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article imageSky to 'set TV free' with an all-new range of set-top boxes

By James Walker     Nov 18, 2015 in Technology
European TV provider Sky has unveiled an all-new range of set-top boxes and mobile apps that combine to create a "whole new way of watching TV." The service is supposed to seamlessly blend live and on-demand content.
Sky describes the new products as a "family" that connect wirelessly to each other to create an all-new TV "ecosystem" in the home. Sky Q set-top boxes will let you pause viewing on one TV and pick up exactly where you left off on another, watch saved on-demand content on any TV or tablet in the house and simultaneously watch different programs on five screens, all while also recording four other channels. Sky calls this "Fluid Viewing" and says it will create "seamless and effortless" TV viewing experiences.
 Fluid Viewing  on Sky Q  announced 18/11/2015
"Fluid Viewing" on Sky Q, announced 18/11/2015
Four different Sky Q hardware offerings have been announced. Sky Q and Sky Q Silver are all-new, super-slim set-top boxes designed to be connected to the main household television. They each have 2TB of built-in storage for on-demand content and 12 distinct TV tuners to make the Fluid Viewing experience possible. From next year, the service will have native support for 4K content.
Add-on boxes called Sky Q Mini will be available to provide wireless access to the main Sky Q box from other TVs in the house, negating the need to run extra cables directly from the satellite dish. The final product, Sky Q Hub, uses integrated Powerline networking technology to communicate through the electrical wiring in your home with all the Sky Q boxes in the house. It can also turn every Sky Q box into its own Wi-Fi hotspot, boosting the range of your Wi-Fi network for better coverage and stronger signal.
Sky Q  announced 18/11/2015
Sky Q, announced 18/11/2015
The Sky interface and TV guide have been completely redesigned. The set-top box is controlled by a touchpad remote, letting you interact with familiar gestures including scrolls and swipes. Search capabilities have been expanded to make it simpler to access live, recorded and on-demand content from the home screen.
Smart features will let users browse Facebook, wirelessly stream music, read the news or use interactive sidebar apps, directly from their TV. Apps will be available to watch content from providers including YouTube and Vevo.
Sky Q  announced 18/11/2015
Sky Q, announced 18/11/2015
Sky Q represents Sky's first big push into the connected market of smart TVs. In some ways, the company seems to be echoing what Apple said as it unveiled the new Apple TV. Both firms seem to share a vision of television becoming more user-centric in the future, built around the principals of you being able to watch what you want, when you want, where you want without being hindered by the technology displaying the picture.
Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said in a press release: "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 fingerprints. 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."
Sky currently serves over 21 million customers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy and is one of the most popular satellite TV and on-demand providers in Europe. Sky Q will initially be available in the UK and Ireland from early 2016. Pricing has yet to be announced but is expected to cost more than the company's comparable standard plans.
Sky's other entertainment packages and set-top boxes, Sky+ and Now TV, will continue to be available. Sky Q joins the range as an entirely new TV solution designed for the current age of Internet-connected viewing.
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