Tiny Android device turns your regular TV into a smart TV
Yesterday, PLDT officially launched TVolution, a small device that the company says will change the way you view television. The TVolution, in a nutshell, is a small Android device that plugs into your TV via HDMI cable and turns it in a Smart TV, similar to the functionality that’s present on high end TVs of Samsung, LG and Sony. While it’s small size might be off-putting, its actually Android media box, capable of streaming and playing videos both off the net and through storage devices.
Design and Build: Ridiculously tiny
When we said small, we meant it. PLDT wasn’t kidding in the promo images of the TVolution. It’s really tiny. The TVolution can sit in the palm of your hand, which is actually a good thing, because it can easily disappear behind your TV where no one can see it. It doesn’t have a dedicated mount or anything like that, but we’re sure you can McGyver up something (like double-sided tape) to make the thing stick on the back of your TV.
As small as this thing is, it has plenty of ports – it has HDMI input/output, 2 USB 2.0 ports, SPDIF audio and a 3.5 mm jack. It’s capable of playing back full HD 1080p video, has DTS support, and has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. There’s even a microSD card slot for extra storage. Internally, the device has a 4GB of internal storage, though that can be further increased up to 32GB if you wished.
Hardware: Generally decent hardware that gets the job done
The TVolution has an unnamed quad-core processor inside running at an unspecified speed. On further investigation, it seems like PLDT’s TVolution is a rebranded Huawei MediaQ M310 which was unveiled by the company last year. The MediaQ M310 runs a 1.5GHz quad-core Hisilicon K3V2 processor running at 1.5GHz, which also powers the company’s Ascend P2 smartphone released last year. There’s 1GB of RAM on tap, along with a Vivante GC4000 GPU. While the hardware in the device isn’t the fastest in the world, it should be enough to get the job done, considering the device is only supposed to run basic tasks like decoding video and browsing the internet.
Software: Not the most intuitive in the world, but not the hardest to use either
You can imagine that using an Android device without a screen would be a bit of a challenge to say the least, but the somewhat customized version of Android on the TVolution gets the job done. The device comes with a Bluetooth remote control that has simple arrow keys for navigation, which is obviously not conducive to navigating the more advanced functions of the device, like browsing the net and such. Fortunately, the device can also be controlled by Android and iOS devices on the same network, although it will only work with device at any given time.
Downloading the remote control app is simple – just make sure that the TVolution is on the same WiFi network as your preferred device, scan the QR code and voila – the app will automatically download to your device and pair with the TVolution. The remote control device turns your smartphone into a virtual touchpad of sorts. Though it was usable, it would have been better if it had the buttons for confirm, etc. were spaced farther and were bigger for better control.
As the device is an Android device, you can install Android apps on it, though we’d be wary of putting anything on there that uses precise input because of the issues we raised above.
Content: Only SD rentals for now
Aside from turning your device into a Smart TV, the TVolution also serves as a gateway to enjoy PLDT’s affiliate services like Clickplay.ph, Mypinoytv and Spinnr. You can rent videos from Clickplay.ph, and much like its virtual video renting counterparts, the movie of your choice expires after renting it (though the exact timeframe for the movie’s expiry is unclear at this point). Also, it bears to note that only SD versions of the movies will be initially available to rent, though PLDT has assured us that they will be rolling out HD rentals later on in the year. Each PLDT Plan tier has a certain number of allotted movies to them that they can watch for free each month. If you go over that, you will have to pay Php 60.00 per title.
As far as paying for the movies, you’re stuck with using your credit card as a payment gateway for now. Much like HD, numerous payment gateways (PayPal, Smart Money, etc.) is a feature that PLDT will be rolling out later on this year.
Pricing and Availability
The TVolution will be available to all PLDT DSL subscribers starting from Plan 999 and up. It’s also available to all PLDT Home Fibr plan holders.
That’s it for now. We’ll try to get a review unit from PLDT so we can get a more in-depth review for you guys.