First Impressions Of Safaricom’s ‘theBigBox’ Internet & Digital TV Set-Top Box (STB)
Earlier today, Safaricom launched their much anticipated hybrid Internet and Digital TV Set-Top Box (STB) which has been named rather imaginatively as ‘theBigBox’. I had the opportunity to attend the launch this afternoon at the Sarit Centre in Westlands for a few minutes before heading off to other more pressing engagements. Below are my initial impressions from the same – before I do I fully fledged review in the coming weeks:
The pricing for theBigBox is somewhat unexpected(?) as below:
|Payment Plans||Price (Kes)||The BigBox Internet Bundle||Installments (Kes)|
|Easy Pay Plan||4,999.00||6GB Free Monthly Bundle Free For 6 Months||999.00 for 6 months|
|One-Off Payment||9,999.00||6GB Free Monthly Bundle Free For 6 Months||N/A|
So. Basically. If you want to buy theBigBox in one go your looking at an investment(?) of Kes. 10,000.00 out of the box (pun intended). That brings a tear to my eye at first glance. However, that also includes 36GB of Internet data for a period of 6 months since this is hybrid STB and not just a ‘dumb’ STB. In addition, below is the pricing for additional or regular theBigBox data bundles as follows:
In terms of content, theBigBox comes ‘out of the box’ with 35 free to air (FTA) digital TV channels. There is nothing really spectacular about this aspect pretty much ALL FTA STBs have the same content. In addition, PAY TV STBs have lots of better paid content so perhaps this is just a temporary status quo as Safaricom could be ramping up its content acquisition efforts?
However, theBigBox ‘shines’ in that YouTube streaming will be free of charge for the first 3 months given that this is a 3G and 4G capable STB. In addition, it will also enable you to play content from your flash disks and Micro SD cards since it has slots for both. To boot, theBigBox also has an RJ45 slot meaning that you can/could connect it to your home Internet network via ethernet. In a nutshell, what this means is that theBigBox is something of a Trojan Horse in that it can do a lot more than is possible at the minute with all its extensibility. Clearly, these will be activated in due course.
theBigBox, apart from being a standard Digital TV STB is also able to function as a WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices using its 4G capable Internet connectivity. This is really cool except that with a pay-as-you-go Internet service it will have its limitations compared to unlimited Internet via fibre to the home (FTTH) offerings like Zuku, JTL Faiba and others. However, theBigBox IS able to connect to ethernet so eventually Safaricom could offer FTTH and even Fibre to the business (FTTB) using theBigBox. For sure, this thing is a Trojan Horse of sorts!
Another aspect of theBigBox is that you can access Internet content on your TV so there is no need for other devices to connect if this is preferable(?). I am hoping that its able to host apps like Netflix or something similar going forward in pretty much the same way TV devices like Google’s Chromecast works. This in itself could change the landscape for digital TV in Kenya by offering a localised ‘video on-demand’ or VOD offering where one could pay for content using M-Pesa. The potential for theBigBox is enormous if Safaricom play their cards right!
theBigBox comes with the following specifications which in some instances are impressive and in others typical:
|Processor||ARM Cortex – A9 6000 DMIPS|
|Flash Memory||eMMC 4GB|
|USB||USB 2.0x 1|
|Video/Audio||Composite Video & Audio L/R|
|Digital Audio||Optical S/PDIF|
|SD Card||Micro SD Memory Slot|
|RJ45||Ethernet LAN Cable|
Off the cuff, theBigBox seems like an impressive package even with its apparently high price(?). However, I will not really know how good it is until I get a chance to do a proper and comprehensive review on it over the next few weeks. If you want to find out more about theBigBox and where it is available you can do so at theBigBox website here.