The new StarHub TV+ Box is the pay TV operator’s second Android media streaming player after 2018’s StarHub Go Streaming Box.

It comes preloaded with the newly upgraded StarHub TV+ app, which is compatible with iOS and Android devices. The box runs on Android TV (based on version 10), a variant of the popular mobile operating system that is made for television.

Because the apps have to be optimised for the big screen, the Google Play Store for the Android TV platform has only a fraction of the apps compared to the mobile version.

But the essential streaming apps such as Netflix and HBO Go are all available and preloaded on the TV+ Box I tested. I was glad to see Netflix – a glaring omission from StarHub’s previous streaming box. The Netflix app on the TV+ Box supports up to 4K resolution with high dynamic range (HDR), which is available with the streaming service’s premium plan ($19.90).

But Netflix is not the reason to get the TV+ Box. After all, the app is already found in most smart TVs.

The TV+ Box comes with a custom launcher that displays StarHub’s pay TV offerings prominently on the home screen. They are bundled into six categories (or passes), such as Western TV shows and Asian fare. The passes can be purchased via the “Store” tab at the top of the screen.

Unlike a standard Android TV box, you cannot customise the interface, like adding YouTube to the home screen, which is annoying.

The device is slightly bigger than my palm. An USB port supplements the limited internal storage (there was only 4.7GB free in my review set).

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I like the remote control, which feels more solid than the one for the previous set-up box. It also comes with shortcut buttons for Netflix and StarHub’s store, and a microphone for Google Assistant.

If you plan to play Android games, you’ll probably need a gamepad. While the TV+ Box’s gaming performance outshines its predecessor’s, it still has laggy moments. Try less graphically-intensive games for a start.

In terms of performance and customisation, the media streaming box – despite the improvements – is still not as good as a top Android media player like the Nvidia Shield TV.

But it is a convenient all-in-one device for families with members who still watch StarHub’s pay TV content as well as those who have already cut the cord.

FOR

Performs better than previous media streaming box

4K Netflix support

Handy remote control with useful shortcuts

AGAINST

Home screen cannot be customised

Middling performance

SPECS

PRICE: $5 a month (with one-year contract)

INTERFACES: Ethernet, USB, HDMI

STORAGE: 8GB (4.7GB user-accessible)

WIRELESS: Wi-Fi 802.11ac dual-band, Bluetooth

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 3.5/5

PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

OVERALL: 4/5





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