GMA Now Hands-On
In December last year, GMA Network officially announced the GMA Now DTV OTG dongle for smartphones, letting you watch digital channels on-the-go. Just in case you’re wondering, it’s a one-time payment of PHP 649. Let’s check out more some of its features.
Right off the bat, the GMA Now’s design is simple and straightforward. It’s almost half the size of a regular USB stick with a MicroUSB interface. Thankfully, if you have a USB Type-C port, it already comes with a Type-C adapter in the box for a quick fix. The antennas are detachable, so you can safely store them in your bag or your pocket.
Before we start setting it up, you have to make sure first that your device is running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow or a later version and has a dual-core CPU or higher with at least 1 gigabyte of RAM. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available for iOS users since the app is only available in the Google Play Store as of writing. It’s also not yet available for current Huawei users in Huawei’s AppGallery, but it might work if you have full access to Google’s Play Store.
Now to set it up, the first thing you need to do is download the GMA Now mobile app from the Google Play Store and connect an antenna to the GMA Now device, preferably the long telescopic one better signal reception. Make sure to extend the antenna.
Setting it up is quite easy. All you have to do is connect the GMA Now to your smartphone’s micro-USB port or USB Type-C port with the adapter provided, allow the necessary permissions, then register with your mobile number, name, birthday, and gender. You’ll receive a verification text message in just a moment. Afterward, it will start scanning for channels for about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Note that the number of channels scanned and the video quality would depend on your location. Once you’re registered, you can continuously scan and watch live TV offline.
The main channels you can watch are GMA, GMA News TV, Heart of Asia, Hallypop, and Dep-Ed TV. If you’re in a location with an excellent signal, you might even get access to other available free-to-air digital channels. Other than that, you can also stream GMA online videos, chat with friends and celebrities with the Groupee Chat, and join interactive promos when available.
The app’s interface is very user friendly. If you want to watch in landscape, make sure to turn on auto-rotate in your phone, and it will automatically switch once you rotate. You can change the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9, to 16:10, and up to full screen if you like. For quick shortcuts, tap the screen once to see the channels list, swipe to the left or right to change the channel, slide one finger up and down to adjust the volume, and slide two fingers to adjust the brightness.
There’s an option to turn on captions (cc) if you want to read while watching. Some of them are auto-generated, while others are pre-included. You can also react to whatever you’re watching with the emojis on the screen. So far, we didn’t experience any lags or stuttering, but really, this will depend on your current signal. Meanwhile, the audio quality will mostly depend on your phone’s loudspeaker or headset.
Performance-wise, we’ve been watching shows for hours, and we didn’t encounter any significant warming, which is good. It’s meant to be on-the-go, but even within a pandemic, I can still see many people using it, either if you want to save electricity or watch somewhere else in the house. It also provides quick access to news, and I like how it doesn’t have hidden charges. It’s a small yet highly functional device that’s uncomplicated to use.
As we previously mentioned, it is priced at PHP 649, and you can purchase one from the official GMA Store on Shopee and Lazada.