New FetchTV box + service: Review:
It’s a game changer



review Reviewing the FetchTV PVR/IPTV/video on demand service offered by ISPs such as iiNet and Optus is becoming a yearly tradition for Delimiter. The first two times we reviewed the service, we found it lacking. But in our opinion, the company’s new set-top box and associated service launched this year puts it in a whole new ball-park and makes it the premiere such offering in Australia. Read on to find out why.

If you’ve been a long-time Delimiter reader, you’ll know that we haven’t always been complimentary towards the FetchTV PVR/IPTV/video on demand combination set-top box and service which was initially offered by Internet service providers like iiNet and Internode (and now Optus and Adam Internet).

When the service was first launched back in mid-2010, frankly, it wasn’t up to scratch in terms of our requirements for an IPTV service in Australia. Although we gave the service a fairly decent review at the time, it was apparent that this was FetchTV’s first effort. Its set-top box, while quite functional, looked and felt something like an aging VCR machine (with the same huge vents all over it), and its user interface was quite slow and clunky. In addition, it cost more than we were willing to pay for such a service at that point.

A year and a half later, FetchTV had improved in leaps and bounds. It still featured the same hardware set-top box, but its user interface had been revamped and no longer looked like a warmed-over version of X-Windows (the Unix user interface which Linux, which the FetchTV set-top box uses, is based on). FetchTV had added a great deal of content and functionality to its service and it was starting to feel like the front-runner in Australia’s historically troubled legal Internet video market. But it still felt clunky to use, it still lacked key content such as the latest new releases, and ISPs were still having headaches integrating it with their customers’ network connections.

It’s this background which we bring to this third review of the FetchTV set-top box and service. Over the past year, the company has launched a new set-top box and added a sledload of content and functionality to its service. It’s time to review FetchTV again. Read on to find out what the new FetchTV is like.

The new box
The first thing you ned to know about the new FetchTV in 2013 is that the company has quietly launched a completely new set-top box to anchor its service in your loungeroom. And boy, is it different from the old box. Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

To say that FetchTV’s new set-top box is an improvement on its old box is a colossal understatement.

There are fundamentally two things you need to understand here. The first is that the actual physical nature of the FetchTV set-top box has undergone a mammoth re-design for its new iteration. Gone is the large, clunky, VCR-like design ethos of the previous box, which, to put it bluntly, stunk.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the new FetchTV box looks precisely like something which Apple would design. The review model we tested came in purest white (you can also get it in black) and its high-quality plastic exterior reminded us very strongly of Apple’s design aesthetic. Gone are the ugly vents which plagued the old FetchTV box, and in are open ridges along the corners of the box which subtly allow ventilation in.

The box is also quite a bit physically smaller than its predecessor; about the size of a Nintendo Wii. It’s the sort of size that makes it easily able to sit inside your TV cabinet alongside the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 — at 50mm tall, 260mm wide and 252mm deep, it won’t take up anywhere near the space of the old FetchTV box, which was substantially larger.

On the back of the box you get mostly the same ports, and again here things have that Apple-like simplicity which we love. You get RF-in and RF-out ports to connect your TV antenna and another peripheral to the box (when you have a FetchTV box, all normal free to air TV goes through the box’s own tuners, rather than directly into the TV itself) and an Ethernet port for the mandatory Internet connection to your broadband modem.

There are old-style yellow/red/blue RCA connectors on the box to hook up your TV, but we think most people will prefer the box’s in-built HDMI output, and there’s also an optical out port for sound if you want it. THe box also comes with a couple of USB inputs, although we think most people won’t need them, and unlike the old model, it comes with a small power brick (which has helped cut down its physical footprint).

Overall the new FetchTV box represents a level of design and build quality which we haven’t seen in Australian consumer electronics for some time. This box easily has the build quality of an Xbox or PlayStation 3 — it’s that high end — and again, it reminds us very strongly of something Apple would make. This is pretty much what the Apple TV should look like.

This brings us to the second new aspect which you need to know about the new FetchTV set-top box — its internals.

The old box wasn’t precisely slow, but it wasn’t fast either. Changing channels, especially streaming channels, worked fine on the old box, but you never got that snappy feeling which you tend to get from decent consumer electronics gear. Once its set up right, and if you have a decent broadband connection, there’s a sense with the new FetchTV box that it’s actually quite hard to slow it down. In my briefing with FetchTV before I got my hands on the actual review unit, the team emphasised the processing power of the new box, and I certainly found in the wild that the unit performed above expectations for the FetchTV brand.

When it comes to the basics of changing, recording, pausing or playing free to air TV channels in Australia, I don’t think FetchTV has a rival in Australia at the moment. Certainly the box is much, much faster at changing channels than our existing Samsung LCD TV (it’s about five years old), and it can do everything instantly while also recording two other channels, downloading videos on demand and so on. You’re just not going to get any lag with the user interface or basic PVR functions from the new FetchTV box — it’s great.

When it comes to the box’s other functions — streaming IPTV through FetchTV’s many online channels, or downloading movies on demand, you will see some delay, largely dependent on the quality and speed of your broadband connection.

Usually it’s only a second or two when changing to a streaming IPTV channel such as the BBC, but it’s noticeable compared to the instant channel changing from the free to air channels. However, we think it’s more than acceptable for a channel streaming on the Internet — think of the slight delay before a TV show plays through the ABC’s iView web platform and you’ll get a feel for it.

The only area where the box falls down slightly, user-interface-wise, is in its streaming of video on demand — movies. We have a 14Mbps ADSL2+ broadband connection, and we found that normal movies took at least one to two minutes of buffering before they would play. HD movies (we tested with the new release Argo) will take longer — we found between five to ten minutes. However, again, we considered this quite acceptable for the quality which FetchTV was delivering. In addition, once the movie has buffered for a few minutes, you can watch the film you’ve downloaded fine while it pulls down the rest on the fly.

In terms of its other specifications, the new FetchTV box features most of the same specifications as the last model. It comes with three digital TV tuners — meaning you can record on up to two channels while watching a third, and it comes with a 1TB hard disk. The remote which ships with the box is comfortable, if a little generic, and quick and easy to use. One new feature the box comes with is the ability to support a resolution of 1080p, which we know many people will really welcome.

User interface and features
Let’s start this user interface and feature section by pointing out that it’s a fallacy to think of the FetchTV service as it stands in 2013 as a stereotypical set-top box similar to the ones sold by Foxtel or Topfield. It’s more accurate to think of FetchTV as an evolving ecosystem or platform for content to be served on, and as the set-top box as merely the central element in that ecosystem.

To understand this statement, let’s take a look at how precisely you use the new FetchTV set-top box.

The most obvious way to use it is to merely hook the box up to your TV and broadband connection and use it like any other set-top box, with its own customised remote control. On this stand-alone basis, the new FetchTV box is actually already great to use; it’s got way more functionality than any other similar device on the market, because it integrates not only PVR functionality (the ability to record and play back shows as well as pause, rewind and fast-forward live TV) but also IPTV and video-on-demand functionality, including a swathe of free movies each week as part of the so-called ‘Movie Box’ package.

The FetchTV service is pretty much like a high-end Topfield set-top box, bundled with the movies-on-demand functionality of an IPTV service like Quickflix and the live streaming functionality (including many of the same or similar channels) as cable TV service Foxtel. And it can all be controlled from the one FetchTV remote control, just like any other set-top box.

However, you don’t have to use the FetchTV service this way, and in fact we think you’ll prefer not to. The far better, quicker and easier way to use the FetchTV service is to connect your iOS or Android device to the unit via your household Wi-Fi connection and then control it that way: Ditch the remote control altogether.

FetchTV’s apps for iOS and Android, are, to put it simply, brilliant. For starters, most of the functionality of the physical remote control is emulated directly in the apps. Just hit the remote button and start controlling the FetchTV unit as you would with a physical remote control — but faster, in our experience, because the touchscreen buttons are much nicer.

You also get a swathe of other functionality. Want to watch a TV show you’ve previously recorded? Fine. Hit up the ‘My Stuff’ button on your mobile app. It’s already synched your list of recorded shows on the FetchTV box, and you can just select the one you want and have it start playing on your TV. You can do the same with movies — even purchasing them on your mobile app and setting them to download. You get a full Electronic Program Guide on your mobile apps as well, and even control over the on-demand TV shows that FetchTV and its ISP partners offer.

To say we loved this functionality is an understatement. No more laboriously flipping through smartphone apps and then changing the channel manually with a physical remote control. See a show you want to watch on your mobile EPG? Touch it to watch it on your TV. Done. Once you’ve started using this approach, you really will not want to go back to using physical remotes to control your TV. It’s so archaic.

Plus, of course you can use the mobile app to set shows to record even when you’re away from home on a 3G or 4G mobile connection — great if you’re on the bus on the way home and want to check out the TV guide and set something to record.

You can use the FetchTV’s standard remote control to control the box, but to do so is to miss where much of the future of television is heading. So-called ‘second screen’ debate is increasingly sweeping the television and film industry at the moment as the industry works out how to best integrate the incredible powerful mobile devices we all have now with the television experience.

You can easily imagine a future in which the FetchTV smartphone apps actually do a lot more than they do now. They already have a level of Facebook integration, but there’s no doubt that this can be deepened, and other social networks such as Twitter added into the mix. And there’s also another revolutionary aspect to the concept.

Currently the FetchTV apps allow you to play content from the FetchTV set-top box on your television. But what if the box could also stream that content straight to your smartphone or tablet — even while someone was watching something else on the TV at the same time? This concept isn’t that revolutionary, after all — it’s precisely what Nintendo does with its powerful Wii U controllers.

As we’ll explore in a follow-up article shortly, this is precisely the kind of functionality which FetchTV is currently developing across a range of areas, and this demonstrates how much of a game changer the FetchTV platform, as an interface to commercial content, has the potential to be. It has the potential to unchain the set-top box from your TV, and allow it to be a broader media centre for a number of other devices in the house.

The other comment we’d make about FetchTV’s user interface is that it has been refined in a whole lot of small ways over the past year or so. Many of the user interface elements are the same or similar, but they’ve all received that polishing effect that it takes years to get right on a certain device. The FetchTV interface has gotten to the level now where it really does fade into the background, letting the content itself come to the fore.

There’s quite a few ways to change channels and browse around the content, and you’ll speedily discover the quickest way to do so. But in general it’s all great — in terms of software development, it screams ‘build quality’, if you know what I mean.

One little example is the way that FetchTV lets you set ‘series’ tags for certain TV shows to automatically record — no matter what time they’re on. FetchTV will automatically search its dynamically updated Electronic Program Guide and record these shows at the correct time (if you want, with a small buffer each side of the show), without you even having to think about it.

In another example, FetchTV now integrates descriptions and ratings on content from master ratings site RottenTomatoes, bringing a level of information to the available content which just fits perfectly. It’s these kinds of small touches which make the experience great.

The content
When we last reviewed the FetchTV box last year, one of our main complaints was that there wasn’t enough content of the kind which we wanted through the service. Whoah, has that changed in a year.

Let’s start with the core content. First and foremost, FetchTV is a PVR box. So of course you get instant access to all of your normal free to air channels — all of the multiple channels allocated by broadcasters such as the ABC, SBS, Nine, Seven, Ten and so on.

However, it’s when you scroll down past those channels in the channel selector that you realise just how many more TV channels FetchTV has added in. The subscription option ($20 a month through iiNet, for example), gets you several dozen additional live IPTV channels. Names like BBC World News, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, CNBC, France 24, MTV (Classic, Hits and the normal channel), National Geographic, Style, Weatherzone, ESPN, Euronews and more. You can find the whole list below:


And FetchTV is constantly adding to this content. For example, just last month the group signed a deal with US sports network ESPN to stream two channels in Australia, delivering a whole new swathe of international sports content locally.

Part of the reason that FetchTV’s content offering is constantly growing is last year’s merger between Australian pay TV giants Foxtel and Austar, as counter-intuitive as that sounds. As part of the terms of the deal, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission forced the pair to open up rivals such as FetchTV to licensing much of the same content which the pay TV giants had access to. As contracts change, over the next several years this will mean that FetchTV will get access to much of the content which was previously locked up by the pay TV giants.

I’ve been evaluating FetchTV over the past fortnight in our household, and it’s safe to say that the wealth of IPTV channels the service is currently offering is pretty amazing. The service reminded me pretty directly of a pay TV service such as Foxtel, such is the breadth of content on offer.

Now on to video on demand content.

Again, last year when we last reviewed FetchTV, we were pretty disappointed with the free and paid video on demand content which was available. FetchTV makes a ‘Video Box’ of free movies (which change at regular intervals) available through its service, but we found it hard to find movies we wanted to watch through this service.

How times have changed. When we opened up Video Box this year, we found a cluster of great movies which we love — such as The Dead Pool (Dirty Harry), Pretty Woman and The Name of the Rose. The week before it was Batman Returns, which we happily watched. Movie Box appears to always be set to contain a mix of films appropriate for kids and adults, in a range of genres from comedy to action. We always found something we wanted to watch there.


It’s a similar situation with the paid video on demand service, where you can download new release or older films for fees ranging up to $6.95. When we switched on the service we got a cluster of the hottest new releases right up front — from the new Bond film, Skyfall, to Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Argo, Dredd and so on. FetchTV has recently signed a deal to bring the older James Bond films to the service, and from what we can see, they’re all there already.

Again, here it appears that FetchTV has signed content deals with virtually every film studio in existence. Its own site advertises partnerships with Universal, Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros, Roadshow, Icon, 20th Century Fox, Madman, W Studios, Sony Pictures, Hopscotch and so on. The service has so many films available, it actually becomes a chore to browse them all — there’s just so much great content in there, and the odds are that if you’re looking for a film, they have it, which wasn’t the case only a year ago.


There’s also a bunch of ‘other’ types of content available via TV on demand — kids shows from ABC for Kids, selected science fiction TV shows such as Stargate, edgy videos from Red Bull TV, documentary profiles on celebrities such as Sacha Baron Cohen, recordings of concerts and so on. All of this appears to be freely downloadable, and iiNet itself has a number of separate channels available solely via its version of FetchTV — primarily dealing with the European soccer leagues. And FetchTV is currently working on integrating the IPTV platforms offered by the ABC (iView) and SBS (SBS on Demand) into its service as well as other third-party platforms. Stay tuned for more on this.

What all of this adds up to is an incredible package. If you just count the TV channels available through FetchTV, the service instantly feels more like a US-style cable TV package (or like Foxtel itself) than just the bare bones IPTV/PVR package which it used to be. And then FetchTV has added in a huge video on demand library (including free movies, regularly refreshed) and a broad swathe of other TV content.

So what’s not here?

There are two big categories of content which FetchTV doesn’t appear to have right now. The first is the big US TV shows — you know the ones I mean. Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, House of Cards and so on. Even the comedy shows such as the Colbert Report and so on. These shows just can’t be found through FetchTV, and it’s a big lack in the service’s content offering. You can get most of these shows through Foxtel, and it’s a little disappointing that so much of today’s great TV content is absent from FetchTV.

Rival IPTV service Quickflix has publicly stated that it is working with the US studios and cable TV companies to bring these kinds of shows to Australia promptly, so it’s perhaps not out of the question eventually with FetchTV as well. We’d really like to see a greatly expanded paid TV on demand service from FetchTV, alongside its stellar movies on demand tab. Some of this may be a little complex due to the set-top box nature of FetchTV — it also has to integrate with a lot of what the existing free to air TV channels do. Some of it may have to do with licensing deals currently tied up with Foxtel. Only time will tell.

Secondly, there’s sports. It’s obvious that many, perhaps most, of the attraction of a service such as Foxtel is the availability of live or delayed sports coverage, and you just can’t get this content on FetchTV yet. Again, this is a complex situation involving huge licensing deals and financial resources, so we’re not surprised not to see it on FetchTV, but let’s be honest — nobody is going to sign up for both FetchTV and Foxtel, so you have to consider it an issue for the service.

However, to be honest, personally we don’t see these gaps as huge issues for FetchTV. It’s not reasonable right now to expect a tiny company such as FetchTV to go after the huge sports rights deals, and the TV rights situation is also a little complex. The US hasn’t broadly worked out what it’s doing with streaming IPTV online, with services such as Hulu and Netflix blocked in Australia for now. We’re sure this situation will be resolved over the next five years.

In general, what you need to know is that the content offering through FetchTV is incredible right now — and it’s going to get regularly better over the next few years.

Bugs and technical issues
Although its improved dramatically, there are still some bugs and minor issues with FetchTV, largely associated with its broadband connection. On one occasion, the video on demand service simply failed to download properly, dissolving into static and causing weird hiccups on the screen. Likewise, the first time we tried to use the FetchTV iOS apps, they would connect with the set-top box but didn’t actually work. On all subsequent occasions we used them, they were absolutely fine however.


Similarly, if your broadband connection goes down for any reason, expect some functionality on the FetchTV box to simply stop working — certainly the IPTV channels and other pieces here and there. This is a service which is very much designed to be connected to the Internet at all times, and if it is cut off from that pipeline, expect trouble with some of its basic functions.

There is also an associated issue, in that with our iiNet broadband service, iiNet still requires that you use its own BoB-branded hardware to use the FetchTV service. FetchTV wouldn’t work on iiNet at all with our Fritz!Box router; a ridiculous situation when you consider that the Fritz!Box is one of the highest-end ADSL routers on the market, and that Internode’s FetchTV service supports the Fritz!Box. Instead, we had to install an inferior Bob Lite modem to use FetchTV through iiNet.

There’s also the fact that iiNet requires that the FetchTV box authenticate your ADSL connection — once you’re on its ‘FetchTV profile’ ADSL setting, you can’t actually connect to the Internet through your modem unless the FetchTV is plugged in to authenticate things. Technically, this situation is a mess, and we sorely hope that iiNet sorts this out soon. An IPTV/PVR box should not be the authentication method for your broadband connection — that should be done at the router level. The fact that iiNet has set things up this way just seems ridiculously counter-intuitive. Prepare for some hiccups in getting FetchTV set up on your broadband connection — including downtime.

However, it has to be said that once FetchTV is set up, things ran quite smoothly — IPTV channels, movies on demand and all. If you follow the instructions provided by iiNet and don’t ask them troubling technical questions (as we like to), everything should be fine — and we didn’t notice any slowdown on our normal broadband connection due to FetchTV, although it is likely that the streaming TV component has some impact.

Australia has been waiting for a great IPTV/video on demand option for many years. Given that we don’t have much in the way of cable/pay TV competition, and we don’t have services such as Netflix and Hulu to stream TV shows online, many people have been very frustrated over that time in trying to (legally) get access to the great content they want.

FetchTV isn’t perfect — it lacks the great TV shows on demand that US residents enjoy, and it doesn’t provide the great sports packages which Foxtel does. However, with its new set-top box and the wealth of content deals it has signed over the past year or so, FetchTV has emerged as the clear front-runner video entertainment package in Australia, and is now a clear and dangerous rival to established market monopolist Foxtel.

FetchTV isn’t amazingly cheap. For example, iiNet charges you $10 per month just to access the basic service, plus another $5 a month for rental of the set-top box itself, which you can also buy for $299 outright. You’ll need to pay a total of $25 per month to rent the set-top box and get access to the full functionality of FetchTV, which we recommend. Optus does deliver the service a little more cheaply, and both companies also ofer it in bundles — for example, you can get broadband, a home phone, modem rental and a FetchTV starter pack from iiNet for $99 a month, which is not too terrible.

However, at this price, we think many couples without children, or those living alone or in share houses, would probably pass on FetchTV. Many young people get all they need from the Internet these days and don’t want to get tied into a subscription TV package.

Where FetchTV really becomes valuable is for those who have children — the standard family unit of several adults and several children. In this scenario FetchTV offer all sides all the cheap and easy entertainment they want, in one centralised package. You get free movies (or affordably prices movies on demand) for the parents on Friday and Saturday nights. You get global news for those who care about such things, and a wealth of entertainment options for the kids. You get the ability for several different people in the house to record and watch TV shows simultaneously — no conflicts.

But perhaps more importantly than this, what FetchTV represents for the Australian video entertainment scene is a game-changing concept: A single central platform which delivers most of everything that everyone wants, with content deals with everyone and great TV PVR functionality integrated. If the service could cut its prices a little and get some more sports and US TV shows on demand into its offering, it would be perfect. As it stands, the new FetchTV set-top box and service is pretty close.

Perhaps the most direct comparison which we could make with respect to FetchTV is Telstra’s rival T-Box platform, which offers much of the same functionality and has the additional benefit of being more closely bundled with Foxtel. We haven’t trialled the T-Box in a while, but there’s no doubt that the service is doing well for Telstra — and certainly it has sold much better in the market than FetchTV has so far. Based on our estimation, FetchTV and the T-Box are probably close to being on par right now — with the obvious caveat that the T-Box is only available through Telstra, a significant limiting factor for the platform. Plus, Telstra has not updated the T-Box hardware in some time.

With respect to FetchTV, finally, FINALLY, Australia has a mature, technically excellent and comprehensive PVR/IPTV/movies on demand platform widely available through various ISPs. We highly recommend FetchTV; if you’re at all interested in this kind of offering, check it out. We suspect you won’t be disappointed.

Also; stay tuned. This review is all about the current FetchTV service. However, the company is preparing a broad swathe of new functionality, which we’re currently talking to it about. We hope to shortly publish a second article outlining this upcoming functionality and how it will push FetchTV’s limits even further.

Image credits: FetchTV/Delimiter


  1. Bring on high-speed NBN connections! Running this box on a 100Mbps NBN connection would likely result in instant playing, or a tiny delay at the very least; 1Gbps connections even more “instant”!

  2. Two technical problems I’d like to see fixed on the new box.
    It will only record two things as once, even though it has 3 tuners and the restriction even applies across formats. Eg. One multicast record and one DTV record and no more allowed. It isn’t good enough. There should be no reason for not allowing 3-4 recordings across the various sources.
    If you are recording two things at once. It doesn’t seem to matter what source. Multicast TV will stutter.
    Given that the new box has a more powerful processor than the last, the stutter seems to be a software issue more than anything. The box should have more than enough grunt to play something while recording two things.

    • “The box should have more than enough grunt to play something while recording two things.”

      In my testing, it does this fine.

      As for recording more than three things … the box does have only three tuners. It’s not really reasonable to expect it to record more than that — and I haven’t seen any set-top boxes which can do this.

      • I have:

        TiVo Premiere (not in Aus yet) = Quad Tuner with recording on all 4 while playing back a previously recorded show.

        TOPFIELD make 5 Dual Tuner PVR’s that can record up to 4 shows at the same time (2 per broadcast bundle, eg can record 7, 72, 10 & 11 all at the same time)


      • My Topfield 7100+ (records 4 shows at once on two tuners. The multiple recordings have to be on the same station however (ie. can record 7TWO, 7Mate and ABC1, ABC2 but not ABC1 and 7Mate and SBS1). Can the FetchTV box handle that?

      • I cannot get it to record more than TWO things at once. Even if only one uses the tuner. Say I record 1 DTV show and a multicast show, I cannot record a third thing.

        I am not sure what the chugging is then. I can have 2 DTV channels recording and try and watch a multicast channel and the image pauses every 5-10 seconds for about a second. Stop the DTV recordings and everything is smooth.

        I regularly was able to record 4 or more channels on my PC tuner. If there is a show on the same DTV “channel” say, 9 and 9 GO! they only use one tuner. I would understand a limit of 2 DTV shows to make sure one tuner was free for immediate viewing, but recording a multicast show reduces me to only recording 1 DTV show, that seems like a problem. I’ll so some more testing tonight to be sure but it has complain on numerous occasions when I have tried to record that 2 shows are already recording and I need to choose one to stop or not record what I have asked for.

        • I always wonder at what stage does the HDD get fragmented to such a degree that it cannot record multiple channels any more without suffering a performance hit.

          Perhaps, this is the issue?

          Factory reset and or wipe the drive of all recorded programs?

          • I assume the box uses one of the versions of ExtFS, which is pretty resistant to Fragmentation issues.

      • Topfield Masterpiece HD has two tuners. However, each tuner is capable of recording two channels on the same band.

        This means, recording up to four ‘services’, whilst watching a pre-recorded show.

      • Based on your recent review I have just become a Fetch TV subscriber through iiNet. As an existing customer I have been able to access the Combo pricing package of $10/month which includes the STB and a new Bob2 modem with telephone handset. While I had some initial difficulty with the streaming service due to synchronisation problems, with the assistance of iiNet these have been resolved and I am now receiving the full suite of services in the Entertainment package. The STB is certainly powerful and versatile and overall the service is good value for money.

  3. “You’ll need to pay a total of $25 per month to rent the set-top box and get access to the full functionality of FetchTV, which we recommend”

    Sure? I am paying $20 for mine with Internode and checked iiNet’s site and theirs is $20 for full with rental.
    $15 a month if you bought the box.

  4. Until FetchTV & the like her can offer services like Netflix or Hulu, it’s going to be hard to convince consumers that the service is worth it.

    I currently run Netflix for less than $15 p/m (including DNS changer), so FetchTV can’t really compete on price or content.

  5. @renai I was one of Adam’s beta testers and a big reason for me handing it back was the lack of DD5.1 or better sound on even the HD most PPV movies.

    I personally thought for $5-6 a hit this wasn’t good enuf when I could get the same movie on Bluray from my local video store for half the cost with genuine HD picture and genuine HD multi-channel sound.

    Has this improved at all?

    • No, I haven’t seen any DD5.1, everything I have rented has been prologic. Agreed that the 5-6 bucks is a little steep. There are a lot of movies but the majority seem to be on TV regularly anyway which is a little disappointing. TV on demand seems to roll out new episodes too slowly. The saving grace is some of the discovery channels. I love the sort of shows they have on them.

    • I found the sound quality more than sufficient, but then I don’t have a 5.1 setup. Something you may like to consider is that, at least in my area, almost all of the local video stores have recently shut down.

      • Ok that’s really dissapointing!

        It’s a big deal for me as in my Lounge I have $8k worth of Krix speakers connected to a $3k Denon Amp as imo immersive surround sound really makes a big difference to a good movie – it’s just as important as a good quality screen. (It’s amazing what you can afford before your kids show up)

        Even in my Study/Games room I have an el cheapo brand name DVD HTIB and the difference between discrete DD5.1 and Dolby Prologic is night and day.


        • I agree.

          If I’m forking out money for a 1080HD movie, I expect DTS.
          Otherwise I might as well drive down to the local videoezy and rent a bluray. Its standard on every disc I’ve rented.

      • I find it disappointing because I have a 9.1 setup. The system can make it sound like you are right there in the scene. Not with the audio available with FetchTV however, even HD movie sound isn’t up to par with even FTA HD movies.

          • Oh, I know that. But even DD5.1 is a start. 7.1 is achieved easily on 5.1 with matrix encoding, the 9.1 is just a post process step. But all they have is stereo with some pro logic encoding. The box handles DD5.1, why does none of their content have it?

        • 9.1 is a bit silly as not even BD’s ship with that, most are still 5.1 with some 7.1 and then your AVR applies Audyssey DSX processing (or Dolby) to extract the height and width information (works extremely well).

          personally I think it crazy that a 21st century technology platform cant even match the same Audio quality as an 18 year old 20th century technology (DVD)!

          • The 9.1 is just 7.1 with some Yamaha proprietry processing. It takes stuff from the front speakers is calculates is in the distance and puts it into small speakers in the front corners of the room. It is pretty good at making distant sounds harder to locate rather than seeming to come from the front speakers.

          • Yeah my Denon 4311 does that using Audyssey DSX processing and does Heights as well as Wides if you want – I had to take my Wides out of my system so my little girl didnt knock them over and hurt her self as they were 2-way bookshelf speakers on heavy metal floor stands. :-(

          • Yes, they can be dangerous. I don’t have kids and my cats seem to leave them alone. Though I did knock over one 2 metre high stands once and lost the magnet off the back of the woofer :(
            Luckily all else was ok. I contacted the manufacturer to get a replacement telling them how dumb I’d been knocking it over and they sent me a free replacement. Now that’s great customer service.

        • I’ve found the stations screw around with the audio.
          Back when ‘Heroes’ was originally broadcast on 7, it came with the Dolby Digital audio in addition to stereo.
          But as soon as they moved to ‘Fast Tracked’, the Dolby Digital disappeared.

  6. Btw, if they added sling box type functionality so I could stream live & rexorded content to my iDevice while away from home I would buy one today!

  7. Ill say this again. Ill be interested once all 3 Fox Sports channels make it and not of the nonsense Fox Sports play. Also we need a lot more ISP’s to jump on. TPG said in their annual meeting last year that they will have a new IPTV option. And since then we have seen…..squat!

    • Completely agree. Also I would like to see a move to a la carte service where we pay for only the channels we want (eg afl & cricket channels only). I doubt that will happen anytime soon though..

  8. I’ve looked at the channels on offer on FetchTV and I am not yet seeing the value. I agree that the missing ‘Hit’ shows that Renai is talking about is a serious omission.

    Between free-to-air TV and internet services (including music services: I would rather put on pandora than sit in front of MTV) I just can’t see myself coughing up money for the FetchTV service.

    It is good to see that FetchTV is coming along, and it looks like it is really improving quickly. Perhaps in the next couple of years even people like me will think it is a no-brainer.

  9. It’s interesting that my review of the box was overwhelmingly positive, and yet people are complaining about small things. I think quite a few people here are not seeing the forest for the trees. The new FetchTV set-top box and service, in my estimation, represents the best legal option we’ve seen of this kind in Australia so far. The things people are quibbling about are not as significant as they think they are. I’ve spent an extended time reviewing this service. I know :)

    I think many people are looking for something which isn’t possible from this kind of service.

    • well with everything being so good about the device, it’s only the little things that can be picked on.

      • I wouldn’t call a complete lack of digital 5.1+ surround sound on Movies a little item – it’s frankly very poor especially when the box itself claims to support the HiDef audio Codec Dolby Digital+

    • Yes, sorry for complaining, the service is good. But they still have some annoying little problems that you’d think they would have fixed by now.

    • One person’s “small things” are another person’s deal-breakers. There is a lot of subjectivity at play.

    • I’ve been pulling video (and music) to my tablet from my nas for a while now, that would be useful to know…. 299 for an outright box is a bit but for the features I’m bloody impressed, remembering your first review. I have an ancient toppy box (SD nominally, but you can blind record HD and USB it to a watching machine. Slooooow….) if I were to replace it, even not using the Broadband features for a while, its right up my alley.

      One query, as its important to me… Does it handle subtitling? It should for FTA as a matter of routine but I’m interested in the web channel offerings.

  10. FetchTV or TIVO won’t work unless you open the possibility of having the service available on all devices. I shouldnt have to buy a set-top box to access the content exclusively

    Consumers want accessibility media anywhere by any means

      • What you have is people whom come up with the fetchtv are complete fucking idiots whom don’t think about design and would prefer a monosystem where you rent a STU because more profitable

          • Because people at IINET/Internode tend to think about being fantastic and supported it. When they should pushing for more content and innovation rather than sicking to a set-top system which has upfront cost

            You dont see netflix doing this?

        • I think the set top box is a good idea. It provides as standard device that would reduce support. It can use seperate dedicated bandwidth to make sure there aren’t competition problems with the line bandwidth. It stops people taking copies of the pay content.

    • I considered TIVO for my parents and brother, who either don’t want ‘internet on’ all the time, or cannot afford internet.
      All the documentation said Internet needed for the EPG, which seemed strange as all that information is supposed to be encoded in the broadcast frequency.

      After asking the company directly whether it was possible to use the TIVO without Internet, their only response was ‘The TIVO requires Internet’.
      Talk about stonewall. So I assisted my family in buying something else.

      So, Renai, can the FetchTV be used without internet for the FTA channels and access the EPG information?

      • The reason TiVo uses the internet is simple, back when it was released the a$$ hat TV stations wouldnt provide the accurate up to the minute Guide Data they do now OTA so the only way to get accurate data to a PVR or Media Center was via ICETV Guide or in TiVo’s case their owner (ch7), got them access to the good data that up to that point no one else was able to get.

        • It’s not just up-to-the-minute scheduling that Tivo needs. Its feature set is built around being able to search and record based on lots of information about each show, like genre, director, writer, actors etc which I don’t think Freeview EPG provides. And it also wants to know when an episode was last broadcast to help it with its suggestions or some other feature that I can’t remember right now.

          • true, and the extra stuff like remote record from a smartphone over the net etc is very handy. :)

          • TiVo also gained from being able to use a Wifi dongle as a small cost extra, and works well for updates over the net and movie downloads, but isn’t possible for a streaming channel on a multicast signal. ie: Fetch Lite could use it.
            Perhaps HLS will change that – though I think there are some very dodgy home wifi networks out there and I imagine the experience could suffer, so the existing wireless or EoP extenders might remain the best option.

  11. Confused a tad here; does the FetchTV box let you stream to a second screen anywhere in the house or only the TV directly connected to the FetchTV box?

    Otherwise it sounds like you’re pretty much tethered to having the TV/Fetch box next to your modem/router which will be next to the phone point which will (murphy’s law) be somewhere you don’t want the TV :)

    • The limited workaround I use for multi room is use the hdmi for main connection in lounge, then I hook up A/V (yellow/red/white) RF sender-receiver to the box to send the picture+sound to bedroom. I then use the iphone app to remote control the box from my bedroom.

      • Oh and I have run a long lan cable to the lounge so box and router dont need to be ‘next’ to each other.

    • iiNet use IPoE for authentication and TR-46 to auto-configure the BoB so as you rightly say it shouldnt matter to your net connection if you have the FetchTV box on or off.

    • Agreed the Fetch box isn’t involved in authentication/obtaining dhcp lease.
      I run the service via a Netgear WNDR3700 router which is where the lease is obtained, not the Fetch box. Bob is the only supported device, but others work fine if you’re game!

  12. So, reading that review was nice. What about the efficiency of the product overall? How energy efficient is this device compared to the old box?

    STB generally are responsible for 10-15% of average households utility bills.

    I think a real game changer would be this design combined with the energy efficiency.

  13. i found that the channels arnt live,had a friend overseas watching same channel i had about 5 mins behind him.also the channels on offer are garbge,all news and below grade docos.need more channels to rivel foxtel.

  14. FetchTV fails so bad because they offer stuff no one wants.
    Still cant beat UnBlockUs + AusPost Pre Paid Credit Card + Netlix + Hulu + Amazon.
    And it still works out cheaper than FetchTV!

    • Netflix is awesome but when I tried out Hulu+ I couldn’t figure out why any one would pay for it! It was just full of weird alternate indy style stuff that I didnt want to watch.

  15. hmm labeling this thing fetch might be practical though to look at it it falls between apple tv and the roku3..

    whilst having something small when you don’t have space is grand..

    move up from there it becomes useful but annoying piece of crap when it comes to mounting it in a av rack solution….

  16. Looks like a significant step forward. Does the box not include a WiFi receiver? If not, having to be physically connected is a PITA. May be manageable with EoP or something for those of us without a fully cabled house, but for a high end box I’d want to be able to connect wirelessly, a la Apple TV, Boxee, WDTV etc..

    Can the box play content from your LAN?

  17. pixelation is going to happen regardless due to the fact your antenna and antenna cable might not be suitable for digital tv transmissions, nevermind the VOD content restriction on a 4mb connection which supports sd at min spec. with 320×240 with congestion being standard, when 640×480 and to lesser extend 720×576 with no congestion nevermind what you can support between stereo, 5.1-7.2, 9.x-11.x content is only applicable from a fibre backhaul..

    in terms of home network 1gb minimum though to be honest in 9.1-11.x perspective it tells me 10gb will need to be standard with a possible fibre network backend

  18. While the solution sounds good, the lack of DTS is a show stopper. One of the real benefits of the HD formats is sound. Talk to the hundreds of thousands of people who bought an amplifier recently and they will agree with me. Losing that sound is not a minor issue. Most HD titles come with DTS soundtracks, so even compressed DTS would be better than none at all. Its not just about the picture, it about how it sounds when you watch that picture.

    • The crazy part is that DD+ with 5.1 channels can be encoded in as little as 768kbs and still provide great HD sound – DTS is better IMO but there’s just no excuse for not using DD+ as the bare minimum!

  19. The biggest problem I see with IPTV services is that it is so reliant on a decent internet connection, and let’s face it. Not all internet connections in Australia were created equal.

    As a previous iiNet customer trying to survive off of a pathetic 4mbps connection, everyone had to put their lives on hold if one of us was doing anything even remotely bandwidth intensive. There was zero incentive to even consider an IPTV service.

    I can imagine that would be the case for (most likely) the greater percentage of customers.

    Props to iiNet and Fetch for continuing to improve a product that probably doesn’t see the level of demand that it should (for the reasons above).

  20. Last years fetch box from Internode, is also a very capable DLNA player. Ive played avi, mp4 and mkv without issues. (The box is a tad slow for mkv though)

  21. Hi,

    The other field that it is missing in terms of channels is the lifestyle, home renovation, food etc that Foxtel has tons of. We love our Arena, Lifestyle etc channels and until Fetch gets these channels then it just can’t be considered a complete offering either.


  22. don’t need bob i’m billion 7800nl fine with fechtv tv & STB has nothing to do with the authentication of the DSL service

    Also use UnBlockUs +us iTunes + Netlix + Hulu.
    mainly use fetchtv MTV music channels

  23. Is it just me or do some people here appear to be spoiled rotten by “150+ channels and nothing on”?

    I’ve been stuck with (by choice) FTA TV (recorded), Blu-Rays and Google Play for years. I’ve had basically all I could ever want to watch plus lots I didn’t. Who cares if this box doesn’t have access to the Lifestyle Channel. Or Fox Sports. That’s what Foxtel is for, why are you even looking at Fetch TV?

    This is the perfect mix- FTA TV recording with full interactive EPG (and remote scheduling) + extras when you want something different. I already spend 4 hours a day watching TV….why the hell would I want another 50 channels to waste my time with??

    Only problem is, of course, you’ve gotta be on a 3rd Party DSLAM exchange… Fetch for me until I move, even though I’ve got nearly 10Mbps ADSL2 :(

    • “Who cares if this box doesn’t have access to the Lifestyle Channel. Or Fox Sports. That’s what Foxtel is for, why are you even looking at Fetch TV?”

      I like those channels, but not willing to pay $100 a month for it.

      I would like Fetch to be a viable alternative to Foxtel. Right now it’s just… meh.

      Wouldn’t want to take away Foxtels monopoly though would we…

        • Here’s a question for you Renai. Is FetchTV a viable alternative to “free”?

          As I mentioned above, if your internet connection is unreliable or just plain slow, or even worse a combination of both (I was in this category) how can a service provider hope to sell someone a product or get them off of the bittorrent gravy train (piracy)?

          It doesn’t matter if you are using bittorrent to download something and your connection drops out because as soon as it stabilises again it will just get on with the job. Trying to watch something you have paid for over an IPTV service with an unreliable connection would be rage inducing. If anything, it would most likely push people back to piracy because the pirate delivery method works for people.

          Steam worked wonders for PC gaming but I don’t see FetchTV (and other IPTV platforms) as the panacea to issues that the film industry faces. Not for it being a bad platform just that we as consumers aren’t (for the majority) able to take advantage of such services and the simple fact that it has taken too long to have a viable alternative to “free” and Foxtel that it may be too late to alter the mindset of consumers.

          • Of course FetchTV is a viable alternative to “free”.

            You mention BitTorrent … well, frankly, much of the functionality which FetchTV provides (live IPTV streaming of overseas channels such as Al Jazeera, for example), is not available via BitTorrent.

            IPTV streaming is not the same thing as video on demand, which is what BitTorrent enables.

            BitTorrent can’t always compete.

          • Is Fetch convenience for convenience sake? Because really, does BitTorrent need to compete when I can stream Al Jazeera from my laptop (or other device) to my TV? Why would anyone pay for a STB just to stream free content?

            For reasons outside of actual content I think FetchTV is really up against it. A real pity given it’s such a big step in the right direction (giving people choice aside from traditional content delivery methods.)

            I do look forward to seeing what the future holds for Fetch and other IPTV platforms and can see it eventually becoming the dominant platform for all TV and film (and hopefully resolving piracy issues – though this is up to studios and consumers).

      • @Feroshious

        I take your point that you don’t want to pay the money. But that’s what pay TV is about- you pay for the TV YOU want….And you can get Foxtel for much less than $100 a month.

        MY point was, look at all the great stuff (and crap) we’ve got on FTA, IPTV and now FetchTV for crap all every month…..why do we need Foxtel and 150 channels of nothing on for $60 a month, instead of only 40 channels and nothing on for $10 a month??

  24. Hey everyone,

    just a quick one — I queried FetchTV on the issue of US TV shows being available via FetchTV. I’ll focus on this more deeply in the follow-up article I’m planning on the future features coming in FetchTV, but I wanted to address this issue head-on here as well. This response is from FetchTV CEO Scott Lorson:

    On the US shows (eg. HBO type stuff – game of thrones, walking dead, dexter, etc.), ok to tell your readers:

    – often first run rights for mainstream shows are held by [free to air TV stations/FTAs] – ie. therefore on fetch

    – however, much of the HBO style content they are asking about has been licensed exclusively to Foxtel for, and and for extend period – ie. FTA’s, fetch, Quickflix, etc. can’t license it for several years after screening

    – the way around this exclusivity is EST (electronic sell through). Customer buys show / series as per Apple App Store. This give customer access on par with US airing

    – FetchTV is developing EST functionality and will launch this year. We will then start to build out a suite of key EST titles to augment our subscription offer.

  25. I have to say I have found the Fetch service quite convenient. I have probably reduced my not so legal downloads by about 50% as a direct result of the convenience of purchasing through Fetch. The ability to have my wife choose a movie and press purchase, enter a pin and make a cuppa. Even on my 5Mbps connection the movie is ready to play before the cuppa is finished.

    No need to download off torrents, hoping it’s not a dodgy copy or a cam, hoping the MPAA or AFACT aren’t logging down your IP for future litigation etc. No need to search Newsgroups for content. No need to then transfer it to a suitable medium for your TV/Media Center. No need to go to your local blockbuster.

    Fact is, I press a total of 5 buttons once I have chosen my movie and within 2 minutes it’s being watched.

    If the other content we are after (usually TV shows not airing here such as Game of Thrones, or new releases that have been delayed in Australia) isn’t around we download it. Having said that, generally it’s no more than about 3-4 weeks from the time a good copy is available online to the time it’s available through iiNet. It’s not uncommon for us to rent half a dozen movies a month through Fetch and I am 100% behind supporting convenient paid content that’s ready to go as soon as I want it.

  26. You say the t-box is limited to Telstra (which it is) but the Fetch service is only available from iiNet, Internode or Optus – much smaller market base and you also have to be on their equipment to get the Fetch Full service. Epic fail.

  27. But not more subscribers than Telstra. In fact you can’t get Fetch TV if you are on Telstra. Until that changes Fetch will remain a niche joke.

  28. Interesting review, thanks. This box looks pretty promising when/if our TiVo dies.

    One comment on whirlpool has me worried – when the FetchTV box is connected via HDMI it seems to mess up the HDMI CEC signals between the TV and other devices (Bravia Sync, and whatever Samsung etc. call theirs). We (kids, wife, baby sitters etc.) rely pretty heavily on being able to press the power button on the Sony TV and have it tell the home theatre system to switch on as well, and automatically route the sound from the TV to the home theatre.

  29. So does the free to air stuff still need an antenna, or do they stream it? As our antenna is rubbish and don’t have a lot of interest in getting it fixed as almost never watch tv as tv so to speak.

  30. So question.
    The box has three tuners, one of those needs to fo to your rooftop aerial. So when it says ‘Record two while watching one’ Can I record 2 IPTV channels? Or does one of those channels recording or being watched have to be a free to air?


    Tuner 1 – Record IPTV
    Tuner 2 – Record IPTV
    Tuner 3 – Watch FTA

    is fine.

    Tuner 1 – Watch IPTV
    Tuner 2 – Record IPTV
    Tuner 3 – Record IPTV

    is not possible, as one of the tuners is dedicated to the rooftop aerial.

    Think I just answered my own question.

    • Physically it has 3 tuners (which all connect to the antenna). If you’re recording 2 IPTV and watching a 3rd, then no tuner is being used at all.

      Fetch made the decision to offer 2 recording ‘sources’ (IPTV or FTA) separate to the 3rd viewing ‘source’ (which you can pause and rewind still as well). That way you never had the STB say it couldn’t show you channel 7 because it was recording channel 2, 9 & 10 – it’s easier to use, but offers less flexibility.

      I see the usability benefit. If they could do it, my preference would be for the STB to warn that it can’t record a tag, but do it anyway if the tuner is free :) Best of both worlds. Making things easy is not easy to do though :)

      • Thank Greg,

        So as a final clarification. Its possible to view two IPTV while watching one IPTV through this box? So using up DSL bandwidth for all three IPTV Channels? Is that a definite?


        • Yes, I’ve done that. You need to have the bandwidth for 3 channels to work of course.

  31. “And FetchTV is currently working on integrating the IPTV platforms offered by the ABC (iView) and SBS (SBS on Demand) into its service as well as other third-party platforms. Stay tuned for more on this.”

    I’ve been “tuned” since i read similar claims about iView being around the corner in reviews nearly 2 years ago, a major factor in me getting the box (that and the fact that it’s a freebie on my Optus plan).

    Waiting, to the extent that I set up a google news alert about a year ago with the search term “FetchTV iView”. This article is the first hit I’ve had with the alert.

    No sign of iview yet. I think Fetch is having a bit of a laugh with that.

    • Fetch aren’t laughing about iView at all. All the work of setting it up, and then held by contract issues. I’m hoping that Fetch sells the STB standalone with v2 (thus not requiring subscription, and enabling iView) or works out terms to release iView.

      Time for the networks to bump up the quality of their online offerings too :)

  32. Please, can you or anyone help me with fetchtv? I am at a loss of why it does not let me record two different programes on two different channels at the same time. They say it has three tuners, is that so?

  33. When recording a tv series, will Fetchtv adjust to time and date changes? Many of the free to air channels contanly change the time and dates of programs and I want to be sure Fetchtv is capble of recognising this before purchasing.

  34. err, to all those who want wireless access. get a wireless router with lan ports, run it in AP mode connecting to your wireless internet router and sit it on top of the fetchtv box. why is that so hard?

  35. I been using IPTV box for last 2 years with TPG, had no issues. Moved to NBN last month, the speed is upto 25MBps, with most of the time the speed is around 20MB but still more than 5 times when I was with TPG. Guess what? My experience with IPTV box has also gone worse, It does not depend on how fast your broadband line is, if the server where your IPTV’s network is hosted is georgraphically too far or deployed in a cheap achritecture, your experience with IPTV will remain horrbile. Trust me, I am paying 30/40 bucks more with NBN, with ADSL 2+ I was paying less getting same if not more.

    • Sounds like your ISP have under provisioned backhaul as NBN should be better not worse than ADSL – are you using NetFlix or something like that?

  36. Can you get the free-to-air channels just using the IPTV connection. I have a lounge room with no antenna points but 6xCAT5 data points. With no antenna I assume I waste the RF tuners but can I still get free-to-air channels over the IPTV connection ?

  37. Recently got a Dodo Fetch STB, generally okay but lacking a couple of handy things that a older T-box had the best of those was a standby mode that would shut the system down if no activity recognised for a specific time which is either a base setting of 2 hours or could altered up to 4 hours.. which was handy to go to sleep with knowing it would shut down, now I have to use the television’s timer which is not as flexible and the box remains on.

  38. Don’t buy a Fetch TV. We bought one in April 2016, and Stan won’t play. Support doesn’t know what’s wrong and they don’t know if it will be fixed.

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