The set-top box to end all boxes | Bangkok Post: tech

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The set-top box to end all boxes

Simple to connect, with built-in Wi-Fi and USB and microSD ports, Penta’s product is a great new way to watch the tube

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Don’t worry if you have not yet subscribed to a cable TV service or have no satellite dish or set-top box. As long as your home has an internet connection, you can now enjoy watching TV programmes in (sometimes) the best quality. 

The Penta Wi-Fi TV box comes in a lightweight, compact design and can connect to your television via HDMI or composite AV cables.

The box’s front side has microSD and USB ports. These ports allow users to view photos, play music and video stored on compatible storage devices.

One more USB port is located on the rear side of the box, as well as an Ethernet port. The box also contains a built-in Wi-Fi router.

Unlike Apple TV or Android TV boxes, which users must set up and configure, the Penta Wi-Fi TV box turns your television into a smart TV within a few minutes. Users first download the Penta Remote mobile app, available on the App Store and Google Play, then connect their TV to the Penta box.

After connecting the box and entering my Wi-Fi password, the TV programmes will appear. They include more than 70 live channels of free, digital and online television. Access to online channels such as YouTube and Daily Motion is very easy. The time and date is also shown on-screen.

Compared to installing an internet router, connecting the Penta box to my TV was much easier. The entire process took no more than five minutes. (By the way, I did not use the remote control that came with the set-top box.)

When I selected the “Home” menu, two options popped up: “Penta Channel” and “Live”. On “Penta Channel”, programmes are listed according to categories — variety, news, drama, education, kids programmes, Korean series and so forth. (This is the best choice for fans of Korean TV series.) Also, I could create my own “Personal Channel” by choosing my preferred programmes. Whenever new episodes of those programmes were broadcast, they were automatically added and I was notified.

I have never tried an Android box, but it seems more suitable for the tech-savvy, as users must register a Google account, download the app, and turn it on and off each time they use it. The Penta box is more applicable for people who have no technical skills.

There is a lot of equipment available on the market, but this is the first set-top box that combines everything into the one unit — and anyone can install it themselves, with no need for a technician. This small box also serves as a mobile TV which users can bring anywhere — at home or abroad — where internet is available.

On my 2Mbps Wi-Fi network, the box worked relatively fine. I found the quality of some movies to be identical to those on an HD television. Some programmes, however, especially those on foreign news channels like NHK, had very clear sound, but bad image quality.

Instead of a remote control, I preferred using a mobile device as my main mode of selecting TV programmes. One of the downsides of this, though, was that I couldn’t control the TV’s volume via the device. I found no discernible difference in the iOS and Android platforms (for an iPad and a Motorola smartphone, respectively) of the Penta Remote app.

The Penta box also works on Windows, Linux and Mac computers via Firefox and Chrome browsers. Though I have not yet tried this, I can’t imagine the experience of watching YouTube or live TV programmes on a PC would be more impressive than on a flat-screen television.

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