Exclusive hands on with Airtel Xstream hybrid set top box- First impressions
Its only been days since Airtel unveiled its hybrid Xstream box for its fiber broadband and DTH subscribers. One of our forum members k2max6 has already managed to lay his hands on the device and has shared his first hand experience with the same.
To recall, the Xstream set top box is an Android 9.0 based smart box manufactured by Technicolor. It has a quad-core CPU clocked at 1.8Ghz, paired with Broadcom V3D-510 GPU. It has 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The Xstream STB is a hybrid model which allows viewing of live channels through Airtel DTH connection and streaming of on-demand videos through OTT apps over broadband. This smart box supports 4K streaming with HDR and 5.1 Surround Sound for supported apps and can be used as a game-pad as well.
The STB has a good build quality and feels durable in the hand. The front panel has the Xstream logo which is back-lit. The two green lights visible are indicators for Wi-Fi and DTH input. The back panel has an input coaxial port for connecting to the DTH dish antenna, an HDMI output port, an Ethernet port, a USB port, an Optical out port to connect to home theater system and an RCA port for backward compatibility for older display screens. The side panel also has a USB port which can be used to play audio and videos from a pen-drive using VLC player. The box has Bluetooth connectivity as well.
The remote controller has a built in mic with a dedicated button for google assistant and works well with voice commands. It has dedicated buttons for Netflix, YouTube and Amazon prime video. The multi function center dial works as navigation keys as well as well as media playback controls. The volume keys, mute and AV buttons can be configured as universal remote buttons. Live Tv button switches to live Tv instantly while the record button doesn’t work yet. Rewind and Forward buttons are well configured for OTT apps without any noticeable lag.
Video content from Airtel Xstream app on the smartphone is available as integrated in the interface without having a dedicated app. Content from HOOQ, Eros Now ,Zee5, ho¡cho¡, hungama play and ALTBalaji is present. Live channels are available only through DTH not as IPTv. The picture quality of the xstream content has only 3 settings – Low/Medium/Auto resulting in average picture in spite of 40 mbps result on speedtest. A setting for High Quality would have been welcome. On the other hand the picture quality of Live Tv and the other OTT apps is pretty good.
The Xstream box is available for Rs.3999 for new users and Rs.2249 for existing subscribers upgrading their old STB. It comes with a complimentary one-year subscription worth Rs 999 to all the Xstream app content. Customers also get free Mega HD DTH pack worth Rs 699, TV Games from Airtel and free Netflix subscription for one month worth Rs 500.
The only catch is that the box needs an active DTH plan for viewing the Xstream content. Whether or not video content from other OTT apps like Netflix and Amazon prime can be viewed in the absence of a DTH plan is not known.