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MoonBox review and TVPad comparison - streaming Hong Kong TV

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Andrew, Aug 7, 2015.

  1. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    I've put together a quick review of the MoonBox: one of many Chinese content internet set top boxes that are available.

    IMG_9777.JPG

    The whole idea behind this research is to provide my Hong Kong in-laws living in the UK with the ability to watch more Cantonese/Mandarin TV content. I wanted a system that was high quality, had a large selection of Cantonese content in particular, and was simple and easy to use.

    What do the MoonBox/TVpad do, and which should I choose?

    The MoonBox 3/TVpad 4 are both small boxes (around Apple TV size) which attach to your TV and stream content over the internet. They both connect to WiFi (with optional ethernet connection) and they both support high definition 1080p via HDMI cable.

    IMG_9758.JPG
    Comparison between Apple TV and MoonBox

    The hardware specifications of typical internet streamers are quite low - streaming 1080p video doesn't require any more processing power than a 5 year old smartphone. An Apple TV is £49 and a Chromecast is £30. It may surprise you that a Moon Box 3 will cost around £160 and a TVpad 4 will cost over £200. This is because the MoonBox and TVpad do not charge a fee for showing their content - the price is built into the enormous margin when you buy the hardware.

    The pirated streams looks like encrypted to your device's MAC address - there's no other way to watch these streams except through using the MoonBox/TVPad. I can imagine that there is a secret server room somewhere in Hong Kong recording all of these streams and then rebroadcasting to the many thousands of MoonBox/TVpads around the world. It's quite a sophisticated operation which is probably why these boxes cost so much money.

    IMG_9778.JPG

    The main difference between MoonBox and TVpad is the operating system: MoonBox runs Android - an open system that allows you to run any software. However TVpad runs its own proprietary software. Both boxes make use of their own pirated TV streaming networks. However in these streams get shut down by the relevant authorities (as is very possible in the future) then the TVpad will become a useless brick and your investment will be wasted. Whereas if Moon Box's main TV streams were shut down, you'd also have the option to install other channels and applications. In fact, Moon Box comes with dozens of other channels, including options like PPStream and Kodi.

    This is a very serious concern given that TVpad is currently being sued by TVB and CCTV, and their streams could be stopped at any moment, see article: CCTV, TVB sue set-top maker, allege piracy in US.

    MoonBox setup

    IMG_9756.JPG
    Everything that came in the box for my MoonBox 3

    Setup is a little bit daunting, especially if you can't read Chinese very well! Once you've hooked up the MoonBox to your TV via HDMI, the first stage is to get your device online. If you're anything like me, you also need to change the language of the operating system to English first. Then it's a case of connecting to the wireless internet. Now entering passwords with the remote control is not easy - I ended up getting frustrated and plugging in a mouse to do this as it was far quicker.

    IMG_9760.JPG

    MoonBox channels

    Now this is where the MoonBox really shines - the amount of content is staggering.

    IMG_9782.JPG

    The main MoonBox apps have very reliable and quick streaming for approximately 100+ HK channels. These were rock solid when I tested them. These not only include all the TVB channels, but also HKTV, CCTV, Phoenix, etc. you can even watch the BBC channel as if you were in Hong Kong complete with weather updates in East Asia. There's also a very impressive Sports app which even broadcasts the US cable NBA channel.

    IMG_9780.JPG

    Also you can watch a large variety of other content through apps that are provided, although these were hit and miss. Around 50% of the other apps just plain didn't work at all. Because the content is pirated and hard coded to the box with no updates, this quite of thing is inevitable. However we always have the option to sideload new software, or add new sources into Kodi, and the main MoonBox offering of channels is very impressive.

    Not only does the MoonBox have live TV, there's also the option to watch time-staggered live TV as well from a large selection of channels. A typical HK channel is divided into 4 columns: Today, Yesterday and -1 Day and -2 Days. This allows you to select programs that you typically wouldn't see in your timezone (Hong Kong is +8 hours ahead of the UK).

    IMG_9779.JPG

    Also - of the apps that did work, many of them offered well-curated streaming services of their 'boxset' type TV releases and also film releases too. The quality of these really varied depending on the source. There were sections for children's movies and TV shows too. However these were not terribly reliable in terms of quality and speed and were inconsistent in subtitling as well.

    IMG_9772.JPG IMG_9769.JPG

    Conclusion

    I'm very happy with my MoonBox purchase - which now resides in my in-laws house. It's easy to use, less fiddly than using a VPN, has a huge range of channels, and is future-proof to a large degree. It's very expensive compared to an Apple TV - but it contains such a breadth of reliable, internet streamed content that is nearly impossible to find anywhere else.

    Where to buy

    I bought my MoonBox 3 from eBay where there are two sellers currently - mr-jayzee and kenla. I bought mine from mr-jayzee using the 'Make an Offer' for £150 + £10 shipping. I'd expect to pay £160 total including shipping. I expect you'd be able to find these boxes in Chinese hardware shops in Chinatown in Manchester, Birmingham and London.

    Edit 14th December 2015: Several sellers are now selling the MoonBox M3S model (a white box) for around £170 - I haven't had a chance to try this yet but would expect a good product, see: http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_o...0.Xmoonbox+m3s.TRS0&_nkw=moonbox+m3s&_sacat=0

    Edit 15th July 2016: New TVB Anywhere review has now been posted.
     
    #1
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2016
  2. Ann

    Ann New Member

    I was about to buy the TVpad for my elderly dad. I don't speak/read Chinese so I have no idea what I was buying. My aunt bought the first TVpad from HK a few years ago, my dad was addicted to the thing but now the channels and programs have all but disappeared. He keeps bugging my to buy the new one from Amazon (at £180!) but I was suspicious (as everyone knows, China is known for it's flagrant disregard for copyright). I have to get a friend to seek a Moonbox out for us and install it. I read that article about TVpad being sued a while ago, so I've been really cautious. Thanks for your review!

    Since writing the above, I checked those ebay sellers. Unfortunately they're not selling them anymore, one is selling the TVpad 4! And the other has got another box called H. TV 2. :(o_O Argh!
     
    #2
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  3. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Hi Ann thanks for kind comments about my review, shame those sellers are no longer available.

    It looks like Moonbox have released a slightly newer version called the M3s, which is white: http://www.moonbox.hk/m3s.html

    I don't think there are any UK sellers of this product right now.

    If you check eBay USA, there are some however beware of customs charges which might be very expensive.

    It looks like it's possible to buy from Alibaba from China for around 200 USD, which is a decent price if it doesn't get picked up by customs (normally things from Asia don't tend to be picked up for some reason), check this search: http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20151102072250&SearchText=moonbox+m3s
     
    #3
  4. Ann

    Ann New Member

    Thanks for the reply Andrew! My mum went down to an electronics store in Chinatown London. The guy there also knew about the lawsuit against Tvpad and was giving out copies of a newspaper article about it! He had another box for sale called SunTV. Have you heard of this box? I've read some reviews on AmazonUS and they all vary a bit. He's selling them for £195 and even has these promo flyers with the channels you can get. I think if we do get it, we can always go back to this shop, which is the reason for trying to find something within the UK. But, thanks for the links, if the SunTV doesn't work out I'll definitely try to get a Moonbox.
     
    #4
  5. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    TVPad definitely is the most famous one - the article this chap was giving out is obviously a good sales tactic for selling their alternative box. Let me know about the SunTV - I've never heard of it and I'm always interested in seeing how they perform. What prompted me to write this review initially was because there's so very little trustworthy English language information on the topic of Chinese TV boxes.
     
    #5
  6. Cocacola

    Cocacola New Member

    Hi, I have been using tvpad since 2011 but recently i can't watch the shows anymore..when I pressed one of the application, it says "the user does not exist". How can I fix this problem?
     
    #6
  7. CherylM

    CherylM New Member

  8. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Wow - TVPad users need to change DNS to get their content to work. I wonder how long this can last for before their content pipe is shut down..
     
    #8
  9. Cocacola

    Cocacola New Member

    Hi, do you know how to change the DNS?
     
    #9
  10. Cocacola

    Cocacola New Member

    #10
  11. Johnway

    Johnway New Member

    Hi Andrew! I've been looking at the moobox with quite some interest now and having been burnt by the TVPad i've been looking for another iptv solution.

    I've done some searching online and i see a lot of people with issues or concerns with the moonbox. You've used the item for some time now and was wondering how things are atm, whether you've had to constantly reinstall different apps, make various changes in networking, service disruptions etc.


    I would like to get one off ebay, but my greatest fear is the lack of support once i purchase one. I can't call out engineers, customer support, etc to help when things get dicey and such.

    Lastly, you mentioned that being android, you could download other apps, are there ones that act in a similar way supplying the same asian programming and such?

    Hope to hear from you soon!
     
    #11
  12. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Hi Johnway thanks for commenting.

    When purchasing an IPTV solution like Moonbox or TVPad, you need to accept that you are buying into a piracy system that is fundamentally unsustainable. Moonbox and TVPad and others rely on piracy in order to be appealing - the main content being the live and timeshifted TVB broadcasts. They lock these streams in a database of MAC addresses unique to each hardware box that is sold. Therefore the only way to access this content is to buy one of their boxes. My in-laws have been using the box since August and have not reported any substantial outages yet. However as time goes on with lawsuits/lack of ongoing support, I fully expect these boxes to eventually not function if not in 1 year then definitely not in 5 years or so.

    The reason I like Android-based boxes is that if the main Moonbox TVB feed (for example) suddenly disappeared, there is a slim chance that I could sideload an Android APK to load other TVB or Chinese channel app onto the box and I wouldn't have wasted all my money. However I haven't found an easy way to find this 'live TVB' content however. But - there are other established ways of getting forms of Chinese content - PPStream app is a huge database of 'on-demand' piracy, PPTV similarly huge and established.

    I'm afraid that until TVB gets its act together an offers a compelling IP stream then there's not much better alternative except to look up reviews of the 'next' piece of kit - whether it's a Moonbox or other Chinese IPTV box. Sorry not to be able to give you a better answer!
     
    #12
  13. Johnway

    Johnway New Member

    Hi Andrew

    Many thanks for the reply. Plenty of food for thought on the subject matter!

    regards

    Johnway
     
    #13
  14. edwaz

    edwaz New Member

    really useful informative read. neat, thanks.
     
    #14
  15. howi

    howi New Member

    has anyone used maigeTV ? I got this box from Hong Kong and then another one from their official website. This box used to have HD of all the Hong Kong live channels. At one point they even had the NowTV Sports channels. But as of late I'm no longer able to get the live channels and the VOD have not been updated. I complained to them about it and they replied with the following on Nov24, 2015:
    Dear Customer!
    The Maige TV service is experiencing server problems. This affects the live channels, VOD content should work fine.
    The factory is currently working on a permanent solution to prevent such issues in the future. Unfortunately this takes time. Current ETA for recovery is early December. For some channels and locations it might happen sooner though.
    We understand your frustration and apologize for the problems. The current issue affects most of the Chinese IPTV providers and many of those probably won't survive it. Maige is a big enough service though and will recover once the necessary steps are taken.
    Until then we kindly ask you for patience.
    PS: this is an automatic reply. Due to the volume of emails we are unable to answer individually unfortunately. Should you have specific questions or issues not related to the current problem please reply to this email.
    www.maigetv.com
    Regards,
    Thomas Stevens

    Is the TVpad's having the same issues accessing TVB live streams? Thanks.
     
    #15
  16. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    Hi howi, I imagine issues related to downtime of channels is related to either 1) server issues or 2) lawsuits. TVPad is affected by lawsuits. Looks like maigeTV could be result of either issue.
     
    #16
  17. Cocacola

    Cocacola New Member

    Hi..where can i get the list of dns server?
     
    #17
  18. Cocacola

    Cocacola New Member

    #18
  19. Andrew

    Andrew Administrator
    Staff Member

    #19
  20. bmwjl7125

    bmwjl7125 New Member

    Uh is there a link to buy the new moonbox that is trustworthy and has good support my grandma got wrecked with the tvpad thing
     
    #20

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