I’m in the same boat as many people across the country: we’re spending more time in front of the TV year-on-year. So, if you’ve been exploring the record and download options offered by the Now TV Smart Box, you’re not alone.
One of the (long list of) questions that I asked before buying my smart box was ‘can you record live TV with a Now TV Smart Box?’.
The answer is a bit more in-depth than you might think.
Can You Record on the Now TV Smart Box?
There are many things you can do with Now TV smart box, but that doesn’t include recording TV, yet. Read on to find out other solutions to record TV.
Where a lot of the confusion comes in with people thinking that it’s possible, is that the Now TV Smart Box and Sky Q are both Sky services and so you might think they have the same functionality. But, while Sky Q can record, Now TV cannot. Two other things that further muddy the waters are that:
- The Now TV apps allow downloads, while the Now TV Smart Box doesn’t, and
- It is possible to pause and rewind the live TV channel that you’re watching (but I don’t consider that to be a recording functionality per see).
It is possible to download shows when you access Now TV from your computer or mobile (instead of using the smart box). But since many of the movies, series and even some sports events are available on-demand or with catch-up, so as long as you have a decent internet connection, you should be able to watch the show you want using your Smart Box.
That’s not the end of the story, it’s important to understand how Now TV works and what your options are for live TV recording:
TV Recording with the Now TV Smart Box
Your Smart Box can’t play or store files so you can’t record shows or series on the live TV channels. It can only be used for the Now TV app and the other apps available in the App Store (such as Netflix, All four and YouTube). But, if you have a NOW TV Smart Box with 4K & Voice Search, a NOW TV Smart Box with Freeview or a NOW TV Box (black), you have some limited recording options and you can record live TV channels for a maximum of 30 minutes.
With a designated external hard drive, the Now TV recording service allows you to pause, rewind and fast-forward programs from all of your subscribed Now TV and DTT channels so you can take a break, and ensure that you don’t miss anything.
You can use your device to stream Sky Cinema, Entertainment, Kids and Sky Sports channels. And, aside from Now TV Sports, the majority of TV shows and movies are available on catch-up or on-demand so you might find that there is no need to record them anyway.
The at-home TV experience has become an integral part of modern living, and even more so with COVID, so it’s great that the Now TV smart box really delivers. I like it because it’s intuitive to use and a lot more affordable than the Sky Q alternative. I don’t think that the limited live recording feature is a deal-breaker unless you watch a lot of sport.
What devices are Now TV downloads available on?
While you can’t record live TV as such, there is an option to use Now TV on your laptop and watch programs offline at a later stage.
Whether you want to watch TV on your phone, a tablet or your laptop, Now TV has an app for you. Once you’ve downloaded the app and installed it. You can login and start watching your shows, or download them to watch later when you’re offline.
Live TV recordings aren’t available with the Now TV app. But, because most shows are available for download with the Entertainment Pass, Cinema Pass, Kids Pass and hayu Pass, you can watch downloaded shows on the go. In terms of sports, some events are available for download on the Sky Sports Pass. Kind in mind, you need a wi-fi connection to download (you can’t download using your phone’s data).
Once a show is downloaded, it’s saved for 30 days (or until it expires). You can watch the show as many times as you want, but shows and episodes can only be downloaded twice.
What’s the difference between Sky Q and Now TV?
Now TV is the most cost-effective way to access Sky services. It’s an online streaming service that gives you access to Sky on-demand, and catch-up. It’s available on gaming consoles, smart TVs, phones, tablets and via the Now TV smart box (which connects to your TV with an HDMI cable). You can go month-to-month, and there’s no need to take out a yearly contract. You do need an internet connection, but not a satellite. And there are no live TV recording capabilities.
Sky Q is different in that it requires a satellite connection, but hopefully, a broadband option will be available in the next year or so. With Sky Q, you can pause, rewind, and record live TV, and access catch-up (you can record up to three channels while watching a fourth). The main downside of Sky Q, in addition to the satellite dish requirement, is that the minimum contract term is 18 months. The one terabyte Sky Box needs both an internet connection and a satellite and it connects to your TV with an HDMI cable.
What’s the difference between the Now TV Smart Stick and Smart Box?
The functionality of both the stick and the box is very similar. The stick is slightly faster and cheaper. It also offers voice search (for Now TV content).
What about using an external hard drive for TV Recording?
If the Now TV smart box doesn’t tick all the boxes for you, it might be worth having a look at other options on the market. I recently wrote a post about the top external hard drives for tv recording, with top picks from Toshiba, Seagate, WD, Transcend and Maxtor. If you have a newer TV, you can use the feature called USB recording to record live programs directly to an external hard drive, making it easy and convenient to save a TV show for later.