Foxtel iQ2 HD Review


Summary

Our Verdict

Foxtel iQ2


As a set-top box & DVR, the Foxtel iQ2 is a well developed and highly functional product.

 
Overall 86%
Content
Usability
Value

The Good

  • Great EPG
  • Good range of channels
  • Solid app and web integration

The Bad

  • Storage could be larger
  • Catch up TV image quality is poor
  • Needs more content discovery options

Foxtel iQ2 HD Review

Foxtel iQHD is a set-top box & DVR, the Foxtel iQ2 is a well developed and highly functional product. Now replaced by the iQ3, the iQ2 is no longer available.

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Design

The sleek black box is just 6cm tall, with some basic controls and LED lights at the front, so it will fit well into most home entertainment furniture.

The remote control has been around for a number of years now. If you’re new to the remote control, it can seem a little overwhelming at first, but you’ll soon make sense of its layout and it’s navigation menus, channels and volume settings, plus the DVR controls for control of live and recorded viewing.

Key Features

The Foxtel iQ2 has a 320GB HDD, which works out at storing about 30 hours of HD video. All the usual output connections you could wish for are featured, including an HDMI outlet, composite, component, and also S-Video and SCART connections, which are all at the back. Digital audio out is also featured for both coaxial and optical forms. An Ethernet cable must be physically connected to your network for IP services such as On Demand.

The Foxtel iQ2 box enables the recording of 2 shows at the same time, whilst watching a 3rd live show as well. A 4th tuner allows access to the programming guide and other On Demand content, along with the rest.

The service offers a mix of 1080i & 720p HD content, and now, there is a large range of HD channels to pick from. There are 25 HD channels now, with some special event channels as well as On Demand selections.

Most of the HD channels are basically HD versions of existing channels that the non HD customers get in Standard Def. There’s also a selection of some 3D content.

Performance

When compared to some other DVRs out there, the iQHD’s 320 GB storage capacity feels very light. A 1TB iQ2 would be alot better, and this is now present in the iQ3.

Availability of HD and SD channels is an great advantage. When programming the iQ2 to record certain shows, you are able to make a decision on whether you want to record in HD or SD, saving or using the scarce HDD recording space.

For movies, we found it very easy to get overly excited and line up a lot of HD movies to come back to and watch when you have the time, but you will soon see your available disc drive space running low.

By Foxtel’s calculations, you are usually saving up to 3 x the storage compared to when you choose SD over HD, this will definitely make a big difference when you are staring at less than 20% on the space.

The channels look good too, and record quality is very good, with few artifacts getting in the way of enjoying the content.

The interface has not changed a lot since the original iQ, but this is not an issue it works well. Other improvements give you a few options for picture in picture and for viewing single channels in an much simpler to read way. The search tool needs some work — learning from usability tricks for how we search and explore the internet would help turn search into a more functional feature of the Foxtel iQ2.

We found the occasional program disapears from the series link recordings, and this has got to be one of the most frustrating issues one can face when putting your trust in a DVR.

You can set the Foxtel iQ2 box from a PC/Mac or from the various mobile and tablet apps, so it is very easy to jump in and find something to record if you forgot to do so before you left home. We definitely found this important for a service with such a broad range of channels and shows. It is too easy to simply not notice a show you might like to watch, and if you’re home, you might rather be watching over browsing channels. We liked being able to browse and then set shows to record while out and about, it definitely adds more value when you return and the time you spend in front of the TV.

Foxtel does offer another feature, with some on-demand programming through the Foxtel iQ2 or via your mobile, Tablet and PC. This is not to be confused with Foxtel’s Box Office — On Demand offers some access to very recent content from across its range of channels. You will only have access to the shows from the channels in the package you have subscribed to.

Foxtel iQ2 Summary

For a market that is now cluttered with many options for delivering content to your TV, deciding on Foxtel comes down to a question of whether you want to justify the monthly cost. Whether your decision is based on needing great reception or for wanting access to hundreds of shows across many channels, Foxtel is a great choice.

The iQ box is always a part of the Foxtel service, but when compared to some other DVRs available on the market the FOXTEL iQ2 definitely stands up as a main contender.

Our view is that if you get Foxtel, get an iQHD. The DVR enables you to stay on top of the plethora of content Foxtel has available, watching it on your own terms and when you want. Foxtel without iQ is a waste of money in today’s busy family households.

Update: Foxtel Launches iQ4K — Smarter and Faster!

Three years after iQ3, Foxtel once again leads the way in Australian television with the release of the smarter and faster iQ4K set-top box, alongside the launch of Foxtel live 4K programming.

In order to get access to Foxtel’s 4K live channel, you’ll need to have the new iQ4K set-top box, which is said to be Foxtel’s most advanced streaming set-top with smarter features that would make your viewing so much more convenient. Having this enables you to enjoy Australia’s ultimate sports and entertainment services in HD and 4K UHD.

What’s great about this new set-top box is how it fully maximises the value of your Foxtel subscription. This is because the new iQ4 combines satellite delivery, amazing 4K programming via the 4K live channel, plus a host of other features including other linear channels, and a massive library of TV and movies to stream On Demand via the internet.