Sky Glass One Year On – The Future Of TV?

Sky Glass One Year On – The Future Of TV?

On October 7 2021 British subscription satellite broadcaster Sky stunned the AV world by unveiling Sky Glass: A genuine potential ‘next step’ in the evolution of TV technology capable of delivering a ’live’ TV service sporting more than a hundred channels all via streaming. The old dish for receiving Sky’s traditional satellite broadcasts was no longer required, and the switch to all streaming opened the door to a brave new world of seamlessly blended on-demand and live entertainment.

Sky Glass subsequently went on sale on October 18, and since then has, according to Sky, gone on to become the third biggest selling TV brand in the UK.

When I first got Sky Glass up and running last October, I was immediately struck by the sense of freedom its all streaming approach brings. Freedom from cables, provided it can pick up a good signal from your broadband router. Freedom of placement in your room (as you don’t need to stick it near a Sky dish cable). Freedom from having to have a dish stuck on your house (and the potential signal problems/local building regulation issue that can cause). Freedom to have content from both on-demand catch up and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video share pretty much equal billing with ‘broadcast’ content in the Sky Glass’s unique interface. And freedom from almost all the usual limitations associated with linear broadcast TV (almost everything is archived on Sky’s servers, after all, and you can instantly choose to watch from the start any show you may join part way through) while still being able to enjoy the ‘appointment TV’ feel and EPG benefits of a linear approach.

You’re also free from the need for a hard drive and record features of the sort that’s been so key for so long to Sky’s Sky Q satellite receivers. With Sky Glass, everything is stored on Sky’s servers for you to access at will, rather than you having to record it to any internal hard drive. As I’ll come back to later, this is one degree of freedom that not everyone may feel comfortable with.

The bottom line is that delivering an all-streamed TV experience has the potential to genuinely transform the way we watch TV, making putting pure content directly at your fingertips rather than hiding it behind such barriers as scheduling, apps, and lots of ‘manual process’.

It has to be said that in the year since Sky Glass launched we’ve seen an uptick in the numbers of other somewhat similar TVs carrying built-in Roku or Amazon Fire operating systems, and actually Sky Q satellite receivers have also enjoyed a striking expansion in the sort of features they offer via their on-demand streaming capabilities alongside their more traditional broadcast approach to Sky’s services. Even some TV smart systems, such as TV Plus on Samsung TVs, have started to offer live streaming ‘channels’ of content. But there’s still nothing else out there that offers a full streamed version of a content-rich live subscription ‘broadcast’ platform as Sky Glass.

Naturally I’ll be getting into more specifics of how – and how effectively – a fully streamed Sky service changes the way you watch TV later. First, though, let’s get to the bottom of Sky Glass’s unusual pricing options – especially as they may well prove one of its key attractions in today’s cash-strapped times.

You can buy the 43, 55 and 65-inch versions of Sky Glass for £675, £899 and £1,149 respectively. These prices have actually increased slightly from the original launch prices last October of £649, £849 and £1,049. Where things get more interesting, though, is with the options Sky provides for buying the TVs via interest free subscriptions. So you can, for instance, get the 43-inch Sky Glass for 48 payments of £13 a month (plus a £10 upfront payment), the 55-inch Sky Glass for as little as £18 a month, and the 65-inch for £23 a month. A 24-month payment system is also available, which doubles both thee the up-front cost to £20 and the monthly payments.

At the time of writing, an offer is running that gives Sky Glass buyers three months of Sky TV for free, after which you have to pay £26 a month to maintain a Sky subscription. This monthly fee goes up further if you want to add Sky Sports and Sky Cinema packages.

To be clear, you don’t have to pay for a Sky subscription to buy a Sky Glass. But with the built-in Freeview HD tuner cunningly not working if you also have the TV connected to the Internet, and given that Sky Glass is basically designed as a portal to Sky’s all-streamed service, it’s hard to imagine many people buying a Sky Glass unless they do indeed intend to enjoy Sky without a dish.

Sky also sells set top box ‘pucks’ to Sky Glass owners that can be used to extend the service to other TVs in the home.

Sky clearly wanted to come up with a design for Sky Glass that made as much of a statement as its all-streaming approach to live TV. And it succeeded in that aim – even if the results might not be to absolutely everyone’s tastes.

The first thing you notice about Sky Glass TVs is how colourful they are. Uniquely for such an affordable TV range Sky Glass is available in no less than five eye-catching colours: Ceramic White, Dusky Pink, Racing Green, Ocean Blue and Anthracite Black. Ocean Blue is my personal favourite, but as a group they certainly represent a breath of fresh air in a TV world dominated only by black and very, very dark grey.

It’s impressive to see, too, how full blooded the Sky Glass colour support is. It follows all the way through from the screen’s frame, outer edges, rear and front to its heavy-duty centrally mounted desktop stand and the felt cover over the large speaker ‘bar’ that runs all the away along the screen’s bottom edge. You can even get matching remote controls, or choose from a customisable range of magnetically-fixed front speaker fascias.

This big built-in ‘soundbar’ is actually just a first sign of how seriously Sky Glass takes its sound duties. The TVs’ top edge also features an unusual grilled finish that’s there to let out sound produced by speakers sited below. There’s a built-in subwoofer too – all with a view to getting extra value from the TV’s built-in Dolby Atmos decoding. Dolby Atmos remains, after all, a key value added feature of many of Sky’s own live and studio-created productions even in Sky Glass’s streamed rather than broadcast ‘format’.

The focus on sound is likely also at least partly responsible for the surprising depth of Sky Glass’s screen, the edges of which stretch back almost two inches from front to back to form a meatily monolithic shape. This chunky bodywork is made from anodised aluminium, too, making it one of the most robust – and heaviest – TVs around.

Living with Sky Glass for the past year has done nothing to change my initial feeling that Sky Glass’s bold combination of cutting edge build quality and somewhat bespoke colour features with a rugged, even slightly retro industrial look is mostly a winner, but may not appeal to all thanks to the extent to which it flies in the face of the current TV trend of slim, ‘barely there’ designs.

Although Sky likes to talk about Sky Glass as if it’s an almost cable-free product thanks to its ability to deliver a near-full Sky service all over Wi-Fi, the set does, of course, carry connections for hooking up external playback devices. These include three HDMIs, which is adequate I’d say for a TV with a built in Sky system. There is, though, a pretty big limitation with these HDMIs: none of them support the key gaming features of 4K at 120Hz graphics or variable refresh rates.

To be fair, when Sky Glass launched there weren’t that many other similarly priced TVs out there that supported these features either. It still felt like an unfortunate omission on a TV pushing itself as truly next-gen, though, and that feeling has only grown over the ensuing 12 months.

Delving into Sky Glass’s unique feature set is probably best tackled by simply talking about the experience of using such a new approach to TV. Before I do that, though, it’s important to stress that the Sky Glass experience has changed quite a bit – for the better – since it launched, thanks to Sky rolling out software updates for its new product and service at a prolific rate. Within days of the product’s launch, for instance, Sky had both rolled out firmware update designed to make high dynamic range pictures more impactful, and added no less important an app than Apple TV to its featured app line up. Since then there have been all sorts of interface refinements and added features that have gradually addressed a number of niggles that affected Sky Glass at launch.

Sky says it’s still committed to very regular (even monthly) firmware updates for Sky Glass, too.

Set up is so straightforward that it gives you an early insight into the brave new TV world Sky Glass’s all-streaming approach introduces. For starters, Sky remains committed to unboxing the TV, putting it on its stand and leaving it in a place of your choosing. They’ll even take your packaging away if you like. This is a nice consumer-facing touch – and of course, this installation service is much quicker and therefore cheaper for Sky to offer than the palaver of having to install a satellite dish and cabling.

Set up also reminds you again of Sky Glass’s relatively cable-free existence. All it needs is a plug and to be in reception distance of your broadband router. This had me wishing the TV was a bit more portable, actually, so you could potentially move it around between different rooms of your home.

There’s no tedious autotuning to worry about either given that this TV swaps broadcasts for streams. You may, however, find that a software update is required during installation, and these can take quite a while to complete.

Long-term Sky subscribers will know that in years gone by, at least, Sky satellite receivers have been prone to crashing. This has happened to me a handful of times over the past year with Sky Glass too – and when it happens it’s strangely more unnerving than when it happens to a ‘mere’ set top box. I guess we’ve become used to TVs being such passive devices that seeing one keeling over like a PC just doesn’t feel right.

On the upside, unplugging Sky Glass, leaving it off for a couple of minutes and then restarting it by holding down the power button down the right side of the screen, prompting a full software reboot, has always fixed even the most drastic of Sky Glass crashes I’ve experienced. Second, crashes have become less regular as the year has gone on. In fact, I can’t recall when the last one happened.

At first glance the Sky Glass Home screen looks familiar to anyone who’s previously used Sky Q. The same Sky UI DNA is there, with its attractive high-resolution presentation and constantly updated home page. The way the home page is always changing and often reflects current events or seasons is surprisingly effective at making the Sky Glass experience feel bespoke and continually curated. You don’t have to look much more deeply, though, to find some telling differences.

The most instantly visible one is the disappearance of the ‘short cut’ menu that appears down the left hand side of the Sky Q home page. On Sky Glass the content menus fill the whole TV. This actually takes a bit of getting used to if you’ve used Sky Q for a while, and I think there will be some long-term Sky users who might always find themselves missing the Sky Q side bar a bit. The ‘cleaner’, entirely content-focused look of the Sky Glass home screen perfectly reflects what Sky is aiming for, though. Namely that it wants content to be king, with the usual grubby processes of hunting down content from today’s endless parade of different sources cast aside. Over my year of using Sky Glass it’s also felt to me as if removing Sky Q’s left side shortcut menu works as a gentle nudge to get people to engage with Sky Glass’s increasingly wide-ranging and helpfully contextualised voice control system. Once you’ve got used to the idea of talking to a TV, this approach enables you to get to the content or service you want much faster than laboriously navigating around onscreen menus.

Of course, it wouldn’t take too many misunderstandings of your words by Sky Glass or too many spoken instruction ‘dead ends’ for frustrated users to give up on voice control and go back to the old menu navigation approach. Here, though, the past 12 months have shown the benefit of Sky developing its own in-house voice recognition system rather than just importing a third party one, as it’s enabled the structure and range of recognised voice commands to feel impressively specific without requiring users to learn some sort of awkward new Sky Glass language.

I should stress here, though, that Sky Q’s voice recognition system has also come along in much the same way as Sky Glass’s. In other words, it’s not an exclusive Sky Glass feature. It’s just interesting how Sky Glass’s slightly different menu design leads you to engage with voice control more.

The top content bar of Sky Glass’s home screen is essentially the same Top Picks one that sits atop Sky Q’s menus, with the suggestions being very similar across both platforms at any given moment. This showcase tier together with the missing sidebar menus is, again, key to Sky Glass’s desire to get you consuming content in a different or, at least, more varied way than you tend to with ‘straight’ linear broadcasting devices. Even when those devices also, like Sky Q, support extensive on-demand features.

Sky’s neutral, ‘borderless’ approach to content presentation and discovery is bolstered greatly by the way its onboarding in recent years of a wide range of third-party apps – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, the BBC iPlayer and so on – enables it to include recommendations from a wide range of content providers alongside that you can jump straight into without having to manually navigate into different apps.

The curated Recommended bar doesn’t feel particularly reflective of your own individual tastes and preferences, though. It feels more like just content that Sky, Netflix or whoever has decided you ought to be watching, rather than things Sky Glass knows really might consistently want to watch.

If you’re not grabbed by any of the recommended shows and don’t want to use voice control to head immediately to something you know you want to watch, a row of boxes ranged along the bottom of the Sky Glass home screen provide links to genre-based content submenus divided into TV shows, Movies, Sport, Kids, News, Audio and music, Fitness and International. Selecting one of these brings you to a genre-specific home screen that follows the structure of the main home screen, with a row or Top Picks along the top and a long set of other themed content shelves you can scroll down to.

At the time of writing, the first few of these themed shelves in the TV Show submenu covered Drama from around the world, Cult classic TV shows, Politics and Power, Super-powered TV (Superhero-themed shows), Trending this week, Sci-fi, and a tier devoted to BBC iPlayer highlights.

Also found both within each genre-based content submenu and right up near the top of the main Home screen is arguably the true heart of the Sky Glass approach: The Playlist.

This shows links to content you’ve either watched/started to watch recently, shows that you’ve got series linked, or shows set to be ‘broadcast’ soon that you’ve selected from the EPG as you would have done if you were wanting to set a recording for them on Sky Q. The huge difference being, of course, that none of the stuff on this Playlist is actually stored/recorded onto memory inside Sky Glass. Instead selecting things from your playlist simply accesses their files stored on Sky’s servers, and streams them to Sky Glass.

There’s no need to worry about running out of storage memory, and no possibility for a hard drive to cause crashes and bugs as can – and does – happen with Sky Q. It’s the lack of a true record function, in fact, that arguably most reminds you of the difference between Sky Glass’s all-streamed approach and Sky Q’s broadcast-focused style.

Interestingly, though, the lack of a Record option proved divisive in my own household. Some found being able to just hit a record button or search a Recordings menu more more intuitive – even if only, perhaps, because of decades of ‘learned behaviour’ – than upcoming shows being added to the Playlist alongside series linked and previously watched content.

I personally was pretty open to the Sky Glass philosophy of thinking of all content as just always being available on demand whenever I wanted it. But even I admit there were times, particularly while watching live sport, where I really did find myself wishing I could just hit Record for instant local storage if I had to go out, rather than hitting the cryptically labelled ‘+’ button on the Sky Glass remote control and effectively adding a link to what you’re watching on Sky’s servers. Especially as those links don’t always work quite as they should in terms of letting you, for instance, just pick up viewing where you left off.

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It doesn’t help that, presumably due to rights issues (given the difference between streamed and broadcast delivery systems), some live content can’t actually be added to your playlist and therefore be accessed later. And no warning is given when you choose such an event from the EPG to add to your playlist that it won’t actually be available once the event is over.

While it’s not my intention to go through every detail of every part of the Sky Glass menu system (hopefully you’ve already got a flavour for the approach it takes, and nobody wants this article to hit 10,000 words), I do want to spend a little time on its EPG. This differs from the one on Sky Q in three key ways.

First and best, running along the top of the main channel list under a Restart What On Now heading is a long scrolling bar of links to shows playing live on different channels. This option to quickly access from the beginning shows that are part way through on their live streams without having to track down to them in the EPG perfectly highlights the benefits in terms of access and viewer flexibility of live, linear ‘broadcasts’ being available via streaming rather than broadcasting.

I should stress that Sky Q now also, though, with much of its content, throws up a prompt to let you start watching a programme from the beginning via streaming if you started watching the broadcast version part way through.

The second difference with the Sky Glass EPG and the Sky Q EPG sees a genre filter appearing on the Sky Glass EPG, overlaid over the left side of EPG listings, if you push left off the edge of the EPG. This filter menu is always present in a side bar menu on the Sky Q EPG. While I understand Sky Glass wanting to maintain the clean, menu-free look of its menus as much as possible, I do think the overlaid genre filter could be presented a little more efficiently/tidily given how useful it is.

The final difference between the Sky Glass EPG and the Sky Q EPG is that the former carries substantially fewer channels – presumably because of issues securing streaming rights for some channels that Sky has managed to get broadcasting rights for.

Sky has actually managed to bring on board quite a few channels over the past 12 months that weren’t on Sky Glass when it launched, and thankfully most if not all of the channels missing from Sky Glass are niche to say the least; examples would be EarthxTV, Channel 7, Travelxp, Court TV, Great! TV, Dave Ja Vu, ROK, France HD, Al Jazeera HD, NHK World HD, TRT World HD, and TV News.

Simply counting the number of channels listed on each EPG reveals a pretty eye-opening difference; I counted 159 channels on the Sky Glass EPG, and more than 450 on the Sky Q one. However, the latter figure includes a lot of ‘+1 hour’ channels that don’t make sense to have on a stream everything TV like Sky Glass, as well as a load of separated out standard definition channel versions that again Sky Glass doesn’t need; multiple BBC region channels; and some Adult channels. So the real difference in channel support in terms of what most British households will want to access is not as stark as the simple EPG channel count suggests.

Trying to sum the overall Sky Glass user experience up, the way its all-streaming approach allows it to blur the lines between linear and on-demand content really does start – after a little initial resistance – to feel revolutionary in some respects. Like an early look at the way all TV may be delivered one day. And Sky has made great strides, including via regular and ongoing software improvements, in designing a good looking interface backed up by an excellent voice control system.

There are, though, still one or two few limitations and niggles, and unexpectedly improvements to Sky Q over the past year, especially when it comes to the delivery of on-demand content, have actually felt as if they’ve somewhat eroded aspects of Sky Glass’s uniqueness. Though of course, the lack of need for a dish or tuner input will be reasons enough in themselves to see many people turning to Sky Glass over Sky Q.

Except that this potential decision has recently received a major twist with Sky’s announcement of Sky Stream: A new set-top box due to go on sale within a couple of days of this article’s publishing date that will essentially enable you to enjoy all of the all-streaming, no dish required functionality of Sky Glass on your own, non Sky Glass TV. This puts significantly more pressure on Sky Glass’s picture and sound performance than there was when it first launched, as consumers will very shortly have a straight choice between watching Sky’s streamed service on Sky Glass or on any other TV with an HDMI input.

With this in mind, let’s get into how Sky Glass holds up from a traditional TV perspective, starting with its picture performance.

Picture quality

On paper, Sky Glass has the tools to deliver the picture quality goods. It uses a VA panel rather than a low-contrast IPS one, and it deploys direct LED lighting (where the LEDs sit behind the screen rather than around its edges) backed up by local dimming. It’s worth saying here, though, that when I attempted to count the number of local dimming zones the Sky Glass might be using via my usual test signal of a white dot moving around the edge of a black screen, I didn’t get anywhere at all. This is because rather than the local dimming casting out a halo around the moving white dot that would help me count shifts from zone to zone, as usually happens, on Sky Glass the image seemed to shift its entire brightness level up and down as the dot progressed around the frame. A result more akin to the full frame dimming associated with edge-lit TVs. Very strange.

Colour reproduction is bolstered by a Quantum Dot colour system, and naturally the Sky Glass screen boasts a native 4K resolution. There’s support for Dolby Vision HDR, too, alongside the core HDR10 and HLG HDR systems.

The only big disappointment on the spec sheet is the screen’s 60Hz refresh rate. This joins the bandwidth-limited HDMIs in denying gamers any support for 120Hz gaming.

Let’s start by trying to compare the streamed picture performance you get on Glass via the satellite broadcast pictures you get from a Sky Q box. With ‘live’ HD broadcasts/streams, the Sky Glass actually holds up pretty well on a 30Mbps broadband connection. The picture looks noticeably softer, but this feels more down to the nature of the Sky Glass’s general picture performance than a deliberate softness caused by the streaming process. I was relieved to find, too, that the quality of the streamed signal wasn’t affected by firing up a couple of other streams elsewhere in the house using the same broadband feed.

With 4K streams, Sky Glass doesn’t deliver as detailed or sharp pictures as Sky Q does. There’s a noticeably softer look to everything that’s particularly noticeable over motion. Sky Glass isn’t bad when it comes to handling judder, and there aren’t any distracting unwanted motion processing side effects, but objects and people clearly look softer than the rest of a 4K picture as they move around the screen.

There is one other big issue with Sky Glass feeds of both HD and 4K flavours: streaming lag. The streamed pictures appear between 40-45 seconds behind the same feeds broadcast over satellite to a Sky Q box. I guess this doesn’t matter for the vast majority of the time, but it could become very annoying if you’re watching a live sporting broadcast unless you’re able to completely remove yourself from the potential cheering or groaning of neighbours, and the insta-reactions of social media.

Overall, though, lag notwithstanding I’d say Sky Glass gets more than adequate results from its streamed video, even with native 4K sources. What issues there are with playback seem more down to limitations with its screen than its streams…

Which brings me to my assessment of Sky Glass’s picture quality purely as a display, including its handling of 4K HDR sources from an external Oppo 205 4K Blu-ray player.

A couple of slightly disappointing things strike you right away: The picture isn’t particularly bright, and colours look a little… strange. Fat and pale with some tones, but a little peaky or strong with others (including skin tones). Dark scenes can upset skin tones too.

This is all despite Sky rolling out that firmware update I mentioned that was designed to make the picture more dynamic and punchy than it was on day one.

Measuring the brightness obtains some odd results. With a full screen white HDR signal it outputs a respectable – though hardly earth shattering – 460 nits. With a 10% white HDR window, though, this output actually falls to a pretty lowly 300 nits rather than rising as you would expect. This certainly points to some quite odd activity from the backlight engine, and supports both the issues I had trying to count dimming zones and my subjective impression that Sky Glass just doesn’t have the potency to deliver a really convincing or punchy HDR experience.

This doesn’t change much, either, if you feed Sky Glass a Dolby Vision feed. There’s a little more punch, but not enough to change my mind that the Sky Glass’s HDR performance is more in line with what we see with fairly budget TVs than premium ones. In fact, it’s arguably more comfortable with SDR sources in terms of its colour balance and tones.

One final point to mention regarding Sky Glass’s seemingly quite strange backlight system is the fact that toggling the local dimming on and off doesn’t introduce nearly as much extra local contrast and bright highlight intensity as I would have expected.

Black levels are pretty good. Better, it seems to me, than they were at launch. There’s slightly less greyness over parts of the picture that should look black than there was when I first looked at the picture performance, shadow detailing is better handled (it’s actually pretty good now for a mid-range TV), and there’s slightly less obvious instability in the screen’s backlight machinations. This means the viewing experience feels a little more consistent, and you don’t feel quite so consistently as if you’re fighting a constant battle between brightness and black levels.

There remains a tinge of greyness on show in dark scenes for sure – sometimes slightly more than a tinge if a particular shot mixes very dark and very bright elements. Also, while the local dimming engine typically only generates fairly mild blooming with HDR images, it can’t stop greyness levels jumping around a bit during dark scenes, and the blooming can creep more noticeably into the black bars that sit above and below 2.35:1 (or similar) aspect ratio films.

Black levels also become flatter and greyer if you have to watch Sky Glass from much of an angle, but this is a common phenomenon with VA-type LCD TVs.

Finally I’d recommend against leaving Sky Glass’s ambient light sensor option on, as this can see pictures getting really quite dark if you’re watching in a dark room.

While good quality 4K sources don’t reveal Sky Glass to be the sharpest 4K TV in town, its images do still look 4K in terms of texture and sheer pixel density. It’s just a shame there’s often a hint of softness around to take that all-important, depth-defining edge off things, especially where a scene contains motion. And Sky Glass doesn’t provide any motion processing adjustments with which you might try to address this issue.

Actually, you’d be forgiven for thinking at first glance that Sky Glass doesn’t provide any picture adjustments at all bar a small selection of presets accessed by pressing the ‘three dots’ button on the Sky Glass remote. If you go to the home screen and scroll right to the bottom, though, you’ll come to a Settings menu within which it’s possible to access a few more custom picture adjustments. These are pretty limited in their scope, though, by today’s standards, joining the fact that the TV defaults to an Auto picture preset and hides its more in-depth picture settings away in showing Sky Glass to be as keen to take the stress out of picture playback as it is content discovery.

My experience suggests, though, that few AV enthusiasts will trust any automated picture optimisation system to get everything right, so for me it’s a shame that there aren’t more picture adjustment options to play with, and that the adjustments aren’t easier to find.

The themed picture presets do at least seem to have been tailored reasonably thoughtfully to different types of content, though. It’s worth noting here, too, that the Vivid preset lives up to its billing by injecting a little more colour saturation into proceedings, combatting slightly the rather dull overall impression Sky Glass’s pictures initially give. Colour balance can go awry in Vivid mode though, and even in this mode pictures are hardly explosive in their dynamism or wide colour range delivery.

One last picture element to cover is the Sky Glass’s gaming performance. Which honestly is pretty woeful by today’s TV standards. The rather muted look to pictures doesn’t give HDR games the sort of punch and verve gamers would really like to see on a mid-range TV, the pictures aren’t especially sharp either, and the lack of VRR, 4K/120Hz and even automatic low latency mode switching support feels like a constant frustration.

Probably the strangest/daftest gaming limitation of Sky Glass, though, is the lack of a low latency Game preset, or any low-lag option in the Custom picture menus. This means that gaming is constantly impacted by 65.4ms of delay between Sky Glass receiving game graphics data at its inputs and it then rendering those graphics on its screen. Many rival TVs these days manage to keep input lag well below 20ms, with some even getting below 10ms, and I’ve tried playing Call Of Duty on Sky Glass enough times to know that, together with the lack of 4K/120 support, its lack of any fast response mode can make gaming feel more frustrating than fun.

Gaming – along with bright sports footage and camera pans across some bright film shots too – also reveals some so-called dirty screen effect, where the backlight system can cause faint bands of reduced brightness or discolouration to run down parts of the picture.

Sound quality

Does Sky Glass’s chunky build, unusually speaker configuration and Dolby Atmos decoding add up to TV sound heaven? Not quite. Though there are some good points about it for sure.

Starting with the way the speaker configuration helps the sound stage extend beyond the edges of the image – up as well as sideways – to create a large wall of sound. The sound is controlled well enough, to, to place both ambient and specific effects within the sound wall uncannily well at times. In fact, it’s one of the most impressively crafted Dolby Atmos sound stages I’ve heard from any TV when it comes to detail placement and spatial definition. There’s no sense of sound appearing down your sides or behind you, I should add, but the set still manages to create a sense of the three-dimensionality that’s Dolby Atmos’s big attraction.

The forward facing speakers project detail and dialogue forcefully towards you too, avoiding that sense you get with so many TVs of the sound only happening somewhere behind the screen. Volume levels can go loud without the speakers distorting, and there’s enough dynamic range to allow the TV to shift through a few gears during escalating action scenes.

The sound from the front-facing speakers can cause details to come on a bit too strong at times versus the rest of the mix, though, to the point where they start to sound slightly harsh and over-prominent. Yet if you reduce the volume to calm the detailing down a bit, the rest of the mix starts to lose a little impact.

Also, while Sky Glass has enough scale and power to handle heavy bass lines without becoming distorted, the bass from the built in subwoofer doesn’t reach quite as low as I’d hoped it might.

All in all, though, while I can’t help but think that Sky Glass could have got a touch more out of its sound system given all the sound-friendly tools at is substantial disposal, it’s definitely one of the TV world’s better sounding models.

Verdict

A year on from launch, despite a constant and welcome stream of software updates and feature additions, Sky Glass remains a rather frustrating mix of the truly cutting edge and the slightly old school.

Its ‘live TV streamed’ approach still feels like the future of television, especially now Sky has had time to refine and enhance its proprietary interface, massage areas of the TV’s performance and introduce a few more streaming-related features. Though even after 12 months, some members of my household at least still couldn’t stop missing Sky Q’s record feature.

Its sound quality remains a little balance and bass short of brilliance, but is still very good.

Its connectivity, though, especially when it comes to gaming support, remains disappointing for a mid-range TV. And its picture quality continues, despite Sky’s efforts, to feel rather dull and soft versus some other similarly priced TVs. An issue that’s likely soon to become more of a problem with the (very) imminent launch of Sky Stream and its ability to pipe a dishless Sky service into any TV you like.

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