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Airtel's new streaming hardware takes the fight to the Amazon Fire TV Stick

Does India have a new alternative to the Amazon Fire TV Stick?

Published onSeptember 2, 2019

Airtel Xstream Android Streaming Stick

Airtel has entered Amazon’s arena by launching a Fire TV Stick competitor called the Airtel Xstream Stick. The company has also announced a new Android TV box called the Airtel Xstream 4K Hybrid box, the successor to its older Airtel Internet TV.

Airtel, India’s third-largest telecom operator with 320.38 million subscribers, has been rampantly adding to its content offerings in order to offset competition from the likes of Reliance Jio. Both companies are fighting to keep and increase their subscriber base by not only offering cheap data but the services to go along with it. To that effect, Airtel is launching this new Android-based streaming hardware which not only puts more pressure on Jio to launch its own offerings, but also takes on Amazon.

Airtel Xstream Stick: Should Amazon be worried?

At Rs 3,999, the Airtel Xtream Stick based on Android 8.0 goes toe-to-toe with Amazon’s basic Fire TV Stick as far as the price is concerned. It will allow users to stream content from a variety of local and global OTT streaming services. However, there’s an additional Rs 999 annual charge to access content on Airtel’s Xstreme app for non-Airtel Thanks Platinum and Gold customers who get the same for free.

The Airtel Xstream Android app features content from partners like ZEE5, Hooq, Hoi Choi, Eros Now, HungamaPlay, ShemarooMe, Ultra, and Curiosity Stream, in addition to Airtel’s own Wynk Music library. Customers can also download other streaming services available from the Google Play Store such as Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video on the streaming stick.

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On the hardware front, the Xstream Stick comes with built-in Chromecast support, so you can also cast photos and videos from your Android phone to your television screen. Added in are a 1.6GHz processor and Bluetooth 4.2 for connectivity.

Similar to Alexa voice search on the Fire TV Stick, the Airtel Xstream Stick comes voice-enabled through Google Assistant.

Although it’s not possible to fully compare the Fire TV Stick to the Airtel Xstream Stick just yet, the pricing and hardware make for interesting similarities. Amazon, of course, has the first mover’s advantage when it comes to streaming sticks in India, but Airtel has a large user base on its side. Free subscriber access to local content could be Airtel’s distinct advantage over Amazon.

Airtel Xstream Box: A hybrid set-top-box

Airtel Xstream Android Streaming and Set-top-Box

Taking a cue from Reliance Jio, which recently announced a 4K set-top-box, Airtel has also launched the Xstream Box based on Android 9 Pie. The 4K streaming device will give customers access to 500-plus TV channels alongside pre-installed apps such as Airtel Xstream, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and Airtel Store. Just like Jio’s 4K TV box capable of game streaming, Airtel’s Xstream Box also promises “advanced gaming with high-end graphics”. However, the company has not shared a whole lot of information surrounding that feature.

On the hardware front, the Airtel Xstream Box also comes with built-in Chromecast support, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It has a Google Assistant-enabled remote which features dedicated buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube.

Priced at Rs 3,999, the Airtel Xstream Box can be purchased with a complimentary one-year subscription to the Airtel Xstream app, in addition to a one-month subscription to an HD DTH pack. All existing Airtel Digital TV customers will be able to upgrade to Airtel Xstream Box at a discounted price of Rs 2,249.

Airtel has partnered with e-commerce platform Flipkart for exclusive sales of the Xstream Stick and Xstream Box in India. It will also be available from Airtel retail stores, the Airtel website, and local retail chains like Croma and Vijay Sales.

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