I recently acquired a Now Tv box, which is effectively a Roku 3 with a different interface, cheaper remote and restrictions around which apps can be installed.
The first feature of note is the price. I picked mine up for £25 including three months free subscription to the entertainment pass, giving me channels such as Sky 1, Discovery and Sky Living. The subscription is usually £6.99 per month, amounting to £20.97 for three months, meaning the box only really cost me £4.03. That’s a whole lot of set top box for the money whichever way you cut it. In comparison the Roku 3 is £69.99 direct from the Roku website. I’m still trying to figure out how Sky manage to sell these for the price they do.
The biggest downside to the Now TV box over the Roku is he restriction on the apps you can install from the App Store. The apps I really wish were available are Plex and Netflix. I understand why Sky prevent the installation of its competitors apps when they are subsidising the box so heavily, but I still think it would make he box more desirable. I subscribed to Netflix as well as Sky’s full TV service for years after all.
There is a way to side load the Plex app onto the box if you don’t mind doing a bit of tinkering though. It involves putting the box into development mode and downloading and packaging the Plex app from GitHub. It wasn’t particularly tricky to do but the only Plex app available via this method is the older interface. I couldn’t find the Netflix app to package and sideload though.
The box performs well and I never find myself waiting for the interface to catch up. I was pleasantly suprised by this. It’s actually more responsive than my 3rd generation Apple TV. The interface is also very easy to navigate to the point my five year old son was able to pick up the remote and put a cartoon on without any tuition.
The biggest feature of the Roku 3 that I wish was available on the Now TV box is the headphone jack on the remote. I suspect this was a feature removed to lower the cost of the box so Sky could sell them cheaper.
In conclusion I’m quite happy with the box and I’m considering buying some more for some other rooms in the house. I still dont think I’ll be renewing the entertainment pass subscription though.