TECHNOLOGY | Telstra’s latest gadget sees the Aussie telco go toe-to-toe with Apple for the eyeballs and wallets of Australia’s streaming video market.
Like the Apple TV, the Telstra TV is a compact set-top box which taps into Internet-based video services such as Netflix, Presto and Stan, Telstra’s own BigPond Movie store and catch-up TV channels like SBS OnDemand, PLUS7 and 9JumpIn.
Additional ‘channels’ include YouTube, Wall Street Journal Video and Red Bull TV, with more to come – including home-grown streaming service Stan in November, followed by ABC TV’s iView and Channel 10’s TenPlay by year’s end.
Unlike the Apple TV, however, Telstra TV also provides lets you connect a USB drive to pipe downloaded video (in MP4 and MKV formats, although AVI is sadly missing from the mix) onto your big-screen telly.
It’s all done through a simple and elegant interface, while the palm-sized black box is plug-and-play at its best.
That’s to be expected, as the Telstra TV is based on the established and highly popular Roku box.
Roku boasts an exceptional library of content and ‘channels’ overseas, and we’re hopeful that many of these will at some stage appear on Telstra TV.
(For those who care about such things the Telstra TV is actually rebadged version of the Roku 2, although Telstra’s deal with Roku could also see the latest 4K ‘Ultra HD’ Roku 4 released bearing a Telstra logo at some point in the future.)
The only gotcha in all this goodness is that Telstra TV works only with a Telstra broadband connection – either ADSL, cable or NBN – making it a less agnostic streaming solution than the Apple TV, Google Nexus Player or similar devices which play well with any broadband supplier.
Presto and BigPond Movies will be unmetered on Telstra Home Broadband connections, meaning that the gigabytes of streaming video won’t count towards your month data bill.
Telstra TV goes on sale from October 27 at $109 outright, and will also be offered free on Telstra’s selected L and XL broadband bundles.
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