Ground-breaking Sky Q
Thursday 19th November 2015
By David Webster, RGB’s Chief Technology Officer
The new Sky Q products announced this week are exciting and ground-breaking for many reasons. 4K content and streaming it to multiple players over Wi-Fi or Powerline technology will solve the major problem that Sky customers have always had, i.e. how can I watch my Sky box in a different room?
Of course CI dealers have long been solving this particular problem with matrix switchers and HDMI over CAT5 extenders, but I have a feeling that even the least expensive of these approaches will look overpriced to many customers once they grasp what Sky Q can do with a minimal number of black boxes and zero cables to be installed between rooms.
And let’s not forget about controlling the Sky Q box from another room. The new remote handsets use Bluetooth – not IR. So existing HDMI distribution products that include IR pass-through for this purpose are not going to work (unless of course Sky have retained an IR receiver in the Sky Q boxes – but I doubt it as Bluetooth is probably necessary to support the fancy new touch pad).
Perhaps Sky will publish a CI friendly API that works over IP at last? Let’s hope so as this could solve the lack-of-IR control problem.
As the Sky Q system appears to be limited to 4 extra rooms at present, it will probably be a good fit for the vast majority of Sky TV customers, and CI dealers will continue to have the opportunity to sell and install bigger distribution systems for larger homes much as they do now. But the idea of putting a number of Sky Q boxes in a centrally located rack and taking their HDMI outputs into a matrix isn’t likely to work unless the Bluetooth remote control problem can be solved.
So it seems that the Sky Q platform has the potential to be very disruptive in the CI business, or at the very least set client expectations way higher than most installations can currently deliver.