The NOW TV Box is a small set top box which connects your existing TV to the internet, allowing you to stream content from Sky Sports and Sky Movies as well as selected 3rd party services such as BBC iPlayer and Spotify.
Setting up the box is a doddle – simply connect it to your existing TV via the included HDMI cable and to your home broadband via WiFi using the onscreen instructions.
You’ll also need to power-up your computer to create a NOW TV account and then enter the username and password on your NOW TV Box. Once these quick steps are completed, you’re all set up and ready to watch.
Powered by Sky, NOW TV is the satellite giant’s response to streaming services such as Netflix and LOVEFiLM.
A rolling, no-contract monthly subscription provides access to Sky’s live movie channels plus a Video on Demand library containing a vast collection of newer and classic movie titles.
Users can also buy a 24-hour day pass to Sky Sports for £9.99, allowing more casual sports fans to watch big sporting events without a hefty monthly bill.
The service launched last year and has been available via apps on tablets and smartphones as well as on some games consoles and YouView set top boxes.
The new NOW TV Box is the first time Sky has invested in its own hardware for the service, allowing it to fully control the user experience. Speaking of which, the box is nice and responsive with no noticeable lag or delay between button presses and commands being carried out.
This is welcome because in the NOW TV screen, there’s no onscreen keyboard for searching content, instead you have to select letters from a scrolling list. Any lagging would have made this design choice pretty annoying.
And, although this will be as dependent on your broadband connection as the box itself, we found content played nice and quickly, and without any judder or pauses.
The box and remote are well built and finished in a high gloss white which makes a welcome change from the standard black of home entertainment kit.
The solid performance and quality feel is hardly surprising. The box is made by Roku, an established brand which Sky bought into last year, and is based on the firm’s popular Roku LT box which retails for £49.99.
In contrast, and thanks to some subsidy from Sky, the NOW TV Box sells for just £9.99, including postage and the HDMI cable.
To put that price into context, there are high street retailers who would charge you a tenner for the just the cable, while an Apple TV will cost you ten times as much as the NOW TV box’s asking price.
Sure, the Apple TV does a few things the NOW TV Box doesn’t, but the ultra-low retail price makes the NOW TV Box the first true ‘impulse buy’ Smart TV product on the UK market.
And we think that’s going to help them fly off the shelves.
However, and this is the important bit, the NOW TV Box blocks access to some services – such as rival Netflix – which are available on standard Roku boxes.
There is a Roku channel store which allows you to install additional channels, including music video service Vevo and an array of US news providers, but you’re unlikely to get a choice of film and sports providers on this box.
Of course, it’s hardly surprising that Sky aren’t willing to subsidise its rivals arrival in your front room. But if you’re the type who wants as much choice as possible on a single box, or who likes to switch between providers on a regular basis, we’d suggest a standard Roku might be a better buy.
For everyone else this is an insanely cheap way of connecting your TV to the internet and getting access to top-flight entertainment without the expensive monthly subscription.
Disclaimer: Seenit.co.uk received a free, launch-day NOW TV Box and free Sky Sports Day Pass voucher.