Airtel recently rebranded its whole online portfolio as Xstream. It also introduced two new streaming products along with the rebrand: the Airtel Xstream Stick and Xstream Box 4K. Both the devices are currently available in India via multiple sources and provide consumers with the opportunity to turn their normal TV into a smart one. I got an Airtel Xstream Stick for testing and here’s my review.
Airtel Xstream Stick review
Both the Xstream Stick and the Box 4K are priced at Rs 3,999. The streaming stick does not support 4K support, whereas, the box does. Another factor to consider is that the box can simply do more stuff for users, when compared to the stick.
The good thing about the Airtel Xstream stick is that it is quite portable and fits easily in your pocket, in case you want to take it along with you. Design-wise, the Xstream Stick looks similar to the hockey puck Google Chromecast. Just like the Chromecast, the Xstream Stick connects to the TV via an HDMI port and requires an external power input.
Setting up the device is quite easy. You just need to plug it in the right port, and connect it to the same Wi-Fi as your smartphone. Then you need to download the Airtel Xstream app on to your smartphone and pair the stick to your smartphone. After that, you are done and the stick doesn’t require anything else.
The best thing that I liked about the Xstream Stick is that unlike a few streaming sticks available outside, it doesn’t run any custom software. Instead, it is powered by Google’s Android TV operating system, which is optimised to run on televisions without any hiccups.
The user interface just like any other Android TV device is quite friendly and organised. The overall, browsing experience feels smooth. It shows no lags and I used different services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, etc on the service. The Airtel Xstream Stick lets you download all the streaming apps you want directly via the Play Store.
I have an Airtel broadband connection at my home, which also allowed me to access the company’s own Xstream video streaming service for free. Though the service needs a bit of streamlining and decluttering, it still manages to have a good library of online content that can keep you busy.
The streaming quality depends on the net connection speed you are getting and the TV panel you have. I was able to watch all of my desired content at a 1080p resolution with a metered broadband speed of up to 100Mbps. Even when I tried using my phone’s Hotspot with it at a speed of 7Mbps, I was able to perfectly view the content without any buffering time of sorts.
The streaming stick also came along with a remote control, which connects to the stick automatically and doesn’t require the user to always point it towards the device to control it. The remote also comes with in-built Google Assistant to perform any tasks in its purview that the user wants it to do. The remote control looks quite minimalist and does not consist of many buttons and it is quite responsive.
As far as the lack of 4K support is concerned on the Xstream Stick, I feel it is not that big of a deal. Considering that most TVs sold in India are still HD-Ready and not even full HD, the stick will cover most of them. Plus most of the TVs with 4K support also come with some sort of an operating system, thus making them smart TVs. This means a streaming stick is not often required on a 4K TV.
Airtel Xstream Stick review: Verdict
Airtel Xstream Stick is quite an interesting product, which makes your normal TV into a smart one by adding Android TV to it. However, at the same time, I feel that the Xstream Box 4K has much more to offer, considering the price is the same.
This is a good product and I liked it more than my Chromecast or my Fire TV Stick, considering it gave me the freedom to add the Android TV platform to any TV with an HDMI port. But, the additions I could see in the box at the same price made me want more from it.
If you are okay with setting up a box and not moving it again and again, I recommend that you go in for the Xstream Box 4K. However, if you want a portable device which you can hide behind your TV, the Xstream Stick is the way to go.