I am writing this post to give my experiences with IPTV in Chiriqui. I see so many people writing about their magic IPTV box and it being the solution to everyone’s English TV needs. Many are listing prices that seem a little extreme, unless there is something I don’t understand. I am always willing to learn something new.
IPTV stands for Internet Protocal TV and is the distribution of programming over the Internet.
This requires a provider on one end of the connection with the media and a receiver on the user’s end to receive the programing and deliver it to the PC or TV.
The boxes I am familiar with, to receive programming over the Internet, come down to a basic few.
There are Apple TV products that starts at $149 and the previous model that is $69. There is the Roku family of products that run from $35 to $99. There are, what I will call, the generic Android boxes running Google’s Android OS costing generally $40 to $100. And there are branded Android boxes with the best known being Amazon’s Fire family.
All of these provide the capability of receiving programing over the Internet. Many offer services such as NetFlix, Hulu, etc., which require a monthly fee. Since all programming is delivered over the Internet, it requires a high speed Internet connection.
Now let me spend a little time talking about a software product which will receive programing over the internet called KODI (Previously known as XBMC, X-box Media Center). This is public domain software that is absolutely FREE. KODI can be added to the either the generic android boxes, Amazon devices, PCs of all types and is absolutely FREE.
KODI is designed with a lot of flexibility and has the ability to have Addons. The Addons are also absolutely FREE and are what provides KODI the ability to receive Movies, TV series, network programming, etc.
Best of all, you can try it out on your own laptop for FREE before you buy one of the streaming boxes mentioned above. If you don’t like it on your PC, you probably wont like it on your TV.
I got interested in this over a year ago, when I saw a local company advertising a Droid box for $250+ delivering movies, TV shows, etc. After I read more, I saw that its capability was being provided by XBMC. I had played it with about 10 years before on my Linux systems. At that time it was not that great and I has long since forgotten about it.
This $250 box, and its claims, was enough to get me interested again and I downloaded XBMC and started playing with it on my Mac. This was in August of 2014.
In April of this year I saw an Android Smart TV Box from Premier in Plaza Terronal and decided to buy it. This was a similar box to what was being advertised for $250. I paid $39 for the Premier box. It came bundled with a version of XBMC, which I later replaced with KODI.
Now I had my second set top box, that connected to my TV via a HDMI cable. Up until then, I had received the majority of my programming from NetFlix. or Hulu on my Apple TV.
I was now able to receive everything that I was previously watched on Netflix with KODI for free, so I cancelled NetFlix. When I had purchased my Apple TV, I had cancelled all my premium channels on Cable Onda, reducing my bill by $50+ a month.
Next, I decided to try some other android solutions. I purchased a Matricom box for $99 and a Amazon Fire Stick for $39. The Matricom Box came with KODI installed and I had to install KODI on the Fire Stick. Remember that the Amazon Fire Stick, is an android system, rebranded and tailored for Amazon’s infrastructure.
I bought Amazon Prime to test it for a year. That was another $99 cost.
After, using both of these new android devices, I decided I liked the Amazon Fire Stick better than anything I had used before, including the Apple TV.
I liked it so well I purchased second Fire Stick and put it in my bedroom, and am considering one of the new announced Amazon Fire TV boxes, which will come out in October.
Here is what I like about the Amazon product. It is well built, as you would expect, having the Amazon name on it. Hardware wise, it is better than any generic android boxes I have seen. It is better than the Roku devices, and it is better for my needs than the new Apple TV.
Being able to add KODI is the big difference between it and Roku and Apple. Both of those devices are closed systems and won’t allow you to add KODI.
My $39 Amazon Fire Stick allows me to do everything I could do with my old Apple TV and much more. If I wanted NetFlix, it’s available. If I want HULU, it’s available. As I mentioned, I am trying Amazon Prime for a minimum of a year. I like it.
Amazon Prime does require me to use UNLOCATOR to get U.S. programming, but that is no big deal. I use UNLOCATOR because it doesn’t use any bandwidth sending encrypted transmission like my previous VPN did.
For movies, TV series, and similar things, KODI is really worth the money $0. Of course you do have to have a high speed Internet connection. I stream movies and all my TV series on KODI and rarely have any buffering problems.
For live events, I haven’t found it to be as good. I can get all the U.S. networks on USTVNOW (via a KODI Addon), and really don’t watch them. Live sports is hit and miss for me. I tend to watch my sports on cable TV and put up with it being in Spanish. However, if the programing exists via a KODI Addon, I can get it just like any other android set top box solution using KODI.
To this point, I have installed KODI on over 15 devices, including Amazon Fire Sticks, Premier Smart TV Box, Matricom, and another cheap $50 android box that was a piece of junk and died after a week or so. Reliability of the hardware is another reason I am sticking with Amazon.
I have never charged anyone to install KODI. I feel we expats need to help each other.
I will be happy to tell you how to do it or do it for you.
The last time I installed KODI, on an individual’s Amazon Fire Stick, took 15 minutes. It took longer to give a brief tutorial on KODI and how to use it.
That is my current experience with IPTV and KODI. I am curious what others are using here in Chiriquí. I am especially interested if they are using an IPTV solution that doesn’t involve KODI. Streaming entertainment is not perfect in Panama, by any means, but it has allowed me to get better entertainment and cut my monthly cable bill by $50/month. That more than covered the cost of my $39 Fire Stick.