Cutting the Cord with DSTV, well mostly. (Updated Sept 2018)

DSTV, Media Server , , , , ,

It seems to be quite a hot topic at the moment. With DSTV stating they have lost over 100 000 subscribers of their premium subscription service over the last 12 months. They’re chalking this up to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime and that they don’t have to conform to local laws such as BEE and local content production. I’m not going to get into all of that, other than to say, maybe they’re charging too much, they revealed that the premium subscription is their highest margin package, says it all really. Also, Premium is the only package with all the sport.

So, cutting the cord. There are various options when doing this, but if you’re like me and still want to watch live sport without the hassle, then this would be my recommendation.

Since about March 2018, the DSTV Now app only works on certified Android TV boxes. (Update: You can now use Apple TV 4K and certain smart TV’s too) This isn’t to say you cannot side-load it on other devices. But you cannot update and use the latest version of the App. So if you want to use the DSTV Now app and be able to update it, so that you can still watch live TV occasionally (using a relatives or friends account), then I would highly recommend getting a certified Android TV box.

When trying to get this right, I came across multiple media boxes that claim to offer this as an option (on sale at Dion Wired) that actually have instructions on how to side-load the old version of the app as well as displaying the DSTV Now app on their packaging. Very odd considering these are being sold next to the DSTV decoder. Which is in direct contradiction of the stance DSTV has taken to only work officially on certified boxes, so you would assume stockists of their decoders wouldn’t stock these types of devices sporting the DSTV Now logo. (Product in question is called Intellybox and it was a hugely disappointing, I returned it within 24 hours, and later learned it was distributed by Vodacom).

CERTIFIED ANDROID TV BOXES IN SOUTH AFRICA

  1. TELKOM LIT BOX – R1099 (Telkom Stores)
    Currently I am using one of these little guys and it works a charm. I have been using it in my lounge exclusively for about 2 weeks to stream DSTV Now, News and Plex. I haven’t had one issue yet. Easy to use and nativly supports DSTV Now app through the official play store.The Telkom LIT box is the best value for money option, but only just. The remote is basic, and feels a bit cheap, but it actually works quite well. It doesn’t need line of sight to work either. In addition to this, I use a K830 Logitech keyboard. This really speeds up the setup process when you have to enter usernames and passwords. In addition it has an ethernet port which the Xiaomi Mi Box 3 doesn’t.
    UPDATE: After using this now for a number of months, a couple of things have stopped working. Plex has sound issues depending on the content you’re playing and the Netflix app doesn’t work at all without a number of work arounds. There are no updates or Android 8 (Oreo) available either which means that the lifespan of the box is limited as the apps all update on the latest releases.

    What was once my top pick, now falls to the bottom of the list due to incompatibility, lack of updates and support.

  2. Xiaomi Mi TV Box 3 – R1199 R1499 (Takealot)
    This box is similar to the Telkom Lit box, but does not have an Ethernet port which isn’t ideal. Having used this box for a number of months, I can highly recommend it. It has been updated to Android 8, Oreo already, all the apps work and I don’t have any sound issues.I am using DSTV Now, Netflix and Plex daily on this device without any issues at all. Android updates regularly as well as all the apps. Overall this is my top value for money pick when looking for a streaming box for your lounge / man cave / bedroom.

  3. Nvidia Shield – R 5100 (PC Link)
    This is more than just another media streaming box. The Nvidia Shield is a games console too and comes with a game remote controller. If you’re into light gaming, this is the device for you. You’ll be able to run all of the Android Apps and games. It has a fair amount of grunt versus the other media boxes. They’re very much orientated towards media streaming, whilst this device has a lot more too it. The Nvidia Shield will also receive the Oreo update this year, but not before the Xiaomi Mi TV Box 3 – weird.

There are sooo many things to consider when purchasing the media streaming box and everyone’s needs differ. The main aim of this post is to highlight the most user friendly approach to cutting the cord. There are so many hardware devices, streaming services and methods of downloading and consuming content, this is just one of them.