There have been many local players that introduced set-top box devices in the Philippine market; none of which standout, until Kata introduced its own take on the market segment – the Kata Box. It’s basically an Android-powered box which could “automagically” turn your conventional LED or LCD TV into a Smart TV.
The interior of the Kata Box is defined by its quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM which could technically run Android apps smoothly and amused first-time set-top box users. However, with its flashy design and promising specs sheet, do we really need to spend our hard-earned money on this device? Read along our Kata Box review and find out.
Kata Box Review: Design and Construction
The Kata Box is pretty. In fact, it comes with a striking similarity with the Apple TV in terms of it chassis. At Php 2999 price tag, it comes with a dedicated remote and a power module. Likewise, Kata also packaged a game controller in a separate box which comes with a microUSB cable for charging and Bluetooth dongle for wireless gaming experience. At first glance, Kata is trying to pose this Box as a gaming device.
Even though there’s a lot of bows and frills included in the package, I just can’t take my eyes off the Kata Box. The design is simple but elegant – rounded corners with matte finish on top and glossy plastic on the sides. The bottom strikes a dimpled pattern which makes the whole module easy to hold with one hand. Despite the fact that it comes with a sub-3k price tag, the Kata Box is pretty solid, it’s a well put together device.
What I like about the device is that it comes with a minimalist box. It consumes little space which could hardly cover a real estate space in your home entertainment theater set-up.
Ports and Memory
Around the back of the device, there are plenty of ports to keep you connected. For one, the power jack keeps everything intact when connected to an AC source. Likewise, the back also houses a USB 2.0 port, 3.5-mm audio jack, an HDMI, DC-IN and Ethernet. Flipping the box to the right flashes another USB 2.0 port. The front side houses the LED indicator.
There's no HDMI cable included in the package; thus, you need to have an HDMI cable to connect the box to your HDMI-enabled TV set. The set-up below features the power jack, the HDMI cable and the ethernet connector.
|Separately sold HDMI Cable|
The device only holds 8GB of native storage and it comes with several game titles out of the box. However, if you feel like hoarding media rather than just streaming, you need to plug a microSD card.
Performance and Hardware
The 1.5GHz quad-core Amlogic CPU gives chops to the Kata Box. Its processing capability is undeniably smooth. But that does not erase the fact that the 1GB of RAM included in the box could hardly catch up with the fast processor. This is evident when we took the device for a spin with some graphic-intensive titles.
However, there’s no denying the fact that the Kata Box churns flawlessly in streaming activities. Of course, we made sure that there’s no app running in the background. Our YouTube experience was very engaging knowing that the software is optimized with our screen’s form factor.
The Bluetooth game controller brings the finesse in the whole setup. You can also use it as an alternative to a mouse – the left joystick is used for scrolling while the right joystick if for cursor controls. On the other hand, the remote is a black slab with matte finish that feels very good in the hand. It’s also very sturdy despite the fact that it’s very light. The buttons are responsive and very clickable.
Kata Box runs with Android 4.4.2 KitKat. It means that, just like your Android phones, it could run Android apps. What's more exciting is that Kata Box’s software optimizes these apps for a great home entertainment experience
Kata has neatly layered several useful apps on top of the Android interface. It has presented some apps according to their categories – TV, Office, Games, etc. The TV folder includes a rich suite of apps for viewing – MegaVPN, Netflix and Fox Now, to name a few. It’s also a breath of fresh air that the company includes a 60-day VPN service that allows users to stream shows from US.
|Kata Box's Multitasking and App management|
Most of the time, you may need a wireless mouse and keyboard to fully optimize other apps, especially those downloaded from the Google Play Store. I tried using some productivity apps and it seems like a pretty great alternative workstation for simple word processing tasks.
Some titles outside of the Play Store can also be emulated in the Kata Box like the old favorites Pokemon in Gameboy Advance and Contra.
The Kata Box is a very promising entry level set-top box. It sure has all the basic necessities when it comes to this device. Plus, it comes with a dedicated game controller which could upscale Android gaming experience. Of course, it’s not without its shortcomings – it's packaging a console doesn’t mean it is exceptional in the Android gaming scene.
Good Streaming function
Inclusion of Game Console
2 USB ports
Great User Interface
Small built-in memory
Small built-in memory
No HDMI cable included out of the box
Kata Box Specs
Amlogic S805 SoC
1.5GHz quad-core CPU
Mali 450 GPU
8GB internal memory
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
USB Port (2)
HDMI 1.4 Port
RJ 45 Port/ Ethernet Port
Android 4.4 KitKat
107 mm x 107 mm x 25 mm