NOW TV Smart Box with 4K review – Sky takes on Amazon in a fight for 4K supremacy

NOW TV Smart Box with 4K review

The NOW TV Smart Box with 4K is an adorable piece of kit that looks and feels premium (Image: NOW TV • Sky • Getty • Express Newspapers)

NOW TV Smart Box with 4K • £45.99 (as tested)

  • FOR – Awesome design • Quick user interface • Wide-range of programming available • Accurate and fast voice search • Handy remote functions • Affordable price
  • AGAINST – Voice search not compatible with all apps

Design

The NOW TV Smart Box is a sleek looking device that oozes charm thanks to its pink accents.

While some may not be fond of the bright colour, we are certainly a fan of its contrast with the otherwise minimalist glossy black finish.

While the NOW TV Smart Box will not easily slot into the HDMI port of your television itself like the Amazon Fire TV Stick does, it is incredibly tiny and will easily fit under your 4K panel or in a cabinet underneath it.

Being an actual set-top box brings a couple of handy benefits that gives the NOW TV Smart Box a handy trump card over its similarly priced competition.

The back of the device features a HDMI port for television connectivity, an ethernet port and a microSD card reader that can be inserted into the device to allow for the storage of device applications.

The remote that comes with the streaming kit touts a similar combination of black of pink colours that differentiates it from any others you have laying around the house.

Overall the NOW TV Smart Box flaunts a minimalist design with a score of functionality that is incredibly appreciated.

Performance and content

The Roku-powered NOW TV Smart Box comes with a user interface that does not try and overstay its welcome with flashy graphics or annoying animations.

Instead it harnesses a simple-to-use and snappy menu system that allows users to easily navigate to the content they want.

The home menu displays a score of promoted television and film programming that is not personalised to individual tastes, but still does a good job in drawing the user in and perhaps inspiring them to try something outside of their comfort zone.

The bulk of the home menu is then taken up with the NOW TV Smart Box’s headline act, the plethora of content from Sky.

Sky Cinema, Sky Entertainment and Sky Sports are just some of the offerings that tout a wealth of programming for users to binge through.

NOW TV’s main draw has always been its flexibility to choose as many or as few Sky packages as possible without getting tied down to a contract.

If you are set on consuming the high-quality and consistently updated broadcasting from Sky, the NOW TV Smart Box with 4K gives customers a way to view content in a better resolution than ever.

And for those that have never indulged in Sky offerings before, NOW TV offers a handy way to see what it is all about without committing to a long-term plan.

The NOW TV Smart Box features a “best of catch up” tab that displays offerings from NOW TV affiliated content, but also draws in relevant BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5 libraries.

Compiling some of the best catch up programming into a single section is a welcomed move by the Roku-powered box and the ease in which customers can watch their favourite shows is commendable.

An App Store is present on the NOW TV Smart Box with 4K and all the software you would expect, except Amazon Prime Video, are present and can be downloaded instantaneously.

That means YouTube, BBC offerings, and tons more can easily be accessed.

NOW TV Smart Box with 4K review

The NOW TV Smart Box is a sleek looking device that oozes charm thanks to its pink accents (Image: NOW TV • Sky)

Most notably Netflix is present on the box, meaning if you already have an account you can log in and pick up where your favourite TV show left off.

That means the box has even beaten Sky Q in receiving the streaming service.

Sky Q customers will not have access to Netflix until November.

A handy “night listening mode” on the hardware will automatically lower the volume of loud noises such as explosions so late-night binging does not have to wake up those that have already gone to bed.

Navigating the NOW TV Smart Box with 4K is incredibly intuitive and is heightened by the voice control feature that is masterfully executed.

Voice search is activated by holding down the relevant button on the NOW TV remote.

NOW TV Smart Box with 4K review

Netflix is present on the NOW TV Smart Box with 4K (Image: NOW TV • Sky)

During our testing the box was able to rapidly bring up search results for what we had asked for and left us incredibly impressed.

The only drawback to the functionality is it does not transition to third-party applications.

That means if you are watching YouTube content for instance you are not able to use voice search, instead you have to revert to navigating a virtual keyboard with the NOW TV remote’s arrow keys.

The brilliance of voice search on the device’s interface makes scrolling along a keyboard to enter a query feel all the more archaic and we hope an update is introduced in the future that makes the handy voice tool seamless across all apps on offer.

The NOW TV remote that arrives with the Smart Box is not only incredibly capable when it comes to search, you can also programme it to effectively replace the remote that came with your television.

The accessory can be tuned to turn your TV on, off and can also alter its volume.

Such features almost negate the need for other remotes entirely.

However, it is worth noting the NOW TV remote cannot be used to control external hardware such as sound bars or A/V receivers.

The NOW TV Smart Box’s Sky offerings could easily be enough to satisfy film and television addicts alone, but the inclusion of other service applications mixed with its friendly and blisteringly quick user interface makes the NOW TV Smart Box stupidly easy to recommend.

NOW TV Smart Box with 4K review

Navigating the NOW TV Smart Box with 4K is incredibly intuitive (Image: NOW TV • Sky)

Verdict

The NOW TV Smart Box with 4K is an adorable piece of kit that looks and feels premium.

And the stellar aesthetics combine with the vast array of programming on offer and rapid interface to deliver something special.

Anyone who is already invested in the Sky ecosystem should have no hesitation in picking this cheap device up and those that are yet to dabble in the network’s offerings should embrace the hardware as a perfect starting point to see what is available.

At £45.99 the NOW TV Smart Box with 4K is priced slightly lower than the recently-announced Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K that is set for release on November 14 for £49.99.

The price tag of the kit is an absolute steal for the gargantuan amount of content and apps that are showcased.

But while the NOW TV Smart Box is an incredible piece of hardware, customer preference between it and a similar offering from Amazon will depend on whether more programming on either Prime Video or Sky is appealing to you.

Customers that are already subscribed to Amazon Prime Video will surely find the forthcoming Fire TV Stick 4K more appealing as a budget piece of kit that offers content at jaw-dropping fidelity.

But for anyone that is yet to own a streaming box and does not subscribe to either Sky or Amazon, the NOW TV Smart Box presents a laudable gateway into a huge programming library that will have you binging for hours on end.


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