With multi-room viewing, huge on-demand libraries that’re packed with award-winning content, a companion app so you can enjoy your favourite shows whenever you like and great 4K capabilities, both the Sky Q and Virgin V6 set-top boxes promise to offer the ultimate home viewing experience.
The Sky Q box is available with either 1TB or 2TB of storage beating out the V6’s single offering of 1TB. 2TB is enough to store a 1000 hours of SD content and around 350 hours of HD content, which is a truly massive amount for a set-top box and should be plenty more than enough for even the biggest content hoarder.
1TB is still an excellent level of memory however, enabling you to record 500 hours of SD content and 100 hours of HD content before your box is full. For perspective, that’s enough to store every single episode of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead to date.
But, if you’ve got one or more other V6 or TiVo boxes in your home (both are able to support multi-room viewing) you’re able to expand on this 1TB of memory by linking them up to each other and combining their available storage space.
Another small difference between the 1TB and 2TB Sky Q box is the amount of content you’re able to record and watch simultaneously. With the 1TB box, you’re able to record 3 shows and watch a 4th live but with the 2TB box, you’re able to record 4 shows whilst watching a 5th live.
Virgin’s V6 box is impressively able to record 6 shows at the same time, but you’re restricted to watching on-demand content or something from a catch-up service or streaming site only.
The multi-room or fluid viewing feature actually works in exactly the same way on both the Sky Q and Virgin V6 boxes. You’re able to start watching something in one room and then stream it directly into another via the inter-connected system of set-top boxes to resume watching it right where you left off.
It’s a fantastic system, one that’s very easy and convenient to use with little to no set-up needed outside of powering it up and being connected to the internet.
With Sky Q, you’ll receive the big main Sky Q set-top box and one smaller Sky Q Mini box but with Virgin you’ll just receive the main V6 box. However, the V6 box is compatible with any one of Virgin Media’s previous TiVo boxes and you’ll have to pay an extra fee if you want another Sky Q Mini box.
Both have an accompanying app, available on the Apple and Android OS, that you can transfer certain recordings and on-demand content across to (the BBC for example, don't permit any of their content to be viewed on either Sky or Virgin's streaming app) meaning you can indulge in a spot of binge-watching wherever you like.
If you’ve got a Sky Q 2TB box you’re able to stream to two Sky Q Mini boxes at a time as well as two devices, like a smartphone or a tablet.
Both your main and mini Sky Q boxes are able to act as wi-fi hotspots and will automatically take over if your main broadband connection is struggling to download any of Sky’s content like a box set or a film.
What kind of content is available?
Where Sky Q really shines is with the sheer amount of on-demand content that’s on offer. With over 350 different box sets available for you to enjoy, from those classic shows you’ve always wanted to see like The Sopranos or Twin Peaks to contemporary critical smashes like The Affair, Atlanta and Veep, you’ll always have something brilliant to get lost in.
Movies are unfortunately only available on-demand if you’ve got Sky Cinema which, along with Sky Sports, can be purchased for a small extra monthly fee.
The V6’s on-demand library isn’t quite as well stocked as Sky Q’s, but there’s still a sizable amount of big name content on offer like The Walking Dead, Suits, The Flash and Nashville along with number of great exclusives like Ash vs The Evil Dead and MMA drama Kingdom.
The biggest omission from the Virgin V6’s live content line-up is probably Sky Atlantic, the only channel in the UK to show a lot of the major US shows like Game of Thrones, new mystery drama Big Little Lies, Westworld and the eagerly anticipated upcoming third season of Twin Peaks.
Although the V6 box does have a huge number of the latest movies available on-demand, they’re actually only available to rent for £3.99 each after which you’re able to watch them as many times as you want over a 48-hour period. If you’re an avid film fan, it could get expensive quite quickly.
Like with Sky Q, Sky Cinema and Sky Sports can also be added to your Virgin TV package for a small extra fee.
The fact Sky Q is currently unable to support either Netflix or Amazon Prime is a huge blow to a set-top box that’s otherwise packed solidly with quality content.
You could argue that it doesn’t really need it with such an extensive catalogue, but it’s always nice to have the option there seeing how much fantastic original content each platform is producing.
Netflix and Amazon Prime are supported on Virgin’s V6 box however along with Hayu, a new streaming service costing £3.99 a month and featuring prime reality content from both the UK and the US, which more than makes up for any lack of on-demand content.
4K and Ultra HD
To watch 4K Ultra HD (the terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same TV standard) content you’ll need a 4K ready TV and an internet connection of at least 25Mbps in order accommodate the streaming of such a large file.
Sky Q and the V6 box are both capable of displaying 4K content but it’s currently only Sky that’s actually got any to display.
Currently on offer are a number of Sky’s own intriguing crime shows, incredible looking nature documentaries and providing you’ve got both a Sky Cinema and Sky Sports subscription, all the latest thrilling action from the Premier League and a selection of action packed Hollywood blockbusters.
The only way you’re able to watch 4K content on the V6 box is through the Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube apps. YouTube’s own selection isn’t particularly vast, but as to be expected both streaming services have quite a wide variety of award-winning glossy 4K content.
What Do We Think?
There isn’t really any real game changing difference between these two-powerful next generation set top boxes, so which one is better for you will come down to your individual watching habit and personal preference.
For example, if you’re somebody that’s keen for some 4K content then Sky Q is for you but if you’re somebody that watch a lot of Netflix or Amazon Prime, you might be better off choosing Virgin’s V6 box.