Watching a movie on your large screen television is fun and the only way, until a while back, was to use a DVD player, Blu-ray player or a media player. The players were bulky and needed you to use an optical disc or transfer the data to the internal hard drive (or plug in your USB storage) to play your movies. Later came in media players with UPnP compatibility, where one could stream media from local network storage drives and shared folders on locally connected computers. However, since most smartphones and tablets can now play high-quality content, media players are taking the back seat.
Born are media streaming devices, which incorporates a simple SoC with a firmware capable of handling full HD1080p video playback from any network connected device. First came in the Chromecast, from Google, which was a simple pen drive shaped HDMI dongle that plugs into the HDMI port of any television or monitor for media playback. The mode was simple—plug in the dongle, setup the network, install the apps, and simply stream. Using the Chromecast dongle, you could stream any type of content, be it movies, music or photos, to your television for the pleasure of a large screen and a bigger audience.
The Indian answer to the Chromecast was Teewe. The concept of Google’s Chromecast was further taken seriously by an Indian startup, to create Teewe, which was cheaper and simpler to operate. The initial Teewe was a larger sized unit, but the manufacturer has toned down the package to a much smaller and decent looking dongle with the next version, Teewe 2.
The Teewe 2 is a simple HDMI-based dongle, the size of a pack of Chiclets or a cigarette lighter. Apart from an exposed HDMI connector on one side, and a micro USB connector on the other, the Teewe 2 has no other buttons or interfaces. The Teewe2 is designed completely in plastic and has plenty of corrugations on three sides for ample heat dissipation. Built with a firm chassis, the Teewe 2 has a rugged build quality that is sturdier, as compared to version 1. Bundled along with the device is a 5V power adapter, an HDMI extender cable and a micro USB cable. To use the Teewe 2, you need to connect it to an HDMI port of the TV and power the device using the micro USB port. You can either use the bundled power adapter or an empty USB port of your television.
Once powered on for the first time, the device beams out an ad-hoc wireless network for your mobile phone to connect to. You will have to download the Teewe app on your smartphone in order to connect to the dongle. Once opened, the Teewe app identifies the dongle's Wi-Fi networks, and prompts the user with a set up screen (image below). Once in, the app will ask you details for your local wireless network password. It then switches off the wireless ad-hoc network and connects to your local wireless router thereon. If you use the dongle on another television, the procedure remains the same.
Once connected to the local wireless network, you can start streaming any media content on your television, from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. However, in order to stream any content to the TV, you have to use the app only, unlike Chromecast which allows you to do much more. The app is self sufficient to playback most of you media files, be it from the local storage, online on YouTube, or from your shared folders on the network. Multiple users can connect to the Teewe dongle from their devices and stream their content and even take control of it, like play, pause, volume, etc. The app is powerful enough and gives you a one-stop solution to all your media streaming needs. Teewe also has a Chrome extension—you can mirror your desktop’s browser on your television or use it for videos or presentations at your office. There are a couple of websites that already support the Teewe extension, and these include 9Gag, Reddit, Scoopwhoop, Khan Academy and a few others. If you don’t have an internet connection, you can only play local content from your devices. All users on the local network can share their media content and others can see the listing on their devices, to choose what they would like to play.
The quality of the media playback on the Teewe 2 is great and we have no complaints, whatsoever. Built on a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 chipset with a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, the Teewe 2 has a basic hardware specification list. Though basic, it is powerful enough to handle full HD 1080p videos without stuttering. Media playback is smooth, but you will have to ensure that your router is not clogged and not a slow one either. The media coming in from the internet will definitely need a faster internet broadband, but if you are playing high quality content from a local storage on a slow or older router, you would see a very sluggish performance or larger buffering issues. Ensure that your router is at least 802.11n and is in close range from the television.
Though the streamer performs well, there were times when the device went haywire while we were testing it. At times the payer would not respond to the smartphone and would keep continuously doing what it was playing. At times the app would not respond and we had to kill the app and restart it. There were also times when the media playback control was extremely sluggish with loads of buffering issues, even though the network was not clogged. However, the issues happened only a few times, but if Teewe has to keep up the competition with Chromecast, especially with a price difference of only Rs 600.
As for the experience with Teewe 2, we would say that the HDMI dongle is a simple and straightforward media streamer, that is simple to setup and use by a novice. Priced for Rs 2,399, the Teewe 2 is definitely a good choice over the Chromecast. The Teewe 2 also comes along with a 20GB free internet data package (for three months each, a total of 60GB) if you are using an Airtel broadband connection. All you need to do is to tap the free package offer on the Teewe 2 app and the Airtel DSL modem will automatically be detected and the offer will add 20GB data to your existing internet plan. You can use this 20GB data for all your internet needs and not only for Teewe. Apart from this, Teewe has also tied up with Eros Now for free Bollywood movies.