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Penta TV, the country's first Wi-Fi set-top box, hits the market

The VC Group, a six-year-old Thai firm, last week launched its first mass-market product - Penta TV - in the domestic market after two years of development.

The VC Group is a research and development company that develops platforms for building products and solutions for influential companies in several countries and territories around the world, including Taiwan, China, the US, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Managing director Jay Jootar said Penta TV was set to be an all-in-one entertainment box that enables users to watch the original six free-TV channels, recently launched digital-TV channels, satellite-TV channels, online videos, media files, and other content.

It is a Wi-Fi TV set-top box powered by Android and Linux technologies. To use Penta TV requires an Internet connection at home, while the box navigates users to reach free-to-air TV content, including analogue and digital TV, and satellite TV through the Internet.

It is easy to install in less than five minutes, while users can also upgrade to a newer version through the OTA system to receive new features. Experiencing programmes via Penta TV requires a household to have 1 megabit per second for SD content, and 2Mbps for HD content.

"It is a Wi-Fi TV box that plays a role as the medium to bring people to get free-to-air content over the Internet via a TV screen. The box will be connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, while connecting to the television set via AV and HDMI cable," said Jay.

Penta TV users can also bring digital content, still photos, music, and video files from computers, tablets and smart phones onto their TV screens.

"We also offer Penta Channel, where we gather and integrate online content for users. We use crawler technology to get all online content and group it into categories for users," he added.

For online content, the box is uniquely designed to work with Android or iOS devices and PCs through apps freely downloaded from the app stores, making it easy to search for content on those devices, and send it for a full-screen viewing experience on TV.

"We spent two years developing the core operating system, and spent another two months developing the feature to stream digital content from smart phones and tablets for display on a TV screen," said the MD.

He added that Penta TV was set to be a key revenue driver for the company. Annual income is expected to rise to Bt300 million in the next three years, with 70 per cent contributed by Penta TV and 30 per cent contributed by its existing core business of R&D.

"We cannot forecast this year's revenue, since we have only just launched our first product here. Last year, our revenue was Bt30 million. By the end of next year, we aim to have sold between 100,000 and 150,000 Penta TV units," said Jay.

Due to its feature of free-to-air content via the Internet, the total target market for Penta TVs is 5 million broadband Internet subscribers throughout the country.

The introduction of digital-TV channels accelerates market growth to around 2 million-3 million units per year, he said, adding that it is expected that in the next couple of years, the total market share of all models of Wi-Fi TV set-top box, including Penta TV, will rise to 10 per cent or around 200,000 to 300,000 boxes per year.

As the first brand to launch on the Thai market, Penta TV is expected to command a share of at least 50 to 60 per cent.

"Penta TV is the first step, as we will launch further new products and services from our research and development to the Thai market by next year. This year we will focus on doing the marketing for Penta TV, and by next year we will enter nearby countries with our Penta TV product," said Jay.

The product is available via www.penta-tv.com www.penta-tv.com and at more than 500 SE-ED bookstores nationwide. The initial promotional offer is Bt2,990, against the normal price of Bt3,500 per set-top box.


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