DroidBOX T8S-Plus Review: The Most User-Friendly Android Box?

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The DroidBOX T8-S Plus is an Android TV box powered by the Amlogic S812 and featuring 2GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage, wireless AC, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 and even a 2.5″ HDD slot.

However, the company adds a number of features on top of the hardware, including a number of pre-installed apps, Apple Airplay support, the DroidBOX Share streaming and support for OpenELEC that turns the unit into a pure Kodi appliance.

I want to say thanks to DroidBOX for sending me a sample to review. The company provided me their Gamer Edition bundle which comes with a 120GB SSD, the DroidBOX controller and VIP Plus airmouse.

Check the Current Price at DroidBOX

An Update

Now, you’re probably wondering why there’s been such a delay between my impressions article and my review. It turns out that the issue I experienced during my impressions article happened again and DroidBOX advised me that it was caused by a faulty SATA cable that affected a small number of their units. They sent me out an improved SATA cable which fixed the issue. I can’t fault DroidBOX’s customer service.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Amlogic S812
  • CPUCPU
    Quadcore ARM Cortex A9 2.0GHz
  • GPU
    Octacore ARM Mali-450
  • Operating System
    Android 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    32GB
    SATA
  • Other Features
    IR Receiver
    Aluminium Case
  • Power
    DC 5V/3A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 1.4
    Composite
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 1.4
    SP-DIF
    RCA
  • Other Interfaces
    3x USB 2.0

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    Dual Band Wireless AC
  • Ethernet
    Gigabit
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

  • Dimensions
    115 x 115 x 25mm
  • Weight
    450g

What’s in the Box?

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you get:

  • DroidBOX T8-S Plus Unit
  • IR Remote
  • UK Power Adapter
  • HDMI Cable
  • Instruction Manual
  • Mounting Screws for the HDD tray

DroidBOX also offers a Gamers Edition, which bundles the DroidBOX T8-S Plus with a 120GB SSD, VIP Plus Airmouse Remote and DroidBOX Play gamepad which I’ll be reviewing separately.

The 120GB SSD in my unit was a Sandisk and DroidBOX have suggested they will be including branded SSDs in the bundle which is excellent.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Design

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus feels well-made, with it’s metal case. The actual unit looks very similar to devices like the Zidoo X9 or HiMedia H8. The black matte design features chamfered silver edges that looks great.

The front of the unit houses an IR reciever, LED display and power button.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Front

Ports are located on the right and rear of the unit. The right side houses a fullsize SD card slot, 3 USB 2.0 ports and a reset button.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Right

The rear of the unit has the WiFi antenna, DC In, Ethernet, HDMI, Composite ports and optical audio. The company tell me that the composite ports are not supported however.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Back

The 2.5″ hard drive tray is located underneath the unit and is secured with two screws, with the actual hard drive mounted to the removable plate with 4 screws.

The included remote is fairly comprehensive, with an impressive set of multimedia controls (including buttons for subtitles and audio amongst others) in addition to Android functions and a mouse mode.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Remote-01

The buttons are “clicky” so can be a little loud at times but overall I was pretty happy with the remote.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Remote-02

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Using It

The unit is powered up via the power button. A cold boot takes around 40 seconds with a mouse and keyboard connected. Unfortunately, there’s no standby mode so you’ll need to keep the unit on powered on all the time if you want it to always be available. You can power up the unit using the included IR remote or the VIP Plus airmouse however.

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus comes with a TV friendly launcher that reminds me that’s similar to the one seen on Probox’s devices. It uses square tiles that act solely as app shortcuts. There’s also a “My Favourites” panel that allows you to save a list of your favourite apps. Swiping over to the right reveals another two pages that you can add your favorite apps into.
DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-01

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus has a really cool feature that lets you use hard drives installed in the 2.5″ bay as internal storage. This means that you can install apps on it in addition to other multimedia. With games and apps growing in side, it’s great to be able to be able to add as much space as you need.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-Storage

The Droidbox T8-S Plus comes with a number of pre-installed apps including FilmON Live TV, Skype, IPVanish and MX Player. Droidbox have also packaged their own apps including Control Centre (for getting help and fixing issues), Market (DroidBOX’s app store), DroidBOX Play Market (a dedicated store for games), DroidBOX Share for streaming media, DroidBOX Switch for switching to OpenELEC and their customised version of Kodi called DroidBOX Media Center.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-02

That said, I feel that the launcher feels a little dated compared to some of those released by companies such as Zidoo and Himedia, with limited animations. Of course, it can always be changed in a future firmware update.

I really liked that DroidBOX have included a helper app that allows you to fix common issues automatically. It makes things so much easier to use.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-DroidBOX-Help-01

There’s links to guides on their YouTube channel, scripts for fixing issues or backing up your device and links to Quicksupport which leverages TeamViewer to allow the DroidBOX team to offer remote assistance. It’s an impressive package and makes the DroidBOX the most user-friendly Android device I’ve reviewed.

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OTA updates are supported, with the company regularly releasing firmware updates that fix bugs and add features. Since I’ve had the box, the company has already released at least two new firmware updates adding features and fixing bugs.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-OTA

DroidBOX Share

DroidBOX Share is DroidBOX’s sharing software that allows you to stream content to and from your smartphone to the DroidBOX.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-DroidBOX-Share-01

After navigating to the IP address displayed, you can download the DroidBOX Share app (available for Android/iOS/Windows).

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-DroidBOX-Share-02

The app’s got a heap of functionality, including the ability to stream media to and from your smartphone, use your phone as a remote or airmouse. I found it worked well.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-02

OpenELEC

OpenELEC is also pre-installed. A quick click on the DroidBOX Switch app in Android automatically boots the box into OpenELEC. If you’ve used OpenELEC before you know what to expect: an appliance-like experience based around Kodi.

Everything worked perfectly in OpenELEC and it was a really pleasant experience.

DroidBOX have also customised OpenELEC, adding scripts to install DroidBOX Cloud to enhance the unit’s capabilities.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Media Playback

DroidBOX Media Center is based on Kodi 16.0, with a few company-specific tweaks such as inclusion of the DroidBOX Repository, and a rather unattractive wallpaper.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Kodi-02

A quick multimedia test in DroidBOX Media Center was promising. 1080p24 H.264 and H.265 content played back fine. Automatic framerate switching also works after being enabled in Settings which is great, as few Android boxes actually support ot.

CodecDroidBOX Media CenterOpenELEC
1080p 3D SBS H.264OKOK
1080p 3D ABL H.264OKOK
1080p24 H.264OKOK
1080p High Bitrate H.264OKOK
1080p60 H.264OKOK
720p50 H.264OKOK
1080i25 H.264OKOK
4K 30FPS H.264OKOK
4K 60FPS H.264Unwatchable – Audio Out of Sync with VideoUnwatchable – Audio Out of Sync with Video
1080p24 HEVCOKOK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVCOKOK
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVCOKOK
1080p VP8OKOK
720p Hi10pOKOK
1080p Hi10pUnwatchable – Decoding IssuesUnwatchable – Decoding Issues
1080p MPEG2OKOK
1080p VC1OKOK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)OKOK

Performance was identical whether I was running Android or OpenELEC, handling pretty much everything I threw at it.

Deinterlacing performance was good, without any obvious artifacting on interlaced samples.

Automatic framerate switching is supported inside Kodi once it’s enabled in Kodi’s settings.

23.976FPS content appeared to play back fine without any noticeable judder.

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine.

Netflix

Netflix works via the Netflix Android app, however, playback is limited to 480p like most Android boxes.

AirPlay, Miracast and Google Cast.

AirPlay worked perfectly on my iPhone 6 running iOS9. AirPlay Music, AirPlay Video and AirPlay Mirroring functioned as expected.

Miracast worked with my Samsung Galaxy S7 and I was able to mirror my screen onto the DroidBOX.

Google Cast also worked via YouTube, though other services such as Netflix aren’t supported.

External Storage Support

Playing back movies from my 2.5″ USB-powered HDD and USB flash drive worked perfectly.

Gaming Performance

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Riptide-GP2

To test gaming performance, I installed 2 games,1 2D and 1 3D title:

The DroidBOX T8S-Plus’ Amlogic S812 has a fairly powerful GPU so gaming performance was solid as expected.

Jetpack Joyride was silky smooth whilst Beach Buggy Racing was great on maximum settings. Even titles such as GTA San Andreas ran well when maxed out.

I did get a some slowdown when maxing out Riptide GP2 however, but this was occasional and the game remained very playable.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-GTA-San-Andreas

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

I didn’t have any issues hooking up my DroidBOX Play gamepad via Bluetooth to play the various games I tested. My Gamesir G3 also worked via Bluetooth.

Sixaxis Compatibility Checker reported the DroidBOX T8-S Plus as compatible too.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Networking

Networking performance was tested using Wifi performance was tested using Wifi Speed Test, conducting 3 tests and averaging the results. My router is approximately 5m away, with a single wall between the router and the device. WiFi performance is heavily impacted by a number of factors so your performance may vary.

Wireless Performance

Wireless performance was respectable on the DroidBOX T8-S Plus, with upload and download speeds of 44.5Mbps and 43.2Mbps respectively on the 2.4GHz band and 65.7Mbps and 82.7Mbps on the 5Ghz band.

Wireless streaming was also good, streaming my 1080p and 4K H.264 samples from my NFS share without any noticeable buffering.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-03

Ethernet Performance

Ethernet performance was average, not reaching half of the Gigabit standard. Upload and download speeds were 445.4Mbps and 418.3Mbps respectively.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Benchmarks

BenchmarkScore
Antutu 6.0.141224
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited7584
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme6011
GeekBench 3 Single Core554
GeekBench 3 Multi Core1407

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Power Consumption

OSOffStandbyIdle1080p24 VideoUnder Load
Android 0.4W N/A5.4W6.7W11.9W
OpenELEC 0.4W N/A5.4W6.2W6.7W

Verdict

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-04

The DroidBOX T8S-Plus is well-built and thought out device. DroidBOX have created a device that performs well and the company really added to the hardware. Their value added software is great, particularly the helper app which is perfect for those not familiar with the inner workings of Android. It really is the most user friendly Android box I’ve used to date.

It’s not perfect but it’s a solid package. Add in the regular firmware updates, the ability to expand your storage via an SDD plus the other inclusions make the DroidBOX T8-S Plus a winner.

Getting One

You can purchase the DroidBOX from the company directly or via Amazon.

If you’re wanting an all-in-one solution, I’d fork out for the Gamer’s Edition which packages the DroidBOX T8-S Plus with a 120GB SSD, DroidBOX Play gamepad and the DroidBOX VIP Plus Mini Keyboard which is great value for the extra cash.

Check the Current Price at DroidBOX