PETALING JAYA: Android boxes, which allow for online streaming from legal and illegal sites on the Internet, are popular among Malaysian households as the offerings are cheap and easy to use.
Also known as set-top box, these devices can stream the latest movies, documentaries and live TV channels, including news, to the TV for free or with a small subscription, legally or illegally.
A user, TC Leng, said using the Android boxes could save him enough money in the long run to pay a month of his RM1,500 car instalment.
One of the main reasons he switched to the Android box was because the satellite TV subscription fee kept going up, he said.
“The subscription is too pricey and many of the programmes aired are old and repeated shows,” he said.
He said it took him three months to recover the cost of buying the Android box after he terminated his satellite TV subscription.
“I save about RM1,500 yearly after I had the RM300 Android box installed,” he said.
Another user, Andrew Teng, said he subscribed to a premium site on his Android box to get superior coverage.
“It is a RM250 one-year subscription aside from the cost of the Android box. The premium site allowed me to access over 800 channels worldwide, including local TV programmes and satellite channels,” he said.
Teng said he did not mind paying the subscription as the quality of the programmes and channels available via the box was much better than what he had used previously.
He was not worried about moves to ban the use of such devices as there were “many ways to access these online channels even when they are blocked”.
An Android box dealer, who asked not to be identified, said the number of people buying the boxes had increased since the local broadband providers upgraded their bandwidth.
“The faster broadband means lesser or no lagging to the programmes offered on these devices,” he said.
Based on his experience selling the devices, it allowed a user to save between RM800 and RM1,500 annually, compared with subscribing to the satellite channels. The device, he said, could be obtained for as little as RM150 or as much as RM500 per set.
“The difference in price determines the quality of the set such as the processor and memory chips used,” he said.
However, he said it did not mean that the cheaper sets could not be used or the expensive ones were far more superior.
“These sets have their own advantages but in general they are all good to access and generate the online viewing,” he said.
He said viewers could opt for free or paid apps to watch their programmes over the device.
“While the free apps can access over 350 channels, the paid services can have over 800 channels offering premier movies, documentaries and live coverage,” he said.
He said there was no law now to stop him from selling these Android devices.
“So I will make my money when I still can and worry about it later when the government decides to ban them,” he said.
Another dealer in Sungai Wang, who also declined to be named, said there was no way the government could entirely ban the viewing of online TV programmes via the box.
“There are so many ways to bypass such blocks.
“It will make it almost impossible for the authorities to stop Android boxes from being used in Malaysia,” he said.
He also said the faster broadband services available now had encouraged more people to switch to the Android box as there was no longer any lagging in viewing the online streaming.
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