Streamsmart S4 Review: Content Overload
Ryan Bloom / Jul 9th, 2015 3 Comments
Ask any Android user why they don’t have an iPhone and chances are you will hear about Android’s customization options. The great mobile debate between user friendliness and openness has raged for years, but it surprisingly hasn’t spread to other areas where Apple and Android compete. For instance, the smart TV market features a range of similar products, including Apple TV, Roku and Nexus Player media boxes. However, there are other smart TV products that take advantage of Android’s open technology, such as the Streamsmart S4.
Unlike more popular boxes that dominate the market, the Streamsmart S4 revolves around the content. While users are gaining access to limitless media, they are also sacrificing the ease of use that other devices offer. Ultimately, it is a trade-off that could cause endless arguments — like Apple versus Android.
The Streamsmart box is small and unassuming, taking the form of a wireless router. In fact, an antenna poking out from the back of the device completes the router look. Setting it up simply involves plugging in the included power and HDMI cords. When plugged in, the front of the device displays the time and a power indicator light.
Setup is relatively easy. You will have to select a wireless network and enter you password, as well as make sure the picture fills the screen of your television or monitor. Although an Ethernet port is built in, the device works better using WiFi. Users are also recommended to run the Streamsmart Wizard once receiving the device and every few weeks to account for constant updates.
There is a bit of learning curve when using the Streamsmart box. Users will find accessing Kodi Media Center easy, but navigating the menus with the provided remote can be confusing. Menus can be switched from list to thumbnail viewing modes, making navigation easier and prettier. However, the remote is where things can be tricky.
Users will need to get familiar with the search and menu buttons, which can be used to perform various tasks depending on the channel. It is recommended to watch a tutorial video on the Streamsmart website to figure out all remote shortcuts, but even learning the ins and outs of the remote will not take away the annoying clicking sound it makes when pushing down a button. Unfortunately, users will be stuck with the included remote as the box is not compatible with other Bluetooth devices (although a keyboard remote is available to purchase separately).
Content is King
Streamsmart’s biggest advantage over other media boxes is its content. Utilizing Kodi Media Center, users have unlimited access to thousands of channels that stream movies, shows, music and live TV. Everything from the latest episode of Game of Thrones to older films like The Godfather can be found within these channels in full HD. The Streamsmart box also comes with a paid subscription to ChannelUp TV for live television viewing, and channels like Dragon Streams offer up live sports.
During our testing, we experienced no issues streaming the latest home movie releases and TV shows in 1080p HD. However, we had to experiment with multiple channels before settling on the best, which are often found right on the home page thanks to the company’s frequent updates. Live events connected fine, but lack the high picture quality offered for movies and shows.
The box-exclusive channels and frequent updates set the Streamsmart S4 apart from other Kodi boxes. Many of its competitors become obsolete shortly after release due to broken links and outdated apps. Streamsmart updates constantly to clean up channels and introduce users to knew ones. This ensures the S4’s longetivity. To be informed of the latest updates or for responsive tech support, box owners are encouraged to join Voxer.
The Streamsmart box fills a niche for tech-savvy cord cutters. It still is not able to replace live television — especially for those who desire the highest definition sports — and users will have to conquer a steeper learning curve than most smart TV boxes. However, the old saying goes “content is king,” and the device has tons of content to explore.
The Streamsmart S4 might not replace your cable subscription, but it will make you forget about Netflix and Hulu.
Exclusive Streamsmart Discount
The Streamsmart S4 can be purchased using a special promo code created for the Gaming Illustrated audience. Our readers can purchase the box, which normally runs for $379, and receive a discount of $80 using the following promo code:
Visit the official store and enter the promo code at checkout to receive the promo pricing.
tags: android , review , Smart TV , Streamsmart , Streamsmart S4 Review