MeLE V9 Review: Android TV Box with HDMI Recording and 3.5″ HDD Bay

Find out if the MeLE V9 is worth it with my comprehensive MeLE V9 review

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MeLE V9 Review 01

In my MeLE V9 review, I put this Android TV box to the test to find out how well it performs in media playback, movie streaming and more. Is the MeLE V9 worth it? Read my MeLE V9 review to find out.

What is the MeLE V9?

The MeLE V9 is the MeLE’s newest Android TV box featuring HDMI recording and an internal 3.5″ hard drive bay.

Powered by the quadcore Realtek RTD1295, the MeLE V9 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and lets you use Android apps on your TV (including installing Kodi), stream movies and more.

Its HDMI input allows you to record from connected devices such as game consoles and more whilst the internal hard drive bay lets you significantly increase the amount of onboard storage.

Key Features

  • Powerful quadcore chip for solid app performance
  • Respectable gaming performance thanks to its Mali-T20MP3 GPU
  • HDMI recording allows you to record your footage from connected devices including video game consoles
  • 3.5″ Hard drive slot allows you to increase onboard storage using a standard desktop hard drive.

Where to Buy the MeLE V9

The MeLE V9 is available from the official MeLE AliExpress store and Banggood for around $200. However, it’s on sale for $140 at AliExpress for a limited time only.

Check Price at AliExpress

MeLE V9 Technical Specifications

View Specifications

General

  • Product Name
    MeLE V9
  • Price (MSRP) Suggested Price
    $200
  • Processor
    Realtek RTD1295
  • CPU CPU
    Quad Core Cortex-A53 64bit
  • GPU
    ARM® Mali™-T820 MP3
  • Operating System
    Android 6.0
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB eMMC
    SD Card Slot
    3.5" HDD Bay (up to 3TB)
  • Other Features
    IR Reciever/Transmitter
    LED Display
  • Power
    DC 12V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
    SP-DIF
  • Other Interfaces
    HDMI 2.0 Input
    1x USB Type-C
    3x USB 2.0
    SATA 3.0

Connectivity

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

Physical

    What’s in the Box?

    MeLE V9 Review Inside The Box

    Inside the box, you’ll get:

    • MeLE V9 Android TV Box
    • Power Adapter
    • Plug Adapters (US/UK/Europe/Australia)
    • IR Remote
    • HDMI Cable
    • English User Manual

    I just want to call out how much I love that MeLE actually includes all the plug adapters in the box. This makes it so easy to get up and running, as most Android TV boxes don’t have Australian plugs.

    MeLE V9 Review: Hardware

    The MeLE V9 is a massive Android TV box. Coming in at a sizeable 255×165×55mm, it’s significantly bigger than other Android boxes.

    That space is needed to house a 3.5″ hard drive bay. Removing the panel on the side allows you to slide in a standard desktop hard drive to increase storage by up to an impressive 3TB.

    All that extra storage lets you use the MeLE V9 as more than an Android TV box. Aside from using it for movies and games, you can use the MeLE V9 as a DLNA server to share media around the house.

    MeLE V9 Review HDD Bay

    The actual case is attractive, using a gloss black finish with brushed metal accents.

    That gloss finish looks amazing, though it’s a fingerprint magnet. Unless you put it somewhere it’ll never be touched, expect to be cleaning it regularly.

    The front of the unit has a large LED display that shows you the current time, and status indicators for things such as wifi.

    The right side of the unit has an SD card slot and 3 USB 2.0 ports, whilst the 3.5″ HDD bay can be accessed by removing the cover on the left side.

    There’s a lot of ports on the back of the unit – and I mean a lot! Here, we’ve got a reset button, composite video output, optical audio output, HDMI in, Ethernet, HDMI out, a USB Type-C port and power. There’s also exhaust ports for cooling.

    Unfortunately, MeLE haven’t added any easy access USB ports on the front of the unit (like most Android TV box manufacturers). It’s frustrating as I’d love to be able to quickly plug in a USB drive of movies and kick back.

    The MeLE V9 has a power button on the front, though the unit automatically powered on when plugged in. A cold boot takes around 19 seconds which is pretty reasonable and on par with other RTD1295 Android TV boxes like the Beelink SEA I (review).

    The included IR remote is one of the better included remotes I’ve used. It’s fairly comprehensive, with the standard Android buttons, a full number pad, a mouse mode and more.

    MeLE V9 Review Remote

    There’s also a learning mode so you can learn your TV remotes commands (amongst others) and control them using the one remote.

    MeLE have actually added more buttons than competing devices, with ABCD keys offering another 4 buttons that can be mapped in addition to power, source and volume controls. It’s a welcome addition.

    That said, for the best Android TV box experience, I’d recommend picking up an air mouse like this one which lets you control your TV box using gestures. For more information on air mice and my recommendations, read my Best Air Mouse guide).

    MeLE V9 Review: Software

    The MeLe V9 launcher uses an attractive grey colour scheme with large tiles for common apps.

    MeLE V9 Review Android 01

    All the shortcuts on the home page are customisable (after applying the first firmware update – see below). You’ve also got a row of shortcuts for you to add your favourite apps.

    There’s a few apps installed including Media Center, Netflix and SPMC. You can also use the Google Play store to install other apps like Kodi.

    MeLE V9 Review Android 02

    Movie Centre is probably the most unique. It’s a media player app that scans your hard drive for movies and pulls in info such as covers, actor info and more.

    The box isn’t rooted, though this won’t be an issue for most users.

    I really like the fact that MeLE have provided a simplified settings menu. It’s fully skinned and makes it far more user friendly, as most users won’t need to dive into Android’s detailed settings. That said, basic things such as Bluetooth are hidden in the Advanced settings which is a pain.

    MeLE V9 Review Android Settings 01

    OTA updates are supported though the first update needed to be applied manually, installing the update via USB. That said, it was far simpler than having to manually update the Beelink SEA I (review). Hopefully future updates can be updated via OTA.

    MeLE V9 Review Android OTA Updates

    MeLE have already released a firmware update for the V9 that adds a number of features and bug fixes. However, I was disappointed to see that it couldn’t be applied as an OTA update.

    MeLE V9 Review: HDMI Recording

    MeLE V9 Review Android HDMI In

    The MeLE V9’s ability to record from HDMI devices is one of the unit’s big selling points.

    Recordings are captured at [email protected], though DRM-protected content cannot be recorded (as you’d expect).

    There’s a Picture-In-Picture mode available that lets you use the MeLE V9 and your connected device at the same time. For example, you can watch the game and play games simultaneously.

    MeLE V9 Review Android HDMI In PIP

    You can also set up recording schedules to record at set days and times. However, with no way of changing the channel of connected devices, you need to make sure everything is set up on the device you want to record too. It’s a good feature in theory, though it has its limitations.

    MeLE V9 Review: Video Playback

    After updating MeLE V9’s firmware, the previously installed Kodi 16.1 was replaced with SPMC. However, I decided to test Kodi 17.3 as this is what people will be using.

    After setting up Kodi as normal, videos were played from a USB 3.0 hard drive and streamed over wifi from my server’s NFS share.

    Overall, the MeLE V9’s video playback was good, covering everything from the most common video formats to 4K H.265 videos. However, 4K H.264 videos didn’t play properly as the chipset doesn’t support them and some of the more demanding codecs tripped the box up.

    the MeLE V9’s video playback was good, covering everything from the most common video formats to 4K H.265 videos

    Automatic framerate switching helps eliminate judder. Thankfully, it works in after being enabled in Android settings, though only in the external video app or after configuring Kodi to use an external player.

    Though it only works for 24Hz videos, this is the most common framerate for movies so it’s a massive plus. The fact that it’s supported in some form places it leagues ahead of most Android TV boxes.

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    CodecVideo Performance (Kodi 17.3)
    1080p 3D SBS H.264
    1080p 3D ABL H.264
    1080p24 H.264
    1080p High Bitrate H.264
    1080p60 H.264
    720p50 H.264
    1080i25 H.264
    4K 30FPS H.264
    4K 60FPS H.264
    1080p24 HEVC
    4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
    4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
    1080p VP8
    720p Hi10p
    1080p Hi10p
    1080p MPEG2
    1080p VC1
    Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)

    5.1 Audio Passthrough

    There were no issues with Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough over HDMI.

    Netflix

    I used the pre-installed version of the Netflix app, as the box isn’t compatible with the latest version due to changes by Netflix.

    Streaming movies on Netflix worked worked fine, though 4K and HD resolutions aren’t supported as the MeLE V9 isn’t a Netflix-certified device.

    For more information about Netflix on Android TV boxes, check out my HD Netflix on Android guide.

    MeLE V9 Review: Gaming Performance

    MeLE V9 Review Android Beach Buggy Racing

    Everyone loves gaming so to put the MeLE V9 to the test, I hooked up the awesome GameSir G4S controller (read my review) over Bluetooth and installed Jetpack Joyride (Android) and Beach Buggy Racing (Android).

    I was quite impressed with the gaming performance of the MeLE V9. It’s not as good as the powerful yet pricey Nvidia Shield TV, though it’s decent given gaming isn’t the unit’s main focus.

    Jetpack Joyride was fantastically smooth and Beach Buggy Racing maintained a solid framerate, even on maximum settings at 1080p.

    MeLE V9 Review: Benchmarks

    Should You Buy the MeLE V9?

    MeLE V9 Review 02

    The MeLE V9 positions itself as a premium Android TV box with an impressive media playback capabilities and and a more software experience which makes the unit feel “premium”.

    Video playback was solid, automatic framerate switching works as expected (though only with an external player) and the internal hard drive bay is useful for adding extra storage.

    However, the lack of HD (and 4K) Netflix is a disappointing omission that will be an issue for streaming movie fans.

    Ultimately, if you’re looking for an Android TV box with a hard drive bay or HDMI recording, the MeLE V9 is a great option as long as you don’t need HD Netflix.

    Pros

    • HDMI recording offers more use cases
    • Solid gaming performance
    • Internal hard drive bay is great for increasing storage

    Cons

    • Automatic Framerate Switching limited to 24Hz content
    • First firmware update had to be installed manually
    • Large size may cause issues where space is at a premium

    Where to Buy the MeLE V9

    The MeLE V9 is available from the official MeLE AliExpress store and Banggood for around $200. However, it’s on sale for $140 at AliExpress for a limited time only.

    Check Price at AliExpress

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    REVIEW OVERVIEW
    Design
    8
    Features
    8
    Performance
    7
    Usability
    7
    Value
    7
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    Michael is a technology expert with over 10 years of experience in IT, Home Theatre and Automation. Feel free to send Michael a message here.