Sky has finally launched it’s On Demand service, Anytime+, in Ireland. It is available for free for existing customers. To use the service you will need to have a compatible Sky Box connected to the internet either via the Ethernet connection on the box or via a wireless adapter. Sky are selling adapters for €12.99 which isn’t too bad but you will pick them up cheaper on the net if you have a look around.
Strangely you need to put an order through on Sky’s website to activate this service on your box, even though the order has no cost. This doesn’t seem like the simplest or most straight forward of ways to register for service and it did leave me wondering why they chose to do it this way. You can start the order process here
Once you have completed the ordering process the service will activate on your box pretty much straight away. To access the service hit “TV Guide” on your remote and then hit the “Red” button. You will be presented with a menu system like the one above in the image.
You then have 4 tabs to choose from. “Showcase” offers up content recommended by Sky and includes shows or films that are popular at present.
“Library” is what you’d expect. This is where all the back content is made available. It is further broken down into genres allowing you to navigate with a bit more ease.
Again “Movies” is as you’d expect. It is one location just for movies, again split into genres.
“Sky Store” allows you to rent content and from what we can see so far it ranges from about €2.49 for older movies to €4.49 for newer releases. Content is available in HD where available and is highlighted in orange in the same way it is on the TV Guide.
Once you have selected what you want to watch, the program starts to download and the “Record” icon appears beside it. Once enough content has buffered, the “Record” icon changes to a “Play” icon and you can commence watching the content. The shorter the program the higher the amount you need to buffer first but for programs around 60 minutes long you need to have about 4% downloaded before it will let you play. How long that takes will obviously be based on what speed connection you have but if you have a good connection this should be less than a minute wait time. The program fully downloads and will remain available to watch from your planner. Be mindful that a 60 minute SD show on average seems to be about 1GB in size so this will obviously impact the storage space on your Sky Box if you do not have a larger capacity one and it is also something you will have to consider if you have a restrictive download allowance with your provider. Sky now offers a 2 Terabyte box but it also quiet easy to upgrade the hard drive in your existing box if you are running out of space.
Overall picture quality is quiet good. Standard definition pictures look slightly better than they would on a normal live broadcast and HD content while clear is not mind blowing. Services such as Netflix or devices such as the Apple TV offer higher definition content but this is still a great service to be able to access from your Sky Box if you are an existing customer.
Initially with the icon driven UI it can seem like there is very little content available but if you swap to the A to Z listing to navigate you can see that there is a considerable amount available to watch. I found the same issue with Netflix which again is an icon driven system. It looks good but it isn’t necessarily the best way to present large libraries of content to customers and it can make it difficult to discover new content, as scrolling through icon after icon can get tedious.
Overall this is a nice service to be able to access for existing Sky TV customers who have compatible hardware and a broadband connection that can take the strain!