With the rise of fibre and low cost (vs DSTV) online streaming services in South Africa such as Netflix, ShowMax and Amazon Prime, there comes the need for the end consumer to be able to watch their favorite TV shows in the comfort of their lounge, on the platform of their choice. The MediaBox steps in to try and fill this gap in the market.
The MediaBox at its core is mostly just a standard run-of-the-mill android tablet without a screen, it has very average specifications and plugs into a TV to play games, browse the internet, or consume the media of your choice. Where it mostly differs from a tablet is its premium looking chassis at its particular price point. The MediaBox can be picked up for only R1999 from their website and features everything you would need to get started. A set top box with USB ports, a power cable, an HDMI cable (For HD TVs), an AV cable (for SD TVs), and finally a motion controlled TV remote.
As mentioned above here are the full System Specifications
|Operating System||Android 4.4.2 KitKat|
|Processor||4X ARM Cortex-A7 1.51GHZ|
|Max Resolution||1080p 60fps on HDMI|
|Built in Storage||8GB expandable via SD Slot + USB|
|I/O||HDMI/Ethernet/USB x2/AV/WiFi/Optical Audio|
The MediaBox performs relatively well when every day videos, movies and games are thrown at it. Loading up 720p/1080p videos is as simple as plugging in a flash drive and opening the file on the included File Browser. It’s worth mentioning that larger 1080p files do tend to suffer from slight audio delay and syncing issues where framerate stutters occur every once in a while. It’s nothing major and my girlfriend didn’t even notice it until I pointed it out, but it goes to show that the internal hardware is not up to spec compared to modern 4K Smart TVs. Browsing the internet and general productivity runs as expected with slow loading of applications but then perfectly manageable once open. Games are also capable of being played on normal settings at native resolution, but it may be worth investing in a Bluetooth controller if you want to use the MediaBox as a casual console.
What makes the MediaBox a recommendation among the plethora of other Android TV Boxes on the market (just check Aliexpress and you’ll see what I mean) is the time and investment the company made in throwing in additional applications and features. At first setup the MediaBox includes home screen applications for Youtube, Netflix, ShowMax, SuperSport, Kodi and DSTV Now. It also comes with a voucher for a month of ShowMax completely free. Once connected to the internet for system updates my review unit also added Amazon Prime Video. It’s clear that MediaBox want the end consumer to have every single choice of online media playback humanly possible. 3rd party applications such as Crunchyroll can also be installed to complete your full online viewing experience. Anime fans rejoice!
Aside from software optimizations and app inclusions, the best feature of the device is the included remote. It functions like a standard TV remote with UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, BACK and OK buttons, making navigation a simple process, but where it goes beyond this is when you press the motion controlled pointing button. This allows you to guide your mouse cursor in mid air similar to that of a WiiMote. It’s great and it’s strangely more accurate than my Samsung 4K TV’s motion controlled remote. With android being optimized for single finger use for scrolling, sliding and swiping the same implementation is done by pressing a button and moving your hand in similar motion.
In a market full of expensive TV’s and Computers, the MediaBox sets itself apart being able to bring functionality to SD as well as HD TVs. The device performs well enough to be used as a primary media consumption platform and can be picked up for less than an entry level notebook. It’s well worth it’s money and receives our recommendation.
NOTE: The MediaBox does not come with included Internet Connectivity. An Internet Connection is required to take full use of the device.