For R1,400, it's hard to find anything wrong with the Nova. It performs exactly as you want it to, has every app known to man on there and effort was put into making the remote good. Yes, it costs a bit more than its competitors, but for good reason. If you have a 4K TV, then this is highly recommended. And if not, it might be better to get something on the cheaper side.
For the past week, we’ve been reviewing the Netogy Nova 4K UHD Streaming Box. And it’s been a wonderful week with it. South Africans really dig streaming boxes for some reason. Maybe that’s because smart TVs are still quite expensive. Whatever the reason, the Nova is here to throw its hat in the ring to take the crown from the Xiaomi Mi Box. It has a clean look, a great remote, and offers crisp 4K video. It’s the complete package, despite it costing more than the next best thing.
The Nova is one of the more expensive boxes on the market. But only just. On Takealot, it retails for R1,400, which puts it ahead of the Mi Box by about R200. That may sound like a dealbreaker, but it isn’t. It’s better than the Mi Box, because of a few minor quality of life changes. And is it worth it? The answer is 100% yes. Unless you already have a streaming box you’re happy with – then don’t go rushing out to upgrade.
It’s a little black box
In terms of looks, you’re getting more of the same here. It’s a thin black box that houses a couple of ports. Slap on the Nova logo and you’ve got yourself a streaming box. You’re given two regular USB ports and a spot for your Ethernet cable. There’s also a slot for a MicroSD card if the 16GB of storage isn’t enough for you. It’s hard to see this being handy for most folk, but rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Obviously, it also has a power port coupled with the HDMI port. It would be pretty useless if they forgot to add those on. There’s not much else to say about the design besides: it’s a little black box that’s designed to blend into the background of a TV set. And it does the job well.
Filled to the brim
Features and apps are the best part of this little box. For one, it has Disney+. That’s almost enough to give the title of best streamer to the Nova right now. But Disney+ isn’t the only redeeming quality about the Nova. There’s still the remote control to think about, and that built-in Chromecast that came in handy more often than you’d think.
The Remote is small and has plenty of buttons that will make themselves useful, especially in the South African market. So many international brands ship remotes with buttons for Hulu or ESPN. But not the Nova. It has buttons for services that are all readily available in South Africa. It has a YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video and Google Play Movies button. There’s also a Google Assistant button built-in, allowing you to search for everything you’d need from the home page. It’s an extra that most won’t use regularly, but it’s nice to have it for when you’re too lazy to type. The ability to cast quickly from a phone was also useful but isn’t something that we used every day. In fact, we barely ever used it, the Nova came with everything we needed.
The only downside to the remote is the fact that it takes batteries rather than a USB-C charger. Plenty of folks would much rather use batteries than charge their remote, and that’s fair. Just keep in mind that the price of batteries is going up as much as petrol and electricity these days. But if we could charge up the remote once every six months, it would be a little improvement that could go a long way.
The Nova is an Android TV Box, so of course, it has the Google Play Store pre-installed. It has a huge library of apps, so you’ll never get bored. That includes games but let’s be real here. You’re not using the Nova to play games, right? You’re using it to watch Netflix, YouTube and Disney+. Most of the apps you need are pre-installed. Only a few apps were missing from the get-go like Disney+ (which you can download right away), Showmax and DStv.
It’s about to get streamy
The Nova has some of the best specs for an Android streaming box. It comes standard with Android TV 11 and gives you 16GB of storage to mess around with. The 64-bit CPU inside makes sure everything runs smoothly. There was never a real problem with performance on the Mi Box besides the occasional lag when opening an app. We didn’t get that using the Nova Box. It’s a small detail most won’t notice, but it goes a long way to becoming Number One.
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The Nova is running on 2GB RAM and is one of the few boxes out there with support for the AV1 Codec. And if you’re pairing the Nova up with a 4K TV, you can clearly tell. Throw on something 4K from Netflix and just marvel at how good it looks. If you don’t have a 4K TV, then you’ll still notice a clearer picture, but you’ll be missing out on a key feature that makes the Nova so special.
If you have a 4K TV, then the Nova is for you. It delivers a lot inside its tiny shell for a good price. But it’s hard to justify the extra cost if you don’t have a 4K TV. Yes, it has Disney+ and a good remote. But the Xiaomi Mi Box isn’t far off in that regard. It does a lot of what the Nova does at a slightly lower price. But the Nova offers just a little bit more to achieve its goal of being the best. If you aren’t fussed about all the extras and just want YouTube or Netflix, then a cheaper box could be what you’re looking for. The Nova is available across a few retailers, most notably Takealot and Makro.