Finally delivering the full Foxtel experience over the internet, the Foxtel iQ5 is traditional pay TV’s long overdue attempt to fully embrace the streaming age.
For decades, signing up for Foxtel required a set-top box, hooked up to a cable connection or satellite dish with expensive installation fees. This put it out of reach of many Australians, including some apartment dwellers.
The arrival of streaming services like Foxtel Now, Kayo and Binge meant anyone could watch live or catch up Foxtel over the internet. Yet the iQ set-top box remained only available to satellite and cable customers.
A “personal video recorder” with a built-in hard drive, the Foxtel iQ can record two pay TV channels and one free-to-air channel simultaneously. It performs time-shifting tricks like pausing and rewinding live broadcasts, as well as letting you watch the start of a movie while the end is still being recorded.
This once seemed like magic, especially for those of us who remember fighting with VHS tapes. Yet, for many, time-shifting is a bit redundant in the streaming age. These days almost everything is on demand, assuming you’ve got half-decent home broadband.
Enter the new $199 Foxtel iQ5 with 1 TB of upgradable storage, arriving just in time to solve a problem which for many people no longer exists. It offers a full Foxtel service over satellite or the internet, as the pay TV giant migrates customers away from the HFC cable network, now owned by the NBN.
One of the iQ5’s big selling points is access to Foxtel’s 4K sports and movie channels, which aren’t available via Foxtel Now streaming. They’re also denied to cable subscribers and only available to iQ4 owners via satellite.
Streaming has other advantages, such as a slicker implementation of the “Start Over” feature. Tune in half-way through a movie or TV show and you can press the red button instantly jump back to the start. Alternatively, press record and the iQ5 automatically adds the missing section to the start.