Wednesday, 08 November 2017 18:08

VIDEO LAUNCH: Foxtel Now Box rocks, runs 4K Android 8.0, even plays Stan, curated Android apps

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Foxtel shocks with its new $99 Android-powered Box, designed to be "an affordable and easy-to-use device designed to stream the best choice of the world’s biggest new shows, live sport and complete seasons to consumers’ TVs".

Looking like a half-height Google Home speaker yet complete with remote control and built-in Chromecast, Foxtel describes its new IPTV and antenna-powered free-to-air TV not as featuring "a compact and sleek design and delivering seamless access to an incredible line-up of programming, streamed instantly, live or on demand".

There's apparently no universal search — yet — as per the new Telstra TV 2, and while voice commands are available, and there's even a microphone in the remote control, voice control is yet to be activated.

There's also no 4K programming from Foxtel as yet – the company says it is looking into it and isn't ready to announce anything yet, but with YouTube and other 4K sources, the Foxtel Now box is clearly preparing for the future when Foxtel offers 4K programming, too. 

To use the Foxtel Now box, you naturally need a Foxtel Now subscription which is separate to your standard Foxtel IQ, IQ2 or IQ3 subscription.

However, if you have a Foxtel Now subscription for your smartphone or tablet, or you select a subscription, then depending on the packages you choose to pay for on a monthly basis, you can stream pretty much everything Foxtel offers, including Love It or List It Australia, A Place to Call Home, Gogglebox Australia, plus international hits Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Outlander, Shameless and all the most popular titles from powerhouses HBO, Disney, the BBC and more.

As Foxtel describes it, its new box is "a simple plug-and-play device that provides access to Foxtel Now in HD along with free-to-air channels via a built-in free-to-air tuner#. It also includes access to SVOD app Stan (separate Stan subscription required) as well as free-to-air streaming apps, ABC iview, PLUS7 and tenplay".

For those wondering, "HD is only available on the Foxtel Now Box, PC/Mac via Google Chrome browser, Telstra TV and Chromecast. Not all services/programmes available in HD. HD not available on mobile/tablet".

Here's the full video of today's Foxtel Now launch, including the Foxtel Now reveal, and some of the stats of Gogglebox on-stage to entertain us, and the handing out of some Foxtel Now boxes to the media, although all attendees at the event today received a Foxtel Now box to take home – the rest of the article including tech specs are listed below.

So, what else do we need to know?

Well, we're told the box features "built-in Chromecast functionality allowing viewers to ‘cast’ movies, music and photos from Android or iOS mobile devices, PCs or Macs straight to their TV".

There's also "access to a world of content, games, music and apps from the Google Play store as well as the ability to stream at 4K quality with compatible apps", which includes Foxtel competitor Stan, with even Foxtel in talks with Netflix for Netflix to be available on the Foxtel set top box as an app!

Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh set the tone, and said: “After the success of Foxtel Now, we’re delighted to lift the lid on our incredible new Foxtel Now box. The sneak peek we shared at the Foxtel Now launch a few months ago created a huge amount of buzz and we are excited to announce the box’s arrival so quickly. Foxtel Now has already proven to be a hit with customers, offering the most flexible and affordable way to experience the best choice in live sport, new movies, TV and complete seasons. With today’s launch, that experience gets even better.

“For the first time, Australians can watch Foxtel on their TV with a Foxtel designed set top box that is completely powered by the internet offering a no lock-in contract, affordable and flexible way to see Foxtel’s exclusive content both locally produced and from the world’s best entertainment brands. Self-installation is easy removing the need for a technician. Simply bring the box home and sign up to Foxtel Now to start watching.”

Available to purchase for $99 starting 10 November, the Foxtel Now box "can be ordered directly from Foxtel https://www.foxtelnow.com.au or via Foxtel’s eBay store, and will be available from other outlets in the near future".

As Foxtel Now reminds us, this is Foxtel’s "SVOD service, offering an affordable and flexible way to sign up and stream Foxtel, instantly, in HD, live and on demand. Foxtel Now features flexible bundles so customers can sign up to Foxtel’s incredible content with the ability to cancel at any time".

There are "five entry-level packs to match viewers’ interests including Drama and Pop packs priced at $15 per month each or $25 for both. Lifestyle, Docos and Kids packs are available at $10 per month each".

Foxtel Now’s Movies pack "is available for $20 per month in addition to an entry level pack and the Sports pack is available for an extra $29* per month, meaning Sports lovers can now get access to Foxtel’s incredible sports programming for a little as $39 per month and movies for as little as $30 per month".

New Foxtel Now subscribers can access a two-week free trial. 

Foxtel Now box Technical Data Sheet

  • VIDEO: 4KP60 UHD 10-bit HEVC (SD or HD, up to 1920 x 1080; 4K P50/60 UHD up to 3840 x 2160)
  • OUTPUT: Video - HDMI Tx 2.0 with HDCP2.2; Audio - SPDIF
  • STORAGE: 8GB System FLASH (NAND)
  • MEMORY: 2GB RAM DDR4 RAM
  • INTERFACES: DVB-T, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11 ac WiFi 2.4 Ghz / 5 Ghz
  • WEIGHT: 0.270 Kg
  • DIMENSIONS: 104 (bottom) x 83 (top) x 72 (height) mm Remote control
  • COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS: Infrared, Bluetooth
  • DIMENSIONS: 145 x 44 x 14mm
  • INTERFACES: 13 Keys - Power, Mute, D-pad (up/down/left/right/OK), Back, Home, play/pause, Search, Volume up, Volume down
  • ACCESSORIES: 2 x AAA batteries

System requirements

  • An Internet connection is required to access Foxtel Now, the Google Play Store and to set up and use the Foxtel Now box.
  • A Foxtel Now account is required to set up and access the box and a Foxtel Now subscription is required to watch Foxtel content. To create a Foxtel Now account, click here.
  • A Google account is required to download apps from the Google Play Store.
  • Free-to-air channel viewing requires a TV aerial to be connected to the Foxtel Now box.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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