MINIX NEO U1 Impressions

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The MINIX NEO U1 is famed TV box manufacturer MINIX’s latest Android 5.1 box and their first to feature the Amlogic S905. It also features 2GB DDR3 RAM, 16GB of eMMC storage, dual band MIMO wireless AC, and support for XBMC MINIX Edition – a customised Kodi fork based on Kodi 15.2.

I want to say thanks to GearBest for providing a sample to review.

View the Latest Price

MINIX NEO U1 Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Amlogic S905
  • CPUCPU
    Quad-Core Cortex-A5 at 1.5GHz
  • GPU
    Penta-Core ARM® Mali™-450
  • Operating System
    Android Lollipop 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB eMMC 5.0
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
    Power button
  • Power
    DC 5V/3A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    SP-DIF, 3.5mm Audio
  • Other Interfaces
    3 x USB 2.0
    1x micro USB OTG
    Microphone Input

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    802.11ac 2 x 2 MIMO Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.0GHz)
  • Ethernet
    1000Mbps
  • Bluetooth
    4.1

Physical

    What’s Inside The Box?

    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-Inside-The-Box

    Inside the box, you get:

    • 1x MINIX NEO U1 unit
    • 1x Wifi Antenna
    • 1x IR Remote
    • 1x Power Adapter
    • 1x HDMI cable
    • 1x USB OTG cable
    • 1x USB to micro USB cable
    • 1x Instruction Manual

    MINIX NEO U1 Impressions

    The first thing you notice when unboxing the MINIX NEO U1 is how solid it feels. It’s got a heft to it that makes it feel far more premium compared to its competitors. The whole unit feels very well made.

    Ports are located on the right side and rear of the MINIX NEO U1. The right side houses the power button, 3 fullsize USB ports, micro SD card slot, micro USB OTG port and a Kensington lock port.

    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-Right

    The rear has a headphone jack, microphone jack, HDMI output, optical audio, Ethernet and DC In. There’s also a port for the wifi antenna on the left side.

    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-Back

    Booting up the Minix Neo U1 takes around 28 seconds with a wireless keyboard and mouse connected. Resuming from standby is instant.

    The MINIX NEO U1 has a single 11.87GB partition which has 11.18GB free out of the box.

    MINIX have shipped their MINIX launcher that heavily uses their trademark green colour scheme. Like other TV box launchers, the MINIX NEO U1’s launcher allows you to sort your apps into various categories such as Online Video and Games. It looks great and is pretty intuitive to use.

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    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-Android-01

    The Amlogic S905 handles Android 5.1 well, without any noticeable stuttering or lag. Unfortunately root access isn’t available out of the box. However, the methods for rooting it are already available.

    The MINIX NEO U1 comes pre-installed with a variety of included apps including Airpin Pro, Airdroid, Netflix, and Kodi 15.2.

    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-Android-02

    I had a quick play with Airpin Pro and was impressed to see that Airplay Video and even Mirroring were working with iOS9 – something most boxes haven’t been able to do.

    MINIX have also integrated OTA updates, allowing you to easily update the firmware when new versions are released. There has already been two updates available (the latest was released on the 31st of December) and after a small download each time, I had the latest firmware installed. The whole process was painless.

    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-Android-OTA-01

    Stock Kodi is pre-installed. However, MINIX recommends that XBMC MINIX Edition is used so I downloaded the APK from their site. It looks like a stock version of Kodi 15.2 with a custom splash screen. However, I did notice that automatic framerate switching worked when I played back some 24Hz videos.

    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-Kodi-01

    1080p H.264 and HEVC videos appeared to play back fine, though I did notice that the HEVC video did become a little jerky if I skipped through it.

    Wifi performance seems to be solid, with streaming of both 4K and 1080p H.264 samples from an NFS share on my server playing back without any buffering.

    Gaming performance was as good as other Android boxes powered by the Amlogic S905. Beach Buggy Racing performed solidly at 1080p on maximum settings with only the occasional bit of slowdown.

    MINIX-NEO-U1-Review-BBRBenchmarking in Antutu 6.0 and 3DMark’s Ice Storm Extreme tests saw the MINIX NEO U1 score 38026 and 4222 respectively.

    Verdict So Far

    The MINIX NEO U1 is probably the most impressive Amlogic S905 box I’ve played with so far. It’s build quality is outstanding, the launcher is unique and MINIX have long had a reputation for updating their boxes after release. However, the significant price premium will be hard to swallow for some.

    Getting one

    The MINIX NEO U1 is available from GearBest for around $129.

    View the Latest Price

    Alternatively, it’s also available from GeekBuying, Banggood and Amazon.

    • VimFuego

      Michael, one big issue with all these boxes for some people is they don’t support True-HD sound, and some don’t support 7.1 DTS sound, they will just downmix those tracks to stereo. I have a Minix X8-H Plus and as great as it is it suffers this problem therefore is pointless for a good home theatre set up that has 7.1. Minix say is it a hardware restriction so it is safe to assume all Amlogic powered devices will be in the same boat. Sadly the only box that supports everything thrown at it is still the now abandoned WD-TV Live.

      • Thanks for sharing. I loved the WD-TV Live – it’s such a shame it was abandoned. It’s definitely frustrating but the situation is getting better. The MINIX NEO U1 is said to support True HD passthrough via HDMI and MINIX have stated that DTS-HD audio passthrough is available as of the latest firmware.

        • VimFuego

          Right ok thanks for clarifying that.
          FWIW for anyone reading this the X8-H Plus is a nice quality box with Minix being very good on support (very important in this Chinese market). If I was in the market for a new Android box then the NEO U1 is probably a good thing given the additional codec support it will have.