The Foxtel iQ PVR has already won my wife over and she is a total tech dyslexic. She finds it easy to use and is now addicted to recording the lifestyle channel. She is an interior designer who finds the content excellent as a reference source.
However she has already hit one big problem. She wants to keep the programs she has recorded for reference but finds that she is fast running out of disc space. What is needed is a simple USB connector that with ease lets a user to remove content to something like a Maxtor One Touch storage device.
The Foxtel PVR which is set to get an upgrade soon also needs a his and hers tuner so she can record her lifestyle shows and I my program of choice while we both watch live TV. The Foxtel PVR has its advantages and disadvantages with the advantages far exceeding the disadvantages. For example it's the only one that supports the capture of digital pay TV. The disadvantages are that it does not deliver a full Electronic Program Guide (EPG) because channel 10 and 7 are in a bun fight with Foxtel. Which is a pity as Channel 7 is cleaning up in the ratings.
The Foxtel PVR has two tuners, so you can watch one channel and record another, or record on two channels simultaneously. It has a very good system for managing recorded files, and it names files appropriately and usefully, keeping the full EPG information along with the recorded video. Time shifting is not automatic, but is easy to initialise. If you're familiar with the interface of the Foxtel Digital set-top box, then the iQ interface will not present much of a shock. It's nearly identical, with the "planner" interface incorporating the EPG recording functions. The remote is also similar, but with additional playback functions for recorded video.
The EPG capabilities of the box are excellent. At the present time, the EPG broadcast with free-to-air digital television only tells you what's on now, and what on next. It's not much use for planning recording times in advance. The Foxtel digital EPG, however, details programming information weeks in advance. Rather than having to figure out a time and channel for recording, you can go to the Foxtel Digital EPG, find a show and press a single button. The iQ takes the information from the EPG and programs the recording time for you. The exception is Network TEN and the Seven Network, which have not agreed to let Foxtel broadcast an EPG for their networks. You can manually set recording times for both of those channels, however (a process which seems downright primitive next to the simplicity of using the EPG). You can even record Foxtel Box Office movies with the iQ, but they are removed from the hard disk after three days.
The Foxtel iQ also has a "series link" button that programs to record every episode of a given series. Say you want to record every episode of The Simpson's on Fox8. Find one episode, press the series link recording button, and the iQ will automatically schedule and record every episode of The Simpson's that appears on Fox 8. When you're ready to watch them, they'll all be sitting on the iQ's hard disk--a pretty awesome feature if you're a fan of some of the television series shown on Foxtel. The iQ is even clever enough to not record dupes (for instance, when the same show is replayed at a later time). According to Foxtel, the iQ has enough hard disk space to record approximately 60 hours of standard definition television (Foxtel Digital does not broadcast any HD channels at this time. This is due to come soon with September 2006 tipped as a potential launch date.
Cost Is $6.95 a week excluding installation costs.