The Western Digital TV Live.
The Western Digital TV Live.

The contest to be king of streamers



Technology analysts call them "over-the-top" video services, although gadget buyers may know this little-known category of devices simply as streaming media players.

Q&A: Raju Jethwani of Eurostar Group discusses internet protocol television set-top boxes

Your company has released some newer models in the UAE. Why? These set-top boxes have been launched to offer users a whole new experience in HD viewing.

What is your company's revenue projection for the future? We have set our sights on reaching a target revenue of over US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) by 2020.

What challenges do you foresee in growing business in the UAE? We are seeing challenges in terms of market dynamics and technological changes – moving to address the demands posed by innovations and advancements.

Apple TV is the market leader in this space, although rivals of Appple such as Boxee, Logitech, Roku and Sony have released competing models in recent years that can stream digital TV shows and movies from a computer to a television set.

Some can also access websites, a convenience for TV viewers who might want to switch from streaming old episodes of Dexter to updating their status on a social networking site.

An estimated 3.6 million units were sold globally last year in this small but growing market, although 82 per cent of those sales occurred in North America, according to market research from In-Stat.

One of the newest of these devices, introduced into the UAE last month and retailing for Dh499, is WD TV Live from the technology company Western Digital. WD TV Live uses built-in Wi-Fi to access your personal media collection and wirelessly streams movies, plus TV shows or online clips from sites such as YouTube.

The box also accesses digital songs and photo slide shows in case you want to watch the latest family antics during Christmas. Assuming that the video content is recorded in high definition and that your television plays the format, HD can be another handy feature.

Western Digital's box can link to data stored not just on a PC or Apple computer but also to other devices, including USB drives and digital cameras and camcorders. But those who do not yet have Wi-Fi at home will need to use an Ethernet cable to connect the box to devices such as computers.

Reviews of the device through the online retailer Amazon.com have been fairly positive thus far, with customers praising it as an "excellent" and "easily navigable" streamer. From more than 150 reviews on Amazon.com, the box garnered an average rating of 3.8 stars out of a possible five.

Top 5: Most popular digital media receivers

1 Roku 2 XS – US$89 to $119

2 Apple TV – $94 to $109

3 Roku LT – $41 to $49

4 WD TV Live – $99 to $130

5 Roku XDS – $120

Source: Cnet

The Quote: Apple TV is like a DVD player for the 21st century - Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple

The bio

Who inspires you?

I am in awe of the remarkable women in the Arab region, both big and small, pushing boundaries and becoming role models for generations. Emily Nasrallah was a writer, journalist, teacher and women’s rights activist

How do you relax?

Yoga relaxes me and helps me relieve tension, especially now when we’re practically chained to laptops and desks. I enjoy learning more about music and the history of famous music bands and genres.

What is favourite book?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - I think I've read it more than 7 times

What is your favourite Arabic film?

Hala2 Lawen (Translation: Where Do We Go Now?) by Nadine Labaki

What is favourite English film?

Mamma Mia

Best piece of advice to someone looking for a career at Google?

If you’re interested in a career at Google, deep dive into the different career paths and pinpoint the space you want to join. When you know your space, you’re likely to identify the skills you need to develop.  

 

The alternatives

• Founded in 2014, Telr is a payment aggregator and gateway with an office in Silicon Oasis. It’s e-commerce entry plan costs Dh349 monthly (plus VAT). QR codes direct customers to an online payment page and merchants can generate payments through messaging apps.

• Business Bay’s Pallapay claims 40,000-plus active merchants who can invoice customers and receive payment by card. Fees range from 1.99 per cent plus Dh1 per transaction depending on payment method and location, such as online or via UAE mobile.

• Tap started in May 2013 in Kuwait, allowing Middle East businesses to bill, accept, receive and make payments online “easier, faster and smoother” via goSell and goCollect. It supports more than 10,000 merchants. Monthly fees range from US$65-100, plus card charges of 2.75-3.75 per cent and Dh1.2 per sale.

2checkout’s “all-in-one payment gateway and merchant account” accepts payments in 200-plus markets for 2.4-3.9 per cent, plus a Dh1.2-Dh1.8 currency conversion charge. The US provider processes online shop and mobile transactions and has 17,000-plus active digital commerce users.

• PayPal is probably the best-known online goods payment method - usually used for eBay purchases -  but can be used to receive funds, providing everyone’s signed up. Costs from 2.9 per cent plus Dh1.2 per transaction.

Explainer: Tanween Design Programme

Non-profit arts studio Tashkeel launched this annual initiative with the intention of supporting budding designers in the UAE. This year, three talents were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be a part of the sixth creative development programme. These are architect Abdulla Al Mulla, interior designer Lana El Samman and graphic designer Yara Habib.

The trio have been guided by experts from the industry over the course of nine months, as they developed their own products that merge their unique styles with traditional elements of Emirati design. This includes laboratory sessions, experimental and collaborative practice, investigation of new business models and evaluation.

It is led by British contemporary design project specialist Helen Voce and mentor Kevin Badni, and offers participants access to experts from across the world, including the likes of UK designer Gareth Neal and multidisciplinary designer and entrepreneur, Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi.

The final pieces are being revealed in a worldwide limited-edition release on the first day of Downtown Designs at Dubai Design Week 2019. Tashkeel will be at stand E31 at the exhibition.

Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director of Tashkeel, said: “The diversity and calibre of the applicants this year … is reflective of the dynamic change that the UAE art and design industry is witnessing, with young creators resolute in making their bold design ideas a reality.”

SPEC SHEET

Processor: Apple M2, 8-core GPU, 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.3-inch Retina, 2560 x 1600, 227ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3 (2), 3.5mm audio; Touch Bar with Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0

Battery: 58.2Wh lithium-polymer, up to 20 hours

Camera: 720p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10, ProRes

Audio: Stereo speakers with HDR, wide stereo, Spatial Audio support, Dolby support

In the box: MacBook Pro, 67W power adapter, USB-C cable

Price: From Dh5,499


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