Fetch TV Review

FetchTVBox
It’s the low-cost alternative to Foxtel, or a PVR on serious steroids. But is it worth paying money for? That depends somewhat on your TV tastes — and an awful lot on your ISP.

Fetch TV: On the plus side

Fetch TV isn’t a new product per se; the service itself has been around for a number of years, and as a matter of fact there’s been a first generation Fetch box under my TV for the last six months or so, largely because it came as part of an Optus bundle.

What I’m reviewing today is a slightly newer box; it’s smaller and thus a bit easier to hide amongst the not-so-small army of devices that make their home around my TV.

Ports and connections remain identical to earlier models, so there’s an antenna pass-through arrangement, HDMI out and Ethernet in. From the PVR point of view, Fetch is similar to TiVo or for that matter Foxtel’s iQ in that you’ve got to have an ethernet connection at all times feeding data to the FetchTV box. As such, that’s why FetchTV is a product that’s offered through a small selection of ISPs; essentially speaking iiNet and its subsidiaries, and Optus.

You can purchase at FetchTV box — although I’m not at all sure why you would — or opt to pay a small monthly fee for the basic service. This varies a little by ISP, but as a benchmark you’ll pay around $10/month for the basic FetchTV service, which covers free to air TV, recording, catch-up TV and the ability to rent movies, as well as watch those provided in the Movie Box application. Optus varies here, as it currently only offers Fetch as part of a larger bundle of services.

I can't really "review" PayTV channels. Either this offering will appeal to you at the asking price, or not. It's as simple as that.
I can’t really “review” PayTV channels. Either this offering will appeal to you at the asking price, or not. It’s as simple as that.

Fetch also has a smattering of PayTV channels, including MTV, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Disney, Al Jazeera and BBC World News. It’s very much a Foxtel-lite type service, although if you were only interested in the channels Fetch offers, it’s very clearly a nice cheap way to get access.

The Fetch TV on screen display takes a little getting used to, but the learning curve isn’t too steep. I’d still put the TiVo ahead of it in pure user friendliness terms, but then TiVo is functionally dead in Australia, so the comparison isn’t entirely helpful. What is helpful is that we discussed Fetch TV at length in a recent episode of Vertical Hold, which you can watch below!

FetchTV also provides apps for Android and iOS that allow for remote control, recording selection and streaming of movies (both paid and from Movie Box) and content you’ve recorded to be played back on your remote device.

Fetch TV: On the minus side

Or at least, that’s the theory. As I discovered, there’s no issue with the catchup or movie portions — which is to say the bits that are pure IP delivery mechanisms, because they worked just fine through the FetchTV app.

Streaming programs I’d recorded though, was an entirely different story, and it took me some time to work out why. Ultimately, it isn’t Fetch TV’s fault, but it’s still a major problem for a certain section of Fetch TV users.

The setup process for streaming your own recorded programs involves pairing the FetchTV box with your device of choice via a Pin Code. This is easy enough, and then you’re presented with the option to view “your stuff” on your device.

My only issue here is that, despite having a variety of programs (including the hundreds of hours of Phineas & Ferb that my kids seem determined to record), the app reported zero available programs.

The same was true if I tried to use a DLNA client to view the Fetch TV box. It came up as a device I could browse, but with absolutely nothing actually available.

Stop glaring at me, Fetch TV box. You're not so cute that I won't waterboard the files out of you.
Stop glaring at me, Fetch TV box. You’re not so cute that I won’t waterboard the files out of you.

I tried rebooting. I tried reinstalling the application. I kicked around some network settings on my router, just in case. All to no avail. Then I went researching, and found out that there’s one big caveat with remote streaming from Fetch TV.

You can’t do it if you’re an Optus customer.

At all.

This seems to be a matter of policy, at least according to this thread in Optus’ customer support forums. Fetch TV to Optus is just a PVR. Any streaming/DLNA features are off-limits.

I don’t actively think that Optus particularly wants to annoy its customers (including me); I have this sneaking suspicion that its reluctance to support remote streaming relates to the legal smackdown it got handed around its own TV Now product.

That’s pure supposition in case any lawyers are reading, but the practical implication is that if you’re keen on FetchTV, I’ve got to advise against getting it from Optus, because what you’d be getting is a deliberately crippled product. Not good enough, Optus!

Most of my other concerns with Fetch TV are relatively minor. The remote control is cluttered and feels a little cheap, and obviously you could just buy an actual PVR from the likes of Topfield or Humax rather than pay a rental fee for one.

Fetch TV: Pricing

A FetchTV box is technically worth $299. I’m not sure why you’d buy one outright, because they’re not functional without a subscription, and as such you’d be better off simply renting one, or having it bundled in with other services.

Fetch TV: Fat Duck verdict

Fetch TV is clearly a product of two types. It’s either a souped up PVR — and in that scope, leaving aside the Optus issues — it’s a rather good one, or it’s a low-rent PayTV service, and on that score, given the price charged for Foxtel Play, I’ve got to say it’s relatively weak. Again, though, that depends on the channels you’re after in the first place.

Either way, if you’re keen, steer clear of Optus if you like the FetchTV concept.

0 thoughts on “Fetch TV Review”

  1. Yeh, I’ve ummed and arred about FetchTV a number of times, being an iiNet user… but at the end of the day, I can ALMOST stream everything I want without it and the stuff I do want is simply not available in its entirety through Fetch, namely proper Chinese TV for my wife to watch and for me to get more Chinese language exposure. There are other options available for Chinese TV, which is something we plan to explore when we move to our new home later this year… and then there is Netflix, of which I have had an active subscription for over a year now.

  2. You say that Tivo is “effectively dead” in Australia? I am perplexed as mine still appears to be working and the Tivo EPG still seems to be correct. Do you know something that I don’t?!

    1. I guess I do. The TiVo service is still functional (I’m honestly not sure why, although again at a guess I’d say there’s some kind of contract with either Hybrid TV, Seven or TiVo US that would cost more to break than to fulfil) but there is absolutely nowhere in Australia that sells TiVo PVRs. None. They don’t even sell them from their own web site any more. If your TiVo dies, you can’t rush out and buy another one.

      That’s what I meant by “effectively dead” — if you can’t buy a box, they can’t attract any more customers, only service those who paid for a TiVo box already, and it’s not like they’d be making much money from them. Maybe a commission on Quickflix movie rentals, but I can’t imagine that’s much of a revenue stream.

  3. We’ve had Fetch TV for years with iinet. The kids use it, because you can only get one per contract on iinet, and it’s in the family room…(not a place adults want to venture!) The kids love to record their fav shows to watch back when they feel like it pre-programed they just keep recording, (who knew there were soooo many episodes of the Big Bang Theory! ) They also will watch movies on it, but not as much. They never use it to watch the channels or YouTube unless they have friends over then sometimes they do, having said that, the Xbox is hooked up to the same telly and you could watch YouTube on that I guess. I’d be interested in getting a recording device for the “grown up telly” what would you recommend Alex? I just hate the quality of watching catch up T.V on my computer screen for anything other than iView. Hubby doesn’t like Downtown Abby and I’m addicted! So really I’d like a way to stream from the Fetch to my other telly, or have another box. They say it’s coming……

    1. One option (at least theoretically; as noted in my review above I couldn’t get it to work but this *seems* to be an Optus thing; as far as I know it *does* work on iiNet) would be to pair an iPad or iPhone to the Fetch box, stream it to the phone and then Airplay it out to an Apple TV (which, yes, presumes you have that gear already.) I’d be interested to know if that worked, actually, because it’s what I’d do if I could.

      Alternately, you could pick up a restreaming kit like the Belkin Screenplay or similar to send the Fetch output elsewhere, although that could invite sharing complaints from the kids. Might be against the Fetch ToS as well.

      And the issue beyond that is that while there are a few choices — Humax, Topfield, Beyonwiz et al, I’ve never quite found one that’s particularly solid and reliable, which is exactly what you’d want out of a PVR.

      I have a TiVo box sitting under my TV, and I do like the UI and experience of that, but you can’t buy them in Australia from anywhere any more.

  4. As a Salesman for a company that now sell the “new” fetch tv boxes seperately (not through iinet or any other isp) I’m curious as to what benefits, if any, there are. I get that you can watch, i think it’s 20, movies a month for free (not on demand – pay as you watch), but even that feature plus the additional few channels outside free to air tv don’t seem to be worth the $5.00 a month fetch charge? as well as the additional data usage?

    I know for my uses it wouldn’t be even close to worth it. if they offered Fox Footy then hell yeah i’d jump on it. (currently paying close on $75.00 a month for foxtel to watch at most 2 channels, 3/4 nights a week) – $5.00 a month in THAT case would be worth it. but i don’t watch free to air, nor any other channel on foxtel aside from those.

    Trying to justify why i would want my customers to spend the $399.00 RRP and then an additional $5.00 a month for exactly as you said a “souped up pvr”

  5. In June 2014 we switched from FOXTEL to FETCH TV and i do not have a clue why we switched because FOXTEL is alot better than fetch

    FETCH is the worst thing i know its not just that it doesnt respond very well but the buttons on the remote are tiny and the writing is small wich is not good in the dark but the internet channels like DISNEY and NICKELODEON are realy bad nearly every day when my family are watching tv in the afternoon the stupid internet channels crash so thats my problem and probably alot of other peoples problem so if your looking at buying fetch i sugest you stay with what you have or get FOXTEL

  6. I’ve been using Fetch for a month now, it’s ok as a rival to Foxtel, but I’ve got an issue with recorded playback.
    Every program I record ends at least 5 mins early, so I never get the ending, very annoying. With Foxtel you have an option of an extra 10/20 mins but not on Fetch. Any ideas, apart from record the next program after the one I want ?

  7. My husband bought a Fetch TV in April 2016. It won’t play Stan. Tech support does not know what is wrong with it or when it might be fixed. Don’t buy one!!!

  8. We have just discovered that all our Fetch tv recordings have been deleted ?? Wt?? Not by us!
    What can we do? We are with Optus and recently made a complaint about the NBN speed, now this…Hmmm…
    PLEASE HELP … Is there a way to restore or find our old recordings.
    Can we store them somewhere else once we have recorded them, my husband said he tried but he couldn’t see them once he copied them over.
    I don’t want this to happen again, any help would be great.

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