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Hands-on with Foxtel iQ3 set-top box plus full pricing for new and existing customers

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Foxtel has announced pricing for its new iQ3 set-top box which is available from today for new and current subscribers. Tech Guide had a hands-on look at the device, the new remote control, the new features and the redesigned interface.

The new Foxtel iQ3 box will cost an additional $125 plus an additional $25 for either a self-installation kit or $75 for installation by a Foxtel technician.

Current customers can upgrade through My Account on the Foxtel website or by calling 131 999.

New customers can request the addition of the iQ3 set-top box as part of their subscription when they sign up.

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Minimum cost for new customers will be $500 (including $125 equipment fee and $75 standard install fee) or $450 (including the $125 equipment fee and the $25 self-install fee) on a 12-month direct debit plan based on the Entertainment pack with a Foxtel iQ3.

Tech Guide had a first hands-on look at the new Foxtel iQ3 set-top box. The iQ3 is slightly narrower than the previous iQ HD.

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The front panel has only one physical button – the on/off button – with the remainder of the controls touch sensitive on a surface that illuminates when it detects a hand close by.

The box has been designed to offer live TV and VOD (video on demand) at the same time and with an HTML5 framework to provide added capabilities in the future.

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One of these capabilities will be the ability to stream 4K Ultra High Definition content. Foxtel says this will be possible but has not specified if and when this added service would be available.

There is a 1TB hard drive on board along with 10 tuners – eight satellite tuners and two FTA (free to air) tuners – which means customers can view all of their cable channels with the FTA tuners placing all of the standard definition and high definition FTA channels in the channel list.

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The Foxtel iQ3 has 802.11ac wi-fi connectivity onboard, making it capable of high throughput to stream video.

The iQ3 remote is smaller than the previous controller and has a slight button re-arrangement.

It links to the box using Bluetooth which means it has a 10-15m metre range and doesn’t need to be pointed at the box – but old habits die hard as we found ourselves aiming the remote towards the TV when we didn’t need to.

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There is a new home button that takes users to a dashboard to provide the easiest access to your favourite shows, regularly watched programs and recommendations.

And any choice on this home page will have a button to give you the best access whether it’s watching it live, watching on demand or watch a recording.

Viewing and finding content has been enhanced in a number of ways.

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Start Over is for those times when you’ve missed the start of the program and you want to start watching it from the beginning. If this option is chosen the show will streaming from the start.

Look Back is another handy additional feature to make it possible to check out the TV guide from as far back as 24 hours earlier with the chosen show being downloaded to the iQ3’s hard drive like a regular recording.

And when you want to surf the channels you can see what’s on without leaving the one you’re watching using a feature called direct channel access.

You just have to type in the first number of the channel range to see a list of all channels starting with that number.

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Search works in a similar way so it’s easy to search for show and actor names. As you type in more letters the real-time search appears.

The iQ3 has excellent discovery features to allow viewers to see the Trending store – the most watched shows at that point – and Recommended which will help group shows you would like based on what you’ve watched and recorded.

When viewing the TV Guide, viewers used to be presented with mosaic of program from different channels starting at various times.

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Now with the iQ3 the TV guide will simply show you what’s on now and what’s on next to navigating the channels and planning your shows even easier.

The Foxtel iQ3 is available from today.