There's a multitude of streaming devices available to consumers: from Apple TV to Roku and PS3 to Xbox 360! Many of which will cost you in the region of £50 or, in the case of consoles, much more...
Enter the NOW TV Box. Sky's newest Trojan horse in its war with BT Sport, LOVEFiLM and Netflix.
Launched last Friday amidst the lollapalooza surrounding Google Chromecast. £9.99 (including P&P) gets you everything you'll need to start streaming albeit with Sky, understandably, as curator. The pack-in includes the svelte NOW TV Box (based on a Roku LT), a HDMI cable, remote and AAA batteries. Sky hasn't skimped on anything.
Setup is a breeze, thanks to an intuitive modern UI, and you don't have to subscribe to NOW TV to use other apps: including BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, Spotify, Facebook and VEVO from the Roku Channel Store. Sky promises to add more apps in the future!
Once connected, wirelessly to a router, HD is a respectable 720p and I noticed nothing deleterious whilst streaming Prometheus with the monthly Sky Movies Pass.
Obviously rivals LOVEFiLM and Emmy-Awards nominee Netflix are missing from the app roster for now. But, 4oD, ITV Player and YouTube are odd omissions. This tragically nixes the notion of a one-box solution where space is at a premium. For an extra £40 Roku LT will better serve Netflix subscribers who don't require Full 1080p.
A Sky Movies Pass is £8.99 per month for 3 months and increases to £15 thereafter, which may be too rich for even the most avid blockbuster enthusiast. You can cancel at anytime and resume on a month-by-month basis. This'll be a boon at Christmas time! Then there's the Sky Sports Day Pass for £9.99. And you'll need a robust wireless network because there's no Ethernet. However, I experienced no problems connecting the NOW TV Box to AirPort Extreme.
It would be great to see a companion app for iOS given its Roku heritage.
Regardless of whether or not you decide to continue subscribing after the free trial. For those without a so-called smart TV, or catch-up device, it would be churlish to pass up a NOW TV Box for the bedroom, kitchen or study. It's a very slick streaming player and a decent HDMI cable will set you back £10. What's not to like? I'll take one, two...
***** out of *****
Special thanks to Sky for providing the NOW TV Box. You can sign-up for a free 1-month NOW TV trial here.