AS A SINGAPOREAN, WHICH SET TOP BOX IS FOR YOU? 2015

With Apple's latest apple tv already out, here we are again to browse through and look for a perfect set top box to accompany our lonely tv, in making our tv viewing experience a little better.

Living in Singapore, after having to work from 8.30 am to 6 pm daily (generally 9 1/2 hours), you can't help but take 1-2 hours everyday to wind down. It is only healthy like that. And the most simplest way of winding down, is to sit down in front of your tv, switch it on and just watch shows.

Of course, we can all tune to to our basic channels, 5, 8, Suria, Vasantham, Central or Channel News Asia. But these channels, with its limited content, will probably just kill me out of boredom. Let me then give you a run down on how to spice up your tv viewing experience. Unless you have a smart tv, which is also limited in it's capabilities, you need a set top box (STB). Let's start.


  1. Starhub TV


With a subscription fee of about $55.00 (channels + $6.42(Set top box rental)= ($61.00) per month, you can get 80 channels which includes Education channels (History, Discovery, TLC, Nat Geo), Entertainment channels (Fox, Warner, Hits, Star word), Asian Channels (Airirang, KBS, RTM 1), Movie Channels (HBO, FOX Premium, Thrill, Classic). There are sure many channels to watch and it airs 24/7. But do you have the time to tune in to everything?

You might also want to check out Starhub Go service, which is like HBO go or Netflix. Starhub Go offers customers some shows and movies which limit viewing experience because of all the censorship. Violent - adult themed scenes are omitted almost naturally, unfortunately. You can subscribe it for 99 cents for the first 3 months and then you would be automatically be billed $9.90 per month. This service has no contract or set top box required. It plays off either from an app or directly on the websites from your web browser (Internet explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari....etc) Click here for more details.

Pros : Many many channels for you to watch. HBO and Fox usually carry new movies, 3 months after the theatre release. The recording feature from the set top box is helpful to record shows you want to watch later. Some shows, not all, are screened 24 hours after the US release.

Cons : Expansive, you cannot choose what you want to watch. Shows usually air 1 month after the season starts, unless its specific shows Starhub mentions such as The Walking Dead. Still, you need to wait for a specific time to watch. These days, The Walking Dead is on Fox Channel on Monday Nights, 9 pm. I usually watch mine straight after shower, usually at 7 pm. You can't insert you USB thumbdrive to watch any of your downloaded movies.

2.  Singtel MIO Tv



MIO Tv is getting more popular in Singapore, namely because of its rights on English Premier League. A subscription fee of $69.90 nets you contents similar to Starhub TV, except Mio doesn't carry History Channel and HBO. But on the bright side, you can watch every single EPL match on it.

Pros : Many channels for you to watch including all EPL matches. Your weekend night will usually be filled with  this.

Cons : No HBO channel is a downer. It is also very pricey. You can't insert you USB thumbdrive to watch any of your downloaded movies.

3. Apple TV

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Apple TV latest's is a nice offering for a set top box. You can download many apps on it, including games and play on your TV. The apps will only grow with time. You can watch netflix or hulu on it, provided you know how to configure the VPN. You just imagine using your iphone/ipad on your tv, its something like that.

Pros : Watch on demand shows and movies from Netflix or Hulu. Rent or buy videos from Itunes and watch it on your TV. Mirror your ipad or iphone on your TV, via the Apple TV. Play IOS games on your TV. Siri is a feature and it works well with the Apple Tv.

Cons : You cannot insert your thumb drive to watch videos on the Apple TV. The cheapest Apple TV model is quite pricey at $248 (32 GB). Does not support 4k resolution output. You can't install KODI on it (yet).

4. Amazon Fire TV 

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The new Amazon Fire TV is one of my favourites. Sure, it is from Amazon and people in Singapore might find it difficult to get one. But don't worry, I am working on a tutorial that allows you to ship it to Singapore easily and cheap. It is going for $99 USD, which is around $150 SGD (Amazon has discounts sometimes pricing it at $78 USD). It is solid, stable and works well.

Pros : You can sideload android apps on it. It is affordable. It has good customer service/troubleshooting. You can install Kodi on it. You can insert a thumbdrive and play your videos on it. It supports 4k resolution. There's a voice search or something like Siri called Alexa.

Cons : Amazon shipment to Singapore is way too pricey. (But there's a workaround : I will do a short tutorial on how to capitalize on the cheapest US to Singapore Shipping Service soon). Another downside is if you want to watch Netflix, Hulu or Amazon prime videos, you need to configure the VPN manually on the Fire Tv. Here is a link that can help you fiddle around your Fire Tv.

5. 4k Viewqwest TV

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VQ TV is a product of Viewqwest, the awesome internet provider I have been using for the last 2 years. While the VQ TV is solid, it does not function as well as the Fire TV in my opinion. But, I still like it. For those who are stuck with Starhub or Singtel but wants a free 1 year VPN service to watch Hulu or Netflix, should seriously consider buying this. You do not have to fiddle around with the VPN settings on this device. VQ does everything for you. You can check out my full review here.

Pros : Comes with in built VPN. Supports 4K resolution. Runs on Android Platform 4.4.2 so you can pretty much download and install everything. Fast and responsive. It supports Kodi.

Cons : Pricey at $299. You can contact me to get a discounted price ($230) though. Touchpad on the remote is not fully reliable.

6. Roku 4



Roku has been around for a long time. It has been one of the best STB money can buy. With most of the apps already preloaded, you do not have to manually hunt down for Netlfix or Hulu. The VPN service needs to be manually set up for the Roku though, which can be a hassle for those who are less IT savy. With its all in one search feature, you can type or speak into the awesome remote control to search for a show. The remote controller has a jack which you can insert your headphones if you want to watch Saving Private Ryan at 3 in the morning, without having to disturb your neighbours. It has the best search feature in any STB. It is unfortunate it is not as customisable as VQ TV or Fire TV, so Kodi will not run on it. At $130 USD, it offers a good choice of a STB. You need to purchase it online from the US though. You can find it here.

Pros : Good working remote controller with an audio jack. Reasonable price to offer 4k resolution output. All in one search feature makes it easy to find what you want to watch.

Cons : Not customizable. You cannot install Kodi into the Roku. No international shipping options from the online store. (But there's a workaround : I will do a short tutorial on how to capitalize on the cheapest US to Singapore Shipping Service soon)

So there you have it. Some of the finest STB in the market today. I have used all of these before and my personal recommendation is either the Fire TV or the VQ4k TV. There is however a very cheap alternative in Xiaomi Box. But because of the unstable nature of the system and the native language is in Chinese, it does not appeal to the masses in Singapore. But if you have a Chinese friend who is charitable, you could probably get his/her help you get one. The one thing to consider is that the Xiaomi box hasn't gone far enough in tech to be on par with the devices I have listed above.

I hope this breakdown will narrow down your hunt for your next STB. With Xmas coming, I am pretty sure the prices of these devices will go down too. Happy hunting everyone!

Khai

Comments

  1. Awesome article, all bases covered and very informative!
    I'm Using Apple TV, and a Playstation 4 in my room for my netflix at the moment. Am thinking of adding a Roku somewhere in the home!
    BTW, have you downloaded Gauntlet for PSN+? Great game to play co-op.

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  2. Awesome setup bro! You can't go wrong with Roku, no matter which version. I haven't played Gauntlet yet though. I'm still fixated on Fallout 4....hehehe. Is Gaunlet fun to play?

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