Guest post by Naqiyah Mayat, Lifestyle and Travel Writer.
Settling down to watch a movie or follow a TV series has become a new kind of luxury.
Watching TV in itself has become an expensive habit. Consider the costs of monthly subscriptions versus the time spent actually watching the programs that are aired. Do you even have time to watch all the programming that is available to you?
This innovation of live-streaming benefits users who might not necessarily be able or have had access to TV series or movies prior to satellite boxes, and are now all the rage across the world. Let’s unpack the concept and how to make it work for you.
How and where do I purchase a streaming box and what are the costs?
The device that I am reviewing is the R-Box Pro Android TV Box (16GB) is available through Imraan (contact details below) for R3500 (currently – July 2017). This device is referred to as the Octa Core Box and can be used for Kodi and other Apps (which refer to as any App that is available on your Google Play Store which can be installed on the Box) with ultra speed.
Lets discuss the 3 basic units that are available. We’re exploring the entry, mid range and high priced units.
1. The Dual Core Box priced at R1800 allows you access to Kodi (which means that you have the full Kodi experience but other apps won’t work as efficiently or fast. The dual core refers to the processor of the box).
2. The Quad Core Box priced at R2500 allows you access to Kodi and other apps at a sufficient speed.
3. The Octa Core Box is mentioned above.
Each box comes with a different processor and ram (which means the speed of the box itself) and in addition, there are different storage amounts as well. This starts from 8GB and goes up to 32GB. The device can also take a memory card to further increase the storage capacity.
What do I require to run Kodi (successfully and without any interruptions in the broadcast) and how do I set it up?
1. The starting point to being able to install or access Kodi would be to ensure that you have high-speed internet. In order to test your current speed, visit your App store and search for ‘Speed test’. It should suggest a few options, but we recommend ‘Speedtest.net’. Once you have downloaded the App, execute a ‘Speed Test’ to determine your download speed. If you are anything under 8Mbps (Megabits), you will need to consider opting for a faster speed internet. Your options would be to contact your service provider (Telkom, Vooma, etc) or any other service provider in your area. We upgraded our monthly package to a promotional offer from Telkom at a cost of R999 per month (for 24 months). This allowed us 40Mbps download, 200GB softcap data and you may request telephonically that Telkom provide you with a line connection (this is not a standard offering, but you may request it if you call them to ask (nicely!) This would include your monthly line rental which means that you won’t pay for a line rental over and above the R999 per month).
2. I would assume that having the device in a vicinity close to your television set would ensure a smoother transmission. Ours is located about 10m away from our screen and works effectively.
3. Once your internet speed is sufficient, make contact with Imraan. He performs all necessary updates on your device and advises on either a collection or installation of the device.
4. Be realistic about your skill level when it comes to installing the device. The device comes with an ‘installation guy’ (unless you or your husband would be happy to page through the booklet that comes with the device and install it yourself, but here, we’re not about that DIY lifestyle and Imraan is happy to come out even if you’re pretty pro at following instructions – consider it as his extra service to you). Imraan is however available to assist telephonically should you opt for the latter.
5. You don’t require any additional devices or plugs, just a basic 2-pin power to get the device running and the cable is supplied to connect to your television set.
6. If he installs the device for you, he will give you a brief tutorial on how it’s meant to operate. Its pretty self-explanatory, and you soon figure out how to access movies and series via the easy to navigate menus. He usually tests it on his device before bringing it through and ensures that you have already upgraded your internet speed.
7. We recommend that you ask him to supply you with the ‘keyboard remote’. This makes searching for movies/series easier as you type in your requirements pretty much like a keyboard (versus having to scroll to select alphabets).
8. The device then gets updated automatically (in the background) once it has been installed and you won’t even know that its performed an update.
What does the actual interface look like? It is complicated to scroll through looking for what I’d like to watch?
Navigation is really simple. Everything is categorised, in fact it’s easier to navigate than most satellite decoders. If you’re in the mood to watch your favourite actor, or movies from a particular year, all you need to do is click into that category. I particularly enjoy the ease of use, and if you’re confused as to what to watch, you may select the option ‘What People are watching’, to get a broader perspective of what is on offer.
Kids programs are in a dedicated category so you may teach them how to access just the kids movies.
There are options to pause, forward-wind, or rewind or check how many minutes are left in your movie (or estimated completion time). If you have stopped watching the movie or series, you may resume from where you left off even if the device has been shut down or you’ve left it running for a few hours.
Why is owning an Android TV Box next-gen?
The most important stand-out factor is that there is no monthly cost once you purchase the Android Box. The only expense is purchasing the actual box and ensuring that your internet speed is sufficient to run the programs with no break in transmission by paying your monthly internet subscription.
The latest movies are available to watch almost within days of screening at the movies. Movies and TV series are categorised into Genre and Year (there are other selection options to define what movie or TV series that you would like to watch). So if you select the year 2017, all movies released in that year will automatically show up as an option. Some movies/TV series might not be of a good quality in the earlier release dates, but remember to check back within a few days to see if an updated copy has been made available.
If you prefer to watch movies from the 60’s (even dating back earlier), they are all accessible on the device. There is no limit to what is available to watch! You will surprise yourself at the selection available!
The same applies to TV series being aired in the States (usually available within hours of original broadcast).
Should you require Indian movies loaded onto the system, Imraan may do that at no additional cost. You will need to mention this to him so he may include that as an additional update.
When one considers the monthly DSTV amount (from R789 for DSTV Premium which includes all sport, kids, movies and news channels) which often have the same movies scheduled at different times, or older releases, it just makes sense to put that towards a better internet speed and be able to access new movies and updated TV Series at any time of the day.
The device is portable; if you have internet access at your holiday destination or taking it to a friend, it works as a plug-and-play device.
Categories are listed by Movies, TV Series, Kids, Indian, etc. Navigation is straight-forward with no fussing about trying to find a particular movie. There is also a search function which works great if you know the title of the movie that you’re looking for (and quicker if you have the keyboard remote).
Time to troubleshoot. What frustrates me most about the device.
1. If the internet is down in your area, or if there is any inconsistency in the speed, the movies or TV series that you have settled down to watch will.not.play. I have had to restart my modem on a few occasions just to get it all running smoothly again.
2. If you have selected a newish movie, a clear, updated copy might not yet be available. In this instance, you either choose to watch a blur movie with poor sound, or check back in a week to see if a better copy has been updated. You might also make your way to the movies if you’re really keen (and disappointed) before a new copy has been released.
3. The movie or TV series information is not as easily accessible as one would access on DSTV. It’s not a bad thing, but more of a lazy factor. The age restriction also doesn’t show up on most movies, which can be a hindrance if you have younger kids. (Some movies are PG18+ and listed under Romance which can be bothersome for parents with teenagers. There is however a parental control option which works with a password.
4. The standard remote really is cumbersome. We really disliked having to scroll through the alphabets. Upgrade to the keyboard remote if it is within your budget. (Priced at R500).
Image credit: Shutterstock
We have been using our unit for approximately three months now and during that time, the unit has likely not worked (and by not working, I am referring to stalling, not streaming, or buffering) maybe 5 times, 8 counting having to restart the modem to improve the speed. I would still highly recommend considering purchasing Kodi as the amount of times that I’ve watched the latest episode of Big Little Lies before my friends has been worth that just alone.
So you might have heard that the device may be purchased abroad too. Is there a difference in buying it in SA?
The most important point to note here is that if you purchase the box through Imraan in SA, it comes with after-sales support. He does the installation and he advises you on how to connect and troubleshoot. If the Box has any technical issues, he is available to assist in getting it sorted out.
We are not aware of the pricing structure, but to avoid any technical issues, we recommend purchasing it through Imraan so he may resolve any problems that might occur during installation or usage.
Contact Details: Imraan (installation Jhb only but device may be couriered within SA)
WhatsApp or Telephone – 081 301 5496 | Instagram – droid_box01
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ email@example.com