There is no shortage of rumors that a Sky Box will soon be without a satellite dish. Express.co.uk exclusively revealed that secret tests were already underway last month, followed by new details on the capabilities of the redesigned box. And now we have our first look at the new streaming set-top box – and an official name.
The brand new hardware was revealed by Comcast, the US media company owned by Sky. The roller coaster-style streaming gadget called XiOne is designed to bring the fully functional Sky Q experience to customers across Europe without the need for a satellite dish outside of your home. Meanwhile, in the US, Comcast plans to use the same hardware to offer Xfinity Flex to new customers.
Comcast has confirmed that its brand new XiOne set-top box supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standards for fast streaming, 4K Ultra HD picture quality with HDR and Dolby Vision. There’s Dolby Atmos support too, which means the XiOne can really stand shoulder to shoulder with the Sky Q box. XiOne also comes with “a new, simpler and smaller voice remote control that was specially developed for streamers,” reveals the US company.
XiOne is already available to Sky Q customers in Italy and Germany under the brand name “Sky IP”, confirmed Comcast. Interestingly, now that we’ve seen the full list of features in this diddy streaming box, it’s clear that the satellite dish subscriptions currently available in Italy and Germany are not taking full advantage of the features built into the XiOne hardware. For example, Sky IP customers in Germany cannot watch Ultra HD … although the box supports Ultra HD streaming with HDR and Dolby Vision. It remains unclear whether a future launch of XiOne in the UK would support all of these features.
Regarding the all-new hardware, Comcast President of Technology Charlie Herrin said, “When Sky joined the Comcast family, we brought our engineers together to share insights, roadmaps, talent and technology to support our global customers. The launch of our new XiOne device is a direct result of these efforts and underscores how our collaborative development approach can bring new and innovative streaming products to market faster and more efficiently. “
When it comes to a UK launch, the US media company has been silent about the exact details. “Comcast plans to make the device available through more channels and to its Xfinity X1 customers and syndication partners in the future,” it suggests.
Sky has already confirmed plans to hold a media event in early October that was teased with the slogan “Something magical is coming”. It’s unclear whether new hardware will be announced at the event, but it is possible that the XiOne set-top box will be adapted to allow UK viewers to enjoy the full Sky Q experience without one Satellite dish on your roof is required.
The idea of doing without a satellite dish is not a new idea. In fact, when the Sky Q first unveiled in 2017, then-CEO Jeremy Darroch said that streaming the entire Sky experience over a fiber broadband connection would enable more than six million homes across Europe, including two million in the UK alone ‘Don’t own – or don’t want to own – a satellite dish to access the critically acclaimed service.
However, in the four years since the launch event, we haven’t heard anything about the satellite-free version of Sky Q.
With the arrival of the new XiOne and confirmation that Comcast plans to make the hardware a “global wireless streaming device” for its Xfinity and Sky brands, the promise to give up the bowl seems never to have been closer. For those with sluggish broadband speeds at home, it is possible that Sky Q will still be available through a satellite dish.
Sources We Talk To Express.de confirmed that in the beta test some functions were still available on the existing Sky Q-Box that were not possible with the new broadband-operated box – e.g.
Express.de will be in the audience during Sky’s much-anticipated event on October 7th. Stay tuned to see if the XiOne shows up.