When Telstra launched the second-generation version of its popular Telstra TV streaming box, we said that it was “a brilliant evolution of the popular original”. And it was a pretty major upgrade from the first entry in the series, too – adding a live TV tuner, universal search, support for 4K output with HEVC video for smoother Netflix streaming, and much more.
A bit over a year later, Telstra has upgraded the Telstra TV once again – though this time, the differences are going to be far less obvious to the end user, with just a couple of obvious new features joining the ones already on the second-generation model – enough to distinguish this new box from its already very capable predecessor.
Same Look, More Power
Make no mistake, this one’s a fairly hefty upgrade, at least on a technical level. Based – as always – on a device made by US company Roku and then customised especially for Telstra, the Telstra TV 3 upgrades the base hardware to a more powerful version that should, for users, result in faster and smoother operation, especially when loading and navigating within apps.
Externally, the box looks almost exactly the same – Roku’s got a design “style” that they stick to, cute little purple tag and all, and this new model isn’t about to go out on its own. It’s fairly large as far as streaming devices go, but it’s also very flat and will snuggle comfortably into your home setup without drawing attention to itself.
If you’ve never used a device with voice search before, trust us, it’s something you’re going to like a lot.
Setting it Up
Included in the box are all the essentials you need to get started – the power supply, an HDMI cable (always a welcome inclusion – many devices leave this out), the remote control and some batteries. Once you plug it in and go through the setup process (which will involve some software updates to the device itself as well as a few app downloads – so allow some time for this) you need to activate the box. And here’s where things are a little different from previous Telstra TV models.
In the past, you could purchase a Telstra TV even if you didn’t use Telstra Home Broadband as your internet provider, and just log in with any Telstra account. You could use a mobile phone account login if you had one or, if you didn’t, simply go grab a $2 Telstra SIM card and use that account. That’s no longer the case; to activate your Telstra TV 3 (and, we’re told, the previous model as well) you now need a Telstra Home Broadband service.
If you’re connected to that Telstra broadband service when you go through the setup and activation process, you won’t have to do anything – the Telstra TV 3 automatically detects that it’s on a Telstra service and activates itself automatically. Alternatively, you can activate using a different Telstra Home Broadband account – or not activate at all. If you choose not to activate the box, it will still work just fine, but you won’t be able to take advantage of its universal search feature – or the new voice-activated version of it.
You’re the Voice!
Yes, voice activated search is new to the Telstra TV in this version. One staple Roku feature that’s been left off Telstra TV boxes up until now has been the remote control’s support for voice – not entirely surprising since a feature like that needs extensive customisation to work with the very different and varied accents heard in this country as opposed to the US. The Telstra TV 3 has had this very useful feature tweaked for Australian use and now, finding a movie or starting a streaming app is as simple as picking up the remote and asking the Telstra TV to do it for you.
With the Telstra TV 2, you could get access to a functional form of voice control only if you had a Google Home device set up on your network (and these still work great with the new model). But now, the included remote has a few extra buttons that you’ll want to familiarise yourself with. There are side-mounted buttons to control audio volume of what you’re listening to, which is brilliant for tweaking the volume to your liking without having to hunt for the TV remote as well. And the voice search button lets you ask the Telstra TV to find you movies, shows or actors, run apps and more, all without having to type a thing. The universal search gives you results from across all installed streaming apps – Netflix, Stan, and even the newly renamed Telstra TV Box Office, so you can play or rent directly from the results screen. If you’ve never used a device with voice search before, trust us, it’s something you’re going to like a lot.
Rewind Live TV
Another neat feature of this clever little device is a digital buffer on the inbuilt live TV tuner. Connect your home’s TV antenna to the Telstra TV (use a splitter, available at your local Bunnings, if you still want the antenna plugged into the TV as well) and you can browse and view live TV channels right there on the same device you use for streaming – no more switching inputs, and as a bonus, both show recommendations and catch-up services are built right in. And now, the digital buffer lets you actually rewind live TV – up to half an hour back in time, depending on the channel. You’ll need to have been watching the channel for that period of time, but it’s perfect for those times when someone calls or comes to the door while you’re watching a show.
All the Streaming Apps
Support for the key streaming apps is key to any device, and the Telstra TV 3 uses the same app library as its predecessors. That means almost all the big players are here – Netflix, Stan, Kayo Sports, Foxtel Now, Telstra TV Box Office (formerly Bigpond Movies) and more. One rather glaring omission, though, is an Amazon Prime Video app. But while it’s not there at the time of writing this review, we’re assured that a Prime Video app is coming very soon to the Telstra TV.
One other handy feature is the ability to pay for movie rentals or, say, a Kayo Sports subscription directly from the device, with the charge added to your monthly Telstra bill – no more messing around with credit cards, just a completely seamless process. To get you started on the movie side of things, too, each new Telstra TV 3 comes with $125 credit for Telstra TV Box Office, which you can spend on whatever you’re in the mood to watch. It’s enough credit to rent about 20 new release movies.
Still want more? When you get the new Telstra TV 3 and activate your subscription, you also automatically get 3-months worth of unlimited access to other streaming apps including hayu, Garage, AnimeLab, and DocPlay. Take note, however, that this special offer is only available for new users of these apps. After the first 3 months, you’ll also roll over to the regular monthly fee of each app unless you cancel. To start streaming on DocPlay and the other apps, simply register through the app on your new Telstra TV.
Video Review of Telstra TV 3
Where to Get a Telstra TV?
|Telstra TV + Internet Bundle (200GB)||$79/month (min. cost $1,896 over 24 months)|
|Telstra TV + Internet Bundle (Unlimited)||$99/month (min. cost $2,376 over 24 months)|
Closely tied as it is to the Telstra Home Broadband service, the Telstra TV 3 is available as part of a couple of 24-month broadband plans – one with unlimited data, and one with 200GB/month. These plans come bundled with Telstra’s latest smart modem (with 4G backup) and a home phone line with unlimited calls, so they’re already great value. Getting the latest Telstra TV device along with a great broadband plan is a seriously nice bonus.
If you’d prefer to just buy the new model outright, you can – just keep in mind that to get the full functionality out of it, you’ll want to be on Telstra Home Broadband. It’s still a great device regardless, but missing out on universal search would be a shame, especially with the new voice option. If you’re currently with Telstra for broadband but don’t want to re-contract, you can just buy the Telstra TV 3 for $216, which works out to the equivalent of $9/month over a two-year period. You still get the $125 Box Office credit, of course.
Telstra TV 3 Pros and Cons
Is It Worth It?
If you’ve already got a Telstra TV and love using it, this new model will be a worthy upgrade for you – it’s faster and more fully-featured, and the new remote features in particular make it a very couch-friendly proposition. If you’ve never used one before, and you’re shopping for a broadband plan, this device combined with the current Telstra Home Broadband plans represents incredible value, a one-stop streaming package with a device tailor-made for the Telstra network.