Android TV Box Reviews

DroidBOX T8 Mini Android TV Box Review

The DroidBOX T8 Mini is one of DroidBOX’s Android TV boxes that features the quadcore Amlogic S905 processor. However, DroidBOX have added a number of value-added features such as custom apps and the ability to dual boot with LibreELEC for a pure Kodi experience. Is it worth it? Read my review to find out

I want to say thanks to DroidBOX for sending me the DroidBOX T8 Mini Gamer’s Edition Bundle to review. The Gamer’s Edition Bundle packs in their DroidBOX VIP Plus airmouse and DroidBOX Play Gamepad Pro Bluetooth gamepad. Check it out the DroidBOX T8 Mini over at their store below.

Check Price at DroidBOX

In This Review

DroidBOX T8 Mini Technical Specifications

General

  • Product Name
    DroidBOX T8 Mini
  • Processor
    AMLogic S905
  • CPU CPU
    Quad-Core Cortex-A53 up to 2.0GHz
  • GPU
    Penta-Core ARM® Mali™-450
  • Operating System
    Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
    Power Button
  • Power
    DC 5V/3A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Other Interfaces
    3 x USB 2.0
    SD Card Slot (up to 128GB)

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz)
  • Ethernet
    1000Mbps
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

  • Dimensions
    167x123x23mm
  • Weight
    250g

What’s in the Box?

Inside the box, you’ll get:

  • DroidBOX T8 Mini Android TV Box
  • Power Adapter
  • IR Remote
  • HDMI Cable
  • English User Manual

If you’ve opted for the Gamer’s Edition Bundle, you’ll also get the DroidBOX VIP Plus air mouse (read the review) and DroidBOX Play Gamepad Pro Bluetooth gamepad (read the review).

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Hardware

The DroidBOX T8 Mini is a fairly standard looking Android TV box. Its sleek, rectangular case is metal and features a nice matte coating which keeps fingerprints at bay. It feels like a solid device.

The front of the unit features an LED display (which shows the time) and an illuminated power button.

The right side houses an SD card slot, USB OTG port and a restore button whilst there’s two extra USB 2.0 ports on the left side.

The rest of the ports are around the back. There’s Optical audio out, AV out, HDMI out, Ethernet and DC In for power.

I liked the fact that DroidBOX included plenty of USB ports, though I wish there was a front USB port for easy access.

The included IR remote is quite good and better than most included IR remotes. There’s a full set of multimedia buttons, shortcut keys and a mouse mode, in addition to the typical Android buttons. The buttons are reasonably silent too which is good.

That said, some of the buttons weren’t mapped out of the box. DroidBOX said these can be mapped via the Keymap Editor Kodi add-on but this may be difficult for those new to Kodi (If you need some help, you should check out my Kodi guide to get up to speed!).

Now, an IR remote will only get you so far with an Android TV box so I always recommend picking up an Air Mouse. The VIP Plus air mouse included in the Gamer’s Edition bundle is quite good.

It’s got a simplified set of buttons on the front and a full QWERTY keyboard on the rear. It’s perfect for navigating Android and text entry, though the tiny keyboard isn’t designed for lengthy typing. For more info, check out my DroidBOX VIP Plus air mouse review.

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Software

The DroidBOX T8 Mini boots up via the power button. A cold boot takes around 54 seconds which is slow but on par with other Amlogic S905 devices.

Disappointingly, standby isn’t supported so you’ll either need to leave the box powered on or be prepared to wait.

When it’s booted, you’ll see DroidBOX’s familiar launcher. It attractive enough but looks somewhat dated compared to the interfaces companies like WeTek, Zidoo and Himedia are producing.

There’s large tiles for key apps, customisable shortcuts and pages for apps. A weather indicator and device status widget round out the interface.

DroidBOX devices are designed to be plug and play so the company has loaded the T8 Mini with everything you’d need to get started.

Out of the box, the T8 Mini comes pre-installed with FilmON Live TV, Skype, IPVanish and MX Player. Droidbox have also packaged their own apps including Control Centre (for getting help and fixing issues), Market (DroidBOX’s app store), DroidBOX Play Market (a dedicated store for games), DroidBOX Share for streaming media, DroidBOX Switch for switching to OpenELEC and their customised version of Kodi called DroidBOX Media Center.

Google Play is also available for installing your favorite apps and the box is rooted for those that need it.

I really like the fact the DroidBOX have included a whole range of genuinely useful apps inside the package. DroidBOX’s own apps like Control Centre go a long way to making the device far more welcoming for users who aren’t familiar with Android TV boxes.

OTA updates are supported. There was one released just before I finished the review and it updated without issues.

HDMI CEC is supported too. This allows you to control the media player using your TV’s remote. After enabling it in Settings, I was able to use my Samsung TV’s remote to control the T8 Mini without issue.

The Amlogic S905 inside does a respectable job with Android. Navigating the UI and launching apps felt fast, though I did have the occasional delay when exiting apps, though this happens with other Amlogic S905 boxes too.

DroidBOX Share

DroidBOX Share is DroidBOX’s application that lets stream movies, music and photos to and from your smartphone to the DroidBOX, mirror the DroidBOX to your phone and even use your phone as a remote.

It works well and is largely identical to when I covered it in my DroidBOX T8-S Plus review so I recommend checking it out for more info.

LibreELEC

The DroidBOX T8 Mini is unique in that it also dual boots LibreELEC, the Kodi-centric OS based on Linux. Clicking on the DroidBOX Switch app boots you into LibreELEC.

LibreELEC offers a pure Kodi experience, with the DroidBOX operating more like an appliance than an Android device. Whilst you do lose the ability to run apps, I did find performance in Kodi was far better.

Media performance is generally better under LibreELEC and I didn’t have any issues playing my video samples. I found automatic framerate switching to be far more reliable too.

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Media Playback

Video playback was tested using the preinstalled version of DBMC, which is based on Kodi 16.1.

CodecVideo Performance (DBMC 16.6.0)
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.264Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
1080p24 HEVC
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
1080p VP8Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
720p Hi10pWatchable – Some Skipped Frames
1080p Hi10pUnwatchable – Skipped Frames
1080p MPEG2
1080p VC1
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)

Media playback in Android was quite good, in line with other Amlogic S905 devices.

I was impressed to see that automatic framerate switching (AFR) worked when enabled so kudos to the DroidBOX team on that as it’s something few devices support.

That said, AFR support isn’t perfect in Android. Some of my video samples caused the screen to black out without any image and required a reboot to get the image back. Here’s hoping this can be fixed with a firmware update.

Media playback improved under LibreELEC particularly in regards to automatic framerate switching. The “no image” issues I had under Android disappeared with LibreELEC.

Wireless 4K streaming from an NFS share on my server worked well without any buffering.

5.1 Audio Passthrough

5.1 audio passthrough in Kodi worked fine during my testing.

Netflix

Netflix works well though it’s limited to SD resolutions as it’s not a Netflix-certified device. However, this is the case for most Android TV boxes.

External Storage Support

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

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Gaming Performance

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

Gaming on the T8 Mini was a mixed bag thanks to the Amlogic S905’s relatively weak GPU. Playing something like Jetpack Joyride was perfectly smooth and a joy to play (no pun intended).

That said, Beach Buggy Racing struggled on maximum settings though it was playable. Dropping it down to the recommended settings lead to a much more pleasant gaming experience.

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

Bluetooth worked well as I was able to pair up the DroidBOX Play Gamepad Pro (included in the Gamer’s Edition Bundle – read my review) and my trusty GameSir G4S (read my review).

Both worked perfectly for playing Beach Buggy Racing and emulators.

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Benchmarks

BenchmarkScore
Antutu 6.2.135498
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited7274
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme4317
Geekbench 4.0.3 Single Core636
Geekbench 4.0.3 Multi-Core1599

Verdict

The DroidBOX T8 Mini is definitely a step-up from cheap Android TV boxes. Though gaming performance was predictably average, those wanting a solid media player will be well looked after. The fact that automatic framerate switching and LibreELEC is available out of the box already makes this an excellent choice for media enthusiasts though gamers should look towards something with more graphical power like the Nvidia Shield TV.

Pros

  • Good media playback support
  • Feature-packed remote
  • Genuinely useful included apps

Cons

  • Netflix limited to 480p
  • Poor gaming performance
  • Standby not supported

Getting One

The DroidBOX T8 Mini is available directly from DroidBOX and Amazon.

Check Price at DroidBOX

Onenuts Nut 1 Android TV Box Review

The Onenuts Nut 1 is an Android TV box powered by the octacore Amlogic S912 that runs Android 6.0. The company is positioning this streaming media player as a dual purpose machine for both watching movies and gaming. Is it worth it? Read my review to find out

I want to say thanks to Tomato for sending me a sample to review. Check out the Onenuts Nut 1 over at their store below.

Check Price at Tomato

In This Review

Onenuts Nut 1 Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    AMLogic S912
  • CPU CPU
    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
    Micro 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
    Micro SD Card Slot

Connectivity

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

Physical

    What’s in the Box?

    onenuts-nut-1-review-inside-the-box

    Inside the box, you’ll get:

    • Onenuts Nut 1 Android TV Box
    • Power Adapter
    • IR Remote
    • HDMI Cable
    • English User Manual
    • Carry Case

    onenuts-nut-1-review-case

    Now, I did find the included carry case is an odd addition. Whilst it was a nice bonus and is definitely well made, I’m not sure how often you’d take the box with you.

    Onenuts Nut 1 Review: Hardware

    There’s no doubt the Onenuts Nut 1 is a striking unit. The company has gone for a bold blue design which definitely makes the device stand out  – for better or for worse.

    The entire case is metal which is great. It feels solid and (presumably) helps keep everything cool.

    onenuts-nut-1-review-03

    The ports are located on the left and rear of the media player. The left side features two USB 2.0 ports and a micro SD card slot. The rear of the unit has optical audio out, composite video out, HDMI out, Ethernet and DC in.

    There’s unfortunately no front-facing USB port which is disappointing as it makes it much harder to plug in your USB drives.

    The included IR remote is the standard IR remote we’ve seen with other Android boxes. It’s got basic Android buttons, volume controls and a mouse mode. It’s functional but is feels cheap with clicky buttons.

    As always, I recommend picking up an Air mouse for the best experience. You can check out my “Best Air Mouse” guide for some suggestions.

    Onenuts Nut 1 Review: Software

    The Onenuts Nut 1 boots automatically when connected to power. A cold boot was around 30 seconds with a wireless keyboard and mouse connected. Resuming from standby was instant.

    I’ll admit I was impressed to see a setup wizard on first boot that takes you through setting up the box. This makes it much easier to get everything set up if you’re not familiar with using Android – particularly on a TV box.

    This same “ease of use” approach extends to the settings menu, which hides much of the complexity via a simplified layout which new users will definitely appreciate.

    The launcher on the Onenuts Nut 1 is attractive, with Metro-esque tiles for various apps. Large icons for key apps such as Netflix and Kodi are a nice touch.

    There’s also a number of apps pre-loaded including the Aptoide app store, Netflix and Kodi. Google Play is available for installing your favorite apps and the box is rooted for those that need it.

    There’s also a dedicated Game app that’s full of emulators and retro games, though I’m not sure how questionable their source is.

    Onenuts have done something pretty unique with Kodi on the Nut 1, with a prompt asking if you want it to install various add-ons for you. I like the fact you’re given the choice as I personally like to start with a clean Kodi install.

    OTA updates are also supported, with a prompt notifying you when a new update is available. The whole process worked smoothly without any issues.

    There’s also support for HDMI CEC which allows you to control the media player using your TV’s remote. I didn’t have any issues using it with my Samsung TV.

    In terms of handling Android, the Onenuts Nut 1 does a solid job thanks to the octacore Amlogic S912. Everything felt snappy.

    Onenuts Nut 1 Review: Media Playback

    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.264Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
    1080p24 HEVC
    4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
    4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
    1080p VP8Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
    720p Hi10pWatchable – Some Skipped Frames
    1080p Hi10pUnwatchable – Skipped Frames
    1080p MPEG2
    1080p VC1
    Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)

    Media playback performance was on par with other Amlogic S912 boxes I’ve tested, with the Onenuts Nut 1 handling the most common video codecs without issues.

    However, it’s disappointing to see that automatic framerate switching isn’t supported like an alarming number of other Android TV boxes.

    Wireless 4K streaming from an NFS share on my server worked well.

    5.1 Audio Passthrough

    The Onenuts Nut 1 originally had the same audio glitches with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio when using passthrough in Kodi 16.1 as the Sunvell T95Z Plus.

    Thankfully, the recent firmware update seems to have fixed it, as my Dolby Digital 5.1 now play back fine though I do get static if I try to change the volume using the included IR remote.

    Netflix

    Netflix works as you’d expect. However, as a non-Netflix-certified device, Netflix is limited to SD quality. This is the case for most Android TV boxes.

    External Storage Support

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

    Onenuts Nut 1 Review: Gaming Performance

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

    Gaming performance on the Onenuts Nut 1 was very good thanks to the Amlogic S912’s improved GPU.

    Whether playing Jetpack Joyride or maxing out Beach Buggy Racing, everything generally played well. I did experience one instance of minor framerate drops in Beach Buggy Racing when there were a lot of effects on screen.

    Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

    Bluetooth worked fine however I did have issues pairing up my GameSir G4S (read my review) via the Onenuts’ Bluetooth menu as it said it was paired but wouldn’t work.

    I actually had to go into the standard Android settings to get it paired. Thankfully, the GameSir G4S would automatically pair afterwards.

    Oddly, I tried pairing up a Bluetooth speaker via the same process and it worked fine so it seems this is a bug that could be fixed in a future firmware update.

    Onenuts Nut 1 Review: Benchmarks

    BenchmarkScore
    Antutu 6.2.138285
    3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited9975
    3DMark Ice Storm Extreme6190
    3DMark Slingshot Extreme401

    Verdict

    The Onenuts Nut 1 is a pretty standard Android TV box with a few bugs. Whilst I liked the launcher, simplified setup process and gaming performance, bugs such as the one with Bluetooth were disappointing and could cause issues for those who aren’t tech savvy.

    Media playback was fine, though home theatre enthusiasts who want automatic framerate switching should look elsewhere.

    Pros

    • Good gaming and media playback support
    • Feature-packed remote
    • Attractive blue metal case

    Cons

    • Netflix limited to 480p
    • No Automatic Framerate Switching in Kodi
    • Buggy Bluetooth Pairing

    Getting One

    The Onenuts Nut 1 is available directly from Tomato.

    Check Price at Tomato

    Sunvell T95Z Plus Android TV Box Review

    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 Price at GearBest

    In This Review

    Sunvell T95Z Plus Technical Specifications

    General

    • Processor
      AMLogic S912
    • CPU CPU
      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.

      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.264Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
      1080p24 HEVC
      4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
      4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
      1080p VP8Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
      720p Hi10p
      1080p Hi10pUnwatchable – 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 Price at GearBest

      Alternatively, it’s available from the following stores:

      Probox2 Air Android TV Box Review

      The Probox2 Air is a new Amlogic S905X Android TV box from the company. How good is it? Read on to find out!

      I want to say thanks to W2Comp for sending me a sample to review. Check it out at their store below.

      Check Price at Amazon

      In This Review

      Probox2 Air Technical Specifications

      General

      • Processor
        AMLogic S905X
      • CPU CPU
        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
      • Other Features
        IR Sensor
      • Power
        DC 5V/2A

      Interfaces

      • Video Output
        HDMI 2.0
        Composite
      • Audio Output
        HDMI 2.0
      • Other Interfaces
        2 x USB 2.0
        MicroSD Card Slot

      Connectivity

      • WiFi
        802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz)
      • Ethernet
        100Mbps
      • Bluetooth
        4.0

      Physical

      • Dimensions
        99x107.5x16.3mm
      • Weight
        190g

      What’s in the Box?

      probox2-air-review-inside-the-box

      Inside the box, you’ll get:

      • Probox2 Air Android TV Box
      • Power Adapter
      • IR Remote
      • HDMI Cable
      • English User Manual

      Probox2 Air Review: Hardware

      The Probox2 Air a is pretty traditional looking Android TV box, despite the company boasting it was designed in Sweden.

      It’s a traditional looking black square, with a Probox2 logo on the top and ports on the sides and rear of the unit.

      probox2-air-review-06

      The case has a nice rubberised matte finish which helps minimize fingerprints.

      In terms of ports, the left side of the unit has a USB 2.0 port and microSD card slot whilst the right features the wifi antenna port.

      probox2-air-review-left

      As you’ve already guessed, most of the ports are around the back. Here you’ve got DC In, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI out, Ethernet and Optical audio out.

      probox2-air-review-back

      I really wish that Probox2 had added at least one front facing USB port, as plugging in USB devices on the sides or rear can be a little awkward.

      In terms of remotes, there’s actually two available for the Probox2 Air. The included IR remote is a typical IR remote with media controls and shortcut keys. The buttons are clicky like most cheap included remotes. It’s functional but could definitely be improved.

      probox2-air-review-ir-remote

      Now, I always recommend an air mouse for the best experience and Probox2 have their own solution.

      The Remote is available as part of a bundle. It’s a decent air mouse, with media controls, microphone for voice recognition and gaming controls. For more info, check my previous review of it here.

      probox2-air-review-remote-plus-air-mouse

      Probox2 Air Review: Software

      The Probox2 Air automatically powers up when plugged in. A cold boot takes around 30 seconds with a wireless keyboard and mouse connected.

      There’s a setup wizard which takes you through the setup process on first boot which goes a long way towards making the Probox2 Air more user-friendly compared to some of the other Android TV boxes on the market.

      probox2-air-review-setup-wizard

      The Probox2’s Apex user interface is attractive and minimal. Adopting a grey color scheme and flat tiles for apps, it looks very modern. There’s also a switch function that allows quick access to your favorite launcher if you prefer.

      probox2-air-review-apex-ui-01

      There’s a few pre-installed apps such as Happy Cast for AirPlay streaming, Netflix, as well as Kodi 16.1 (pre-loaded with a number of add-ons). The Google Play store is also available so you can install your favorite apps.

      The Probox2 Air is also rooted out of the box for those that need it.

      OTA updates are supported for easy updates. When I first booted up the box, I got a notification that an update was available. The updating process was painless, with the box downloading and automatically applying the update once I confirmed it.

      probox2-air-review-ota-updates

      The Amlogic S905X does a good job handling Android 6.0. Navigating through Google’s OS feels snappy. I did find that some apps took a second to close which seems to be common across Amlogic S905/S905X Android TV boxes.

      HDMI CEC is also available under the box’s settings though I wasn’t able to get it working with my Samsung TV so I’m not sure if it’s a firmware or compatibility issue.

      Probox2 Air Review: Media Playback

      probox2-air-review-kodi

      Video playback was tested using Kodi 16.1 from Google Play.

      CodecVideo Performance (Kodi 16.1)
      1080p 3D SBS H.264
      1080p 3D ABL H.264Needed to disable amcodec in Kodi Settings
      1080p24 H.264
      1080p High Bitrate H.264
      1080p60 H.264
      720p50 H.264
      1080i25 H.264
      4K 30FPS H.264Needed to disable amcodec in Kodi Settings
      4K 60FPS H.264Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
      1080p24 HEVC
      4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
      4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
      1080p VP8
      720p Hi10p
      1080p Hi10pUnwatchable – Decoding Issues
      1080p MPEG2
      1080p VC1
      Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)

      Media playback on the Probox2 Air was generally good, handling all of the codecs without issue. I did notice that, in order to get some of the test samples to play, I needed to disable Amcodec in Kodi’s settings.

      Automatic framerate switching is unfortunately not supported, so it’s something to take note of.

      Streaming 4K video from an NFS share via WiFi worked perfectly without any buffering which is great for those with wireless setups.

      probox2-air-review-05

      5.1 Audio Passthrough

      Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine via Kodi 16.1

      Netflix

      Netflix is compatible with the Probox2 Air. However, as it isn’t a Netflix-certified device, you can only watch it in SD quality.

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

      External Storage Support

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

      Probox2 Air Review: Gaming Performance

      probox2-air-review-beach-buggy-racing

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

      The Amlogic S905X doesn’t have the most powerful GPU and this is reflected during the gaming tests.

      The 2D Jetpack Joyride plays smoothly. Beach Buggy Racing also achieved a playable framerat, though there were noticeable framerate drops when there’s a lot of action on screen.

      probox2-air-review-jetpack-joyride

      Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

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

      Probox2 Air Review: Benchmarks

      BenchmarkScore
      Antutu 6.1.434151
      3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited7042
      3DMark Ice Storm Extreme4284
      GeekBench 4.0.1 Single Core660
      GeekBench 4.0.1 Multi Core1652

      Verdict

      probox2-air-review-06

      The Probox2 Air is a decent Android TV box from the company. Although gaming performance was predictably average thanks to the Amlogic S905X, media playback was generally good (providing you don’t need automatic framerate switching). As long as you’re aware of it’s limitations, the Probox2 Air is a decent Android TV box.

      Pros

      • Intuitive UI with Setup Wizard
      • Lots of customisation

      Cons

      • Netflix limited to 480p
      • No Automatic Framerate Switching in Kodi
      • Average Gaming Performance

      Getting One

      The Probox2 Air is available from W2Comp directly or via their Amazon and eBay stores.

      Check Price at Amazon

      Ugoos UT3 Plus Impressions: An Android TV Box with HDMI Recording

      The Ugoos UT3 Plus is a new Android TV box powered by the Rockchip RK3288.

      It’s also one of the few Android TV boxes that feature HDMI In, allowing you to watch and record from other devices.

      I want to say thanks to Ugoos for sending me a sample to review.

      Ugoos UT3 Plus Technical Specifications

      General

      • Processor
        Rockchip RK3288
      • CPU CPU
        Quad-Core Cortex-A17 @ 1.8ghz
      • GPU
        Quad-Core Mali-T764
      • Operating System
        Android 5.1.1 Lollypop
      • RAM
        2GB DDR3
      • Storage
        16GB NAND Flash
        Micro SD Card slot (up to 32GB)
      • Other Features
        IR Sensor
        External Wifi Antenna
      • Power
        DC 5V/3A

      Interfaces

      • Video Output
        HDMI 1.4
        Composite
      • Audio Output
        HDMI 1.4
        SP-DIF
      • Other Interfaces
        3 x USB 2.0
        Micro SD Card Slot

      Connectivity

      • WiFi
        802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.8GHz)
      • Ethernet
        1000Mbps
      • Bluetooth
        4.0

      Physical

        What’s in the Box?

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Inside-The-Box

        Inside the box, you’ll get:

        • Ugoos UT3 Plus unit
        • WiFi Antenna
        • Power Adapter
        • IR Remote
        • USB to USB cable
        • HDMI Cable
        • English User Manual

        I love that Ugoos have even included their own branded HDMI cable. It’s a nice touch.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-HDMI-Cable-01

        Ugoos UT3 Plus Impressions

        The Ugoos UT3 Plus is a fairly typical looking Android box. It’s a stardard black box with a nice embossed Ugoos logo on the front. It’s got a matte finish which will keeps the fingerprints away.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Front

        The left side houses the wifi antenna port and the power button.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Left

        The right side of the unit has AV out, the recovery button, micro SD card slot, USB OTG port and HDMI In.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Right

        The remainder of the ports are on the back. You’ve got Ethernet, 2 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI out, Optical out ad the DC In port.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Back

        I have to say that the port layout is a little awkward. Having the AV and HDMI In ports on the right side means that you’ll need to leave some space to route additional cables. I also wish there was a front USB port for easy access.

        Ugoos UT3 Plus Impressions

        The Ugoos UT3 Plus boots automatically when plugged in. When it boots up, you can choose the standard Android launcher or Ugoos’ TV-friendly launcher.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Android-01

        Ugoos have pre-installed a couple of apps, including an app installer, a few Rockchip apps and Ugoos Kodi – a custom Kodi fork optimised for Ugoos devices.

        The Google Play store works and Over-The-Air (OTA) update functionality is built in too (though there weren’t any available).

        You’ll also get Ugoos’ various customisations baked into the OS, such as one-click rooting, hardware monitor and customisable fan and power LED settings.

        It’s added features like these which makes me really like Ugoos’ products.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Android-Settings-02

        The Rockchip RK3288 is still one of the most capable chipsets around and it handles the OS well. I didn’t get to play around too much but it definitely felt responsive.

        I fired up Ugoos Kodi for a quick media playback test. My h.264 and h.265 samples played back perfectly. Automatic frame rate switching also worked once enabled in settings.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-Ugoos-Kodi

        I also tested streaming over wifi, streaming 4K h.264 videos without issue.

        HDMI In is the biggest differentiator here and Ugoos have included both HDMI recording and Picture-in-Picture (PiP) support.

        Picture-in-Picture can be enabled via the power menu (for some reason). When enabled, it’ll display a movable and resizable window that shows whatever you have connected to the HDMI In port.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-PiP-02
        I’ve hooked up another Android box to the Ugoos UT3 Plus’ HDMI port

        HDMI recording is handled via the HDMI In app. It’s UI will immediately be familiar to those who have used Zidoo’s devices with HDMI recording such as the Zidoo X9.

        Ugoos-UT3-Plus-Review-HDMI-Recording

        However, it’s clear that the recording quality has improved over the Zidoo X9. Videos have far less artifacts. I’ll upload a recording sample to my YouTube channel in the next couple of days.

        I also ran a few benchmarks. Despite the Rockchip RK3288 being somewhat old (in tech terms), it’s still one of the most powerful TV box chips around for both CPU and GPU performance and the benchmarks back this up.

        The Ugoos UT3 Plus scored 59289 on Antutu 6.2.1. 3DMark scores were also strong, achieving 14152 on Ice Storm Unlimited and 9307 on Ice Storm Extreme.

        Verdict So Far

        I’m really liking the Ugoos UT3 Plus at this stage. With the Rockchip RK3288 being a solid chip for apps and gaming, it’s clear Ugoos’ latest Android device has plenty of power.

        Adding in HDMI recording, Ugoos’ value-added features and strong customer support makes the Ugoos UT3 Plus a solid choice.

        Keep posted for my detailed review in the coming days.

        Getting One

        The Ugoos UT3 Plus isn’t available for purchase at the time of writing.

        However, GearBest have a listing showing it for around $118.

        WeTek Hub Android TV Box Impressions

        The WeTek Hub is the company’s latest Android TV box powered by the Amlogic S905-H. The H means that the WeTek Hub has licenced Dolby codecs, so audio passthrough should function in all apps – not just Kodi.

        I want to say thanks to WeTek for sending me a sample to review. You can buy the WeTek Hub from their official store here.

        Check Price at WeTek

        WeTek Hub Technical Specifications

        General

        • Processor
          AMLogic S905-H
        • CPU CPU
          Quad-Core Cortex-A53 up to 2.0GHz
        • GPU
          Penta-Core ARM® Mali™-450
        • Operating System
          Android 6.0 Marshmallow
        • RAM
          1GB DDR3
        • Storage
          8GB eMMC
        • Other Features
          IR Sensor
        • Power
          DC 5V/2A

        Interfaces

        • Video Output
          HDMI 2.0
        • Audio Output
          HDMI 2.0
        • Other Interfaces
          1 x USB 2.0
          MicroSD Card Slot

        Connectivity

        • WiFi
          802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz)
        • Ethernet
          1000Mbps
        • Bluetooth
          4.0

        Physical

        • Dimensions
          71 x 71 x 20mm

        What’s in the Box?

        WeTek-Hub-Review-Inside-The-Box

        There’s a lot WeTek have packed in. Inside the box, you’ll get:

        • WeTek Hub unit
        • WiFi Antenna
        • Power Adapter
        • 3x International Plugs
        • IR Remote
        • IR Extension Cable
        • 3M Tape (For attaching the IR Extension and/or the WeTek Hub to your TV)
        • Reset Tool
        • HDMI Cable
        • English User Manual

        WeTek Hub Impressions

        I’ve seen some compact Android TV boxes  but the WeTek Hub is another level. This thing is seriously tiny.

        It also feels solid and has some weight behind it. When all the cables are connected, it didn’t move, avoiding a common problem with small devices.

        The unit is covered in ports. The left side houses the wifi antenna port, micro SD card slot, UART port, IR Input and a USB 2.0 port.

        WeTek-Hub-Review-Left

        The remainder of the ports are on the back. You’ve got the DC In port, Gigabit Ethernet port and HDMI output.

        WeTek-Hub-Review-Rear

        I would’ve loved to have a second USB port at the front for easy access. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

        Booting up the unit for the first time gives you a handy Setup Wizard that guides you through the setup process. It makes everything dead-simple and makes the system so much easier to use – particularly if you’re not used to the standard Android TV box setup process.

        WeTek-Hub-Review-Wizard-01

        It’s been a while since I’ve used a WeTek UI bit thankfully the one that comes with the WeTek Hub is great.

        Using a subdued color scheme, it features flat tiles for apps and it nails the modern, minimalist aesthetic.

        WeTek-Hub-Review-Android-01

        There’s a few apps pre-installed including Kodi 17, WeTek Media Player (which is based on Kodi), ES File Explorer, YouTube and several more.

        Navigating the OS is a breeze as everything is pretty intuitive. The Amlogic S905-H appears to handle it well, though I did encounter the odd bit of sluggishness when exiting apps.

        OTA updates are supported and WeTek have already released a firmware update adding new features such as a VNC server.

        WeTek-Hub-Review-OTA

        A quick media playback test in Kodi 17 is promising. Both h.264 and h.265 videos played back fine. Automatic framerate switching also worked as expected once enabled in settings.

        WeTek-Hub-Review-Kodi-17

        Wireless streaming also worked well, with 4K h264 seeming to stream fine from an NFS share.

        Widevine Level 1 DRM is supported so Netflix plays back in 1080p! However, audio is limited to 2.0 only unfortunately.

        Verdict So Far

        The WeTek Hub has impressed me so far. The hardware feels incredibly well made and the software is polished – as is usually the case with WeTek devices.

        Add the fact that it’s one of the few Android TV boxes that supports HD Netflix, and the WeTek Hub is looking very promising indeed.

        Keep posted for my detailed review in the coming days.

        Getting One

        The WeTek Hub is available from WeTek directly.

        Check Price at WeTek