Altech Node: video-on-demand without broadband for R299 per month

Altech Node, a subscription “push” video-on-demand (VOD) service and home automation system will be launching at an event in Johannesburg on Thursday, 18 September 2014.

Its launch follows that of Vidi, an online VOD service from Times Media Group which has a similar entertainment offering to what Node will provide.

Like Vidi, Node offers a subscription service (albeit at a higher price of R299) which gives users access to TV shows and older movies, while newer movies can be rented for R15 or R25.

Pricing on movie rentals is dependent on how recent a release the film is. Once rented, subscribers can watch a movie as many times as they want in a 48-hour period.

Satellite-based

Unlike services such as Netflix and Vidi, Node’s VOD offering does not require a broadband connection to stream the content over.

Instead, it uses the same satellite as DStv to push content to a decoder-like set-top box (or “Node”), which is then stored on a 1 Terabyte hard drive.

New content is pushed down to the Node on a regular basis, with old shows and movies cycled out as the hard drive fills up.

Altech Node press shot — front
Altech Node press shot — front

The Node box itself costs R3,499, and for the moment includes a free dish and installation. It can be connected to any HDMI-capable screen.

While subscribers watch content from the Node’s hard drive rather than streaming it via the Internet, the Node still requires Internet access to unlock movies or episodes from a series.

This does not appear to require a large amount of data, and the Node does include a built-in 3G modem for those who do not have an Internet connection at home.

Web services

The data costs incurred by the Node are the user’s problem, so it’s important to mention that the Node also offers web services.

It includes a web browser and YouTube app, which, if you’re not careful, can eat through your 3G data pretty quickly (assuming you don’t just connect it to your home Wi-Fi network or LAN).

Home automation

Altech Node remote control
Altech Node remote control

In addition to entertainment services, Altech has also geared the Node be a home automation hub.

Accessories include internal and external surveillance cameras, motion sensors, smart plugs, antennas, Wi-Fi boosters, and VoIP phones – which Altech said would all be available at the retailers that stock Node.

The Node’s remote control features a QWERTY keyboard on the back, and there is also an app available in the Google Play store with which you can control the device over a Wi-Fi network.

The Node will be available from the following stores from Friday, 19 September 2014: Altech Autopage Cellular, Cell C, Dion Wired, Game, HiFi Corporation, Hirsch’s, Incredible Connection, JetMart, Makro, Pick ‘n Pay Hyper, and other retailers.

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Altech Node: video-on-demand without broadband for R299 per month