HomeTechnologySky Glass review: It could be the future of TV …but don’t ditch Sky Q quite yet
Sky Glass review: It could be the future of TV …but don’t ditch Sky Q quite yet
May 25, 2022
Our Sky Glass review has everything you need to know about this new 4K TV from Sky (Image: SKY • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
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Sky Glass Review: The Verdict
Sky Glass is a brilliant – albeit shaky – start. Although we’ve only awarded this custom-designed telly 3 stars for now (a substantial step down from the five stars awarded in our Sky Q review), gogglebox manufacturers like Sony, Samsung and LG will want to hold off popping open the champagne just yet. That’s because, while Sky Glass isn’t quite the best Sky TV deal around, it is ludicrously simple to install and offers access to some of the best TV channels, on-demand boxsets, Dolby Atmos sound, and all of the streaming services you could ever want. And it does it all with a single power cable.
The amazing simplicity of this all-in-one solution makes it a great choice for a lot of people.
Sky Glass review – at a glance
What We Loved
Easy to set up
No need for a satellite dish
Streaming all of your telly works well
New menu looks amazing
Seamless search and viewing with all your streaming apps
What We Didn’t Love
Quality of the QLED display could be better
No physical hard drive to record your favourite shows, movies and sports
Sky Glass bundles can get very expensive
In our full Sky Glass review below, you’ll find a number of issues that we encountered in our time with the all-new 4K TV, including the Playlist feature that populates with hundreds of episodes – making navigation difficult, recorded shows vanishing without warning, and the fact that telly owners will soon be faced with a £5 a month charge to fast-forward through adverts. These problems need to be ironed out before we can wholeheartedly recommend that everyone rushes to order a Sky Glass telly for their living room.
However, despite all of these niggles, Sky Glass is the first telly we’ve ever used where all of our favourite streaming platforms work seamlessly together and finding new shows, documentaries and movies is simple and (dare we say) enjoyable. Glass really does manage to cut out the stress of being overloaded with new boxsets from Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and Apple TV+ while trying to keep track of what is happening in the TV guide.
Sure, the picture quality isn’t going to blow you away, but if you can pick up this telly-and-soundbar combination for a good deal, it provides a solid viewing experience. Of course, if you’ve splashed out on an OLED telly in the last couple of years, Sky Glass will be a significant downgrade. However, Sky Glass shows a huge amount of promise for a first attempt.
Let’s not forget that when Sky Q launched back in 2016, it had its fair share of bugs too. But in the years since its launch, Sky has refined the experience on that set-top box – and it has since managed to win every award in its field. It’s a shame that Sky Glass has arrived in a similar state, but in our testing, we’ve seen some amazing potential with this custom-designed telly.
We’re not going to write off Sky Glass quite yet. Trust us, this could be the future of television.
Sky Glass review
Sky Glass was announced with huge fanfare at the end of 2021 – the first satellite dish-less product from Sky TV, it promised to bring together live television channels and exclusive boxsets with Sky Store rentals and streaming platforms in a single custom-designed telly with a Dolby Atmos-certified soundbar bundled too. If that sounds ambitious, that’s because it really is. There’s no doubt that Sky Glass represents a seismic move from the satellite company. And it’s completely different to what we’ve seen from rivals like Virgin Media, which recently launched a new set-top box that has more in common with an affordable Fire TV or Roku dongle than what Sky is trying to achieve with its latest product.
So, is it time to ditch your trusty Samsung or Sony television in favour of a new QLED TV designed by the team at Sky? Is Sky correct that we should abandon spinning hard drives (like the one found inside Sky Q, which is still on sale) in favour of unlimited cloud storage for all of our favourite shows and movies? Express.co.uk has had this cutting-edge new television plugged in for a couple of months, here is our in-depth review of Sky Glass…
Sky Glass review: One cable to rule them all, just plug the television into power – and that’s it (Image: SKY)
One of the biggest hurdles when setting up Sky Q for the first time is the nightmare of having a satellite dish drilled to the outside of your home. First off, there is the inconvenience of organising an appointment with the engineers, waiting in for them on the day, the drilling and noise, the list goes on …and that’s if you’re one of the lucky ones!
For those in rented properties or high-rise apartments without a communal dish, it was not possible to have a satellite dish affixed to the property. Until the arrival of Sky Glas, that meant you had to wave goodbye to the idea of a Sky Q box under your telly.
But that’s all changed.
Sky Glass brings an improved Sky Q-like experience to anyone with a Wi-Fi signal. It also ditches the need for an intrusive and noisy installation. Instead, the 4K TV arrives in a box and customers only need to plug in a single cable (the power cord) to get started. Sky even preloads your account on Sky Glass before it arrives on your doorstep. So, you won’t need to worry about slowly typing out a password on the redesigned remote before you can start watching.
Instead, all you need to do is connect to your Wi-Fi connection (or plug-in an ethernet cable) and settle down for an evening of entertainment, sports, or blockbuster movies. Seriously, it really is that easy. The set-up for Sky Glass makes Sky Q, which is still available to buy from Sky, look like a relic from another era.
The only minor annoyance we came across with Sky Glass is building the stand that the TV sits on. Sky includes some pretty basic instructions, which left us fitting one piece the wrong way around on our first attempt. Fortunately, if your DIY skills aren’t up to scratch (like ours!), Sky has promised that its Glass delivery drivers will set up the stand for you. That should make things incredibly hassle-free.
We really can’t fault Sky when it comes to installation and we’re confident that even the biggest technophobe will have no problems plugging in and watching TV in a matter of minutes.
Sky Glass can be placed anywhere in your home, as long as there is a good Wi-Fi signal (Image: SKY)
Since there’s no satellite dish, you’ll need some speedy broadband to watch live television, on-demand boxsets, sports, and movies …especially if you want to watch in 4K Ultra HD, which is the highest picture quality supported by Sky Glass. If your current home broadband connection is slower than a snail through treacle, you should really think twice before buying Sky Glass as without a good internet signal, you’ll be left staring at your own reflection in the QLED display. And that’s it.
We’re lucky enough to have 200Mbps full-fibre broadband from Virgin Media available in our property, which is more than enough to deal with Sky Glass. During our time with the telly, we’ve had no issues tuning into our favourite boxsets, like Succession and Mare Of Easttown, live sports in 4K Ultra HD, or streaming series from Netflix and Disney+.
If your street hasn’t been upgraded to superfast fibre yet – don’t panic. Sky says that Glass should be fine with a minimum download speed of 10Mbps for standard definition. Start viewing in glorious 4K Ultra HD and you’ll need around 25Mbps to ensure things don’t begin to buffer. And don’t forget that you’ll need more if you’ve got a busy household with other family members streaming video, making video calls, or backing up their phones in other rooms of the house while you’re trying to watch Sky Glass.
It’s also worth making sure your Wi-Fi connection is strong enough to reach the spot that you’re eyeing up for your Sky Glass. After all, a weakened Wi-Fi signal could make watching telly as tough as slow download speeds.
There is an ethernet cable for those who want a hardwired connection and you can connect an aerial cable into the back of Sky Glass – so that, should the worse happen and you lose broadband one night, you’ll still be able to tune-in to Freeview. But one of the biggest draws of Sky Glass is the no-clutter, one cable set-up… so it’s not something we opted to do. Of course, that does mean that when our broadband has a wobble (which happens a few times a year) we were left unable to watch any live television, recordings, streaming services.
Sky Glass is pretty chunky as it houses a Dolby Atmos soundbar and everything needed to stream telly (Image: SKY)
Once you’re all connected to the internet, it’s time to start those boxset binges!
Sky Glass comes fitted with a 4K Ultra HD Quantum Dot (QLED) display. You can buy it in 43-, 55-, and 65-inch screen sizes and each of these is available in numerous colour options including Ocean Blue, Racing Green, Dusky Pink, Ceramic White, and Anthracite Black to fit your décor.
For our review, we took delivery of the 55-inch version in Anthracite Black, which is probably the least dynamic of the bunch but a safe bet if you’re not trying to make an interior design statement.
From the front, Sky Glass has an expansive screen that pushes right to the very edge of the case, aside from the bottom of the design that’s taken up with a hefty “chin” to house the Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar that sits underneath the panel. Unfortunately, squeezing a soundbar into a telly means you’ll lose the “flat” part of the flatscreen with this device looking pretty chunky. All the clever technology inside makes Sky Glass incredibly thick – around two inches – which might not suit everyone’s tastes, especially those wanting who want to mount the screen to their living room walls. This is not a flatscreen and it will protrude from the wall like a medieval painting.
So, that’s how it looks on the outside but what about the all-important visuals?
Switch on Sky Glass and you’ll get a decent image with content looking crisp and sharp which – this is a 4K screen after all. However, since Sky Glass relies on a QLED panel, don’t expect anything like the vibrant colour-packed visuals found on more premium OLED TVs as this all-in-one 4K TV doesn’t come close to matching those visuals.
Even compared to other QLED TVs within the same price range, we’d say that most things watched on Sky Glass look a bit dull …no matter how much we tweaked the settings. It almost feels as if a subtle grey wash is being smeared over every image on-screen. This is something that might be solved with a software update (even in our short time with Sky Glass, we’ve already seen a major update to boost visuals and iron out some bugs) but there’s no guarantee that things are going to get better on that front.
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Sadly, Sky Glass just doesn’t offer eye-popping visuals and if that’s important to you, we’d properly recommend saving your money and buying a QLED or, even better, OLED from the likes of Samsung, Sony, or Panasonic in the Black Friday sales. And if you already have a pricey telly in your living room, you really don’t want to swap it out for Sky Glass as that’s probably going to look like a downgrade on your next movie night.
As we’ve mentioned, Sky Glass arrives with a soundbar built-in and it certainly makes the audio from this TV far better than anything else you’ll get from a modern flatscreen telly out-of-the-box. Dialogue cuts through clearly and there’s enough rumble from explosions to make action movies feel a little more epic, and ominous rattles in horror films send a shiver down your spine. Of course, it doesn’t compare to standalone products from the likes Sony or Sonos, but these alone cost almost as much as the Sky Glass, so that’s no surprise.
Sky Glass is basically both good and bad. We love the all-in-one design, thin borders around the display, not to mention the fruity colour options and the fact there’s just one cable that will end the usual spaghetti of leads that usually end up behind the screen.
However, the fact it’s so thick and the visuals lack the punch of other TVs on the market means it’s difficult to give Sky Glass the full thumbs up.
Sky Glass relies on the new Playlist feature instead of recording to a hard drive like Sky Q (Image: SKY)
So far, we’ve spoken about the simplicity of Sky Glass, but here’s where things start to get complicated. Unlike Sky Q, there’s no hard disk tucked inside Glass. That means you can’t physically record your favourite shows or movies to watch whenever you fancy.
Sky is switching things up on Glass, which ditches the much-loved recordings feature for something called Playlists. Don’t panic – you can still view your favourite programmes after they have aired on live TV (most of the time), but you’ll need to change your habits. Shows added to your Playlist are viewed via catch-up services like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and All4, to name a few. These stream the shows and movies via the cloud, instead of storing them locally in your Sky Q, for example.
Playlist has its own menu, with shows appearing whenever they’re available to watch over your broadband connection. These shows and films can also be accessed from the main Sky Glass homepage too. You can also find shows, films or sports fixtures that you’ve missed with a voice search. On Sky Glass, this can be done hands-free by using the wake phrase “Hey Sky” (just like an Alexa-powered Echo) or with the remote control. You can also add something to your Playlist by pressing the red + button on the remote – this also acts like the Series Link feature on older Sky Q boxes.
Whenever you want to watch something stored in Playlists, Sky Glass streams it straight to the screen. Nothing is saved on your system.
For our money, there are good and bad aspects of this radical shake-up, so let’s start with what we like. Firstly, because everything you watch is stored on the cloud you’re never going to run out of disk space no matter how many movies and episodes of The Simpsons you add to the Playlist.
Since it’s drawing from on-demand services, movies and shows can show up in your Playlist before they’ve aired on telly. That’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait for the next episode. A good example of this was when we added Mamma Mia to our Playlist after we spotted it coming to ITV.
Sky Glass instantly checked and added the film straight to our Playlist as it’s currently available via Netflix, so we could watch hours earlier than originally planned – it’s all clever stuff.
Just like Sky Q, you can whizz through recordings, pause, rewind and restart shows with all this happening without a hint of stutter.
So, that’s what we like but sadly, there are also some highly annoying things about not having those physical recordings.
When you add a show – such as Gogglebox – to your Playlist, Sky Glass assumes you want every single episode it can possibly find. That makes things massively complicated as you end up having to scroll through endless episodes, rather than just the one you fancied viewing. To be fair, the most recent episode is usually shown first but we’d still rather not be bombarded by content that in some cases can be years old.
Then there’s the problem of episodes vanishing from your Playlist before you’ve watched them whenever Sky or any other catch-up platform loses the rights to show them. Match of the Day is probably the best example of this nightmare as the BBC is only allowed to feature this show on catch up for a very limited time.
If you head on holiday for two weeks and have Sky Q you’d be able to watch Match of the Day on your return via your recordings but try and do the same thing on Glass and you’ll have no such luck. Grrrrrr.
We’ve also found instances of missing episodes from a number of series, which isn’t exactly Sky’s fault as it can only stream what is available from All4, ITV Hub, BBC iPlayer, and others. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less annoying when you’re trying to catch-up on a boxset or watch a programme that you missed last week.
And let’s be honest, there was absolutely nothing preventing Sky from installing a small 500GB hard drive inside Sky Glass to act as a back-up – only to be used when viewers requested to permanently “Keep” a recording (a mainstay feature from Sky Q that doesn’t exist with the stream-only Sky Glass). That would solve a lot of our problems with Playlists.
There’s no question that streaming really is the future – it’s incredibly convenient (most of the time) and means you’ll never need to worry about running out of storage, power cuts or poor signal interrupting your recordings (something that can plague Sky Q owners). Sky Glass’ clever new software features make it easier to jump between live telly, old episodes streamed from a catch-up service, and the latest installation that aired a few hours ago.
That said, we just miss those physical recordings and think Sky needs to iron out some of the glitches before we’d be happy to ditch our trusty Sky Q box and move everything over to the cloud for good.
Sky Glass ships with a colour matched remote with backlit buttons and voice search (Image: SKY)
The All-New Remote
The last major remote control redesign from Sky was back in 2016, alongside the Sky Q box. And while the all-new remote that ships with Sky Glass might look familiar, there are some major changes compared to the previous model. First up, Sky has used a soft-touch plastic for its new channel-changer that feels really nice in the hand.
But the best upgrade is backlighting for the buttons, so you can easily make out the volume controls, numbers on the keypad and more when the sun goes down (or the curtains are closed for an all-day movie marathon). The remote that ships in the box with Sky Glass will be colour-matched to the set. However, if you decide that you want a change at a later date, the complete range, from Racing Green to Ceramic White, is available to buy from Amazon.
We don’t have any major quibbles with the new-look remote control – everything is in the right place and it’s really easy to use. However, it would’ve been nice if Sky had included dedicated fast-forward and rewind buttons. These controls are available via the click wheel, which reduces the number of buttons and makes the remote appear a little more modern, but fast-forwarding through adverts is something that you’ll be doing every day so a separate button would’ve been nice.
It’s also a shame that you can’t recharge the battery via USB-C. Instead, Sky Glass’ remote uses good ol’ fashioned batteries that will need to be replaced when things run flat. Given that some of the biggest telly manufacturers on the planet, like Samsung, have launched solar-powered remote controls (and even one model that keeps its battery topped up using the Wi-Fi signal running throughout your home), it’s a shame to see that things haven’t moved on since the launch of Sky Q when it comes to battery technology from Sky.
Sky Stream Pucks can be added throughout your home to bring the Sky Glass experience to every room (Image: SKY)
Perhaps one of the greatest things about Glass is the new menu and user interface, which makes Sky Q look incredibly outdated. Glorious high-resolution visuals from television shows are displayed on the screen and scrolling through content feels really slick with glossy animations making feel like a very premium product.
Sky has also included some other bonus extras including the ability for the TV to turn itself on when you walk in the room. It’s nothing we wanted to use on a regular basis, but it’s a nice party trick that some owners will no doubt love.
Finally, there’s that simple access to content from other providers with Glass working far more efficiently when launching Disney+, Netflix, Apple TV+ or Prime Video. Support for new streaming service Paramount+ is also coming this summer, Sky has revealed.
If you have TVs in other rooms Sky will sell you a Stream Puck which is a device that’s only available to Glass customers. This streaming box brings all the features of Glass to non-Sky branded televisions. We’ve not tested the Puck so can’t give you our thoughts but it sounds like a neat way of getting Sky’s technology on any televisions you already own.
Sky Glass might start from £13 but can get expensive pretty quickly (Image: SKY)
Price And Availability
Sky is being very clever with its pricing and offering Sky Glass just like a pay monthly smartphone contract. That means you can take delivery of the 43-inch model for just £13 per month.
But before you start jumping for joy at thought of such a cheap price for a TV, there are a few caveats. First off, that price is over four years, which means committing to Glass for a very long period of time (although, you will be able to upgrade to new models of Sky Glass during the contract, like trading in a smartphone mid-contract). And then, there are all of the extras you’ll almost certainly need to add to your contract. Add Sky’s Ultimate TV bundle with a Netflix subscription (£26 a month) Sky Sports (£25 a month) and Sky Cinema channels (£11 a month) and things can soon start speeding past the £80 a month barrier. And that doesn’t even include the £7.99 for Disney+ or similar subscription for Prime Video for those who want to watch everything that releases and might come up at the watercooler in the office.
Then there are other extras including the ability to stream to other rooms in your home with Sky Stream Pucks (£10 a month, plus an upfront £50 fee per Puck) and the ability to watch in 4K (£5 a month). One final thing to note is that after the first 12 months you’ll also need to pay an extra £5 per month to fast-forward through the adverts on any catch-up content streamed to Sky Glass, which really leaves an incredibly bitter taste in the mouth.