Sky Player on Xbox 360 - Hands-on photos and first impressions

We’ve been fiddling with Sky Player on Xbox 360. It gets our thumbs up for the content on show, but what’s it like to use? Get down and dirty with Murdoch’s latest assault on your living room, and see our hands-on photos of Sky Player on Xbox 360 in action too!

First thing’s first: Sky Player on Xbox 360 is fast. Very fast. The interface is ultra-speedy, and will be instantly recognisable to anyone who’s held a 360 joypad. Likewise, it’ll be a dream for anyone already in possession of a Sky set-top box: the menus look familiar, while on-screen overlays and the EPG are almost identical.

Flicking into streaming TV is a dream. We tested it on a 4MB broadband connection and it was slapping TV shows on our screen before our backsides could hit the sofa. Flick the Xbox’s analogue stick upwards and you’ll see what’s coming up now and next, as well as being able to browse other live channels, and dive into them at will. The quality on our Xbox defaulted to High, although Sky tells us it can be scaled back to work on broadband connections as low as 2MB. Dropping ours down to the lowest setting, we still found it watchable, albeit a bit blocky at times.

But while the streaming shows are fantastic, it’s the on-demand content that we kept coming back to. There are over 400 films available from day one, all of which start within a couple of seconds and are included free if you have Sky Movies in your satellite package, or subscribe to Sky Player with them as part of your bundle. This is on-demand done the Sky way, and it’s handled with jaw-dropping confidence.

From full descriptions of movies or sports content, to handy recommendations of other items to watch, Sky Player on Xbox is an astonishingly well-designed interface, grafted on top of the Murdoch dynasty’s unbeatable content back catalogue. It’ll strut its way into your life, and challenge you to watch TV the same way again, just like the first Sky+ box did all those years ago.

OK, so the pictures we’re looking at on the Xbox are in standard definition, but that also means a seamless performance on broadband connections as lowly as 2MB. There’s also a party mode, letting you crowd a virtual sofa with your friends’ avatars, and babble with them using an Xbox headset. Very clever, and cutesy, but  while we found it a neat distraction, but ultimately a bit gimmicky for everyday use.

Sky Player subscriptions come free for satellite customers, and start at £15 per month for those without a dish. However, a word to the thrifty: those with a second home, or trekking to university with their Xbox in tow, might like to remember that each Sky Player account can have four PCs attched, as well as one Xbox, and those consoles and PCs needn’t be in the same household as the satellite dish.

Essentially, what Sky is offering here is a second subscription for use anywhere you like, or a second set-top box for those wanting movies and sports in their bedroom.

We’re thoroughly besotted with Sky Player on Xbox. It’s given Microsoft’s console a bit of much-needed pep in the film and TV stakes. As far as we’re concerned, the US can keep its Netflix access. Now we’ve got Sky Player on Xbox, and live streaming TV too!

Out now | From £15 per month | Sky

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