JSE listed group Altron has recently revealed the release of the groundbreaking ‘Node’ device through its subsidiary, Altech. This video-on-demand set-top box is demanding some serious attention from those in the know. What’s exciting is that this technology poses as a possible alternative to DSTV. The home entertainment product goes far beyond this however, offering home theatre capabilities, Android integration and accessories for home automation and security.
Content will be delivered to the Node set-top box via satellite and then be accessible on-demand via the 1TB built-in hard drive. This is essentially ‘push VOD’ with on-demand accessibility. Hundreds of movies and series will be available at the click of a button from the regularly updated hard drive. This convenience will make customers’ home theatre and entertainment options that much broader.
The significance of high definition ‘push VOD’ content being delivered via satellite in South Africa is vast. This is a far more reliable and affordable means of transmission than fixed-lined broadband in a country where the latter is both expensive and underdeveloped. The technology also utilises Intelsat-20, meaning that DSTV subscribers don’t need to install a new satellite dish. This approach should lend the device sustainability in the unique South African market.
The Node will be available from leading retailers such as Game, Makro, Pick n Pay and Incredible Connection. The rapid placement of orders by such retailers is a good indication of their confidence in the product as a smart home technology. Altech are expecting to see tens of thousands of subscribers take to the product shortly after launching. The company further predicts that in the long-run, hundreds of thousands of subscribers will enjoy the product.
The Node service will be available on both a subscription and transactional basis. For subscribers, a monthly fee of R299 will be levied, allowing access to an extensive series catalogue and older movies. On the more transactional side of things, Hollywood movies fresh off the cinema circuit will be available for your home theatre system for R25 a pop, R2 cheaper than that offered by Multichoice’s BoxOffice.
Altech have secured deals with four of the top six Hollywood studios, namely MGM, Sony, Disney and Universal to ensure the regular flow of the latest releases. Older movies will also be made available for a rental of R15. All movies will be viewable over a 48-hour rental period.
The device has been three years in the making, with an investment of over 40 000 man-hours in its development. This intense research and development is reflected in its advanced home automation, e-commerce and security capabilities, making it an all-round smart home technology. A subscriber will be able to pay traffic fines whilst ordering Chinese take-away through the Node’s e-commerce payment system. One of the four virtual machines run by the Node is also compatible with Android, allowing for apps such as Facebook and Twitter to be accessible along with movies, series and downloaded games.
The set top box can easily be installed as another input device on a home theatre system by simply connecting the HDMI output to an available HDMI input on an amp or display panel. The Node’s compliance with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard also means that up to five compatible electronic household devices can be linked to the device. These linked devices can then be used to view the Node’s content via WiFi. Altech has also developed handy accessories for the Node such as motion sensors, security cameras, a WiFi range extender and VOIP phones.
We at 4Ward cannot wait to get our hands on a Node set-top box to give it a thorough test run. The device is an exciting potential new product to offer our clientele in home automation and home theatre solutions. The true test of the product will be the marrying of its technology and the content it offers. Great technology with poor content and similarly, great content delivered over a weak network will not translate into a satisfied user experience. Should the Node deliver on these essential ingredients, it will be a welcome addition to the 4Ward family.