Foxtel Launched $99 Foxtel Now Android TV Streaming Set-top Box Review

Hands on: Foxtel Now streaming set-top box. The Telstra TV 2 has surpassed by the Foxtel's long-awaited multimedia streaming player.

While Foxtel has adopted a progressive approach to non-contract transmission services over the past five years, its focus on hardware has been frustratingly fortuitous. While Netflix is available on virtually any device that connects to a TV, Foxtel Now has been limited to a handful of Smart TV and game consoles.

The launch of a $99 streaming TV decoder is an opportunity to rectify this. If all you care about is bringing Foxtel Now to your TV, then it's not bad business, but if you're looking for a more complete box that combines Foxtel Now and a wide range of other content, then the $192 Telstra 2 TV Top box is very superior.

Connection options in Foxtel Now streaming set-top box

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Foxtel NowAndroid TV Streaming Set-top

The Foxtel Now box connects to your TV via HDMI, offering Ultra HD resolution and HEVC transmission, but not High Dynamic Range. At this time, Ultra HD support is only useful to see Stan (co-owner of Fairfax Media), since Foxtel's Box was launched without Netflix, which is number one in its battle with Telstra TV 2.

Foxtel says it is still negotiating with Netflix, which is likely to be hampered by the fact that the remote control does not have a dedicated Netflix button, something that the transmission giant drives when it makes deals. The lack of Netflix is a big problem since two-thirds of pay TV subscribers in Australia also pay for a video-on-demand subscription service, of which Netflix is by far the most popular.

You will also find an S / PDIF digital audio output on the back of the Foxtel box, which can be useful when you connect to your home theatre system. Beside it, there is USB3.0 to play video files from a device, in addition to Ethernet for connection to your home network.

Finally, there is an RF antenna input to support the simple HD digital tuner, but, like the Telstra TV 2, it does not have an RF connection to connect to your TV. Unfortunately, the Foxtel box does not have access to all the free transmission channels. You may consider attacking two, along with the fact that Nine and SBS TV recovery is missing.

The connectivity is completed with Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1. During configuration, there is the option to link the remote control via Bluetooth, but it could be the third. I stayed with the outdated infrared after all the problems I had with the FoxTime iQ3 Bluetooth remote control.

Something to look at

The Foxtel Now box is based on Android TV, which offers access to the Google Play store, which is undoubtedly a better starting point than Telstra's paralyzed Roku box. The difference is that Telstra takes advantage of its situation to the fullest, while Foxtel misses it.

Turn on the Foxtel Now box and you will be redirected directly to the iQ3-esque home screen of the Foxtel Now application. This Home screen only shows Foxtel Now content, along with shortcuts to Android applications. You miss the cross-platform content recommendations that are displayed on the home screen of the Telstra box.

From the Foxtel Now Home screen you can navigate to Live TV, On Demand and Kids, with those last two options also limited to Foxtel Home content. The Live TV option mixes the free channels with the available streaming channels in your Foxtel Now packages, but there is no easy way to search for them as the category options in the iQ3 on-screen guide.

Free to air TV

The Foxtel remote control is basic but not very easy to use. There is no Live TV or EPG button, nor is there a numeric keypad. On the positive side, add the volume and silence buttons that are missing from the Telstra remote control.

The Foxtel box takes around four seconds to start the live TV interface, which makes it twice as fast as the slow Telstra box. Once you are watching live TV in the Foxtel box, you can access the on-screen guide by pressing up or down on the 5-way rocker shaft.

You will soon discover in the Foxtel box that the free channels are mixed among the paid channels, just as they are in the iQ3. This might make sense for existing Foxtel customers, but it would be very disorienting for newcomers.

Switch to the Telstra box and separate the Foxtel Now and free channels in different applications, which makes the box much easier to navigate. Telstra's free on-screen guide also includes in-depth links to catch up and subscription options. Your guide shows the schedule of five channels at a time, while the Foxtel box only shows the schedule of the channel you are watching.

Like the Telstra box, you can not pause or rewire live streams live. Make your way through the Foxtel dial and you will find that some open channels are missing in the Foxtel box. You miss digital radio and shopping channels, which is not a big loss, but you are also denied some secondary channels such as Channel 78 Racing and NITV.

What is really annoying is that if you are watching an open channel in the Foxtel box and leave the menus, when you return to Live TV, always return to the last Foxtel channel you were watching.

All this makes the free features of Foxtel feel compared to the tightly integrated Telstra box, but to be fair, the single tuner is a novelty in both boxes. If you really care about open television, you'll be better off with a Fetch TV Mini or Mighty. Fetch TV boxes can also transmit content from one to the other and it is a pity that the Foxtel Now box in your room cannot see a PVQ iQ3 from Foxtel in your living room.

Foxtel now: Foxtel Now streaming set-top box

When it comes to watching Foxtel Now channels live, the user interface is basically the same as the Foxtel Now application on Telstra TV. In any of the boxes, any content transmitted by Foxtel is not measured if Foxtel Broadband is your ISP. Both lack some pay TV channels compared to cable/satellite service, so it's worth reading the fine print.

Both boxes allow you to pause and rewind the Foxtel channels but can not record. There is no reverse EPG "Look back" for a deep link to the Foxtel catch content, as you would find in the iQ3. You can not use "Start again" to go back to the beginning of a program if you do not.

All this is quite disappointing considering that this is the Foxtel box. Foxtel has not done anything to help it stand out from its rivals, it is still stuck in the same Foxtel Now interface as any other device. It seems that the goal of Foxtel is to ensure that the small Foxtel Now box is not too tempting compared to a traditional Foxtel service.


Foxtel Now also allows you to access a streaming library by scrolling to On Demand or Kids on the home screen.

Once again, you can forget about the elegant cross-platform integration of Telstra. On the other hand, in the Foxtel box, you are forced to immerse yourself in the individual capture applications of the Google Play store, but you will only find ABC iView, Plus7 and Ten play. Only ABC iView offers access to live TV streaming.

Fortunately, the Foxtel Now box is recognized as a Chromecast broadcast point on your home network, allowing you to stream from the Google Play Movie app and some others, but not as many as you prefer.

The 8player player that runs on iOS, a Swiss Army Knife media player, can access the box through Chromecast. Meanwhile, the Netflix application on iOS and Android recognizes the Foxtel Now box but cannot connect, much like Netflix running on the Chrome desktop browser.

Google Play app store

Android fans can be conquered by the Android TV interface and Chromecast support, which for me are the only redemption features of Foxtel Now. There is the talk of Google voice support on the track.

You can go wandering around the Android TV section of the Google Play app store, but it does not offer access to the full range of Android apps. You will not find Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or the free coverage TV services that are missing. Nor will you find the Foxtel application used by cable/satellite subscribers to access video streaming.

You'll discover some music apps like Spotify and TuneIn, along with second-level video streaming services like Crackle, Mubi and YuppTV.

There are also applications to launch multimedia around your home like Plex, VLC and MX Player, but do not concentrate on Kodi. You'll find it in the app store, but Foxtel openly admits that it can not install it because of its piracy-friendly features.

Finally, there is a wide range of games designed to be played on television, with support for Bluetooth controllers. These may be attractive to some people, but they are not really what your typical home looks for in a streaming media player.

Fortunately, you can find your way in the Android 7.0 menus to play, and the box has 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage on board. It is not difficult to place applications in an alternative way so you may be able to squeeze more than Foxtel intended.

So, what is the verdict?

Unless you're really interested in Android TV, it's hard to recommend the Foxtel Now box over Telstra's rival, which is definitely worth the extra money. With the lost transmission services of the Foxtel Now box, the mediocre remote, the lack of multiplatform search and the attached direct access tuner, it really seems that it was improvised to defend against the Telstra TV 2 and the imminent arrival of the Amazon Fire TV.

While the Telstra TV 2 seems like an honest attempt to give viewers access to a wide range of content, the Foxtel Now box reluctantly allows you to wander outside the Foxtel ecosystem while ensuring that the experience is fragmented so you do not have the temptation to abandon it. your cable/satellite subscription.
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