While Sky is no stranger to hardware, given it has Sky boxes and branded routers, I wasn’t expecting the broadcaster to go and make a TV. But with Sky Glass it’s done exactly that.
Sky Glass is aimed at delivering a single entertainment package that mixes a 4K TV with a built-in soundbar and Sky services, all delivered via a Wi-Fi connection rather than needing a dish. While it's limited to the nations where Sky operates, the actual concept here is intriguing, especially if U.S. cable and satellite providers are taking note.
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Normally, when non-electronic brands delve into hardware to deliver all-in-one packages, the resulting products are lackluster. These often offer poor build-quality, middling specs and are essentially re-brands of cheap devices. Some TVs, like Amazon Fire TVs have been surprisingly decent, but few have offered serious specs for reasonable prices or as part of an affordable subscription model.
But Sky Glass offers a trio of TVs in 43-inch, 55-inch and 65-inch TVs, all with 4K Quantum Dot panels — the type of panel you’ll find in some of the best Samsung TVs — with support for Dolby Vision, a rather high standard of HDR. And there's also a built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar.
All that comes in at a starting price of £649 or a monthly subscription of £13. On paper, that’s a lot for a reasonable sum; for context, I paid £800 for my 4K Samsung TV and that lacks Dolby Vision or an Atmos soundbar.
While we’d need to test Sky Glass fully before coming to any definitive conclusion, in our hands-on Sky Glass review, we were rather impressed with the TV. It may be a bit bulky and have muted colors but it’s well-priced, has excellent sound and offers a one-box-solution to getting started with Sky.
And heck, I kind of want one. I’ve never had Sky TV; back in the day as it was too expensive to get in my rural home in the deepest, darkest West Wales. And as prices came down, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV arrived to not only make cord cutting appealing but also bypass the need for a cable in the first place.
But there are only so many streaming services I can subscribe to before my bank account is drained and I'm left to rely on a diet of plain toast. So Sky’s capture-all approach to many of the things I like watching, like the best HBO Max shows and movies, combined with a compelling TV package has a lot of appeal.
Now I’m sure there are major TV and audiophiles who would scoff at the idea of an all-in-one TV being the center of their entertainment world. Don't get me wrong; I’d love one of our picks for the best OLED TVs and combine it with a carefully assembled surround sound system.
But I live in a pokey one-bed London apartment, where space is not just at a premium but pretty-much non-existent. So devices that can do more without taking up a lot of space tick my boxes. Sure ,there's a compromise in quality opting for a soundbar over a true surround sound setup, but such is life.
In short, Sky Glass isn't just an intriguing way to get me interested in considering a Sky subscription, it’s also presenting an elegant solution to the problem of getting a pseudo home cinema setup in a limited space.
Will Sky Glass revolutionize the way we buy TVs? I’m not sure, but a smartphone-like contract/subscription deal is very interesting, especially if you’re getting a well-equipped TV. We’ve seen Microsoft do this with the Xbox Series X being offered as part of a subscription package with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, making it a very appealing deal even though Xbox Series X restocks remain a challenge.
While Sky Glass isn’t coming to the U.S. I'd not be surprised if American broadcasters take note and are inspired by Sky to do something similar; perhaps major Sky shareholder Comcast could come up with its own equivalent of Sky Glass. Either way, the future of TVs beyond improved displays is looking rather interesting.