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General News Airtel Internet TV review: The Swiss army knife of STBs
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Price: Rs 4,999
Rating: ****

Specifications: Airtel Set Top Box powered by Android TV, Bluetooth universal remote, HDMI out, composite video out, 2 x USB ports, Ethernet + WiFi, optical audio out

Intuitive interface, hybrid functionality (STB + Android TV + streaming + media player)

No built in storage for recording (use your own USB drives), subscriber card sticks out the side (big eyesore), no Amazon Prime Video yet

You may have heard of cord-cutters — people who choose to discontinue conventional DTH services in favour of streaming services like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime and so on. Cord cutters have several arguments in their favour but mostly it has to do with regular DTH services and STBs (set top boxes) not keeping up with their needs. That’s set to change with Android TV — and Airtel is the first to actually launch a STB that works as a conventional HD set top box (with recording, pause and rewind) and complete media box (complete with Android apps, web browsing, screen mirroring and USB media playback).

Airtel’s Digital TV, as its called, is a hybrid STB. You still need a dish antenna and a coaxial cable but it can connect to your home network via Ethernet or WiFi for some more interesting uses. But first, a bit about the remote control. It’s a Bluetooth remote, which means you don’t have to point it. But it also has infrared because it can take over functions from your TV’s remote. It has a microphone built in so that you can use your voice for search. Know which channel you want to watch? Just speak it out. And there’s a touchpad + D-pad for easier navigation. If you’re fighting with someone over the remote, you can also download the companion app (Airt e l Gamepad). As long as your phone is on the same network, it gives you a second remote, keyboard to enter text (such as in a web browser) and a gamepad to play games.

The interface is fairly intuitive: live TV plays in the background while a menu with TV guide, games, apps, settings, a dedicated Netflix section and Android Home appear as an overlay. You can see thumbnails of what’s playing and instantly jump to it (or record). You also have all the usual STB features of setting reminders, browsing channels by type/name/content and setting favourites. Gaming is the only area where we had complaints — the hardware is too slow to play any of the nicer games smoothly. We tried Nitro Nation, Leo’s Fortune, Asphalt 8 and Beach Buggy Racing while using the GamePad app as a controller.

Since it’s Android TV, it gives you access to a limited version of the Play Store (the apps that are compatible with a TV interface), Google Play Music, Movies & TV, Games and YouTube. We also managed to easily install Kodi — which works with any of the usual add-ons and also functions as a media player when you connect a USB drive loaded with your own content. Overall though, it’s a step in the right direction. A nice way to keep STB users engaged while giving them loads of features in one compact box.

Source:
___________________________________________
Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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#2
Airtel Internet TV Review: Smart set-top boxes are here


BGR Rating :4/5

India is on the cusp of the second connectivity revolution. This time, it’s being driven by data. Numerous studies show that online video consumption is growing in India. While a lot of consumption is happening on the mobile platform, traditional TVs are arguably becoming quite redundant. The transition is certainly a great news for services like Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, which have grown immensely popular. But this also creates a vacuum for DTH players who can no longer rely on the conventional media for an all-around growth.

DTH players like Airtel perhaps have foreseen the imminent redundancy of the traditional TVs in your living room. Hence, a product such as the Airtel Internet TV is born. A new breed of set-top-boxes that not only provide you SD and HD channels but becomes a universal platform for your internet-based consumption as well. In much simpler words, the set-top-box lets you watch TV channels as well as Netflix and Hotstar along with access to a bunch of Android apps. Moreover, it comes with built-in Chromecast support, so you can mirror contents from your mobile phone as well.

Of course, concept-wise the Airtel Internet TV sounds very cool. But do you really need it? Is it better than buying a standalone Chromecast? Or should you go for Amazon’s Fire TV stick? Well, I have been using Airtel’s Internet TV for quite a few weeks. Here are my key takeaways.

Price

The Airtel Internet TV is available at a starting price of Rs 4,999, which is inclusive of three months of access to all SD and HD channels, a month of free Netflix, three months of Eros Now subscription and Airtel broadband benefits. Under the Rs 7,999 plan, you get the same benefits except for a year’s worth of access to all SD and HD channels.

Setting up

The process is similar to setting up any new DTH connection. While the Airtel engineers do that for you, you’ll need to connect your set-top box to your Wi-Fi connection to access OTT content. Since it runs on Android TV, you can also sign in with your Google ID to access the Android apps.

The box and remote

The Airtel Internet TV appears to be larger than usual set-top-boxes. It’s larger than my current Tata Sky HD set-top-box for sure. I had to move the now pretty much useless Sony DVD player to make space for the Internet TV. There’s a SIM-card-like tray sticking out from the box, and that’s the way it will be.

On the front, you have an SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and a bunch of LED lights for network indication and power indication among others along with a power button. On the rear are ports for power, antenna in, video out, audio out (L/R), HDMI out, USB port 3.0 and ethernet. There’s a microSD slot on the side as well.


The remote looks very much similar to traditional TV remotes, but with a few handy upgrades. One of the most remarkable additions is the trackpad, which as you might have guess lets you navigate by just scrolling your fingers on the pad. The remote also comes with voice support for accessing content. You can also make it your universal remote and access your TV functionality such as switching on and off or just switching the HDMI inputs.

User interface and features

Once set up done, you’re treated with Android boot when starting. The home page is quite cluttered if you ask me. It covers up the screen with a tad wider side panel that has features while the right-hand sub menu shows you recent channels and other content like live TV and related content. TV Guide shows you categories like sports, news, music, and kids, which is quite self-explanatory.

You can also directly access Airtel Movies and Netflix. You can also look up apps from the side panel. Android Home is more of a home screen for your apps downloaded. As far as Settings go, you can customize or rework the setup among other functionalities. Android’s familiarity does come into play here. In terms of just sheer navigation, it works quite fluidly. Of course, it takes a bit of time to familiarize, but after a while, you are a Pro.

Voice search is pretty decent as it shows content like TV channels. However, it comes in handy while surfing YouTube. I personally dislike using the TV remote as a keyboard. YouTube’s native voice recognition does save a lot of time. You can also download a bunch of apps, though the app store furnishes apps that are compatible with Android TV.
Do note that the device comes with 8GB of internal storage, and additional 128GB via microSD. For recording, users will require an additional USB drive with minimum capacity of 4GB and maximum capacity of 2TB.

Besides conventional TV viewing experience, the streaming experience is pretty fluid on the Airtel Internet TV. I have a 16Mbps Airtel broadband connection. So in my case, the experience was pretty much fluid. Do note that having an Airtel broadband connection also becomes an advantage as the company is offering 10GB of additional data for users having broadband plans under Rs 999. For higher priced plans, Airtel is offering 25GB additional broadband data every month. If you aren’t an Airtel broadband user, you’re going to miss out on these benefits.

Verdict

The Airtel Internet TV is pretty good at what it is supposed to do, complete with Android and apps. But then it comes down to your use case. I already own a Tata Sky HD connection (for TV channels), a Chromecast (for streaming content from the phone) as well as an Amazon Fire TV stick (which is an all-rounder). This is where the limitation of the Airtel Internet TV cannot be ignored – it doesn’t make sense for a user like me to also sign up for an Airtel DTH subscription. Chances are, if you also have a Chromecast or a Fire TV stick, it’ll be the same for you too. However, if you are looking for a brand new DTH connection or upgrading to a new one, the Internet TV package is what you must buy.

Since it’s Chromecast enabled, you really don’t need an additional device to mirror content from your phone. Only apprehension I have about the Airtel Internet TV is the dependence on Airtel recharges. If you miss recharging your Airtel account, you’d lose access to the internet content as well. In my opinion, Airtel should have a fix for this. Other than this, I think the Airtel Internet TV is a pretty cool device, and perhaps will usher in new era of smarter TV set-top-boxes.

Source:
___________________________________________
Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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upgrade plan..[Image: 7c35011538142d6895f045c6f29d76e1.jpg]
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