The Roku TV Box by Kwese Play is a simple to setup, no frills tv box that will turn your regular “dumb” tv into a smart one within minutes. It features built-in apps for Netflix, YouTube and and many others, and comes with it’ own Roku Media player for any content of your own you’d like to play on the device. One USB port, and a MicroSD make this possible. This means you can connect your external HDD with movies, shows and more to play on this roku tv box. For streaming online content you can either connect this device to your router via WiFi or plug it directly in with the ethernet port onboard.
If the free Kwese Play content is what you’re after, and you live in South Africa then you’re going to be disappointed. It appears the folks over at Multichoice are still flexing their muscles when it comes to new entrants into the online entertainment space in South Africa, and I suspect this is the main reason you won’t be able to watch this content here. Kwese Play is currently only available to customers living in just about every other sub-Saharan country except South Africa. Go figure. But if the incessant whining to ICASA and the unbundling of Multichoice from Naspers is any sort of indicator, they’re already taking a big hit, and losing subscribers in droves thanks to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Google Play etc.
While this is a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, I’m not sure how much of that content would be watched in any case. Sure it’s nice to know it’s there but how often would it actually be watched is the question. But if like me, and the bread and butter of your online entertainment is: Netflix, YouTube, a few TED talks and some international news, then read on, this device does a damn good job at that for its price tag.
Setting Up | What’s included in the Box
Everything to get started comes included in the box. Even an HDMI and remote batteries. There’s not really anything to setup apart from connecting the device to your router if you’re using WiFi. This can be found under the Settings > Network menu at the home screen. You would need to have yourt Wifi password handy for this naturally. Same applies to Netflix and YouTube, simply login with existing accounts and those details are stored.
- Kwesé Play Roku TV Box
- HDMI Cable (1080p HD support)
- Compact Remote with channel shortcut buttons
- Ethernet port, USB port and microSD port
- Two AAA batteries
- 2 Pin Power Adapter
Watching Netflix on Kwese Play
The problem I’ve had with other Android TV Boxes , and even remotes used on the Windows Netflix app, comes down to the ease of navigation. The directional arrows on the remote have to be used to move around, select shows to watch, or scrolling up and down and left and right within Netflix. This does slow things down and becomes a bit annoying at times.
Netflix is bundled with the OS so it’s ready to watch as soon as you turn the device on. The Kwese Play Roku tv box has its own certified Netflix app that allows for true ease of navigation. Browsing around is a breeze, and it’s quick. There’s a context menu that slides out to the far left when you need to get to other categories and settings etc. But other than that it really makes it easy to get around and find that show that you’re after. While the remote does not have its own qwerty keyboard, the app does provide an onscreen keyboard for all input fields you encounter. The remote features a pause/play button, as well as skip, left and right buttons. Once you’re playing a movie or show, all the normal control functions become available on screen too.
Watching YouTube on Kwese Play
The YouTube app is really good on this device. The YouTube apps on other Android Tv boxes are quite a pain, and scrolling is non-existent so this meant the use of YouTube was incredibly limited. On the Kwese Play Roku TV box you’re able to navigate with ease, search and scroll to your heart’s content. This is a big plus.
Watch on TV function. Another nifty feature that YouTube has is the watch on TV function. This allows you to link your phone to this device and watch anything on the big screen. This comes in handy when you want to create playlists and queue videos purely to watch them on TV. You have all the power of the fully featured YouTube smartphone app and then you’re able to “hand over” a video to the big screen once it’s linked. Once your Kwese Play device is setup to do this you can even use this function with other devices on the same Wifi network – like PCs, laptops or tablets.
In the YouTube app go to Settings > Link TV and Phone > Link with Wifi or Link with TV code.
What really makes this featured handy is that you’re then able to use your smartphone as a fully functioning YouTube remote. Allowing you to pause, skip tracks, scrub the timeline etc. If you’re happy to continue watching on the big screen you can lock the screen of your phone, and still have access to the homescreen controls without having to unlock your phone. One other thing to note is that when you use the Watch on TV function the internet bandwidth used to play the content on the device is transferred to the Kwese Play TV. So you could kill the YouTube app on your phone, and it will still continue to play on the big screen. This is helpful if you don’t want the app still running, albeit in background mode, using up your phone’s battery power.
What the Kwese Play TV Box Can and Can’t Do
While it is a very simple, no frills, easy to use device, there are some things it can’t do.
- It can’t connect to other App stores to download more apps. But it does have it’s own app store which allows you to download 100s of apps for entertainment and games. Apps like Fast Company, Entrepreneur, travel, food and cooking channels, Kids Tv and more can be found, and all are free.
- It’s a video streaming device first and foremost so you won’t be able to install a browser or facebook app for example.
- It doesn’t have the ability to install Kodi or DSTV now etc
- There’s no volume or power button on the remote. So you’ll need to use your TV to adjust the volume, and also get used to the auto-off function. But if this is your primary device connected to your TV then the volume wouldn’t ever need to be changed much.
For an entry-level entertainment device it does a damn good job of making the apps it does support work well. So if you’re looking for a simple plug and plug Roku tv box for Netflix and YouTube, with the added function of being able to play other downloaded content stored on an HDD, then this is a more than capable device that won’t let you down. And for its price tag of under R1,000 you can’t go far wrong. It’s super portable too, and could literally fit in your pocket, so this makes it attractive as a tv box to take on your travels. The wifi connectivity means it can be placed in any room, or plug it straight into your router or ethernet wall port. The shortcuts on the remote are a nice touch too.
However, if you’re just looking for a gadget to mirror your android phone or iPhone’ screen, you’ll want to check out the Anycast M9 Plus.
Device Build Quality
Ease of Use