What Is Sky Q & How Does It Work?

October 11, 2020
by
Tom

All About Sky Q. What is it & How Does it Work?

If you’re thinking about subscribing to Sky Q, wanted to know how it differs from Sky+HD and how it works. Read this blog for all you need to know. Forgive me for being slow in publishing this information, Sky Q is no longer a “new” service but it has taken me some time to get some hands on experience with the equipment, which is actually one of the main things that has changed (frustratingly), which I will come onto. Let’s begin.

 

What Is Sky Q?

Sky Q is the latest offering from Sky. If you’re a new Sky subscriber, chances are you will have Sky Q installed as it has become its new standard service. The are many changes with the Sky Q service, most notably 4K compatibility, changes to how the multi-room option now works, the LNB required on your satellite dish and many more.

 

New User Interface

Probably the fist thing you will notice when using a Sky Q box for the first time is the new user interface, as you would expect this looks completely different from previous versions. It can take a bit of getting used to but you will find that the interface is generally more responsive, quicker and slicker to use. You also have a voice search facility with compatible equipment. The menu home screen features reminders for programmes you have already watched or suggestions based upon your viewing history which can be helpful.

 

Sky Retain More Control With Sky Q

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about Sky Q is that much of it is being kept in house, meaning that Sky themselves are not very co-operative with independent installers like me as they have been in the past. You can still get an independent satellite engineer to come install your satellite dish if this is in a position where Sky themselves will not work, but when it comes to supplying and installing the Sky equipment you will need to go through Sky direct. Like Virgin Media, Sky retains ownership of the Sky Q equipment meaning that you only rent the equipment, this means that you may be required to return your equipment if ever you decide to cancel your Sky subscription. This can be handy on the other hand as if there is ever a problem with the box itself it is up to them to fix the issue.

Recordings No Longer Contained To One Device

This is also referred to as Sky multiscreen or Sky Fluid Viewing and is probably the best feature of the Sky Q mini box system is that recordings are no longer static, what is meant by this is that you can set a recording in one room and pick it up in another. So if you were watching TV recording in your lounge and wanted to carry on in your bedroom you can do this. This was not possible on older Sky systems where the recordings were only accessible on the device that you recorded the programme on.

Sky Q Main Boxes (1TB, 2TB)

There are a couple of options for the Sky Q main box. These currently are the 1TB model and the 2TB model which as well as having extra recording capacity for the storing of recorded TV programmes also comes with some other additional features. Both boxes are compatible with 4K ultra HD for crystal clear video images, (there was an earlier 1TB model that wasn’t 4K compatible) to be able to view 4K on your TV you will need to make sure that your TV is 4K compatible and you’re connected into the correct HDMI port on your TV (some have a separate UHD input) with a HDMI cable capable of supporting 4K.

 

How Many Tuners Do You Sky Q 1TB/ 2TB Boxes Have? 

With the addition of the new Sky WB LNB this has allowed multiple tuners within your new Sky Q equipment, whereas traditional Sky+ and Sky+HD are limited to two satellite tuners, supplied by separate satellite coaxial connections enabling you to watch/ view 2 programmes at one time. Sky Q on the other hand allows for significantly more, the Sky 1TB has 8 tuners which allows you three tuners for recordings, two for live TV and picture-in-picture and one for a Sky min-box and the other remaining for a smartphone/ tablet.

 

The Sky 2TB box has a whooping 12 tuners, this allows four for recordings, five for watching live TV including one for your main 2TB box, two for your Sky Q mini-boxes, two for mobile devices, one tuner is used for the mini TV screen that you see within now-and-next mini TV guide, whilst the remaining are reserved for Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), UI and one spare for future improvements. This means that you’re very unlikely to get clashes with your recording schedule, in fact if you’re recording that many programmes at the same time you will probably struggle to find the time to watch them all.

 

Sky Q Touch Remote - Bluetooth Remote

The Sky remote has also received an upgrade with Sky Q, with the addition of the Sky Q Touch remote which works over Bluetooth. If you’re not already familiar with Bluetooth technology, it operates using radio-frequency (RF) rather than infra-red (IR). This can be advantageous as the remote does not need to be pointed at the equipment for it to work, you just need to be within the wireless signal range of the remote control. This is ideal when you wish to hide the AV equipment and still control it as the box could be tucked away within a cupboard or something similar and there will be no need to open the doors to control the equipment or install infra-red emitters/ remote eyes. It also has a rather handy find-my-remote feature where the remote will emit an audible tone for you to be able to find the thing which are forever getting lost.

 

Other Sky Remotes

There are various other remotes that work with Sky Q, including infra-red operated remotes if you prefer this feature. Each uses a slightly different technique to connect to your TV so you can turn the TV off/on or control the TV sound, instructions on how to tune Sky remote do this can be found within the settings menu. Many of the remotes also have capable of voice control if this is something that interests you.

 

Sky Q Mini Box

If you have Sky multi-room where you have multiple boxes around your house, this can be replicated with Sky Q but it works differently. With Sky Q you have one main Sky Q box with a Sky viewing card and the mini-boxes effectively being slaves off the main box which do not require their own viewing cards in which previous Sky systems did. The Sky Q mini boxes are designed to connect wireless via their own mesh system to your main Sky Q box (not your WIFI), apart from removing the need to run cables throughout your house if you also subscribe to Sky broadband the Sky Mini-box can be used boost your WIFI connection throughout your home, potentially remove WIFI blackspots and remove the need for the installation of separate wireless access points.

 

If you live in a large building you may not be able to connect wireless to the main Sky Q box where you wish to install your mini-box, in which case these can be hardwired via data Ethernet cabling. Or a data cable can be run to a location near your Sky mini-box and a separate wireless repeater/ access point can be installed to allow wireless connection of Sky Mini-boxes.

 

How Many Sky Mini Boxes Can I Connect?

You can connect up to 4 mini-boxes to a Sky Q box but you cannot watch all of these simultaneously at the same time. With the original Sky Q 1TB box you can only have one (2 including the 1TB box) Sky mini-box working independently and with the Sky 2TB box you can have two mini’s working independently (three including the 2TB box). Obviously, this isn’t ideal if you have multiple TV positions around your home with people wanting the watch different channels at the same time.

 

When Sky Q was first released I read that eventually the system will be compatible with 7 mini-boxes connected but I haven’t seen much about this recently. I’m not sure if this has been cancelled or postponed. I will post more content when I find out more.

Perfect For Installing Behind Wall Mounted TV

One of my most popular older blogs is ‘Where should I put my Sky box when my TV is wall mounted?’ which I recommend that you read if you intend to take on the task. With the article I mention that Sky Q mini’s can be installed behind a wall mounted TV as they are very slim and quite small and(usually) connect wireless to the main Sky Q box meaning there isn’t any connecting coax cable to content with making it easier to hide TV wires/ cables. All you will need is a power source and a HDMI cable connected to the TV, all of which can be hidden behind your wall mounted TV. As the mini boxes use a infra-red remote I recommend installing mini box with the front (where the infra-red sensor is) facing out so that it will receive the commands from the remote control.

 

New “Wideband” LNB

One of the ways that Sky Q is able to provide multiple tuners with only one LNB with two connecting coax cables is the new Wideband LNB. Traditional Quad/ Octo LNB’s are no longer compatible with the service and if you wish to install Sky Q, the LNB will need to be upgraded on your satellite dish. The LNB should fit fine onto your existing satellite dish but if your dish is old, there is a chance that you may need a new dish. If you wish to use normal Sky boxes/ Freesat boxes in other rooms as well as Sky Q, fear not. Although a Sky Q wideband LNB will not suffice, a hybrid LNB that is a combination or a Wideband and Quad LNB is available. These have six outputs, two wideband outputs and four universal, sometimes called legacy outputs which allows Sky/ SkyQ/ Freesat on the same dish. Going forward the third-generation Freesat boxes are also compatible with Wideband LNB’s.

 

What is Different With The New Sky LNB?

The new Wideband LNB differs in a few ways, these are:

Wider frequency range

Although nothing has changed on the transmission frequencies. The LNB now oscillates the signals down as low as 300MHz whereas traditional universal LNB’s will oscillate down to a frequency range 950-2150Mhz and wideband LNB will now work in the frequency range 300-2150Mhz.

Horizontal & Vertical Polarised Signals Come Down Separate Cables

Unlike Sky+, Sky+HD where you would connect the PVR with two satellite coaxial cables for the ability to view/ record two TV programmes at onetime. The Wideband LNB’s now provide vertical and horizontal polarised signals down two separate cables which means that you must feed the Q box with two cables as half the channels come down one cable and half come down the other meaning to only connect one cable would mean that you would only get half the TV channels!

No LNB Switching

For those of you familiar with how a Quad LNB works, you will no that the LNB switches between 4 satellite bands at any one time depending on which programme you choose to watch or set to record. As the Sky Q LNB uses a greater range of frequencies and maximises the same bandwidth by placing horizontal/ vertical polarised signals there is no need for LNB switching.

40mm LNB Collar

Most of the Sky Q WB LNB’s I have installed have had a 40mm collar size which is normal for most satellite dishes, but most LNB holders for traditional mini-dish LNB’s is 38mm. This does not sound much of a difference, but you will not be able to fit a 40mm LNB into a 38mm holder. This is not much of a problem as the new holder usually comes with the new LNB and should fit your existing satellite dish if its relatively new.

 

I recommend watching my Youtube channel video on, what’s new with the Sky Q LNB? If you prefer a video demonstration, forgive me for my poor presentation skills.

 

No more RF2!

The RF2 connect was already starting to be phased out with the later Sky+HD models which removed the aerial input, RF1 and RF2 connections and required an add-on i/0 link modulator if you wished to keep an RF2 connection. I admit that the analogue RF2 connection is a bit dated for TV systems going forward but many of my customers were still happy using it and I regularly get asked how can you get Sky playback with Sky Q boxes and it answer is that it isn’t so easy with Sky Q. There are many options on how to distribute Sky Q around your home including HDMI video systems and digital modulators each of which would need to utilise the HDMI connection on the Sky box as there is no longer any other video-out connections.

 

Wideband Sky Q Signals Not Compatible With Combined TV/ Sat/Radio Systems

I have already touched upon why Sky Q (wideband) is no longer compatible with TV/ Sat combiners and Diplexed, Triplexed & Quadplexed wall-plates but if you have this type of system at your property you have a couple of options if you wish to install Sky at your house. These are pull additional coax cables so that the Sky wideband satellite signals are delivered separately to your Sky Q box from TV aerial/ radio signals, this would also mean removing any filtered faceplates like Triplexed wall plates. Or alternatively, you could continue to use a combined system like in communal systems for blocks of flats/ apartments by converting the signals into dSCR signals and setting your Sky Q box into ‘SCR’ mode which would allow the Sky Q box to be connected with only a single cable. Please read the following for more information: 

Sky Q on a single feed

How to upgrade communal TV systems for Sky Q

 

How Much Does Sky Q Cost?

If ever there was an answer I didn’t want to post on a blog, it is how much does it cost? This is because prices are always changing so this content could become out of date and it depends on what package you subscribe to. For instance, if you wanted Sports, Movies and Sky Broadband you’re going to pay more than someone who just wants a basic package and recording capabilities.

 

Prices start at £20 per month for the most basic package, additional mini-boxes are £12 each per month. Sky Sports is £27.50 per month, Movies is £18 per month but if you subscribe to both this is available for a combined price of £36 per month. There are small set up fees and if you want a 2TB box there is a onetime fee of £199 (£15 for 1TB box). I strongly advise checking latest prices with Sky however as these are likely to change over time.

Sky Q Questions, In the Blog Comments section only please!!!

If you have any comments and questions relating to this blog or Sky Q in general. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO POST THEM WITHIN THE BLOG COMMENTS SECTION BELOW. I have capitalised that as I cannot stress enough that I cannot help you any other way.

PLEASE DO NOT CALL OUR TELEPHONE LINES WITH YOUR QUESTIONS, unless you are looking to book in an installation, repair or a quote. We are a small business that operates in Sussex & Kent only, occasionally work takes us into Surrey and we do not have the staff, time or patience to offer free over the phone technical support so please do not call with questions, you will only be redirected to the Blog Comments section on the blog.

PLEASE DO NOT PRIVATELY E-MAIL OR FILL OIN OUR WEBSITE CONTACT FORMS. Again, these are intended for customers only. It's no real hardship receiving these (unlike the telephone calls) but you will be disappointed by a lack of response. I used to reply to these but it became too time consuming to answer questions in private, often the same questions. I then used to reply with a response asking you to post your question in the Blog Comments section but this caused many problems also, no I just do not respond to questions sent this way.

By posting your comments/ questions in the Blog Comments section you will:

1) Help the blog.

2) Provide future readers the benefit of the question asked and the answer given.

3) Provide me a central location to answer the questions I get asked (loads). This really helps speed things up my end.

4) Helps me know what article that your question relates to. It isn't always easy to tell as we now have over 100 (and counting) on the website.

That being said I will try to help out with your Sky Q problems where I can.

Until next time.

Tom.

Latest Blogs

October 2, 2020

Why Do Some Sat/ Sky Boxes Have Two Cable Inputs?

If you're wondering why some satellite receivers, like Sky boxes have a twin tuner or two separate satellite coax connections, read this.

October 2, 2020

Should I Install Network/ Data Cabling In My Home?

Read this before installing network/ Ethernet cabling in your home, read this for all you need to know. Inc info on data cables/ switches.

June 25, 2020

Freesat Wideband LNB System, Benefits & Solutions

All you need to know about the new third-generation Freesat 4K wideband system, inc info on LNB needed, common problems & solutions.

BACK TO BLOGS