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ACT Stream TV 4K review: a feature-packed, affordable Android TV box

ACT Fibernet, the third-largest wired broadband provider in India, has quickly scaled up over the last few years. The company is known for its high-speed broadband plans (with up to 1Gbps speeds), which it offers at affordable, competitive rates. Apart from broadband, ACT also offers DTH services. The company is now venturing into the media streaming space with the ACT Stream TV 4K. A compact Android TV box, the Stream TV 4K integrates most OTT services, while letting you stream live TV channels too. While Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K is the most well-known name in this space, if you already have an ACT Fibernet connection, you might be interested in picking up this Android-based offering. Before you take the plunge, here’s what you need to know.

The hardware

In the retail package, you’ll find the Stream TV 4K box, which is a small square-shaped device. You’ll also find a remote control, power adapter, USB cable, HDMI cable, LAN cable, RCA cable and the usual documentation.

As I mentioned earlier, the ACT Stream TV 4K is an Android TV box, and runs Android 9 Pie. It’s powered by a HiSilicon 3798M V200 chipset, paired with 2GB RAM and 8GB of flash storage, which is enough if you want to download more apps and games from the Play Store. It supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac as well as Bluetooth. In terms of the ports, you get two USB ports, an HDMI port, Ethernet port, AV output, S/PDIF and a microSD card slot. You can connect a hard disk, pen drive, joystick or even camera via the USB ports.

The box is black in colour, and is quite compact measuring 4 square inches, with a thickness of just 1.5-inches. You’ll need to connect it to your TV’s HDMI port, and plug it into a power source with the provided proprietary adapter. The box can play both 4K as well as HDR 10 content from compatible apps, and supports Dolby Audio too. Being an Android TV box, it comes with support for both Google Assistant and Chromecast.

The remote control works both via IR as well as Bluetooth, the latter allowing you to point it in any direction instead of directly at the box. The remote is ergonomic with a simple, minimalist layout, and the buttons provide good tactile feedback too. You get a circular navigation button, along with hotkeys for Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and Live TV. A Google Assistant button is also present, to let you search for apps and content using your voice. You’ll also find volume keys on the remote, along with power, home, back and mute buttons.

Setting up

It’s ideal if you have a TV that supports both 4K and HDR, but if not, the Stream TV 4K will work fine even on full HD models. You’ll be asked to pair your remote via Bluetooth, which is required to use Assistant. You’ll then need to login by entering your Google credentials, followed by your ACT ID. It’s important to note that you can only use the streaming box if you’re an ACT subscriber. It’s technically possible to use it with any broadband provider, but only if you have an active ACT ID, which is unlikely.

Interface and usage experience

The Stream TV 4K’s homescreen will look familiar if you’ve used devices like a Fire TV Stick before. It’s not the stock Android TV interface, and instead you get a neat, customised layout with large colourful tiles and tabs at the top for Home, Apps & Games, Live TV and Offers. The first row shows you featured content across streaming platforms, whether you’re subscribed to these services or not. The second row displays all the installed apps, although it’s worth pointing out that most of these come pre-installed. ACT has tied up with most OTT service providers, including Netflix, Hotstar, Sony LIV, Voot, Hooq, Hungama Play, Eros Now, Zee5, YuppTV and more. The Google Play Store is there to download other apps, although the full catalogue isn’t available. Apps like Prime Video for example don’t show up in the Play Store. You can always side-load the APK if you want, or alternatively, stream it via Chromecast.

The Live TV section has nearly 300 channels which you can livestream. While some of these are free, others require subscription. The good news is that you can subscribe to channels and OTT services and with a single click, with the cost being added to your monthly ACT bill.

The Stream TV 4K comes with a few offers, such as two months of free HOOQ and one month of Zee5. There’s also a starter pack for premium live TV channels until December 2019. All these offers can be accessed in the ‘Offers’ tab on top, which will be updated with new offers from time to time.

Using the Stream TV 4K was very smooth in my experience. There weren’t any lags or freezes in the interface, and I enjoyed how simple and aesthetic the interface was. The hotkeys on the remote are useful to open up Netflix and YouTube at a press, and Assistant can search for content on Netflix, YouTube and the Play Store, as well as ask it basic queries. However, I noticed two main issues with the box. The first is that it powers down randomly while using it. The second was that while watching Netflix, I found that the content seemed to buffer a bit despite a high-speed connection. To make sure it wasn’t an issue with my network, I switched to streaming Netflix on the Fire TV stick and found no issue.

Bottomline

The ACT Stream TV 4K is priced at Rs 4,499, and is currently only available in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi. It’s being offered only on select plans as of now, which vary from city to city. At its price, the Stream TV 4K is the most affordable 4K media streaming device you can currently buy. The Fire TV Stick 4K in comparison costs Rs 5,999, and while it comes with Prime Video and a better overall experience, there’s still a significant uptick in price. The bottom-line is that if you are an ACT subscriber, the Stream TV 4K is a no-brainer.

Editor’s rating: 8 / 10

Pros:

  • Compact, unobtrusive design
  • Minimalist remote
  • Elegant, simple UI
  • One-click subscription to OTT services and Live TV channels

Cons:

  • Randomly powers off
  • No Prime Video support
  • Restricted to ACT subscribers
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Ketaki Bhojnagarwala

Ketaki has 10 years experience writing on tech, having worked at the Hindu Business Line and 91mobiles earlier. When she's not editing copies or reviewing the latest gadgets, she spends her time binge-watching Netflix and reading fantasy fiction.