Sky, the satellite TV, broadband and mobile company, today announced their newest product: Sky Glass. It’s effectively a television set with a Sky decoder built-in and uses the internet rather than satellites to provide the service. You effectively buy the TV through Sky as a loan (so even more bloody credit checks) or outright and will have a choice of 43, 55 or 65 inch TVs – all supporting the latest fancy HDR and sound standards.
But to be honest, I’m disappointed.
First of all, the Sky Q box that I’ve been using since the very beginning of the Sky Q service is showing its age. A combination of a slow, traditional hard drive with a CPU that struggles to keep up with third-party apps (Disney+, Netflix, and especially Discovery+) makes for an exceptionally poor experience. My Apple TV on the other hand, despite its age, is extremely capable of whatever I throw at it. So where is an updated Sky Q box with more oomph, and most importantly, provides the same Internet-only connectivity and features as Sky Glass?
With my Apple TV (or if I weren’t using an Apple TV, maybe an Amazon Fire box/stick, or a Google Chromecast, or a Roku) I can replace it with a newer model if it’s needed (either because of performance or if the thing breaks down). Whereas with Sky Glass you have a single point of failure if the Sky decoder falls over. What happens to the TV if a firmware upgrade bricks it? The entire TV has to be replaced. That said, the TVs do have 3 HDMI ports which you could plug a third-party device into – but that still doesn’t stop the unit from having to be repaired at some point.
Then there is the question of how long Sky intends to support the TVs. My 2015 60″ LG 4K TV gets very few firmware updates and is effectively all but dropped by LG now. If new Sky Glass TV models are released, how long with Sky support existing models for? Just how capable are the CPUs in these devices? How does programme recording work, or is it all now only catch-up TV? Do all channels support catch-up TV? What speed is the ethernet connection? What Wi-Fi standard does it support?
For me, Sky would have done better to have arranged for the TV units to be available for rent – like the good old days – with full support provided so that if the TVs do go wrong (and they will), you’ll be able to get Sky to come out and fix the issue as long as you continue to rent the TV. It remains the property of Sky at all times – just like the Sky Q boxes are at present.
My view is that a good TV should last around 10 years. But TV manufacturers have different ideas and that only really leads to waste. Who would buy my 4K 60″ TV when it doesn’t support HDR, and that LG is no longer providing any updates for it? It’s a right bugger to move, too.
While I have been a continual customer of Sky for over 3 years, I am beginning to look to move away. If HBO Max launches in the UK (which could happen in 2024 when the current Comcast (owners of Sky) contract with Warner Bros. expires) then Sky is cancelled. I’ll just watch everything on my current TV with Apple TV connected. I rarely watch live TV – almost all of it is streaming Apple TV+, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Britbox and the terrestrial catch-up services through their apps. And most of those subscriptions are paid for through my EE contract as bonuses, so I get them free as long as I renew my contract with EE.