If our reader comments are anything to go by, Presto is generally considered to be the worst of Australia’s major streaming services. Part of this is doubtlessly fueled by hatred for Murdoch and Foxtel, although there also legitimate beefs with the product; including lack of content and the absence of HD. This week, Presto is looking to right some of these wrongs via a complete overhaul of the service. New features include a raft of 1080p content, 5.1 channel surround sound, AirPlay support and a new user interface that actually makes browsing fun.
This week, Presto’s 1080p overhaul was rolled out to users via an app update on iOS and Android. The good news is that all existing titles that were originally shot in high-definition are now available in their native format. In other words, it’s not just a case of adding a few HD titles here and there.
The update also brings AirPlay support, which means you can finally stream your Presto content to something other than Chromecast which many users have had issues with. There’s also a new mobile and tablet app that comes with an inbuilt favourites tracker, a Play-Next-Episode function, advanced parental controls and quicker access to registered devices.
In addition to the above, Presto has also given the UI a spit and polish and the results are pretty interesting. We particularly like the way different titles are grouped together: In addition to the usual genre tags, there are content-specific groupings like “Notorious Ladies’ Men” and “Kickass Heroines”. If you’re not sure what you want to watch, this is a great way to surf.
Naturally, the leap into HD means you’re going to need a pretty decent internet connection to maintain a steady 1080p/5.1 stream. Presto recommends around 7.5Mbps down for a seamless viewing experience.
A Presto rep we spoke to said that they included a little headroom into their predictions to cover themselves: in realty, most users should be able to get by on 5Mbps down. (In any event, Presto’s adaptive bitrate means you probably won’t even notice when a video drops from 1080p to 720p.)
You might also want to look at boosting your data cap: according to Presto, a 90-minute high-def movie will consume roughly 4.5GB of data. Binge watchers beware.
There’s still no official word on additional support for smart TVs and video game consoles, but Presto has promised to make fresh announcements in this area soon. In the meantime, let us know what you think of the updated service in the comments section below.
Further reading: Foxtel Presto: Everything You Need To Know
Lifehacker’s weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.