Pay-TV is a service that has less and less relevance: according to Anatel, almost 1 million contracts of this type were disconnected in the last year. The high monthly cost and the use of bad or outdated equipment are some of the reasons for the mass cancellation of cable TV in favor of streaming services.
To remain relevant in the entertainment sector and meet the demand of those who want a cheaper product, Claro launched the Claro TV Box, which uses IPTV technology to bring linear channels over the internet and content via streaming. Is it good? Works well, does it have a delay? I have tested the service in the past few weeks and I will share my experience below.
Analysis of Claro Box TV on video
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Claro Box TV was provided by Claro on loan and will be returned to the company after the tests. For more information, visit tecnoblog.net/etica.
Delivery, installation and equipment
Claro Box TV equipment was left by a Claro technician, who usually works with installations and repairs of cable TV, broadband and landline. As expected, the employee only delivered the kit, since the IPTV service must be configured and installed by the customer himself.
A detail that I highlight is the packaging: the IPTV equipment comes in a box, but the remote control is delivered separately in a plastic bag. The control of the kit, by the way, is the same as that of NET’s pay TV – whoever wants the remote control with voice command needs to pay an extra fee.
The kit comes with a quick guide on how to assemble the equipment, in addition to the power supply and an HDMI cable. The model of my test unit was manufactured by Sagemcom and has a simple design: on the front there is an on and off button; at the rear, there are the power, HDMI, Ethernet, USB and optical audio ports, as well as a WPS button for quick connection to Wi-Fi.
The installation process was very easy: just plug the product into the outlet, connect the HDMI cable and follow the instructions on the TV screen. After entering the Wi-Fi password, the system made some updates before releasing use.
With the system up to date, the first step of the configuration is to put the CPF of the contract holder. Adhesion to Claro Box TV must be made in advance through the operator’s website, telesales or store, that is, you cannot place any CPF there.
After the CPF, it is necessary to create a numeric password to purchase content by remote control; after this process, the customer is free to use Claro Box TV.
Menus and navigation
The Claro Box TV home screen gives a taste of what is possible on the platform, which focuses on content on demand and linear TV. Right away you can find the Netflix and Globoplay app, as well as access to Claro Video and NET Now.
My test unit came with the basic plan, which does not qualify for the TV channels in the Top HD package. Fortunately it is possible to upgrade by the remote control itself, and it was a super simple task: if you try to reproduce content that is not part of the package, the system directs you to the virtual store; to confirm the purchase, it is necessary to enter the numeric password of the initial configuration.
In addition to the channel package, it is possible to hire extra items such as Telecine, StarzPlay, Paramount +, Looke, Star Premium, Premiere, Combat, among others. The content is released for playback immediately after purchase.
Watching TV with Claro Box TV
The linear TV part should please those who use and like the Claro NET cable TV experience. The way to find content is identical, the program guide is very similar and the channel switching is done almost immediately. It doesn’t even look like you’re using a streaming service or that the transmission depends on an internet connection.
One of the coolest features is the ability to watch TV shows that have been shown in the past. Depending on the programmer, it is possible to play content up to 7 days ago, but this function is not available for all channels. There is also a digital recorder in the cloud (Cloud DVR), which allows you to save up to 400 hours of programming to watch whenever you want.
As for the image or sound quality, I don’t have much to complain about and it is very similar or even better than the cable TV I have at home via satellite. My broadband connection is provided by a local provider – that is, I don’t use Claro’s own internet – and my plan has a speed of 500 Mb / s.
I found on my router’s control panel that a linear channel transmission is around 1.2 MB / s (megabytes per second), with maximum peaks of 2.4 MB / s for buffering. It is definitely not a 4K broadcast, and the high resolution is restricted to some content on demand.
Claro recommends a minimum speed of 10 Mb / s (megabits per second) to use Claro Box TV, and you can watch TV without problems with this transfer rate. The IPTV service is also able to adapt to work with slower connections – at a certain point, I set a maximum limit of 3 Mb / s on my router for the equipment; the quality was not excellent, but you can watch TV if the network is slow. With 1 Mb / s it was not viable, with several crashes and very slow when changing channels.
The delay of Claro Box TV
Even with the maximum speed of my connection, I observed a delay of almost 30 seconds in the comparison of Globo in comparison with the broadcast of terrestrial open TV. It is a very high delay that can “hurt” in some situations – I took several program spoilers while following the Twitter timeline.
Claro Box TV may not be the best choice for those who like live sports, and it is likely that the neighbor will celebrate the goal several seconds in advance. For those who just want to follow ordinary TV, the delay should not be so disruptive.
One of the strengths of Claro Box TV is the integrated search: just search for a specific movie, series, TV show or event to view availability, time and origin, which can be linear TV or the NOW catalog. This is a very cool feature, especially when the content is available on channels that allow you to watch past programming.
A detail of the search is that it is integrated with Netflix. For example: if you search for Modern Family, you will find episodes on both Netflix and the Star Life channel. The feature is limited and does not work in other apps like Globoplay, Amazon Prime Video or Facebook Watch.
Another important flaw is that different services and channels adopt different names for the same content, which can end up messing up the search. Claro Vídeo also has Modern Family in its catalog, but it is only possible to find it if the search is made with the name in Portuguese, Modern Family.
Claro Music instead of music channels
If you like pay TV music channels, know that Claro Box TV does not have these features but allows you to listen to songs in a different way. You can choose from more than 50 playlists in the Claro Música app of various genres.
The app doesn’t allow you to choose an artist or album as in a Spotify or Deezer, but it lets you skip the song six times an hour – except for those who subscribe to Claro Música Unlimited, who have no limits to change tracks.
On-demand apps and content
Claro sells the idea that Box TV is a platform to consume internet content. The operator is right, but there are very serious limitations that need to be considered.
The company discloses that Claro Box TV has a series of applications, only that many of these applications are not… applications.
Telecine, for example, does not have the same experience as the app for smart TV or other Android TV Boxes. All programmer content is integrated into NOW, Claro’s own streaming platform.
The same happens with Star Premium, Paramount +, HBO, Premiere, Conmebol TV and Cariocão. To watch content from these companies, it is necessary to contract the subscription with Claro itself, and This is a problem: the customer may already have this subscription in another way – several broadband plans include Paramount +, for example – and the user is prevented from use your current Claro Box TV account.
By having the content only in NOW, the client also no longer has resources from the programmers that are available in their apps, such as continuing an HBO movie that was started on another device by HBO Go, for example.
The only “real” apps on Claro Box TV are Netflix, Globoplay, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook Watch and NordesteFC. It is possible to notice a certain choking when running these apps; sometimes, the commands have a certain delay and do not have the same fluidity as the interface of Claro itself.
Absence of apps
Something that bothers me is that Claro controls which applications are present in the IPTV box. This does not happen in a TV Box with Android TV, for example, which has access to the Google Play Store and leaves the user free to choose what they want on their device.
In addition to apps that are not apps, there are several services on Claro Box TV, such as Spotify, YouTube, Disney +, Deezer and Apple TV. The customer is left in the dark not knowing if a new app will arrive, in addition to the uncertainty about a possible termination of the contract between the operator and the companies.
Watching on more than one TV
An important feature of Claro’s streaming service is that it is restricted to a TV. There is no way to hire additional points on Claro Box TV.
It is possible to watch most channels of the Top HD plan in the NOW application, which is only available for smartphones and tablets, or on the computer via the web. So far, Claro does not have any version of NOW for smart TVs.
For those who are keen to watch content on TV, you can use Now with Chromecast, but I already say that my experience was not very good and I witnessed a series of unexpected crashes and closings.
The NOW app allows you to enable the streaming service on up to five devices, which is great. However, during my tests, I received several error messages stating that I exceeded this limit, even with the login made only on my phone and tablet.
Claro needs to improve much your streaming app experience. I am a Pay TV customer at Vivo and I use Vivo Play sometimes, and the experience offered by the competitor is much superior.
Voice remote control
When I received Claro Box TV for the first time, I was surprised to find that the product does not come with the voice remote control. I was disappointed to receive the conventional remote control from NET in the IPTV kit.
Claro informed the Tecnoblog that the remote voice control must be hired separately, and there is a charge of R $ 99. Another bucket of cold water is that customers who pay this amount must return the control to the operator in case of cancellation of Claro Box TV.
Despite the disappointing commercial strategy, I have to say that the voice remote control impressed me more than I imagined. It is very practical to use the device, and it made using IPTV a lot easier.
The voice command can be used for intelligent search, avoiding searching for letters on a virtual keyboard, in addition to opening applications or changing channels. Just press and hold the microphone button and say what you want – when you say Multishow, for example, the channel is tuned in immediately.
Another nice detail is that the control has a sensor that turns on lights when it is “picked up”. The lighting is not perfect and is restricted to the buttons on the voice control and NOW. It would be better if it had all the keys.
The annoying part is that the controller does not work in all areas of the Claro Box TV interface: it is impossible to trigger anything by voice if you are inside Netflix or in the middle of NOW playback, for example.
The voice remote control also has the ability to turn the TV on and off, as well as volume control. I missed an option to change the TV input (input), as in the controls of Vivo or Sky.
Claro Box TV is a complete product: the customer takes IPTV service with a box that delivers an experience very similar to traditional pay TV.
It is necessary to consider whether the product is worth it. On the date of publication of this review, Claro Box TV was sold in three versions:
- The first one costs R $ 20.00 per month, does not include any paid channels, only access to NOW with Claro Video, some open channels and the possibility to purchase content, such as HBO or Telecine. This version is definitely not worth it; it is much more advantageous to buy a TV Box with Android TV to use any application with individual subscriptions.
- The operator also sells Claro Box with StarzPlay or Claro Box with Paramount +: both versions cost R $ 29.90 per month, and basically it is the standard plan with the subscription of streaming services. I also believe that it is not worth it, and it is more advantageous to buy a separate TV Box;
- The version with the Top HD plan costs R $ 79.90 per month, and includes more than 100 channels of closed TV with the possibility of hiring extra content. This is the ideal plan for those who want to replace pay TV, but it is still kind of expensive.
Claro also charges a subscription fee of R $ 399 for the adhesion of Claro Box TV; the charge is exempt only for Claro customers of mobile telephony, fixed broadband or when contracting the Top HD package, subject to a 12-month loyalty. The equipment is on loan and must be returned in case of cancellation of the subscription.
While the device delivers an interesting and consistent experience, it is unforgivable that Claro did not launch its IPTV as a simple application. The TV Box requirement ends up alienating potential consumers, who could use the operator’s service with a simple download.
It is also disappointing that Claro Box TV does not include a remote control with voice command; whoever chooses this device will have to pay dearly for a product that will also be lending.
Even for those who want Claro’s TV Box, the absence of smart TV apps ends up being a negative point for those who have more than one TV at home, as is my case. Using the Now app with Chromecast can be a palliative, but the experience in general is bad.
If you only use one TV at home, have a cable subscription and want to keep that experience by saving a few bucks, Claro Box TV is a very interesting option.
For those who have smart TV, insist on few channels and do not mind having a worse experience than a traditional pay TV, it is worth checking out other IPTV services, such as DirecTV Go or Guigo TV.
Technical specifications – Claro TV Box Sagemcom S4KW1
- Processor: Broadcom BCM72604
- RAM memory: 2 GB
- Storage: 4 GB
- Doors: HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2), RJ-45, USB 2.0, S / PDIF optical audio
- HDMI output resolution: 4K (3840x2160p), Full HD (1920x1080i / p) and HD (1280x720p)
- Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 Low-Energy
- Video codecs: H264 HPL4.1 (MPEG4 AVC), MPEG2 ([email protected]), HEVC / H.265 and VP9
- Stereo audio codecs: MPEG-1 layer I & II, MPEG-2 layer II, MPEG-2 layer III, AAC-LC, HE-AACv1, HE-AACv2, AC3, E-AC3 passthrough or downmixing
- 5.1 audio codecs: AC4, AC3, E-AC3 passthrough, E-AC3 for AC3 transcoding
- Price: from R $ 20 monthly, membership fee of R $ 399