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Telstra TV2 wants to be the set-top box you never turn off

The next gen set-top box from Telstra promises universal search (thanks to a TV tuner) so you'll never look anywhere else for content again.

telstra-tv-2-twilight

The second-generation Telstra TV2. 

Tel

If Telstra has its way, you'll never have to go anywhere else for entertainment ever again.

The telco announced Monday the launch of Telstra TV2, also dubbed "the new Telstra TV," building on the first generation, Roku-powered set-top box it first released in 2015.

The second-gen device has a lot of the same features as the original Telstra TV -- things like Netflix and Stan apps, catch-up TV and the ability to buy BigPond Movies from within the Telstra TV platform. But with the addition of a TV tuner, the new Telstra TV's massive selling point is universal search.

Thanks to the launch of services like Netflix and Stan and the revamping of traditional broadcast services and pay TV, Australia has come out of the entertainment dark ages. But with multiple subscription video on demand apps, catch-up TV services and the den of titles that is Foxtel, what we've lacked is a platform that brings all these content sources together into one searchable platform.

That's what Telstra TV2 promises: the ability to search across live free-to-air TV, catch-up TV, Foxtel, streaming services Netflix and Stan and transactional platforms. You search for the title, and Telstra TV2 tells you where you can watch it for free, or where you can buy it. If you're already subscribed to a service like Netflix, the device will "deep link" you straight through to the Netflix app and the show starts.

telstra-tv-2-home-screen

The home screen of Telstra TV2 lets you search through carousels of curated content and apps as well as titles from specific platforms. 

Telstra

Here are the new features Telstra is spruiking in the Telstra TV2:

  • Free-to-air tuner
  • 4K and 4K HDR support (up to 60 frames per second)
  • HEVC encoding (to deliver streams quickly without using as much data)
  • Quad-core Mstar processor
  • 512MB storage
  • Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • HDMI 2.0, Ethernet and USB ports
  • Infrared remote with Netflix and Foxtel buttons
  • App that connects direct to set-top box

Universal search is something that rights holders have tried to get right in the past as a way of stopping piracy, but sites like the Digital Content Guide (which was launched with much ceremony in 2014) only really showed available services, not the titles on each service. Sites like Just Watch have started to spring up direct to Australians on platforms offering specific titles -- after all, we don't really care about platforms, we care about titles, so searching by show makes more sense than searching by service.

Telstra TV will be available from 31 October to Telstra fixed-line broadband customers. New and recontracting customers on Telstra's $99 bundle will get the device for free, but it's available for AU$192 outright.

Customers upgrading from the original Telstra TV will get a discount based on their current broadband plan.

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