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Sky Q 1TB vs Sky Q 2TB vs Sky+ HD: which is best for you? Sky+ HD officially discontinued

Christopher Minasians Jonathan Bray
14 Dec 2016
Sky Q Box
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Trying to work out if it's worth upgrading your Sky+ HD box? Here's what Sky Q offers in comparison.

Sky Q is one of the best premium TV platforms, due to its ability to stream content from around your house (and even outside of it!), where it gives you more in common with movie and TV streaming services rather than a traditional PVR (see, what is Sky Q? for more details). But, if you mostly watch TV in your living room, then Sky Q could be a rather bloated and an over-the-top replacement for trusty old Sky+ HD. In this article, I'll compare the two systems, so that you can make the right choice, especially if you're upgrading. As the content available is the same between both systems, I'm assuming that you already know and what the content that Sky has; if not, you should look at my Freeview vs Freesat article to find out which service is best for you. 

It should be noted that Sky+ HD boxes have now been discontinued, whereby if you're a new Sky customer, you'll only have the option to order a Sky Q box. The article has been updated to reflect the change.

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Number of recordings

The Sky+ HD box has two tuners, each fed individually by a satellite cable running to the LNB on the satellite dish outside. With two tuners you can record two programmes at the same time. While doing this, you can also watch one of the shows that you're recording, or you can watch a different recording or download on-demand programmes. Alternatively, you can record one show and watch a different programme completely. There's a choice of boxes, with the top box providing 2TB of storage.

Sky HD box

Sky Q has a choice of two boxes, both of which increase the number of shows that you can record, thanks to an increased number of tuners. Cleverly, Sky has adapted the boxes, so that you still only need the two cables from the satellite dish. This means a slight tweak has to be performed on your Sky dish by an engineer.

Onto the boxes. The Sky Q 2TB sits at the high-end, with a distinctive silver coloured box, the device has a 2TB hard disk and 12 tuners: four of these are for recording, five are for watching live TV (one for your Sky Q 2TB box, two for your Sky Q mini boxes and two for your mobile devices), while one tuner is dedicated to the picture-in-picture mode you see on the now and next mini guide. (The final two are reserved for EPG, UI and update transmission, with the last tuner is a spare reserved for future improvements.) In other words, you'll find it hard to get a recording clash and, not matter how many shows you're recording, you can always watch live TV.

There's also the regular Sky Q box, which has a 1TB hard disk. It has "only" eight tuners – that's three for recording programmes, two for live TV and picture-in-picture, one for a Sky Q Mini box and another for a tablet or smartphone, with the eighth used for UI and EPG data transmission. Recording clashes should be unlikely, but you've still got a dedicated tuner for watching live. 

Sky Q Silver box hero

In terms of the number of shows you can watch, both of the new Sky Q boxes are a step up from the original Sky+ HD, particularly as you can always watch a live channel. If you record a lot of TV, Sky Q will be a big improvement for you.

Multi-room

With the old Sky+ HD you were able to sign up for Multiscreen, which cost £12 extra per month and included a free Sky HD box without recording capability that you could put in another room. You could buy additional boxes for more rooms, but each one had to be cabled into the satellite dish, so you needed enough spare connectors: most dishes have four. Each additional box worked entirely on its own and couldn't interact with your main Sky+ HD box.

With Sky Q things are much better, as you can stream to more devices, including dedicated Sky Q Mini boxes and tablets and smartphones running the Sky Q app. Everything is streamed through the main Sky Q box, so you don't need any additional cabling, with content distributed wirelessly, via the system's 5GHz Wi-Fi mesh network (if you're having problems, try my guide on how to fix Sky Q Connectivity problems). If you take Sky broadband, you get the new Sky Q Hub, which turns all of your Mini boxes into wireless hotspots, improving network coverage at home.

Sky Q Mini hero

Streaming from the main Sky Q box means that you can watch live channels and recordings on your additional boxes, or even move from one to another. For example, you can start watching a recording in your lounge and finish it off in your bedroom, via Sky's Fluid Viewing system. Find out how to use Sky Q's Fluid Viewing

The number of devices that you connect depends on the box you have. The Sky Q 2TB box has dedicated tuners for two Sky Q Mini boxes and two tablets. The regular Sky Q box has dedicated tuners for one Sky Q Mini box and one tablet. In both cases, multi-room is a lot easier with Sky Q and a lot more powerful.

Ultra HD 4K

Ultra HD (or 4K as a lot of people refer to it) uses four times the number of pixels as regular Full HD TV: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels vs 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. It also offers double the frame rate, at 50fps. The result is smoother and much more detailed footage, as I saw in my BT Sport Ultra HD review

Sky includes it as a feature in their Sky Q 2TB box – make sure you have a UHD TV to benefit from the increased resolution. Also see: Delivering content via satellite and on-demand.

Remote control

The Sky+ HD remote control has been around for years and is familiar to millions of homes. It does the job well, but Sky Q introduces a new touch remote, with a touchpad. It's Bluetooth, so you don't need line-of-site, but the touchpad is really sensitive and the old was much easier to use.

Sky Q and Sky+ HD remotes

Interface

Although the Sky+ interface has changed and evolved over the years, it's nowhere near as advanced as the Sky Q interface. Using the more powerful boxes' processor, the new interface is much quicker and slicker to use. Faster search, a home screen that gives you reminders and suggestions for TV shows and a list of recently watched programmes are all way better than what you get with Sky+ HD. On top of that, Sky Q is set to offer voice search in a coming update, making it easier to find your favourite shows or channels.

Sky Q Top Picks

Apps

The Sky+ app is brilliant, letting you manage your box and recordings from your tablet or phone. It also lets you use it as a remote control, selecting what to watch and controlling playback.

Sky+ App

The new Sky Q app is more advanced in most ways, but it can't be used as a remote. This is because Sky believes that it would be confusing to use, as you'd have to select which box to control or play content on. Other than that, the app does a lot more, including letting you download recorded shows for offline viewing, letting you take your own content out of the house to watch later. It also provides Sky Go functionality, letting you watch live and on-demand content when you're out and about.

Sky Q iPad App

Other content

Sky Q is expandable in a way that Sky+ isn't. It has most of the popular apps, such as Vevo for music videos and YouTube, and I would expect more apps to come. Sky Q supports AirPlay and Bluetooth, so you can play music directly from your phone to the box. The Sky+ HD supports none of this, nor will it.

Owning/renting

A big change with Sky Q is that you now only rent the equipment, whereas with Sky+ you had to buy the PVR. So, if you get a hardware issue, it's now up to Sky to fix it, whereas before you could have found yourself having to buy a new set-top box.

Pricing

The big issue for a lot of people is price, with the worry that the new Sky Q system would be very expensive. The truth is, that it's not actually that expensive, but it depends on exactly what you want it for.

First, it depends on what TV bundle you get: Original Bundle for £20 a month includes 270 channels. Variety Bundle for £32 a month includes 300+ channels and 4,500 episodes of kids' shows and finally the Box Sets Bundle offers 350+ channels, 350+ Sky Box Sets and 4,500 episodes of kids' shows. Sky Cinema is an additional £18 a month and Sky Sports is an additional £27.50 a month.

Looking at the box sets, Sky+ HD used to start at just £20 a month. As Sky+ HD is now discontinued, you might be more interested to know what you currently get - but previous pricing information might serve well as a comparison.

Sky Q 1TB (the regular box) only costs a one-off £15 fee on any bundle. This means you'll get the box for free with any package you choose. If you're looking to watch Ultra HD, you'll have to pay the one-off £199 standard set-up fee. However, if you purchase Sky Q for £12 extra a month, this fee reduces to a one-off fee of £60.

Both of the Sky Q packages let you download shows to your tablets, whereas the ability to download with Sky+ HD required you to buy Sky Go Extra for £5 a month. 

Here's how the top-of-the-range packages compare:

Sky+ HDSky Q 1TBSky Q 2TB
Entry HD bundle£38/month£20/month£20/month
Hard disk size1TB (2TB £149)1TB2TB
Number of tunersTwoEight (record three, watch one, plus support for one Mini and one Tablet)12 (record four, watch one, plus two Mini boxes and two tablets)
Multiscreen and remote
Multiscreen£12/month (requires additional cabling). Note: you can't share recordings£12/month. Note: you can't share recordings£12/month. Note: you can't share recordings
Download to tabletSky Go Extra (£5 a month), included with Multiscreen (limited to on-demand programming only)IncludedIncluded
Extras
Sky Sports£27.50/month£27.50/month£27.50/month
Sky Movies£18/month£18/month£18/month
Sports/Movies discount£36/month for both£36/month for both£36/month for both
HD pack (sports/movies)£6/monthIncludedIncluded
Fees
Installation fee£10£10£10
One-off costN/A£15£199

Conclusion

Sky Q is a big improvement over Sky+ HD, from its ability to record more shows to the smarter way it distributes content around your house. Given it supports 4K and if taken with the right contract comes with a Mini box, I think that the Sky Q 2TB option is the better buy right now, provided you want all of the features that Sky Q has to offer. If you just want a regular service with basic, non-HD channels, then Sky Q is excellent value; if you're looking for basic HD content and currently own the Sky+ HD package, I don't see the real need to upgrade to Sky Q just yet - unless it's offered for free!

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