Sky Pod is good but not great

May 2, 2023
3 mins read
Start
5/10

Summary

Sky Pod REVIEW

Seasoned Sky water PAT PILCHER really, really wanted to like the affordable new Sky Pod but found that its issues were deal-breakers.

$100

I reviewed Sky TV’s new My Sky satellite TV set-top box a while back. While it is a capable contender for those wanting 4K TV when Sky starts UHD broadcasts, many people don’t want satellite TV or a dish on their roof. The now-defunct Vodafone TV had catered for that option, but it has officially ended, leaving Sky with a conundrum. With affordable streaming options such as Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Google’s Chromecast with Android TV widely available, Sky faced being left behind in the streaming space if they didn’t fill the void left by the Vodafone TV box.

Their answer to this? The Sky Pod. Designed as a low-cost replacement for the Vodafone TV box, I wanted to see if its super-affordable sticker price made it a workable option.

 

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As you’d expect, the Sky Pod is a media streamer with Sky TV subscription package access. Getting set up was relatively straightforward. After following the bundled startup instructions and inserting the supplied batteries into the remote, I was good to go. Getting set up was a doddle.

The Sky Pod has a white-on-white finish and sports a largeish, round puck-like design with one Ethernet and two USB-C ports. When connected to a spare HDMI port on your TV and plugged in its included power supply, it asks to be connected to your home network.

It runs Google’s Android TV with a custom SkyTV interface. Anyone familiar with the new My Sky box should be able to pick the remote and go with few to no issues. The learning curve isn’t too steep for those unfamiliar with the new box.

One of the key pros to streaming vs satellite is that streamed content appears to be either high-quality HD or UHD, with detail, colour and contrast looking great on my Panasonic OLED TV. As part of its Android TV DNA, it also has Chromecast baked in, which means I could stream from many devices straight to the Sky Pod and TV. Sharing YouTube clips, videos, photos or music is about as easy as falling off a log.

Its remote controller is identical to that used on the new set-top box and has a built-in mic. This allows you to access Google Assistant via voice commands (you need a Gmail account to get this working). For finding shows and getting content, it worked a treat. However, your results can vary depending on what you’re trying to do. If you’re a Netflix user, the other good news is that there is a dedicated Netflix button on the remote.

The Sky Pod comes with Netflix, TVNZ+, Three Now, Disney+, Neon and PrimeVideo preloaded, and you can download other apps from the Google Play store. I installed Kodi, and it runs like a charm.

On the surface, there’s plenty to like, but there are some gotchas buyers need to be aware of. These include the lack of TVNZ 1 and 2. If catching the 6pm bulletin is a regular part of your viewing habit, you’ll need to switch to TV3 News or use the TVNZ+ app. Why TVNZ isn’t included in the Sky Pod EPG is baffling. That said, the TVNZ+ app is preinstalled, but instead of scrolling through the EPG to access TVNZ content, you have to fart about with the app, which while not a deal breaker, is still a bit of a pain in the ass.

The other issue is the complete lack of recording capability. While this was part and parcel with the Vodafone TV widget, its omission on the Sky Pod probably has more to do with the lack of cloud-based recording infrastructure at Sky TV’s end and perhaps even fears of locally recorded content being used for file sharing. This is the only explanation I could conjure up, as the Sky Pod has two USB C inputs. One of those is used for power, but adding an external drive to the other did nothing. This strikes me as bit of a wasted opportunity.

The last gotcha is that you’ll be charged a multi-room fee for using the Sky Pod if you already have a My Sky box. Given that you could use a Chromecast with Google TV and the Sky Go/Neon apps without incurring any additional fees, this seems to be a perverse disincentive to use the Sky Pod.

This is a real shame, as the video quality of streamed content over the Sky Pod was great, easily on par with the new My Sky box. Its reverse EPG – the ability to scroll back up to 72 hours to catch shows you’d otherwise have missed – is also a welcome addition. Last, but by no means least, is its price. While the Sky Pod is priced at a very reasonable $100, customers will also need to add in the cost of a multi-room subscription assuming they already have a My Sky box. I really wanted to like the Sky Pod. Having Sky in several rooms might be dead handy, but the pros of the Sky Pod are outweighed by its cons.

www.sky.co.nz

 

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

10 Comments

  1. The biggest con for me and others was the LAG it takes 6 seconds to get a result after pressing a key. Going back and forward

  2. It’s only got 1 USB C the power unit is the old micro USB. It’s quite a pain to get into the guide and go back in time too. Vodafone TV was a lot easier.

  3. It’s an absolute waste of money, rewind or gast forward function is poor. It’s just crap

  4. My sky pod quite often freezes while watching sky tv and some of the time will start after a short wait (15-20 seconds) but more often I have to go out of the sky program and then go back in where it normally resumes where it was frozen but sometimes even doing this doesn’t help and I end up watching something on Netflix instead.

  5. Vodafone tv had all channels and never froze on me . Even with these upgrade boxes they still far behind overseas pay tv who have 4K and more options satellite, streaming devices , app streaming,bundles with Netflix Disney plus etc

  6. The gotachas mentioned don’t bother me at all, was aware of that and it’s fine, we can work with that. But the unit itself is sub-par. More specifically, the remote control glitches more often than not and is just horrible to use. Maybe we just got a dud, but it hugely frustrating and unreliable to use. If that worked reliably, the system itself would be fine to use. Guess you get what you pay for.

  7. This skypod is hopeless the vodaphone box was better im hacked of at the poor service this pod provides and its about time we had compatition

  8. My SkyPod started FREEZING. IF I CHANGED CHANNELS THEN CHANGED BACK IT WOULD UNFREEZE. THEN the sky connection stopped working at all. I could cast to the pod but there was no sky connection. I spent 90 on the phone with a very helpful and competent customer service rep until they agreed that the skypod was never going to work again. I received a replacement in 2 days. sadly this one has begun to freeze and I wonder how long it will be until it too stops completely.

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