SmartBro Surf TV Review

SmartBro Surf TV Review

SmartBro Surf TV is Smart’s attempt to create a market from those who cannot still afford to buy a brand new PC.

Very few Filipino households have a PC at home. The numbers could be in the range of 1.5 – 2 million households so there’s a huge opportunity to sell more.

The box contains an embedded processor that connects to a SmartBro Plug-it via USB and broadcasts the video to a monitor or a TV. As such, it has a number of limitations:

  • No internal storage. Saving files may be made via an external storage like a Flash drive or an external HDD.
  • The built-in browser is Opera but there are no installed plugins so Flash is not supported.
  • Supported display resolution is low and probably just 800×600 pixels.
  • The over-all system performance seems a bit slow.

Smart is offering the Surf TV for about Php4,500 which includes the box, keyboard, mouse, remote and the SmartBro Plug-it. If you break it down per item, the box alone might cost about Php3,500 (since the 3G dongle is around Php1k).

On the other hand, Surf TV offers some benefits:

  • Portability. It’s small and lightweight and does not take a lot of space compared to a full-blown desktop PC.
  • Low power consumption. Haven’t really figured out how much electricity the box consumes but my guess is that it’s close or even lower than the usual netbook which is 30 to 40 watts per hour (power consumption of a dekstop PC could be around 250 to 500 watts per hour).
  • No additional acquisition costs like software licenses, etc.

The biggest debate here would be the cost-effectiveness of SmartBro Surf TV vs. a second-hand desktop PC at the Php3,500 price point. Indeed, the proliferation of old but dirt-cheap PCs from Japan and Korea has helped a lot of families own their first PC at home.


Smart Surf TV is, simply put, an internet appliance. Its sole purpose is for the user to be able to casually log on to the internet using an existing analog TV as a monitor and that’s it — plug it then surf and chat.

As such, this device is not for you if you have previously owned a computer or laptop — you will obviously look for the flexibility and choice.

In fact, I would go as far as saying “if you are reading this review, this device is probably not for you”. Unless you’re reading this from an internet cafe so that probably means you still don’t have a PC+internet set-up at home.

So, for which market segment is the Surf TV for?

My guess is that Smart is trying to penetrate that segment of the market that has never had the capacity to acquire a full desktop PC at home. That could be somewhere in the lower C, D or maybe even E market.

But then again, Surf TV is by no means a replacement to the PC. It’s a viable alternative, yes, but still a bit in the early development stage. I am told that they are doing a software update for this to optimize the software and hardware combo. There’s still a market for it though — those who are looking at affordable plug-and-play connectivity solutions (most of us, including myself, just can’t appreciate it because we’re not the target market).

The logic behind this move is pretty obvious — higher PC density, bigger demand for connectivity.

Disclosure: Smart/PLDT is an advertiser on this blog.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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49 Responses

  1. Andre says:

    given there’s a VGA monitor port there…what’s the display resolution if a VGA monitor is plugged in? especially these days sa Pinas na mura na ang second hand 17-19″ CRTs or even smaller LCDs…

  2. Eros says:

    Naalala ko tuloy yung Google TV rumor.. sabi kasi eh planong gumawa ng Google ng way para ma-penetrate yung iba pang consumers.. they want to bring Web to TV daw.. :)

  3. Jedd says:

    Sheesh. I’ll just go ahead and say what you can’t say for obvious reasons. NOBODY, not even the class C, D, and E markets should think of getting this crap. Given the hardware and software limitations of this thing, what CAN you do with it? Can you youtube? facebook? mirc? ym? game? write an assignment? webcam? install? download with a reasonable amount of efficiency and pleasure with this thing?

    If this is for the extremely lower markets, you do realize that they don’t have big ass tv sets. Can you imagine surfing the net at 640×480 on an old 20″tv?

    People who haven’t been able to afford a PC yet still have real PC demands. They do real PC task in the internet cafes, so why on earth would they settle for this?

    You don’t even have to pinch your nose to smell the stench of this junk. I’m sorry to point the obvious.

  4. Victor says:

    Wew, what a crap from Smart. They just wasted a whole lot of marketing money on this crap. Even people in the slums can now afford pc’s. Well not all of them of course. 2nd hand Pc’s (low Pentium 4s) just range around 2k-3k with the monitor. Higher clocked pentium 4s cost around 4-5k all in with monitor, mouse and keyboard.

    another things is.. why would you shell out 4.5k just to get this surf tv when one can just go to internet cafes and enjoy faster internet speeds, aircon, full browsing capabilities etc etc.

    Sometimes I wonder why big companies settle for this crap? or maybe one genius marketing brat found its way into the minds of the corporate officials and convinced them that this “Surf TV” will be great. LOL.

  5. Jon says:

    Sorry, but this is fugly. Epic fail for Smart here. They did try to fill a market here, but too bad, its a fail.

    First of all, you can’t do anything with this aside from surf the net, though surfing could be quite problematic since the browser lacks the common plugins needed. Not to mention the 800×600 resolution.

    Next, families wouldn’t even bother buying this (if they are aware of its limitations). One of the main reasons why a family would buy a computer, is for the their kid’s studies, for doing research and assignments.

    I hope no one gets doped into buying this one, only finding out that they wasted their money on this.

  6. irv says:

    if there is no Flash, how does one watch Youtube? this is a confusing product.

    I wouldn’t recommend this product either. If I know someone who wants internet but can’t afford a PC + broadband subscription, I’d tell them to go to an Internet cafe.

  7. Teknisyan says:

    This is a really confusion product. if they are trying to introduce digital TV, then this is the direction for that, then again this may be their way to introduce a TIVO like service in PH.

  8. patrickross says:

    There is no Flash animation, since it uses Opera, but for Youtube videos, it has a built-in video downloader. You can watch Youtube videos. This is confirmed.

    Don’t confuse this product with digital TV. It’s entirely different.

  9. fr0stbyte says:

    Kung meron lang mga small form-factor PCs na tulad nito eh ginamit ko na pang torrent.

  10. loadex says:

    Maybe Smart is being on the innovative side here. If the products flops… it’s part of the game, but if the products sells like hotcakes.. then that would be another income generating avenue for them. Kahit naman malugi sila ng several million pesos in acquiring the unit and marketing such… life goes on for them naman.

  11. IC DeaDPiPoL says:

    How SurfTV when connected to


    Used to attach my pc via video-out to a 14″ & 21″ tv years ago when my monitor died and browsing is possible but a pain since you need to zoom in else the text is blurry

    between 4-5k a used pc can outperform this loaded with Linux Mint,ubuntu, or SLAX to offset the licensing costs of OS and Apps.

    For a much latter device:
    Intel Intel® Desktop Board D201GLY
    + a decent casing, PSU and a USB flashdrive as an OS drive may require around 6k with a used monitor but it would be more flexible than this at the same time consume less power:

  12. L.R. says:

    Will this work with other 3G dongles like Globe or Sun? Is the device locked with smart or just the dongle?

    oo nga pala, where can i find old Japan and Korean PCs?

  13. bongskie says:

    not practical, mura na mga mga pc ngayon

  14. shaq says:

    kamusta naman ung radiation ng crt monitors?

  15. Ryan says:

    The idea is good but tried out in a mall here in Iloilo city…one of the worst gadgets from Smart. Sorry but if this is my first “PC” then I would be traumatized and never touch computers again.

  16. IC DeaDPiPoL says:

    It would be quite a funny pic of a SmartBRO surf TV running on a Sun Cellular/Globe dongle XD

  17. This device sucks big time. We are getting a lot of calls regarding this pathetic piece of crap

  18. Ark says:

    how much po how long po ang Warranty?

  19. Scolex says:

    I think Smart is not “smart”. This investment is a mess. PCs and laptops are becoming more affordable nowadays, it’s nonsense if you buy this thing if in fact it has a lot of disadvantages than advantages to offer to the market.

    In addition if you are using CRT monitors, you are absorbing much of the radiation since you cannot effectively surf the internet if you stay 1 meter away from the monitor.

    The target market then of this SmartBro Surf TV, are those who have no idea about computers, because if you are knowledgeable about computers and computer hardware, you will not sacrifice your money on this because you will not get the maximum or ultimate experience while surfing the net while using this thing.

  20. rmartin says:

    Try connecting this gadget on a CRT tv. Not a good idea.

    I would predict that in less than six (6) months, you’ll find similar products at CDR King half the price :)

  21. @rmartin

    That is very close to reality! That gadget will be cloned by other companies soon if it hit the market.

  22. IJ says:

    A total sh*t from Smart. Only dumb people will buy this crap. I would rather choose to surf in the internet in my cellphone(which I could play and even download files).

  23. William says:

    i think those who cant afford to buy desktop pc will benifits this… ang problema, pag kinagat ng masa ito… kaya bang i handle ng traffic nila ang flow?? ngayun pa nga lang eh congested na..

  24. Leeman says:

    If you can afford this, you definitely can afford a pc.

  25. Chris says:

    I have a terrible experience with Smart Bro. It crawls so slowly, it almost seems like I’m not connected at all. I’ve tried different times of the day and different days. Awful. It’s basically useless. I need a refund for this one.

    Read about my Smart Bro horror stories before you even think about buying a kit! I might just save you money.

  26. bryan says:

    SMART should issue a “Refund Policy” on this one.

  27. kmUtengUsEr says:

    hay pmatay ung iba…
    tama bang mginstlL ng Plants vs. Zombies
    hay nako po…

  28. vj says:

    i think buying a secondhand P4 PC+Smart Bro would be better.

  29. crunch says:

    hay naku! andami nyong reklamo! kung hindi kayo bibili, di wag! wag na kayong manira pa! kaya nga hindi umaasenso ang pilipinas dahil sa mga ugali nyo! crab mentality!

  30. yizhan says:

    I made several speedtest for smart bro’s plug it modem from Cavite to Rizal, it was posted on my blog. I think they have very poor service in Cavite and pasig area. Grabe sa Cavite, sa tabi lang ata ng PLDT cell site mabilis..

  31. KKKaizer says:

    This product is really pointless… First, it uses a “plug-it” modem which sucks even plugged into a pc. Second, its better to go to a computer shop for the same price per hour (P20). And lastly, it doesn’t worth its price (P4,500).

  32. crap says:

    another crappy product. At that price you can get a brand new atom desktop PC. This is worthless if you buy it. You won’t be able to resell it for a thousand pesos. Nobody will ever buy it.

  33. dlacc says:

    Yeah. Smart did have a little… err… a lot of short comings to this new product. It looks like a complete waste to people who enjoys surfing for themselves. A lot of comments I’ve seen here are self-centered. Yeah. Crab-shit mentallity. First, market? Not for wealthy know-it-all people. But what about rolling education caravans? Getting poor people more educated about internet? For some people, INTERNET = PORN * GAMES also equals to DYING BRAIN CELLS. Second, Smart Bro is really x 10 useless. Try surfing when raining. But since the unit is outfitted with RJ-45(Ethernet) port, then it might be worthwhile. 3rd, more clones, lesser price. 4th. Yeah, it really sucks surfing the net throuh CRT screens. 5th. For SMART, back to the schematics board. 6th. Is the ISP locked to SMART only? maybe you could use wired connection (DSL) from other carriers? EX. GLOBE 995 wired + SurfTV.

  34. Christian says:

    Hindi advisable ito kahit kanino. Sana nag introduce nalang sila ng media center devices like Boxee.

  35. enad says:

    if i were to choose between smart surf tv and a pc with internet connecion, i’d still choose the latter. btw, do you happen to know why sometimes im being redirected to the smartbro portal

  36. Sandy says:


    You’re right, even the target market of this product wouldn’t see it as a sulit buy.


  37. ejay falcon says:

    Meron ba itong twitter…?

  38. jamster2_connie says:

    Bibili ako nito..Wala kasi sa bundok ng Mindoro ng ganito…

  39. adam says:

    I don’t like this. Imagine na lang gaano ka kalapit sa monitor ng TV mo pag gagamit ka nito. It is not even advisable to kids to use this. For sure magkaka diperensya mga mata nila.

    Cherry Mobile Triple Sim

  40. mark says:

    i love it

  41. jhovy says:

    Sna nga po maayos nila ang site ng smartbro-ks syang nmn po ung mga nkabili na tpos d nmn pla mggamit…
    sna maawa nmn ang smart center.. ks d mdling mkhanap ng gnung klaking halaga tpos useless lang pla.

    thanks u!

  42. jhona says:

    ok din naman siguro siya kung more on facebook lang. pero kung heavy surfer ka hindi siguro ito fit.

  43. Rom says:

    They should have at least included Java support, and MythTV in it. That will make it better.

  44. adam says:

    Ano na po ang update dito sa surf TV nag progress po ba ito?.

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