We recently noted that Android TV could start to play a bigger role in India, and it seems like that has happened with the announcement of Airtel’s Internet TV. It is an Android TV set-top box which supports 4K video at 60 FPS and comes with the company’s television network as an added bonus for either 3 or 12 months. This is definitely an Android TV, confirmed by project manager Sascha Prüter on Google+. Airtel is an Indian-based mobile network company.
In terms of specs, it comes with 8 GB of internal storage, with support for SD cards and USB drives due to its USB 2 and USB 3 ports. There is also support for antennas, which can be used to watch and record live TV. It comes with some standard apps: Google Play Movies, Netflix, YouTube, as well as Airtel TV and Wynk movies.
The device itself comes with a custom launcher, similar to Sling’s AirTV. You can exit that and return to the standard Leanback Launcher. It shows a bunch of recommended content from Airtel and gives users the ability to quickly start watching their content. You can see in the sidebar an option for the Android Home, similar to Sling. If more OEMs adopt this interface, it could get really confusing when consumers have two “homes”. If OEMs do want to start building their own launchers, the OS should probably just enable support for third-party launchers, or Google should set some standards for what a launcher should contain.
Looking at the user guide, the custom launcher (Airtel Home) appears when you press the Home button. When you press on the circle button (like Android’s home circle), the Android TV launcher is shown. This doesn’t seem very clear to users which is the definitive home, especially since you can jump to either.
The website does show the remote, and we can see it does have a microphone button for voice search or soon Google Assistant. The Android TV Home button is also visible next to it.
Gaming also seems to be a big push for the company, allowing users to play favorite games on a huge screen. With this, they’ve launched the Airtel Gamepad, an app built only to work with the Airtel Internet TV. Phones will be able to act as virtual gamepads or just as a remote control.
To get started with it, for three months of SD and HD channels, three months of Eros Now, and some other features, users can pay 5000 Indian Rupees, or about 77 USD. Users can alternatively pay 8000 to get TV service for a full year, about 124 USD. This is a fairly cheap Android TV, although the performance is not yet known. However, with India’s population becoming more wealthy, we will likely see many more electronics companies launching Android TVs in the country.