Fetch TV review

A terrific streaming box that offers a wide range of content

Fetch TV review
The best PVR on the market?

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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.

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 and split into a number of different packages.

Below, you'll find the packages, their prices, and what you can expect to find inside them.

Fetch TV review

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 Horse & Country ($7.95) , CBeebies ($2) and BeIN Sports ($14.95) packs are an additional monthly 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. You'll also find that you can access World Packs that give you special content from a variety of countries. 

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.

If you like to own your movies or TV shows digitally, Fetch TV introduced the ability to buy movies and TV shows to own.

Given the fact that history is littered with the corpses of movie download services that couldn't make it work and the tales of woe from customers who lost their purchases, buying a film to own through the Fetch platform may not be the best option.

As it stands, it looks like the TV experiment didn't really work, as only two shows are currently available in the form of Parks and Recreation and The Tunnel.

But you can still buy movies to own through the platform, which you can watch either via the Fetch box, or streamed to your tablet or phone via the Fetch TV app.

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.

it's the arrival of streaming services that make it really interesting.

The Netflix app arrived at launch of the Australian service, and is available at the top of the Apps menu. It 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

Which is why it was good to welcome the arrival of StreamCo's Stan service to the platform.

The user interface is a little bit different to the app on the Playstation 4 and the Apple TV, but is still immediately familiar, and easy to navigate around Stan's collection of movies and TV shows.

If you still can't find anything to watch via the subscription channels, streaming services 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.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.