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Amkette FlashTV HD Pro review: A smart companion for old TVs

Top Features
1. Small and portable
2. Plays almost all popular video formats

3. Easy to use

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Amkette - yes, it is the same company that once sold floppy disks - nowadays make digital accessories for various products. It makes accessories for smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs. 
FlashTV HD Pro, an accessory for televisions, is not exactly a new product. This particular model was launched months ago. But the reason behind this review is a problem I came across a few weeks ago.

A friend, who is a movie aficionado, owns an old TV. It is really old - around 6 or 7 years old. It is a colour television but of CRT variety and has resolution of 480p. It also lacks ports like HDMI. And unlike televisions of today, it cannot play any videos or access files stored in a pen drive or hard disk. Yes, you guessed right - it doesn't even have a USB port.

The person who owns this television wanted to know if there is a cheap and easy way for him to occasionally watch films stored on pen drives or hard disks on this television.

While looking around for a reasonably-priced solution, I realized that this problem is not particular to my friend. There are many more like him, who don't watch TV too often, but want some sort device through which they can occasionally watch a film or two stored in pen drives or external hard drives on their old TV sets.

This is when I found FlashTV HD Pro.

So, does FlashTV HD Pro solve the problem with old TVs? Does it make them useful?

The short answer is yes. But it is not all that simple. FlashTV HD Pro is not the only product that can connect to an old TV and let you play movies directly from a pen drive. There are some more out there and depending on your needs, the other media players may be a better choice than FlashTV HD Pro. But more on that later. For now let's take a look at Amkette's media player.

Small and light
Even by the standards of media players, FlashTV HD Pro is quite small. It is smaller than most of the set-top boxes that people use with their televisions nowadays. Or in other words, it as small as a router that you may be using for broadband connection in your house.

It is also very light. It probably weighs less than 300 grams. It is definitely lighter than most of the tablets available in the market. One more reason behind the low weight of FlashTV HD Pro is its plastic body.

While finishing of the device is quite good - there are no loose parts or sharp edges - the quality of plastic used to make its body is not very sturdy. The top half is made of glossy plastic. The bottom part has plastic with matte finish. The plastic used for both parts feels a bit flimsy. Of course, the device won't break if you press it hard but it does feel a bit cheap.

On the right side of the device, there are two USB ports through which a user can connect two external storage devices like pen drives or hard disks to the TV. On the back of the device there are connectivity ports. If you have a TV that supports Full HD resolution then it is likely to have a HDMI port. So you can connect FlashTV HD Pro to your TV using the HDMI port. If you have an old TV, you can use the RCA connectors - the yellow, red and white connectors. There is also a SPDIF connector that you can use if you have a compatible audio system.

On the back, there is a power on/off button and the slot for connecting power cable. On the front of the device, there is a button to switch on and off the device.

There is no memory card reader on FlashTV HD Pro. However, if you have a memory card reader with a USP port, you can connect it to FlashTV HD Pro using the USB cable.

FlashTV HD Pro comes with a remote.

You cannot connect your phone or tablet to FlashTV HD Pro and access audio, video or picture files stored in your device.

Easy to use
I tried FlashTV HD Pro with several TVs. One these TVs was very old. Some were new. And in all instances, I found the performance of FlashTV HD Pro satisfactory.

To use FlashTV HD Pro, you have to connect it to a television and have to supply power to it using a power adapter that is bundled with it. Amkette also bundles RCA cables and HDMI cable. Depending on the ports that are available on your TV you can use any of the supplied cables.

If your TV supports Full HD display or 720p display and (obviously) has a HDMI port, use the HDMI cable. If not, the RCA cable is your best friend.

Through FlashTV HD Pro, I played videos in several formats on several TV. The device handles formats like MP4, AVI and MKV with ease. Even content with high bit-rate is handled well. The playback was satisfactory though on the old TV, the quality of the picture was limited by the low resolution. The audio and video were in sync during the playback.

The user interface that FlashTV HD Pro offers when connected to a TV is easy. When an external media is connected to FlashTV HD Pro, it is identified as Drive C. If you enter the drive, you can see various folders - if there are folders - and media content stored in them. Picture, videos and music can be accessed and played using FlashTV HD Pro.

Should you buy it?
FlashTV HD Pro is a basic but capable media player. But before I talk about whether you should get it or not, let me explain who should not get it:

* If you have a not-so-old TV, it is likely that your TV has a USB port and can play video files directly from a pen drive or external hard disk. If this is indeed the case, FlashTV HD Pro is not for you.

* If you are looking to get a media player that can also connect to the internet and play YouTube videos on your TV, FlashTV HD Pro is not for you.

* If you are looking for a media player that can connect to your Wi-Fi network and help you play videos directly from your laptop to your TV, FlashTV HD Pro is not for you.

* If you have a TV with HDMI port and a good Android tablet, you can connect the tablet to the TV and use it as a media player. Any good Android tablet nowadays will play almost all popular video formats.

FlashTV HD Pro is primarily meant to be used with old televisions. Yes, you can use it with your new TV if you want but I don't think you have any good reason to do that.

While FlashTV HD Pro gets the job done, the price is on higher side. It has a MRP of Rs 4,695. However, it is available for less than Rs 4,000 in the market. This makes it one of the cheapest branded media players you can buy. But the problem is that pairing a Rs 4,000-accessory to an old TV may not look like a very practical decision to most people. A price tag of less than Rs 3,000 would have been better.

That said, if you have an old TV and want to use it to watch films and videos stored in a pen drive, FlashTV HD Pro is a decent choice if you don't mind spending Rs 4,000.

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