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Hubbl review: Is the Hubbl Hub worth the trouble?

Reviewing Hubbl Hub and the Hubbl platform launched by the company Hubbl. Yep, strap in.

Hubbl Hub product image
Hubbl Hub
2.8 out of 5 stars
2.75
Device cost
$99 outright
Quality
4K
Features
Voice control, universal search and linear TV guide
Brodie Fogg
Mar 20, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

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Quick verdict: Hubbl

If your TV diet is Foxtel-heavy, Hubbl is an affordable way to access most of the same content via various apps on one platform. The only issue is, your smart TV probably does most of what Hubbl can do already. 

pro
Pros
pro $99
pro 4K-ready
pro Organic blend of linear and on-demand telly
con
Cons
con Limited apps
con Some apps are fundamentally worse on Hubbl
con Launch bugs
Photograph of the Hubbl Box on its side next to a Nintendo Switch dock, standing roughly at the same height.
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What is Hubbl?

Hubbl is a new streaming platform in Australia. Importantly, it's not a streaming service. Rather a service aggregator. One that brings a bunch of popular streaming apps into one place, much like your average smart TV. It's available on two new devices: a streaming box and a smart TV known as Hubbl Glass. It offers unique features like Stack & Save and Single View billing for simplified, and cheaper setups for those with multiple streaming services. The hardware itself is a rebadged version of Sky Glass, the UK's version that launched a few years back. 

Perhaps confusingly, Hubbl is also the new name for Foxtel subsidiary Streamotion, creator of popular apps like Binge and Kayo. 

This review is specifically dedicated to the $99 Hubbl streaming box. 

I don’t even know where to begin with Hubbl. The Foxtel subsidiary formerly known as Streamotion has launched an all-new streaming platform that aggregates all of its services on two new devices, a smart TV and a streaming box. 

At the very tippy top-level view, the Hubbl box is a decent 4K streaming box with linear capabilities, that’s cheaper and more compact than Apple TV 4K but with fewer features. Dig an inch below that surface, and things start to get a little more complicated. 

Hubbl might offer some unique features, like Stack & Save, Single View billing and impressive linear channel integration, but the list of what it doesn’t offer is even longer in significant and occasionally baffling ways.

There are some pleasant surprises, some confusing UX quirks, and some features that don’t feel ready for market. So all in all, it's a standard tech product launch in 2024. 

How much is Hubbl?

$99 outright + streaming services

Unboxing the Hubbl box

The Hubbl box is the cheapest way to access the new streaming platform. It costs $99 outright (which is listed as an ‘introductory price’) and is available through Hubbl.com.au, JB HI-FI and Harvey Norman.

You don’t need paid streaming services to use Hubbl. You could comfortably use it as a single solution for your free-to-air catch-up services like ABC iView and SBS On Demand but realistically, you’re going to rack up some ongoing monthly costs as you subscribe to more paid services.

And for those paid services, you’ll find a couple of unique billing features, such as Stack & Save discounts and Single View account billing.

dollar value
Stack & Save offers a discount but only if you subscribe to the right apps

The Hubbl Stack & Save function is a neat concept in theory. Save money the more apps you subscribe to. Stacking three apps will save you $5 per month, four apps will save you $10 and signing up to five streaming apps will save you $15 per month.

There’s just one major catch. There are only five apps eligible for Stack & Save. Besides Kayo, Binge, LifeStyle and Flash, the only non-Hubbl app eligible for the discount is Netflix.

Consider also that Binge and Kayo have both had price increases in the last six months and that the new LifeStyle app charges $8 per month for content that was previously available on Binge. When you add up all these caveats, the $15 discount feels a little less generous.

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Single View billing

The confusion continues with Hubbl’s Single View feature. Again, a brilliant idea in theory, particularly in an ever-growing streaming app market. Single View lets you subscribe, pause and cancel several streaming apps via Hubbl’s platform. Offering you a single billing view for all your services. But app compatibility is severely limited here again. Outside of the five apps listed above, the only other app available in Single View is Disney Plus.

Of course, it’s early days.More platforms will be likely be added to Single View down the line, but at launch, it’s a feature hamstrung by the willingness of competing streaming apps to participate.

Hubbl streaming box
Hungry for more information on Hubbl?

We've answered all your questions about the new Hubbl streaming box and Hubbl Glass Smart TV in one place. 

A friendly universal experience that still needs work


Photograph of someone holding the Hubbl remote

A major part of the whole Hubbl experience is the platform itself, which is identical across the affordable Hubbl box and the pricier Hubbl Glass. For the most part, it’s a smooth experience that consolidates content from partnered services in a very similar way to competitors like Samsung, Sony and Apple.

There are some thoughtful touches to the UI too. There’s a universal continue watching section that lets you pick up where you left off across all your subscriptions and a neat little search feature that directs you to your most recently used platform if a TV show or movie is available on multiple services.

Navigating the Hubbl dashboard is nice and simple. The app you want is usually one or two clicks away and the universal search feature is fast and accurate.

Launch bugs will no doubt be ironed out with subsequent software updates, but thus far they've resulted in a couple of hard crashes at setup and some bizarre UI behaviour.

Hubbl's vision here is to reduce friction when it comes to both finding something to watch and subscribing to the relevant services. At that, it largely succeeds within its limits. But that simplified approach can also create some issues for anyone who wants to dig deeper.

Photograph of the Hubbl Glass TV in action

One of the earliest hurdles I came across using Hubbl was discovering that I couldn't use the universal search function to find titles available to buy or rent through Apple TV, Amazon or YouTube. In fact, I couldn't find a way to watch rentals or purchases through Apple or YouTube at all, and resorted to purchasing what I wanted (Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero) through Amazon Prime on a separate device. Even Fetch had a smorgasbord of digital rent and purchase options; that comprehensive coverage was part of its appeal. 

This same overcorrection has led to extremely limited customisation options. Despite the in-built soundbar, the bass is pretty weak out of the box and the binary "bass boost" option doesn't seem to make much difference. Picture settings go a little bit deeper if you know where to look, but even those have mostly boiled down to simple on/off toggles. This is maybe a good thing for the average punter, you can make a real mess with modern televisions if you don't know what you're doing. More experienced home entertainment engineers are going to feel incredibly hamstrung by Hubbl's limitations. 

Hubbl doesn't run on Android TV or any comparable smart TV operating system. That means there's also no app store, so if Hubbl hasn't struck a deal with your favourite streaming service, it's simply not available.

There's a decent lineup of apps there but a few key niche services are nowhere to be seen: Britbox, Shudder and MUBI are just a few examples you won't find on Hubbl at launch.

Even Foxtel's own Foxtel Now isn't available. As strange as that sounds, it actually makes more sense than something like Britbox, considering Foxtel considers Hubbl and Foxtel two distinctly separate products (that also happen to offer a lot of the same content.) 

But let's talk about those Hubbl apps, specifically Kayo. More than just a sports streaming app, Kayo offers a few unique features that its users love. Split-View lets you watch up to four sports at once and Interactive Stats gives you live facts and figures based on whatever you're watching. These features are available on just about every smart device except Hubbl. 

Hubbl told us in a hands-on preview that this was mostly down to the fact that their users mostly access those features on mobile, but that doesn't change the fact that the Kayo app does less on its own hardware than it does on competing smart TVs and streaming devices.

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Livin' La Vida Linear

Above all else, what's impressed me most about Hubbl is its free-to-air integration. On Hubbl's homepage, there's a traditional electronic program guide (EPG) that displays air times for linear free-to-air channels and even linear programming available through Binge, Kayo and Lifestyle. For someone who has more or less moved away from linear programming, it's a bit of a trip down memory lane. 

The easiest way to integrate free-to-air channels is to plug in your aerial cable, just like our ancestors before us. But if you don't have one handy, or like me, you've gone as far to remove the aerial from your roof, Hubbl will still ingest linear programming information through various free-to-air apps, so long as you have a login for services like ABC iView. It's not currently available for all channels but Hubbl suggests it's just a matter of those services not available coming to the table and giving Hubbl access to their feeds. 

The mystery multi-coloured button

Lastly, there's the remote. It's a fairly standard remote by today's standards: three dedicated streaming buttons, a voice search button, and a circular button at the centre for navigation. You know the drill. 

There's also a multi-coloured button at the top-right, next to the power button, that does... nothing at all. I was convinced it was a voice control button but there's a dedicated button for that. 

The Sky Glass equivalent seems to be a contextual button that performs unique tasks for different apps, such as providing an additional menu in BBC1, but I'm yet to stumble across a single use case for the same button in my travels. 

Is the Hubbl box worth forking out $99 for?

A smart blend of linear and on-demand that should only appeal to fans of free-to-air and Hubbl's streaming apps.
Photo of the hubbl box and remote plugged in

The kindest thing I can think to say about the Hubbl box is that offers good bang for buck at $99. Would I recommend it over the Chromecast with Google TV which costs the same price (or even cheaper through Amazon)? No, I would not. But there's something to be said about its unique blend of free-to-air programming and on-demand content, even if you don't plug in an aerial. 

Discount and billing features exclusive to the hardware, such as Stack & Save and Single-View, are nice to have if you subscribe to more than one of Hubbl's apps (Binge, Kayo, Flash and Lifestyle) but if not, they won't mean much to you right now. 

It would be easier to recommend Hubbl if it had wider compatibility, but at the time of writing it doesn't even support all the streaming apps I pay money for, so I couldn't possibly replace my Apple TV (or smart TV) with the Hubbl ecosystem. 

There are more reasons to love the Hubbl Glass smart TV but at launch, the Hubbl streaming box will appeal to a select few free-to-air fans and the streaming curious. 

Hubbl Hub product image
The Hubbl streaming box
4K streaming on-demand and linear television in one box. Simplify your streaming with Stack & Save discounts and Single View billing.
bullet 4K streaming
bullet Save up to $15 per month with Stack & Save
Introductory price
$99
Order now from Hubbl+ free express delivery
Brodie Fogg
Written by
Brodie Fogg
Brodie Fogg is the Australian editorial lead at Reviews.org. He has covered consumer tech, telecommunications, video games, streaming and entertainment for over five years at websites like WhistleOut and Finder and can be found sharing streaming recommendations at 7NEWS every month.

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