The eagerly anticipated Sky Stream puck has finally gone on sale today, enabling UK consumers to stream Sky’s services into any TV they like without needing a satellite dish.
The strikingly small Sky Stream puck can be ordered now on a next day delivery basis for a £39.95 set up fee (which drops to £20 if you take an 18-month contract), and once it arrives you just need to plug it in, hook it up to your TV via its HDMI port, and connect it to your broadband. Unlike Sky Q or Sky Glass there’s no need for an installation team to come to your door.
It’s confirmed now, too, that you will be able to subscribe to Sky via Sky Stream either on a 31-day rolling plan that you can cancel any time, or on a better-value 18-month contract. Note that if you stop subscribing to Sky, though, the Stream Puck becomes redundant. You can’t use it as some sort of generic streaming device.
At a pre-launch event on October 17, Sky confirmed that Sky Stream Puck really is Sky Glass in a little box in terms of its AV features (Dolby Atmos sound and 4K HDR visuals), its unique interface (which Sky is now calling Entertainment OS) and the access it provides to more than 150 channels and over 100,000 hours of aggregated content on Sky’s subscription platform.
You’ll also get exactly the same roster of third party apps that’s available on Sky Glass (including Netflix, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Disney+, the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, YouTube, Discovery+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Fiit). What’s more, since they’re both built on the same software platform, both Sky Stream and Sky Glass will benefit from the same ongoing (pretty much monthly based on the Sky Glass experience so far) firmware updates. Except, of course, where a Sky Glass update targets that TV’s picture or sound quality.
As a reminder of just how much Sky Glass and, now, Sky Stream are ever-evolving products, Sky took the opportunity of its Sky Stream launch event to also talk assembled journalists through some of the new features we can look forward to seeing on Sky Entertainment OS products soon.
By far the most exciting/startling of these new features is a picture quality update for Sky Glass that Sky is hoping to roll out before Christmas. Sky demoed this new picture quality build side by side against a Sky Glass a current Sky Glass that hadn’t received the update, and the difference was remarkable. For starters, brightness levels, especially for bright highlights of HDR images, looked far higher than they do on the current Glass software.
This instantly makes HDR images look more dynamic, natural and premium, but it’s joined, too, by deeper/less greyed over black levels; richer colours, especially in bright picture areas; more consistently natural and dynamic tones, even in dark scenes; and, presumably due to the extra light control and range, a noticeable improvement in the apparent sharpness and the sense of depth images enjoy.
Apparently this is all down to a complete overhaul of the Sky Glass local dimming system. A system which barely seemed to be functioning when I reviewed the TV’s current picture quality just a few days ago, and which certainly wasn’t delivering the sort of punch, refinement and cinematic quality that the updated Sky Glass exhibits.
There were traces of blooming around extremely stand out bright highlights on the updated Glass that you don’t get on the current build, but these were very small and subdued, don’t creep into black bars above and below wide aspect ratio content, and felt like the tiniest of compromises in return for all the positive stuff the new picture quality update looks set to bring. It was actually like looking at a completely new TV – yet of course, nothing has been changed at a hardware level.
Look out for more from me on this key update once it’s ready to roll out.
As for other upcoming features set to arrive on both Sky Glass and the new Sky Stream before Christmas, the highlights are as follows:
- Playlist will move further up on the homepage so it’s really quick to get to – it’ll be the first choice on your category rail, in fact
- Continue Watching will be introduced as a new rail on the homepage, so it’s even easier to jump to what you were last watching, whether it’s the latest thriller or last episode of your favourite soap
- Quickly get to the latest episode of TV shows and sporting events where it matters most, and forget scrolling through every episode and series on a showpage: You’ll now see the most recent episode first
- All your Playlist rails will now be ordered by most recent, plus we’re introducing a ‘Most Recent’ rail at the top that’ll display all your most recent shows, so you can get to new content and episodes quickly.
- Enjoy tailored recommendations based on your recently watched TV shows and movies with the new ‘because you watched’ rail.
- Personalised lists, so you and your household can add content to your own dedicated Playlists. Whether you’re a sports buff or reality TV fan, you’ll be able create your very own watchlist from apps and channels, both live and on demand, to enjoy whenever you’re ready to watch.
- Got a favourite star that you simply have to watch in every film or show they’ve been in? Soon you’ll see an ‘Actors rail’ in showpages, so you can have more choice of picking what to watch
On top of all this, Sky Glass specifically will be receiving before the end of the year Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to it using Bluetooth headphones; ‘One Shot’ voice commands (where you simply say ‘Play’ plus the title of your favourite show and it’ll automatically play either the first episode or continue where you previously left off); a Find Your Remote Control feature where saying ‘Hello Sky, where’s my remote’ will cause the handset to start beeping; and automatic swapping to Sky’s new dedicated UHD HDR content channels when you tune to a Sky Sports Main Event channel (if you’re paying for the UHD HDR pack).
If the idea of Sky without a dish and the enhanced content finding features of the Entertainment OS platform sounds interesting to you, head to sky.com to find out more about how to get your hands on Sky Stream or Sky Glass.
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