Fetch TV review

With Netflix help or hurt Fetch TV?

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Fundamentally a free-to-air PVR, Fetch TV stands above traditional PVR rivals by offering its own pay TV option, delivered over your internet connection.

For an extra $15-$20 a month for ISP subscribers (although that price will be different if depending on your ISP), you get 36 pay-TV channels streamed through the net in the shape of the 'Entertainment Plus Pack'.

Outright purchasers will get the Fetch Starter pack, which includes video recording and catchup TV, as well as YouTube access and movie rentals.

The starter pack used to include 30 free Movie Box films, but now users are required to add the Entertainment Plus pack ($15) for the Entertainment channels and Movie Box service, while the Ovation ($4.95) and Setanta Sports ($14.95) packs are an additional cost.

The channel lineup in the Entertainment pack is fairly extensive: TV Hits, MTV, E!, Style, BBC First, BBC UKTV, BBC Knowledge, HGTV, The Food Network, NBC's Universal Channel, SyFy, MTV Music, MTV Classic, MTV Dance, ESPN, ESPN2, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo People, Travel Channel, Fashion TV, Disney, Disney Junior, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Baby TV, BBC World News, CNBC, Bloomberg, France 24, Euronews, NDTV, Channel NewsAsia, Al Jazeera, CCTV News, the Australian Christian Channel and the SyFy channel.

Fetch TV review

Fetch is also targeting the massive number of Australian homes that speak a language other than English with a range of World TV channels. Starting at $9.95 a month, users can opt for a selection of channels in a number of languages, including Chinese, Korean, Indian, Filipino, and more.

There are also add-ons for the sports lover, with beIN Sports costing $14.95 a month and offering heaps of European rugby and football games.

Once you've signed up, the channels are seamlessly integrated into the free-to-air EPG. You can scroll through the entire channel list, or select your favourites and limit what you want to see. As you channel flick, the Fetch device seamlessly transitions between broadcast channels and IP channels, with practically no delay regardless of the delivery mechanism.

In fact, the only way to really know which channels are broadcast and which ones are streamed is a tiny little icon on the info box that comes up when you change a channel.

The TV menu has also introduced a "Top Shows" option in the 2.1 software update, which curates some of the most popular programming from both free to air and Pay TV services, and allows you to browse the better shows in a simple, convenient fashion.

Fetch TV review

Movies, catch up and YouTube

The pay TV element - while important to the overall performance - is but a tiny portion of the services on offer.

Fetch TV also doubles as a movie rental service, offering the ability to hire both standard definition and high definition movies without ever having to leave your seat. Films cost the same as they do through services like Apple TV, with an easy to browse mechanism that pops up on the main menu.

Rotten Tomatoes reviews are integrated into the hiring process, giving an immediate insight into a film's quality and helping users select their movie of the night.

Fetch also introduced a new "Specials" tab in its movie rental service, where 18 films will be available to rent for $2.95 at any given time.

But for viewers who want more than just the latest blockbusters, Fetch also provides the Movie Box service, which includes 30 movies to stream for free. Every day a new movie is added, which is available for 30 days before being taken off the service.

Fetch TV review

The movie selection doesn't include any new releases, and the quality of films vary, but there are plenty of watchable (and award winning) films on offer. While we tested, you could watch The Last King of Scotland or Independance Day as two out of the thirty films.

All the Movie Box offerings are only available in SD, so despite the variety there is obviously a quality question. But given they don't cost any extra, it can hardly be considered a viable complaint.

While Moviebox offers plenty of value, from a simple convenience standpoint, it's hard to go past the catch-up services.

Both ABC iView and SBS On Demand are integrated into the box itself, saving you the hassle of having to access them via a separate device.

Also in the catch up service list in the latest update was Channel 10's TenPlay app, so Masterchef and Neighbours fans are now officially catered for, while Yahoo!7 Plus7 means Home and Away is never too far away

What's more, all these services have been customised to mimic the Fetch TV's user interface, which makes the whole process of navigating and selecting which catch-up programs to watch so much easier.

Fetch TV review

Compared to the iView app on devices like the PlayStation 3, this is a much more enjoyable way to experience the catch up service.

But the most recent addition to the Fetch TV box – Netflix – is one of the device's biggest selling points.

The Netflix app is available at the top of the Apps menu, and is immediately familiar to anyone who has used Netflix before, with plenty of suggested content across the screen controllable via the Fetch TV remote.

The inclusion of Netflix is a boon for the set top box, but Fetch TV has long celebrated its openness to include as many streaming services as possible.

Fetch TV review

Whether StreamCo's Stan will come to the service is still to be seen, but given Presto's affiliation with Foxtel, it's unlikely we'll see it on Fetch any time soon though.

If you still can't find anything to watch via the subscription channels, or catch-up TV services, there's always YouTube.

Fetch TV integrates YouTube leanback, which has videos optimised for a big screen experience. Obviously, watching a video encoded at 240p will look absolutely rubbish on your big screen, but watching a Full HD movie like Red Bull's The Art of Flight is a very enjoyable experience.

You can also partner the YouTube experience with your phone or tablet, allowing you to type and search much easier than manually working through the remote's T9 keyboard.

Finally, Fetch has incorporated DLNA into the box, introducing the ability to watch your own content directly from the box. Accessing your local network content is found in the same section of the user interface as your recordings, which is a pretty intuitive place to put it, really.

It also works really well, streaming content from our smartphone effortlessly.