Safaricom has been releasing Android TV boxes for a while: there was the original Big Box that was released five years ago, and then came its successor in 2018 that we reviewed and liked – only that it did not support Netflix, and still is grossly overpriced at KES 10000.
We had also been wondering how long the operator was going to take to replace the second model, which, by the way, was never updated from Android TV 7 (Nougat).
However, the carrier has announced that it has a new TV box in store.
The streaming device does not have any special name to it but we since come have come to learn it is the Ematic TV Box sold by in other markets and is quite popular.
Ematic is a consumer electronics company based in the US, and it sells electronic products such as headphones, tablets, boxes, and mp3 players. We are not sure if it has made any kind of partnership with Safaricom to provide the TV box as it has been the case with the aforementioned and previous boxes that were branded with a Safaricom logo.
The box, which costs KES 7000 on Masoko, supports the majority of video-on-demand apps including Netflix and Showmax. It is also very likely that other like Prime Video are supported too, and a release from Safaricom adds the likes of Hulu in the mix too – but Hulu is not available in Kenya yet.
Safaricom mentions that the product is targeting customers who use its Home Fibre connection. According to numbers released by the CA, Home Fibre is the second leading fibre product in Kenya just behind Zuku.
“Safaricom has recently seen an increase in the number of homes seeking its Home Fibre service. To meet this emerging demand, the company has recently invested in additional personnel and in expansion of its Home Fibre service to more areas,” reads a statement from the operator.
Under the box’s hood is a quad-core CPU, 2 GB of RAM, and a Penta Core Mali-450.
There is 8 GB of onboard storage, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 support (we would have loved to see Bluetooth 5).
The box has two USB ports, a slot for a microSD card, 1 HDMI port, and an ethernet socket. The included remote appears to have hotkeys for Netflix and YouTube.
The device runs Android TV 9, and while there is Android TV 10 out there, version 9 is fine for us. The box support Google Chromecast and Google Assistant too.
We are looking forward to having a hands-on with the box for a detailed assessment in the coming days.