This blog post covers my first impressions of the NowTV box sold by Sky for the UK market.
2021 update: I published this blog post in 2013 and I no longer own the NowTV box mentioned in this blog post and I have replaced it with a newer model.
Please note: This isn’t a paid review and I didn’t receive any ‘gifts’ to write this blog post. I also already have a NowTV subscription, which is a monthly cost to watch movies via NowTV.
What is NowTV? It is an online subscription movie streaming service from Sky. You don’t need a dish, but instead can watch the movies via a compatible web browser or on selected internet connected devices, such as the NowTV or YouView box.
What can a tenner get you these days? For one thing you can buy an internet TV streaming box for that price, including delivery! So with that price in mind you shouldn’t have high expectations, right? So setting the bar so low, I was completely gob smacked by this device!
The NowTV box is literally the size of a beermat, and is light. That means it takes up hardly any space, and shouldn’t be a weight or space concern for most people. You receive a remote control, two triple A batteries (for remote), a power adapter and HDMI lead.
I plugged a HDMI to DVI cable I already owned into the HDMI port, connected a 3.5mm audio lead (again I already had), and lastly plugged in the power adapter.
Straight away the box wakes up, and quickly it prompted me to provide details for my WiFi network. It showed a huge list of local networks, but my network is hidden, and it provided me with the option to manually type in the details using the remote control. Once I was connected to the network, I was prompted to sign-in with my NowTV details and it checked for updates (or vice versa).
That’s it! Literally in less than five minutes (which was mainly taken up with me typing in my wifi details!), I was connected. I immediately wanted to assess the volume level, as I had plugged in a headphone lead (I wasn’t listening via HDMI) for testing, and found the level acceptable.
I’ve brought this box for a few reasons: First to watch NowTV movies, and secondly to watch Revisions 3, Ted and TWiT shows. All of which played well, without any buffering. I’ve not found this box sluggish whilst using it so far.
I don’t have a clue how usable the box is without a NowTV subscription, but presume I can watch all non-Sky content without a subscription? Don’t take my word for that, and if you are concerned with the answer, then best go look at their FAQ, forums or ask them (else leave a note below if you know the answer).
I am able to watch Sky’s own movie channels live via the box (with my subscription obviously), as well as watch movies on-demand via their library. There is also the BBC iPlayer, Five on Demand, Sky News amongst a load of rubbish, but you will find some gems, such as the Revision 3 and TWiT networks which produce excellent podcasts. There is no ITV or 4oD available currently.
Then came the moment to turn it off and go do something else…. How do I turn the NowTV box off I wondered, clicking on various remote control buttons? You don’t! Turns out that once I left it at the main menu, it just went into standby mode after a while.
This box is crazy value for money! I believe the box is based upon one of the Roku boxes, and what the NowTV box does for a tenner (including P&P!!) is incredible.
I’m shortly going to be changing my lounge around, but luckily the device won’t be too far from my wifi router, which is just as well as there is no RJ45 network port. Though I was impressed to see a big list of available local wifi networks, so I can’t see myself having wifi signal strength issues.
If I had a poor ADSL service and / or WiFi issues, I wouldn’t have brought this device.
Bare in mind that I’ve just got the NowTV box, but below is a simple FAQ.
Basic NowTV FAQ based upon first impressions:
Q. Can I hook the NowTV box up to a computer monitor?
A. If you buy a HDMI to DVI lead you should be able to use the box with a DVI compatible monitor. I don’t believe HDMI to VGA is possible.
Q. Can I output the NowTV box audio to 3.5mm headphones?
A. Yes you can plug a 3.5mm headphone lead into the back of the NowTV box.
Q. Can I watch video without using HDMI via the NowTV box?
A. I have no experience of this, but I believe if you request a RCA lead from NowTV at the time of ordering, they will post you a lead, which plugs into the 3.5mm connector. I don’t have a clue how well these works.
Q. Can I control volume from the NowTV box remote control?
A. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe you can control the volume via the box. Instead adjust the volume via a HDMI enabled TV, else an amplifier or speakers via the 3.5mm audio connection.
Q. How can I find out my NowTV box’s wifi mac address?
A. Just turn the box over and you will see the wifi mac address underneath.
Q. Can I watch LoveFilm or Netflix via the NowTV box?
A. No, you can’t watch these services via the box. I seriously doubt NowTV will make them available as they are a competitor for their own movie service!
Q. Does the NowTV box have access to the full Roku channel apps?
A. I don’t know much about the Roku channel apps, but the answer is no. There are various channels available, but not to the extent and thus functionality of a Roku box.
Q. Is NowTV better via the NowTV box or via a YouView box?
A. You can watch ‘live’ Sky movie channels via the NowTV box, but I can’t via my YouView box from TalkTalk. Other than that, the interface feels the same, but I prefer the smoothness of the Sky device.