When Sky launched their new Sky Q service late in 2015, many people were saying that this might be the death of the HDMI matrix (a piece of AV distribution equipment used to deliver Sky HD, as well as other HDMI set top boxes like Virgin TiVo and BluRay players, to multiple TVs throughout a home).
The idea that Sky Q might replace a HDMI matrix seems logical. Before now, getting Sky HD in more than 2 rooms involved getting a Sky multiscreen subscription. For existing Sky Customers, this meant paying an additional £11.25 per extra TV that they wanted to watch Sky on and installing extra Sky Boxes throughout your home. Few deny that Sky Q is a more sophisticated multiroom HDTV solution than what was previously on offer, but how does it stack up a dedicated multiroom HDTV matrix?
|Sky Q||HDMI matrix|
|How many rooms can I watch Sky in at the same time?||3 rooms- 1 x Sky Q silver box plus 2 Sky mini boxes||4, 8 or even 16 rooms. Most people connect 2 Sky boxes + other HDMI devices to a HDMI matrix and then deliver them all to every room.|
|What about my other HDMI set top boxes / entertainment devices||Sky Q is dedicated to delivering ONLY multiroom Sky TV.||Can deliver multiroom Sky HD plus all your other devices too- Virgin TiVo, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Blu Ray Players.|
|Can I get all the content from my Sky Boxes in every room||Yes but you can’t enjoy shows and movies in 4K in rooms with Sky Q mini boxes- the Sky Q mini boxes don’t support 4K.||Yes- if you connect a Sky Q Silver box to a HDMI matrix then you should be able to watch all the content from your Sky Q box including the 4K content throughout your home (providing your TVs and HDMI matrix support 4K).|
|What is the maximum no. of Sky Q boxes / set top boxes I can have||You can buy up to 4 Sky Q Mini boxes + 1 Sky Q Silver Box BUT you can only watch the Sky Q + 2 x Sky Q Mini Boxes at the same time||Connect any 4, 8 or even 16 HDMI entertainment devices to HDMI matrix, dependent on its size.|
|4K ready||Sky Q Silver Box- yes. Sky Q mini boxes- no||Yes- providing you choose a 4K/HDCP 2.2 model of HDMI matrix|
|Supports recording / watching on tablets and phones||Yes via Sky Q app- but app does not let you download BBC iPlayer shows.||No – a HDMI matrix is dedicated to delivering entertainment to TVs only.|
|Cabling||Satellite cabling for main Sky Q Silver box, Sky Q mini boxes wirelessly stream from main box||Cat 5 e / 6 cabling- 1 x Cat 5 e / 6 cables runs from HDMI matrix into every room with a TV|
Control via app
|Yes – Sky Q app||Yes – Some brands have their own app or you can use systems like DemoPad and iRule to control your matrix plus all your HDMI devices.|
Which is better: Sky Q or a HDMI matrix?
This is a loaded question and the answer really depends on you, your home, and what you’re trying to achieve with your home entertainment setup. If you’re a Sky HD lover and your Sky Box is all you watch, then Sky Q could be perfect. The reality is though, most people have multiple HDMI set top boxes and devices like Amazon Fire TV sticks and google chromecasts that they want to use throughout their home too. If you’re someone who has more of these devices than you have available HDMI ports on your TV, like many of us, then a matrix is a probably better solution, because it can make any range of HDMI entertainment devices accessible and controllable on every TV.
If Sky Q gives you fluid viewing, then a matrix gives you fluid and flexible viewing- because it doesn’t confine you to just watching programs and shows from your Sky Box. You could easily switch between watching Sky Sports on your Sky Box and watching Netflix on your Apple TV, or Prime Video on your Amazon Fire TV if you had a HDMI matrix installed. Plus if you’re a 4K enthusiast and are looking to be on tech trend, then you should be aware that right now Sky Q, even the main Sky Q silver box, does not offer any 4K / UHD content for you to enjoy. By comparison, there are lots of 4K HDMI matrixes that can work with 4K set top boxes (e.g. BT Youview+ box and the nVidia Shield), letting you enjoy the 4K shows, movies and games they offer in 4K throughout your home.