Internet Protocol television: not something that rolls off the tongue. Yet it's something that many of us will be watching everyday in the near future. But what is? As it sounds, it's television delivered via the internet, and the FetchTV is one of several new systems offering a wealth of content beyond normal free-to-air.
The FetchTV looks very similar to thewhen they're placed side by side, and has a piano-black finish and blue activity lights. However, the FetchTV adds some distinctive touches that mean it can't easily be confused with the cable provider's offering. Firstly, the logo: the FetchTV features the doggy logo on the left-hand side, which also doubles as a power light — a blue dog when on and a red one when switched off. Secondly, there is only one control on the front of the unit: power. While this makes the unit hard to control if you lose the remote, it also serves to keep the front of the box clean and uncluttered.
The remote that ships with the device is quite similar to others in the genre and is friendly and easy to use. Unfortunately, there's minimal backlighting, though.
The FetchTV is what could be described as a "hybrid PVR", as it includes dual HD digital tuners and an IPTV receiver. The box enables users to record two channels at a time from any source and then watch a third. The box includes a capacious 1TB HDD, which promises up to 500 hours of recordings.
FetchTV is offered by a handful of internet service providers (ISPs) presently, with the two major ones being Internode and iiNet. In addition to the digital free-to-air channels, the box offers over a dozen channels delivered through your internet connection including MTV, National Geographic and the travel-centric Luxe TV. There are also a number of football (soccer) channels such as Manchester Union TV and Chelsea.
The ISPs are offering four different ways to pay for and use the FetchTV. Subscribers can either buy the box outright for AU$399 and then pay AU$19.95 per month for the full service, or AU$5.95 per month for Lite (which only includes the pay-per-view channels). The more economical method is simply rent the box with no upfront outlay for AU$29.95 a month for the full package or AU$14.95 a month.
Subscribers get to choose from 30 on-demand movies as part of the package with content refreshed every week, though most of these are older titles. There is also a selection of pay-per-view TV and movie content from the likes of Warner Bros and Paramount.
If you've got five minutes of thumb twiddling to do, the FetchTV offers some time killers in the form of interactive games such as Patience and Blackjack, in addition to a Facebook app. Text input with a remote control remains a pain, though.
One of the FetchTV's most valuable additions is the selection of 15 music channels arranged by categories including rock, urban, indie, pop, jazz and classical. Each channel gives you cover art for the song just played, the song now playing and the next, as well as a helpful progress bar. After each song the screen changes, which is of use to users with plasma screens.
The music channels are some of the FetchTV's best features. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
In addition, FetchTV says to expect "some exciting news in 2011" as far as content is concerned. In the meantime, iiNet and Internode customers are greeted with a "Coming Soon" screen.