)No
SD TV series (buy only)No
Content
Rental period30 days
Time to finish watching48 hours
SubtitlesNo
5.1 surround soundYes
Platform details
Web/PC/MacWeb: Windows 720p streaming, Mac SD streaming
Roku720p
Amazon Fire TVNo
Amazon Kindle FireNo
Games consolesNo
Smart TV/box manufacturer supportSky+
Smart TV/box quality1080i
iOS720p streaming and downloads
Apple TV/AirPlayNo/No
Android720p streaming and downloads
Windows PhoneNo
ChromecastNo
UltraViolet supportNo
Detailsskystore.com

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