Simple Android TV-like interface
Fast switching and smooth casting
Google Play store advantage
With increasing demand of Smart TVs and online content in India, Airtel recently launched its own converged digital entertainment platform ‘Airtel Xstream‘ in the country. Along with it, came two devices – ‘Airtel Xstream Stick‘ and ‘Airtel Xstream Box‘. Both come with the ability to convert your standard TV into a Smart TV using an HDMI cable and internet connection. Also Read - Tata Sky vs Airtel Digital TV: Set-top-box prices, features compared
The Airtel Xstream Stick costs Rs 3,999, and the company is selling it via Flipkart. It is also available via Airtel retail stores, and retail chains like Croma and Vijay Sales in offline market. Airtel claims it offers the widest entertainment catalogue with hundreds of satellite TV channels, OTT apps, tens of thousands of movies, songs and shows in English, Hindi and multiple Indian languages. But is it worth the purchase? Find out in our full review. Also Read - Reliance Jio, Airtel prepaid users can queue recharges ahead of tariff hike on December 1
Airtel Xstream Stick setup and box contents
The Airtel Xstream Stick is essentially a plug-and-play device which you can connect to your TV’s HDMI port. This essentially turns it into a Smart TV with internet connection and OTT apps. Airtel provides a micro-USB cable and a two-pin adapter to power the device. The company emphasizes on using the direct power instead of USB Type-A, but in my usage, it worked fine with TV’s USB port itself. Coming to the box contents, the Airtel Xstream Stick box gets a 5W power adapter, a 1.5m long Micro-USB cable, two AAA batteries, a couple of user manuals, a voice-enabled remote control, and the Xtream Stick device. Also Read - Airtel now offers 2 data add-on packs for postpaid customers: Check out the details
Airtel Xstream Stick: Performance and UI
The Xtream Stick user interface and functionality is quite Android TV-like, which is easy to use and understand. It is an Android 8.0 Oreo-based OTT dongle device designed for plug & play experience on any TV screen. It comes with with built-in Chromecast, and is backed by a 1.6GHz processor.
I found the interface to be quite zippy with minimum lag when switching apps. The voice search worked quite well too, and there was no problem in casting content through my phone. For convenience, you get dedicated Google Assistant voice search, and Netflix hotkeys on the remote itself. Also, Airtel has its own Xstream app for users to stream and find more content using their phone. I used an Android phone during my review time, but the app is also available for iOS devices.
Content and plans
Users will find Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ZEE5 pre-installed on the Xstream stick, and for rest of the apps, there is Google Play store to download any app. It is worth noting that customers get free access to all the premium content on Airtel Xstream for the first 30 days. But it doesn’t include Netflix and Prime Video content. In essence, customers will need subscription to respective OTT apps to access the services irrespective of them being Airtel or non-Airtel user.
Airtel postpaid mobile customers on Infinity Plans and prepaid customers on unlimited recharge packs of Rs 119 and above are eligible for AirtelThanks. These benefits vary from Silver to Gold and Platinum depending upon the plan. Airtel says that the postpaid customers who are on a plan of Rs 499 or above, and using the Airtel home broadband plan of Rs 1099 or above, can enjoy a gift of Netflix for up to three months with ‘Airtel Thanks’ benefits. Similarly, Airtel Xstream Fiber plans are also serviced in certain areas now. These combo broadband plans offer Airtel Xstream services with complimentary three months Netflix, one year Amazon Prime Video and more depending upon the monthly plan value. In my area, these plans start from Rs 799 a month and go up to Rs 3,999 a month.
Verdict: Should you buy?
In my opinion, the Airtel Xstream Stick is slightly expensive, but can still be purchased for its Android TV-like experience and smooth interface. At Rs 3,999, the Airtel XStream Stick directly competes with Amazon’s Fire TV Stick. Both have their own advantage over the other, and can convert your standard non-Smart TV to a Smart TV. That said, the Airtel’s smart Xstream Stick has an edge over Amazon’s Fire TV Stick with Google Play store. Also, its user interface is fairly fast and I liked it over the Fire TV Stick.
As I have already mentioned above, Airtel includes free access to all the content on Airtel Xstream app content for the first 30 days. This include various movies, shows from top OTT content partners like ZEE5, Hooq, Hoi Choi, Eros Now, HungamaPlay, ShemarooMe, Ultra and Curiosity Stream. After the complementary trial, you have an option to purchase an annual plan to continue enjoying the Xstream app content, but honestly, there isn’t anything exciting and so you are better off using your premium subscription to respective OTT apps.
Futhermore, in case you are an Airtel Digital TV customer, then the Airtel Xstream Box is likely a better option than the Xstream Stick because it supports 4K content as well. The Xstream box is priced same Rs 3,999 as the Airtel Xstream Stick for new customers, but existing Airtel Digital TV customers get can the box at a special price of Rs 2,249. It bundles complimentary one year subscription (worth Rs 999) to all Airtel Xstream app content and additionally there is one month free subscription of HD DTH pack on offer, which will save some extra money for your pocket. But if are not keen on using Airtel’s DTH service, then standalone Airtel Xstream Stick is a good option at present.