REVIEW: New Foxtel iQ5 Box Has A Lot Of Surprises
The wrappers have been taken off the new Foxtel iQ 5 set top box, and there is a lot of surprises.
It’s half the size of previous iQ boxes, has a detachable hard drive and an array of technology that delivers better networking and the processing of 4K high-definition content to a TV screen and has Dolby audio built in and a new music video streaming channel.
It’s also been designed to handle both slow and fast broadband speeds so that the 4K ultra high-definition content feed is not compromised when the broadband bit rate falls to sub 20 megabytes per second which it can do in some rural areas.
If you are upgrading from a cable fed Foxtel iQ3 box you are now able to get access to more streaming apps with Vevo, the music video network, set to join Netflix, YouTube, ABC iView and SBS On Demand later this month and the recently announced addition of Amazon Prime Video via the iQ5.
Additionally, If you are currently on a Foxtel cable network box such as the iQ3 or even an old iQ2 and you decide to upgrade to the new iQ5 you also get a completely new software experience and significantly faster content delivery from the Foxtel servers to your screen.
This is because the newiQ5 has a new generation of Wi Fi chipsets and a new processor which are married together to deliver a significantly improved viewing experience over the old iQ3 which was always a problematic set top box.
The future for home entertainment is Internet streaming, and the delivery of content from multiple sources via one box that can be easily installed and operated.
The other added benefit of this box is that you can take it with you if you stay at a holiday home for any length of time.
All you do is unplug your iQ5 at home and reconnect it to a Wi Fi network and if you need to plug in a traditional aerial to get immediate access to content at a new location. This also applies if you move house or apartment.
The iQ5 is specifically designed for future and present day streaming of content it’s also configured for both free to air TV via a traditional aerial, or if you are already on a Foxtel box that’s connected via Satellite service you can easily plug in your existing
Satellite connection to the iQ5.
There is also an optional 1TB drive that has been designed to fit neatly under the set top box and if your drive ever fails it can be easily switched out for a new one.
I am not a fan of catch-up TV because I cannot stand having to watch advertising which is part and parcel of having access to free catch-up TV.
The inclusion of a hard drive with the iQ5 still allows you to record a program especially a free to air program and skip commercials.
With Foxtel programs who can rewind or fast forward content using the remote so if the phone goes and you want to talk you simply press the hold button and then recommence from where you left off.
Half the size of previous iQ boxes and significantly more powerful I really like the black matt design and there is no reason why the iQ5 could not sit next to the TV as opposed to being hidden away like past Foxtel boxes.
Designed and manufactured by Commscope who acquired Arris a leading networking Company whose name is on the iQ5, this is the same Company that spent close to $10 billion dollars acquiring the UK Company Pace who manufactured the original Foxtel boxes and is one of the worlds leading set top box manufacturers.
Working with these Companies Foxtel has configured the iQ5 to stream 2 x 4KUHD channels with 12Mbps and 18Mbps video profiles.
This means you can get a good quality UHD picture if your home internet speed is above 12Mbps and a great quality UHD feed if it’s above 18Mbps.
Unlike past boxes when you needed a technician to come and install a Foxtel iQ box the iQ5 is a do-it-yourself box; and you don’t need a technician to come out and install it because it is easy to install and activate.
All you have to do to get going is follow the easy instructions that come with the box and after plugging in the power and if you need to a traditional aerial, you will be prompted to activate the Foxtel remote that has a key home button in the middle.
You will also be prompted to connect the box to a wireless network or the satellite network, or you can simply plug in an ethernet cable that was connected to your previous box.
In the box is a HDMI 2.1 4K compatible cable which you connect to the iQ5 then into your TV, or in the case of some TVs like Samsung the external box used to manage TV connections.
There is also an optical cable connector on the back of the box which can be used to connect to either a soundbar or a pair of two channel speakers via a receiver.
Why this is a smart way to go is because this box allows you to access Vivo a US multinational video hosting service, best known for providing music videos to YouTube.
The combination of two channel audio technology and streamed music from your iQ5 allows you listen to better quality sound while also having access music video.
I also suggest that you activate the voice activation service that is built into the remote control, this is the same process as activating the remote only this time you press the mike icon on the remote and the select button.
Once activated you soon realise that the Foxtel software to the screen is easy to navigate, you can access programs as well as movies and TV shows.
One weakness is that you can’t record for example the Channel Nine or Network Seven News at the same time.
But you can access apps such as SBS or ABC iView with two clicks of your remote.
Netflix is on the remote, but you will need to sign in again to Netflix so make sure you have your log in details handy.
Also coming soon is access to Amazon Prime Video and a vast array of new content.
For me one of the real standouts of owning a Foxtel box is the sports coverage, from AFL to NRL, and Formula One. There are 13 dedicated sports channels on the new iQ5 and the quality of the content and the streamed sports such as US NFL is excellent via the iQ5 especially as most sport is today shot in 4H ultra high definition or high definition and this box delivers this quality content as good as any premium TV.