“The Le 1s Eco promises loads of streaming fun, but the options are limited for now”
Let us be straight here – LeEco’s new Le 1s Eco (first impressions) came as a surprise – both in terms of the naming convention it uses as well as the specs and design it offers. The name is a bit of a tongue twister, frankly, but the specs and design are more surprising. The Le 1s Eco seems pretty much the same phone as the Le 1s, and brings the exact same design and specs to the table. There’s one big difference however, and that’s the LeEco membership the Eco comes with.
To backtrack a little bit, LeEco (formerly known as Letv), is a big name back in its home country China, but is still a relatively new player in the smartphone arena. The brand is probably better known for its content ecosystem, with interests in music, movies and internet-based entertainment… and because of this, has been dubbed the Netflix of China. And in a bid to make a similar play in the Indian market, the brand has launched what it’s calling the LeEco Membership. In a nutshell, this would offer premium online entertainment to subscribers, and would be priced at Rs 490 per month, or Rs 4,900 for a year. The Le 1s Eco is the first device from the brand in India to bring this service, and the best part is that if you buy the phone, you don’t need to pay for the membership subscription and get to use it for free.
LeEco has tied up with YuppTV for live TV, and with Eros Now for premium Bollywood content to offer these services in India. A tie-up with Hungama will bring music streaming too, but that will be offered only later this year.
Coming back to the smartphone in question, the Le 1s Eco, it so closely resembles the Le 1s that you might as well read our review of the latter to check out how it fares as a daily driver and what all it offers in terms of design, features, camera quality, performance and battery life. The only minor difference is that the MediaTek Helio X10 processor in the Le 1s Eco is clocked at a marginally lower frequency, but you’d hardly find any noticeable difference in performance due to this.
Which brings us to the key aspect – the new content ecosystem. This is presented in the form of an app called Live, which sits in the centre of the bottom dock of the phone’s interface. This is powered by YuppTV, and offers a range of TV channels that stream live content. You can see multiple live streams playing in tiny windows and you can tap on any one to view the one you want.
The app interface is neatly categorised by different languages, and also lets you see your history as well as save favourites so you can come back to them later. However, there’s no option to categorise the channels by genre, or to choose streaming video quality. Of course, you need a high-speed internet connection to view the streams properly, but if you have that, you can enjoy live TV on demand, just with a tap.
The other app is called LeVidi, which offers content from Eros Now. LeVidi, in its current avatar at least, seems like LeEco’s version of YouTube, offering Eros Now’s Bollywood content which includes a few recent Hindi movies. However, we can’t say we were impressed by the variety of content available, and overall, it seems to be a work in progress.
Come to think of it, the entire ecosystem seems to be exactly that – a work in progress. The music streaming partnership with Hungama has yet to bear fruit, and LeEco is also promising more content in the form of concerts etc, but only at a later date. Our review unit was running a beta version of eUI, so it’s likely that the brand is planning to add more options and more content via future updates.
Till that happens though, the content-loaded promise of the LeEco Le 1s Eco is a weak one. With so many third-party apps and services like Hotstar, Voot etc on the video side, and Gaana and Saavn on the music side, smartphone users already have numerous options for entertainment on the go. That said, the Le 1s Eco is a pretty compelling smartphone anyway, and if the brand sticks to its promise, buyers should be rewarded with tons of premium content to view on their smartphones regardless of where they are. Premium… for free… that sounds like music to our ears. But only if…
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