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I managed to escape the clutches of Sky TV a couple of years ago following a dispute, and despite their incessant pestering I was determined never to go back. Since then, the one thing I really missed was the Premier League coverage. Recently I invested in a NowTV box, and whilst I recognise I am now paying for Sky again, crucially it doesn’t FEEL like it!
Now TV is a service which allows you to ‘pay as you go’ with Sky Sports and / or Sky Movies and entertainment.
For £12 (from Tesco) I bought the Now TV box which came with a free Sports 1 day pass, currently worth £6.99. The box is around 10cm square and 2cm tall, and it links to your tv with the included HDMI lead. It then connects via wifi to the home internet network, and through there it streams the programmes to your tv.
To activate the process, you need to set up a NowTV account online, but there is no contract or commitment whatsoever. If you do this with a bit of surfing around the internet, there are often sign-up offers for free months movies etc or cashback. On the online account, you can subscribe for a day , week, month’s viewing depending on your requirements. However, all this can also be done via the NowTV on your television, as I have mine set up to automatically sign in when it is switched on.
Watching via the internet was a new experience for me, and visually it is slightly different to regular tv, but it is good quality in my opinion, and you soon get used to it. The key factor is obviously a good broadband speed, and when watching my NowTV I find that surfing the internet at the same time for anyone in the house is a no-no, my internet speed won’t take it. That said, I have only ever had one moment of buffering, so I find the process to work really great for me.
Currently I pay £6.99 for a day pass for Sky Sports, or £10.99 for a week pass. This can work well for Premier League football if activated for the late match on one Sunday, it also picks up the lunchtime match the following Sunday and will allow unlimited viewing of all Sky Sports channels for the week. It works out cheaper than a contract with Sky as I can pick and choose which days or weeks to pay for, and of course don’t pay when on holiday or after the season ends.
Additionally there are apps on the system including BBC iplayer and other catch up services, and Facebook photos. It is possible to add other apps but this isn’t something which interests me so not something I use.
This was a great purchase and at the moment it offers Sky in an affordable way and much more customisable to your needs, rather than paying for numerous channels you will never watch.
It offers timed batches culled from Sky's various subscription stations. For many,the biggest bait will probably be the movie bundle.
New subscribers get a 30 day free trial for the movie service, which then migrates to some monthly fee of GBP8.99. This vehicle renews, but you could cut on the chord anytime, without penalty. Fill your boots also it works out as a pleasant deal.
For less than a tenner you get use of movies at the exact same time they debut on the various Pay movie channels of Sky.
Movies here inevitably appear before new subscribers land on rival services for example Amazon and Netflix, and shortly after the DVD/Blu-ray release window.
Content is themed by genre: Disney, All-Time Greats, Action, Comedy, Family, Crime and Thriller, Sci-Fi, Horror, Drama, Love Story, Indie and Classics. Now TV additionally curates Groups that are special, such as Monsters (featuring Godzilla, naturally, alongside Pacific Rim, Jurassic Park along with a host of other creature features).
The monthly amusement pass is GBP4.99, which makes it the most affordable streaming option amongst the large suppliers.
The service offers recent transmissions of a few of the largest shows of Sky and also the re-launched 24: Live Another Day.
There is also a wholesome choice of box sets to gorge on.
Commonly users have two ways from the On Demand library or to catch shows that are popular as they're broadcast; featured programmes tend to appear within 24 hours of transmission.
Unlike its sib services, Now TV's Sky Sports Day Pass is payable daily. It gives you the ability to view all six Sky Sports channels for 24 hours.
The ticket price is great value if you're not trying to find a long-term sporting dedication. Get some good mates around, combine resources, and away you go.
The number of platforms is growing. The service is currently available on LG Smart TVs, with both Xbox One and PS4, along with Xbox 360, PS3 and YouView set top boxes to follow shortly, Roku media streamers, Apple TV, plus apps for Android and iOS.
Instead you can buy the Now TV box that is committed. Available straight from the Now TV site, it's only GBP9.99 including post and packing - you even get an HDMI cable bundled. The Now TV box is both a dedicated portal site to Sky's own services, as well as host to a range of third party streaming content, including BBC iPlayer.
Now TV does not market itself as a service that is high definition, instead using bitrate streaming that is adaptive to contend with different broadband speeds. Quite acceptable image quality will be rewarded with by a rapid broadband connection. Seen via a VirginMedia fibre connection, we found the service.
Navigating the user interface is intuitive and reasonably quick. There are usability caveats. Buffering when a large show like Game hits, and may be a problem, the Now TV servers have experienced outages.
Now TV has evolved right into a compelling choice to the all-you-can-eat buffet provided by Netflix and Amazon, and the straight PPV of Blinkbox. If you are interested in making a special Sports grab, or simply need to catch up with some trending TV, it's much to offer.
Those on the proper end of a fast broadband connection should have the ability to see a flow that is pleasingly smooth while there are several performance niggles. General value for money .
The box offers access to Sky Sports and Sky Movies and essentially turns any telly with an HDMI interface into a rudimentary TV that is smart. It's going to mainly appeal to those who enjoy the thought of having the capability to get BBC iPlayer on their TVs, or those who want to find a way to view Sky Sports without having to pay a complete Sky subscription.
All you should hook up the box is comprised. Bundled with it's a power cord, an HDMI cable and two batteries to slip to the remote. To keep the box as easy as you can, Sky hasn't selected to contain an ethernet interface. As a result, you must really have a stable wireless internet connection to be able to set it up.
Layout and interface
The NOW TV box is very tiny indeed, quantifying an unobtrusive 84x84x23mm. It is assembled from polished white plastic is the remote, and looks much like Roku or Apple TV. This will come as no surprise, it is in fact produced by Roku and offers a similar lineup of ports -- HDMI, power socket, A/V line out for. Just like the LT, it also streams video in 720p HD rather than 1080p, which is to be expected for the purchase price.
The blue and white user interface interface is rather primitive, aesthetically speaking, but it is super easy to browse, which will be partly thanks to the simplicity of the remote control. Shortcut buttons take you directly to Sky services, the homescreen as well as the app store. OK buttons and playback controls, back plus a four way keypad pretty much take good care of the rest.
Set Up and performance
Set Up is relatively quick and painless, although you will need to establish a NOW TV account via a web browser on a laptop or tablet, presuming you do not already have one. This does not tie you into paying for anything though, if you're only in it, so don't worry.
The box hard to get away from the truth that NOW TV is still extremely expensive good value though It might be. True, if you are a movie fan, you could consider that rewarding, given that Sky Movies offers movies that are newer alongside older ones.
Other services available from the box include Demand 5, Flickr, Spotify, BBC News, Sky News, Vimeo and Facebook.
It's possible that Sky is employing a similar to tactic to Amazon and Google and selling the box at a loss, or without making much, or any profit onto it. People could be more likely to use NOW TV given that the hardware to enable them do thus is already hooked up with their tvs, and Sky would readily recoup the money this manner within one or two payments.
Given that it is not GBP40 more expensive compared to the Roku LT, it's not astonishing that it offers a limited selection of apps. Sky has promised to introduce other services soon, that will hopefully comprise 4oD, ITV Player, Netflix and Lovefilm (the latter two are dubious, given their competitive stance in the marketplace versus Sky), but if you do have existing subscriptions, it's likely be best to play it safe and choose the LT (which likewise supports NOW TV).
While it won't be perfect for everyone, the NOW TV box will be a welcome addition in homes with a just a fundamental home cinema setup.
We bought this box primarily for the free trial of Sky Movies and the use of Plex if you bypass the lock Sky put on it. For that, the box was perfect - the 30 day free trial was very good (although the supply of films quickly ran out, only leaving films from the 70s and even earlier - which we'd obviously seen!) and Plex worked flawlessly after a bit of tweaking on the box and the laptop. However, after the trial, the Now TV box fell into disuse. We haven't even turned it on since the free trial ended. It's easier not to use Plex through the box and we were not willing to pay the high premiums sky demand. If we had not been able to unlock the sky controls on it, this box would have been a complete waste of money. Although it does allow us to use iPlayer on a freeview TV (as well as other programmes such as YouTube), these can all also be accessed on the laptop or tablet (or even smartphone) leaving the hassle of setting up the box a bit pointless. I am glad I did not spend more on this box, as if I did I would have ended up demanding a refund of some kind for the low standard of content available through the box - it is clear sky have tailored it to their own ends (which of course they are entitled to do), which makes it pretty useless for anything not sky-oriented.
I bought this on a bit of a whim. We have bt vision downstairs but then just a normal digital LCD upstairs and I wanted to be able to watch I player and things, so this really appealed to me. Basically, it is a small white box that you plug into your tv av socket, which then gives you access to a wide range ion on demand programmes and channels. The user interface has recently changed and is now much easier to navigate around.. Extra channels are being added all the time but at the moment, there is bbc I player, bbc news, demand 5 - which has shows that go back for years on there, I was ecstatic to find country house rescue and the hotel inspector and all the episodes ever made!, ign, sky store, sky news, 4od, and itv player which is a recent addition. There is a channel store, where you can add additional channels like spotty and Facebook, but I haven''t made best use of these yet. The box itself is very small, white, approximately 12 cm by 15 cm and the remote control is a dinky little white one. The box cost under a tenner which was a bargain and I did initially subscribe to the movie channel at a discounted price for about 4 months, but then when this reverted to its usual price of I stopped subscribing as didn''t think I''d used the movie channels/store sufficiently to warrant the cost. There is usually an offer for free high street vouchers from various stores when you purchase the unit. If you unsubscribe, there tends to be offers to tempt you to stay also. I wouldn''t hesitate to buy this box or recommend it, it''s such an inexpensive way of maximising your access to channels and programmes.
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Since discovering The Walking Dead through a friend, I went out and bought the season 1-3 DVD box set and finished watching them all. Knowing season 4 was being aired on Fox but not being able to watch it as we don't have Sky, was quite annoying! I was seriously thinking about getting Sky TV just so I could watch The Walking Dead. Then I heard about this Now TV box where you can buy a monthly subscription to a Sky Entertainment package.
What is it?
A Now TV box plugs into your TV and connects via wi-fi making your TV into a Smart TV by letting you watch catch up TV. It can also be used as a streaming service that doesn't require you to have a normal sky subscription package; all you need is a wi-fi connection.
The box comes with catch up programmes such as Demand 5, BBC iPlayer and 4OD. You can also download apps such as Facebook and Spotify. You cannot get the Netflix or Love Film app on this though which is a shame but I guess they are Sky's big competitors.
If like me, you decide you would like to add packages to have a choice of some of the channels you'd normally see on Sky, you can buy subscriptions to the following:
-Sky Entertainment Month Pass: This includes Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Sky Arts, Fox, Comedy Central, Gold, Discovery Channel, MTV and Disney. You can watch these channels live through streaming or on demand and there will be a few box sets of programmes you can watch, although this isn't the case with all of the programmes, some only stay on there for 30 days so you can catch up if you missed a show. The monthly cost is £4.99 at the moment, I think it might go up in the future as says "introductory price."
-Sky Sports Day Pass: You can watch all 6 Sky Sports channels but this is only a day pass at £9.99.
-Sky Movies Month Pass: You can stream over 800 movies on demand and up to 16 premiers are added every month. You can also watch the Sky Movies channels live. This costs £8.99 a month.
You can watch Now TV on 4 other wi-fi devices (iPhones, iPads, PC's etc) but it will only let you watch 2 devices at the same time.
One of the annoying things I found with the entertainment package was that some live programmes could not be shown (such as The Simpsons) due to licensing restrictions. Apparently this will vary on a daily basis and should reduce over time as licenses are agreed.
I bought my Now TV box from Argos for £24.99 which included the box and a pass for 4 months of Sky Entertainment. But you can buy the box on its own for £9.99 from the Now TV website.
-Now TV box
-Remote control and batteries
(And with the one I purchased, it had a card for 4 months Sky Entertainment package)
Setting it up
There are three connections on it, the power socket, HDMI output and A/V line out. It was easy to set up, the Now TV box is plugged into the mains and then connected to the TV using a HDMI cable which is supplied. You will know the box is working as the tiny light on the front of the box will be lit. You then wait for it to load up and enter your Wi-Fi code. It will then take you to the main screen where you can use iPlayer and other catch up programmes or if you click on the Now TV icon you can use the Sky features, but first you will need to go to nowtv.com to set up an account and buy/activate a subscription. Once this is set up you can log into your account via the Now TV box using the remote control supplied. You do not have to log in every time you start up the Now TV box. I found it fairly straight forward to set up. You can also set up pin codes so others cannot purchase movies etc.
If when you purchased the box, like me, you bought a subscription to Sky Sports, Sky Entertainment or Sky Movies, this will be on a little card in the box. On the back of the card it explains how to activate this, which involves you scratching away to reveal a code and going to nowtv.com to set up an account and enter the code. Or if you have just bought the basic box but fancy subscribing to one of the sky packages later on you can go to the Now TV website and buy a pass from here.
You are able to get a 30 day free trial for movies, entertainment or a one day's sports package and then you will need to remember to cancel this if you do not wish to pay for it.
I found it really simple to use and streaming live TV from the entertainment bundle seems fine. There wasn't as many box sets as I thought there would be, I wanted to watch Game of Thrones but couldn't see it on there. I did however manage to watch Mad Dogs 1-3 and an Idiot Abroad 1-3, both I've wanted to see for a while. I think Box Sets are added occasionally for a certain amount of time and then taken off. You can also catch up on new episodes and these are stored for 30 days.
The picture quality could be better; Now TV is able to output 720p but has limited HD support which is a little disappointing. Whilst watching An Idiot Abroad, it did buffer a few times and the picture quality wasn't brilliant, but I didn't find this when watching Mad Dogs, so I'm not sure if it was my internet connection or the actual box.
I have a month's free trial of Sky Movies and have found it really good, there is a great selection and I've not had any problems with buffering. It is hard to find a film you want though as you have to search through the films via genre or collection there is no feature (that I can see) where you can just type in a film. Sky Movies is £3 more expensive than Love Film and Netflix, although it has more of the current blockbusters in its library, so to some people the £3 extra a month might be worth it if that is what you're after.
I can't comment on Sky Sports unfortunately as I have not subscribed to this package.
The catch up apps are generally good, Demand 5 and BBC iPlayer I have had no problems with but 4OD has frozen on me a few times. This app has only just been added to Now TV, so it may just have a few teething issues.
The main reason I got the box was to be able to watch The Walking Dead when season 4 part 2 is aired in February, I have been able to catch up with part 1 as the episodes have been airing on Fox on Monday evenings, so all in all I'm pleased. The catch up features are good but not brilliant just because they do not stay on there for that long, but I think this is the same with a lot of catch up devices. It would also be nice to see more TV box sets on there for longer. I think I will be keeping my subscription to the Entertainment package unless it goes up to over £10 a month, I don't think it would be worth this just to watch 10 Sky channels.
I think this box is worth the price and the package prices are reasonable if you are not a Sky customer already. I only wanted it for a few of the entertainment channels and that is what I got so it works well for me.
Smart TVs now have the ability to go through the internet to pick up programs on demand through services such as iplayer or 4-on-demand. That's great unless you've got a fairly decent TV you don't want to upgrade. We got this for an upstairs TV for £10 in Tesco. This is cheap to start with, more so when you discover that currently, when you buy it, you get Sky Movies free for three months.
I was pleasantly surprised by the size of this. I'm getting used to our downstairs TV being surrounded by gadgets to the point where our TV cabinet is full to bursting, but this is tiny. It's about as long as a CD case, as tall as three CD cases, and as wide as 2/3 of a CD case. There's a little light on the front where you can see if its turned on.
Installation took less than ten minutes - I know we're fairly technical, but I'd still call it a really easy set-up. Once you've set it up there's an equally easy menu to navigate to the to your programs.
If you want a SMART TV but can't replace your current TV I would highly recommend this. It's hard to beat the price, easy to set up, and so small you'll hardly know it's there.
In our house we never really considered getting a subscription to sky or virgin as Freeview fulfilled most of our needs. However, we've recently wanted to start watching some sky programmes (including Game of Thrones) and so when the Now TV box came out it was really tempting especially as you can watch films etc on your TV rather than laptop.
***What is the NowTV Box***
The box is simply a way of turning your tv into a smart tv -so not only can you watch Now TV on your TV set you can also watch BBC iPlayer as well as things like 4OD all on your TV screen which I find really useful as I don't really like watching TV on my laptop as I am generally using my laptop for other purposes.
***How to use your NowTV box***
When it arrives you get a little white box which has built in WiFi (there is no Ethernet cable) it also has an HDMI and AV output. These just need to be plugged into the back of your TV (if you have an older TV you just need to buy a mini-jack) and then plug in the power and you are ready to go.
Once you plug it in you need to find the right place to watch it (we press input selection and go to the one that says HDMI) and it brings up the home selection which scans for available internet connections and you just type in the password. You do need to have a NowTV account and at this stage you are asked to sign in to your account. From here you have a really simple interface with the NowTV option, BBC iPlayer, Sky News, Demand 5 and 4OD. To launch an app all you need to do is scroll across and press the OK button and to exit just press the home button or back button. You can also add more Apps including Facebook, Flickr, Flixster, Fox News, Vevo, Tunein, Spotify and CNET.
With NowTV you can subscribe to three channels - sport, movies and Entertainment and you pay subscriptions for each one individually (I pay for Entertainment and Movies which works well for my needs).
I've heard that the box doesn't quite have the specs of some highend boxes but at £10 for the box itself it works really well for my needs and I like the choice on NowTV and being able to watch iPlayer and 4OD is a massive bonus.