Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

POV HDMI Smart TV Dongle from Maplin

I just bought one of these, currently on offer at Maplin and thought the equipment may be relevant to narrowboaters (who have access to a wi-fi internet dongle).

The Point of View HDMI Smart TV Dongle is currently on offer at £79.99 until 19th March 2013, from £99.99.
Although other brands are available on sites such as eBay, (as this is), the prices are usually within £10 or so, for a dongle and keyboard, and this has the back-up of an national high street store chain, with a no quibble 28 day returns policy, should you not like it for any reason.

The kit comes complete with the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean enabled dongle, mains charger / power supply and leads, air mouse type keypad and receiver, with pre-installed apps for Gmail, Facebook, and YouTube, among others. The instructions are a little sparse, but to anybody who has used other Android equipment, and understands the possible 'quirky' attributes that these have, there shouldn't be too much difficulty getting it up and running. This kit will convert any ordinary TV that is equipped with an HDMI socket, to a full blown computer, or 'SMART' TV. I got mine set up within 5 minutes or so, using the TV to do that, as opposed to setting the Wi-Fi password on my computer first, which requires a double sided USB lead to connect it, (not supplied). The set up process on the TV itself is easy enough.

Out of the box, set up the dongle for use by removing the keypad receiver from it's locker in that device, and plug it into the USB host on the dongle. Plug in the USB power supply lead at a suitable mains socket, and then plug the whole thing into a spare HDMI socket on the TV, (better to use the short extension lead supplied, rather than plug directly in). The keypad must be charged fully before use. Once the TV is on, select the source as 'HDMI' on the TV hand control, and the dongle boots itself up over a couple of minutes. A set-up wizard then kicks in to allow Google account holders to automate their email account app set-up. Once done, a simple Android homepage appears, ready to select what function is required to use. I installed BBC iPlayer and 4 oD directly from the Google Play Store, with which this unit is fully compatible. HOWEVER, ITV PLAYER AND 4 oD DO NOT HAVE COMPATIBILITY AT THIS TIME, for some reason. The 4oD Android app is shown as compatible in the Google Play Store, and loads the website, but it does not play content. The ITV player is just shown as incompatible. The most likely reason is that Adobe no longer supports Flash for Android, the players still rely on this, and the BBC iPlayer provides it's own flash player via its Media Player app, which it requires to run properly. As such, BBC iPlayer works fine in all respects. Most media websites are now turning to HTML5, rather than flash, but some haven't caught up with the latest technology just yet. [ Tip: There is an app available for the STV (Scottish ITV) player, which requires a post code to be entered before use. If you put your own in it won't work. Enter a valid Scottish post code - I used FK8 1EJ, and hey presto - you now have an ITV player that works, albeit with Scottish programmes]. For current TV viewing via the internet there is another useful app. Within the Google Store can be found hundreds of free apps, and one I have installed to watch TV from over 50 UK channels, including ITV and Channel 4 and many others, is called GZero. Everything on there works fine, and could be an answer when there is no regular TV signal, (UK only).

The dongle has built in memory of 4gb, but can be extended by 32gb using a micro sd card, which slots in the side. Photos and videos can be uploaded to the sd card from another device, and then used in the dongle to view through the media player, or used in emails and blog posts, etc. as you wish. The pre-installed media player is 'smart' in its own right, as it will search out media storage files that are already shared on a home network, such as on Windows Media Player installed on another computer, or on a network drive, and sync the library files ready to access and use on the TV. Files can also be downloaded from network devices to the dongle's memory.

The key operations can be a little quirky, just as my Android tablet is, not knowing whether to use the mouse button function or the navigation arrows with a double click, to select icons, but you get used to it. All other operations work fine, and all in all I am pleased that I can now view and write emails, watch (some) catch up TV, access Facebook, and surf the web, all from my TV. At £79.99, (with an another £7 off if you happen to possess an additional Maplin voucher), I think it is good value.

Basic Specifications of this equipment.

Dual core A9 (1.6 GHz)
Quad core Mali-400 3D Graphics
1024 MB DDR3 memory
4GB Internal storage memory
Expandable memory up to 32 GB (MicroSD)
HDMI 1.4
1x micro USB, 1x USB 2.0 full
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with multimedia launcher
Google Play Pre-installed
Wireless keyboard (RF) with track-pad

Full specification can be found here: Point Of View On-Line

1 comment:

  1. Review Update. This has now been in use for over 6 months. Although it does do as it says on the box - in that it will convert any ordinary TV that is fitted with an HDMI socket into a smart TV with access to the internet, it has proved to be a little quirky in use. The stick is designed to be left plugged into the TV, and left with its own power supply plugged in. This means that it is constantly on, even when the TV is placed in standby. I have found that when not used for a while the stick freezes, and has to be re-booted by disconnecting it's power supply for a few seconds, before it can be used. Also, being Android, it also has all of the quirkiness associated with that type of equipment. Some apps can be downloaded, but are then found to be incompatible, others simply can't be downloaded due to incompatibility. The air mouse type keypad also has a habit of becoming unresponsive and can sometimes be irritating. As long as these shortfalls are taken into consideration against the price of the unit, then I suppose, to an extent, it works OK - with limitations.


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