Review: Durban-made Piko TV smart stick

A South African company is selling a “mini PC” on a stick that converts a user’s television set into a smart, Internet-connected TV able to stream video and launch apps. By Nafisa Akabor.

Piko-640-1

A Durban-based company, Maslow Holdings, has developed a gizmo that promises to turn any HDMI-enabled television set into a smart TV. The R1 195 Piko “smart stick” is the size of a USB flash drive and connects to a TV through HDMI.

The Piko smart stick, which is manufactured in Durban, runs Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”, has 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage (about 2GB available to users) and built-in Wi-Fi.

Inside the box is an HDMI extender, USB power supply, four-port USB hub, USB converter, Air Mouse and receiver, USB SD/MMC/RS-MMC reader, micro SD adapter and 2x AAA batteries. All you need to use the device is a HDMI-capable TV with spare USB port.

The Piko smart stick is a hybrid of a mini PC and tablet on a large screen, with “air mouse” (wireless point and click) controls.

Once the Piko is plugged into a spare HDMI port and the air mouse, which comes with a USB receiver, has been connected and paired, it is ready to use.

Anyone familiar with Android will quickly figure their way around the Piko’s software and they may only need to adjust to the idea of using an air mouse. The sensitivity of the mouse can be adjusted under settings, but the default setting works well.

The home screen layout looks just like an Android tablet, with Google search at the top left, app drawer at the top right, and back, home and multitasking buttons on the bottom left.

The home screen consists entirely of pre-installed apps. They include Khan Academy, Amazon Kindle, Kingsoft Office, AntiVirus, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and a selection of games such Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. There’s also YouTube, SuperSport, News24, an e-mail app and Google Drive. Other options include video player, gallery, music, browser and X-Plore, a file manager.

To get content onto the Piko, you can plug it into a PC or laptop through USB and browse the device like any other Android-based product. Users can drag and drop content onto the Piko or, alternatively, make use of the USB card reader with micro SD card adaptor and access content from another source.

The Piko’s software runs fairly smoothly: there was no sluggishness between browsing and running multiple apps, but we did kill apps running in the background once we were done with them.

Playing Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds with the air mouse felt like it was the first time we were playing them, mostly due to not using an air mouse before. In Fruit Ninja, it felt as if there was a one-second delay between actions, but it didn’t take away the full experience of the game.

Using the built-in Web browser or other apps that require typing is terribly time consuming when using the air mouse, especially switching between screens of characters. However, the four-port USB hub comes in handy as you are able to plug in a keyboard to speed things up.

The Piko's home screen

The Piko’s home screen

The Piko could find a home for those who can’t justify the cost of a full PC. It’s also a cheap solution for those who want a tablet experience — to an extent — without purchasing a tablet. But plugging in a keyboard is highly recommended.

The Piko also appears aimed at those who are looking to watch multimedia content on an HD TV by copying files to the device or stream content to it from any device on the same network.

We tested the live streaming feature, but had a few issues. The manual does not tell users to install the MediaHouse app for Android or a DLNA player for iOS.

We managed to get onto an iPhone 5 from the Piko, went into our multimedia folder, but could not play any music from the tracks visible on screen, which were all free of digital rights management software.

We also had no luck connecting the Android handset to the Piko through the streaming service. This problem could be fixed through an app update or it’s just a matter of finding another third-party DLNA player. However, we did manage to browse an Android phone — an LG G2 — after turning it into wireless storage device, and using the X-Plore file manager, but files loaded very slowly across the network.

Nevertheless, we think the Piko would be an excellent device for schools wanting to provide access easily and cheaply to students who need to use educational apps or just access to the Internet for research. It could also be used as a learning aid in classrooms.

While there are several really cheap Android tablets available in South Africa, none of them run Android 4.0 or have specs similar to the Piko, which also has full HD capabilities.

The Piko smart stick is available at selected Game stores for a recommended retail price of R1 195.  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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  • Neji

    It’s wifi… it’s gonna be slow.

  • Wizzard

    the device seems ok but the problem is that I can import a similar android product for half the price.

  • Bapi Ntshangase

    It is always great to learn of stuff like this. We often read negative news about SA. This is fantastic! All the best with your innovation. Consider the relevance of a competitive price. I am not an expert in this, but I saw one comment allerging a similar product can be imported for 1/2 the price. What that did not say was whether it includes import duties or not. Because often prices quoted in overseas prices exclude shipping costs which invariably makes the cost way beyond competitive. In short, all the best with your innovation.

  • MasterCylinder

    The Wi-Fi is IEEE 802.11n which is capable of 600Mbit/s, faster than mobile networks in SA. If your Wi-Fi Router supports the same, then you will capable of streaming FULL HD Content with no issues.

  • Capitan Morgan

    Bought my Piko two weeks ago from GAME, got peace of mind as product carries one year warranty and very… very happy with all other extras in the box. The Piko is total Value for money. Money well spent as saved R 5000 rather that buying a Smart TV. I now have a 46′ Tablet in my lounge…what even cooler is I am streaming content from my I phone 5.

  • MasterCylinder

    I buy a lot of Tech products online. I previously bought an Android device for a lower price but the delivery charge and duties was a few of hundred rands… and it did not come with an Air Mouse or any other accessories or warranty.

    I bought the Piko when I saw it in Game over Christmas. The air mouse completes the lounging experience, sitting with a keyboard and mouse was frustrating. The other accessories come in handy when connecting USB storage, etc. Well thought out…

  • Malcolm Mersham

    I have to agree. I have a similar product at home, with the a newer OS version 4.2.2 running all of the above at I bought it on Bidorbuy.

    Great idea, however educated consumers with the help of Google searches will quickly see they can find a newer device, at a better pricepoint.

    If they managed create a unique app, that was applicable to the local market. Then Boom! they would have something special.

  • Wizzard

    Yeah u right, seems like “just another android device” missing that “x factor” but definitely agree that if they made something unique geared towards the local market it would be great and definitely more attractive for even the more tech folks.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    While I agree with you – I also buy tons off eBay, in their defence, this package does include the air mouse, 4-port USB hub and card reader – while not expensive items (from eBay :) ), assuming they’re not the cheapest rubbish available, it’s still R200-R250 worth of extras there (eBay prices). This brings it to within around 20%-25% more than a eBay equivalent (incl shipping), which isn’t too bad because of the local walk-in warrantee you get, and Game still makes a profit. If you have to pack your eBay item off to China for a replacement, there go your savings.

    If these guys could sell more direct-to-public and get that price down to R1000, it’d be hard to beat it, even with cheap stuff from China, which is very commendable.

    I’m also wondering how much of this is “Made in South Africa” and not “Put in a box in South Africa” :)

  • David

    If you don’t mind could you please tell me which game you got yours from, I would like to get my hands on one.

  • Vitesh Panday

    David,

    The product is available at the following branches:
    GAME ALBERTON
    GAME BEL-AIR
    GAME BOKSBURG SS
    GAME CANAL WALK
    GAME CENTURION
    GAME CLEARWATER
    GAME CRADLESTONE MALL
    GAME CRESTA
    GAME EASTGATE
    GAME FOURWAYS MALL
    GAME GATEWAY
    GAME GEORGE GARDEN ROUTE
    GAME GREENACRES P.E.
    GAME KENILWORTH
    GAME KIMBERLEY NORTH CAPE MALL
    GAME MALL AT REDS CENTURION
    GAME MENLYN
    GAME N1 CITY-CAPE TOWN
    GAME PAVILION
    GAME SOMERSET WEST
    GAME WESTGATE
    GAME WOODLANDS

  • David

    Thank you for your time.

  • Scebberish Umfazi

    What a wonderful “Third World” idea.

  • Scebberish Umfazi

    and pigs can fly

  • Scebberish Umfazi

    You may want to travel more…………..before people get too excited about Game they may want to recall the Game/HP fiasco where over 6000 HP PC’s were recalled.

  • Scebberish Umfazi

    You are merely “branding ” an offshore product from Asia. Good luck when service time actually does come around and problems arise..

  • Yuk

    I cant find anything about Maslow Holdings online. Can someone assist?

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