Telstra’s T-Box has gone and grown up, sort of, with the telco announcing that its T-Box is no more, set to be replaced by a more mature and properly pint-sized piece of tech.
Customers of Telstra may not have to rely on the T-Box to get their media fill online past October 27, because Telstra is saying buh-bye to the set-top box and replacing it with something newer and smaller.
It’s called “Telstra TV”, and the Aussie telco is pitching it as a sort of entrance to the wonders of smart TV, throwing in a few apps that will let Telstra customers jump on with an easy remote and very little technical knowledge.
“Telstra TV puts our customers in control of what they watch and gives them even greater value entertainment choices in the home,” said Joe Pollard, Chief Marketing Officer and Group Executive of Media at Telstra.
“Whether you love to binge watch the latest television series, enjoy a family movie night, or catch up on free to air shows you missed during the week, Telstra TV is the simple way to stream your favourite television on demand.”
For this project, Telstra has teamed up with Roku, a media player company with a huge following overseas where its now four-strong Roku players have thousands of apps and channels available to them, including support for Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Plex, among others, affording Americans the opportunity to watch anything there’s an app for.
Locally, there aren’t quite so many apps, and you can’t download Roku’s apps onto a Telstra TV, with the platform fairly locked off, at least for the moment, though Telstra is working on more apps.
More than anything, though, the Telstra TV seems pitched at the Apple TV, with a similar shape and size, though with Telstra’s BigPond movie service exchanged for what Apple would normally serve.
Comparing it to that obvious competition, Telstra TV is smaller and lighter than the Apple TV, though Apple’s box does feel more sturdy, as if the Telstra TV/Roku 2 is built to last a couple of years, while the Apple TV is just built to last full stop.
The proof is in the pudding, though, or so they say, and so we plugged it in and started it up a few weeks before the official launch.
Telstra customers are the target right now, and Telstra says only customers will be able to buy the box or have it bundled in with a package, but we can tell you that you do not need a Telstra internet connection in order to make the Telstra TV work, merely a Telstra account, which anyone can get, and anyone with a Telstra service already has.
Setting up the Telstra TV doesn’t take long, with it needing to connect to the web, then connect to your account with a computer, tablet, or smartphone nearby, and once you’ve jumped through these minor steps, you’ll find it’s all ready to go.
With that, you just hit the menu and find out what you can do.
In Australia, you’ll find around 15 apps available to you at launch, and right now, that means you’ll find Bigpond Movies, Presto, Netflix, and an assortment of catch-up TV, though ABC IView and Ten’s equivalent are not part of that, so if you rely on these, Telstra TV isn’t for you. Yet.
Stan isn’t working yet either — technical issues, we’re told — and interestingly, there’s no Foxtel app, which seems odd given the Telstra connection.
Still, you’ll find a fairly simplistic menu system and a several button remote that lets you get around the system provided you point it in the right place. Roku does make a “point anywhere” remote system, but that’s not what you’ll find working on the Telstra TV, so make sure to point it in the right place at Telstra TV, otherwise you won’t see much of anything happen on screen.
A USB port is also included to let you plug in your drives, and Roku includes a media player app which could be handy, except it appears to only support FAT32 and lower on USB drives.
If you happen to have a more modern USB drive supporting ExFAT and its bigger than 4GB files, it just won’t get detected by the Telstra TV at all, meaning any video larger than 4GB simply cannot be played on this box.
One other thing worth noting is that Telstra TV appears to always stay on.
We’re not sure if this is intentional, but there appears to be no power button on the Telstra TV, or not one that we can see. Essentially, it stays on for updates consuming a small amount of electricity, which according to its maker Roku draws less power than a night light.
If that doesn’t bother you and you’re a Telstra customer, Telstra TV will be available for $109 separately or bundled into existing plans for Telstra Home Broadband, specifically in the large and extra large options, with Telstra stores nabbing it from October 27.