For the first time, Nokia, with the help of Flipkart, has forayed into the streaming devices market by launching the new Nokia Media Streamer. It is the first generation media streaming device from Nokia, but this particular segment has been very competitive as the brands have experienced exceptional growth in the past few years. Media streaming devices present a cost-efficient way to stream smart TV content on standard TVs, and the Nokia Media Streamer has the same purpose as well.
Let me give you a summary of what the Nokia Media Streamer brings to the market.
The Nokia Media Streamer is powered by Android TV 9.0 and supports up to full HD resolution of 1920*1080 (HDR) at 60 frames per second. At the heart of this product is a 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz and a Mali 450 GPU. It also packs in 1 GB RAM and 8 GB of internal storage, part of which is taken up by the OS and pre-installed apps. The device supports Bluetooth 4.2 and dual-band Wi-Fi for 2.4 GHz/5 GHz with 2*2 MIMO (multi I/O) antennas for better reception. It also has a Dolby certified sound technology that works even for non-Dolby enabled TVs. The built-in Chromecast allows you to stream the content directly from your small screen device to your TV. The retail box includes the Media Streamer, Remote Control (RC), HDMI + IR receiver cable, micro USB cable, power adapter, user manual, and two 1.5 AAA batteries.
The specifications are similar to what you will find on many other media streaming devices on the market. However, in the end, what matters is the quality of the experience for the customer. To start with, I have been using the Nokia Media Streamer for over half a month now. In case you are wondering about the TV set with which I am using the Media Streamer, it is the six-year-old Sony KLV-32R412B HD LED TV. Well, yes, the Nokia Media Streamer is meant for TVs with up to FHD resolution. However, the selected TV was the only one at hand at this period and I guess a lot of users that already have a not-smart TV will look at an Android TV box to enrich their user experience without the need of buying a new Smart TV.
Now, let us see how well is the Nokia Media Streamer tuned for streaming smart TV content.
The first thing that you will notice is that the Nokia Media Streamer has a very compact form factor that justifies its weight, which is a mere 39 g. It has an all-black plastic body with a glossy Nokia logo embossed on the top. The Media Streamer roughly measures about 6 cm in length and width, while just over 1 cm in depth. The body is curved on all fronts. It does not feel creaky, and it has got enough plastic to survive the accidental drops (two, in my case). The other accessories feel solid as well.
Setting up the Nokia Media Streamer
Setting up the Nokia Media Streamer is easy, and the flow is quite simple. Use the HDMI cable to connect the Media Streamer to your TV and the micro USB cable to connect to the power adapter. Once plugged in and set up, you will probably not need to look at the device again. From here on, you will also need not see the user manual since the instructions prompted on the screen will help you throughout the process. On booting up, you will spend your first 15 seconds seeing the Nokia logo, but without the classic Nokia start-up sound, which could have been a good addition. The next 15 seconds is reserved for the Android (logo) animation.
The first step will be to pair the remote to your Media Streamer. Subsequently, you will be required to select your preferred language, connect your Android phone (or skip), connect to your Wi-Fi network, and log in to your Google Account. While you are at it, the Prime Video application gets installed in the background. After a few permission seeking pages, you will be ready to enter the smart TV world.
Below attached are the pictures of the initial boot up:
The Nokia Media Streamer takes about 40 seconds to boot up, which, in my opinion, could be reduced by a few seconds by today’s standards when we expect everything to be instantly available. It runs on Android TV 9.0 OS with the June 2020 security patch out of the box. It has exactly 75 system apps (yes, I did count it), seven pre-installed apps, including Netflix and ZEE5. After the initial boot-up, you are left with about 4.7 GB of internal memory out of 8 GB. There is a possibility that you might fall short of internal storage in the long run, but 8 GB is still a standard amount for most of the streaming devices.
The stock launcher acts as the home screen of the user interface. The first row on the home screen shows you all of your favorite apps, while the subsequent rows show the recommendations from various installed apps, which can be customized. At the top left corner, there is space for the Google Assistant app, while at the top right corner, you will find the settings and the clock. On pressing the apps button on the RC, a pop-up tab will show you the shortcut to the Google Play Store and Google Play Games app always at top, and all the installed apps below.
If not using voice commands, then typing on Android TV is a tedious task to do because you will have to use the navigation buttons on the RC to move the control on the virtual keyboard. Talking about voice commands, the Google Assistant was able to capture most of the voice instructions, even when my hand was at rest. It made very few mistakes on the numerous attempts made while testing. Search for keywords will give you results from the related content available on the installed apps. However, for some keywords, it did show unrelated suggestions as well.
What I missed is the data saver mode, which means that you will have to keep a tab on the data usage manually on your phone if you don’t have flat internet option. The Nokia Media Streamer also does not have a native file manager, but a few options are available for both the shortcomings on Play Store. Other than that, the UI is slicker to browse, the apps open really fast, even switching between the apps is smooth, and the response rate is maintained well, as you flick in and out of menus and search for content. However, the time taken to open an app, especially the heavy apps, did take longer than before when I tried to load the system with more apps, but once the app opened up, I did not find any lag in its working.
Android TV extensively supports games, but a lot of them require a gamepad to continue. The games that are playable with the remote control worked fine with a few frame drops here and there. The device’s hardware, more precisely the combination of 1 GB RAM, 1.2 GHz processor, and 8 GB of internal storage, especially when there is only 4.7 GB available out of box, may not work that well for demanding gaming apps. This device isn’t really designed to be a gaming console, but it offers that option, especially if you have a gamepad.
Below attached are the screenshots of some of the options that you get in the settings of this device:
Note: All the images have been scaled down for the web.
The Nokia Media Streamer restricts the display resolution up to Full HD at 60 fps, and anything beyond that is not supported. However, there is support for HDR up to the HDR 10 standard. The Nokia Media Streamer supports and gives you the option to tweak among the video formats ranging from 480p at 60 fps to 1080p at 60 fps. Even after having the option of Color Depth Settings, it does not allow you to change it manually.
Drifting away from the technicalities, let us see how visually appealing is its video output. Honestly, if you have not experimented much with the display of your standard TV in the past, then you will be pleased to see its hidden qualities as with the help of the Nokia Media Streamer, you will be able to use your TV to the fullest. The SDR performance is decent enough, and it is enjoyable, but a significant loss of sharpness is noticeable.
The overall experience leads to a higher level with its HDR capabilities as the output remains very stable across most of the applications. The Media Streamer recognizes the HDR content and tunes the video settings accordingly on auto mode. The black portions are boosted well enough to increase the vibrancy of the other colors, which even help the dark scenes retain fine details. The Media Streamer retains adequate sharpness and color accuracy.
However, I noticed that it failed at times to detect the maximum resolution supported by my HD LED TV and showed the digital content in Full HD, even on YouTube, let alone the OTT applications. It is not that big of a deal, but it will help you save your data and time if you have a not-so-fast internet connection.
Below attached are few more samples in SDR and HDR mode:
Note: For some reason the screenshots taken in the HDR mode while streaming videos captured only a black screen. Hence, all the pictures of the display in HDR mode were captured using a phone.
The Nokia Media Streamer comes with a Dolby certified sound technology. With the help of Dolby Audio, the system produced improved sound on my Dolby enabled TV. The added advantage here is that this feature works for non-Dolby enabled TVs as well. In some applications, the audio output at normal levels was a bit on the lower side but sharp enough. The Media Streamer supports Dolby Line mode, which is meant for better sound at higher volumes. You will get a crisp and clear sound with a refined bass at higher volumes. While playing songs, the sound of different instruments mix well with each other and hold a distinct place in the arrangement. Overall, the sound felt boomy and plenty of detail was on offer.
Moving to the audio settings, you will probably see many of the Dolby sound technologies and even DTS sound technologies mentioned as well, but then again, neither Nokia nor Flipkart have mentioned it anywhere in their marketing materials. Hence, it will be safe to assume that the Media Streamer supports nothing more than the Dolby Digital technology. However, if it supports the other sound technologies, by any chance, then both Nokia and Flipkart should reconsider their idea of not promoting it.
Because of its compact form factor, the Nokia Media Streamer lacks any additional port other than the HDMI and micro USB port, which means that you don’t get an option to connect your wired external devices. However, you can still connect your Bluetooth enabled speakers, headphones, or gamepads using the Bluetooth 4.2 support. With the built-in Chromecast feature, there was no latency in the audio output, as it synced well with the video output. Hence, no issues with it yet. Similarly, there were no issues with the dual-band (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi connectivity as well. The Media Streamer was able to scan all the available devices in its vicinity. The Wi-Fi reception is really good on this device. While watching content on OTT services, you will only have to make do with a fuzzy picture for a second or two before the full resolution kicks in, and the stream looks great.
Remote Control’s Performance
Like any other streaming device on the market, you get a voice-controlled Remote Control (RC) with the Nokia Media Streamer that fits in two AAA batteries (1.5 V each) at the back to run. It has a very sturdy build quality and avoids any sharp corners that help you to have a firm grip over it. At the front, you will find all the necessary buttons, starting from the power button and the Google Assistant button at the top. Long pressing the power button shows you the options: restart and screenshot. Subsequently, the navigation controls are placed concentrically. Then, you have the volume buttons and the mute button. You also get two hotkeys, i.e., for Netflix and ZEE5. Here, many would have preferred the second hotkey for some other application, including me. Of course, all the keys are not remappable natively, but I was able to remap the back, home, apps, and the navigation buttons for multiple functions, using the apps available on Play Store.
You can use the RC either by pairing it with the help of Bluetooth or by using the inbuilt Infrared (IR) blaster. In Bluetooth mode, the power indicator blinks with the blue light to show the response and works perfectly even when there is no direct line-of-sight. On the IR mode, it blinks with the red light and works fine until there is an object that acts as a roadblock for the signal. Do see that Google Assistant refrains from working on IR mode, so if you would like her to assist you throughout the system, you will have to use your RC on Bluetooth mode.
Alternatively, you also get two more options to control your Media Streamer. One of them is the HDMI CEC feature, which is disabled by default. You will be able to find it in the settings. Enabling it will allow you to control your Media Streamer with your TV remote, but only up to some extent since the functionality of this feature is restricted up to the power and navigation controls. The volume control of the Media Streamer and your TV remains native to their respective RCs.
The second option is to control your Nokia Media Streamer using the Android TV Remote application on your phone. Again, the functionality is restricted because it is a universal application that can be used with almost any device that runs on Android TV OS. However, you do get the Google Assistant option in the application to compensate for some of the shortcomings. Also, the application proves to be a better option than the native RC for your typing experience since it is much easier to type on your phone than on the TV using the RC.
Even though I did not face any issue with the alternatives, but I would still recommend using the Media Streamer RC because then you will not have to jump between different remote controls for different functions.
Great FHD performance
Good Wi-FI reception
Smooth user interface
Easy to use remote control
Aimed heavily at (up to) Full HD TV users (no 4K support)
No data saver mode
Lack of audio and USB port
The display resolution is probably the biggest selling point for the media streaming devices. The Nokia Media Streamer does not do anything revolutionary. However, after using it for over half a month now, I feel that it is an impressive product for most of the part without any major hiccups, and turns out to be very close to an ideal product for your HD or Full HD TV. Also, the Android TV OS is designed to work with a fast internet connection. Until and unless you have a good internet connection, you will not be able to enjoy the features that the Nokia Media Streamer brings with it, and the overall experience will be uninspiring.
If your requirement does not exceed the display resolution of Full HD, then the Nokia Media Streamer will not disappoint you at all. It will also come in handy if you have a smart TV that has not been updated in a while and is short on supported apps or has an interface you do not like. However, if it is an Ultra HD TV and you would want to continue the same viewing experience, then the Nokia Media Streamer is probably not made for you since it lacks the support. That said, I really hope that Nokia and Flipkart will soon launch a second-generation Nokia Media Streamer with support for Ultra HD display resolution and better hardware inputs for gaming experience.
The new Nokia Media Streamer is exclusively available in India through Flipkart. It usually sells for around ₹ 3199. However, it is available at a special price of just ₹ 2699 (€31, US$37) in the Big Billion Days sale on Flipkart that lasts till October 21. Not only that, but you also get six months free trial of Spotify Premium. The device is definitely a value for money for that price.