It wasn’t that long ago that the only choice we had for watching international channels such as HBO, National Geographic and CNN was to subscribe to True Visions. We all know how expensive they can be. But, times have changed and there is now more choice. These days we no longer need to subscribe to a satellite or cable TV service as Internet TV has started to lead the way. It is sometimes called “cutting the cable” as with Internet TV you can watch anywhere you like in your house. In the past you had to place your television set next to the socket for your rooftop aerial or where the cables came into the house from your satellite dish. But, with Internet TV, you can now put your TV set where you like as it receives the channels via WiFi.
There are a number of different services out there today for watching Internet TV. Some, like XBMC, are free, while others like ThaiExpatTV and 365Sport are subscription services. For the past nine months I have been using the Maige TV box which is what I will review today. If you use Maige TV or any other services in Thailand then please let me know in the comments below.
Maige TV is a subscription service set top box. As it uses Internet TV, it is ideal for people living in condos or apartment blocks where you are not allowed to install a satellite dish. All you need is a good Internet connection. I initially used it on a 3MB service and have since upgraded to 6MB. I’ve hardly had any buffering issues and managed to watch any program quite quickly. However, it is only as good as your Internet connection. If your web pages load slowly or YouTube buffers a lot then this is not for you. I’ve only had a few days of bad Internet connection which unfortunately also meant a few days of not being able to watch Internet TV.
There are pros and cons to using the Maige TV which I will try and list here. I have 81 days left on my subscription and I will need to make a decision soon as to whether I want to continue. I do like it a lot and I use it most days, but there are some things I find annoying. That is mainly the Chinese language and also the price. But more about that soon.
Maige TV is basically two services in one. If you are looking for a replacement for True Visions then you will be happy to hear that it has over 60 channels in HD quality. These include all the HBO movie channels, National Geographic and Discovery channels, CNN and BBC news channels and many more. In fact, there are more than 270 channels but the majority are in Chinese. The second part of the Maige TV box is Video on Demand (VOD). This is what I use the most. They basically have a database of 30,000 movies and television series that you can watch as and when you like. Many are in English and are from America and the UK, but again, the majority are Chinese based. New movies and TV series are added most days.
English Channel List
HBO Movies HD / HBO Movie Hits HD / HBO Movies Family HD / HBO Movies Signature HD / AXN HD / Star Movies HD / Star World HD / SYFY HD / Universal HD / FOX HD / FX HD / Fox Movies Premium HD / Fox Crime HD / KIX HD / TMM HD / Nat Geo HD / Nat Geo Adventure HD / Nat Geo Wild HD / Discovery World HD / Discovery Science HD / Discovery Turbo HD / Home & Health HD / History HD / Sky News HD / BBC World News HD / CNBC HD / LITV HD / Fashion TV HD / Channel V HD / MTV HD / Outdoor Channel HD / Golf Channel HD / Fox Sports Plus HD / Euro Sport HD / Setanta Sports HD / Astro Sports 1 HD / Astro Sports 2 HD / Astro Sports 3 HD / Astro Sports 4 HD / ESPN HD / ESPN 2 HD / NFL HD / NBA Sports HD / EPL English Premier League HD / Fox Soccer HD / Now Sports 2 / HD Now Sports 5 HD / Fox Action Movie HD / OASIS HD / MBC HD / Tennis HD / BBC Knowledge / BBC Entertianment / BBC Lifestyle / Fox News / AXN / Channel V / Hollywood Movies / Star Sports / Animal Planet / Discovery / TV 5 / Bloomberg / CNN News / NHK / BeTV
I do like Maige TV a lot. Occasionally I have a problem but it doesn’t happen that often. Like I said earlier, I use VOD more often than live TV. There’s not much point in watching HBO when you can watch any movie on demand. I sometimes watch the Discovery channels or ones like that. But, if you like to watch the Premier League football then you will be happy with those channels alone and the VOD would be a bonus. One thing I don’t like about the live TV channels is that the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) is in Chinese. So, there is no way of me knowing what’s on now and what is next. You can change the menu to English but the programs are still listed in Chinese. The only help you get in English are the different categories like news, entertainment etc to help you find the channels you want. There is also a tab for your favourites.
I have the same language problem for the Video on Demand. The categories are in English (action, sci-fi, horror, US TV etc) but the titles are all in Chinese. They do have the pictures for each movie/TV series but these are not always easy to decipher. Another problem is that the season number is written in Chinese too. For seasons 1-3 it’s not a problem as they are just dashes in Chinese. After that you have to learn the Chinese numbers. Another problem is finding the second season after you have watched the first season. If they were uploaded at the same time they will be next to each other. But often they could be on one of up to 100 different pages. It would be nice if it was more like Netflix where there is one page for each program which makes it easier to progress through the seasons. It would also be nice if there was a search facility. But then, if there was, you would probably need to enter the text in Chinese.
If this was a cheap or even free service then I probably wouldn’t mind so much about the language problems. But, if you are subscribing to something then you expect to get a good service. If it wasn’t for the language problem then I would be saying to you straight away that I will be renewing my subscription in a few months for another year. Yes, all the American movies and TV series are in English albeit with Chinese subtitles. Yes, the remote and menus are in English. But, all the movie and video titles on the EPG and VOD screens are only in Chinese which makes it harder to decide what to watch. At the end of the day, you will need to make up your own mind as to whether you will get your money’s worth.
The Maige TV box and one year’s subscription costs 12,500 Baht (it was 14,500 Baht before). After that the annual subscription is 6,000 Baht. I used the dealer in Thailand. He has about 3 or 4 websites and if you Google “Maige TV Thailand” you will find one of his sites with this exact same price offer. I know it is possible to buy a cheaper version from abroad, but you are running certain risks. You need to make sure you get the English version of the remote and that the menu is already changed to English. Buying here in Thailand also makes it easier to return if there is a problem and also for activating your subscription once you have paid.
Let me know in the comments below if you already use Maige TV and what your experience have been. Feel free to ask questions and I will try and answer them.