SZTomato have entered the Amlogic S905 market with the Tomato G9C, a compact mini PC that runs Android 5.1. How good is it? Read our Tomato G9C review to find out!
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What’s in the Box?
Tomato have provided everything you’ll need to get up and running inside the box:
- 1x Tomato G9C unit
- 1x IR Remote
- 1x Power Adapter
- 1x HDMI Cable
- 1x Instruction manual
Tomato G9C Review: Design
It’s great to see the Tomato have opted for a unique design for their mini PC. The unit is a black square that gently tapers towards the unit’s base. It’s distinct yet blends in which is nice.
The top surface has a piano black finish with white MXQ branding on the top. The MXQ logo doubles as the power LED, lighting up blue when the unit is powered on. It’s attractive but could be a distraction in certain environments. The black finish also has a tendency to attract finger prints so you’ll need to keep it clean.
The G9C’s ports are located on the right and rear of the unit. The right features a micro SD card slot and 2 fullsize USB 2.0 ports.
The rear has the composite video output, Ethernet, HDMI out, optical out and DC In.
There’s a small lip that hangs over the ports but thankfully it doesn’t get in the way. My bulky USB devices plugged in fine and the Ethernet release tab faces down so it’s easy to remove.
The included remote is reasonable, including multimedia and Android buttons, in addition to a mouse mode. It’s clicky though which means it can be a little loud at times.
Tomato G9C Review: Using It
The Tomato G9C boots up automatically when connected to power. With only a USB keyboard and mouse connected, a cold boot took around 33 seconds. Resuming from standby is instant and the box can be cleanly powered on and off via the remote.
Tomato have opted for the colorful mediabox launcher seen in a number of TV boxes to date. However, it opts for the photo-based variant which I personally think looks more polished than the overly bright version that uses solid colors. Tomato have informed me that they’ll be releasing new firmware that will have a whole new launcher around February but I don’t have any more details at this stage.
There’s the ability to sort your apps into the “Online Video”, “Recommend” and “Music” categories, in addition to adding shortcuts along the bottom of the home screen.
There’s a few pre-installed apps such as an OTA updater, Kodi 15.2 and an app called “XBMC/Kodi Helper” that automatically installs various Kodi plugins automatically.
The Google Play store is also installed and works well. Though I did have an issue where the Play Store said the device wasn’t compatible until I cleared out the Play Store’s cache so it seems like its an issue with the Store APK itself rather than the firmware.
The settings menu is skinned like other S905 boxes but it’s much easier to navigate using a remote than the standard Android settings menu.
Android features a single unified 4.76GB partition with around 3.99GB free out of the box. It’s also rooted out of the box for those who need it.
As with other Amlogic S905 boxes, the Tomato GC9 handles Android 5.1 well. Navigating the launcher was nice and smooth.
HDMI CEC worked fine with my Samsung TV which was great, allowing me to control the box using my Samsung’s remote.
Tomato G9C Review: Media Playback
Media playback was tested using the pre-installed version of Kodi 15.2
|Video Codec||Video Performance (Kodi 15.2)|
|1080p 3D SBS H.264||OK|
|1080p 3D ABL H.264||OK|
|1080p High Bitrate H.264 – 120Mb/s||Unwatchable (Lots of Dropped Frames)|
|4K 30FPS H.264||OK|
|4K 60FPS H.264||Unwatchable (Video lags behind Audio)|
|4K 30FPS HEVC||OK|
|1080p Hi10p||Unwatchable (Decoding Issues)|
|Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)||OK|
Media playback was fairly good using the included Kodi 15.2 although the 120Mb/s high bitrate sample suffering lots of dropped frames during playback, making it unwatchable.
Automatic framerate switching didn’t work, despite activating the setting in both Kodi and the HDMI self-adaptation setting under Settings.
De-interlacing performance was good, without any noticeable artefacts when watching my interlaced samples.
5.1 Audio Passthrough
Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS passthrough worked fine over HDMI.
Netflix worked via the native Android app however, only at 480p like most other Android TV boxes.
External Storage Support
I was able to playback movies from my 2.5″ USB-powered HDD and USB flash drive without any issues.
Tomato G9C Review: Gaming Performance
To test gaming performance, I installed 2 games,1 2D and 1 3D titles:
Gaming performance on the Tomato G9C was mixed. Jetpack Joyride played smoothly. However, I experienced issues with Beach Buggy Racing, with low frame rates, audio dropouts and crashes.
Bluetooth and Gaming Controllers
Sixaxis Compatibility Checker reported that the Tomato G9C should be compatible with PS3 controllers via the app.
Tomato G9C 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 was reasonable, achieving upload and download speeds of 31Mb/s and 37Mb/s respectively over 2.4GHz.
Real world wireless performance was good, being able to stream both 1080p and 4K H.264 videos from an NFS share via Wifi.
The Tomato G9C is armed with Gigabit Ethernet and performance was strong. Upload and download speeds were 620Mb/s and 870Mb/s respectively, making it one of the faster Android boxes to date.
Tomato G9C Review: Benchmarks
|Antutu Video Tester 3.0||892|
|3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited||7171|
|3DMark Ice Storm Extreme||4092|
|GeekBench 3 Single Core||595|
|GeekBench 3 Multi Core||1738|
Tomato G9C Review: Power Consumption
|Off||Standby||Idle||1080p24 Video||Under Load|
Should You Get One?
The Tomato G9C generally performed well during the tests, showing respectable video playback and strong networking performance. However, rough edges in the firmware detract from the package. However, it’s a reasonable option for someone looking for low cost Android TV box.
The Tomato G9C is available from Tomato.Get More Info