Now TV Combo review (hands-on): Now TV Combo is now on sale – a broadband package for the modern age
Now TV Combo hands-on: Now TV Hub
The Now TV Hub comes as standard with every Now TV Combo package as it’s your gateway to the rest of Now TV’s services. It is, to all intents and purposes, a bog-standard wireless router. It’s compact, at just 141 x 53 x 140mm, so smaller than both the BT Smart Hub and Virgin Media’s Super Hub, but a tad boxier by comparison.
Hardware-wise, you get four 100Mbits/sec Ethernet ports, WPS Wi-Fi setup, and compatibility for ADSL and fibre connections, while for wireless the hub gives you single-band 2.4GHz, 802.11n Wi-Fi. This is wireless at its most basic. I haven’t seen a router this limited for years.
There is some positive news, however: the Now TV Hub will automatically select the best channel for the device you’re connecting to it, shifting things around accordingly as devices move and change, so at least Wi-Fi interference shouldn’t interrupt your TV watching too badly.
Sky also says the Hub can also switch into a low-power mode when it’s not in use, kicking back into full-power mode when you’re back online. Naturally, that’s great for saving minimal amounts of power here and there, but – just like its automatic signal switching – we’ll have to test that for ourselves once a review unit turns up.
As Now TV Combo allows you to switch broadband speeds and packages month on month if you wish, the Now TV Hub is capable of working with any of the three incoming connection speeds. Now TV’s “Brilliant Broadband” runs at up to 17Mbits/sec, with its mid-range “Fab Fibre” taking speeds up to 38Mbits/sec. If you want to go all out, however, Now TV’s “Super Fibre” can deliver 76Mbits/sec to your home, provided you’re within the right network reach.
Now TV Combo hands-on: Pricing
Here comes the tricky bit for Now TV Combo: pricing. Because there are so many options and variations, working out a flat price for the Now TV Combo can get quite complicated.
First off, if you already have an affordable broadband package you’re happy with – and you may already have a Now TV subscription – then you can buy the Smart Box outright for £40. That makes it cheaper than the Apple TV, Roku 3 or the Amazon Fire TV (although the latter does support 4K content). In fact, it makes it just a shade more expensive than a Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick. If you don’t already have broadband, or fancy switching provider, the Smart Box comes as standard with every Now TV Combo package.
When you begin to delve into the Combo pricing structure, things get a little harder to understand, especially if you’re shopping for a bargain. First up, there’s the £18-per-month line rental to pay, which is mandatory across all the Now TV broadband packages.
If you opt for the 17Mbits/sec broadband option alongside a Now TV Entertainment pass, it will cost just £10 per month on top of that, bringing the total cost to £28. Choose the top-end fibre option, which provides a 70Mbits/sec connection, and it will set you back £25 per month with line rental on top.
While the antiquated necessity of line rental is a kicker to seemingly affordable prices, £28 per month for 17Mbits/sec broadband, calls, Now TV’s Entertainment Pass and the benefits of a Smart Box is not really all that bad.
The Sports package ups the price considerably. While that’s partly down to the base cost for access to Sky Sports, any sports fan will also want access to BT Sport content. Since BT Broadband packages come with BT Sport for free, it may work out cheaper to take up one of its packages and buy Sky Sports via Now TV as and when you need it.
Below is a table of the monthly pricing options for Now TV Combo, just so you can have a look for yourself at some of the available options:
Now TV Month Combo
Now TV Month Pass
Total Price (inc. line rental & PAYG calls)
Entertainment w/ broadband
Entertainment w/ fibre
Entertainment w/ Super Fibre
Cinema w/ broadband
Cinema w/ fibre
Cinema w/ Super Fibre
Sky Sports w/ broadband
Sky Sports w/ fibre
Sky Sports w/ Super Fibre
Kids w/ broadband
Kids w/ fibre
Kids w/ Super Fibre
Now TV Combo hands-on: Early verdict
As a concept, Now TV Combo is a welcome one. While we’ll need more time with it to see if the Smart Box is as slick as it felt initially, and to discover if the Now TV Hub is as competent as is claimed, it looks as though Sky has found a smart way to take its streaming service to the next step.
Is it something people will actually want? Well, that remains to be seen.
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