UPDATE: This story was updated on 1/11/17 to reflect new information from Snakebyte. The story originally claimed that Snakebyte had procured a Disney license for the streaming box; Snakebyte has since clarified that the box was a "speculative prototype" produced during discussions between the two companies.
LAS VEGAS – The streaming box isn’t perfect, but it’s getting close. We’ve got 4K, HDR, thousands of channels, and refined searches. How could a streaming media player do something innovative? By targeting a totally different audience, for starters. The Disney Kids TV streaming box from Snakebyte is a streaming player that puts kid-friendly content front and center, with some decently powerful hardware underneath. Despite the prototype's name, though, Snakebyte is still in "exploratory discussions" about acquiring an official license from Disney.
What’s It For?
I went hands-on with the Disney Kids TV box at CES 2017, and while the version I saw was still a fairly early prototype, it’s a promising idea that fills a currently vacant niche. At present, parents often put hand-me-down streaming boxes in kids’ rooms or playrooms. However, even with parental controls activated, an old Roku or Apple TV isn’t designed with young users in mind. The Disney Kids TV box, on the other hand, aims to include Disney themes — once again, dependent on the company's approval — as well as provide a totally ad-free experience.
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What Does It Do?
The Disney Kids TV box does pretty much what you’d expect a streaming media player to do. With its modified Android TV operating system, you can stream content from a variety of channels, play prerecorded media, listen to music, play games and connect external storage sources. If Snakebyte successfully acquires a Disney license, it hopes to preload the device with movies, TV shows and games from Disney (I am personally pulling for Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, but we’ll see what makes the final cut).
Pricing and Availability
Snakebyte is aiming for a $99 price for the Disney Kids TV. Although it doesn’t have a hard release date yet, Snakebyte is aiming to put it out sometime in 2017, depending on if or when a deal between the two companies solidifies. A supplementary game controller will also be available, although it’s an optional add-on, and there’s no set price just yet. Users can also connect any other Bluetooth controller.
Why Should You Care?
If you have younger children, this is way to set them up with a media streamer that really caters to their tastes; not just an extra one you happen to have lying around. Disney tends to be pretty choosy about its licensing partners, so just hammering out a deal with the House of Mouse could be a real feather in Snakebyte's cap (although at present, Disney makes no official claims about having a streaming media player in the works — its discussions with Snakebyte seem to be broader and more general in scope). Kids already have specialized phones and tablets; why not a media streamer, too?