Hubbl Review – A Promising Start

Strong beginnings

Foxtel turned heads late last year when it announced Hubbl, a new $99 streaming puck as well as a high-end TV called Hubbl Glass (more on that another day) that would aim to bring together streaming services and free-to-air TV into one small device and I’m happy to report that it succeeds for the most part.

Talking about the design of Hubbl, it’s a tiny little device. Smaller in width and depth than an Apple TV and less than a quarter of the height. This thing is tiny and will fit into any entertainment space or bedroom cabinet.

Hubbl

As far as ports on the unit go, you’ve got power, a HDMI port as well as an ethernet port and aerial, but the latter two aren’t necessary to get the most out of your device. I really liked that all ports were colour coded as are the actual cords that come with rather box which really plays into Hubbl’s whole ease of use selling point.

Hubbl Review

The setup process is fairly easy, especially if you’ve already got a Binge or Kayo account in which case you can log straight in. After connecting to Wi-Fi, you can either connect an aerial to get your free-to-air channels in or put in your postcode where it’ll pull in all the local channels from your location once you sign into the free-to-play apps. I will preface this by saying that I’m in Metro Melbourne, so if you’re regional, your mileage might vary in terms of what channels pull in digitally.

Hubbl Review

You then want to login to your various streaming apps, and for a select few such as Netflix and Disney Plus, Hubbl can even manage subscriptions which is one of the most exciting things about the device. Not only can you pull all of your subscriptions into one handy page to see your total monthly fee and easily manage all subscriptions, you can save between $5 and $15 per month for having three to five streaming services in your Hubbl stack. At the time of writing these include Binge, Netflix, Kayo, Flash and Lifestyle, but hopefully others will be added over time to make it truly useful.

Hubbl Review

Migrating my Netflix account over to Hubbl was super easy, with me adding the subscription, and then Netflix emailing me to tell me that I had two accounts, to which I simply cancelled my original payment. On the Disney Plus side, this was supposed to happen, but it didn’t (might have been early teething issues), but I was simply able to just go and cancel my original subscription and everything pulled across okay.

Hubbl Review

Hubbl’s greatest benefit is that it does a better job at anything else on the market in pulling in all streaming services (bar the likes of Stan and Paramount which are coming soon) as well as free-to-air TV into one really great curated and easy to use experience. There’s already a load of great curated sections on the homepage and it’s a weird, but fantastic experience seeing the likes of Netflix next to 9 Now content and Disney Plus content next to 10 Play content.

Whilst it’s a great selection of curated content currently, I do hope that we see more personalisation as I’m almost certain that everyone’s experience will be the same out of the box in day one, so I’d love to see recommendations that are specific to me.

Hubbl Review

You’re able to pick and choose content directly from the home screens, or various sections which will take you directly to the content in-app, or there’s also all of the apps if you prefer a more traditional experience for each of them as well. Your continue watching section at the top of home screen will keep tabs of your current position or FTA channel that you’re watching.

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Hubbl Review

There’s also a TV Guide which pulls in all of those previously mentioned free-to-air channels as well as content from Kayo, Binge and Flash. It’s similar to what you’d find in Foxtel, but again, considering this is available even when you don’t have an aerial plugged in, this feels like the first time that we can actually ditch that cord without having a subpar experience.

Arguably my favourite feature of Hubbl is the Watchlist feature, which is represented as a plus button on the remote. You can add in various TV series or movies from any of the streaming services or free-to-air channels (except Netflix at launch) and have one watch list containing content from all of the services.

Hubbl Review

For the most part, I was really impressed with the entire watching experience. Apart from the few missing streaming services missing, and the likes of Netflix not being in Watchlist, and a few other weird glitches like Kayo/Binge 4K content not appearing on my device, it was a much preferred experience to viewing all of these content within my Smart TV or even Foxtel.

The remote mimics more of an old-school remote with the previously mentioned add to Watchlist button, as well as Binge, Kayo and Netflix buttons to go directly to those apps, and you can also control your TV speakers with volume buttons on the remote. There’s also a built-in microphone, which is useful about half of the time.

When I’d ask it to show content featuring and actor or go to an app, it’d do it without any issues, but I’d ask it to play a rugby league game or other sports that you think it’d be able to do given Kayo is an owned streaming service, but it’d let me down a lot of time, but hopefully this improves with time.

Hubbl Review

Really, all of my biggest grievances with Hubbl feel like teething issues that will hopefully be ironed out in the coming weeks and months. If they can continue to add streaming services and features, I can actually see this being a $99 device that is useful for a load of people. I have absolutely no doubts that just because of how well it runs and the discoverability that it provides, once people see it in action, they’ll be tempted to try it out in their own homes.

Hubbl is available now from JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Man and directly from the Hubbl website for $99.

Hubbl Review
CONCLUSION
Hubbl cleverly combines content from streaming services and live free-to-air channels without an aerial to provide a super easy-to-use and curated streaming experience. Whilst it has a few kinks to iron out and a few more streaming services to add, it's off to a promising start.
Loved
Super Easy To Connect And Get Using
Stack And Save Is Great For Savings
Live Free-To-Air Channels Over The Internet Is Great
Content Curation Has Great Potential
Didn't Love
Still Lacking A Few Streaming Services + Features From Some Of The Included Missing
Voice Control In Remote Leaves A Little To Be Desired