Fetch TV vs iQ2: PVR Battle

Fetch TV interface

After 12 months of moaning to anyone who’ll listen, we recently ditched Foxtel. Although we had come to rely on the joys of recorded and time-shifted TV, $115 a month is too much to pay for hundreds of channels of absolute garbage.

After investigating other PVR options, including Panasonic, Topfield, xmbc and even ditching recording for the pure IPTV/catchup solution provided by Boxee, I settled on Fetch TV lite, for $15 a month from Internode.

After playing with it for a few days here’s how it compares to iQ2.

Improvements

  • Sweet interface: The interface is clearly based on Apple TV’s, but has been improved upon and sexed up a bit with TV playing behind the interface most of the time. One thing that’s for sure is that like most PVRs it doesn’t look like a TV interface from 1995 [Panasonic and Topfield I'm looking at you].
  • More powerful recording management: Unlike iQ2′s painfully limited chronological listing, you can sort your recordings in several ways. Multiple shows are stored in folders and recorded shows and upcoming recordings are listed separately.
  • EPG with PIP: This is only a small feature, but it’s nice. You do get a sense of comfort that you haven’t left what you were watching, which is strange because normally when you launch an EPG you’re looking for something else to watch.
  • Movies on Demand: The selection of films in the rental store seems to be much better than Foxtel’s at a glance and are also presented in a much more compelling manner, with with a grid of images [notably, not slicks but custom made graphics]
  • Search: Thank Allah! Fetch allows you to search the EPG and your recordings, together or separately
  • Updates: Unlike the oldschool Foxtel model (ie:”Screw you guys, if you want something new you can buy the next model in 2 years”) Fetch TV is being constantly refined and added to. The interface was recently overhauled and apparently features like DLNA support are in the works.
  • Apps: You can’t add apps yet, and what apps are here are pretty useless [Facebook, Twitter, Weather] but hopefully this feature will be added to in the future.

Interface quirks

Maybe there are shortcuts here that I just haven’t learnt yet but I found these design decisions a bit weird.

  • Double press to watch: When you select a show from the EPG, you get an overlay with options to watch, record etc. Surely this should be shown when you press ‘i’. Pressing twice to select a channel is pretty annoying.
  • Limited use of colour buttons: Colour buttons are barely used which is a bit of a shame. They would reduce the need for some of the overlays and prevent the double press issue mentioned above.
  • Current time not displayed on EPG: This seems like a bit of a glaring oversight. Every time you launch the EPG you have to look at the time to orient yourself on the timeline.
  • No paging on EPG: Maybe there’s a button for this but I haven’t found it yet.

Because I’m only on Fetch TV lite I don’t have access to Movie Box or any of the IPTV channels, but at the moment this offering is pretty weak. They really need to add some more channels and catchup options to make it worthwhile.

At the moment I’m pretty happy with it, but would be over the moon if support for DLNA and ABC’s iView were added.

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