Sky Q

So finally getting around to writing a blog about Sky Q – years after having the system. I love Sky Q as a rule, however there are a number of problems, which by now I think Sky should have been able to resolve.

I have also done a blog about Sky Sound Box which complements Sky Q, so please check that out!

I have the 2TB Sky Q Main box which is UHD and HDR compatible and 4 Sky Q Mini Boxes. The system allows for us to watch on the Main Box and up to 2 Mini boxes or on the SkyGo App at the same time. UHD and HDR is available on the Main Box only.

The Sky Q system creates a mesh network so the Mini Boxes can join the network, therefore the only box requiring a satellite feed is the Main Box. I don’t have Sky Broadband so cannot take advantage of using the Mini Boxes doubling up as access points too.

This causes the first disappointment for me, my Sky Q box can only join my 2.4GHz network and not my faster 5GHz network. It is understandable why this is the case, however would have been remedied by having multiple wireless adaptors in the box. But Sky use this to try and upsell Sky Broadband to you.

Sky have been rolling out new features and functions and most recently (December 2020) Amazon Prime joined the app lineup on the box. This sits well alongside Netflix, Disney+, Roku and the other apps on the box and means I don’t have to use my smart TV remote. Here tho lies my second disappointment, I was hoping for Britbox and Apple TV to join the lineup. This would mean I can utilise the SkyQ sound and not have to switch between the TV apps and the Sky Q apps.

The third and main disappointment is how buggy the software still is. They are constantly improving don’t get me wrong, but there are some issues that have persisted and still remain:

  • UHD playback is flakey: I have 57Mbps broadband and can stream most things in UHD on Amazon, Netflix, Disney+ instantly with no issues, however sky don’t use this streaming system, they use “progressive download”. This means the box is monitoring the download rate and calculates at percent you will have downloaded enough for playback to begin without playback being interrupted.

    9 times out of 10, this doesn’t work as expected. The download starts and it seems to download in 1 megabyte at a time. Going into Sky Q’s system settings, pausing the queue and restarting it, makes the download jump to downloading in 10 megabyte chunks and makes playback available. You might be forgiven thinking that this is an issue with my WiFi, however this has been the same with multiple providers and multiple routers, including NowTV Broadband, a Sky Company.
  • Connectivity between the MiniBox and the Main Box: There seems to a problem where ever so often the boxes drop connection and you get multiple error messages, either “Cannot Join Network” or “Technical Fault with this channel” or “Cannot obtain IP address” or “Activation Server not available” – the list goes on. This is usually fixed by restarting the affected Mini Box, the Main Box or sometimes both.
  • Related to above, network connectivity: Sky seems to have a problem with the Main Box telling you that you are not connected to the internet. It shows an X next to the network section in settings and the Home Screen, apps and content sections display a “must be connected to the internet” message. Sky Q only ever seems to be affected, and it only happens for a few seconds before the settings screen reconfirms it is connected to the internet. Again all other devices in the house carry on working and it has done this while I’ve been with multiple providers so its not ISP related. It then takes a few minutes for the content sections of the box to realise it is reconnected to the internet and sometimes requires the box to be put into standby and out again to resolve. It’s done this on WiFi and Ethernet, and seems to happen most when you are downloading a UHD movie.
  • There are no UHD TV channels: Yes there is lots of UHD and HDR content and you download to watch this, and yes you can view sports live in UHD, by pressing red and selecting “Watch in UHD” on the channel / event you are interested in and yes there is a method you can use to put the UHD version into your planner and record it, but it is convoluted and not as simple as browsing to Sky Sports UHD or Sky Cinema UHD. While I understand why this is the case, there isn’t enough spare capacity on the satellites to run these channels and they share bandwidth for UHD events, there must be something better Sky can so and this is where I feel that Virgin Media lead as they have UHD channels on their EPG.

Overall Sky Q is an excellent product, it’s important to remember that you don’t own the kit as you did with Sky+ HD. You rent it. This is good because if there is something wrong with your kit, they will send someone out to fix it free of charge. The drawback is it makes it harder to leave Sky, as you need a new LNB on the end of your dish and it’s not necessarily guaranteed to work with Freesat kit (although they have a new UHD box out which should work).

Overall worth getting for busy households who want TV in multiple rooms without having to cable these areas! if Sky work on the issues above it will be pretty much perfect!