It’s 9pm, you’re back in your hotel room halfway around the world and you can’t find a single channel worth watching on the gigantic TV in your room. No problem; just whip the tiny Amazon Fire TV stick out of your suitcase and plug it into your in-room TV’s HDMI port and play catch up on the Americans or relive your favourite episode of Narcos on Netflix. The Fire TV Stick is the latest ‘casting’ device to hit the Indian market and signals a growing shift towards ‘on demand’ content among India’s evolved TV audiences.
The Fire TV Stick
Amazon’s first casting device to make its debut in India (the first generation device wasn’t launched in India), the Fire TV Stick is simple to set up and plugs into an HDMI slot on your flat screen TV. The device needs a constant source of power as it connects with the USB port in your TV. You can sync this with your Amazon account and you could also add an Amazon Prime Video subscription. That’s not your only source of entertainment though; from Netflix to Hotstar, the Fire TV Stick supports all major streaming app subscriptions. The Stick is supported by an intuitive remote, and there is also an HDMI cable bundled in the box. We dig the remote’s voice-enabled content search that allows you to search for all your favourite content with minimal effort.
If you’ve enjoyed using the ‘X-ray’ function, that keeps throwing up contextual information on your Kindle while flipping through ebooks, you will love the same feature on the Kindle Fire TV Stick while watching Amazon Prime Video. Want more details on an actor in a scene or information on the background music in a particular scene, the X-Ray function has you covered. The user interface on the Fire TV is clean and easy to navigate. You can’t download content and watch later on the Fire TV, though. There’s 8GB of internal memory but that’s mainly for apps or games that you download; this is essentially a casting device.
The Kindle Fire TV Stick costs 03,999
Apple TV Apple’s very own TV box is almost a ‘no brainer’ if you own an iPhone or iPad. Sign in with your iTunes account or download a host of subscription-based streaming apps on to your device. The user interface is terrific and there’s 32GB of memory in the box. The remote is feather light and easy to use with the games and other apps that are specially crafted for the Apple TV. We wish more TV remotes were this good. The one gripe is that it’s not very portable (weighs more than 400gms).
Google Chromecast Easy to set up and to use, Google’s casting device offers seamless integration on YouTube. It’s remarkably portable and many third-party sites allow you to cast from your phone or tablet (on to your large TV) effortlessly with a Google Chromecast. There’s no remote though.
Streaming subscription apps
Now that you have the box, our quick guide to the best subscription-based streaming apps in India.
Netflix If you’re not watching Narcos, you’re probably getting left out of many conversations. Netflix’s biggest pull factor is it’s array of TV shows that include current favourites like the The Crown and cult shows like Breaking Bad. Add their fantastic library of movies and it’s a strong proposition that has seen many Indians opt for their standard 0650/month plan that features HD quality content and lets you watch on two devices at the same time.
Amazon Prime Video Amazon’s aggressive launch offer (0499/annual subscription) is quite difficult to ignore, especially when you factor in the free deliveries as part of the Amazon prime membership. The Americans and Bosch are among the popular TV shows and Amazon also has a large library of Hollywood and Indian language films.
Hotstar Premium Many Indians discovered Hotstar Premium when the sixth season of Game of Thrones aired last summer. It’s one of the many uncensored shows that also include John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. The app brings all the premium star content, from movies to live sporting action, to its strong regional channels like Star Plus and Vijay TV, for a subscription fee of 0199/month.