Goodbye TV licence — affordable projectors that could replace your TV

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and government are trying to find an alternative to TV licences, but the current scheme’s end is not in sight.

However, there are various high-resolution projectors available to South African residents that can be bought without a TV licence and provide an excellent viewing experience if you use them in a room with little ambient light.

The SABC narrowly avoided a blackout in 2023, and, in April 2024, Media Monitoring Africa’s William Bird warned that a blackout is still a possibility.

This is the result of the SABC’s dire financial situation. Most recently, it reported a loss of R1.13 billion for the 2022/23 financial year.

It was the biggest annual loss the public broadcaster has recorded since at least the start of the century.

“After seven years of consistently improving net losses, the year under review unfortunately saw a significant regression,” the SABC said.

“This is as a result of revenue that was 7.9% less than 2021/22 financial year and 27% less than budget.”

One of the significant contributors to the SABC’s poor financial state is its failure to collect TV licence fees. Collection revenue declined from R928 million in the 2013/14 financial year to R741 million in 2022/23

It had billed R4.5 billion in TV licence fees during the 2022/23 financial year.

TV licence avoidance rates have been high for several years, increasing from around 70% in 2013/14 to over 85% in 2022/23.

While the SABC and government have proposed alternatives to the current TV licence scheme, there is no sign that it will come to an end anytime soon.

MyBroadband looked for affordable full HD (1080p) and 4K (2160p) projectors that are on offer in South Africa and found eight options with prices ranging from R2,499 to R9,999.

Three entry-level models are available for under R3,000 — the Ultra-Link Portable LCD Projector, Vankyo Leisure 430 Mini, and HiMost HiA40C Smart Projector.

The Ultra-Link device supports a resolution of up to 1080p and offers a projection size of between 35 and 150 inches. It is available from Takealot for R2,499.

Vankyo’s Leisure 430 Mini is also 1080p, while its projection size ranges from 40 to 236 inches. GeeWiz sells this projector for R2,637.

It should be noted that these two projectors aren’t “smart” and lack an operating system that can access streaming services. However, it is possible to connect a media streaming device to access video streaming and other apps.

High-quality streaming media devices are available in South Africa for around R700 to R1,500.

The HiMost HiA40C Smart Projector costs R2,799 at Takealot. It is one of the two projectors listed that supports 4K resolution. Its projection size ranges from 18 to 230 inches.

For R1,000 more, South Africans can get the HiMost HiA45B Smart Projector from Takealot. It offers a projection range of 22 to 230 inches.

The two most expensive options included are the Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 and Samsung’s Freestyle Smart Projector.

The former is available for R7,999 from New World and offers a projection size of between 60 and 120 inches. It supports a maximum 1080p resolution.

Samsung’s Freestyle Smart Projector’s projection size ranges from 30 to 100 inches and it also maxes out at 1080p. It is available from Takealot for R9,999.

The table below compares pricing and the basic specifications of a range of affordable projectors you can buy in South Africa. Images of each model are shown further below.

Projectors that will require an additional media device to access streaming services have been marked with an asterisk.

Projectors that can replace your TV
Projector Projection size Maximum resolution Price Retailer
Ultra-Link Portable LCD Projector* 35 to 150 inches 1080p R2,499 Takealot
Vankyo Leisure 430 Mini* 40 to 236 inches 1080p R2,637 GeeWiz
HiA40C 4K Smart Projector 18 to 230 inches 4K R2,799 Takealot
HiA45B 4K Smart Projector 22 to 230 inches 4K R3,799 Takealot
Connex Lumen* 30 to 170 inches 1080p R3,999 Takealot
Vankyo Performance V630* 46 to 300 inches 1080p R4,959
Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 60 to 120 inches 1080p R7,999 New World
Samsung Freestyle Smart Projector 30 to 100 inches 1080p R9,999 Takealot

Ultra-Link Portable LCD Projector — R2,499 (Takealot)

Vankyo Leisure 430 Mini — R2,637 (GeeWiz)

HiMost HiA40C 4K Smart Projector — R2,799 (Takealot)

HiMost HiA45B 4K Smart Projector — R3,799 (Takealot)

Connex Lumen — R3,999 (Takealot)

Vankyo Performance V630 — R4,959 (Takealot)

Xiaomi Mi Smart Projector 2 — R7,999 (New World)

Samsung Freestyle Smart Projector — R9,999 (Takealot)

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Goodbye TV licence — affordable projectors that could replace your TV