Sky+ HD box: The lowdown
What is a Sky+ HD box?
When you take out a Sky+ TV (www.sky.com) package, you get a choice of two set top boxes for your telly: the Sky+ HD box, or the Sky+ HD 2TB box. The first is the basic box you can grab for free with your new package, but the 2TB one costs extra - though you get a lot more space for recordings, more on demand box sets, and a discount if you’re an existing customer.
The main draw of the boxes is that you can use them to pause, rewind, and record live TV - 185 hours of standard definition telly (or 60 hours of HD) on the regular Sky+ HD box, or a massive 1180 hours (350 hours of HD) on a 2TB one. That’s right, you can store a month and a half’s worth of continuous TV on one single box. The clever tech allows you to record two things at once while also watching something else you’ve recorded, and the Smart Series Link makes sure you won’t miss an episode of your favourite TV shows.
As its name suggests, the box is HD ready too, which is great considering Sky’s TV packages include up to 73 HD channels. It also supports 3D shows, which will be available on demand since Sky closed its dedicated 3D channel.
A Sky set top box means you’ll be able to use its user-friendly, and super easy-to-understand TV guide. The home page has a few features to help you discover new TV and films to watch too: there’s Suggestions, where Sky will give you some recommendations based on what you’ve recorded and downloaded, and Top Picks, where you can see what’s hot right now.
You’ll need a broadband connection to access all the on demand content that Sky has to offer, but the box makes this easier with built-in Wi-Fi. That means it’ll connect to your internet wirelessly and there’s no need to fiddle around with massive cables all over the house.
In fact, if you connect your smartphone or tablet to that same Wi-Fi and download the Sky+ app, you can use it as a remote control to pause and rewind whatever you’re watching. And wherever you are, you can use the app to manage your recordings and explore the TV guide.
Watching Sky TV in multiple rooms
Another kind of set top box you can get from Sky is a Multiscreen box - the first of which is free when you take out a Sky Multiscreen subscription, but any more than that will cost you extra. These lovely things mean you can get Sky TV on multiple tellies in your home, but unfortunately they can’t be used to record, pause, rewind, or access on demand TV. Though they’re limited in that respect, you can still get all the same live channels, and a Multiscreen subscription includes Sky Go Extra at no extra cost.
What channels can I get?
There’s a huge number of channels available with a Sky+ HD box, but the exact ones you get depend on what package you choose. The choices are:
- Original Bundle - 240 free-to-air channels, including 11 HD, and 35+ extra from Sky’s entertainment suite
- Variety Bundle - Everything in the Original Bundle with 40+ extra channels
- Family Bundle - Everything in the Variety Bundle with 50+ HD channels
- Cinema Bundle - The Original Bundle plus Sky Cinema
- Sports Bundle - The Original Bundle plus seven sports channels, including Sky Sports
- Complete Bundle - The Family Bundle plus Sky Cinema and seven sports channels - and all of them in HD.
For the complete list of what you’ll get, take a look at our Sky TV channel list.
As well as live channels, a Sky+ HD box gives you access to on demand TV, provided you have broadband for it to connect to. The inclusion of so many exclusive Sky channels means it can offer the UK’s widest selection of seven day catch up - and if you go for the Family Bundle, there’s around 350 box sets on demand.
What’s good about the Sky+ HD box?
- Huge variety of channels, including the whole Sky entertainment suite and loads of HD channels
- Can pause and rewind live TV, and record up to a whopping 1180 hours with a 2TB box - more than you can record with any other set top box in the UK
- Available almost anywhere, so long as you can install a satellite dish
- Over 350 on demand box sets and the UK’s widest selection of catch up TV, if you get the Family Bundle
- Good easy-to-use interface
- Includes Sky Go and the ability to manage your recordings remotely with the Sky+ app
- Easiest way to get Sky Cinema and Sky Sports, and the only way to get Sky Atlantic
What’s bad about the Sky+ HD box?
- Packages are expensive compared to other providers
- Opting for a 2TB box can be very expensive, with even more set-up fees on top of that
- Sky TV requires a satellite dish on your home, which can be a hassle and not always possible in rented or shared accommodation
- TV packages aren’t that flexible, so you may end up spending a lot to get the channels you want