LeEco unveiled its entertainment bundle tailored for the Indian audience in May and hopes to build a strong user base with it. The company's latest smartphones are being integrated with one year of free LeEco membership. We had almost a month of hands-on experience with LeEco's free membership programme with the review unit of Le 1s Eco, the company's first smartphone to the Supertainment membership.
LeEco has partnered with India's major entertainment players, YuppTV, Hungama and Eros Now, for its content. The company's entertainment package comes with an annual subscription and costs Rs. 4,900. But if you buy any latest LeEco smartphone, one year of the content is offered for free. LeEco Le 1s Eco is one such device and makes a compelling offer for those who love to stream their favourite TV shows or movies while on the go.
We used the Le 1s Eco for almost a month and the look and feel of it is reminiscent of the original Le 1s. The hardware bit of the Le 1s Eco is same as the Le 1s, which was reviewed by us earlier this year. But what's really interesting is the Le 1s Eco's entertainment package, which we studied in detail.
Le 1s Eco - Live TV
The Le 1s Eco is designed around the content it offers. There is a "Live" button placed at the centre of the constant menu tray at the bottom of the screen. Tapping the Live button takes you directly to the Live TV screen, powered by YuppTV, where content from various channels in Hindi, English and other regional languages is available. To access the content on these channels, a working internet connection is required. It streamed the latest TV shows without any hiccups.
The Live TV interface is kept simple. Swiping right or left while watching one channel will change to the next channel. We found the channels to take some time to load the content before the show is streamed without frequent buffering, but that's usually the case with most streaming channels or apps.
We encountered some issues while loading some channels when there was low connectivity, but most channels worked fine. There is a lot of room for improvement as Live TV could add sports channels to Live TV and also other entertainment channels that are missing from the menu. The content is limited on Live TV, which makes it less compelling, but LeEco could fix that with software updates in the future.
The good thing is that Live TV channels can be viewed in different resolutions, which is a sensible option. But LeEco continues to face the challenge of convincing customers to buy a new device whereas YuppTV app can be downloaded on any phone.
Le 1s Eco - Levidi
LeEco has a separate app called Levidi, which grants access to a library of Bollywood and regional movies powered by Eros Now. At first it may seem like a YouTube-like aggregator, but we found it of great use for streaming some most recent movie released in Bollywood.
The content is placed at the front and centre so getting what you need is simple. A search tab at the top lets you look for any movie or movie trailer in an instant. During our first impressions, we found the Levidi app to lack sufficient content or give errors while playing some movies, but it seems to be fixed now as playing movies was much refined and buffer-free this time around.
Le 1s Eco can be a great travel companion by keeping you entertained all along.
Le 1s Eco - Music
LeEco Membership also includes access to a free music streaming service powered by Hungama, but the Le 1s Eco we reviewed is yet to be updated with it. In fact, the company hasn't launched the Le Music service for its devices, but promises to bring it to the users in the third quarter of this year. We are keen to test Le Music when it is launched as it claims to offer more than 3.5 million songs from 25 different languages.
With all this content integrated within a really impressive device, the question remains whether you should buy Le 1s Eco or not. Given the handset's specs and features, it is certainly worth the price, but the company recently launched its Le 2 at Rs. 11,999, which offers the same content service along with upgraded hardware. The Le 1s Eco could be lost between the Le 1s and Le 2 as it doesn't really offer anything fresh than the other two smartphones do at the moment.
In our view, Le 2 is a much worthy buy, but the handset is not available until early July. So if you are on a deadline, Le 1s Eco is certainly a better choice than Le 1s for its additional content services and the specifications that can easily outmatch most of its rivals in the same price range.
As for the content, LeEco may be betting a lot on its subscription plan, especially with the content it is offering at the moment, which lacks sports channels on Live TV and exclusive and premium content on Levidi. It is going to be a hard sell for LeEco to get users to spend Rs. 490 per month or Rs. 4,900 a year for its Supertaintment package at the moment. If the company is seriously considering a sustainable business model out of LeEco Membership then a massive improvement in terms of content offering is needed urgently.