New Now TV box delivers quicker set-top smarts

Sky's box of delights gets hard-wired rapid refresh

Rejoice, binge-watchers! Sky has given its Now TV smart streaming box a major overhaul, making it much faster and adding 1080p playback among other treats.

Where the previous version of the box was essentially a re-badged Roku LT, the new model is based on the more recent Roku 2/3 devices.

So, while it might not carry quite the same sleek lines as Apple’s TV nor the impossible compactness of Chromecast, it is now five times faster thanks to a new processor and can stream in full 1080p HD.

It's also now better connected, gaining an Ethernet port, USB and microSD. While Ethernet might not sound all that important in the age of 802.11ac Wi-Fi (with its 866.7Mb/s speeds) and bottlenecked broadband, Ethernet (with theoretical maximum speeds of 10Gb/s through a Cat-6 cable) can nevertheless still make the difference between badly buffering blockbusters and fluid fantasy flicks filling your screen.

Like every previous iteration of the little black (or white) box, Now TV gives your telly an internet upgrade, taking you online with BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5, subscription-free. And, as before, you can pay a bit extra to grab a ‘value pack’: think sports, movies and more from Sky, as well as being able to add apps like Sky News, YouTube and Spotify.

With rumours in play regarding a possible TV upgrade announcement at Apple’s alleged iPhone announcement in September, as well as Jimmy Iovine (Apple’s Music man) hinting that content curation is the future for TV streaming, the smart TV battleground has never been so keenly contested.

For now, NOW TV's dinky HDMI entertainment offering is as much a steal as ever, with its plug and play performance in a quicker-than-ever package, at £15.