It is a tiny box that is around the size of your fist and could be the biggest thing yet for Telstra’s push deeper into the Aussie media market.
Launch Date : 27 October 2015
Price at launch : AU$109 each or free when bundled with certain plans. (Plus subscription costs for paid services such as Netflix, Presto, Stan etc.)
Best for : Telstra customers looking to get started with streaming or make their dumb TV really smart, Telstra customers with a large digital collection of media looking for a device to play it on their TV.
It is the Telstra TV, a re-branded Roku2 that is wildly popular in the US for its features and massive offering of content.
After a little preparation (got a monitor up and running and setup the power supply) I fired up Periscope on my phone and got started with the unboxing and hookup.
With the exception of a loose HDMI cable on my monitor (totally my fault) the setup was about as easy as you could hope for. A guided install and authentication with your Telstra account got you up and running pretty fast and then you were let loose on the 9 apps pre-installed on the device.
The controls were simple and intuitive making it a good choice for a first time user. That said, TV interfaces are hard to perfect. We are getting there but we are still waiting for designers to nail the interface. In the meantime, the overall design and navigation is simple.
Being a Roku device, I have high hopes in the future that we will see some of the massive offering in the US making its way to the Telstra TV ecosystem. The inital selection offering heavy hitters like Netflix, Presto, Stan, Bigpond Movies and of course YouTube the Telstra TV is off to a flying start.
Of course I had to take the Telstra TV head to head with the other streaming devices I have in the house so it was time to unleash the Apple TV.
Apple TV has a massive history to pull on and it shows with a larger app market, a more polished interface.
and better picture/sound quality even though on paper they both handle 1080p. There was an every so slightly washed out tone to the Telstra TV picture compared to the Apple TV that only AV snobs would care about. (see edit) The plucky Telstra TV though had a trick up its sleeve. A USB port and SD Card Slot meant that you can easily play home movies from your own digital library on your big screen at home.\
Edit : I had found out that I had some different settings on different inputs which explains why I could see a slight difference in picture brightness and contrast.
The US Roku also allows streaming from your home computer, phone or tablet so I can only assume that this will become a thing with further feature releases as the platform matures.
A notable absence from a Telstra product was Foxtel. I would have expected this slam-dunk feature to have been a big deal on release but there were no signs of streaming options from Foxtel or other big-ticket distributors like AMC or HBO. Again, it is early days so we could look forward to that.
Looking ahead, I would think that Telstra offering to bundle services into the Telstra TV experience where you pay for all of your subscriptions through Telstra instead of maintaining 3 or 4 accounts for multiple subscription services would be a big play and would be an ideal fit for people looking to get a start into streaming media.
The good bits :
- Easy to set up.
- Easy to use.
- Loads of potential for future apps and services.
- Can stream from a hard drive or other electronic media.
- Tried and tested hardware partner in Roku.
The not so good bits :
- Telstra customers only (at the time of review).
- Picture quality a little short of what you are getting from premium devices.
- Lack of a Foxtel app at launch a missed opportunity.