Piko Smart TV
Here’s something that we were aware of but hadn’t really seen up till now – an HDMI dongle that confers Smart TV-like qualities on a less-than-intelligent one by using the power of Android. And something called an Air Mouse. The Piko Smat TV, as it is called, is basically an Android operating system on a stick with a collection of pre-installed apps that can be controlled from the couch with the aforementioned Air Mouse. This device comes by way of a company operating out of Durban called Maslow, making it a bit of a home-brewed piece of gadgetry.
The Piko Smart TV ships with the HDMI dongle that connects to your TV, as well as power adapters if your television set doesn’t happen to have a spare USB port handy, an HDMI extender, a four-port USB hub for connecting to the Piko, the Air Mouse (plus batteries), an SD-card adapter for transferring content onto the Piko’s 2GB microSD card from another USB-supporting device and the cabling needed to get everything to get up and go.
Maslow told us that the Piko runs Android 4.0.4 and its product specifications say that the device has either 4GB or 8GB of internal storage available. We were unable to check the Android version as the option for viewing it had been removed but the test device we were sent had 1GB of internal storage (about 600MB available) and a further 2GB facilitated by a microSD card. There’s also a 1.2GHz quad-core processor involved and the dongle has 802.11 b/g/n WiFi integrated into the unit.
The pre-installed apps are all that the Piko really consists of, besides the operating system, and almost all of these are free versions of larger applications available from Google’s Play Store. Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds are present for entertainment, Kingston Office is is present for Microsoft-y tasks and there’s also the standard run of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Skype offerings to play with. There are two free versions of fitness app, as well as News24 and SuperSport’s own apps, pre-installed. Google’s Play Store does leave a lot of room for customisation and experimentation with the device though.
Piko features, on paper, almost everything that you could want from a device designed to turn your stupid TV into a smart TV but for its price (it retails for a little under R1200), you might be expecting a bit more from it. Part of the reasoning behind this is that you can build something extremely similar for about half the price from a Raspberry Pi setup (or make a small robot or a flying camera or something) if you have the time and patience. With more or less the same apps installed no less, since you’d be able to use Android as an OS if you’re feeling really patient – plus you could make the Raspberry Pi’s camera function at the same time. But that’s not the major problem here.