Foxtel IQ3: When To Buy It And When To Avoid It

Foxtel officially launches its new IQ3 player/recorder today. What new features does it offer, and is it worth paying for the upgrade? Lifehacker investigates.

While Foxtel has been at pains to ensure that the much-delayed IQ3 hits the market before Netflix launches in Australia this week, it's not really accurate to portray it directly as a Netflix (or Stan or Quickflix) competitor. That approach has been popular in some titles owned by News Limited, but since it's a major shareholder in Foxtel that has to be taken with a seriously large grain of salt.

The IQ3 is an enhancement to the existing IQ set-top viewing and recording box which the vast majority of Foxtel customers use. (Long-standing customers might still be on an older box that doesn't offer recording, but Foxtel has largely phased those out.)

It offers additional catch-up features, but the emphasis is still squarely on paying for a suite of channels which you can watch live and record via a cable or satellite connection, not a service where you can choose whatever you like and watch it via the internet. That said, the IQ3 does rely on an internet connection for many of its newer features.

What does it offer?

Extra features that the new IQ3 offers which aren't on the current IQ box include:

  • A Start Over feature which lets you go back to the beginning of a show which has started. This only produces an SD broadcast, requires an SD connection and won't work on all channels, but it's a potentially useful addition.
  • A Look Back feature which lets you watch any show from the last 24 hours, even if you didn't record it. Again, this requires an internet connection, and won't work across all channels (I wouldn't rely on it for free-to-air, for instance).
  • More recording space: Foxtel says you can store up to 345 hours of standard-definition or 172 hours of high-definition shows.
  • A revamped user interface, including pages showing trending shows and suggestions based on your existing viewing habits and channel selections. Good news on most levels (it's much more colourful than the bland main interface for Foxtel currently), potentially slightly bad news if you have to retrain relatives.

Existing Foxtel features such as series link, pausing live TV, and paying for rentals via the Foxtel store remain available. Note: there's still no direct access to Presto, Foxtel's all-you-can-view subscription service — that's a separate offering (with a separate price tag).

What does it cost?

For existing Foxtel customers, the IQ3 costs $125. If you choose to install it yourself, there's a $25 fee; if a Foxtel technician installs it, that's $75. (In some locations, you might not have the option of self-installation; Foxtel should advise you of this when you order.) Your existing plan pricing will remain.

New customers can opt for the IQ3 when they sign up. As ever, what you'll pay depends on what channels you've signed up for, and whether you've included additional options such as home broadband, phone calls, or non-cable services like Foxtel Play or Presto. The absolute cheapest new plan you can score that includes IQ3 will cost $450 over 12 months.

Is it worth it?

If you're already an existing Foxtel customer (most probably for sports) and have a decent internet connection, then upgrading to IQ3 may be worth it. That's particularly the case if you routinely find yourself running out of storage space on your current IQ, or if you can imagine the Start Over and Look Back features being useful. I can see the appeal of Start Over when you've only missed a few minutes of a show and want to see it on first broadcast. Look Back sounds handy, but in reality any major show that's on Foxtel will be repeated multiple times in the week after its airing. You might have to avoid Twitter, but you don't have to miss the show as it is.

If your home internet connection is lousy — you live a long way from the exchange, you rely on satellite, you're in one of those lousy urban areas where Telstra just can't get its act together — it's a much tougher sell. If you strip away the internet-dependent features, you basically just have more storage space. That might be worth $125 to you, but if you haven't filled your existing IQ, it's a tougher sell.

If you aren't a current Foxtel customer, then there's not really much in the IQ3 that's likely to convert you. Yes, you can record more shows, catch them a little more easily and legally access a lot of content not easily available elsewhere, but the IQ3 doesn't change the content that's on offer. If you don't fancy paying $25 or more a month for cable TV, there are plenty of legal options emerging for all-you-can-eat subscription services, and the still-bright lure of downloading torrented shows: illegal but convenient and cheap.

Tempted by the IQ3? Sticking with what you have? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News

Comments

    $25 self-install fee.. can they still get away with charging you to do something yourself?

      So really, it's $150, or a $50 install fee.

      Consider it a $25 fee to ship the new STB to you, and allow you to send the old one back if it makes you any happier

        I'll consider it to be exactly what they say it is - they are charging me $25 for me to perform an installation task on their behalf.

    The existing service already has the look back 24hrs feature..

      +1 yes it does. Also look back is only available for shows that are in foxtel's on demand catch up tv service, or on foxtel go as a catch up tv service.

    I was back in the UK at Christmas and played with my mum's new Sky box. It had all of the free to air catch up apps built in (BBC iPlayer, itv player, etc) and allowed you to download stuff for later viewing. Seems strange (unless I'm missing something) for that type of functionality to not be available on the IQ3. With that missing I'll wait till one of my boxes blows up before upgrading.

      @ajcooper - this is Australia not the UK.
      Stop comparing Australian products with UK junk.

        UK junk as in the UK junk Pace system which the iq3 is?

          Do you aussies know what you are talking about UK junk. Pace haha made un the UK

      Foxtel are planning to introduce app functionality for the FTA providers on the iQ3.

      The way it works is Sky (which is part owned by Foxtel part owner News Corp) introduces features and we get them a few years later on Foxtel.

      Pace also supply South Africa and their system is much better than UK or Australia.

    If you have been struggling along with the fault-ridden software on an Austar MyStar or MyStar HD box, then it is a no brainer to upgrade to IQ3, even with a very limited satellite internet connection. Hooray it has come at last, I have been waiting two years to consign Austar to history.

    I know this is Australia and not the UK but my God Foxtel is crap compared to Sky.

    The current menu system on Foxtel is like Sky in the 90's... People always joke about how Australia is 20 years behind the rest of the world and this is a point in favour of that! At least with Sky, even though it is expensive, it's worth it. Loads of catch up series/programs, easy recording functions, hundreds of channels, i could go on.

    New customers can opt for the IQ3 when they sign up. As ever, what you’ll pay depends on what channels you’ve signed up for, and whether you’ve included additional options such as home broadband, phone calls, or non-cable services like Foxtel Play or Presto.

    You don't have to pay extra for Foxtel Play.

    Foxtel Go is included with every foxtel subscription and is available for PC and Mac as well as smartphones & tablets. On the mobiles you can't connect a HDMI cable, but you can use screen mirroring via chromecast or airplay. On a PC, HDMI is OK (extra security features, probably)

    Foxtel Play is a seperate service all together, with a different mix of channels in each package and in some ways it's better because you can *just* have Docs + Sport for example. It has no HD, no recording features, although you can use catch up. It is designed for people who have the internet but for whatever reason either can't or don't want to commit to a satellite on the roof.

    For me I will be sticking with IQHD 2 for now. The interface is fine and I like it's simplistic and minimalist nature - there is no fancy images crowding the view and for people who are visually impaired, the old interface is much better, easier to read.

    None of the new features really interest me. I will upgrade when foxtel decide that FTA channels can be retransmitted over satellite too, and although catch up FTA apps would be nice, it's not an issue for me as I have a MINIX android TV box in the same cabinet.

      Foxtel Go also doesn't work on rooted Android devices :/

        Foxtel Go doesn't work on Android at all, save for a limited number of Samsung devices.

          Yes this is why both foxtel and presto will be a failure in the minds of many android users. Most people can't access it.

          Foxtel think that if they allow high end Samsung and Apple devices, then they are catering to 80%+ of the phone using population, which is more than their installed customer base of 25% of homes.

          Unfortunately the group of people who could get the most out of it - the kids of parents who have foxtel - miss out entirely.

          Since Foxtel is owned by Telstra it does surprise me that Telstra wouldn't at least pressure foxtel to support their own prepaid phones (made by ZTE for Telstra) but then again, there is that Mobile Foxtel from Telstra product that doesn't appear to be going anywhere soon.

        Yes, that's the case with most copyright cartel apps and is a function of the outdated video streaming technology they use in the apps.

        The restriction is in place to make it more difficult to rip the content.

        Apps like netflix use HTML5 which has it's own built in DRM protections and therefore can run on rooted devices.

        Netherless if root is your concern, simply install hide my root (there is also a similar tool made by xda-developers where you can choose to permanently hide the root for x, y, and z apps)

    There really aren't any *new* features. As pointed out above, the existing IQ2 boxes can retrieve on-demand content via the internet and Look-Back has been available for around a year.

    The only real differences I can see are
    1) a bigger HDD
    2) another couple of user accessible tuners so you can record 4 shows simultaneously vs 2.

    Neither of these are incentive enough for me to part with another $125. If it weren't for the footy and F1, I would probably junk our subscription and use Netflix instead. And I suspect I'm not alone.

    If Foxtel were serious about keeping customers, they'd offer the "upgrade" to IQ3 for free as a goodwill gesture. Chances are they would for those threatening to cancel subscriptions.

      Neither of these are incentive enough for me to part with another $125. If it weren't for the footy and F1, I would probably junk our subscription and use Netflix instead. And I suspect I'm not alone.
      @rickinoz you are not alone.

        So very much not alone. I laughed at the consultant when they said it would cost me $300 to upgrade my two IQ2 boxes. AFL is pretty much the only reason I stick with it - even the advertisements are as bad as free to air now.

    It also allows you to scan for digital channels using your aerial connection so you can now get GEM, Mate and One on the satellite service

    I upgraded from IQ1 to IQ3 about 10 days ago, what a shocker#@!#$#$# Extremely slow to navigate around, sometimes it can take 30 seconds to move to the next channel, every day it records shows I haven't scheduled, freezes at times. My wife is very unhappy with me for changing an easy to use system to one that is far too complex than it needs to be, admittedly not helped by the very slow reaction times.They keep promising a software fix to what is apparently a known problem that they didn't tell me about when I bought it. The $25 fee is certainly a rort as no one offered a 'pick-up' option, the upgrade was very easy especially with HDMI.

    A couple of features not mentioned anywhere that helped me make the decision to switch are Bluetooth remote (my settop box is hidden in a drawer) as well as wifi connectivity as opposed to the wired connection previously required (saves me a cat 5 connection requirement and a power point). Haven't received yet, but will report back...

    Is there an additional monthly rental fee over the standard box?

    I've got an IQ1 with an error message along the lines of " powering up from energy saver mode".
    Foxtel tells me this is a known fault with the power cable (hopefully not overheating in my combustible TV cabinet) and they will send me a new cable. Failing this fix, a sys reboot might work. Failing this a new iq3 should do the trick but that's $125 (plus install). Tech wasn't pushy and tried to help but I can't help wondering if this is just lessons learnt from Apple on how to push customers into an upgrade.

    I got my IQ3 upgrade for free and after they saw I am on a Platinum plan and been a Telstra customer for more than 20 years it was worth the phone call to push the envelope a little.

      Hi Bushy871, I'm in the same situation and would appreciate any more info you can tell me about what you said and how hard you had to push to get your free IQ3 upgrade?

      Mind you I am very wary of the problems with the device and processes ...
      http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/foxtel-admits-thousands-of-iq3-devices-require-upgrade-after-admitting-to-teething-problems-20150401-1md15t.html

      http://www.smarthouse.com.au/installation/general/6AM069OH-why-foxtel-and-telstra-customer-service-is-utterly-stuffed.aspx

      Did you have any of these issues?

      thanks

    Can you do a follow up explaining how bad IQ3 is and where foxtel stuffed up. It should have been 4k. this is ridiculous. Their stupidity baffles me.

    We have just returned our IQ3, we've gone back to IQ2, we have three boxes and found the most tempremental one was the IQ3.....even though it says you can record 3 things at once, inevitably one program did not record. The display is very attractive but clumsy to manouver around and does not clearly indicate when there is a clash of recording or amount of available space. Also, on demand was equally slow and tricky. We were also unable to play a program till after it had finished recording. I made sure if recording three programs, that I watched one, still missed recording at least one show. We are satellite customers so also found glitches with our internet. We have a very sophisticated system for controlling our a/v through our ipads or phones, this was frustrating on the 3, perfect on the older 2's.
    Also, I was charged more than $100 for the 3, our a/v guy doing the installation and again $100 for changing it over to the 2 ....but the tv is working beautifully again, so I am relieved....but wish I had known I was also worthy of a free upgrade!

    why bother with iq3 when you can't get decent internet coverage. I swear it was a major mistake and many upgrades yet to come to rectify it.. I use an extended in which I game from, no lag.. However get 1.8mbps which is a joke can't download movies or watch any of the on demand products.. Spent 700buck on new modem and wifi extender. Barley made a differance. I'd stick to the iq2 until they rectify the issues

    Upgrading to iQ3 was the worst decision I ever made! I've had it for 6 weeks and have been on the phone to Foxtel everyday because of the endless problems these boxes have, during one phone call with an Australian rep it was admitted that customers who have iQ3's are basically guinea pigs and they're relying on us to call up and report every single problem! If we're just guinea pigs we should not be paying a single cent! If anything we should be getting paid!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now