01.Telstra T-Box first look
See our video of TiVo versus T-Box to see how they compare.
Price: $299 outright or part of a Telstra Bigpond internet plan
Telstra’s T-Box is an internet-enabled digital video recorder (DVR) available to buy either outright or as part of an overall internet plan on Telstra’s BigPond network. The T-Box enables you to watch and record free-to-air TV shows (as with other DVRs) and also to stream several BigPond internet TV channels.
The T-Box’s small notebook hard drive is 320GB, however only 200GB is available for recording shows, with the remaining capacity kept for Telstra’s software and the timeshift feature that allows you to pause and rewind a live TV show. A USB connection allows you to move recorded shows onto an external device or USB stick to help free up space. Although you don’t need to be with BigPond to hook the box up to a TV aerial and record shows, you do need to register the T-Box using your BigPond account to get all the internet TV features and seven-day electronic programming guide (EPG). The T-Box can be used with either an ADSL2 or BigPond Cable connection.
The T-Box has two HD digital TV tuners, but unlike many other DVRs doesn’t allow you to record two shows at the same time – one tuner is used for viewing live TV while the other is used to record a show on another channel. Video connection options from the T-Box to the TV are limited to a HDMI connection for digital video and audio, which should suit most flat-panel TVs, and component cables (red, green and blue) or a composite connection for older TVs. The audio options include digital audio (Toslink) and standard stereo. All the audio and video cables are included in the box as well as a short Ethernet cable to connect the T-Box to your home network.
Sport plays a big role on the T-Box, with five of its seven BigPond sourced internet channels allocated to general sports news, AFL, NRL, V8 cars and horse racing. There is also a live news program and music program. All these channels are unmetered, which means BigPond customers can download as much video from these channels as they please without affecting their monthly internet data allocation. You can also rent movies online and have them delivered unmetered to your T-Box to watch (only once) at your leisure. A YouTube channel is available, but this content is metered and can quickly eat into your internet data allocation. All streamed video from the internet is to be viewed in one session and can’t be recorded to the T-Box to watch later.
When watching Internet Protocol television (IPTV), a green dot shows up on the EPG indicating you can stream as much of this content as you like for free. Telstra recommends an ADSL2 broadband connection for watching IPTV and our trial user agrees, as she found the T-Box’s performance when using her standard BigPond ADSL connection was frustratingly slow. Its remote is basic yet functional and communicates via radio signals, so you don’t need direct line of sight to operate the unit.
If you want a simple-to-use DVR that integrates well with your BigPond account, the T-Box is a good-value option, but make sure you have at least an ADSL2 connection speed to enjoy the internet TV channels on offer.