Technology

Sky Glass TV first impressions: what you need to know about picture, sound, design and usability

Sky Glass TV on furniture with a TV show screen

Sky hopes to once again revolutionise premium pay TV with Sky Glass, a fully integrated Sky streaming TV. For the first time, you won’t need a satellite dish to receive Sky TV, just a fast broadband connection and subscription contract.

Unlike regular TVs, the new set is effectively a Sky walled-garden, designed to cover all your TV needs, from movies and specialised channels  to familiar household favourites, integrated with key streaming apps – Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube and iPlayer predominantly.

Sky has basically reimagined the entire pay TV concept with Sky Glass, even down to how you buy. The brand intends for you to buy it under contract, in the same way you’re used to buying a mobile phone.

It’s a radical concept for the TV industry, one that simplifies the entire ecosystem of streaming TV. No extra boxes, no need to connect to routers via Ethernet, no dish. So is this the smart TV experience you’ve been waiting for? Here’s what you need to know…

Three Sky Glass TVs in Ocean Blue
Sky Glass comes in Small, Medium and Large screen sizes

What is Sky Glass?

Sky Glass is an all-new way to get Sky TV. It’s a streaming TV with no dish required. Sky Glass TVs come in three screen sizes: 43-, 55 and 65-inches. All are 4k QLED models that support Dolby Vision HDR and have a built-in Dolby Atmos sound system. They’re available from October 18. 

How much is Sky Glass?

You buy Sky Glass from Sky direct. Sky engineers will come and install it and take all the packaging away. Like all Sky TV packages, prices scale up depending on what services you buy.

The three screen sizes are priced at £13, £17 and £21 monthly. The £13 per month deal for the 43in model requires a 48-month contract (and a £10 upfront free). The price rises to £26 per month for a 24-month deal (with £20 upfront).

The larger models are priced at £17 per month (48-month) and £34 per month (24-month) for the 55in, and £21 per month (48-month) and £42 per month (24-month) for the 65in.

Sky subscription packages come on top. So Sky Ultimate will add £26 per month (that gets you Sky Originals, Sky Exclusives, and Netflix). There’s also tiers for Sky Cinema (£11 per month), Sky Kids (£5 per month)  and Sky Sports (£25 per month). If you want the ‘Ultra HDR and Dolby Atmos ‘pack’ that’s another fiver.

Sky says Sky Glass subscribers will be able to upgrade their set at the end of each contract, for a new model that may offer different hardware technology, or come in alternate colours and sizes.

A Sky Glass Tv in Racing Green
The new Sky Glass UI is very similar to Sky Q

Is Sky Glass different to Sky Q?

Think of it as a related platform. Sky TV on Sky Glass looks much like regular Sky as seen on a Sky Q box, albeit with some different rails and some new features with curated content from the various streaming services.

There’s no need for a satellite dish. The TV itself connects to your home Wi-Fi network (it doesn’t need Sky to be the provider, other ISPs are fine). If you’re migrating from Sky Q to Sky Glass, Sky engineers won’t take your dish away. It’ll remain bolted to your house.

The system comes with a new, revised Sky remote. Both the TV and the remote have microphones built-in. 

What broadband speeds do I need for Sky Glass?

Sky says the service needs a minimum of 11M/b to work. But for 4k UHD channels, you’ll need a faster connection. So what if your Wi-Fi goes down? Does the TV stop working? In a way. Obviously all your Sky programmes will stop, but there is a standard Freeview tuner built-in ‘for back up only’ that you can turn to.

Sky Glass Tv corner speakers in detail
The sound system on Sky Glass is impressive, note the side-firing audio grille

How good is Sky Glass TV picture and sound?

We’ve only had a limited time with the set so far. Images are predictably dynamic and colour rich. The set uses ‘Intelligent Zonal’ full array local dimming backlight technology to enhance contrast and black levels. A cursory inspection suggests it looks comparable to a standard mid-range LED LCD screen from other big name TV brands.

The sound system is somewhat more distinctive. The set features a six-driver Dolby Atmos sound system, with left/right speakers that point out from the sides of the panel for wider stereo. There’s also a centre speaker, two up-firing height speakers up top, and a subwoofer.

Demos of this were extremely impressive, even with non Dolby Atmos content. There’s definitely no soundbar required. Total power output is quoted at 215W.

Connections comprise three HDMI inputs, one with eARC. In addition to Ethernet there’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. 

While you can connect a games console to a Sky Glass screen, there’s no dedicated low input lag Games mode, so the set is unlikely to appeal to gamers. It doesn’t support high frame rate 4k 120fps sources either.

Colourful Sky Glass custom fascias in a row
Customise your Sky Glass with a colourful magnetic fascia cover

Sky Glass TV design options and usability

The design is very interiors friendly. The set has an anodised aluminium frame with a woven acoustic mesh front grille. It comes in five colours – Ocean Blue, Ceramic White, Racing Green, Dusky Pink, or Anthracite Black finish – with a flat back so that it can be flush mounted on a wall. 

Sky has worked with design agency Map Project Office on the aesthetics, and they’ve done a great job. It’s very contemporary.

Will Howe, Creative Director for Map Project Office explains: “The collaboration with Sky enabled us to reinterpret the look and feel of the television as more of a domestic object. We employed a bold design approach which looks to celebrate the real estate created by the technology which is packed intricately inside. This helped to create a unique visual language which Sky could truly own within the congested landscape of consumer hardware.”

You can change up the look of the TV by customising the speaker fascia, various patterns and colours are available.

The set is intended for voice control. It will switch itself on when it hears the command ‘Hello Sky’, which is rather cute. You can also turn it on by simply looking at it, thanks to Glance Motion Technology.

Unlike a standard Sky set top box, there is no hard drive. So you won’t ‘record’ anything you want to watch. Instead you add it to a ‘Playlist’. The programme will then stream from Sky’s ‘Cloud DVR’ or the relevant TV catch-up service.  Quite how this will work in practice remains to be seen. If you’re used to watching your soaps on a short time delay, that might not be possible as you’ll be waiting for Eastenders to be added to iPlayer.

You can live pause, rewind and restart programmes.

A user turns on a Sky Glass Tv using Glance technology
You can turn on Sky Glass with a hard stare…

Sky Glass multiroom: What the puck?

Arguably, the most interesting aspect of this launch is the compact Sky Stream Puck. This cannot be purchased separately, but is a £10 per month increment that allows you to bring the Sky Glass experience to other flatscreens, it also streams Sky over Wi-Fi. The Puck offers a complete Sky TV experience. It supports Wi-Fi 6.

This Wi-Fi streamer is £10 per month, and brings the same Sky Glass platform to other TVs in the home. The Puck doesn’t need a Sky Glass TV to work, but you can’t buy it separately.

So what if you like the sound of Sky Glass, but don’t want to swap your 77-inch OLED for a smaller Sky Glass QLED? One user case would be to take the smallest Sky Glass TV, with a Sky Stream Puck, and place the Sky Glass TV in a second room, then connect the Puck to your larger main TV.

Can I have both Sky Q and Sky Glass?

No. You can’t have Sky Glass running alongside an existing Sky Q system. It’s an either or proposition. Sky talks about Sky Q users ‘upgrading to Sky Glass’ but we don’t see it that way. This is a very different proposition, one that will appeal greatly to those that want to take Sky services, but until now have been unable or unwilling to put a dish on their property.

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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