Six years after Foxtel redesigned their set top box experience with the iQ3 – followed by the iQ4 a few years later – they’re fully embracing the age of streaming with the brand new iQ5 box, which sports a completely new design for 2021 – along with a different way of doing things. Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany says Foxtel is “Australia’s most dynamic streaming company” – and this new box proves it.
What’s In this Guide?
With the iQ5, Foxtel – the biggest Australian aggregator of premium TV content – is bringing their famous box very much into line with what people expect from TV-connected devices these days, backed by the premium Foxtel brand. While the iQ3 and iQ4 were both compact devices that didn’t draw attention to themselves, they were still fairly large boxes that needed some shelf space. The iQ5, on the other hand, is remarkable for how tiny it is, considering the power it packs under the hood.
One of the reasons for the iQ5 is to give Foxtel cable subscribers a way of continuing their Foxtel service once cable access is shut down in 2023. That’s why at the moment, the new iQ5 is being offered exclusively to customers on cable services, with satellite customers being able to upgrade from early 2022. It also opens up Foxtel to a larger audience than the existing 1.7 million customers enjoying the best Foxtel content.
Foxtel has launched the iQ5 box while making mention of the company’s “streaming-led future” as Australia’s most dynamic streaming company – which in the long term, makes perfect sense (cable and satellite delivery is expensive) and also opens up the possibility of an eventual “one box to rule them all” that might see Foxtel Now subscribers using the streaming-only portion of the iQ5 as well, sometime in the future (for now, though, the two services remain separate). Regardless, acclaimed dramas, blockbuster movies, along with international sport, are all on tap in the one device.
What’s New with the Foxtel iQ5
The iQ5 box is a very different beast to anything the company has done before – and there is a very good reason for the changes as Foxtel becomes more of a dynamic streaming company. Still made by the same company behind previous iQ boxes – now under new ownership yet again – the iQ5 sports a new sleek, small design, not all that much bigger than the popular Telstra TV but packed solid with tech that makes accessing Foxtel possible via not one, but two methods – either via satellite, or via the internet. It’s the flagship device of the premium Foxtel brand.
On the iQ5, Foxtel has implemented a full IP-based version of the entire Foxtel channel line-up, so you can subscribe, get your iQ5 delivered, connect it to your Ethernet or Wi-fi network, sign in and be ready to go – no installation to worry about, no satellite dish on the roof or cables to be run through the walls. The idea is that you simply plug it in, and it just works.
Also, the latest streaming iQ opens the door to those people who can’t get access to Foxtel via satellite because of building limitations (for example, rented apartments). It’ll also solve the dilemma that current cable users face when the cable is shut down. With the iQ5, the only installation needed is to plug the box in and connect it to the internet, which brings Foxtel’s premium experience to more Australians.
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iQ5 Video Support
The new box takes full advantage of the much faster processors available today – the seven years or so since the iQ4 was designed means that still-speedy box is ancient compared to what’s available now. On the iQ5, Foxtel has designed the box from the ground up for 4K ultra high definition support – and that includes 4K streaming of Foxtel’s two 4K channels, movies on Movies Ultra HD and Foxtel’s premium experience with international sport on Sport Ultra HD. That makes the iQ5 the only way you can stream Foxtel’s 4K channels, which have previously only been available via satellite.
Later this year, Foxtel – as the Australian aggregator of content from premium names like HBO and FX – plans to introduce streaming content for Foxtel subscribers like on-demand blockbuster movies and drama series in 4K as well, so if you’ve got a recent big-screen TV, this is very much the Foxtel box for you. Just plug it in and start streaming.
4Of course, if you’ve got a satellite dish installed, it works just as well with that as the source, and HD/4K is also supported for the various streaming apps that are included like Netflix, YouTube, ABC iView and SBS and more (Netflix is the only one doing 4K at the moment, but we’d expect Amazon Prime Video to follow when it launches, and ongoing support for integrated apps confirms more is to come). YouTube Kids is also included.
Foxtel iQ5 Features
One big difference with the new iQ5 set top box is that it doesn’t necessarily come with a hard disk – if you’re the sort of viewer who’s gotten used to streaming Foxtel content on demand, you probably don’t consider recording shows in the conventional way to be all that useful – you can just pick them from your favourites list and stream them when you’re ready.
And so the iQ5’s hard disk is optional, for the first time in the history of the iQ series, making it the ultimate streaming machine. If you order the box with a hard disk, it’s supplied as a separate module that stacks underneath the iQ5 itself. That makes it possible to have a main iQ5 in the living room with hard disk attached, and extra streaming-only iQ5s in other rooms in the house.
It also means you can just detach the iQ5 box from its hard disk, toss it in a bag and take it travelling with you so you can use it in a holiday home or even a hotel. Without the need for a satellite connection, your Foxtel can come with you wherever you need to be.
Alongside the box redesign and much faster performance, the user interface has been redesigned to add more personalisation and live channel streaming with navigation made easier and more intuitive, while support for integrated apps confirms future expandability.
Foxtel iQ5 Remote
While we haven’t gotten a first-hand look at the new iQ5 remote just yet, it’s looking to be using the same revamped voice remote that the iQ4 has enjoyed for the last year or two. And that’s good news – the Foxtel remote layout is almost instinctive to anyone who’s used the service for any length of time, and the voice remote update added some very handy features, including a dedicated Netflix button, backlighting and buttons for program categories, as well as the voice feature itself.
The iQ5 remote works with both Bluetooth (so you can have the box out of sight in a cupboard if you like) and infra-red. However, in infra-red mode, there’s no support for voice, and you won’t get software updates for your remote – we’d recommend using Bluetooth for best results.
How to Get Foxtel iQ5
Here’s where things get a little tricky for those of the existing 1.7 million customers that like to have the latest and greatest stuff – at the moment, the only customers being offered upgrades to the iQ5 are those select Foxtel subscribers who currently access cable services. If you’re a Foxtel cable subscriber, you will very likely have received an email inviting you to trade up your old iQ box for the shiny new iQ5.
There’s one exception to the rule here – new customers who couldn’t previously connect to Foxtel at all, because they could not access cable and a satellite installation wasn’t possible. If that’s you, then you can get Foxtel right now thanks to the iQ5!
For the iQ5, Foxtel has split it into three price categories, instead of the standard single “equipment fee” we’ve all been familiar with.
The iQ5 with its attached 1TB hard drive will cost $199 – that’s nearly $50 more than the iQ4 equipment fee, but keep in mind that just like with the iQ4 and older boxes, Foxtel will be doing special offers and bundles that will likely reduce or completely waive this fee.
The iQ5 by itself (streaming only) is $99, while the 1TB hard drive attachment is $100, so if you have to pay the fee, you can split it up – get the box now to start streaming, and if you decide you need hard disk recording, get that later.
For extra rooms, you can put an extra Foxtel iQ5 box (with or without the hard drive attachment) anywhere in your home for an extra $25 per month per room (you will need to pay the equipment fee for the extra box as well). Alternatively, for $15 per month you can activate Multiscreen, which will let you stream Foxtel on devices like smart TVs and game consoles via the Foxtel Play and Foxtel apps.
Don’t forget that streaming on your smartphone or tablet with the Foxtel Go app is available to you completely free as a Foxtel subscriber – letting you stream live channels or on-demand shows and movies on your mobile device wherever in Australia you are. Foxtel Go can cast to bigger screens like TVs, but to do so you’ll need to pay for the Multiscreen pack.
If you’re keen to get the new box but have a satellite installation, don’t worry – the Foxtel iQ5 will be available to all who want one later in 2021. We suspect that there’ll be quite a few people who’ve been unable to get Foxtel installed who’ll be rushing to grab the new box, which of course will open up 4K sport and movies to streaming iQ users for the first time, as well as providing improved picture quality, streaming content and recording features that aren’t available on Foxtel Now.
Last audited 16th of September 2021
Is the Foxtel iQ4 Being Phased Out?
Absolutely not – the iQ4 is still a very capable and powerful set top box, very much a part of the premium Foxtel brand, and it will be seeing some of the benefits of the streaming-driven updates to Foxtel’s software later this year. If you’ve got an iQ4 already connected to satellite, you should see a whole range of improvements flowing on from the iQ5. How smoothly they’ll run on the less powerful streaming iQ hardware is something we’ll have to wait to find out – by which stage, you should be able to call up and upgrade to a Foxtel iQ5 box if you want one.
While it leverages live and on-demand streaming in much the same way that Foxtel Now does, the Foxtel iQ5 is the full premium experience, with the full collection of channels (including 4K), dedicated hardware for a seamless user experience and the picture quality benefits this speedy new box will bring.
Foxtel Now will continue to be offered to those who prefer to stream their Foxtel on their own devices, both at home and on the go.
The Pros and Cons
If you’ve got any questions about Foxtel’s packages, plans and bundles, want to find out more about the new Foxtel iQ5 and when it’s going to be available to you, or just have a question about your service, you can always get in touch with Foxtel’s friendly team on 1300 130 799 (follow the voice prompts to get to the department you’re after).