It’s 2020 and we should essentially be hearing less and less about the second generation Android-powered media streaming box-cum-modem that Safaricom has offered its subscribers for about 2 years now.
However, as things are, here you are hearing about it again.
This time around, though, it’s good news, at least on the surface because when you scratch beyond the surface, it isn’t good news as such.
The Giga box, as Safaricom refers to what many of us have simply called the “Big Box 2” since its release in early 2018 and the “Safaricom Digital TV and Internet Box” as the company called it at launch and on the product’s packaging, is now going for Kshs 5,999.
The 40% discount the Giga box is receiving is not new, though. While it has perenially traded at the lofty and unreasonable price of Kshs 9,999 on Safaricom’s e-commerce platform Masoko, it has previously dropped to the same Kshs 5,999 price as part of an extended World Cup promotion back in 2018.
The Safaricom Giga box is powered by Android TV and has features that the first generation device, running on the old operating system that wasn’t well optimized for TV, never had like Chromecast capabilities.
Its edge, in the face of competition from well-priced, recent and more capable devices like the Xiaomi Mi Box S (our top recommendation at the Giga Box’s pricing), is in offering users more than online TV streaming. It can also be used to access digital TV (free-to-air) channels by those with old television sets that were rendered obsolete by the country’s migration to a digital transmission platform from a terrestrial one in 2015. Since it comes with a pre-installed Safaricom SIM, it can also be used as a mobile wireless network hotspot (“Mi-Fi”) for up to 10 devices.
However, its lack of certification for the 4K standard (though it upscales and handles 4K content in a hit and miss manner) and Netflix (which means one won’t be able to use the popular streaming service) and age (no Android 9 Pie for it and, definitely, no Android 10) make it a very unpopular choice, by our standards.
For anyone looking to give their dated TV set with no DVB-T2 capabilities a new lease of life or ditching an old decoder, for the Kshs 5,999 that the Gigabox has dropped to, it may be a nice bargain given its other capabilities: as an internet modem and a reliable media streamer.
For the typical internet user who just wants to binge on the new Narcos Mexico and enjoy tech reviews on YouTube in between breaks, look elsewhere (for just Kshs 1,000 more, the Mi Box S is yours for the taking) or wait to see what Safaricom offers next.
Safaricom is yet to update the Giga box’s Masoko page to reflect the new discounted price so if you’re in a rush to get it, its retail shops are your best bet right now.