You may already be watching tv shows, movies etc. online through services such as Netflix and LoveFilm and NOW TV is Sky’s take on this. The little device we’re reviewing today is the NOW TV Box, a small piece of hardware that allows access to various Sky channels without subscribing to the normal Sky service as well as your standard online services such as BBC iPlayer.
The NOW TV Box costs just £10 which is unbelievable value for money seeing as you get absolutely everything you need inside the box including the box itself, remote (+ batteries) and the HDMI cable. The box itself is very simple and made from plastic. It has just 3 ports on the rear which are the HDMI output, A/V output and a power input. Although an A/V out is present it’s very unlikely that you’ll actually use it seeing as there’s a HDMI port.
Apart from the 3 ports mentioned, there really isn’t much else on the box itself. On the front you do have a small LED which lets you know the box is active and awake. On the top you’ll find the Now TV branding, while on the bottom there’s a 360 degree heavy duty rubber foot which helps prevent the device from moving when sitting next to your TV.
The remote, like the box is very simple and easy to use as well. It’s powered by 2 AAA batteries and has just 13 buttons on the front. Each is marked clearly and its obvious what each of them does.
Setting up the NOW TV Box is quite straight forward and once powered up you’ll jump straight into the guided set-up screens. From here you’ll be able to choose your home wireless network and connect to it by entering your networks password. Once the network connection is successful you’ll have the option to change a few more settings such as output resolution and also linking the box to your online account. You don’t need to be subscribed to NOW TV to have an account.
Among the channels you’ll find iPlayer, Demand 5, 4OD with ITV Player coming soon. Obviously you won’t be finding Netflix or LoveFilm apps on this either. You’ll also find some quite common apps such as TuneIn Radio, Spotify, TED and much more on the box.
In terms of performance I was quite impressed especially as you only pay £10 upfront costs to get your hands on the box. Start up takes around 20-30 seconds so isn’t all that bad. Flicking through the various programs and channels is also pretty quick and the interface responds quickly to all actions given from the remote which is nice to see.
The NOW TV Box supports up to 720p which is lower than that of its rival Netflix which offers full 1080p. When compared to a Netflix stream you can see a noticeable difference in the screen quality where Netflix programs looks a little sharper and crisper. We did however notice that there was no buffering whatsoever and therefore believe that the NOW TV Box actually prioritises playing the film/show over the quality. All in all though the video quality was still great and comfortable to watch. There are also social apps available such as Facebook and Flickr so this isn’t just a hub for watching TV shows and movies.
Unlike the Roku the Now TV Box doesn’t have Plex on-board which means media streaming is unavialable through the device as well as gaming. Again this is a little annoying but for a price of £10 you must remember there are always going to be a few drawbacks.
If you’re unable to get a dish to receive Sky channels then this little box may be your answer. In terms of pricing you can pick up a Sky Sports day pass for £10, a movies pass for £8.99 a month and an entertainment pass for £4.99 a month. These are all contract free and therefore you can pull out at any time and not be charged a fee. Sky quotes that you’ll be receiving more recent movies up to 12 months in advance of it’s rivals LoveFilm and Netflix.
The NOW TV Box is a great way to add smart capabilities to your television and for such a small price you can’t go wrong. The easy set-up process and interface make it a great buy if your taking your first steps into the world of streaming.
I think the main aim of the box is to get people to sign up to the Sky’s on demand service although of course it’s your choice, and if you choose not to you still have access to free streaming services such as iPlayer, Demand 5 and whole range of other apps. Overall a great little product which is worth every penny of the £10 price.