Roku may be a new name to many Australian’s, but internationally the device is a huge success. Telstra have partnered with Roku to bring the set top box to Australia and replace their T-box offering in the living room. Telstra TV, powered by Roku is a small, wallet-sized device that takes nothing more than power, HDMI and WiFi to get up and running. In many ways, Telstra TV is Apple TV for those who don’t live inside the Apple ecosystem.
Often it’s far to difficult to get streaming internet content to our big screen TVs, but Telstra TV makes it easy.
While the official launch of the device was tonight, I was lucky enough to get hands-on early and try it out. When you first connect the device, you’ll have to activate the device, once you’ve done that you’ll find a very pleasant interface. The main UI is made up of a number of pre-installed applications by a store includes a few more favourites.
Telstra TV is launching with apps for Netflix, YouTube, SBS OnDemand, Stan (from Nov), Presto, Yahoo 7+, 9 JumpIn and of course Telstra’s own, BigPond Movies where you can rent movies from $5.99. Some of the other great apps available are RedBull TV, GoPro, Vimeo, TuneIn as well as a few lesser know apps. Overall it’s a decent starting lineup, that needs to grow over the coming weeks and months. One big omission is ABC’s iView which is often the first on a new platform, but Telstra says they’re working on it.
Since the announcement of Telstra TV, much of the feedback online has targeted the fact there is no tuner in the device. That’s a fair criticism and for those that still want to watch FreeView, you’ll need to switch HDMI inputs. For those who’ve moved to completely IP-delivered content, you’ll be pretty happy with this device.
The remote is fairly basic with common features easily accessible, and the interface easy to fly around. The lack of volume buttons seems like a mistake, leaving you reaching for another remote to adjust the sound. Compared to the international version of the remote, the Australian version is missing the branded experience buttons of Netflix and others that would take users directly into an app, not a big deal, just worth mentioning.
Probably the biggest thing to point out is that this device is based on Roku 2, despite an updated Roku 4 now being available. The biggest difference being that Roku 4 supports 4K content, while the Telstra TV only supports 1080p.
A nice feature that matches Apple’s AirPlay is screen mirroring. In version 6.2, build 5133 the screen mirroring is in beta, but I found it worked great when streaming from an Android phone. The hardware also features a microSD card slot and USB port on the side so if you have local content or need to show off your latest holiday snaps, this device makes it easy.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to this device is smart TVs that are now shipping with internet connectivity and app platforms that offer many of the same features built-in. That said, for the right person who wants something rock solid, fast, easy to setup and affordable to put a couple around the house, Telstra TV is definitely worth a look.
Well done Telstra, the move to kill off your T-box can’t have been an easy one, leaving the hardware to the professionals was a solid business decision. I’d encourage you to continue with this and get the Roku 4 to Australians sooner rather than later.
Telstra TV Specifications
Processor – Dual Arm A9 1Ghz Processor 32KB L1 Cache
RAM – 512MB DRAM
Storage – 256MB Flash NAND
Video & Audio Support – 720p/1080p HD and Dolby Digital 7.1
Connectivity – 802.11n dual band wireless or 10/100 Ethernet Port
Remote – Infrared (IR) Remote with quick replay button
Extra Storage – MicroSD slot and USB port for additional storage
Mobile Integration – Support screen mirroring with Miracast and 2nd screen ‘casting’ with Netflix and You Tube
Telstra TV will be available on Tuesday 27th October, priced at A$109.00 outright or included as part of selected L and XL broadband bundles. BigPond Movies and Presto will be unmetered on Telstra Home Broadband at home.
So after all that, should you buy a Telstra TV? If you have an AppleTV, the answer is no, the features are too similar. If you don’t then probably. There’s few devices that will get you into streaming a movie or TV show, faster than this.
For all it’s gaming power the Xbox One is stupidly slow at starting and launching a streaming app. With the Telstra TV connected to a decent connection, streaming starts instantly, showing the magic of Roku behind the scenes.
For it’s simplicity, interface and control kids could master in seconds and affordable price, this is a very solid internet streamer.