Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos Review: Is Tronsmart’s S905 Android Box with SATA a Winner?

5

The Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos is Tronsmart’s latest Android TV box and the most powerful in it’s S95 series of Android boxes powered by the quadcore Amlogic S905 SoC. It features impressive specs, with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 16GB of storage, wireless AC and even a SATA port.

I want to say thanks to GeekBuying for providing a sample to review. Use coupon “HTLS95” to get US$12 off the Telos from GeekBuying.

View the Latest Price

Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos 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 12V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0, SP-DIF
  • Other Interfaces
    3 x USB 2.0
    1x micro USB OTG
    SATA Port

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    802.11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.0GHz)
  • Ethernet
    1000Mbps
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

    What’s in the Box?

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Inside-The-Box

    Tronsmart have provided a pretty comprehensive set of accessories inside the box:

    • 1x Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos unit
    • 1x IR Remote
    • 1x Power Adapter
    • 1x HDMI cable
    • 1x SATA cable
    • 1x Instruction Manual

    Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos Review: Design

    Tronsmart rarely take risks with their designs and the Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos is unfortunately no different. It’s a minimalist black box flanked by ports that does blend in nicely with your home theatre equipment. It’s got a nice matte finish that minimizes fingerprints too.

    Ports are on 3 of the unit’s 4 sides. The left side features 2 fullsize USB ports and an SD card slot.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Left

    The rear of the device (from left to right) has DC In, optical audio, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out and another fullsize USB port.Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Rear

    The left side houses the device’s most unique aspect, its SATA port.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Right

    The included IR remote is nice, slim and houses a fairly solid set of functions. Basic multimedia controls, Android functions and even mouse control are all here. The buttons are a little loud though.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Remote

    Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos Review: Using It

    There’s no power button so the Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos automatically boots when plugged in. With a USB keyboard and mouse connected, a cold boot took around 29 seconds.  Resuming from standby is instant. The unit can also be hard powered off and switched on via the remote.

    Tronsmart have used a MediaBox-style launcher, using brightly colored tiles representing groups of apps. I personally find it way too bright but it does work well on the big screen. Apps can be organised into various folders such as Videos and Music but you’ll need to do this manually unfortunately.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Android-01

    The box runs Android 5.1 and its Amlogic S905 handles it well. I didn’t experience any major hitches during my testing, though occasionally some apps took a second or two to close. In terms of root access, it isn’t rooted out of the box, but methods to root it are already available.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Android-02

    The firmware was stable but I did notice the volume bar would appear by itself occasionally which was odd. The settings menu also had incorrect capitalisation. It doesn’t affect anything but it detracts from the overall polish.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Settings

    Tronsmart have pre-installed a few useful apps such as a DLNA player, ES File Explorer and Netflix, in addition to OTA update functionality. When I wrote my impressions, there was an update available and the whole process was painless. Over the weeks I’ve had the unit, Tronsmart have released 3 updates so they’re clearly working on fixing bugs.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-OTA

    The Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos also comes pre-installed with VidOn XBMC. VidOn XBMC is a customised fork of Kodi that provides some useful features such as HD audio passthrough and BD-J menus for Bluray ISOs in addition to media playback. VidOn normally lock this functionality behind a VidOn Pro subscription, however the Tronsmart Vega S95 series comes with a lifetime Pro licence (technically until 2035). You’ll just need to create a VidOn account and log in via VidOn XBMC to activate it.

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    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-VidOn-XBMC-01

    It looks and functions like like standard Kodi but there are additional settings including tweaks for buffering and Bluray menus.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-VidOn-XBMC-02

    HDMI CEC worked as expected on my Samsung TV, allowing me to control the unit using my TV’s remote.

    Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos Review: Media Playback

    As VidOn XBMC is a key selling point of the Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos, I’ve used it to test media playback:

    Video CodecVideo Performance (VidOn XBMC 14.2.6)
    1080p 3D SBS H.264OK
    1080p 3D ABL H.264OK
    1080p24 H.264OK
    1080p High Bitrate H.264Watchable (Some Frameskipping)
    1080p60 H.264OK
    720p50 H.264OK
    1080i25 H.264OK
    4K 30FPS H.264OK
    4K 60FPS H.264Unwatchable (Video lags behind Audio)
    1080p24 HEVCOK
    1080p VP8Watchable (Some Frameskipping)
    720p Hi10pOK
    1080p Hi10pUnwatchable (Decoding Issues)
    1080p MPEG2Watchable (Some Frameskipping)
    1080p VC1OK
    Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)OK

    Media playback was decent but I did experience some smoothness issues with MPEG2 video which was a little surprising. Automatic framerate switching didn’t work, even with the “HDMI Self-Adaptation” setting enabled, which was disappointing. Here’s hoping Tronsmart add support in an upcoming firmware release.

    Deinterlacing performance was good, with de-interlaced video not showing any obvious artifacts.

    5.1 Audio Passthrough via HDMI worked but some of the samples exhibited some popping. Tronsmart have said they’re aware of the issue and are working on a fix.

    Apple Airplay

    Tronsmart have included a Media Center app that offers Airplay compatibility that (as of the latest firmware version) supports iOS9. Videos, audio and mirroring all worked well via Wifi.

    External Storage Support

    I was able to connect up my 2.5″ USB-powered harddrive and play back media without any issues.

    The SATA port worked as expected after being enabled in Settings. However, the port is connected via a USB bridge so you’re limited to USB 2.0 speeds.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-02

    Netflix

    Netflix worked well but was restricted to 480p as is the case with most Android TV boxes.

    Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos Review: Gaming Performance

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

    In terms of gaming, the Amlogic S905’s penta-core GPU does a good job. Jetpack Joyride was silky smooth and Beach Buggy Racing seemed to play well at 1080p on maximum settings too. The more demanding Riptide GP2 was hopeless at maximum settings but playable once the graphics were toned down to medium.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-Beach-Buggy-Racing

    Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

    I was able to pair up my iPazzport Bluetooth Keyboard without issue.

    With regards to gaming controllers, my iPega PG-9025 would pair but none of the buttons were recognised. However, my Tronsmart Mars G01 worked fine.

    As the device isn’t rooted, I didn’t verify Sixaxis compatibility.

    Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos Review: Networking

    Wireless Performance

    Wifi performance was tested using Wifi Speed Test. 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 good. On the 2.4GHz band, upload and download speeds were 2Mb/s and 46Mb/s respectively. On 5.8GHz, these speeds jumped dramatically to 46Mb/s and 199Mb/s.

    Real world tests streaming videos from an NFS share on my server via VidOn XBMC were great. Both 4K and 1080p H.264 samples streamed fine without any noticeable buffering.

    Ethernet Performance

    The Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos comes with Gigabit Ethernet but, as expected, it performed well but didn’t reach the theoretical maximum. Upload and download speeds were 630Mb/s and 209Mb/s respectively.

    Tronsmart-Vega-S95-Telos-03

    Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos Review: Benchmarks

    Antutu 6.0

    Benchmarking via Antutu 6.0 returned a score of 36211. Remember that Antutu scores from Antutu 5.0 and 6.0 are not compatible due to changes in the benchmark itself.

    3DMark

    The Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos scored 7278 on 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited and 4299 on Ice Storm Extreme.

    GeekBench 3

    GeekBench 3 Single and Multi-Core scores were 605 and 1705 respectively.

    A1 SD Bench

    Internal read and write speeds were 71MB/s and 11MB/s respectively

    Power Consumption

    OffStandbyIdle1080p24 VideoUnder Load
    2.1W3.7W4.0W6.0W7.4W

    Should You Get One?

    The Tronsmart Vega S95 Telos is another respectable Android box from Tronsmart. Performance was generally good all round and the inclusion of VidOn XBMC is a massive plus given its special features. However, the lack of automatic framerate switching will be problematic for some.

    Getting One

    The Tronsmart Vega S95 is available from GeekBuying starting from $59.99 for the Pro model up to $99.99 for the higher-spec Telos. Use coupon “HTLS95” to save US$12 off the Telos model at GeekBuying.

    View the Latest Price

    Alternatively, it’s also available from Amazon.

    • fackedd

      Great review.

      I’m interested to see how this stacks up against the Minix NEO U1.
      Since they seem to be the 2 most expensive s905 devices out right now.

    • Thomfam

      Thanks for the review.

      Previous experience I have had with a Tronsmart player and buying from GeekBuying have been totally uninspiring. I bought an Orion R68 from them. To this day it still does not operate properly. One update they put out even crashed the unit’s ability do a wireless update. It took some messing around with supplied fixes before I manged to get it to do a firmware update via wireless.

      Despite numerous concerns regarding firmware and the need to fix problems from numerous forums across the internet, Tronsmart have still been unable to stop shuddering and stuttering of the picture with this unit. Do a Google search for any Tronsmart Orion R68 Forum and read what owners have to say about the company.

      When I purchased it Geekbuying told me that posting out for delivery should begin within a few days. Delivery eventually occurred around 6 to 8 weeks later!

      I did get a sensational deal on buying the Orion but regretfully the level of support for the Orion R68 has failed to solve all firmware problems. So my great deal was cancelled out by poor service and a box which still doesn’t work properly.

      But I have solved the problem. I decided to cut my losses and spend more cash. I bought a Minix Neo X8-H Plus instead. This unit works perfectly without a hassle. Excellent delivery from a company in China, and I believe superb support available from the manufacturer.