x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

An alternative to buying a smart TV, but its technology will test the patience.

The M-Droid by MediaCom.
The M-Droid by MediaCom.

Connecting everything to the internet has become the concern of many a tech geek. With fridges, kettles and shoes now relaying information back and forth, it seems only natural that our televisions should also reach out to the worldwide web.

We already have smart televisions with internet connectivity, but what do you do if your current TV set is not quite so intelligent?

The answer is M-Droid, a croissant-shaped box that connects the internet to your television. The manufacturer, MediaCom, is hoping to unleash Google’s Android mobile operating system on to normal TV sets across the Arab world.

It took about 15 minutes to set up. I don’t like to read instructions and usually get to work as soon as I open the box. It may take longer or shorter if you follow the guidelines, but having some techie flair in my fingers, I managed to get things working pretty quickly.

Through the HDMI cable, you connect the M-Droid to the television. To connect to the internet, you either use Wi-Fi if you have it, or an ethernet cable. Pretty simple. It also has USB ports enabling you to watch films or listen to music that has been stored on to USB sticks.

The actual software is very clunky, however. It is slow, so, slow and the keyboard with its weird pinball mouse is plain annoying.

It makes you question the value of being able to browse the internet on your television. Sure you can Skype your loved ones on the big screen with the additional videocam attachment and watch YouTube videos, but do you really need this to compose your emails or tweet your thoughts? If you do, then you probably live alone and have incredibly sharp eyesight to be able to read your emails on television.

The idea is fine: internet connectivity opens up a world of opportunities, but the execution isn’t great. The keyboard and mouse are technologies from the previous century.

That being said, it makes for a cheap alternative to purchasing a separate laptop or computer, or an expensive smart TV, by combining both capabilities in a normal television.

Questions and answers with Hussain Naqvi, the chief executive at MediaCom:

What are the benefits of having the internet on your TV?

We are in an age where content and applications are increasingly shifting online. As such, it is becoming an imperative that all devices have internet connectivity and the TV is no exception. By enabling internet on the TV, the user can enjoy online TV streaming, online movie viewing, social networking and Skype on the big screen. Also, the TV still has a role as a family device which complements the Skype and collective viewing experience. We also view the TV as a large learning canvas, where mothers can teach their children educational lessons in a fun and interactive way, for example lessons in alphabets, mathematics learning, memory training exercises etc.

Does this device work with all types of televisions?

Yes, this device works with all types on televisions including old CRT type, Plasma, LCD, LED and smart TVs. The device has both HDMI and AV outputs so it can connect to all these types of TVs.

How is it different or better than smart TVs?

The device comes with Android OS, which gives it access to Google Play Store, which has more than half a million applications, mostly free. Also, the MediaCom M-Droid comes with a large keyboard with track-pad enabling a very natural and convenient input method. The camera provided with the device is high quality and movable so it can be placed in an optimal position for the setting of any living room.

thamid@thenational.ae

(Afterthought: “Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV.” – Jerry Seinfeld, comedian)