A month ago, Globe Telecom unveiled the Globe Streamwatch Xtreme, an addition to their Streamwatch line of digital media players.

Globe Streamwatch Xtreme box

The device runs on Google’s Android TV OS, a version of Android designed for televisions and it can be seen in many devices such as TVs and set-top boxes (DTT, DTH, Cable,etc.)

Globe claims that this device is the first in the world of its kind, which have the functions of three devices in one, which functions as 4G LTE Wi-Fi Router, a Digital TV receiver, and a smart Android TV box.

The functions do not stop there. It also functions as a Karaoke since the front panel provides two MIC-in sockets, which is good for a duet, and you can download numerous Karaoke apps. This also has a built-in Chromecast function where you can link your smartphone to the Streamwatch Xtreme box.

KaraokeCast, a Chromecast app for those who are in need of hitting the right notes.

Globe Streamwatch Xtreme is manufactured by OEM, SEI Robotics of Shenzhen, China.
They also manufacture Google’s ADT-2 Android TV development kit and set-top boxes for Pay TV companies.

What is included in the package?

 

Globe Streamwatch Xtreme Set-Top Box/Router
Streamwatch Smart Remote
2 x AAA battery
12V DC Adapter
User Manual
SIM Card
Warranty Card
3.5mm TRRS-to-RCA jack
UHF Whip Antenna

This device also includes 10GB of data, which can be availed after activation by downloading the Globe @ Home app and by registering your assigned number and device.

 

 

Antenna IN, AUX OUT, WPS Switch, HDMI OUT, Optical OUT, Ethernet, 12V DC port

The device offers many ports as ways to plug in your audio sources.
There is through HDMI, Optical (Toslink), or RCA, which you can plug to your soundbar, stereo system or home theater and you also have to option to use Bluetooth audio if you prefer to connect your Bluetooth headphone.

Please take note that this device is not compatible with composite video despite having a video jack since it only does have component video.

Ports:

  • 2 x USB 2.0 Slots
  • 2 x 6.35 mm Microphone Socket
  • TOSLINK Optical Port (S/PDIF)
  • 3.5mm TRRS-to-RCA Socket
  • Ethernet
  • F-connector
  • Mini-SIM Card Slot

Since this is a multi-purpose device, we will divide their functions into three parts.

1. 4G LTE Wi-Fi Router
2. DTV + IPTV Set-Top Box
3. Smart Media Player

1. 4G LTE Wi-Fi Router

The router has two antennas, one for LTE and one for Wi-Fi. It transmits 2.4GHz with 802.11 b/g/n network modes.
It also has an Ethernet port if you prefer to use a wired connection.
You also have the choice to disable Wi-Fi transmission if you plan to use your data for the set-top box and wired connection.

Globe at Home Web Dashboard

You can only use the SIM card bundled to your device since a Globe Store representative will have to insert the SIM and place the warranty sticker on the SIM slot. You can load your account in two ways via the router’s dashboard or the Globe @ Home app.

2. DTV Set-Top Box

The tuner uses a separate app called Live TV which is made by the OEM.

For recording, you have two options which are “Record current channel” and “Record current TP”.

Record current channel records only one subchannel of one UHF Channel frequency while Record current TP records ALL subchannels or FULL Transport Stream recording.

Like most set-top boxes, you cannot switch to other frequencies while recording although you can switch to IPTV/OTT services or use Android apps while recording programs on terrestrial TV.

In our observations, only one subchannel can be played on VLC and other media players when a FULL TS recording has been played.

We also have observed that some HD channels are not labeled as HD like in the case of UNTV’s Stv and Truth Channel.

The app can also download a thumbnail of the channel’s logo. Sadly, there is no option that can let you download the logo manually in case if the logo is wrong or is outdated.

In terms of tuning, the tuner’s sensitivity is on par with various STBs that are available in the market.

An IPTV channel streaming on Live Channels app.

Aside from DTT channels, you have the option to add IPTV channels to your device.
You have to download Google’s Live Channels app and a channel source app.

Live Channels app aggregates all channel sources from DTT and IPTV. The channel source app that we used to add IPTV channels is TVirl and we have loaded a custom m3u8 playlist into it.

The DTT tuner lacks the integration with Google’s Live Channels app. Having so gives the possibility to use Voice Commands with switching channels by saying the channel name or LCN.

We also have observed that the software is made for DVB-T with certain adjustments  made for ISDB-T compatibility. This is evident with their LCN mapping which does not use decimals.
EWBS and BML are also absent in this device which fails in compliance with Philippine ISDB-T standards.

3. Android Multimedia Player + Chromecast

The device runs on Android TV 8.0 Oreo. In this version, the app drawer is easier to navigate compared to older versions.

Android TV Home Screen

It can output up to 2K Full HD (1080p) and it can play video files with H.264 (MPEG-4/AVC), H.265 (HEVC) and VP9. This supports NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT file systems.

We also plugged it to our AV receiver and it recognizes Dolby Digital Plus.
DTS and Dolby TrueHD are not supported.

The remote control is small but easy to hold and to navigate. It has a Bluetooth and IR blaster, which is used for its built-in microphone and for navigation without the need for aiming directly to the device.
It also has a dedicated Google Assistant button where you can give commands such as opening an app, tuning to a specific channel, asking for question or jokes and even switching appliances on/off, given that it is compatible with Google Home.

 

Although if you prefer to use your TV’s remote control, this is still possible since this device supports HDMI-CEC where you control use two devices in one remote.

Since this uses Google’s officially approved Android TV OS, this means that apps and user interface are optimized for TV viewing and for remote control usage.

This is to differentiate with Android-powered Smart TV boxes/sticks that in the market that does not have the same level of optimization as Android TV.
Some run on Android builds that are suited for touchscreen use, so there are chances that apps will run with a UI that is suited for smartphone or tablet use rather than TV use.

The disadvantage of AndroidTV is there are apps cannot be downloaded through the Play Store since they lack an interface called “Leanback” and support for remote control navigation.

Handheld App Launcher

Luckily you can sideload APK files and run them by downloading an app called “Handheld App Launcher”. You may also use third-party app stores like Aptoide, Apkpure, etc. and for touch-based apps, you may use keyboard and mouse or joypad although this doesn’t mean that all apps will recognize mouse and keyboard input.

This device bears an L1 Security Level with Google’s Widevine DRM, which is a requirement for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and similar OTT services to stream in resolutions higher than SD.
If an app like Netflix detects a device with a Widevine security level lower than L1, it will cap the resolution to a maximum of 540p SD regardless if the device can handle HD or 4K video.
You shall consider this when getting an Android TV box or even a smartphone.
(We suggest you read this article by Android Authority on how Widevine DRM works.)

This box performs well despite having 1GB RAM and a low-spec CPU although there are instances that lags may occur. We only encountered this a few times for almost one month of use.

We have played the following games:
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Dead Trigger 2

Dead Trigger 2, as captured from Streamwatch Extreme

For Dead Trigger 2, it runs on 30fps and set to MEDIUM graphics settings in 1080p.
GTA Vice City runs at consistent 60fps under MAX graphic settings in 1080p.

We have also installed Ragnarok M: Eternal Love and Mobile Legends but both games are unplayable since it does not respond with either mouse and keyboard commands.

For emulators, we usually set the resolution to 720p in order to achieve better performance and this is the resolution that is set by throwback consoles such as Nintendo’s NES and SNES Classic and Sony’s PlayStation Classic.

Bloody Roar 2
Tekken 3

For PSX Emulation – It normally gets a consistent frame rate of 60fps but for games such as Bloody Roar 2, there could be cases of frame drops even if the resolution set to 480p.

The downsides of this device are the following:

1. Inability to connect to other internet sources, may it be LAN or Wi-Fi. The only source of internet connection is through its 4G LTE network.

2. Netflix and Prime Video cannot be downloaded since their teams may have not yet given any certification for the device. This issue is similar to the case of Xiaomi Mi TV 4C in India.
For now, we suggest sideloading an APK of their mobile app or stream via Chromecast until this issue is resolved.

Android TV Lockscreen which Chromecast Built-in mark.

Since this has Chromecast built in, you have the ability to cast videos and photos from Cast-enabled apps on Android or iOS devices or PC to your TV.
You can cast YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, Musixmatch, use the TV for selfies, use as a remote control, play Cast-enable games, and countless functions.

 

Specs:

Amlogic S805X Chipset

  • CPU: 1.2GHz Quad-Core Processor (ARM Cortex-A53)
  • GPU: 5-core ARM Mali-450 MP
  • Display Resolutions: SD (480p) , HD (720p) , 2K FHD (1080p)
  • ROM (Internal Memory): 8GB (4.7GB usable, expandable via USB)
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Android TV 8.0 (Oreo)
  • Single SIM, 4G LTE-Advanced
  • SEI Robotics TV Tuner
  • Bluetooth 4.2 BLE

PROS:

  • Affordable price point
  • Build quality
  • Built-in Chromecast
  • Google-sanctioned AndroidTV OS
  • Smooth Performance
  • Can decode HEVC
  • Ability to record full TS
  • Voice Commands via Google Assistant
  • HDMI-CEC Support

 CONS:

  • Inability to connect to other internet sources (Wi-Fi, Ethernet)
  • HDMI Cable is not included
  • SIM-card is linked to the device.
  • The Live TV software uses DVB LCN numbering instead of ISDB LCN.
  • No support for 480i composite video.

Suggested functions for future updates:

  • EWBS and BML for Full Compliance with Philippine ISDB-T Standards
  • Nationwide Channel List that can be updated through online and offline sources.
  • Live Channels App Integration for DTT tuner.
  • Netflix and Prime Video device certification

Preloaded software:

  • Globe Streamwatch (it simply displays device SSID and password with QR Code)
  • Rakuten VIKI
  • Facebook Watch
  • YouTube (incl. YouTube Kids)
  • Twitch
  • HOOQ

This device is available in select Globe Stores with an introductory price of ₱2,999 from December 2018 to February 28, 2019. After that, it will be sold at ₱4,999.

Verdict: 7.5/10

This device is definitely a first of its kind in the country and we predict that other companies will soon follow suit in providing an Android TV set-top-box.

If you are planning to get a Globe@Home Prepaid service, we recommend getting this device as you’ll be getting an all-in-one entertainment system + router for the price of one.
This is better than getting separate devices which means fewer costs, less electrical usage, fewer plugs, fewer cables, and one remote control to operate.
If you are an existing Globe@Home Prepaid user, this is worth an upgrade to your existing set-up.

We are impressed with how this device can deliver in terms of price, performance, and functions.
Sadly, the inability to connect to other internet sources can be a serious dealbreaker especially if you are subscribed to a postpaid internet service.

Disclaimer: Globe Telecom does not provide the unit used for this review.

UPDATE: Globe Telecom has extended their introductory price period to December 31, 2019.