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UPDATE Sky Broadband Launch New Sky Q Hub Router and Internet TV

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 (11:59 am) - Score 23,618

Sky (Sky Broadband) has today soft launched a new range of devices and a more dynamic approach to distributing TV content, both online and via Satellite, through the launch of their next-generation entertainment and Internet system called Sky Q (available in the UK from early 2016).

At this point you’re probably wondering what Sky Q actually is and we must confess that the press release didn’t really provide enough detail on some aspects. But broadly speaking the new approach, or philosophy if you prefer, will centre on a new range of set-top-boxes, hubs and apps that combine satellite and Internet TV into a “Fluid Viewing” experience.

The Sky Q Family of Products

· Sky Q Silver and Sky Q – Two new super-slim, powerful boxes for the main TV set, featuring up to 12 tuners and up to 2TB of storage.

· Sky Q Mini – A new plug and play box giving wireless access to Sky Q in other rooms in the home without running cables from the dish.

· Sky Q Hub – The all new Hub has built in Powerline networking technology, so it can use in-home electrical wiring as well as Wi-Fi to communicate with Sky Q boxes, automatically giving the best connection available. The Sky Q Hub also turns Sky Q boxes into Wi-Fi hotspots which means Sky Broadband customers get a stronger signal and better coverage throughout the home

· Sky Q App – A brand new app for your tablets that lets you enjoy all of the Sky Q experience at home, and take recordings with you and watch live and on demand content on the go

The above devices are supposedly designed to work alongside Sky’s existing line-up of TV products, including their popular PVR (Sky+) and the NOW TV online streaming service. However this rather begs the question, why do we need all the new Sky Q stuff? It’s a slightly confusing message from Sky, which seems to be adding more bits to our already busy home entertainment environment.

Apparently the reason is because Sky Q will make it “easier than ever to access all your favourite TV and brings an even wider range of entertainment to the big screen“. The family of Sky Q products will connect wirelessly to create a new ecosystem that makes TV viewing “seamless“, which should result in the following improvements.

The Benefits of Sky Q

· Watch shows from your box, whether live, recorded or on demand, anywhere around the home on another TV or tablet.

· Pause viewing on one TV screen and pick up where you left off in another room.

· For the first time, take your favourite shows with you by saving recordings onto your tablet to watch anywhere.

· Watch different programmes on up to five screens simultaneously while also recording four other channels.

· Supercharge your Sky Broadband by turning all your Sky Q boxes into WiFi hotspots.

· Scroll and swipe the new touchpad remote to choose what to watch on an all-new TV guide.

· Use the powerful search capability of Sky Q to find everything related to a show.

· Access an even wider range of entertainment on the big screen including YouTube, Vevo and the best of the web.

· Browse your Facebook photos and stream music wirelessly using Bluetooth or Apple’s AirPlay.

Admittedly we’re already able to do many of the above enhancements on existing services, but it’s still nice to see them all being moved into a single system, even though we still wish that Sky would centralise around one approach rather than confuse the issue by mixing their existing and new Sky Q kit into the same message.

A good example of this is the new Sky Q Hub, which from the description sounds like little more than a HomePlug (Powerline) equipped WiFi extender. But the fact that they’ve called it a “Hub” also indicates that this is a new router to replace Sky Broadband’s tired Sky Hub SR101/102 kit (one of Sky Broadband’s biggest weaknesses is their low spec router).

Quite why the press release doesn’t clarify the Hub’s status as a router for Sky Broadband is unclear (we had to ask directly), but rest assured that we’re trying to hunt down more details and will update again ASAP. However 5GHz AC spec WiFi is now on the menu, although its availability for existing customers remains an open question.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Chief Executive, said:

Sky Q is a brilliant new way for customers to experience TV on their terms. We wanted to re-imagine TV so that it’s flexible and seamless across different screens and to put a huge choice of entertainment at their fingertips. We think customers are going to love Sky Q and the great news is that it will get even better with much more to come in the future.”

Previously Sky Q has also been referenced alongside the company’s plan to introduce new 4K (Ultra High Definition) TV channels and video content, although Sky today informs that this side of the service won’t launch until “later in 2016” and that will put them well behind the likes of Amazon, YouTube, Sony and Netflix that in some cases have already been doing 4K for a year or more.

The other big question is one of price and unfortunately we’re not going to get any detail on that until closer to the commercial launch.

UPDATE 12:30pm

We’ve added a picture of the Sky Q Hub to the main article now and also got a full spec sheet for you.

Sky Q Hub Specs

Physical connections
• 2x 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet RJ45 port
• 1x DSL port
• Mains (Mains input 230V)

Connectivity
• Supports and automatically detects ADSL2+ and is backward compatible with ADSL
• Supports and automatically detects VDSL2 and be backward compatible with VDSL to support Sky Fibre
• Works dual band on 2.4GHz and 5GHz concurrently
– 2.4GHz 801.11n is 2×2 MIMO – Back compatible with 802.11 b/g
– 5GHz 801.11ac is 3×3 MIMO – Back compatible with 802.11n
• Supports Powerline AV1.1 – only compatible with other Sky devices
• IPv6 support

Security
• Support WPA/WPA2 with WPA-PSK/AES and TKIP security
• Support WPA2/AES

Power consumption / Power saving features
• “Network Standby” mode which uses less than 12W of power within twenty minutes of no use

The dimensions for the new router are 211mm x 141mm x 34mm and it weighs just 0.45kg. Finally the colour, as you can see, is matt black and hi-gloss black. The biggest oddity of all though is that Sky’s router has just two Ethernet ports, although they are at least Gigabit capable.

We note that the same level of WiFi and Powerline capability is also built into Sky Q’s other devices (Silver and Mini), which also get Bluetooth 4.0 LE support.

Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew says:

    Only two ethernet ports?

  2. Avatar Roger says:

    Pity about the PLT over mains wireing. Will make much interferenc in the area
    and wipe out many radio systems.

    Wifi is the way to go.

  3. Avatar Mark says:

    If it is a true IPTV LIVE solution rather than catchup and selected content for their product then count me in.

  4. Avatar dodger says:

    i need 4 ethernet ports. xbox ,tv,xbox,laptop as the wifi on old hub is rubbish unless i am right next to it,keeps dropping up and down,not consistant,even with an extender.
    what are they thinking also no usb port still but at least 2 antenna,right? least virgin give out free upgrades,sky ask you pay like £70 for the old hub atm.

    1. Avatar Fred says:

      Get a small network switch (£10 on ebay) or powerline adaptors.

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