Telstra TV (2019) review: The more things change, the more they stay the same

Telstra Corporation Telstra TV (2019)
  • Telstra Corporation Telstra TV (2019)
  • Telstra Corporation Telstra TV (2019)
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Comprehensive content sources
  • Fast performance

Cons

  • Voice controls don't go far enough
  • Limitations on free-to-air buffer

Bottom Line

The third iteration of the Telstra TV feels more like an evolution than a revolution.

Would you buy this?

The Pitch

Although imperfect, Telstra’s second-gen Telstra TV still managed to hit most of the right notes for a lot of customers.

Even if you weren’t attached to the free-to-play tuner that sets it apart from much of the competition, the Telstra TV ticked plenty of boxes. It was based on a solid Roku-powered foundation and it was also one of the only Foxtel Now-enabled streaming boxes available. If you wanted to watch Game of Thrones alongside the new season of Stranger Things back when the media unit launched, it was pretty much the only option on the menu.

Yet, there’s always room for improvement. And in the pursuit of self-betterment, the 2019 Telstra TV brings with it new features like hands-free voice control plus a free-to-air-buffer function. And the everyday experience of using the 2019 Telstra TV is good but it’s rarely as good as it feels like it should be. It pays lip service to the advancements that the competition are making but little else.

Specs

CPU:  MStar C2

RAM: 2GB

Storage: 512MB

Ports: MicroSD Slot, USB 2.0, HDMI 2.0, 10/100 Ethernet Port

Audio: Dolby Digital 7.1

Free-to-air Tuner: Yes

Price: $216

Design

You could toss the new 2019 Telstra TV into a stack of second-gen streamers and I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart. A few details aside, the overall design here is starkly similar. The device is puck-like in shape and not much heavier than you average plus-sized phone.

Credit: Telstra

Port-wise, there’s a neat array running along the back of the Telstra TV 3. Here, you’ve got the usual lineup of HDMI, power, ethernet and antenna jacks. There’s also a USB port on the right side of the unit, which doesn’t look particularly great but it does add a bit of extra modularity to the thing.

Overall, the bulk of changes here either concern the remote or the software side of the experience, leaving the Telstra TV box itself a fairly static creature. Having long since retired the second-gen Telstra TV unit behind in favor of the Nvidia Shield TV, the third iteration of Telstra’s streaming box came across as conventional but more than a little familiar.

Performance

Still, at face value, it doesn’t feel like overt hyperbole to claim that the 2019 Telstra TV represents the best home entertainment experience that Telstra have ever put together.

The interface isn’t the best out there - but it’s also far from the worst. It’s easy enough to pick up and play with and it gives you plenty of room to pick, choose and customise things to your liking. The revised Telstra TV remote rounds out the package nicely. Even if it’s not as snazzy or futuristic as the Nvidia Shield TV’s remote is, the form-factor, material design and real-world performance here is mostly satisfactory.

Credit: Telstra

And where the earlier Telstra TV 2 sometimes stalled out, we didn’t encounter even a stutter from the Telstra TV 3. In terms of the content you have at your disposal with the Telstra TV 3, there aren’t many streaming boxes in the Australian market that can compete with it on variety.

You’ve got all the usual catch up services and almost every Netflix competitor out there. 7 Plus, 9 Now, Stan, Netflix, SBS OnDemand, Red Bull TV, ABC iView, Foxtel Now, TenPlay, Kayo, AnimeLab, DocPlay, Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime Video and even Hayu are accounted for here. The only real omissions here are Twitch and the recently-launched TenAllAccess.

There’s even a Plex app for those who want to hook the new Telstra TV up to a NAS - which is a genuinely neat option for those who like to dabble. Still, the lack of a TenAllAccess app doesn’t bode particularly well. The service itself has been available in Australia since late last year and even if it’s not the new Netflix, it’s still concerning to see it omitted here.

Timely and comprehensive software support that reflects and caters to the dynamic realities of the streaming wars is something you should expect in a streaming box and Telstra’s laggardness around TenAllAccess suggests that when whatever the next major streaming service arrives (potentially Disney Plus), Telstra TV owners might end up having to wait - which sucks.

Credit: Telstra

Finally, there’s the voice controls. These work pretty well, even if they are more limited than the comparable offerings found in smart TVs from LG and Samsung. The box even replies to you when it hears a valid command - which is novel. Functionally, the interactions here are based on a push-to-talk system rather than the active-listening you’d get from something like the Google Home or Amazon Alexa. This has its pros and cons, most of which are obvious.

You’re unable to mess with hardware aspects of the experience like changing the volume but voice does work pretty well for jumping into this streaming service or that catchup feed. It’s also not entirely hands-free, since you still have to use the remote to activate it, but if you’re one of those hawkish types concerned about bringing a connected microphone into your home, it might be what you’re looking for.

Finally, you’ve got the free-to-air buffer. A nice expansion of the free-to-tuner found in the second-gen Telstra TV, this feature allows you to rewind and rewatch missed live TV. For those who watch a lot of free-to-air TV, it’s a great hook - and something that sets the new Telstra TV apart from the alternatives. Unfortunately, it should be noted that this feature is a little limited in that you can only really rewind and rewatch one channel at a time.

The Bottom Line

The third iteration of the Telstra TV feels more like an evolution than a revolution.

The introduction of solid, if a little overly specialised, voice controls feels like a smart compliment to the platform’s already-staple of content sources while the overall performance and familiar interface remain highlights.

The new Telstra TV isn’t quite as accomplished as high-end options as an Apple TV or Nvidia Shield TV but if you’re already a Telstra customer, there’s plenty to like here.

Credit: Telstra

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: Telstra
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?