Sky’s first TV marries a promising new streaming service with decent audio output, but picture quality is mediocre
Pros Convenient and easy to useMinimalist designGood audio qualityCons HDR performance is mediocreNo programme recordingFewer channels than Sky Q
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Sky Glass is a big product for the UK satellite TV giant. Not only is it the first TV the company has built, it’s also the first time Sky has produced a streaming-only product without compromising streaming quality and features.
As such, it needs to be good. It needs to be good enough to persuade customers to ditch their old TV and trusty Sky Q box and replace them with one device that does it all. And it needs to be good enough to persuade non-Sky subscribers that this is the time to jump on board.
Alas, it’s not quite the killer product Sky was hoping for: while there’s no doubting the convenience of the system and its ease of use, it can’t compete with Sky Q for content and overall picture quality, and its lack of recording capability means it isn’t quite as versatile as a separate Sky Q and TV-based system.
Sky Glass review: What you need to know
Sky Glass is the firm’s first truly dishless product that’s capable of streaming in 4K. Its Now streaming boxes and sticks can only stream in resolutions of up to 1080p and then only for a selection of channels.
Despite that, it isn’t really a direct competitor to Sky; it’s an alternative designed for those who value convenience over outright picture quality, or those who can’t or don’t want to mount a satellite dish on the outside of their home.
The TV is available in three sizes: 43in, 55in and 65in – I was sent the middle of these to test – and you can buy it in five different colours (black, white, blue, green and rose gold). It has a 4K Quantum Dot panel with local dimming, and supports the HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision standards.
It comes with a built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar and you can use it with any broadband connection, though Sky recommends a minimum of 10Mbits/sec for HD content and 25Mbits/sec for 4K content.
There’s new “Hello Sky” voice control, which allows you to simply talk to the TV to control it, and you get multiroom support as well. The latter comes in the form of the oddly named Sky Stream Puck, which can deliver the same content, at the same resolution and with the same HDR support, to another TV in your house. It costs extra, though, as detailed below.
It’s important to note that Sky Glass doesn’t, and cannot, record TV like Sky Q, and this may ultimately be what proves its undoing. Instead, users add the content they want to watch later to their “Playlist”, where it becomes accessible according to the restrictions of the streaming/catchup service it first appeared on. This means many programmes aren’t available at all, or – in the case of BBC programmes, for example – will only be available for a certain period of time.
It’s not as flexible a system as Sky Q, where you can record any programme, watch it whenever you like and keep it on your hard disk in perpetuity.
Sky Glass: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available:||43in (small)
|Panel type:||Quantum Dot LCD with local dimming|
|Resolution:||4K/UHD (3,840 X 2,160)|
|HDR formats:||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision|
|Audio enhancement:||Integrated Dolby Atmos 3.1.2 speakers|
|HDMI inputs:||3 x HDMI 2.1 (inc 1 x eARC)|
|Freeview Play compatibility:||No|
|Wireless connectivity:||802.11ax (2.4GHz and 5GHz)|
|Smart assistants:||Hello Sky|
|Smart platform:||Sky Glass|
Sky Glass review: Prices
One of the most intriguing features of Sky Glass is that you don’t have to buy it like a normal TV. It comes as an addition to your Sky subscription, costing £13 per month for the 43in model, £17 per month for the 55in model or £21 per month for the £65in model, if you sign up for a 48-month contract. The monthly price doubles if you take a 24-month contract; it’s effectively an interest-free loan.
Those with better mental arithmetic than me will have already doubtless worked out that this equates to £624, £816 or £1,008 in total (plus a £10 upfront fee for the 48-month contract or a £20 upfront fee for the 24-month contract). You can buy the TV outright from the get-go if you’d prefer, but this bumps up the price slightly to £649, £849 and £1,049.
On top of this, there’s a minimum Sky subscription package – £26 per month for the Sky Ultimate TV package, which includes a Netflix subscription – and that’s before you get into the price for broadband and TV extras such as Sports and Sky Cinema.
The good news is that you’re not tied into Sky Broadband; the bad news is you’ll be paying a bare minimum of £39 per month for the 43in TV, £43 per month for the 55in and £46 per month for the 65in. Remember, that 4K is an extra £5 per month, too, so if you want to make the most of the TV, prices start at a total of £44 per month. And if you want multiroom, adding a Sky Stream Puck will set you back another £10 per month.
In further good news, Sky has recently announced that the Streaming Puck will soon be available to buy as a standalone product, bringing the convenience of Sky Glass’ services to those who would rather stick with their own TV.
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Sky Glass review: Design, specs and connectivity
Sky Glass is a stylish TV – a little brutalist and angular for my tastes – but it’s tasteful nonetheless. The Dolby Atmos “soundbar” occupies the portion of the chassis below the display with four drivers concealed behind a fabric mesh, and a further two speakers mounted on the top edge of the TV, behind a perforated grille. It’s a lot thicker than most modern TVs, measuring 49mm from front to back, and heavier, too, weighing 19kg for the 43in model, 28kg for the 55in and a back-breaking 35kg for the 65in model.
In its default configuration, it sits on a central stand with the bottom edge of the set almost flush with the surface of your AV stand, but it can also be wall-mounted, and all the hardware to do that is included in the box. Bear in mind, however, that even without the sturdy stand attached to the rear, it’s still a bit of a lump, with the 43in weighing 14kg, the 55in on test 23kg and the 65in 28kg. I’d advise against mounting it on a plasterboard wall.
Connectivity-wise, there’s not a huge amount to shout about here. You get three HDMI 2.1 inputs in a cutout on the left side of the rear, one of which supports eARC. These ports face downwards and are tricky to reach on the larger sets. In addition, there’s a USB-C connector, an Ethernet port and an aerial point. You can use the latter to watch Freeview channels in the event your broadband goes down, but it’s only really designed as a backup to the streaming channels. It’s also worth noting that there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or Bluetooth audio connectivity. Bluetooth is used only for the remote control.
Setup is as simple as plugging it in and connecting it to your home Wi-Fi (or hooking up via Ethernet if your router happens to be close by). Unlike Sky Q, Sky Glass doesn’t set up its own wireless network; it simply connects just like any wireless device. The beauty of this is that, as long as your Wi-Fi signal is strong enough – and your broadband connection robust enough – the only cable you need to have running to the TV is the mains cable.
That’s the theory. In practice, I had quite a bit of trouble here, at least initially. When I first received the TV for review, it repeatedly refused to recognise my Wi-Fi credentials, no matter how many times I checked, double-checked and triple-checked.
I eventually mananged to connect it to my home Wi-Fi using the TV’s WPS button and the same on my Devolo Magic Powerline adapter. If you come across the same issue, you have to (rather counterintuitively) select the “I have Sky Broadband” option, as the third-party broadband connection option doesn’t give you the choice of using WPS.
Fortunately, in the time since this review was initially published, Sky appear to have resolved this problem, at least with my wireless hardware, and I have now been able to set the TV up by selecting the network and entering a password.
Sky Stream Puck review: Streaming Sky without the Glass
You can’t buy a Sky Streaming Puck on its own right now, although Sky has announced that you will be able to soon. Currently, though, it costs an additional £10 on top of what you’re already paying for the TV and your Sky subscription. It delivers the same streaming service as the TV itself (see below) at the same resolution and with the same HDR capabilities.
The Stream Puck is a compact device with rounded corners. It has a footprint measuring 108 x 108mm and a low profile height of 18mm. It has a single status LED on the front and, at the rear, a 10/100 Ethernet port, a single HDMI 2.1 output, a coaxial antenna connector so you can still watch TV if your internet connection goes down, plus a DC input for mains power.
Underneath is a power button used to reset the device in the even you lose your remote control. It comes supplied with an extra Bluetooth remote (the same as supplie with the Sky Glass TV), and Wi-Fi connectivity is up to the same standard as well, supporting Wi-Fi 6 connections over 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
Wireless connection went without a hitch (it’s good to see those initial Wi-Fi glitches have been sorted) and I was able to select my preferred network and enter my password rather than having to go down the WPS route. After waiting a few minutes for any updates to download and install, you’re almost ready to go. The only things left to do are to pair your remote with the Puck by holding the 1 and 3 buttons for three seconds, and then link the Stream Puck to your your Sky account.
Sky Glass review: Software, content and features
Assuming you’re familiar with Sky Q, you’ll feel right at home with either Glass or the Stream Puck’s UI. The front end isn’t identical to Sky Q, but it does have the same look and feel, with the familiar blue background and all your content arranged on “rails”. You can navigate through these rails by clicking up and down on the remote control (see below) and explore what’s in each one by clicking right and left.
The content is arranged in hierarchical order with a selection of recently viewed items displayed in the top rail, including a thumbnail of what’s currently being watched. Below this is a list of overarching categories – TV Shows, Movies, Sports, Kids, News, Audio and Music, Fitness and International – and there’s a now and next rail underneath that, with a shortcut to a TV guide to the left of it.
Next up is a rail containing shortcuts to your HDMI-connected devices and all of your installed apps, and further themed rails live beyond, with a list of Sky channels below that, your Playlist and other curated lists. To access Sky Glass’ settings you have to scroll right down to the bottom.
The TV guide works as you might expect it to, listing channels vertically, and you can see what’s on now and in the future by navigating to the right. The list of channels isn’t as extensive as it is on Sky Q but the list of apps is decent enough and covers a reasonable selection of the main providers in the UK – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Discovery+, BBC iPlayer, All4, ITVHub and YouTube, with Apple TV+ promised as an update very soon.
The big difference between Sky Glass and Sky Q is that you can’t record programmes. Instead, you click the “+” button to add the programme you’re interested to your Playlist. This works well with Sky shows, but content from other providers is more hit and miss and depends on their particular content policies. BBC programmes, for instance, aren’t always available immediately after they’re broadcast and are only available for a specific amount of time, while BT Sport programming can’t be playlisted at all.
It’s a bit of a weird mish-mash, truth be told, and can be confusing at times. It’s certainly not helped by Sky’s use of the phrase “Cloud DVR” in some of its marketing, which makes it sound like using the Playlist is akin to recording shows to some kind of personal storage in the cloud, when that clearly isn’t the case.
That’s a shame because, as a streaming platform in its own right, without the confusion introduced by making it look like it’s a live, broadcast TV product, Sky Glass works rather well. You can pause, play and rewind just as you can with Sky Q (although doing this online it isn’t quite as responsive as doing it with a locally recorded file), many programmes allow you to “Play from start” if you come in halfway through and you also get some, albeit not all, of the fancier features from Sky Q’s sports channels, including the ability to watch the highlights so far of a sports event if you missed the start.
Sky Glass review: Remote and voice control
The TV is supplied with a Bluetooth remote control, which is finished in the sort of soft-touch plastic that goes tacky after a while. It’s backlit, which is a nice touch as it helps you find the right buttons in a darkened room. It won’t help you locate the remote in the first place, however, as the backlight times out rather quickly and only turns on when you pick it up.
The layout of the remote control will be familiar to users of Sky Q. Despite the different finish, it’s the same shape and the buttons are largely in the same place, which is a good thing. Sky is sticking with the tried and tested here, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, which it tried and failed to do with the disastrous Sky Q Touch Remote.
What Sky is pushing quite strongly is voice control and on Sky Glass, it’s built into the TV as well as the remote control. Indeed, using a far-field microphone array, Glass can detect the wake phrase “Hello Sky” and act on your instructions without you having to touch the remote control.
You can turn on the TV in this way, change channels, search for content and adjust the volume. It’s also possible to pause, play and skip to certain points on a show’s timeline with your voice, and I found it worked pretty well overall. I still found browsing the UI for things I wanted to watch easier with the remote control, though, so it’s best to think of Sky Glass’ voice control as a shortcut to common controls when you can’t be bothered to pick up the remote.
Sky Glass review: Image quality
Sky Glass is a streaming package designed with convenience in mind, so it’s worth tempering your expectations when it comes to picture quality. The overall viewing experience delivered by its 60Hz quantum dot LED panel is reasonable, but this isn’t a TV you’re likely to buy for image quality alone.
The first thing you’re going to want to do if you do buy one is turn off the auto backlight, which adjusts the brightness of the picture depending on the ambient light level in the room. It’s a power-saving feature but I found it distracting and disabled it straight away.
By default, the TV also operates in “Auto” mode, which is supposed to adjust picture and sound settings on the fly based on what you’re watching. You might also consider disabling this setting, because when we put this to the test it didn’t seem to do anything particularly dramatic.
If you do prefer different picture modes depending on what you’re watching, then you may want to select those manually. These include Entertainment and Movie, which look no different to my eye, and Sport, which switches you to a rather cooler colour temperature. There’s no low-latency Game mode but you do get a couple of audio-centric modes – Music and Party – to play with, which do nothing to affect the picture but instead provide preset audio settings.
There’s also the option to save your own picture settings in the Custom mode, which allows you to adjust various parameters, including contrast, video brightness, colour saturation, hue/tint, white balance, local dimming and colour temperature. As stated, we disabled auto brightness and made no other adjustments to the default settings save turning local dimming on and off and switching the colour temperature between Standard (D65) and Cool.
Colour performance while viewing standard dynamic range content (SDR) using the Standard (D65) colour temperature setting proved decent, with Sky Glass covering 94.3% of the Rec.709 colour gamut when measured using our colorimeter and the Calman colour calibration software. Colours were presented reasonably accurately with that gamut, too, with an average Delta E score of 3.26 indicating that any perceptible colour discrepancies are minor.
Greyscale tracking didn’t miss the mark by too much either, with Sky Glass recording an average DeltaE score of 4.3 and a Gamma measurement of a fraction over 2. The latter result marks the Glass as a TV that slightly enhances detail in darker scenes. Sky Glass also scored well when it came to contrast, delivering a native contrast ratio of 5,920:1.
Despite lacking any form of viewing angle correction technology, the Sky Glass’ picture quality holds up well when not watched head-on. For an optimal viewing experience you’ll want to be looking at it relatively straight, but that experience won’t differ dramatically depending on which end of the sofa you’re sitting.
Sky Glass review: HDR performance
While SDR performance is admirable and overall picture quality is pleasing, the Sky Glass isn’t a strong performer when it comes to HDR content, despite its Dolby Vision certification.
Coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut is only 70%, although those colours are reproduced accurately with an average Delta E error of 2.42, but it’s the peak brightness that really spoils the party.
With the D65 Standard white point mode selected and local dimming enabled, we found peak HDR brightness reached a maximum of only 439cd/m² and then only with a full-field white pattern displayed; it dipped to 270cd/m² on a 10% window. Those figures are distinctly average for a TV costing £849 and leaves Sky Glass lacking pop when displaying HDR content.
Consistent brightness can be achieved by turning off local dimming, which lends specular highlights more glint and gleam but this does elevate the black level, so darker scenes look slightly greyer.
The highest peak brightness can be achieved by switching to the TV’s “Cool” colour temperature setting. With that selected, Sky Glass reached a maximum brightness of 459cd/m², but colour accuracy suffers as a result. We recommend you stick with Standard (D65) and settle for slightly lower peak luminance.
No matter the settings you use, there’s no escaping the fact that the Sky Glass isn’t a great choice for watching HDR and Dolby Vision content, certainly in comparison with other TVs at around the same price. That’s a big chink in its armour and one that could prove a dealbreaker for those sat on the fence about whether the Sky Glass is the right 4K TV package for them.
Sky Glass review: Audio
While picture quality is disappointing, audio is better. Not as good, it must be said, as if you were to connect a decent dedicated soundbar, such as the Sonos Beam 2, but better than you’ll get with most TVs at around the price of Sky Glass.
Indeed, Sky Glass plays host to a full 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos-compatible audio system. Four drivers are housed in the “soundbar” part of the TV – one centre speaker, one 120mm bass woofer and two stereo drivers – and there’s a pair of upward-firing Atmos speakers in the top corners of the TV set to deliver Atmos’ height effects.
There’s 215W of total amplification, too, ensuring that these deliver audio that’s far more forceful than most other TVs you’ll encounter, with vocals and speech delivery a real strength of the system. I fired up a John Legend concert recording on Sky Arts and both the piano and Legend’s voice came across in a convincing and pleasing manner.
Despite all of those drivers, however, and the additional up-firing Atmos speakers, the surround-sound effect is limited. I wasn’t overly impressed with the way Sky Glass delivers bass, either; even with the Bass Boost option toggled on in the settings, there’s very little low-end thump and rumble.
Sky Glass review: Verdict
On paper, Sky Glass is an impressive TV system at a tempting price. It’s convenient and easy to use, the specifications are impressive, audio quality is great (for built-in speakers) and a lot of people will be persuaded by the fact that it’s a relatively low-cost monthly add-on to a Sky subscription.
Meanwhile, for those who can’t or don’t want to install a dish, Sky Glass is a far better option than Now, delivering all that exclusive Sky content in optimum 4K resolution.
Before you take the leap, however, you need to ask yourself – very carefully – if you wouldn’t be best served by sticking with separates. With Sky Q and your own choice of TV you’ll get a more potent TV system with better picture quality than Sky Glass, more channels and local programme recording plus plenty of streaming apps. Add a soundbar, which you may well own already, and you’ll likely get better audio quality as well.
That means Sky Glass is a difficult thing to wholeheartedly recommend. True, it’s a more elegant thing to have in your home than a Sky Q box, a TV and a soundbar and, yes, it does the job of streaming Sky services in 4K well. But, for most people, Sky Q plus a TV of their choice will deliver a superior experience all round.