The first I had ever heard of an IPTV box was a TVPad which was owned by a colleague. I didn’t think much of it as from the name I though it was just some Android tablet with some apps to watch downloaded media content. It wasn’t until I wanted to watch a little bit more news of TV, and the odd English Premier League football match (getting sick of crappy blocky connections via websites) that I explored the option of getting an IPTV box. A little bit og background here; where I live is smack bang in the middle of one of the busiests parts of Hong Kong. Being a short buillding of only 5 floors, its surrounded by much taller buildings on all sides. On the rooftop just above me there are remants of TV aerials lying about, but I’m guessing its not going to pick up much in terms of reception due to the surrounding buildings.
I tried the online mainstreams solutions first. Netflix didn’t have any live shows, with the use of Tunlr.net (now Tunlr.com which was free back then) I managed to watch a few UK shows from BBC iPlayer, 4oD, etc. but the streams were sometimes too much for my 6Mb line to handle. The missus wanted to watch some local TVB shows, which eventually got me down to the Golden Computer Arcade in SSP to see what solutions they had in store.
I started off with some generic Android box. Thats now gathering dust as it relied on apps to stream the live contents and they were never reiiable. Containing some obsure hardware, it ran a very early version of Android which could not be updated, so when the apps needed a newer version of Android to work, you couldn’t even install it. As standard this box and the others I will mention below all had a HDMI port, USB port (to either sideload apks or using a USB mouse which was a godsend when you needed to type in wifi password and Google logins), an ethernet port and wifi capabilities to connect to your home network. It now a HK$500 paperweight.
Next I got one a Mii Box 3, after looking at its VST content, but after playing with it for half an hour I realied its just a better looking Android box than the one I had now gathering dust. Because of the faster processor inside, the Mii Box 3 did run smoother, and it did have some sort of Mii content selection (all in Simplified Chinese which took me ages to navigate, but there are rooting options online that can convert it to English), but is still relied on streaming apps, and again they are about 70% unreliable. For around HK$700, it adds smart capabilities to your TV, but its just not my cup of tea.
After reading some very good reviews I forked out HK$2200 for a Maige TV HD2, only for the newer version HD3 to be released 2 weeks afterwards (you can see where the trend is going). Its rather pricey to begin with but the initial price consists of the 1st year’s subscription (which you normally get about 390 days). After that resubscriptions cost anything from HK$800 to HK$950 per year, strangely depending on which reseller you bought it from. Unlike to previous 2 Android boxes above, the Maige runs a dedicated linux OS which offers just 2 services: a VOD selection geared at the Chinese market, and a live stream section with live EPG (Electronic Program Guide). Imagine what the user interface of your cable box looks like, thats what its does. Maige takes streams from all around the world, at one point with over 2500 channels from countries such as HK, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, India, UK, Canada, USA, etc. This beauty ran 80% of the time, and when there was an unplanned service downtime, Maige would add on more days onto your subscription. Quality of the live channels were near HD, I was very surprised when I watched Sky Sports HK one night for a football match and the image was near perfect. Be warned though, as the company is based in China and with a huge crackdown on these ‘illegal’ services from last year (TVPad being one the biggest companies to get shut down), Maige had been down from the turn of the year. There’s small updates that service will resume sometime this month, but I’m not holding my breath.
Maige HD2 on the left, Maige HD3 on the right
Which brings me the the Unblock Tech box mentioned in the title. Its another Android box, so I was very wary of getting one, but after a 15 minutes hands on play with it, I snapped one up for HK$680. What sets this IPTV box different from the rest is that it has its own ‘playstore’ from which you can download live stream apps which are dedicated to the MAC address of your box, so you will not find the apks on the internet, and even if you did and installed it on a different Android box, it would not work.
The UBTV app has over 1000 live channels and works flawlessly. There’s 2 versions of the app (Chinese and English) with the Chinese one having just a shade more channels than the English one. To please the missus, it contains a full array of HK TVB channels. I just switch between SKy Sport, MTV and some random documentary channels. Supposedly supports up to 4K content, the small TV I have it hooked up to doesn’t show 4K. Another thing thats so great about the UBTV is that it seems to have a very good compression system; on my 6Mb line I can still use the internet wihtout much slow down when I have a live stream on, unlike all the other options above which resulted in super slow browser loads.
Specs can be found here.
Feedback from other users around the world is that the UBTV works well even in countries such as France, UK, USA, Malaysa, etc. With being Android I can choose to install Kodi on it as well so more content. I thoroughly recommend this, and hope this small guide can prevent anyone that is in the similar position that I was in and wasted money on a lot of sub-par options. If you want to look at the full UBTV marketing blurb, and you will be impressed, head other to their Function page.
Read the latest UBOX 3 – UnblockTech review here!
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