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View Full Version : Review: Mobile Foxtel for iPhone



MTBlogBot2000
17th March 2010, 10:35 AM
<img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-5778" title="Screen shot 2010-03-17 at 11.31.23 AM" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Screen-shot-2010-03-17-at-11.31.23-AM.png" alt="Screen shot 2010-03-17 at 11.31.23 AM" width="207" height="192" />I really like Foxtel. At home I have the Platinum HD package with an IQ2 box. I get to watch the A+ quality programming on the Bio, W and Lifestyle channels. There's sport live (AFL!), lots of docos and news. It's not cheap, but I love plonking my arse on the couch and watching TV, so for me, it's worth it. Being the Foxtel fan I am, I was interested to hear that they've released an iPhone version of their Mobile Foxtel service, which has been on virtually every other non-iPhone NextG phone for a while now.

The Mobile Foxtel service is a cut-down version of the full Foxtel selection of channels, streamed live to your phone, via a <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/mobile-foxtel-from-telstra/id353741695?mt=8">native iPhone app, which you can grab for free from the App Store</a>. It's only available to Telstra customers. If your iPhone isn't on the NextG network, you can't use it. Infact, if your iPhone is on wi-fi, the Mobile Foxtel app actually tells you to turn wi-fi off before you can use it. This makes sense, as Telstra want to make sure all the data passing to your phone, stays on their network - if it had to go over the general Internet, I presume it would cost a fair bit more, plus, they can't guarantee a reliable level of service. The data the Mobile Foxtel app uses is unmetered, so there's no need to worry.<!--more-->

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Mobile Foxtel costs money, it aint free. There's free previews, but if you want to use it regularly and have access to all the channels, you have to pay. I couldn't find any Telstra website which lists the costs and channel selection, but it's all listed on the <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/mobile-foxtel-from-telstra/id353741695?mt=8" target="_blank">App Store description for the Mobile Foxtel app</a>. All charges for Mobile Foxtel are added on to your Telstra bill, or deducted from your credit if you're on pre-paid.

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Pricing is $4 for a 24hr pass, which gives you access to some of the more popular channels for 24 hours. There are also subscription packs (Kids, Entertainment, etc. etc.) for $12/month (for 2 packs - you can't select just one pack). If you want all the channels, that's $18/month, or $49 for 3 months, or $89 for 6 months. For this review, Telstra gave me a SIM to trial it with, so I hit up the $18/month package which included all the channels. The channel range is not bad, but I would like to see all the channels Foxtel offer rebroadcast in the Mobile Foxtel app. For a list of the available channels, view the App Store description. There's 3 channels that are on Mobile Foxtel that aren't on regular Foxtel: TMF (a music channel), Animax Mobile (anime) and Union (snowboarding/extreme sports). They're crap, even by my low standards.

The thing to note with Mobile Foxtel is that it's not on-demand video, it's live TV. For most of the selected channels it's the same as what's on regular Foxtel. Some channels however, show the same programs, just at different times. And unfortunately, for the sport, there's no live channels, just the news. No watching live AFL on your iPhone. There is a guide for what's showing on Mobile Foxtel, so you can plan your viewing - there is no ability to record or save a show to watch later. There's also a guide built in to view what's on regular Foxtel, but it's junk compared to the dedicated <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/foxtel-guide/id341469468?mt=8" target="_blank">Foxtel Guide iPhone app</a>, which I quite enjoy and is superior to Foxtel's <a href="https://www.foxtel.com.au/whats-on/tv-guide/default.htm" target="_blank">massive Flash-based TV guide</a> on the web.

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I was quite surprised with the quality and reliability of the streaming video. Not once on my travels did it crap out. Sometimes the quality of the video adapted for the conditions, but it was always watchable and never stuttered or paused to buffer. This is pretty amazing, considering this is all happening over a 3G network, out and about.

The app is well done for the purpose it serves. I quite liked the fact it ignores the orientation of the iPhone and doesn't automatically rotate. To make it rotate, you need to tap the screen. There's nothing I hate more than leaning over and having the orientation of the screen change, particularly for video. One big bug that I hope is fixed soon, is showing the password when you log in to the TV guide. It should be shown as dots when you enter in the character, not in full text! Naughty developer, naughty.

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So what do I think of the app and service? It's great - if you need it. Personally, I'm not hankering for TV out on the road enough to pay for it, but I can see the uses for it. So if you want to watch a selection of Foxtel channels on your iPhone, the Foxtel Mobile app is fantastic. Works as advertised! I'd really love to see an iPad version of this - maybe if the streaming quality can be improved (I doubt they can stream 720p HD, because the iPad/iPhone only supports 7.2mbit 3G, <a href="http://www.telstra.com.au/abouttelstra/media/announcements_article.cfm?ObjectID=46522">despite their network supporting up to 42mbit speeds</a>), or allows it over wi-fi for those on Telstra ADSL/cable connections, that would be a really cool use of the iPad around the house. If you have any questions about Mobile Foxtel, just drop a comment on our forums and while I still have the SIM with me, I'll try answer any questions that come in.

NORMANDY
17th March 2010, 10:43 AM
Foxtel as a whole is crap for the cost, I won mine free and its about to go off, I won the full package, and I am lucky to watch 2-3 hours of it a week. All the programming is old, (like warehouse 13 and legend of the seeker being a year behind US TV!) , much of the programmes I want to watch are not on Foxtel or free to air at all. I don't watch any sport so thats all wasted on me, and the massive amount of ads that you are paying to watch is just ridiculous. 1200 bucks a year to just watch TV? no thanks!

Even having an IQ that you cant take any recordings from, no mac support for their download service, and an app for iphone that only runs on Telstra connected iphones = massive fail!

I will stick to my alternatives sources of getting content thanks.

Devil
17th March 2010, 02:18 PM
You can see this running in most JB Hi Fi stores as well

GregA
17th March 2010, 05:12 PM
Can the phone plug into a TV and play directly to it?

My father may use this as a TV alternative when boating.

decryption
17th March 2010, 05:18 PM
Can the phone plug into a TV and play directly to it?

My father may use this as a TV alternative when boating.

Nope.

The iPhone only does video output using the iPod app.

Bogus Jimmy
17th March 2010, 05:23 PM
Pricing: FOXTEL TV - Telstra (http://www.telstra.com.au/foxtel/foxtel-mobile/mobile_foxtel.html)

volks
17th March 2010, 08:01 PM
Hey I think it's not bad, yes I too hate the foxtel channel bundles and wish for individual channel subscriptions, but I like the fact I can watch CNN etc on the bus or train and it's a pretty ok service... there are times it's flacky but on the whole it's good, also watched it in the car driving in slow traffic, well more listening to cnn etc...

One thing I wanted it for is a casual watch of the syfy channel... now that high single rotation of the same single episode shows is pretty crap programming strategy... you would think they could mix it up a bit more, but it's all early days so I will give the service itself chance but come on tv programmers, you would think they would learn their lesson... thats why piracy happens...

If you want up to date sci-fi I agree there are other far more convenient methods... but in the end I feel this is great for the casual non critical watching...

As for telstra doing it, well if your in the country near a telstra 3G tower in works great as well... so having access to some digital TV in the country is a OK things as well...