Fetch TV Mini Review
The teeny-tiny Fetch sheds its bulk, internal memory and 4K capabilities, but it does offer a neat and tidy home for all your streaming needs.
Fetch TV is taking some big strides to become the Australian set-top box of choice. Unlike its biggest subscription TV competitor, Foxtel, Fetch is welcoming the streaming competition with open arms, fostering a symbiotic relationship between popular on-demand streaming services and Fetch's convenient content hub.
Fetch is more interested in lounge room real estate than becoming the next Netflix. With that goal in mind Fetch is releasing the new lite version of its Mighty set-top box, the Fetch Mini.
What's the difference between Fetch Mighty and Mini?
The Fetch TV Mini is essentially a scaled down version of the Mighty. Not just in size, but in video output, storage and free-to-air tuners. Check out the table below for a complete comparison between the Fetch Gen2, Fetch Mighty and Fetch Mini.
|Hours of SD recording||Up to 585hrs||Up to 585hrs||None|
|Pause and rewind||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)||No||Yes||Yes|
Upsides: Why you'd want the Fetch TV Mini
- Sleek, compact design: One of the main reasons you would be purchasing the Mini over the Mighty is its fun-sized design. At just 120mm (w) x 122mm (d) x 32mm (h) the Fetch Mini isn't as compact as the Telstra TV or Apple TV, but it still has a small enough profile to fit underneath most televisions without being too obvious. For this new generation of boxes, Fetch has gone with a smooth, black design with floating panels on each side and a single blue light that signals when the device is turned on, recording or connecting to Wi-Fi. It's a simple, neat design that wouldn't look out place next to your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
- Expanded content: Content has long been one of Fetch's biggest downfalls. Outside of its free-to-air channels, Fetch traditionally services niche audiences with world content and a handful of core channels, like Nickelodeon for the kiddies, ESPN for the sports nuts and a few channels for the foodies. More recently Fetch has introduced Comedy Central, Spike and the English Premier League (for Optus customers). There's still no movie channel (which is a huge sticking point for Foxtel fans) but as always you have access to a wealth of movie rentals and purchases. Fetch TV's most attractive new partnership is the one they've established with Presto. With it, Fetch TV now offers all three of Australia's most popular streaming services, Netflix, Stan, and now, Presto. Presto is home to some stellar TV shows, like Mr Robot (which will be kicking off its second season with a double episode), The Sopranos and The Wire, and is a treasure trove for movies new and old.
- Responsive UI: While the UI is nearly identical to that of the Gen2 box, it feels more responsive than ever. This provides a particularly nice experience when switching between streaming services and movie box. With other devices, like gaming consoles and tablets, switching between services means closing one app and opening the other (which can be padded with some lengthy loading times). With the Fetch Mini, switching between is nearly as fluid as changing the channel, which makes that seemingly endless search for something quality to watch much more bearable. The movie box itself has had a few neat little UX improvements. It now allows you to filter by themes, genre, cast and crew and even offers up a few suggested searches. This is not a game changer, and whether or not this feature will be fully utilised is down to the individual, but more functionality is always welcomed.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Fetch TV Mini
- Not a PVR: Fetch has made a name for itself in Australia as the Personal Video Recording (PVR) alternative to Foxtel IQ. However, to achieve the Mini's slimmer form, Fetch had to drop a few features like proper internal storage and as a result, its program recording functionality. This isn't all bad. The Fetch Mini is positioning itself as a streaming device, not a PVR. Comparable streaming devices like Chromecast and Telstra TV also have a severe lack of internal memory. However, those accustomed to Fetch's ability to record free-to-air programs might be more swayed toward the Mighty.
- No 4K support: Impressively, Fetch's new Mighty box supports 4K output. The Mini does not. It's worth reiterating that the Mini exists on a different playing field to the Mighty and no other streaming device compared above offers 4K output either, but adding that feature would have been an impressive way for Fetch to separate itself from the herd.
- Annoying bandwidth alerts: This shouldn't be an issue for users with ample bandwidth, but for those with less than ideal connections, Fetch can get a little naggy. On several occasions throughout our trial, a pesky alert would continue to pop up to let us know our bandwidth was taking a hit while the stream continued smoothly in the background with no hiccups. You have to actively exit the notification using the Fetch TV remote and there doesn't seem to be an option to switch off the alerts. After cancelling the alert somewhere between 10 and 15 times in the space of five minutes, we eventually gave up and switched devices.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
The Fetch Mini is best suited for those looking for a slim profile set-top box that can pause and rewind live TV and provide access to Australia's various streaming services. However, it's even more relevant if you're signed up with an Optus mobile plan. When the Fetch Mini launched on 4 July, Optus mobile customers will have the option to bundle it with their plan for an additional monthly cost. If you're a Telstra customer, your best option is almost definitely the Telstra branded Roku 2, Telstra TV.
If you're not interested in marrying your phone and entertainment services, you can always opt for the Apple TV Gen 4 ($269) if you want something with some storage capabilities or the Chromecast 2 ($59) if you're after something cheep and cheerful. It's worth noting that diehard free to air fans will get no love from Apple TV, Telstra TV or Chromecast. Those who can't bear the thought of waking up without Karlos and Kochie should certainly set their sights on the Fetch.
Where can I get it?
The Fetch Mini will go on sale 4 July 2016 through Optus (branded as Yes TV by Fetch), Harvey Norman and JB HIFI. While Optus (and presumably other telcos) will be bundling the Fetch Mini with a plan, JB HiFi will be selling the device outright.
The Fetch TV Mini retails at $149. It is worth noting that Fetch TV comes with its own subscription costs if you opt for the additional channels. The Entertainment Pack (37 additional channels) will set you back $15 per month and each special interest channels (sport and world) can cost anywhere between $2.00 and $49.95 per month.
- What we liked
Compact and stylish design
Smooth, fluid UX
Free to air tuner
- what we didn't
No internal storage/No recording
No 4K support
Annoying bandwidth alerts