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Sky modernises with new Now TV box and Sky Q, starting at £42 per month

Trying to reinvent itself for the Netflix era, the broadcaster overhauls its set-top box and details prices for its Sky Q streaming-media service.

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Sky Q is a pricey service that will delight avid digital media fans.

Sky

Sky introduced a whole bundle of new products and services this week in an attempt to persuade you not to spend money on its competitors.

The broadcaster announced a new Now TV box on Friday and revealed the price for the luxury Sky Q service it unveiled in November. With a slick interface, Sky Q is designed to provide a more fluid experience when watching video on multiple devices.

The service will arrive on 9 February and will start at £42 per month for new customers, with an additional £99 setup cost. Existing customers will be able to upgrade with prices varying depending on how much they currently pay. Sky says upgrading will typically cost about £12.

By making its service more mobile and relying more than ever on streaming, Sky is positioning itself to compete not only with existing rivals such as Virgin Media, but also with newer services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime that specialise in streaming video online. But those are just today's armies in the battle to control your living room. A rumoured Apple TV streaming service could add another formidable global competitor, so it's urgent for Sky to prove now why you should choose it over rivals.

"Future-proofing is the name of the game here," said Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at TV advice site Cable.co.uk. "Consumers increasingly want to be able to watch their content their way, and Sky Q with its main-hub-plus-satellite-boxes setup, all wirelessly connected via Wi-Fi, will deliver customers their content any way they wish to view it."

Sky Q, which replaces Sky+ HD as its highest-end service, will be available in two packages. The Sky Q basic package will cost £42 per month, with the more comprehensive Sky Q Silver bundle priced at £54. It's certainly not cheap, but the pricing is "right on the money for early adopters and digital TV enthusiasts," Howdle said.

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A major benefit of the Silver package is that you can watch TV on multiple screens around your home and on two tablets simultaneously. Silver subscribers will also receive an Ultra HD-ready Silver box with 2TB of storage and be able to record four shows simultaneously, rather than just three, while watching a fifth.

Now TV updated

Sky Q may form the bulk of the company's new product offering, but it's still betting on the Now TV box to scoop up those viewers who are priced out of a luxury subscription service.

The Now TV box was a revelation to British TV fans when it first launched. For those who had never been able to stretch to the price of a Sky subscription, the box was a portal that allowed them to access Sky's most popular content -- its movies, sports coverage and entertainment collection. Better still, it cost only £10.

Sky hasn't confirmed pricing for the refreshed box, so it's not yet clear whether it will continue to sport this attractive price tag. Like the previous version, the box is made by Roku. The cheapest Roku box on sale in the UK is currently priced at £70, but bear in mind the Now TV box doesn't offer as many features as the Roku 2.

It's also unclear what advantages the new box will provide viewers compared with its predecessor. All Sky says is that it is "its most advanced box yet." The box will offer a new-look interface with recommendations and a "best of catch-up" section, showcasing popular shows viewers may have missed. But existing Now TV users will also see this interface arrive on their boxes in February, as part of an over-the-air update.

Prices to access Now TV services remain the same, with monthly entertainment passes costing £7 per month, movie passes costing £10 per month and Sky Sports passes starting at £7 per day.