T-Box T-bones traditional TV?

A first look at Telstra’s first PVR

Scheduled for release next week and, following up on the T-Hub as another component in Telstra’s vision of turning the average Australian household into a ‘digital home’, is the T-Box – a high definition PVR enriched with on-demand IPTV movie content.

Conceptually simple and surprisingly (for Telstra) easy to set-up and drive, the T-Box is set to put the frighteners up traditional broadcasters, PayTV providers, the download and streaming fraternity, the catch-up TV gang, video rental stores and home entertainment (DVD/Blu-ray) retailers. Why? Because consumers will be more than tempted by the compelling solution the T-Box provides for the digital revolution that is taking place in their living rooms – it’s a total solution in one box.

What does it do?

The T-Box delivers free TV entertainment and pay per view movies from the Internet direct to your lounge room. It provides conventional free-to-air TV in SD and HD, plus digital time-shift recording to its internal hard drive, and an expansion drive should you need more room.

Bypassing traditional electronics retailers, the T-Box is available only from Telstra shops, and compared to other PVR set-top boxes, is amazingly cheap at $299. You can pay this outright, or over time as part of a 24 month BigPond Broadband plan, where it will set you back just $11 per month.

And there’s the catch. To enjoy all the Telstra T-Box goodness, you need to be a BigPond broadband customer. That’s no biggy for those already part of the Telstra family, but for those looking to churn from the current ISP, the minimum monthly cost for the necessary Elite package is $70, which buys 12GB of data. (You do not have to have a home phone line with Telstra to be able to use the T-Box)

The pay-off though, is that everything you download or stream from Telstra’s BigPond content portals doesn’t count towards your monthly quota. Yes, Telstra is giving you something for nothing, and it’s an important something.

Most movie downloads chew 1.5-2.GB each, which means you can quickly breach your data allowance and start incurring high additional costs. You either need to be very good at watching what you download, or have an unmetered content arrangement with your ISP.

So with the T-Box, Telstra is offering something of an all you can eat deal…you just have to dine at its table.

Let take a closer look at what’s on the menu.