• Foxtel Mobile Review

    Having been the victim of a motorcycle theft, I was forced back into the joys of public transport for a period of time which gave me the chance to evaluate Telstra Foxtel Mobile facilities. Foxtel mobile was available on a 3 month trial at the time. (unfortunately the trial is no longer available)

    At $18/month (for all channels - packages start from $12/month, $5 for the week or $4 for a day), it's probably a little expensive for some users, but I guess it depends on how much you intend using it. If as an example, I was catching public transport from the outer suburbs every day, the iPhone and iPad help make this time tolerable. Foxtel Mobile makes this even more tolerable and would be a bargain at less than $1/day. Given my relatively short trip from Port Melbourne, it's probably not as cost effective, but when you start to realize the cost is lower than buying a newspaper every day, it's still actually pretty good value.

    Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of this service is when any major event happens because you tend to get 24 hour news coverage. Breaking news is covered every day, all the time meaning you have up to date information on any news event when it happens. As an example, when Steve Jobs passed away, I managed to get quite a bit of coverage on my phone without having to scour the internet for information on the story and often you miss things that are included live.



    Channels

    You can find more details of the available channels here but it does include a whole lot of the basic channels including Eurosportnews, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Nick Jr., SCI FI, E!, FOX8, The Comedy Channel, [V] HITS, Nat Geo Adventure, Arena, The LifeStyle Channel, LifeStyle YOU, and the Crime and Investigation Network.



    One big frustration surrounding the channels is the lack of sports channels. While I'm not expecting every sports channel, it would be great if they could include some of the live sports rather than news. Personally I don't care much about sports news or Eurosports, I'd like to be able to go to a footy or rugby game live and watch for a little while.

    Coverage

    The coverage was surprisingly good given the fact that you're streaming video live. My signal at home isn't spectacular but I can still watch video live without any pauses. On public transport I actually had surprisingly few outages and these were largely limited to low bandwidth areas which is to be expected.

    Bandwidth implications

    You'll be happy to know that this service does not impact on your data usage at all. This is completely free however there is a big caveat mentioned is small letters on their website that you may want to check out which states "Content and session times may vary from TV. Usage limits of 15 mins per session and 200 mins per month may apply."



    Now to be perfectly honest, I never picked up any issues with sessions disconnecting or hitting the 200 minute limit (even though I did use in excess of 200 minutes at times) so this might be a disclaimer to protect them in case people are using too much bandwidth but I'd be inclined to cancel my service if I started having this limitation imposed on me.

    What doesn't work

    There were a couple of frustrations with Foxtel Mobile. The first of these related to the requirement to use 3G for accessing TV coverage. As an example, my office has horrific Telstra coverage at times whilst we have lightening fast broadband. Unfortunately, Telstra won't allow you to use Foxtel Mobile on wifi so I only get limited TV coverage at the office. I think it would be relatively simple to check the sim in the phone before allowing the person to use whatever conenction they prefer but unfortunately as is usually the case, Telstra know best. You used to receive a wifi message but now you receive a more cryptic message about the service being unavailable and having to call help.



    The second bit of frustration is the fact that I can't use it on my iPad which would make far more sense in the office. At present, I'm limited to a tiny iPhone display but realiscally, I'd like to be able to use it on my iPad because I'm paying for the service. Unfortunately this is not the case.

    The last annoyance is the compacted screen which doesn't use the full width and ironically results in the picture being squashed in so people on TV look anorexic. If they used the full width they wouldn't have this issue.



    Where to get it

    You can download the Foxtel Mobile app here.

    Conclusion

    If you're spending a lot of time on public transport and want something to occupy you for the trips it may be worth considering. Fortunately you don't have to commit for 12 months so you can test it out for a day or two before deciding to ensure that you get decent signal on route. Its not completely perfect, the lack of live sports is a major let down but other than that its worth checking looking at.
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