OPINION: So, you may have seen the updated review of Sky Glass on this site, and if so, you’d have noticed that it’s bumped up to recommended status with a four-star rating.
Why? Well, mainly that bump is a result of the new Vivid mode that Sky introduced earlier in 2023. One of the main problems at launch with Sky Glass was that it’s picture performance wasn’t that convincing. Even when I went hands-on with the TV before it was officially on sale, the HDR performance looked especially, well, underwhelming.
The Cinema mode on the TV is actually very accurate out of the box, but it is also quite boring to watch in. I know there’s plenty of chagrin around the word ‘pop’ in the TV world, but when it came to visual pizzazz, Sky Glass just didn’t have that pop you get from the best TVs from Samsung or Philips.
That Vivid mode helps retrieve some of that colour and flavour. There’s more expression to the picture that Glass offers, more vim and vigour, and yes, more pop to the image with a higher level of brightness.
But it’s not perfect.
And it couldn’t really be, at least not in its current incarnation. Sky Glass’ picture performance was hamstrung from the start, and this new Vivid mode preset doesn’t change things across the board. This greater sense of picture expression is only possible with the Vivid mode engaged. There are other issues from blooming to some strange artefacts with streaming and issues with handling dark HDR content (basically Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon).
But, as is often the case, you learn more from your failures than your successes; and the updates that Sky has brought to its TV have shown a willingness to reflect on what went awry and improve on that. After all, it’s pretty much the companies’ belief with its ‘Believe in Better’ motto.
So, while the ceiling for Sky Glass’ performance isn’t as high as we’d have liked when it was announced with plenty of razzle and dazzle in 2021; there’s plenty that Sky has got right. The Entertainment OS is, I’d say, the best means of curating content that I’ve come across in reviewing TVs and other streaming devices and services. It’s platform agnostic, which means it doesn’t curry favour to any one service (whatever you like, Sky likes it as well); the content available is quality over quantity – this doesn’t just lump in channels to say it has thousands of apps and services just for the sake of it.
And it’s easy to traverse, find content and save it for later with its Playlist feature. The Playlist feature isn’t groundbreaking as such, Google, Roku and Amazon have their own similar systems, but Sky places it front and centre, whereas the others make noise about it but what they’re really interested in is feeding you a never-ending feast of content that’s only going to make you indecisive about what to watch next (it has that effect for me).
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So I am quietly anticipating the form Sky Glass 2 (or whatever it’s called) will take. As far as content is concerned, Sky has nailed that aspect of the service and if it can truly learn on the picture performance side what gains it could deliver, then when matched with that content it could really lay marker against the more popular TV brands in the UK market.
It’s not likely to come soon, however, Sky’s approach appears to be one where the TV is built to last for several years rather than the yearly carousel other established TV brands indulge in. It does mean that Glass’ panel performance will stand still as technology advances – but the commitment to software updates does allow some wiggle room in improving things.
For now, though, the Stream puck is my main method of interfacing with Sky’s content library. Being able to pair that with any TV I want brings out the best of what’s available on the service. With its updates, Sky Glass is making baby steps, but if it gets it right, that sequel could really upset the established order of things.