Looking for one device to sit in your home entertainment unit, sending catch-up TV and streaming video on demand straight to your telly? Telstra’s competitor to the Apple TV will be out at the start of next week, and you’ll pay $109 for the privilege of watching Presto, Netflix, Stan and other Australian catch-up television services — as well as any downloaded movies or TV shows you might have on a hard drive or your home network — on your big screen TV.
There’s one big caveat with this little media streamer. The Telstra TV is only for Telstra fixed line home broadband customers, just like the discontinued T-Box — which is a pity, because it has broader appeal.
The Telstra TV’s relatively low price should make it strong competition for the updated Apple TV, set to release in Australia in the coming months. It’s twice the price of a Google Chromecast, but doesn’t require a smartphone or tablet to stream online video. In functionality, it’s similar to the current Apple TV, with a simple remote control and straightforward interface designed to shuttle users straight into their streaming apps of choice.
Out of the box, the Telstra TV supports 15 different apps — Telstra’s own BigPond Movies service, Presto, and Netflix, catch-up services Yahoo!7, SBS On Demand, and Channel 9’s JumpIn, as well as YouTube, Red Bull TV, Awesomeness TV, Wall Street Journal, GoPro, Vimeo, CrunchyRoll, Dropbox and Roku’s own Media Player. Netflix and Presto competitor Stan is also releasing an app for the Telstra TV in November. Telstra is unmetering both BigPond Movies and Presto for its own home broadband customers, although other streams will use your data.
Based on a Roku’s last-generation Roku 2 streaming box, the Telstra TV can play back local media files from its USB or microSD port, and has integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet networking to connect to your home network and the ‘net. The Telstra TV is powered by a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9, with 512MB of RAM and 256MB of onboard storage. HDMI 1.4 means the Telstra TV will output video at 720p or 1080p — you also get a 1.5m cable in the box. Integrated Miracast means you’ll be able to throw content from a compatible Android smartphone or tablet.
Telstra will offer the Telstra TV box for free on some of its L and XL broadband bundles; if you’re not a new or re-contracting Telstra home broadband customer, you’ll be able to buy the Telstra TV for $109 from Tuesday 27 October, both online and in retail stores. Anyone buying a Telstra TV before Christmas will get a free three-month subscription to Presto and a free three-month subscription to Stan, as well as a $15 BigPond Movies voucher.