One box to rule them all

One box to rule them all
The Vodoke Playstaq 2 Android set-top box with the Vodoke Gen6 remote.

Home-grown company Vodoke wants to rule the living room with its unassuming set-top box and motion-sensing remote control.

The little box weighs about 120g, much lighter than the usual run of set-top boxes, which can weigh as much as 2kg.

It is able to integrate pay-television digital broadcasts with free Internet TV offerings such as YouTube and PPTV.

The Vodoke Playstaq2 runs on the Android operating system. It also lets users tune in to online radio, play motion-sensing games, access digital documents and browse the Web.

This smart remote can also "learn" the programmes stored in an existing TV remote. It has an earphone jack, works as a phone receiver for online calls and also functions as a wireless keyboard.

Vodoke's chief executive, Mr Michael Toh, said it caters to a new generation of young consumers who may be less interested in regular shows from pay-TV operators.

Older viewers are used to cable and pay-TV channels such as Discovery, he said. "But if you ask younger people, they may not know what the Discovery channel is. What they know is YouTube. That's why it's quite important that our product is a hybrid of live TV and Internet TV."

Pay-TV has grown over the years, but growth could be tapering off. In 2012, there were 176 pay-TV subscribers here for every 1,000 people, or just 1.7 per cent more than 173 per thousand in 2011.

This was a marked slowdown from 9.5 per cent only a year earlier, according to figures from the Department of Statistics.

Vodoke was founded about five years ago and is headquartered in Hong Kong for administrative reasons. Mr Toh heads its operations from Singapore, where it has up to 30 staff, about 20 of them in research and development (R&D) in software applications and interface.

A handful of people run the Hong Kong office and a Shanghai office. About 30 people are involved in R&D in its office in Shenzhen, China, which handles the hardware and Android OS R&D.

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