From box-set binges to bus-based streaming, the way we watch TV has changed a lot since the days when we only had three channels.
Sky has long been at the heart of this telly revolution, but its latest iteration, Sky Q, takes things to the next level. You can watch your shows across multiple devices, do so in and out of the home, record about a billion shows at once, and even stream 4K movies. All of which is great - but it does also make it a tad more complicated.
Want to make the most of it? Our tips and tricks will turn you into a streaming savant.
1) Control your TV with your Sky remote
The only problem with having lots of kit? All the different remotes that come with it. However, if you’ve got a relatively recent telly, chances are it’ll support HDMI CEC. This allows your Sky Q box to talk to your TV and control its power and volume.
Just go to Settings > Setup > Audio visual and set HDMI control to "On". Now, your Sky Q remote will control your TV’s volume, and long-pressing the power button will turn the TV on and off.
2) Download 4K as standard
If you’ve forked out for a 4K telly, you’re going to want to make sure you’re watching as much of it as possible. Thankfully, Sky’s UHD library is growing by the day, and if you’re watching one of the broadcaster’s own shows like Riviera, Fortitude or The Trip to Spain, it should be available in 4K.
You can make sure you’re getting the full UHD experience by going to Settings > Setup > Preferences > On demand default download format and setting it to UHD. If your chosen format isn’t available for the show you’re watching, the next best format will be downloaded instead.
3) Save the planet (and your electricity bill)
Sky Q’s recording smarts means the box always needs to use a bit of power, just so it can Series Link your favourite shows. However, you can save energy by making the box go into standby at night, or whenever you’re not using it. Simply go to Settings > Setup > Preferences > Standby mode and enable Eco mode to enjoy those electricity bill savings.
4) Go mobile
Watching telly on the go is one of the best bits about Sky Q. All you need is the Sky Q app (Android/iOS, £free), and you can watch live and and on-demand TV wherever you have a wireless or 3G connection.
If you’re home with the Sky Q, you can also use Sky's Fluid Viewing feature, which allows you to start watching something on your main TV and finish it off on your device.
This will only work with recorded shows and not live TV, but here’s the hack – if you know you might bail to bed half way through the show, start recording it and you can pick it up once you’re tucked up.
5) Show off your photos
Want to show off all of your #nofilter snaps from a recent holiday? Sky Q has a variety of ways to put your pics on the big(ger) screen. To start, press the button with three dots on your remote, and select “My Photos”. You can then choose to stream photos from a computer by going to sky.com/myphotos, from your mobile or tablet using the Sky Q app, or from the Sky Q box directly by logging in to your Facebook account. Just don’t bore your friends and family with sunsets and selfies for too long.
6) Defy programme expiry dates
Sky’s On Demand catalogue is phenomenal, but some TV shows are only available on the service for a limited time. To avoid missing out, you can record shows to your Sky Q hard drive, where they’ll be stored until you delete them, with no expiry date worries.
Simply choose your show from the programme guide and press the red “R” button on your remote. This will set a series link, meaning Sky Q will capture the entire series for you to watch whenever you’re ready.
7) Go large with YouTube
There’s no need to huddle around your mobile to watch the latest ‘cats do the funniest things’ compilation anymore. Stream directly from YouTube to your Sky Q box by pressing the Home button on your remote, and going to Online Video > Apps > YouTube.
You can either log in with your YouTube account, or if your mobile/tablet is on the same network, your Sky Q box should appear as a casting option within the YouTube app.
8) Record ALL the channels
If you’re anything like us, you’ll be constantly inundated with recommendations for shows you absolutely have to watch. Thankfully, a recent update to Sky Q has increased the number of channels the box can record from five to six.
To enable this, go to Settings > Setup > Preferences > Maximum number of recordings, and up it. There’s a catch though: enable six channels and you lose the live preview feature in the mini guide, and you can’t use split-screen mode on Sky Sports. But at least you’ll never miss a recommendation again.
9) AirPlay your tunes
Sky Q might be your TV saviour, but it also makes throwing a house party a whole lot easier: thanks its built-in AirPlay function, you can easily unleash the music trapped in your iPhone and get the whole house in on the action.
On your iOS device, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then swipe left, and choose “Sky Q” from the list of audio devices. Android users can connect their devices over Bluetooth for the same functionality.
10) Binge-watch like a pro
This is perhaps one to avoid if you regularly find it impossible to stop watching your favourite shows, but Sky Q can make sure the next episode is always queued up and ready to go.
Go to Settings > Setup > Preferences and enable both the “Auto download next episode” and “Auto play” options. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour is, sadly, down to you.
11) Keep the kids happy
While Sky has loads of content that’s perfect for kids, there’s still plenty on the service that isn't aimed at the younger viewer. So, if you have sensitive eyes in the house, go to Settings > Parental and control what can be accessed using a PIN code. Then download the Sky Kids app to your mobile or tablet, and keep them occupied while you’re catching up on Game of Thrones.
12) Never miss a game
Missed the start of the match/race/game? No need to run home from the shops on a Saturday afternoon to catch it, as Sky lets you start from the beginning during selected sports coverage.
Simply navigate to the programme in question, and Sky Q will notify you if you can restart from the beginning of the broadcast. Just remember to steer clear of Twitter to avoid spoilers.
13) Speak up
A recent update for the Sky Q Touch Remote has brought much-improved voice search to Sky Q. It’s got nothing on Alexa in terms of intelligence, but if you say “Tom Hanks movies with five star ratings”, the box will automatically present the likes of Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Philadelphia. Hold the mic button on the right side of the Sky Q Touch Remote to activate, and get chatting.
14) Boost your wi-fi
Signing up to Sky’s broadband and multiroom packages can be expensive, but if you do, you can also benefit from improved wireless coverage throughout your home.
That’s because Sky Q boxes also act as Wi-Fi hotspots, so if you have a Sky Q Silver box in the lounge and a Sky Q mini box in a bedroom, you can slather your home in full-strength, sturdy Wi-Fi. Just set your boxes up as normal and Sky Q takes care of the rest.