Channel 5

Now TV Box

Wednesday 31 July 2013


Rating of 5

The basics

The Now TV Box from Sky just dropped like a bombshell on the smart TV landscape. It’s not trying to create yet another standard platform for developers, or throwing in crazy new features to make searching for shows online easier. It’s just a tiny little wireless box that plugs into your regular old TV and pumps out 720p HD video from Sky’s Now TV service and other web video channels. For just £9.99, including postage. Is this the bargain of the decade? We plugged one in to find out.

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The good

If you think the Now TV Box looks familiar, there’s a reason: it’s made by smart TV box innovator Roku, which Sky invested in last year. Indeed, barring the new white lacquer and now TV logo stamped on the top, it’s almost identical to the Roku LT set top box that’s been on sale for over a year: it’s absolutely tiny, quiet and a piece of cake to set up, with HDMI cable, remote control and batteries all included in the box. It just happens to cost a mere fifth of the price of an LT.

Set up could not be simpler. You just plug it in (The Now TV box plugs into), connect to your Wi-Fi, log in with your Now TV account (You’ll need to register for one on your laptop first, but crucially, you don’t have to pay for the Now TV subscription service by doing so - though you might as well use the month free trial) and start streaming. Sky’s Now TV provides the movies, there’s Sky News for rolling news, and you can also get Sky Sports via a daily passes, which sounds expensive at £9.99, but if you only want to watch the derby twice a year, it’s much cheaper than a satellite and a monthly subscription.

You’re not just limited to Sky content however. You’ll also find BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 on board, as well as many more services in the Roku Channel Store including anime streaming app Crunchyroll, Facebook and yep, Spotify - ideal if your telly is plugged into the best speakers in the house. We also managed to install Plex, a media streaming app that lets you play videos from your PC connected to the same network, by going into the developer mode - it’s not something technophobes will want to do, but for the more IT savvy, it’s an ideal way to get all your downloads on to the big screen, as £10 sure beats an £100 Apple TV.

The bad

The Now TV Box is a rebranded Roku LT, so it suffers from the same limitations: namely, it has to connect to your router via Wi-Fi and not speedier Ethernet cable, and it can’t play back media from a USB stick. I also lacks some of its siblings’ smarts. It doesn’t work with official Roku remote apps for smartphones for one (but it will work with some clunkier unofficial ones that don’t require account login). And given that Sky is almost certainly selling it at a loss in a bid to sign you up to Now TV on a monthly subscription, it’s been stripped of some rival services, including Netflix.

This might not be such a problem if Now TV’s catalogue wasn’t so limited. Though it boasts many new release movies, its back catalogue is weak, and it really suffers from a lack of TV, unlike its rivals - especially for the subscription cost. Though it’s advertised as £8.99 for the first three months, the price shoots up sharply after that to £15.99 per month. When Netflix adds many more films, as well as its own amazing TV shows like House Of Cards on a regular basis for less than half of that, it makes the Now TV Box a lot less appealing for cinephiles. But hey, did we mention it only costs ten pounds? Sorry, we still can’t get over how cheap this thing is.

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The bottom line

The Now TV Box is not as smart as its rivals, and it suffers from its inability to connect to rivals like Netflix and Lovefilm. If you’ve got a games console or a smart TV, or can stretch £40 more for a full powered Roku, you should go with them for your IPTV needs. But at a tenner, this is very nearly an impulse buy: if you’ve yet to join the smart TV revolution, or are looking to hook up every screen in your house, this is the way to do it. Go get one - or three.

The Now TV Box is available to order from

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Now TV Box is tagged with now tv box, Now TV, sky, roku and HDTV. Select a tag (now tv box, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

User comments (9)

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Love ours! Came a few days ago and for £10 - a brilliant buy. Plex is easy to install.. wonder what other apps can be installed easily to it.

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I received my NOW TV Box this morning but try as I might I cannot see how to install it without committing myself to a Sky subscription. Do customers have to sign up for the free Movies trial (for example) then cancel after one month, in order to avoid the monthly fee, just to have access to the Apps. I just want to stream iPlayer, etc into a 4-yr old Viera TV that doesn't have an Ethernet input.

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james smith

4od was added during December 2013-Just ITVplayer to complete the line up

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As others have said I cannot see any wayof avoiding signing up to a contract it just does not offer this option

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P Stead

Really annoyed, totally misled by the program, "Set up could not be simpler. You just plug it in (The Now TV box plugs into), connect to your Wi-Fi, log in with your Now TV account (You’ll need to register for one on your laptop first, but crucially, you don’t have to pay for the Now TV subscription service by doing so" there is no way to sign up without paying a subscription. Get your facts right or explain how we can set up as you claim. Really annoyed viewer

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I received my NOW box for Christmas and like those of you having trouble registering the thing WITHOUT signing up to Sky, had the same INITIAL problem. However, once you realise that logically it must be possible to use it, as so many write-ups told me, I persevered! So, on your PC, register the NOW box as instructed. Then when it looks as though the only way to register is to sign up to Sky, IGNORE those two submit credit card payment boxes and just press ENTER without ticking either of the payment boxes. That WILL register you (and the NOW box). Try it and no payments to Sky!! It works well and I'm impressed because my WIFI router is upstairs and the TV downstairs plus I have full WIFI signal stength. Shortcomings: a very limited selection of catch-up TV services, but they are all there and for a one off ten pounds, the product does exactly what it says on the tin! Of course, if you want movies you HAVE to pay Sky, which I will never do! Can't get Netflix etc. (they are Sky rivals) so that is a drawback, but again for the princely sum of a tenner, it's to be expected. So P Stead et al, hope this helps and post when you're up and running! P.S. It appears for the tech savvy, that there is way to upload onto the box additional viewing options. They are all out there via Google!

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Just wanted to say how much I love my Now Tv box! And also wanted to confirm what kaizen said above, you don't have to subscribe to anything, just sign up but then cancel the process when you get to the card payment section. Google is your friend!

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brillaint piece of kit! Its slick, and can be fully hackable to add the Plex media server app which opens up a whole new world like iplayer streaming live, plus unofficial apps store which has loads of channels. Plus now i can watch all my movies, catalogued with dvd covers streamed from my pc's hard drive Just google installing plex on tvnow box, its easy as pie. Im thinking of getting one under every tv and connecting via plex - no more moving files between computers, do it all from one pc

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