I have monitored the Smart TV service for a while now, having obtained the Smart TV receiver two weeks ago. The following review is based on my personal experience using the service.
What is Smart TV?
Smart TV is a pan-African brand providing tailor-made and affordable pay TV solutions to consumers across Africa. Currently Smart TV is available in Ghana and is on the verge of commercial launch in Kenya and Uganda. Smart TV is a brand owned by Next Generation Broadcasting AB (NGB) and has been brought to Ghana by Next Generation Broadcasting Ghana Ltd., in collaboration with Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).
How to connect
If you are within the coverage area of Smart TV, you can pick the Smart TV receiver from any of their distributors.
The device itself cost 133 GH cedis and was picked-up from one of Smart TV’s distributors in Accra. It comes with the following features:
- MPEG-4 SD & MPEG-2 SD compatible: it can handle free-to-air standard definition broadcasts compressed in MPEG2 or the newer MPEG4 formats
- Conax CAS embedded: this technology handles conditional access since Smart TV is a pay TV service.
- 288MHz High Speed CPU
- Digital audio bit-stream output: it can push digital audio signals to a compatible home theatre system, for a crystal-clear sound output.
- 7 day & full Electronic Program Guide (EPG) for on-screen channel information
- 256 Color On Screen Display (OSD) with Multi-Language
- OTA (DVB-SSU) Support: the device software can be updated over-the-air whenever the broadcaster releases an update.
- OSD Teletext & DVB Subtitle
- It can handle up to 1000 channels
- Video output: it has ports for AV out, as well as SCART
The services comes with 18 local & international TV channels in the following order:
- GTV: the state broadcaster takes the number one spot, beaming Ghanaian news and entertainment programmes.
- NET2: News and general entertainment.
- TV3 & eTV Ghana: this channel is alternated between TV3 and eTV. Both are news and general entertainment TV channels broadcasting from Accra.
- TV Africa: news and general entertainment with a pan-African outlook.
- Viasat1: general programming with focus on entertainment.
- GTV Sports Plus: a sports TV channel from the state broadcaster GTV. It constantly screens playbacks from the African Cup of Nations, FIFA World Cup as well as some Football League matches.
- Aptly named “Music”, this channels offers Kiss TV, a 24-hour music video channel from the UK.
- News: this channels offers AlJazeera English, the 24-hour news channels from Doha in Qatar that attempts to balance perspectives offered by the western media.
- Movies: this channel offers SILVER, a 24-hour movie channel from Sweden.
- Entertainment: this channel is home to Star!, an entertainment news channel.
- 1 Sport: Sentata Africa, a sports TV channel lives here.
- Homebase: this channel constantly screens Ghanaian movies and entertainment shows.
- Hi Nolly: a general entertainment channel offering nollywood movies and other entertainment shows from the stable of HiTV in Nigeria.
- Fox Entertainment
- BBC World News: a global news broadcaster
- GOD TV: a Christian-themed TV channel broadcasting from Jerusalem in Israel.
- KidsCo: a TV channel targeted at children. Much of the programming are animations.
Smart TV is presently available in Greater Accra Region, Ashanti Region, as well as parts of Central Region and parts of Eastern Region.
- Free, low cost: the service is currently free from now till early 2011. If you are not sure about if Smart TV is good for you, simply buy the receiver and try it between now and early 2011. I am told that the subscription will not exceed 20 GH cedis monthly even when they start taking fees.
- Visual & audio clarity: since this is digital TV service, most of the TV channels are reasonably clear. With the BBC World News channel for example, one can hardly detect any difference in quality with the BBC offered via DStv.
- Signal quality: the signal is so strong, I was able to detect it with a lowly “rabbit ears” antennae from a location outside Accra. Of course, its best to use an external antennae, where possible.
- Variety: the service offers enough variety to meet the needs of just about anyone in Ghana.
While some of the factors listed below might be outside the control of Smart TV, they do take some shine away from the service.
- Limited coverage: the service currently covers the most populated areas in Ghana, but 6 other regions are still left out.
- Adding other local TV channels on a more permanent basis would have made the service even more attractive.
- The visuals of some of the local channels are less than perfect.
Its hard to say if this service is ideal or not, for everyone. Individual tastes vary widely. Choosing to stay with free TV or pay a little for Smart TV is an individual decision one would have to make, given the facts at hand.