In the US Android TV gets a lot of stick for the perceived notion that Google is not doing all it can to support the platform. This is most commonly understood in terms of the number of hardware options that are now available after what is considered to be a lengthy amount of time since the launch of the platform. Although this is not quite the case as there are plenty of devices powered by Android TV now available. It is just more of a case of a lack of obvious and dedicated boxes available to buy as ‘over the counter’ options. For instance, while there is some weight to the argument that more third-party manufacturer support is needed at the consumer box level, over the past year or two it has become increasingly clear this is not the main direction Android TV is now going in. As Android TV is now far more prevalent at the built-in level (TV sets powered by Android TV) and at the provider/operator level (boxes which now seem to be replacing standard STBs).
The latter of which is especially true as this is something that is becoming extremely prevalent when looking at Android TV at a global level with Android TV largely only becoming available in a number of countries via providers and operators. Speaking of which, the latest provider/operator box to arrive came this week via the launch of the Foxtel Now box in Australia, although it has only become available to buy starting from today, November 10. Foxtel’s service (Foxtel Now), like most streaming services nowadays, providers consumers in Australia with access to on demand content as well as live TV (including access to free-to-air TV through the likes of ABC iView, PLUS7 and tenplay). And like the increasing number of content providers, Foxtel has now opted to go the Android TV route with its new box. Interestingly, this is a box that adopts a less traditional STB form factor and instead boasts a design which looks very similar is style and shape to Google Home. Also interestingly, this is not the first box to do so as back in July of last year TIMvision launched a new Android TV box in Italy which adopted an almost identical design to this one. So for some providers, it seems this new Google Home lookalike design is proving to be a popular option.
As for the features, the Foxtel Now box packs in 2GB RAM, 8GB storage, supports 4K video playback, Casting, and comes packaged with a Bluetooth/infrared AAA battery-powered remote control. The Foxtel Now box supports Wi-Fi 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, Bluetooth 4.1, comes equipped with a USB 3.0 port, and DVB-T. The box itself costs $99 AUD (roughly $75 USD) and does require a Foxtel Now subscription for full usage. As for the service, Foxtel Now starts from as low as $10 AUD per month with the option to add-on various themed packs such as a movies or a sports pack for an additional cost. Regardless of the plan chosen Foxtel does currently offer a two-week free trial to new users. On a last note, and something which is not always seen with these provider/operator boxes, Foxtel allows consumers to buy a box for someone else and offers this option through its eBay channel. Again, priced at $99 AUD with a two-week free trial of Foxtel Now included. So for those based in Australia this might be an additional option worth considering as a gift for the Holidays this year. Those in the US looking for a TV-based gift for this year's Holiday season click here for a good rundown of some of the best options currently available.