Sunvell T95Z Plus Android TV Box Review

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The Sunvell T95Z Plus is a new Android TV box from the company.  Sporting the powerful Amlogic S912 and a unique design, is it any good? Keep reading my Sunvell T95Z Plus review to find out.

I want to say thanks to GearBest for sending me a sample to review. Check out the Sunvell T95Z Plus over at their store below.

Check the Current Price at GearBest

In This Review

Sunvell T95Z Plus Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    AMLogic S912
  • CPUCPU
    Quad-Core Cortex-A53 up to 2.0GHz
  • GPU
    Penta-Core ARM® Mali™-450
  • Operating System
    Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB eMMC
    SD Card Slot (up to 64GB)
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
    LED Screen
  • Power
    5V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
    Composite
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
    SP-DIF
  • Other Interfaces
    2 x USB 2.0
    SD Card Slot

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    Dual Band Wireless AC
  • Ethernet
    1000Mbps
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

    What’s in the Box?

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-inside-the-box

    Inside the box, you’ll get:

    • Sunvell T95Z Plus Android TV Box
    • Power Adapter
    • IR Remote
    • HDMI Cable
    • English User Manual

    Sunvell T95Z Plus Review: Hardware

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-05

    The Sunvell T95Z Plus is a striking looking unit. With its hexagonal shell and interesting geometric detail, it definitely stands out in a good way. 

    There’s a multicolored LED strip that lights up in either green, blue or light blue. It also doubles as a status light. I love how it looks but I can also see it being distracting in a dark environment so thankfully you can turn it off via a dedicated button on the included remote control. 

    The front of the unit is relatively bare,  featuring a large LED display which displays the time and status indicators for things like wifi and Ethernet connectivity.

    Ports are located towards the back of the unit. Going from left to right, we have, a USB 2.0 port, Ethernet, optical audio output, DC In, HDMI out, composite out, another USB 2.0 port and a micro SD card slot. 

    I’m glad Sunvell opted to keep the HDMI and Power ports at the back of the unit. Given that these are always connected, it helps keep things neater.

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-back

    That said, I don’t like the fact that Sunvell, like most TV box manufacturers, haven’t included any front USB ports. Trying to reach rear USB ports when your media player is in an AV cabinet is just awkward.

    The included IR remote surprised me, being much better quality than most of the included IR remotes. There’s a full suite of Android functions and a mouse mode, in addition to dedicated buttons for the status LED and Kodi. The buttons are nice and quiet too.

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-remote

    That said, I recommend picking up an Air mouse for the best experience. You can check out my Best Air Mouse guide for some suggestions.

    Sunvell T95Z Plus Review: Software

    The Sunvell T95Z Plus automatically powers up when plugged in. A cold boot takes around 30 seconds with a wireless keyboard and mouse connected.

    Sunvell’s launcher is modern and colorful, featuring brightly colored tiles for the launchers various shortcuts and folders.

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    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-launcher

    Aside from dedicated buttons for apps like Kodi, there’s also a customisable row of shortcuts along the bottom and folders for Music and Video apps that you can fill.

    There’s quite a few pre-installed apps such as FilmOn, Facebook and Netflix in addition to Kodi 16.1.

    Kodi has been pre-loaded with a number of add-ons but there’s also a dedicated app for installing and updating add-ons for you which is a nice touch.

    There seems to be Over-the-Air (OTA) update support. However, there wasn’t an update at the time of writing so I wasn’t able to test it out.

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-ota-updates

    The Amlogic S912 handles Android 6.0 well. Navigating through the UI and launching apps feels snappy.

    Sunvell T95Z Plus Review: Media Playback

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-kodi

    Video playback was tested using Kodi 16.1 from Google Play. Please note that I did need to disable amcodec in Kodi’s Acceleration menu to get some videos to play.

    CodecVideo Performance (Kodi 16.1)
    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 Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
    1080p24 HEVC
    4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
    4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
    1080p VP8 Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
    720p Hi10p
    1080p Hi10p Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
    1080p MPEG2
    1080p VC1
    Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)

    Media playback on the Sunvell T95Z Plus was fairly good. The most common codecs played back without any issues. More demanding codecs, such as 4K 60fps H.264 and 1080p Hi10p samples tripped the box up like most other devices.

    Automatic framerate switching is not supported which is disappointing but frustratingly common amongst Android TV boxes.

    Wireless 4K streaming from an NFS share on my server worked well. I didn’t have any buffering which is great.

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-02

    5.1 Audio Passthrough

    Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked via Kodi 16.1. However, there were small audio glitches every 5-10 seconds making it pretty unpleasant to listen to. I’m hoping this can be fixed via a firmware update.

    Netflix

    Netflix works as you’d expect. However, as a non-Netflix-certified device, you can only stream in SD quality. This is typical for most Android TV boxes.

    External Storage Support

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

    Sunvell T95Z Plus Review: Gaming Performance

    probox2-air-review-beach-buggy-racing

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

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-jetpack-joyride

    Thanks to the Amlogic S912’s powerful Mali-T820 GPU,  gaming performance on the Sunvell is excellent. Whether playing Jetpack Joyride or the more demanding Beach Buggy Racing on maximum settings,  the Sunvell T95Z Plus handled it well.  I did have the occasional bit of slowdown when there was a lot of action on screen during a few races but it was always playable.

    Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

    My GameSir G4S (read my review) paired up done via via Bluetooth and worked perfectly with Beach Buggy Racing.

    Sunvell T95Z Plus Review: Benchmarks

    BenchmarkScore
    Antutu 6.2.135887
    3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited9406
    3DMark Ice Storm Extreme5754
    3DMark Slingshot379
    GeekBench 4.0.1 Single Core542
    GeekBench 4.0.1 Multi Core2151

    Verdict

    sunvell-t95z-plus-review-01

    The Sunvell T95Z Plus is a decent Amlogic S912 Android TV box. It offers an eye-catching design, great IR remote and user friendly interface and handles basic media playback and mid-level gaming well. However, issues with audio passthrough (which will hopefully be fixed via a firmware update) and no automatic framerate switching in Kodi (annoyingly like most Android TV boxes) will make it unappealing to home theatre enthusiasts.

    Pros

    • Good gaming and media playback support
    • Feature-packed remote
    • Attractive design

    Cons

    • Netflix limited to 480p
    • No Automatic Framerate Switching in Kodi
    • Audio Glitches when using Dolby Digital 5.1 Passthrough

    Getting One

    The Sunvell T95Z Plus is available from GearBest. Use code “ST95ZP” to get it for $57.99 for a limited time.

    Check the Current Price at GearBest

    Alternatively, it’s available from the following stores:

    • Thomfam

      Thanks Michael, sounds like exactly the same audio glitch I get on my Sunvell T95M. I believe the problem can be solved by using LibreELEC. The DTS audio works perfectly afterwards. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a firmware to update my box yet so I still get the glitch.

      • Yeah, I’ve been reading around and it seems Kodi passthrough support with the Amlogic S912 is a mixed bag. I tested a few videos with Kodi 17 and got no audio.

        If you’re happy with 2.0 audio, then these devices do the job. But as soon as you want automatic framerate switching and good passthrough support, you’ll need to move to the better supported units or something that supports LibreELEC.

        • Thomfam

          My Sunvell is the S905 (I think) and has the glitch audio problem. My Minix Neo XH -Plus works fine with DTS etc.