FetchTV

The FetchTV is a harbinger of good things to come; it easily integrates free-to-air and IPTV channels and presents them in a fuss-free way. We wish there was more channel variety, though.


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CNET Editor

Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


Internet Protocol television: not something that rolls off the tongue. Yet it's something that many of us will be watching everyday in the near future. But what is IPTV? As it sounds, it's television delivered via the internet, and the FetchTV is one of several new systems offering a wealth of content beyond normal free-to-air.

Design

The FetchTV looks very similar to the Foxtel iQ2 when they're placed side by side, and has a piano-black finish and blue activity lights. However, the FetchTV adds some distinctive touches that mean it can't easily be confused with the cable provider's offering. Firstly, the logo: the FetchTV features the doggy logo on the left-hand side, which also doubles as a power light — a blue dog when on and a red one when switched off. Secondly, there is only one control on the front of the unit: power. While this makes the unit hard to control if you lose the remote, it also serves to keep the front of the box clean and uncluttered.

The remote that ships with the device is quite similar to others in the genre and is friendly and easy to use. Unfortunately, there's minimal backlighting, though.

Features

The FetchTV is what could be described as a "hybrid PVR", as it includes dual HD digital tuners and an IPTV receiver. The box enables users to record two channels at a time from any source and then watch a third. The box includes a capacious 1TB HDD, which promises up to 500 hours of recordings.

FetchTV is offered by a handful of internet service providers (ISPs) presently, with the two major ones being Internode and iiNet. In addition to the digital free-to-air channels, the box offers over a dozen channels delivered through your internet connection including MTV, National Geographic and the travel-centric Luxe TV. There are also a number of football (soccer) channels such as Manchester Union TV and Chelsea.

The ISPs are offering four different ways to pay for and use the FetchTV. Subscribers can either buy the box outright for AU$399 and then pay AU$19.95 per month for the full service, or AU$5.95 per month for Lite (which only includes the pay-per-view channels). The more economical method is simply rent the box with no upfront outlay for AU$29.95 a month for the full package or AU$14.95 a month.

Subscribers get to choose from 30 on-demand movies as part of the package with content refreshed every week, though most of these are older titles. There is also a selection of pay-per-view TV and movie content from the likes of Warner Bros and Paramount.

If you've got five minutes of thumb twiddling to do, the FetchTV offers some time killers in the form of interactive games such as Patience and Blackjack, in addition to a Facebook app. Text input with a remote control remains a pain, though.

One of the FetchTV's most valuable additions is the selection of 15 music channels arranged by categories including rock, urban, indie, pop, jazz and classical. Each channel gives you cover art for the song just played, the song now playing and the next, as well as a helpful progress bar. After each song the screen changes, which is of use to users with plasma screens.

fetchtv music

The music channels are some of the FetchTV's best features. (Credit: CBS Interactive)

In addition, FetchTV says to expect "some exciting news in 2011" as far as content is concerned. In the meantime, iiNet and Internode customers are greeted with a "Coming Soon" screen.

At present, there aren't any remote recording capabilities — something Foxtel and TiVo users have enjoyed for a while — but FetchTV says this is "still under development and is not available yet".

Connections on the FetchTV include an antenna pass-through, USB (not used at the moment), AV-out, component, HDMI, digital and optical audio and an Ethernet port. There is no wireless option.

Set-up

The hardest part of setting up the Fetch TV was that it required a new ADSL router, which, according to Internode, only two companies make routers that support the Fetch: Fritz! and Billion. If you're looking to take up the service it bears to keep this in mind. Your line also needs to pass a speed test to make sure it can handle the bandwidth required.

With the router set-up completed, we hooked up the FetchTV via Ethernet and the corresponding install took about 30 minutes. The box browsed all of our digital free-to-air channels and then presented us with the main screen.

Performance

If you sign up with Internode, it will require changing to a FetchTV-specific account that apportions bandwidth to the box and your regular usage accordingly. Internode guarantees users will never receive any less than 512Kbps for normal internet usage while using Fetch, though we did notice some slowdowns with web browsing at times.

Even so, in our attempt to "max out the pipe", we were able to watch the high bandwidth Luxe TV channel, stream a song from Music Unlimited, download a file at 250Kbps and conduct a speed test simultaneously without a glitch!

While we were able to get a whole range of channels with the tuner — including regional stations — we found that reception was a little spotty. Channel 7 in particular gave us problems with stuttering and blocky break-ups every 30 seconds. While the digital tuner on our Panasonic G10 had no problems with 7mate, the FetchTV hiccuped and burped its way through daytime reruns of Airwolf and Baywatch. On occasions we'd also get some freezing on IPTV channels as well, but less frequently.

Overall, we found the user experience with the FetchTV box to be quite positive — the screens are sensibly arranged and it's easy to navigate around. The Electronic Program Guide features a Picture-in-Picture display, but we wish that it could have fit more channel information on-screen instead.

Recording and watching channels was a breeze, and setting up "Series Tag" was a straightforward experience — all recordings of a single series are also conveniently grouped into a single folder. Picture quality on live and IPTV channels was at most times indistinguishable, and recordings were also of a high standard. We were a little disappointed that all of the content — whether web- or tuner-based was restricted to two-channel audio.

Only on video-on-demand did the web-based nature of the service show itself, and we think this was due to the low bitrate content and not the "pipe" itself. For example, while the pay-per-view copy of The Other Guys was presented in standard definition, static shots would occasionally "de-rez" or strobe, and a lack of surround sound meant that action scenes lacked the oomph that an equivalent AU$5.95 purchase on the Foxtel iQ2 service would deliver.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, people will pay for content. The FetchTV offers more channels and the ability to record them over the equivalently priced Foxtel on Xbox 360, making it a better deal overall.

But the channels provided still seem a little scattergun, and don't particularly cater to any one taste. While you can opt to pay just AU$14.95 instead for digital TV and pay-per-view only this is a fairly poor option.

While Foxtel iQ2 is undeniably more expensive, the selection of channels and exclusive local content means it's still the king of paid content in Australia. With that said, we look forward to seeing what FetchTV can offer in the future.



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BernadetteB1 posted a comment   

We too are getting frustrated with FetchTV always dropping signal, its completely useless trying to use any other device on the internet when the TV is on, internet connection is always unstable. We never had a problem with optus internet before we got the FetchTV. Regretting signing up on a 24mth contract... money down the drain!!!

alanjeepdiver
1
Rating
 

"Fetch TV is rubbish dont get it"

alanjeepdiver posted a review   
Australia

The Good:None

The Bad:Poor reception, when it works, HDMI implementation is abysmal and will stop allother HDMI AV components

I purchase a set top box and internet TV service from iiNet on the 25th September 2013.
I received the box and connected it to my AV system via the supplied HDMI cable.
I found that my existing HDMI audio visual components stopped working as soon as I connected the iinet Fetch TV set top box. I no longer had a connection to the Pioneer AV receiver consequently lost sound and to the existing Blu-ray player a Sony PS3. I reported this problem immediately to iiNet but there is no fix other than to connect via the analog component cable so you have to live with a lower quality picture and sound.
My internet connection has become unstable and very slow.
The Fetch TV reception over the internet is very poor and often the picture is of such poor quality you cannot watch it
The Fetch TV set top box constantly loses its internet connection
The service costs me approximately $30 per month.
I wish to cancel this service and return the Fetch TV set top box at no further cost to me as this service is not fit for purpose
The cancellation fee is $400 totally outrageous, I refuse to pay this fee for a product that does not work, so I am stuck with it

pulseblue
9
Rating
 

"Very impressive"

pulseblue posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Loads of channels, really cheap

The Bad:Moviebox movies can be old

I used to have Foxtel, but got rid of it because it was too expensive. Fetch TV has all the channels I want - MTV, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery etc - for 20 bucks a month. Foxtel was more like 25bucks a week. What a ripoff

They keep making improvements to the interface and the service. I think it's awesome

The free Moviebox movies could be better though. Sometimes they're pretty old ones from the 80s etc

JadeBug
4
Rating
 

"Has potential but not there yet"

JadeBug posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Not much

The Bad:Lots

I got Fetch thinking I could watch free to air channels via DSL but stupidly didnt realise that these are only available via an aerial cable, which I dont have in the room I want my TV in. I'm in a poor reception area so an indoor antenna isn't picking up half the free to air channels, which is why I was so hoping I could get streamed free to air.
The DSL TV content is quite limited (great if you like MTV, soccer and news) but the image quality is good. Would love to see some HBO/AMC programmes even if that meant a slightly higher monthly charge.
The movie channel (included in the $10 per month Entertainment pack) is very limited. Availability to purchase movies is present but if I wanted to hire films I'd support my local video store.
The App required to view USB HD content is fickle - sometimes it finds the USB drive content, sometimes it doesnt. It will play some .avi files and not others (none of the files are over 2GB). There may be some 'tricks' to make it play nicely that I haven't figured out yet, but presently, i'm really disappointed as I love iinet and the Bob2 I ordered at the same time but Fetch has a long way to go before I'd recommend anyone else getting one. Wish i'd purchased a WDTV or equivalent instead.
If Fetch had free to air via DSL and a more reliable App for playing video content from my USB drive then I'd be a happy camper.

JasonM6 Facebook
3
Rating
 

"If you can't get NAKED ADSL etc just buy a decent PVR, it might be cheaper but it is far from a "My Star""

JasonM6 posted a review   

The Good:It's a PVR, EPG

The Bad:Picture quality poor, no free movies or anything worth while if stuck on Telstra's phone lines

This product might be good, but iinet failed to clearly show anywhere that to get any real benefits you need to be not stuck on a Telstra line. No free movies, only a few good things for the kids and the rest is at best called crap. This is not clearly shown anywhere and only found out after taking up a two year contract.
EVERYONE needs to know, ABC IVIEW DOES NOT WORK ON THIS, it only works on your PC, I was stupid enough to think it would work because they showed it in Freezone.
None of the free stuff is high definition, we used to have Austar (we couldn't afford to get what we actually wanted to watch) and this is no Foxtel/Austar "My star" as picture quality is crap. No instant rewind like "My Star" even though you have been watching it for the whole time etc, my kids can't get over that when they ask if I can save the whole "Deadly 60" for later you can't. (You have to pause and then it records in the background, I can't find any settings to change this)

Because of lead and end times even on the same station you might not be able to record two things at the same time, it is not a smart system AT ALL, it won't warn you at the time you do it either, it would confuse most people that haven't looked at the settings, only way to fix it on FetchTV is remove extra lead and end times, which causes grief when a program started too early or went over time.

No manual switches on the front other than soft power switch, no remote equals no functions. The fetch remote could not control either our LG TV or Blu ray, both are nearly two years old.

If you use a mobile to control the Fetch TV you can not use the remote until the mobile is logged off, not good when you have no idea why the remote won't work and no other way to control it.

Instant recording is a PITA, you have to select what would appear to be the next program, as otherwise it thinks you are trying to record a previous program (it is really that dumb).

Good points: EPG is good compared to "My Star" or the TV we own, quick update. TV tuner works well for us, "My Star" TV tuner was poor, we weren't the only ones with the same problem.

Maybe ours needs a bloody big update (had it for about two weeks), IP content is low definition, we only have a Full HD 50" and compared to everything else ever plugged into it i.e. games consoles, computers, My Star HD, Blu ray it looks crap, like it may even be NTSC (Never The Same Colour LOL) instead of PAL, and yes the settings have been set to highest in settings.

This may seem racist but even Aussies of Indian decent will notice this, most of the good reviews appear to be from Indian call centre people "World package with Foxtel kind of channels at fraction of cost !!" Tell me that isn't spam LOL

niksrulz Facebook
10
Rating
 

"World package with Foxtel kind of channels at fraction of cost !!"

niksrulz posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Value for money , 1tb PVR, User interface , Video Quality

The Bad:Little lag when switching channels. Understandable for IPTV

Just got Fetch Tv entertainment package and Indian Hindi package from IINET... Suddenly My tv is now like a Smart tv with all the channels and recorder functionality..

Video Quality -- 9/10
Audio Lipsync -- 100%

I absolutely love it !! The recorder could have been a bit more advanced but its enough for me !!

 

RiteshP posted a comment   

Any body can share latest experience with fetch tv

 

Ray of Perth posted a comment   

I think I will stick to my TiVo for a while yet. At least until we get some NBN speeds. I get HD, online channels via BigPond (thru Samsung) and heaps of Movies for low prices. Online and via mobile remote programming 24hrs a day. 3D movies and viewing and recording plus wireless connection to my laptop wireless network, allows me to play movies on laptops, transfer to smartphones or watch movies from my laptop on my 55" Plasma.Nothing is easier to use than the TiVo !!

 

Shane posted a comment   

The Good:Cheap, Large Storage, No install required, international channels

The Bad:Buggy at times

The initial setup was a bit of a hassle because my account with iinet wasn't iPTV enabled. Was fixed with a quick phone call.

The quality is also pretty good.

The biggest draw card for us was the access to the Indian channels for an additional 20 buck, which is much cheaper than getting a dedicated dish.

Its a good service over all. Some bus with the unit, such as it freezing and needing a restart. Hopefully this will be rectified with a firmware update.

Oh and its also compatible with a Logitech Harmony remote :)

BobCat
9
Rating
 

BobCat posted a review   

The Good:UI looks great, Ease of use, Frequency of software updates, Organisation of recorded programmes, Integration with IPTV and Pay per View content, Quality Remote

The Bad:UI lag in menus can be huge, software updates often require box to be restarted, Can't play media from external USB (yet?), No remote recording

I don't what this bloke is talking about. This is quite simply one of the best pieces of entertainment hardware I've owned.

As simply a PVR, Fetch TV far better than Topfield and Beyonwiz (both of which I have previously owned. Recording a TV series is a piece of cake. EPG is normally very actuate.

The UI looks fantastic and is great to use apart from occasional serious remote lag which has cause me to delete the wrong programme from time to time as the interface catches up to the remote (up to 8 - 10 seconds). Lag in EPG was fixed in one of the recent software upgrades, hope they can do the same for the rest of the UI.

Picture and sound quality is extremely good - I play backback on a 55" LED tv. IPTV channels play seamlessly with little or no stutter. Music only channels are a nice touch and great for background music.

Free movie content has improved massively but I will don't know how some 6 year old movies are in the pay per view section. Other TV content is generally trivial, would be good to be able to subscriber to certain shows and not download everything.

Timeshifting is on by default with no way of turning it off. Does anyone really use this feature? I'd love to turn this off as I could with my Beyonwiz and save energy. I find the background loading of free content completely wasteful and again a waste of electricity - can't this all just be on demand?

Strangely fast forwarding content works fine but unit often stuck when rewinding at high speeds.

The box is extremely well supported and regularly receives automatic software and firmware updates which have improved the usability massively.

And all for 400 bucks with $20 monthly subscription!! A total bargain.

I love my Fetch TV.


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User Reviews / Comments  FetchTV

  • BernadetteB1

    BernadetteB1

    "We too are getting frustrated with FetchTV always dropping signal, its completely useless trying to use any other device on the internet when the TV is on, internet connection is always unstable. ..."

  • alanjeepdiver

    alanjeepdiver

    Rating1

    "I purchase a set top box and internet TV service from iiNet on the 25th September 2013.
    I received the box and connected it to my AV system via the supplied HDMI cable.
    I found that my ..."

  • pulseblue

    pulseblue

    Rating9

    "I used to have Foxtel, but got rid of it because it was too expensive. Fetch TV has all the channels I want - MTV, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery etc - for 20 bucks a month. Foxtel..."

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