iPad-compatible; fast access to new movies
Expensive; can’t watch on your television
$19.99 per month
Foxtel’s latest movie rental service makes it easy to watch recent blockbusters on your Mac and iPad, but it falls short in the lounge room.
Rather than sticking its head in the sand, Foxtel seems keen to embrace the internet. It already offered the Foxtel Play subscription, providing stripped-down Foxtel packages, which can be watched on a wide range of home entertainment gear along with computers and tablets. Now it’s launched Presto, a separate subscription service which offers all-you-can eat access to Foxtel’s movie library, but no television shows – at least not at this point.
Presto draws on around 1000 movies from a range of Foxtel movie channels, including the Premiere channel, which picks up movies around nine months after they’ve been released in the cinemas. This means you’ll find recent movies on Presto that are still overnight rentals on competing subscription services like Quickflix (which admittedly is only $9.99 per month). Unlike Quickflix, Presto’s library won’t grow over time because as movies drop off the Foxtel movie channels they’ll also drop off Presto.
Whether you find Presto good value for money depends on how your household tends to watch movies. If you only hire one movie a week, and favour brand new releases, then you may be better off sticking with the iTunes store. You’ll generally find new movies for rent on the Australian iTunes store before they’re in Presto’s all-you-can-eat library. Sneaking into the US iTunes store gets you access to new rentals even sooner.
Presto becomes more attractive if you’re looking to watch several movies per week and you’re after for a broad mix of movies, rather than just the latest and greatest. Along with Premiere, Presto also draws on Foxtel’s Comedy, Romance, Thriller, Action, Family and Masterpiece channels, as well as the new Disney channels. This means there’s something for everyone on Presto and the line-up changes regularly.
You still may find yourself shelling out for the occasional rental. Presto actually offers overnight rentals for brand new releases, but they’re mostly B-grade movies. When renting you’re much better off browsing through the iTunes store.
When you’re ready to watch a movie on Presto, you can log in via the web browser on a Mac or PC, plus there’s an iPad app (Android is on the roadmap). The Presto interface is slick and intuitive, with brutally honest reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, which aren’t afraid to criticise the flops.
You can register your Presto account with up to three devices and watch different movies on two devices at the same time, helping families get more bang for their buck. Jump between your computer and your tablet mid-movie and Presto picks up where you left off, which is a handy feature. Unfortunately, Presto is purely a streaming service, so there’s no way to download movies for offline access when you’re on the road.
Presto’s biggest shortcoming is that there’s no easy way to watch movies on your television, which is frustrating if you’ve grown accustomed to the convenience of the Apple TV. AirPlay streaming from the iPad is disabled. If you connect your Mac directly to your television you may be disappointed with the 480p picture quality, which looks a little murky on a big screen – especially during dark scenes.
The fact you can’t watch movies on your television puts a serious dent in Presto’s value proposition – it’s a shame it doesn’t work on as many devices as Foxtel Play. You need to weigh up Presto carefully against Quickflix and/or iTunes – not to mention foreign services like Netflix – to decide whether Foxtel’s movie service offers good value for money in your home.