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Business
13 Apr 2017

Airtel launches internet-based set top box in India

Airtel aims to make television sets "smart"

Bharti Airtel in a bid to increase its subscriber base and bolster revenue has now come up with an internet-based set-top box powered by Google's Android TV operating system.

The firm has made the product an Amazon exclusive for next 30 days with a Rs. 4,999 price tag.

Now what remains to be seen is that whether it is worth the pocket pinch.

In context

Airtel aims to make television sets "smart"
Turning your Idiot box into a smart one

STB

Turning your Idiot box into a smart one

Airtel Internet TV comes with its own casting hardware and app store and has a voice command supported smart remote along with specific gaming controllers. It also supports linear programming, which means users can watch regular TV channels on the STB as well.

Airtel's existing STB customers will have the option to upgrade to Internet TV by paying an amount of Rs. 3,999.

Streaming services

Gaming coupled with good old Netflix

Airtel Internet TV has incorporated Google Play Store where users can access a plethora of apps and games.

With this smart STB, buyers can stream Netflix content; it will also allow recording and rewinding Live TV channels.

Airtel is also in talks with other live streaming services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and Voot to incorporate their services.

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Contingency for connectivity hiccups and expandable memory space

Specs

Contingency for connectivity hiccups and expandable memory space

Ideally, Airtel STB is supposed to run on Wi-Fi but it also has a LAN port for internet connection for contingency.

It comes with 8GB internal memory and USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports for adding expandable storage up to 2TB.

Although, the company recommends a 4MBPS net connectivity for the STB, Airtel assures that 2MBPS won't freeze the system either.

Competition

Competition is right around the corner

Videocon D2H and TataSky are set to launch new smart STBs by May.

Videocon's new set-top boxes, dubbed as "connected box" will have the ability to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi or through a dongle attached to its USB hub.

Reliance Jio is also working on its Android-powered smart set-top box that would support Jio apps,.

Smart TV versus smart set-top boxes

Limited use

Smart TV versus smart set-top boxes

Although, there is scurry among the providers to bring Smart STBs in the market to give conventional TV sets a tech makeover, the scope of these products in the coming years may become limited.

People will eventually get tired of the restrictions in comparison with a Smart TV and may opt for it if they want to enjoy those services.

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