Subscribe to Radio Times
Try 10 issues for £10!
Watch Sky Sports and Cinema on the cheap with the NOW TV Smart Stick.
A NOW TV Smart Stick is one of the cheapest ways to watch Sky content, including all 11 Sky Sports channels and original TV series like Gangs of London.
Like any smart TV stick, the latest NOW TV Smart Stick allows you to access numerous apps and streaming services, including Disney+, BT Sport and YouTube. However, the additional benefit to the NOW TV Stick is its passes that give you daily or monthly access to the likes of Sky Sports, Sky Atlantic and Sky Cinema.
A month's free access is included when you buy the NOW TV Smart Stick giving you plenty of time to take them for a test drive. If after that you don't want to pay the monthly cost, simply cancel them and continue watching your Netflix and Disney+ subscriptions instead.
Here is our NOW TV Smart Stick review as we put these passes to the test. Our focus includes its price, design, and streaming quality, along with all those fiddly elements around how easy it is to set-up.
Want to compare the NOW TV Smart Stick to its competition? Read our Nvidia Shield TV Pro review and Amazon Fire TV Stick review to see how it compares. Or, try our round-up of best streaming device and best smart TV guide for more ways to upgrade your TV.
The NOW TV Smart Stick is one of the cheapest ways to watch Sky content. For £29.99, this smart TV stick allows you to watch a month of free Sky Cinema movies, TV shows from HBO and Sky Atlantic, and a day's worth of Sky Sports. The stick itself hides behind the TV in the HDMI port and has a 720p resolution. This isn't the best streaming quality available, the Roku Premiere and Amazon Fire TV Cube offer 4K, but it is good for the price and on par with competitors' devices.
Price: The NOW TV Smart Stick is available for £29.99 at Argos.
The NOW TV Smart Stick is designed to make watching Sky content, along with apps like Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video, easy to do from one location. A smart TV stick like this is a good option if you are looking to watch Sky Sports or Sky Cinema on a budget or upgrade an old TV. If your TV is not 'smart', a streaming device can allow you to watch apps and streaming services that would otherwise only be available on a laptop or tablet.
The NOW TV Smart Stick allows those without a smart TV to watch streaming services. What is unique about the NOW TV Smart Stick is that you can purchase passes to access Sky channels. Features of the smart TV stick include voice control powered by Roku and can be hidden behind the TV.
At £29.99, the NOW TV Smart Stick is one of the cheapest smart TV stick on offer. For the same price as the cheapest Amazon devices, the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite, the NOW TV Stick offers access to a good range of apps, including Amazon's own Prime Video.
In addition to this, included in the price is a month's free access to NOW TV's Sky Cinema and Entertainment Passes, along with a Sky Sports Day Pass. Admittedly the NOW TV Smart Stick does not offer HD streaming as default like the Fire TV Stick Lite, but we still feel this is good value for the range, quantity and quality of TV shows and movies you get.
The NOW TV Smart Stick is designed to slot straight into the HDMI port and be hidden from view when in use. It is small and thin, so it does not obstruct any other ports. This means that all ports can be used at one time without cables getting tangled or in the way of each other.
The remote is the most comprehensive of any smart TV stick we have tested. Not only does it include power and volume buttons missing from the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite, but there are also shortcuts to the TV guide, kids content and Sky Store.
The TV can be controlled by voice commands via the voice button. Hold down the button and speak your command to turn up the volume, pause and play a movie or search the NOW TV homepage.
The homepage itself is user-friendly and broken down by apps, and Sky content is broken down by passes. Therefore, you'll find all the Sky Sports channels in one location and all the movies on Sky Cinema in another. We found this a useful way to keep track of what pass we used the most and helps identify where you could save money if needed.
The NOW TV Smart Stick's default quality is 720p resolution, although HD streaming is available at an additional cost of £3 a month with NOW TV Boost. This is a little below what similar, cheap smart TV sticks offer as both the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Express provide HD streaming as standard.
That being said, many smart TV sticks are primarily used to bring streaming services to old TVs that likely don't have the best picture quality in the first place. If this is the case for you, a 720p resolution might be fine, and it saves you spending extra on a streaming quality you won't be able to appreciate.
When it comes to voice search, the assistant powered by Roku is activated by the ‘microphone/voice’ button at the top of the remote. It was relatively accurate when searching the homepage, but we did find it struggled when asked to complete tasks while watching a movie or TV show. We found ourselves preferring to use the well kitted-out remote instead, which made navigating between the homepage and apps simple.
The NOW TV Smart Stick comes in all cardboard packaging and a box no bigger than A5. The box includes everything you will need to get started; the smart tv stick, remote, 2 AAA batteries, power cables, and adaptor.
Once unboxed and plugged into the HDMI port, the NOW TV Smart Stick will assess the connection and what resolution the TV can support. In our case, it was 1080p resolution, so we could take advantage of the HD TV Boost if we wanted to. This is a nice additional function that ensures the user isn't paying for anything they can fully enjoy.
Next is testing the remote settings. This is to make sure that all the features work and that the NOW TV remote can control the volume or turn off the TV. The final stage is then signing up to a NOW TV account and connecting to the Wi-Fi.
The instructions are simple to follow, and you are then directed to the website using a code displayed on the TV screen. Signing up to a NOW TV account on the website instead of the TV speeds up the process, and we went from unboxing to watching TV in 15 minutes.
This price difference likely takes account for the fact that the Amazon Fire TV Stick offers HD streaming while the NOW TV content is only in 720p resolution. Beyond this, the design is very similar as both are USB stick-style and are hidden behind the TV while in use. Both also have TV controls included on their remotes, which is a feature often missing from the cheaper smart TV sticks.
The NOW TV app is available on the Amazon Fire TV Stick, so users can still access Sky channels, but they will have to pay monthly for the various passes. This is not dissimilar to how we would pay monthly for a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription. It is only with the NOW TV Smart Stick that you a free month's worth of Sky Cinema or Entertainment.
If you are looking for a cheap way to watch Sky content, there is no better option than the NOW TV Smart Stick. Included in the £29.99 price tag is a month's worth of free Sky Cinema and Entertainment content, along with a day's worth of Sky Sports from all 11 sports channels. The selection of movies is particularly good with a great range of recent releases, including Emma, Joker and Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as fan-favourite box-sets such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Mummy and Transformers.
We admit the offering of just 720p resolution is a little disappointing, but it may not be so obvious if you are watching on an older TV. And, if it does bug you, HD streaming is available for £3 a month via NOW TV Boost. The NOW TV Smart Stick is the best streaming device available to upgrade an old TV, and we would especially recommend it to anyone looking to watch new film releases or live sport.
Streaming quality: 3/5
Value for money: 4/5
The NOW TV Smart Stick is available at several retailers.