Just so there’s no confusion, I’m going to start this review by saying that Foxtel is expensive. Very expensive in fact. I used to have Foxtel, however when my bill went over $100 per month and I moved house I made the decision to close my account. Truthfully, I’ve not missed it all that much. Particularly when I’ve sat down and weighed up the monthly subscription versus the value I receive. I’ll go in to a little more detail. My core reason for having Foxtel was so I could continue to watch AFL football while living in Brisbane. When I moved back to Melbourne this cost of $100+ per month was basically the same fee I would pay to go to each of my teams matches for the month… and a couple beers! It made absolutely no sense for me to continue with Foxtel when I moved back to the heart of AFL, Melbourne.
This all changed about a month ago when a friend, Brad, let me know about Foxtel on Xbox 360. Sure I’d heard of it before, but I’d never really given it much thought or had a detailed look. I had considered that it was a similar service to that which I had received before; and for much the same price. I could not have been more mistaken.
Foxtel on Xbox 360 is a breath of fresh air and a fantastic pioneer of true internet television streaming in Australia. Where I was paying over $100 before for standard Foxtel through a set top box, my monthly fee for my new Foxtel on Xbox 360 service is just under $30 per month. I have the standard starter channels ($20) plus the sports package ($10). I like to watch both AFL Football and A-League Soccer on Foxtel and this price makes this very accessible.
Aside from the staggering cost benefit, what else is there to Foxtel on Xbox 360? Quite a bit.
Let’s start by looking at the service itself. It’s effectively a cut down version of what you receive in to your home via a Foxtel set-top-box. You don’t get exactly the same channels and in fact some are missing, but, I didn’t notice anything missing that was noteworthy,save perhaps for Max TV music channel.
If you have an Xbox remote control it’s pretty easy to navigate your way around Foxtel on Xbox 360. Even my wife can do it comfortably! They have a channels screen to flick through and when you sign in it shows the last channel you were watching. This is pretty good for me because it’s probably the sports channel I’ve came back to watch again.
There are three different picture quality settings to choose from. If you are able to watch in highest quality, it obviously draws more bandwidth through your internet connection so be sure to keep this in mind if your internet provider only offers a capped service. I found that even on High the quality was only average to good. Particularly if, like me, you enjoy watching sports. While watching AFL football and Soccer I found that the screen jolted a little and the play was a little breaky. It didn’t pixelate so much as the frames seemed to slow down from time to time.
This was rather frustrating as I could not entirely immerse myself in the enjoyment of the game. I kept thinking “well, this is a cheaper alternative and it is streaming via the internet”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good picture quality and a great value alternative to a set-top-box Foxtel connection, however, it is not an equivalent. This reads true particularly if you plan to spend hours each evening watching Foxtel content. On Medium quality I found watching soccer impossible as the ball was just a haze of white beneath the players knees. If your internet connection is not very fast and you’re unable to watch Foxtel on Xbox 360 on High quality I would steer well away from this service.
There’s nothing quite like watching all the old sit-coms on Foxtel and this service delivers extremely well here! Unlike sports, the movement is not as great in sit-com and drama television and as such Foxtel on Xbox 360 is fantastic for having a laugh with old classics. If you are considering purchasing Foxtel on Xbox 360 to watch your favourite TV shows then you’re in luck. Just channel flicking while doing this review I found myself laughing along to an old episode of Frasier.
Finally, if you have an Xbox 360 and an Xbox Gold Live subscription (which you will need for this service) then you can download the Foxtel app today and test the picture and sound quality without needing to purchase a Foxtel subscription. The good folks at Foxtel have made the Sky News channel free for all Xbox 360 Gold Live subscription members to watch. This will provide a great demonstration of the pixel quality of the service so that you can make an informed decision as to whether this service is for you.
Still can’t decide? Fear not, our friends at Foxtel are offering new Foxtel on Xbox 360 subscribers one months free usage. During your free month you can evaluate the service and decide whether you wish to continue subscribing in to the second month and subsequently pay their monthly subscriber fee. I really appreciate that Foxtel are offering a lot of flexibility for new members to evaluate what is a new service to most people, live internet streaming.
I highly recommend Foxtel on Xbox 360 and, while I did receive a couple streaming errors while reviewing, I believe that for the price this service is a winner and anyone who enjoys classic TV, live sports and current affairs television should sign up to Foxtel on Xbox 360 today.
I offer this a 7 out of 10. As quality of service and buffering increases I expect this score to rise.