After years of relying on satellites and dishes, Sky is finally stepping into the streaming TV world, in a big way – but with a lot of caution. Yes, they already had a foot in the game with NOW (TV) – but this is the first time Sky is giving its customers a streaming option that carries the full Sky service, with its pluses and minuses.
Sky Glass is both a device and a service, wrapped into one: it’s a 4K/UHD TV with a built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar, it comes in three sizes, and it lets you sign up for all of Sky’s content via streaming (so by using your broadband). It also features an innovative interface that tries to combine most of the major UK streaming services, along with Sky itself, and even Freeview.
So who is Sky Glass for? Is it better than Sky Q? Is it a good 4K TV? Can it fully replace a streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV stick? Is it a suitable replacement for a Freeview box? After spending several weeks with the TV, I’ll try to answer all these questions – and more – in this in-depth review of Sky Glass.
Quick Look – Sky Glass
What is it: A 4K / HDR TV from Sky that delivers most of the content via streaming, and is aimed at Sky subscribers.
Picture & Sound
Value for Money
- Swift and easy to use interface (with a learning curve)
- Decent 4K/HDR picture quality
- Good sound quality (compared to built-in TV speakers)
- The global search is truly a game changer
- Still has bugs and software issues
- Doesn’t have full recording capabilities
- Missing channels and apps (compared to Freeview and Sky Q)
- Expensive (and crippled without a Sky subscription)
Features and Specs
- Sizes: 43 Inches / 55 Inches / 65 Inches (And five available colours)
- Weight (without stand): 14kg / 23kg / 28 kg
- Video: QLED 4K Ultra HD / HDR (60Hz refresh rate)
- HDR Formats: HDR10, DolbyVision, HLG (10 Bit colour depth)
- Viewing Angle: 178 degrees
- Speakers: 3 Outwards, 2 Upwards, 1 internal Subwoofer (Up to 215w)
- Audio Formats: Dolby Atmos / Dolby Digital / Stereo 2.1
- Storage: None (only for system-use)
- Ports: 3 HDMI 2.1 (1 supports eARC)
- Broadband Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet
- Apps: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube and more
- Extra Features: Voice control (with or without remote), Motion sensor, optional Sky Puck available for other rooms
Sky Glass has some brilliant aspects and ideas – its fast global search is the best iteration of that feature on any current streaming device, and when everything works – the TV is a great stepping stone for customers who want to jump into 4K/UHD and the streaming world. But with software bugs, an interface that feels incomplete at times, and 4K/HDR picture quality that’s just OK – Glass is far from perfect.
Table of Contents
Who Is Sky Glass For?
This will be the question at the heart of this review – and indeed, the hardest-to-define aspect of Sky’s streaming TV.
Sky Glass is a great streaming device with a brilliant global search feature – but it can’t fully replace the likes of Amazon’s Fire TV or Roku, because its library of apps is limited.
Sky Glass is a Freeview recorder that’s not limited by bad aerial reception – but it can’t fully replace the likes of Manhattan T3-R or Humax Aura, because it doesn’t actually record most of the programmes, and instead relies on streaming from 3rd party apps like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub.
Sky Glass is a Sky Q replacement for people who can’t install a dish – but it doesn’t even fully replace Sky Q, due to some missing features and even missing channels.
And Sky Glass is a decent 4K / HDR TV, with a decent soundbar that’s built into it – but, for the price, there are better options out there, in terms of picture quality (and sound quality, if you do add an external soundbar).
So who is Sky Glass for? Possibly for the person who wants to combine all these features, and doesn’t mind that – for now at least – the TV is a jack of all trades, but master of none.
If you’re a fan of Sky’s eco-system (and you need to be – there’s really no point at all in buying Sky Glass WITHOUT planning to subscribe to Sky, even though you technically can), and you want to dip your toe into 4K/HDR and streaming – Glass will give you a simple, elegant solution – which will probably get better and better as bugs and software issues are squashed.
Sky Glass also represents a brilliant streaming future – and if Sky ends up releasing a streaming device that DOESN’T come with a TV (they do offer the Sky Puck for Sky Glass customers, which is a standalone streaming box, but you can’t buy it without also having Glass) – it’ll be much more tempting, to wider audiences – but we’re not there yet.
Sky Glass Pricing
As with many Sky products, pricing can get a bit confusing with Sky Glass – the basic level is simple enough, but when you start looking at the optional add-ons, things get complex.
Sky Glass comes with two distinct payments: you pay for the TV itself (the device), and for Sky’s channels and services.
If you pay the whole amount for the telly upfront, The 43″ TV costs £649, the 55″ is £849, and the £65″ is £1,049.
If you prefer monthly instalments, those payments are a loan, either for 24 or 48 months. It’s interest-free, but it still requires a status and credit check, so if you miss a payment, it could certainly affect your credit score.
The 43″ starts at £13/m, the 55″ is £17/month, and the £65″ is £21/month – if you choose the 48 months option (and it doubles if you go for the 24 months option).
There’s also a £10 / £20 (depending on the length) upfront fee for all of them (and yes – surprisingly, it’s a bit cheaper to pay with instalments than to pay upfront in this case).
I’m not a big fan of this method (or of loans in general, obviously) – it may feel like you’re paying for a subscription, as people are used to doing that with Sky, but you’re not. You’re paying back a loan. And if your circumstances change at some point, you can’t just stop paying – you have to pay it back in full even if you don’t want the TV anymore.
However, the second part of the cost is where things get interesting – you pay for Sky’s services and channels on top of what you pay for the TV.
The basic package you must have with Glass is Sky Ultimate, at £26/month. It includes Sky Entertainment (a pack of channels like Sky Atlantic, Sky Max and others), Freeview, and the basic Netflix plan which only has SD content.
On top of that, you can add:
- Sky Cinema at £11/month.
- Sky Sports at £25/month.
- Sky Kids at £5/month.
But wait, there’s more.
If you want to add 4K and Dolby Atmos to Sky’s content, that’s another £5/month. And what’s the point of buying a 4K TV with a soundbar, and NOT getting 4K and Dolby Atmos with it? (Though you can still get it on other streaming services without paying Sky)
And then, if you want to be able to fast forward adverts on some apps/channels – that’s also £5/month (but it’s free on your first year).
And finally, if you want to be able to watch in other rooms – you need the “Whole Home” add-on, which is £10/month, AND a £50 one-off cost for each Sky Puck.
So yes, you can get the small TV along with the basic Sky Ultimate package for a total monthly cost of £39 – but for most people, costs will start to add up pretty quickly.
The positive aspect is that, unlike Sky Q, Sky Glass doesn’t have a long-term 18-months contract. Instead, it’s a 31-days rolling contract that you can cancel at any point (just remember that the TV instalments WILL continue for the entire 24/48 months).
That’s a big plus, and finally puts Sky in line with other streaming services (and its own NOW service – see our Glass VS NOW comparison), where you can cancel and re-start your subscription at any point.
Sky, however, really doesn’t want you to do that – which is why they encourage you to get the TV via monthly instalments (so you’re used to paying Sky anyway), and is why the TV gets crippled, with many features disappearing if you leave Sky.
What Happens If I Unsubscribe From Sky?
If you buy Sky Glass and then decide to leave Sky (which you can, since you’re only under a 31-days rolling contract), the TV will remain yours (and you’ll keep paying the instalments, of course) – but it will lose many of its advanced features.
In addition to losing all of Sky’s content (that one’s obvious), you won’t be able to use the Playlist feature anymore. Not just for Sky programmes, but for 3rd party services as well.
You will also lose the voice control abilities, the Auto-Enhance feature, the motion sensing, and personal recommendations.
And since Freeview is based on streaming in Sky Glass’ case, you will also lose access to all the Freeview channels – unless you plug in an aerial, and have decent reception – in which case the TV will act as a regular, “dumb” Freeview TV with Freeview’s default EPG.
You won’t be able to record anything, of course – and also, on dedicated apps like ITV Hub, you won’t be able to fast-forward the adverts.
Imagine buying an Amazon Fire TV Stick – and then having it lose half its features, such as the Alexa voice control, if you unsubscribe from Amazon Prime, for example. Or imagine your car losing its heating if you don’t sign up for that car manufacturer’s extended warranty.
It’s annoying, but it’s better to think about Sky Glass as a Sky Device first and foremost – and only buy it if you’re planning to stay with Sky for a few years at the very least.
Setting Up Sky Glass
The TV is delivered by a two-person crew, who will assemble the stand for you, and place everything on your TV cabinet (if you want to hang it on the wall, you’ll have to do that yourself).
Keep in mind that Sky Glass is HEAVY – heavier than many modern-day flat TVs, actually, partly because of the built-in soundbar, which makes Glass thicker than most flat TVs.
The 65″ model, with the stand, weighs 35kg (!), so make sure your cabinet can hold it.
The ports are all hidden behind the TV, on the lower end – and they’re pretty hard to reach, with the TV being so big and heavy. You get the power port, an Ethernet port (if you don’t want WiFi), three HDMI ports, a USB port (for manual software updates, primarily), and an aerial port (as a backup for Freeview channels).
Sky says most customers would only need “one cable” – the power one – and that’s it.
But advanced users will surely want to connect HDMI devices – maybe a standalone streaming stick, a gaming console, etc., so it’s a shame there are no HDMI ports on the side, at an easier-to-reach location.
There are also no headphone ports – and no Bluetooth support for headphones either, which is a shame.
Once you turn on the TV, you just need to connect it to your broadband (usually via WiFi, but Ethernet is an option), pair the Bluetooth remote – and you’re mostly done, as the TV will usually come with your Sky credentials pre-installed.
Remember, though – as Glass is based on broadband, you need a fast internet connection and strong WiFi. Many of the issues some customers have faced are due to slow internet or patchy connections – so keep that in mind.
Using Sky Glass
Sky Glass Picture And Sound Quality
As mentioned, Glass is a 4K (UHD) TV that supports all the significant HDR standards – HDR10, HLG and DolbyVision.
Remember that if you want to enjoy 4K/HDR programming, you need to have the proper subscription and content – either the 4K plan from Sky, the 4K tier on Netflix, or services that come with 4K on all tiers, such as Disney+ and Prime Video.
I won’t get into too many technical details, but your enjoyment of Sky Glass’ picture and sound quality will depend on your personal history, in a way.
If you’re coming from an old, non-4K TV with sub-par built-in speakers, Sky Glass is going to be a big jump for you.
But in essence, this is a mid-range 4K TV in terms of its picture quality, especially when it comes to its HDR implementation. The blacks aren’t black enough and the picture quality isn’t as crisp as what you would find on higher-end TVs from the likes of Sony and Samsung.
And, as is often the case with lower and mid-range TVs, with HDR content the TV really struggles with dark scenes, so much so that it’s hard to make out the details, especially if you’re in bright surroundings.
Therefore, the first thing I would urge most people to do is to turn off Sky Glass’ “Auto Backlight“. That feature is supposed to change the overall brightness according to the light levels in your room.
It doesn’t work very well in practice, and the picture felt washed out and too dark most of the time. When I turned the Auto Backlight off in the settings, and set my own number according to my liking (and my living room’s light levels), the picture sprang up to life and was better lighted.
The sound quality tells a very similar story. Granted, it’s considerably better than what you get with most built-in TV speakers.
But compared to a top-range (or even a mid-range) soundbar, the sound is adequate but not overly impressive. The bass, in particular, is disappointing – even if you turn on the “Bass Boost” mode, it remains weak, which is annoying when you’re watching a special-effects-heavy film, or listening to music.
The Sky Glass Remote
The remote is one of Sky Glass’ high points, for me. Having used tiny streaming stick remotes for years, having a full-size remote is refreshing.
The remote you get in the box matches the colour of the TV, and it has a rubber coating that makes it pleasant to hold.
The buttons have a backlight, which turns on automatically when you pick up the remote – a brilliant feature that other manufacturers should learn from (though the light does turn off a bit too quickly).
Sky Q customers will feel right at home with this remote, though it does have a few understandable changes.
The “Home” button always takes you to the main Sky Glass screen, the “Back” button takes you one screen backwards, or out of an app, and the “+” button is used to add programmes to the Playlist (more on that later).
There’s a dedicated Play/Pause button, and the only thing I’m missing here are dedicated Fast Forward / Backward buttons – you can use the control wheel for that, but the implementation is different on every app/service – so buttons would have been easier to use.
The remote also has a “Voice” button, that you can use for Sky Glass’ voice control and search. You can talk to the TV itself without needing the remote – but if you don’t want to scream at your TV, you can use the voice button on the remote, and talk more quietly directly to it.
The Sky Glass Interface
One thing has to be said first: Sky Glass still has quite a few bugs and software issues. I’ve been testing it for several weeks, and have noticed everything from the voice commands randomly not working, to sudden blank screens and resets, subtitles that get stuck on the screen, and even times when the TV just wouldn’t turn on, with me having to unplug it from the wall, wait a couple of minutes, and re-plug.
When your streaming stick misbehaves with bugs, you reset it and don’t think much about it (or, in worst-case scenarios, you switch to a different streaming device). But when your whole TV freezes with a blank screen, it’s much more stressful – your window to the world is suddenly dead…
That being said, Sky is actively working on fixing these issues, and since it’s internet-based, I’m told software updates will be more frequent than on Sky Q.
When Glass first launched, the list of bugs was longer – and many were squashed with software updates since – so, hopefully, within a few months it’ll feel much more stable (and they’re also adding new features with every major update).
Now for the interface itself: Sky Q users will feel right at home, as the look and feel are similar.
Everything is based around the “rails” of content – either recommendations of content you might like, or content you’ve actually been watching within your “Playlist”.
While programmes and films from Sky’s own channels do get a more prominent place, Glass does a nice job of giving you content suggestions from all over the place – you will see thumbnails of stuff from Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer and more.
The more you watch things (and add them to your Playlist), the more these recommendations will get personalised.
When you want to watch something right now, you will either be sent directly to its player screen – if it’s from a Sky channel – or to a 3rd party app such as Disney+ or Netflix, with that programme open and ready for you in the app.
There’s also the TV Guide, where “live” channels reside – either from Freeview, or Sky’s own live channels.
Note that even “live” Freeview channels are streamed to you via broadband, not over-the-air. You CAN connect an aerial to Glass, but it’s only used as a backup for when broadband isn’t available for some reason.
The Playlist is where you keep content you want to keep watching. So, for example, if there’s a series you’re interested in, once you see its thumbnail, you can press the “+” button on the remote, and ALL EPISODES from that series will be added to your Playlist, waiting for you to watch later.
Things get a bit confusing in the Playlist, though, as currently Glass only keeps track of the last episode you watched (with the Next one waiting in line for you). But curiously, there’s no marking at all on episodes you’ve already watched (really, this is streaming 101) – so if you tend to watch episodes out of order, things will get messed up quick.
Inside the Playlist, you will also find the “Play Now” rail, which lists content you’ve watched without actively adding it to your Playlist (so sort of a history list).
However, there’s no way to REMOVE anything from your Play Now rail. According to Sky, “there is no need to delete episodes from Play Now” – since, presumably, they are deleted automatically when you finish watching a series. But what if you start watching a show, only to find out its rubbish? Tough luck; it’s stuck in your playlist until it gets pushed out by other shows, eventually (or at least until you pretend to finish it).
And since these two rails rely on 3rd party services, the synching is sometimes an issue. For example, I noticed major Disney+ shows like Hawkeye and The Book of Boba Fett did not sync episodes correctly, and 24 hours after a new episode dropped, my Playlist wasn’t aware of it. In another example, a whole ITV series disappeared from my Glass playlist – and Glass in general – even though it was still available on ITV Hub.
This brings us to Sky Glass’ recording, which is one of the most controversial aspects of this TV (so much so that I have an entire article explaining Sky Glass’ recordings).
Unlike Sky Q or Freeview Recorders (like the Manhattan T3-R), Sky Glass doesn’t have any built-in storage space for recordings. Instead, you get “Cloud Recording” capabilities, with the device supposedly being able to record up to 1,000 hours “to the cloud”, and then stream them back to you on-demand.
This feature is built around the aforementioned Playlist feature – when you see a future programme in the TV guide, you can press “+” and mark it for recording. Or so people thought.
In practice, when you add a programme/film to that Playlist, one of THREE things may happen: in most cases, it will merely create a “shortcut” thumbnail that then takes you to the streaming version of that content, on Sky or 3rd party apps like BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub.
So, you mark the next Strictly episode on the TV guide, and when you come tomorrow to watch it, it won’t be recorded anywhere for you – instead, BBC iPlayer will open up, and the episode will be streamed from there (assuming it’s still available on iPlayer – which isn’t always the case).
Only in some cases – a select few Freeview channels, mainly – will the content actually get recorded to the cloud, for you to be able to watch again (as well as fast-forward or backwards, and save indefinitely).
And worse yet, for some channels – nothing will happen. Since there’s no deal in place between Sky and that channel – you won’t be able to record it to the cloud, AND it doesn’t have an app, so… you can only watch those particular channels live.
This is primarily true for music channels and news channels at the moment, but also a few Freeview channels. It also happens when that specific programme isn’t available on the channel’s app, without you knowing this in advance.
So sure, this is how most streaming devices work – you can only watch what’s available for streaming on any dedicated app. But this isn’t how Sky Q or Freeview recorders work, and is going to get confusing for a lot of customers who are used to having actual recording capabilities.
The final missing aspect I’m really missing here are Profiles – with a device that focuses so hard on personalisation and recommendations, I don’t understand why you can’t have separate family profiles.
And while Kids content does get its own separate rail inside the Playlist – it’s still all in one place.
So as it is now, your Playlist and Play Now areas are going to be full of your own favourite crime dramas, along with your kid’s cartoons, along with sports and cooking shows… it’s all going to become a big, confusing content salad.
And one last infuriating technical issue – Sky Glass doesn’t support subtitles on 4K content. At all. This is also true for Sky Q, and according to Sky, they’re working to fix the issue – but this really shouldn’t be happening in this day and age, when every American streaming service has full support for subtitles.
Sky Glass Apps and Channels
The selection of apps and channels on Glass is decent – but it’s also still far from perfect at this point.
In terms of streaming, you do get most of the major UK streaming apps and services – from the big hitters like Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Disney+, to most of the broadcasters’ catch-up apps like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4, as well as a few smaller ones like Discovery+ and Vevo.
There are quite a few essential streaming apps still missing, though – There’s no BritBox app, Apple TV+ is limited to the subscription-based content, you don’t get the full My5 app, no Roku Channel (though it IS available on Sky Q), no Pluto TV, no Plex, and the list goes on.
So while most “mainstream” customers will find most of the apps they need, Glass can’t be used as a complete streaming device replacement, and those who are deep inside the streaming world would definitely still need a 3rd party streamer like the Firestick.
As for channels, one would expect to get the same selection you get on Sky Q, right? Or, at the very least, every Freeview channel? Wrong.
Strangely, there are quite a few Freeview and Freesat channels missing from Sky Glass, even though most ARE available on Sky Q. The list includes the NOW music channels, the Great! movie channels (formerly Sony Movies), Court TV, QVC and more.
You also don’t get CNN – which was removed from Freesat last year, but is still available on Sky Q. But not on Sky Glass…
And while Sky is saying that more channels will be added to Sky Glass in the future – it remains unclear when that will happen.
Sky Glass’ Voice Search
As is common these days, you can control the TV with your voice – either by pressing a button on the remote (and talking to it), or by saying “Hello Sky” to the TV (you can even turn the TV on this way).
This can be used for running specific apps (“Open Disney+”), specific channels, or searching for a programme/film or even an actor/director.
There’s also Motion Sensing – so Sky Glass can turn itself on automatically if you enter the room, or turn off when you leave. This is useful if you have a dedicated TV room, but gets annoying if the TV is in the middle of your living room – so I quickly turned this off.
The “Hello Sky” based voice control was very inconsistent during my testing. I would sometimes find myself screaming “Hello Sky!” at the TV, only for it to do nothing. Other times, I’d see my commands on the screen – meaning Sky managed to understand my accent – but it wouldn’t actually follow those commands for some reason.
Via the remote, however, the voice commands always worked.
This brings me to the search function itself – and it’s a beauty.
I’ve been using and testing streaming devices for years – and all have been trying to perfect global searches, ones that bring you results from a variety of sources (Netflix, Prime Video, etc.)
They all work at this point (Fire TV, Roku, Google TV) – but for me, none were very successful, and I rarely use those global searches.
That is, until I tried Sky Glass’ global search. The fact it pulls from so many sources – including Sky’s own channels – is what makes things so useful. Plus, it’s speedy.
So you say “Tom Hanks”, for example, and you immediately get a long list of his films, with each thumbnail sending you directly to that film on the relevant streaming service/app.
Remember a movie you always wanted to watch, but are unsure whether it’s available anywhere? Just say its name, and you’re promptly shown where it’s available to watch.
Granted, this works best when you have several streaming services (AND Sky). I realise most people aren’t subscribed to EVERYTHING like I am – but even if you only have Sky and Netflix, for example, you’re still covered for quite a few titles.
So if you often find yourself saying, “I want to watch X, but I have no idea where to stream it from”, – Sky Glass’ search will change your (TV) life.
Bottom Line: Is Sky Glass Worth It?
Sky Glass is an impressive first attempt at a streaming device and a 4K TV from Sky. But the fact they chose to combine the two into one expensive device complicates things.
If you’re a Sky subscriber (or plan to be), Glass offers an interesting experience that will get better over time. If you’re already enjoying Sky Q, then Glass probably isn’t ready for prime time in your case. But if you can’t get a dish installed, and you’re willing to ignore the bugs and interface issues, there’s much to like about this heavy TV.
The ideal solution would have been to buy a separate 4K TV (either for a lower price, or get better quality at a similar price), and a standalone Sky streaming device. But that device doesn’t exist yet, unfortunately.
So, for now, Sky Glass represents a promise for the future. It still does a lot of things well, and there’s a lot to like about what it does (or tries to do) – but inexperienced customers will either get annoyed with the software issues, or get confused about the new ways things work here.
If, however, you’re willing to experiment and be an early adopter – Sky Glass is going to give you a glimpse of that glorious future.