So when the lovely people at Now TV invited us to try out a Now TV box with a free month’s worth of Sky Movies, we jumped at the chance.
They also sent me a snowman onesie to wear while watching TV but to be honest, the less said about THAT the better.
So, in case you’re new to Now TV (like I was) I’ll kick off by explaining what it actually is.
At the moment if you want to watch catch-up TV or access services like YouTube and Spotify on your TV, you’ll need a satellite or cable service, or a Smart TV. These options can be pretty expensive – buying a new TV doesn’t come cheap, and signing up to the likes of Sky and Virgin can involve a hefty monthly subscription.
Now TV is perfect if those options don’t suit – for a one-off payment of £10, you get a box that gives you access to all the major catch-up TV services like 4OD, BBC iPlayer and ITV Player. It plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, and streams content to your TV over your home WiFi network. You’ll need to buy an HDMI cable, but the power cable is included, along with an instruction leaflet.
But that’s not all.
With your Now TV box, you can also access some of the premium channels you’d access via a Sky subscription, like Sky Movies and Sky Sports – you have to pay for this access but crucially, the cost is lower than it would be as part of a regular Sky package (the movies are £9.99 a month for example, compared to £16.50 plus your monthly subscription fee for the Sky Movies bundle on satellite). You can also pay a monthly fee of around £7 for access to 13 premium entertainment channels and a box-set library.
The choice of programming is really very impressive – over Christmas, we had no shortage of choice, and took the opportunity to introduce the family to some truly, truly classic movies during an 80s movie fest – Ghostbusters, anyone?
One other important thing to note – with Now TV there’s no commitment because each premium service is paid for as a one-off – you can have a month of movies, then stop the service, or buy another month’s access. Great when you want to budget (or simply pay for movies during months you’re going to spend more time at home). I know I’m not the only person who rolls my eyes at paying a Sky subscription over the summer, when we aren’t even at home.
So absolutely, there’s a lot to like about Now TV.
We tried out the service during December and January and found the selection of movies really impressive. The streaming quality was fine over our fibre broadband, and the box is nice and unobtrusive (it’s just a shade larger than an AppleTV). The HDMI connection was simple to set-up, and we found the NowTV account set-up and home screen really simple to use. I love that once you have a Now TV account, you can register and access the account on multiple devices, and even watch the service simultaneously on two devices.
As great as NowTV is, it’s important to bear in mind what it doesn’t do before you buy. Now TV won’t give you access to live TV programmes. This isn’t a big issue for us as, frankly, we rarely watch any TV show live – but if you love to watch X-Factor on a weekend and Tweet along with it, you’re going to need another device for this, probably a FreeSat or Freeview box if you don’t want a paid-for service.
It’s also worth asking how great your WiFi signal is – we have fibre broadband but when we were on regular broadband and streaming movies via WiFi, we did get a fair bit of stuttering. That’s not an issue with some devices because you can create a hard-wired connection between the router, box and TV, but on Now TV, you’re stuck with WiFi.
Overall, I enjoyed trying out the Now TV box and as someone who has been super frustrated in the past with paid TV services, I can definitely see the merit of a device that gives you access to Smart TV functionality without the need for a subscription. However, we have ended up using our Now TV service without the box.
We already own an Apple TV and we can use the Now TV app on that device while also having access to Netflix and all our digital content on iTunes at the same time. It makes sense for us because the Apple TV works on a wired connection and it means we don’t have to struggle to find yet another HDMI slot and spare socket behind the TV cabinet. Apple TV also has a far better remote control (although if Apple could invent a remote that is just a teeny bit bigger than an anorexic grasshopper, that’d be ace).
Thanks to Now TV, who provided us with a complimentary Now TV box and one month’s access to Sky Movies for the purposes of this review.