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Sky Stream review: Finally time to ditch the dish?

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Sky Stream review (Image: SKY • GETTY) This text incorporates affiliate links, we may receive a commission on any sales we generate from it. Learn more

The top of the satellite dish has never been closer

What we love

  • Easy DIY set-up 
  • Seamless viewing across all TV platforms
  • Compact size looks neat under the telly
  • Premium distant with backlit keys
  • Sky Stream may be very reasonably priced 

What we do not

  • Whizzing through menus can stutter
  • Silly power light placement
  • Needs a robust broadband connection
  • £5 for skipping adverts!

If you happen to’re searching for a hassle-free approach to watch Sky TV channels and exclusive boxsets, the brand new Stream set-top box doesn’t disappoint.

This diddy device offers access to 100 paid-for channels you will not find on Freeview, in addition to all of the most well-liked terrestrial ones. Every part is beamed to your television in High Definition as standard – something Sky Q customers have to pay extra for – with out a satellite dish drilled into your partitions or engineers trudging through your private home.

Once ordered, Sky Stream arrives within the post with a step-by-step guide to get set-up and streaming in seconds. Trust us, even the most important technophobe should address this easy DIY set-up: Just plug it in, connect with your Wi-Fi and the binge-watching begins!

Once you’ve got installed Sky Stream, you will be treated to a stunning recent on-screen menu design that appears and makes navigating around your TV incredibly easy. The normal telly Guide, with access to all live channels, is present in addition to a recent “Proceed Watching” rail that brings together all your in-progress shows from Sky boxsets in addition to platforms like Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney+.

The Sky Stream box ships with the identical rebooted handheld remote control that launched alongside Sky Glass, with the backlit keys – which glow in the dead of night so you may easily see what you are doing during movie night – a very clever addition in comparison with older Sky remotes.

Sky Stream starts from £23 monthly, with access to 100 live channels, 500 on-demand boxsets from HBO Max, Sky Originals, and Peacock, in addition to a fully-fledged Netflix subscription to look at in your recent box (and anywhere else with a Netflix app!). That price is probably the greatest Sky deals available without delay (as compared, Glass costs £36 monthly).

And in contrast to Sky Glass, where every part is combined into an all-in-one QLED TV – Sky Stream will be paired with any television. As such, you may design your personal set-up from scratch.

There is no doubt, Sky Stream is a superb little device. Nevertheless, there are still just a few niggles with this recent hardware.

First up, while the menus look slick …the chipset contained in the Sky Stream can struggle with the flash graphics. At times, whizzing through the menus can begin to feel just a little stuttery.

While the starting price may be very appealing, extras like 4K Ultra HD, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, and the £5 premium to skip adverts from catch-up services like ITV X and All4 can begin to add-up fast.

For many who couldn’t install a satellite dish (perhaps since you live in rented accommodation otherwise you’re in a block of flats with out a communal dish), Sky Stream will finally unlock the sensible exclusive boxsets, live sports fixtures, and blockbusters you may watch on Sky TV.

If you happen to can choose from Sky Q and Sky Stream, the choice is just a little tougher. We still prefer recording shows on to a hard-drive contained in the Sky Q set-top box. Compared, Sky Stream aggregates on-demand content from services like BBC iPlayer, ITV X, All4, Disney+, Discovery+, and UKTV Play for its Playlists feature. That said, the user interface and features on Sky Q are quickly being left behind as Sky Stream gets the complete focus of the Sky R&D teams.

The top of the satellite dish has never been closer, we just hope Sky irons out the ultimate few quirks with its recent Sky Stream box before it hammers the nail into its coffin.

Sky Stream review

When Sky Glass launched last yr, customers were in a position to add a Sky Stream box to their plan for multi-room viewing across the house. Nevertheless, the diddy box wasn’t offered to anyone else.

As you may read in our full Sky Glass review, we criticised the firm for not shelling out this set-top box to more customers. Thankfully, Sky has reversed its decision. Ranging from £23 monthly, anyone can purchase Sky Stream to plug into any existing television and stream live television without the necessity for a satellite dish.

That is what lots of us have been waiting for …so, does this standalone box live as much as expectations? Is it time to upgrade from the ageing Sky Q?

Sky Stream

Sky Stream is straightforward to set-up with the method taking minutes (Image: SKY)

Installation and organising Sky Stream

Buying and installing Sky Stream is a complete breeze. There’s just one size and color option available, but you will have to choose the channels included in your package online – or on the phone – if you place that initial order.

Unlike Sky Q, Sky Stream viewers can choose from an 18-month minimum contract or a 31-day rolling contract. The latter is just a little pricier but does mean you may add or drop extras like Sky Cinema and Sky Sports every month or just switch it off altogether.

Once ordered, Sky Stream will arrive within the post the very next day at no additional cost. Then it’s simply an issue of plugging the ability cable into the wall, connecting the box to your television – with the included HDMI cable – switching on the box and connecting Sky Stream to your private home Wi-Fi network.

Once ordered, Sky Stream will arrive within the post the very next day

From start to complete, the method takes a matter of minutes and this DIY installation is a big bonus of choosing Stream over Sky Q. The latter requires an engineer to be booked weeks upfront so the satellite dish will be affixed to your private home, with holes drilled to run wires through your partitions. It’s undoubtedly a faff waiting in for the day so the Sky team can trudge across the house and clamber over the roof.

For anyone who hates the considered a dish or just cannot have one, Stream is the right solution as, due to that Wi-Fi connection, there’s only one power result in plug in and also you’re good to go (in case your wireless connection is just a little patchy, it is feasible to make use of an ethernet cable to stream your favourite shows).

If you happen to’re after a hassle-free way of watching exclusive Sky TV channels and on-demand shows, Stream is a seriously tempting proposition.

Sky Stream review

Check your broadband speeds to be sure they will address Stream (Image: SKY)

Your broadband speeds and connection

And not using a dish to rely on, Sky Stream needs a fairly decent broadband connection. Every part you watch, including live television, is beamed via the web, so you’ll have to examine your Wi-Fi can take the strain before you place an order with Sky.

Sky recommends speeds of a minimum of 10/15Mbps for a stutter-free experience, but that minimum requirement increases to around 25Mbps if you desire to watch boxsets and blockbuster movies in stunning 4K.

If you happen to’ve only got entry-level 38Mbps broadband available in your property, you would possibly struggle to get a good experience with Sky Stream – especially in case you live in a busy house with a number of connected devices.

Sky customers can fit as much as five Sky Stream boxes for the house for multi-room viewing, and we might definitely recommend broadband of a minimum of 100Mbps before considering that option as each device will munch into your total bandwidth and things will soon begin to stumble.

If you happen to’re fortunate to live in a property that has been upgraded to the newest full-fibre connections, you will not have a problem streaming boxsets, pausing and rewinding live television channels, or watching in multiple rooms at the identical time.

Sky Stream

Sky Stream suits in your hand (Image: SKY)

Sky Stream design and distant

Sky Stream is a really neat little device that matches within the palm of your hand. Because there isn’t any hard disk inside for recordings (more on that later) Sky has managed to create a tool that is just 10cm square and 1.5cm tall. In reality, it is so small you will hardly notice it tucked under your telly and it is also totally silent so you will not be annoyed by the whirl of a fan or harddisk working away.

On the rear of the device, you will find an HDMI and Ethernet socket, plus a digital aerial port so you may link up your existing TV aerial (this is not mandatory, but does mean that you’re going to still find a way to look at Freeview channels even in case you suffer a broadband outage).

If you happen to’re searching for a set-top box that will not clutter up your front room it’s almost inconceivable to fault Sky Stream because it offers a very tiny way of watching a few of one of the best television channels around.

Nevertheless, if we had one criticism it will be the ability light. Bizarrely, the designers at Sky decided to position this important light on the underside of the case – making it tough to examine whether the box is on or off.

Together with the neat set-top box, there’s also nice handheld remote control which includes a soft touch finish and curved edges making it comfortable to carry.

All the buttons are in the precise place and it even features backlit keys so you may see what you are tapping on even when the lights are low.

The Sky Stream distant doesn’t are available any of the fashionable pastel colors that we praised in our Sky Glass review, but it surely does support voice commands to avoid tedious typing with the alpha-numeric keypad.

Sky Stream review

The visuals on the screen look stunning (Image: SKY)

Streaming TV

Turn on Sky Stream and you may be treated to that striking recent user interface, which is full of information on all the newest shows. All over the place you look, you will find high-resolution artwork for the newest blockbusters, sports and TV shows. Sky has done a terrific job making the menus look visually wealthy and exciting, while also cramming in useful details like programme descriptions and age rankings.

It could be nice to see Rotten Tomatoes scores arrive in a future update, like the mixing in Chromecast with Google TV.

A number of easy swipes on the distant and you may get access to live television listings in addition to specific sub-menus dedicated to movies and sports.

There is a useful “Proceed Watching” carousel of thumbnails on the principal homepage that makes it easy to pick-up where you left off, and this even includes shows and movies from other platforms like Disney+ and Netflix. It’s a pleasant touch from Sky and ends the effort of whizzing through infinite menus – and remembering what streamer has the rights to what shows – just to complete a binge-watch began on one other device.

Although Sky Stream still has to launch dedicated apps to load-up content from Disney+, BBC iPlayer, ITV X, Prime Video and more, the broadcaster has clearly tried hard to make the user interface across Stream feel consistent. It’s easily one of the best approach to watch TV shows, movies and documentaries from multiple platforms.

So long as you might be joyful to pay a bit extra (£6 monthly), Stream also offers 4K Ultra HD quality streaming with Dolby Atmos audio support. Although, as we mentioned earlier, you will have to be sure your broadband can address this improved quality.

The one slight annoyance is that Sky has now began charging £5 monthly in case you are watching content via cloud recordings and on-demand apps, corresponding to ITVX or All4, and need to skip through adverts. It’s almost definitely something everyone will need to add to your monthly bill, so it’s kind of of a shame it isn’t factored into the bottom subscription cost.

Sky Stream review

Sky Stream offers wealthy visuals on the screen (Image: SKY)

Playlists and apps

Since Sky Stream doesn’t have a harddisk inside its tiny frame, there isn’t any approach to record shows onto the device itself. As an alternative, Sky has created a recent Playlist function, which uses cloud recordings on Sky’s servers and pulls shows from catch-up services like ITVX and BBC iPlayer to supply TV shows after they’ve aired.

Sky debuted this feature with its Sky Glass television last yr – as that all-in-one 4K TV doesn’t have a spinning disk inside either! For the reason that launch, Sky has steadily improved its functionality and there is little or no that it now misses or that you simply won’t find a way to seek out.

There are also some benefits to this recent approach – you will never be told that Sky cannot record a recent series or movie because you’ve got run out of space, since every part is stored on servers far-off out of your front room. Poor signal won’t smash any recordings either, since it isn’t your box physically recording the content.

If there is a problem together with your box, you will not lose any shows or movies when Sky ships out a substitute… that is not the case for Sky Q owners who will lose all of their recordings if anything goes awry with the harddisk, the remainder of the circuitry within the box, or need to upgrade to a more moderen model.

Nevertheless, in our opinion, Sky Playlists still cannot quite match the simplicity of a built-in harddisk as there are some things this clever substitute still misses. For instance, Match of the Day is barely available on iPlayer for a limited time and once it’s gone …it’s gone! That is not the case with Sky Q which is able to keep recordings for so long as you wish.

Sky Playlists still cannot quite match the simplicity of a built-in harddisk

It is a compromise, but Sky clearly thinks its all-new Playlists feature is the long run, so expect more improvements in the approaching months.

If you happen to love watching shows from across a wide range of different streaming platforms, Stream offers a fairly seamless approach to jump from services corresponding to Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video and Apple TV+.

Through the set-up process, you will have to sign into each service individually, but once that is done you will see recommendations and top picks right from the house screen. Every part is synchronised across your devices – from Sky Go, other Sky Stream boxes, and even the Netflix app in your iPad or phone.

Since Sky Playlists is drawing from these on-demand services, movies and shows can show up in your Playlist before they’ve aired on telly. That is perfect for anyone who cannot wait for the subsequent episode. A great example of this was once we added Mamma Mia to our Playlist after we spotted it coming to ITV. Sky Glass immediately checked and added the film straight to our Playlist because it’s currently available via Netflix, so we could watch hours sooner than originally planned – it’s all clever stuff.

Sky Stream review

Sky has improved the Playlists feature over the past yr (Image: SKY)

UK price and availability

Stream offers a fairly low-cost approach to tune into Sky TV.

If you happen to’re joyful to join an 18-month contract, you may currently pick up this device for as little as £23 monthly (was £26) which incorporates channels corresponding to Sky Atlantic, Sky Max, MTV, Sky Comedy and more, there is a Netflix Basic subscription bundled too.

If you happen to don’t desire to commit, you may go for the choice to go contract-free and pay £26 monthly (was £29). That is just a little dearer but does mean you can leave the service at any time.

In fact, the more things you desire to watch on Sky Stream, the dearer things’ll get. For instance, add Sky Sports and you may face an additional £20 in your bill or include Sky Cinema and things will go up by £9.

After which, there’s 4K Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos support, which is £6 and advert skipping for an additional £5 monthly.

If you happen to include every part Sky offers the full bill is over £95 monthly. Ouch! And on top of that, you’ll have a fairly speedy fibre broadband connection to look at every part in your pricey order.

Here’s a full breakdown of pricing based on a long-term contract.

Sky Stream box • £23 monthly

Sky Sports • £20 monthly extra

Sky Cinema • £9 monthly extra

BT Sport • £27 monthly extra

Sky Kids • £6 monthly extra

Advert skipping • £5 monthly extra

4K and Dolby Atmos • £6 monthly extra

TOTAL PRICE: £96

Sky Stream

Sky Stream review (Image: SKY)

Final verdict

If you happen to’ve been patiently waiting to get the slick, modern, satellite dish-free experience that Sky Glass owners have been having fun with for the last yr without switching to the custom-designed telly – Sky Stream is every part you could possibly hope for.

This palm-sized box packs some mighty features into its mini design, offering a seamless approach to switch between live television channels and streamers like Netflix and Prime Video.

The actual fact you may install Sky Stream yourself in minutes is a big bonus and, aside from the dearth of a built-in harddisk for those shows that do not play nicely with catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and ITV X, this diddy box stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the award-winning Sky Q.

The redesigned distant feels premium and even gets those backlit keys – something you will not find on the ageing Sky Q channel changer.

After which, the value. At £23 monthly, this seems like a complete bargain especially as that features a Netflix Basic subscription too.

Yes, your quickly bill rises in case you start adding extras, but in case you go for that entry-level telly package, this really is an inexpensive and straightforward approach to get one of the best exclusive shows, sports and movies from Sky TV.

If we had a alternative we might possibly still pick Sky Q as its in-built harddisk has the slight edge over cloud recordings.

Nevertheless, Stream definitely seems like the long run and it really may very well be the tip of the dish.

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