While Sky is offering smaller ‘Puck’ boxes that allow you to stream Sky to non-Glass televisions in other rooms, these won’t be available to buy separately. This means if you’re looking to go dish-free you’ll have to buy the full hardware-plus-software package, even if you’ve got a high-end TV that doesn’t yet need to be taken to the tip.
We put this to Kathy Morel, product director at Sky, who told WIRED that the company “cares so much about the environment”, adding that “I don’t think there’s a better TV with regards to eco-credentials. With Sky Q boxes, you can send them back and they’ll be recycled. If you’ve just bought a TV, you have the opportunity to move it into a second room, and if you are looking to upgrade, you have all the products in one.
“We always look to reduce the electricity consumption and the production consumption within the product itself – we’ve got things like the motion sensor that will turn off the TV if there’s no movement in the room, and we have the ambient light sensor that reduces brightness in a dark room,” she said. “We’ve also used no single-use plastic. We’ll be able to deliver the TV in fully cardboard packaging and take that away and recycle it for you.”
Looking beyond potential sustainability problems, could the dish-free Sky Glass TV also spell bad news for Sky’s 4,000-strong team of dish fitters and engineers? After all, if signing up to Sky’s internet streaming package, you’ll no longer require a visit from a two-man team to fit a dish to your wall and install your set top-box.
The company, however, claims that this won’t be an issue as Sky’s engineers will still be required to set up Glass TVs on delivery. “We are going into an internet product and so connectivity around the home is going to be a massive piece for us,” Morel says. “Also our engineers are multi-skilled, and we’re going to be doing more in the future. There is so much for us to do with our workforce.”
Another concern with Sky Glass is, naturally, how much it costs. Sky is eager to state that it’s offering a whole new way for people to purchase and pay for their TVs – the idea is that you buy your set like you buy your mobile phone, with flexible payments each month – and on first impressions, the subscription package sounds reasonable: you can pick up a 43-inch Sky Glass TV from £13 per month with a £26 per month Sky subscription on top.
However, while that sounds appealing, that gets you the most basic package – you won’t have access to movies or sports, nor will you be able to make use of the TV’s 4K-resolution screen or built-in Dolby Atmos audio, with the latter two combined setting you back an extra £5 per month. Sky Cinema is an additional £11, Sky Sports an extra £25, and if you want to stream Sky to any other rooms in your home, it’ll set you back £50 per box, plus an additional £10 per month. All in, that’s £90 a month, or £1,080 a year (plus the £50 for the box) – which is incidentally not far off the cost of our current favourite 50in TV.
Sky itself admits that Sky Glass isn’t for everyone, and that’s particularly true of those on a tight budget. Similarly, nor is it likely to appeal to those who like to upgrade in order to get their hands on the latest tech; while Sky tells WIRED that Glass will be upgraded “regularly” from a software point of view, it remains to be seen how it will keep up the latest innovations in TV hardware, such as miniLED panels that look set to succeed OLED and LCD panels. With the average consumer keeping their television for seven years, Glass may well need to embrace such innovation in order to win over future consumers.
Or, much simpler, it could just make that Glass puck available to everyone, not just those who have bought its new TV.
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