Review – Foxtel iQ3 Personal Video Recorder

Adam Turner
21 January, 2016
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Foxtel iQ3 Personal Video Recorder

Foxtel, www.foxtel.com.au

Pros 

Catch Up streaming, iOS remote scheduling

Cons 

Most streaming content is standard-def

$125 plus $25 delivery or $75 installed

Reviews

With a 1TB hard drive, the iQ3 has the capacity to record up to 172 hours of high-def content from subscription channels and free-to-air. You’ll squeeze in 345 hours if you dial down the picture quality to standard-def. The box can record three channels at once, including one free-to-air channel. You can also perform time-bending tricks like pausing and rewinding live television or watching the start of a movie while you’re still recording the end.

The Foxtel cable service rebroadcasts all the free-to-air channels, but some are missing for satellite subscribers. Thankfully, the iQ3 satellite box features an aerial jack on the back for tuning in to those missing free-to-air channels.

The iQ3’s biggest advancement is tighter integration with Foxtel’s streaming content. The new menus offer Netflix-style content discovery, offering recommendations based on your viewing habits, rather than leaving you to channel-flick.

Like the iQ2, the new iQ3 offers a ‘Look Back’ reverse EPG (electronic program guide), which lets you scroll back up to 24 hours in the on-screen guide to stream shows you’ve missed. Not every show is available, but it’s far more comprehensive than the FreeviewPlus equivalent.

Look Back offers some high-def streaming if you’re paying for the HD package. Foxtel recommends minimum download speeds of 3 Mbps for standard-def and 5 Mbps for high-def.

New to the iQ3 is ‘Start Over’. If you tune in halfway through a movie or TV show, you can jump back to the start and watch it streamed from the internet in standard-def. You can even fast-forward through the advertisements until you catch up to the live broadcast. It’s not available for every show. As with Look Back, a small play icon in the on-screen guide indicates that it’s available to stream.

You can also use the iQ3’s Anytime menu to search through the on-demand Catch Up library, watching shows available in your Foxtel package, but unfortunately all this content is also limited to standard-def. You can, however, rent high-def movies. All your streaming data is unmetered if Bigpond or Foxtel Broadband is your ISP.

As with Foxtel’s old iQ2, it’s possible to control the iQ3 using the Foxtel Go app for the iPhone and iPad. The free app works over Wi-Fi or mobile broadband, letting you change the channel on the iQ3 and schedule recordings (but not create a recurring Series Link). The app also grants you streaming access to the live channels in your Foxtel package, along with Catch Up content from those channels. You can’t watch live free-to-air television, only the Foxtel channels.

The remote control features in the iOS app are handy when you’re sitting on the couch and your iGadget is closer than the Foxtel remote. It’s also handy when you’re working in the next room while the kids watch TV. The iQ3’s remote control relies on Bluetooth rather than infrared, so it should work around corners. Thankfully, the iQ3 box retains an IR (infrared) receiver, so it can still work with your universal remote control.

Along with the Foxtel Go app, there’s also a Foxtel Guide app, which makes it easier to browse the entire program guide over the coming week. The app can also schedule recordings, including Series Links, and change the channel on the iQ3. If you live in a major city, the app lets you schedule recordings on free-to-air channels, but this option is missing for regional viewers.

Unfortunately, Foxtel hasn’t added the ability to stream your iQ3 recordings to your handheld devices, like the rival Fetch TV box, but it’s possible this feature could be added in the future.

Bottom line. If you’re catering to the entertainment needs of a busy household, then it’s certainly worth paying extra for an iQ3, so you can make the most of your Foxtel subscription. The slick iPhone and iPad apps are the icing on the cake. The only major disappointment is that only Look Back streaming is in high-definition, but hopefully this will improve with time.

14 Comments

14 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Mark says:

    One correction, it seems that NO streaming content I’d in HD, including the look back and start over feature, everything that is downloaded is in SD

  2. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    There is some Look Back catch up content available in HD if you’re paying for the HD package, but it’s hit and miss. For example, look at Rome on Showcase in this morning’s line up. The Look Back download in the EPG is 1GB on Showcase and 2GB on Showcase HD. This only applies to Look Back content from the last 24 hours in the EPG. Older content, such as the Anytime content, is SD. So is Start Over.

  3. Dave says:

    No comments on the interface or usability?

  4. Steve K says:

    Less than perfect.

    IQ2 works fairly intuitively. IQ3 less so. Regularly locks up / freezes, requiring re-set (disconnect from power) –
    at least once a week.

    Bluetooth remote can be slow and sometimes doesn’t seem to work. Repeat the command and command happens twice. This can be annoying when using the ‘back’ command.

    IQ2 works better but lacks the features of IQ3. In short IQ3 is still quite ‘buggy’ but certainly .has improved over the months

  5. Lj Jones says:

    I’m surprised that nothing was mentioned about the major issues that so many iQ3 customers, including myself have been putting up with. The constant freezing and incredibly slow reaction when pressing any button on the remote, just to change the channel can be quite a time consuming process. Having to turn it off and reboot it at least twice a week and when calling Foxtel to ask if there will be an update to fix the issues they couldn’t give me an answer. Quite the disappointment considering people have been dealing with these issues for almost a year.

  6. ken gracey says:

    I seriously thought this was a paid advertisement from Foxtel when I read it, obviously Mr Turner, doesn’t own an IQ3 box, or else his comments may have been a little less kinder. I wish people who actually owned these pieces of junk actually wrote the story. As somebody who really does own one, and has for over 12 months… let me say one thing, don’t Get One, check the Foxtel Forums, and after you scroll thought the 16 plus pages and growing list of complaints. keep your $150.00 in your pocket, and stick to your IQ2.

  7. Adam Turner says:

    I wrote this review and yes, I agree that the iQ3 is buggy. It’s always a challenge when you’re writing a short review as part of a group test and you want to cover a lot of ground. In print this review ran as part of a double-page spread alongside the Fetch TV, Humax 4Tune and DishTV AerialBox T2200 recorders, so I focused on comparing their capabilities rather than focusing on issues that could be fixed with a firmware update – as Steve K points out, the iQ3 has improved over the months.

    I found switching from the iQ3 Bluetooth remote to an older iQ2 infrared remote solved many of my problems with this box, but there’s still work to be done by Foxtel to knock it into shape.

  8. Ken Gracey says:

    Ok, so we have established the machine has some issues, but my bigger question is, why on earth did it get 4.5 mouse out of 5 ? How can we possibly take the mouse rating seriously any more ? In my opinion it should have received 1/2 a mouse, in the old days something had to be out standing to get 5 mice ? Has the mouse ratings slipped, or is now just a marketing gimmick?

  9. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Hi Ken

    Anthony here.

    Mouse ratings are taken seriously. They are not marketing gimmicks – when a reviewer provides a rating I take it on face value that the reviewer has provided their opinion without fear or favour. And I think this is one of instances where what the reviewer perceives and what others perceive is quite different.

    The mouse ratings aren’t a scientific measure – they are a representation of the reviewer’s opinion about the product. And, like all linear rating systems, different people have a different internal “radar” on using them.

    But I think you’ve raised a good point and I’ll make some suggestions to ensure the ratings are applied more consistently with our local reviewers – unfortunately I can’t do the same with reviews we source from our colleagues at the other Macworld mags around the world.

  10. Paul Mulligan says:

    who ever wrote this article has obviously not owned a IQ3 box for the last year. If there was a negative mouse score a CAT if you will I would give it that. The box and the software it runs in is a pile of rubbish Foxtel should never have introduced it to the market in its current state and I would urge all Foxtel users to avoid the IQ3 like the plague and stick to your IQ2 otherwise you will regret it. This article has made me lose what little respect I still had for Macworld was the author a paid guest of Foxtel ?.

  11. Ken Gracey says:

    Thanks Anthony,

    I have used the mouse ratings for more years than I care to remember, to select the good from the bad, when it comes to apple gear and accessories.

    Maybe in future mouse rating should only be applied to products that have some connection to apple products rather than a broad based rating?

  12. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Hi Paul

    Did you see Adam’s comment?

    Adam is not a paid guest or on Foxtel’s payroll in any way. He has explained why he gave the rating he did.

  13. Larry Edwards says:

    Wow have you ever used an IQ3…. Apparently so judging from your comments but wow 4.5? This is the worst bit of tech I have owned bar none! I am now onto…. wait for it….. my SIXTH IQ3 box and still having the same issues. The biggest issue here is that Foxtel will not admit fault and still make you go through the same trouble shooting / factory reset etc etc only to have the same issue again. I am just going to keep getting new boxes until they decide to take ownership and fix it!

  14. Alex Johnston says:

    I agree with what the “Commenters” have posted, and could not agree less with the actual “Reviewer”. The review seems like I would give for a new Ferrari, I have never owned one, never driven one, but feel compelled to comment about it. The IQ3 is ridiculously buggy, has an appalling interface, and even after 3 Updates is worse than it was 12 months ago! This is not a “personal preference” thing, the bugs are there!!

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