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Home Op-Ed Loaded Android box leaves much to be desired

Loaded Android box leaves much to be desired

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Streaming technology is frustrating to work with
by Peter Vogel


Photo Caption: The Android Box is a TV streaming device. Peter Vogel writes that too many channels on the "fully -loaded" box do not run. (wikipedia.org / ShareAlike 3.0 Unported)
 

Recently I had an opportunity to experiment with an Android TV box, a generic-looking device about half the size of a paperback novel. Having become quite familiar with streaming TV through use of a Roku Ultra device, I was keen to see what the much more grey-market Android TV box had to offer.

Let’s just say that this streaming technology has a way to go. A friend had asked me to look at the Android TV box he’d been given. Specifically, he wanted to see some Italian TV channels he had been assured were there to find.

This particular box was running something called a Kodi add-on, and within that a component called Exodus. These two components set grey-market streaming boxes apart from commercial units. Such Android TV boxes are said to be “fully-loaded.” (A recent court ruling in favour of Bell Canada mandated that such boxes can no longer be advertised in Canada.)

My first frustration was the length of time it took to get the various channels (1,000+) loaded. The second frustration, and a much more important one, was that quite a few of these channels did not actually run.

Eventually, after working my way through a byzantine menu system, I found the group of Italian channels my friend was seeking. As it turned out, most of them would not run. They generated errors or had regional blocks, and some that did run had very poor quality.

This machine generated a lot of “vault” errors, whatever that may refer to. Furthermore, I was unable to find any Vancouver-specific channels. Nor could I find the U.S. CNN feed. I use both of these as standard tests on any streaming TV device I am using.

I did enjoy some of the music and radio feeds available with this box and found these to be categorized in an intuitive way. I could not get the Vevo music video service to load, even though it appears to have been built-in as part of the overlay for this Android TV box.

Although I only spent an hour or two working with the device, my assessment is that it is not quite ready for prime time. It is certainly not a device for someone who doesn’t have the time or wherewithal to get it going, and then the patience to find content that is actually playable, preferably in HD.

One other point. Unlike, say, Roku streamers, this Android TV device used an infrared remote control. Once you’ve used a radio frequency remote, it is awfully frustrating to go back to an IR remote. Hopefully one day all remotes will operate through radio rather than light signals.

One of these days I will test out another Android TV. These boxes typically cost around $100. As with brand-name streamers, forget all the hype about thousand of channels and movies. Some of those many thousands may be geo-blocked to you, or they may be of low quality. A lot of the content is just plain junk. Sifting through that junk takes time, and even then, a gem you find today may not be operating tomorrow.

Just hope you can find a few dozen channels you may enjoy, be they actual TV channels or repositories of movies.

A recent column related how reader Brian Powell was cutting back on his overall Internet and TV bill. Here is an update from him.

Update

“Just received my new Telus bill. It is down to $57 from almost $150. AEBC (his new Internet service provider in the Delta-Ladner area) is costing me $50/month, so I’m saving $40/month by switching my Internet to AEBC. Their service is fine for me but my boys complain occasionally about “ping spikes.” The amount of time it takes for a signal to be sent out and received back has increased, slowing down the response time for some of their (online) games.

My next step, as mentioned before, is to get an antenna and cancel Telus altogether. That will have to wait, though, as I’m having solar panels installed along with some other home renovations.”

Follow me on Facebook (facebook.com/PeterVogelCA) and on Twitter (twitter.com/PeterVogel).

pvogel@outlook.com

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 10:51  

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