Astro finally goes 4K, cloud recording with the Astro Ultra Box
By Digital News Asia November 19, 2019
- Ultra Box provides 4K UHD, cloud recording, SVOD access
- Free upgrade for subscribers paying RM100 monthly or more
AS MALAYSIA’S premier pay TV provider, Astro needs to keep up. With declining pay TV subscriptions, the media company will need to step up and introduce fresh new ways to engage with audiences.
Last week, we had the company’s enhanced partnership with China-based iQIYI as an indicator of where they’re headed. This week, we see another step – the introduction of 4K UHD capabilities.
The 4K experience on Astro will be delivered through the new Astro Ultra Box, a TV box that not only allows said 4K UHD broadcasting, but also cloud recording capabilities underneath a new user interface that is meant to be seamless across multiple device screens.
The UI will include improved content recommendations based on viewing history, play from start functions and the ability to record multiple shows at the same time. It’s also smaller than the usual Astro decoder boxes, which is a nice aspect.
Astro Group chief executive officer Henry Tan (pic) calls this a timely inclusion. “Over half a million homes have 4K TV, of which 70% are Astro customers. The launch of the Ultra Box is timely to meet the growing demand for 4K UHD viewing. Additionally, commercial establishments in the hospitality, retail and F&B sectors will welcome the opportunity to offer patrons live sports and other content in 4K UHD.”
Astro’s Ultra Box uses a hybrid system of satellite and internet technologies, the company says, adding that satellite delivers the best 4K UHD quality. Connecting the Ultra Box to the internet, however, gives users additional interactivity as well as the ability to stream content on demand.
As a reminder, Astro does provide broadband and entertainment bundles.
Cloud recording will be a fascinating new feature, and will be available on the new Ultra Box and Astro GO. Customers will now be able to record multiple shows at the same time and store them in the Astro Cloud, which can be accessed on TV, mobile or PC screens. Customers get 200 free hours of HD storage, which can be increased to 1,500 hours at RM15 per month.
Other new features include Play from Start, letting users who tune in midway to a show to click the restart icon and watch the show from the beginning. Users can also watch a show on, say, the TV and then transition and continue watching the same show on the mobile phone, if they want.
Astro customers with a monthly subscription of US24.05 (RM100) and above can upgrade to Astro Ultra for free, while new customers with subscription of over RM100 will have to pay US$23.31 (RM99) in installation fees. On the other hand, current customers who are paying below RM100 in subscriptions will have to pay US$47.87 (RM199).
Connecting the Ultra Box to the internet allows them to access the over 50,000 videos on demand and cloud recording.