Telstra’s announcement of a new set-top box called Telstra TV based on the Roku platform came as a bit of a surprise, but the thing that surprised me more was the price. Telstra have once again hit the sweet spot on pricing, proving they really are serious about being price competitive.
At $109 it’s clearly aimed at the Apple TV – the current one that is. And for Telstra contracted and bundled customers (on their biggest plans), free. Yep, it’s a gift if you’re a new or recommitted customer.
Unlike the T-Box which was a developed for Telstra, this is a co-branded version of a Roku 2. In the US, Roku is as popular or more so than Apple TV, but because of App and content compatibility, it’s just never taken off here.
But this is not a replacement for the T-Box. If you love your T-Box, keep it going, but they won’t be selling them any more. T-Box was primarily a Free-To-Air set-top box with some great IPTV (Streaming) features also.
Telstra TV is just streaming.
Setup is super easy. HDMI into the TV, Power in the back, and if you’re near an Ethernet cable plug it in, otherwise don’t stress – it has WiFi and that’s easy to set up too. Once connected it will do a software update (pretty quick, not XBox or PS4 style long delays), and then you’ll need to activate it.
On screen you’ll get a code, visit the Telstra website and log in with your Telstra account and you’ll quickly activate the box. You must have a Telstra account – be it Mobile, Brodband or Phone – to use a Telstra TV box!
Now, Telstra will tell you that you must be a Telstra Broadband customer, but in reality, you just need to have “a” Telstra Account. Even your mobile will work if you have a “My Account” login – you just link that to the Telstra TV box. Of course, Presto won’t be unmetered!
The box then automatically installs Presto, Netflix, 9JumpIn, Plus 7, SBS ON Demand and Youtube for you, with Red Bull TV, Awesomeness TV, Wall Street Journal, GoPro, Vimeo and others available in a very limited app store.
All the things you watch use your internet connection – there is no aerial on this thing. BigPond Movies and Presto will be unmetered on Telstra Home Broadband at home. Data usage applies for other use.
There is a MicroSD slot, I’m yet to test if you can throw any content on there and use the box as a movie player but I suspect so, while “Casting” is supported for pushing content from your smartphone to the Telstra TV.
It pretty much does anything Apple TV and Chromecast do, but has fewer apps than Apple TV.
With a new Apple TV due soon – this won’t win any comparisons, but that’s going to have a hefty price. And Chromecast also – while cheap, its options are limited and require your smartphone.
I think Telstra TV sits well in the middle, and for the many many people who don’t rely on their smartphone for content consumption, this could well be the simplest way to enjoy Presto, Stan, Netflix and others.
Stan is not available yet, should be there by Christmas.
The Telstra TV box is $109 at Telstra stores, and for new and renewing customers there’s opportunity to get it for free if you’re on the right plan.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.