Android TV Box Reviews

HiMedia Q5 Pro Review: HiMedia Strikes Again!

The HiMedia Q5 Pro is the company’s latest Android TV box. Following in the footsteps of the excellent HiMedia Q10 Pro, the HiMedia is effectively a budget version, losing the 3.5″ Harddrives Bay  and halting the amount of onboard storage in exchange for a smaller footprint and price.

Thanks to HiMedia for providing me a sample to review. The HiMedia Q5 Pro is available from Amazon, Aliexpress, W2Comp and eBay.

Check Price at Amazon

In This Review

HiMedia Q5 Pro Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Hisilicon Hi3798C V200
  • CPU CPU
    Quad-core 64bit Cortex A53 CPU
  • GPU
    ARM® Mali™-T720
  • Operating System
    Android 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    8GB eMMC
    SD Card Slot
  • Other Features
    IR Reciever/Transmitter
    LED Display
    Aluminium Case
  • Power
    12V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
    Composite
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
    SP-DIF
    Composite
  • Other Interfaces
    1x USB 3.0
    2x USB 2.0

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    Dual Band Wireless AC
  • Ethernet
    Gigabit
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

What’s in the Box?

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you’ll get:

  • HiMedia Q5 Pro Android TV box
  • Power Adapter
  • Learning IR Remote
  • HDMI Cable
  • English Instruction Manual

HiMedia Q5 Pro Review: Design

The HiMedia Q5 Pro borrows its style from HiMedia’s last compact Android TV box, the HiMedia Q8. The unit is a sleek aluminium block, with its front panel broken by a large LED display. The case shows the same attention to detail as other HiMedia devices, with chamfered edges and a matte finish that hides fingerprints nicely.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Front

There are ports located all over the unit. The right side houses a single USB 2.0 port.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Right

The left side features 2 USB 2.0 ports and a micro SD card slot.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Left

As you’ve probably guessed by now, most of the ports are on the rear. Here, you’ve got optical audio output, composite video output, HDMI out, Ethernet, a reset button and DC in.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Back

The included remote is the same one included with the HiMedia Q10 Pro. It’s got plenty of functionality, including a solid set of multimedia controls, Android buttons and a mouse mode. It can also learn IR commands, allowing you to map your TV/Amp’s volume and power buttons to the HiMedia Q5 Pro’s remote.

The remote’s buttons are nice and quiet too, rather than the “clicky” feel like some of the cheap included remotes.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Remote

HiMedia Q5 Pro Review: Using It

Booting up the unit takes around 25 seconds with a keyboard and mouse connected. Standby isn’t supported so you’ll have to leave it idle or power it up every time which is frustrating. It can be powered up via the remote however.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-02

HiMedia have kept the same launcher as the Q10 Pro, complete with its bright colors and flat tiles. It’s definitely one of the most attractive launchers available.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Android-01

The company has included a few apps out of the box. Facebook, Skype, Netflix, a TV-friendly version of YouTube, Kodi 16.1 and Happy Cast for AirPlay support are pre-installed. Google Play works as expected too. HiMedia have opted to not root the Q5 Pro out of the box so you’ll need to root it yourself if you need it.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Android-02

HiMedia have also kept their SAMBA server on the Q5 Pro. However, without the SATA port included with the Q10 Pro, you’ll need to rely on USB harddrives to add storage.

OTA updates are supported. However, there wasn’t any firmware updates available at the time of writing. The company does regularly release new firmware updates to fix issues and add new features however.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Android-04

The HiMedia Q5 Pro’s performance was excellent when using Android 5.1.1. Whether navigating the OS, browsing Kodi or launching apps, everything felt smooth.

The firmware seems to be stable, with only 3DMark crashing on me (though this has been an issue on a few boxes recently so I’m starting to suspect it’s an issue with the app).

HiMedia Q5 Pro Review: Media Playback

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Kodi

It was great to see HiMedia have included the latest version of Kodi pre-installed (16.1 at the time of writing). The company has also included the HiMedia Wrapper this time, modifying Kodi to use the HiMedia Player and enabling automatic framerate switching.

Codec Video Performance (Kodi 16.1)
1080p 3D SBS H.264 OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264 OK
1080p24 H.264 OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264 OK
1080p60 H.264 OK
720p50 H.264 OK
1080i25 H.264 OK
4K 30FPS H.264 OK
4K 60FPS H.264 NO

Unwatchable – Audio Out of Sync with Video

1080p24 HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC OK
1080p VP8 OK
720p Hi10p OK
1080p Hi10p NO
Unwatchable – Decoding Issues
1080p MPEG2 OK
1080p VC1 OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel) OK

Deinterlacing performance was good, as long as you turn off the Imprex engine. With Imprex switched on, my interlacing test video showed clear combing. However, watching standard interlaced footage appeared artifact free so your mileage may vary.

Automatic framerate switching is supported but only if you use HiMedia’s internal player. However, the HiMedia Wrapper APK will do the config for you and you just enable it under HiMedia’s playback settings.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Android-OTA

23.976FPS content appeared to play back fine, without any obvious stuttering.

I have to mention that Hisilicon’s Imprex 2.0 processing engine is quite nice, offering realtime image enhancements. I found that it generally improved images, adding some extra sharpness and depth to the image, particularly in darker scenes.

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine via Kodi 16.1

Netflix

Netflix works via the Netflix Android app, however, playback is limited to 480p like most Android boxes.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-04

AirPlay and MiraCast

Airplay via Happy Cast app worked well for both audio and video. AirPlay Mirroring worked on my iPhone 6 running iOS9 for videos and games, though streaming apps such as Netflix would cause the AirPlay stream to stop so I suspect it has something to do with DRM.

Miracast worked perfectly using my Samsung Galaxy S7.

External Storage Support

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

HiMedia Q5 Pro Review: Gaming Performance

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Jetpack-Joyride

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

Gaming on the HiMedia Q5 Pro was great, matching the performance seen on the HiMedia Q10 Pro.

The 2D title, Jetpack Joyride, played perfectly, without any lag.

Beach Buggy Racing played decently at maximum settings, achieving around 25-30fps depending on the action on the screen. Lowing the graphical settings improved performance however.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-Beach-Buggy-Racing

That said, if you’re wanting an Android box for gaming, the HiMedia Q5 Pro is probably not the ideal Android TV box for you.

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

My GameSir G4S (read my review) worked perfectly via Bluetooth and I was able to use it play Beach Buggy Racing.

As the box isn’t rooted, I wasn’t able to run SixAxis Compatibility Checker.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-07

HiMedia Q5 Pro 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

Wireless performance was fantastic on the HiMedia Q5 Pro, with upload and download speeds of 46.6Mbps and 44.6Mbps respectively on the 2.4GHz band and 102.7Mbps and 121.7Mbps on the 5Ghz band.

4K H.264 streamed fine wirelessly from an NFS share on my server.

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-05

Ethernet Performance

Ethernet performance was decent, with upload and download speeds of 597.9Mbps and 606.1Mbps respectively.

HiMedia Q5 Pro Review: Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
Antutu 6.0  40663
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited  N/A
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme  N/A
GeekBench 3 Single Core  697
GeekBench 3 Multi Core  2127

I wasn’t able to complete the 3DMark benchmarks as the app kept crashing whenever I tried to swipe to the other benchmarks. This appears to be an issue with the 3DMark app rather than the Q5 Pro.

HiMedia Q5 Pro Review: Power Consumption

Off Standby Idle 1080p24 Video Under Load
 0.7W  N/A  4.0W  4.8W  7.0W

Verdict

Himedia-Q5-Pro-Review-03

The HiMedia Q5 Pro is another excellent Android TV box from the company. It takes the excellent hardware of the HiMedia Q10 Pro and shapes it into a far more compact package, keeping all the goodness intact. Whilst it’s not a gaming powerhouse, those wanting a top-quality media player won’t go too far wrong with the HiMedia Q5 Pro.

Pros

  • Well-build and designed hardware
  • Intuitive UI
  • Solid video playback

Cons

  • Requires HiMedia Wrapper to be used in Kodi to access some features which can be unintuitive for some.
  • No standby mode
  • Average gaming performance

Getting One

The HiMedia Q5 Pro is available from Amazon, Aliexpress, W2Comp and eBay.

Check Price at Amazon

Zidoo X1 II Review: The Best RK3229 Android Box?

Zidoo are back with their first Rockchip RK3229 device running Android 4.4. Sporting the same unique design as the Zidoo X1 but in a bright yellow, is Zidoo’s latest any good? Read my Zidoo X1 II review to find out.

Read moreZidoo X1 II Review: The Best RK3229 Android Box?

DroidBOX T8S-Plus Review: The Most User-Friendly Android Box?

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus is an Android TV box powered by the Amlogic S812 and featuring 2GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage, wireless AC, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 and even a 2.5″ HDD slot.

However, the company adds a number of features on top of the hardware, including a number of pre-installed apps, Apple Airplay support, the DroidBOX Share streaming and support for OpenELEC that turns the unit into a pure Kodi appliance.

I want to say thanks to DroidBOX for sending me a sample to review. The company provided me their Gamer Edition bundle which comes with a 120GB SSD, the DroidBOX controller and VIP Plus airmouse.

Check Price at DroidBOX

An Update

Now, you’re probably wondering why there’s been such a delay between my impressions article and my review. It turns out that the issue I experienced during my impressions article happened again and DroidBOX advised me that it was caused by a faulty SATA cable that affected a small number of their units. They sent me out an improved SATA cable which fixed the issue. I can’t fault DroidBOX’s customer service.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Amlogic S812
  • CPU CPU
    Quadcore ARM Cortex A9 2.0GHz
  • GPU
    Octacore ARM Mali-450
  • Operating System
    Android 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    32GB
    SATA
  • Other Features
    IR Receiver
    Aluminium Case
  • Power
    DC 5V/3A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 1.4
    Composite
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 1.4
    SP-DIF
    RCA
  • Other Interfaces
    3x USB 2.0

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    Dual Band Wireless AC
  • Ethernet
    Gigabit
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

  • Dimensions
    115 x 115 x 25mm
  • Weight
    450g

What’s in the Box?

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you get:

  • DroidBOX T8-S Plus Unit
  • IR Remote
  • UK Power Adapter
  • HDMI Cable
  • Instruction Manual
  • Mounting Screws for the HDD tray

DroidBOX also offers a Gamers Edition, which bundles the DroidBOX T8-S Plus with a 120GB SSD, VIP Plus Airmouse Remote and DroidBOX Play gamepad which I’ll be reviewing separately.

The 120GB SSD in my unit was a Sandisk and DroidBOX have suggested they will be including branded SSDs in the bundle which is excellent.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Design

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus feels well-made, with it’s metal case. The actual unit looks very similar to devices like the Zidoo X9 or HiMedia H8. The black matte design features chamfered silver edges that looks great.

The front of the unit houses an IR reciever, LED display and power button.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Front

Ports are located on the right and rear of the unit. The right side houses a fullsize SD card slot, 3 USB 2.0 ports and a reset button.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Right

The rear of the unit has the WiFi antenna, DC In, Ethernet, HDMI, Composite ports and optical audio. The company tell me that the composite ports are not supported however.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Back

The 2.5″ hard drive tray is located underneath the unit and is secured with two screws, with the actual hard drive mounted to the removable plate with 4 screws.

The included remote is fairly comprehensive, with an impressive set of multimedia controls (including buttons for subtitles and audio amongst others) in addition to Android functions and a mouse mode.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Remote-01

The buttons are “clicky” so can be a little loud at times but overall I was pretty happy with the remote.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Remote-02

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Using It

The unit is powered up via the power button. A cold boot takes around 40 seconds with a mouse and keyboard connected. Unfortunately, there’s no standby mode so you’ll need to keep the unit on powered on all the time if you want it to always be available. You can power up the unit using the included IR remote or the VIP Plus airmouse however.

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus comes with a TV friendly launcher that reminds me that’s similar to the one seen on Probox’s devices. It uses square tiles that act solely as app shortcuts. There’s also a “My Favourites” panel that allows you to save a list of your favourite apps. Swiping over to the right reveals another two pages that you can add your favorite apps into.
DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-01

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus has a really cool feature that lets you use hard drives installed in the 2.5″ bay as internal storage. This means that you can install apps on it in addition to other multimedia. With games and apps growing in side, it’s great to be able to be able to add as much space as you need.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-Storage

The Droidbox T8-S Plus comes with a number of pre-installed apps including 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.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-02

That said, I feel that the launcher feels a little dated compared to some of those released by companies such as Zidoo and Himedia, with limited animations. Of course, it can always be changed in a future firmware update.

I really liked that DroidBOX have included a helper app that allows you to fix common issues automatically. It makes things so much easier to use.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-DroidBOX-Help-01

There’s links to guides on their YouTube channel, scripts for fixing issues or backing up your device and links to Quicksupport which leverages TeamViewer to allow the DroidBOX team to offer remote assistance. It’s an impressive package and makes the DroidBOX the most user-friendly Android device I’ve reviewed.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-DroidBOX-Help-02

OTA updates are supported, with the company regularly releasing firmware updates that fix bugs and add features. Since I’ve had the box, the company has already released at least two new firmware updates adding features and fixing bugs.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-OTA

DroidBOX Share

DroidBOX Share is DroidBOX’s sharing software that allows you to stream content to and from your smartphone to the DroidBOX.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-DroidBOX-Share-01

After navigating to the IP address displayed, you can download the DroidBOX Share app (available for Android/iOS/Windows).

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-DroidBOX-Share-02

The app’s got a heap of functionality, including the ability to stream media to and from your smartphone, use your phone as a remote or airmouse. I found it worked well.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-02

OpenELEC

OpenELEC is also pre-installed. A quick click on the DroidBOX Switch app in Android automatically boots the box into OpenELEC. If you’ve used OpenELEC before you know what to expect: an appliance-like experience based around Kodi.

Everything worked perfectly in OpenELEC and it was a really pleasant experience.

DroidBOX have also customised OpenELEC, adding scripts to install DroidBOX Cloud to enhance the unit’s capabilities.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Media Playback

DroidBOX Media Center is based on Kodi 16.0, with a few company-specific tweaks such as inclusion of the DroidBOX Repository, and a rather unattractive wallpaper.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Kodi-02

A quick multimedia test in DroidBOX Media Center was promising. 1080p24 H.264 and H.265 content played back fine. Automatic framerate switching also works after being enabled in Settings which is great, as few Android boxes actually support ot.

Codec DroidBOX Media Center OpenELEC
1080p 3D SBS H.264 OK OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264 OK OK
1080p24 H.264 OK OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264 OK OK
1080p60 H.264 OK OK
720p50 H.264 OK OK
1080i25 H.264 OK OK
4K 30FPS H.264 OK OK
4K 60FPS H.264 Unwatchable – Audio Out of Sync with Video Unwatchable – Audio Out of Sync with Video
1080p24 HEVC OK OK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC OK OK
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC OK OK
1080p VP8 OK OK
720p Hi10p OK OK
1080p Hi10p Unwatchable – Decoding Issues Unwatchable – Decoding Issues
1080p MPEG2 OK OK
1080p VC1 OK OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel) OK OK

Performance was identical whether I was running Android or OpenELEC, handling pretty much everything I threw at it.

Deinterlacing performance was good, without any obvious artifacting on interlaced samples.

Automatic framerate switching is supported inside Kodi once it’s enabled in Kodi’s settings.

23.976FPS content appeared to play back fine without any noticeable judder.

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine.

Netflix

Netflix works via the Netflix Android app, however, playback is limited to 480p like most Android boxes.

AirPlay, Miracast and Google Cast.

AirPlay worked perfectly on my iPhone 6 running iOS9. AirPlay Music, AirPlay Video and AirPlay Mirroring functioned as expected.

Miracast worked with my Samsung Galaxy S7 and I was able to mirror my screen onto the DroidBOX.

Google Cast also worked via YouTube, though other services such as Netflix aren’t supported.

External Storage Support

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

Gaming Performance

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Riptide-GP2

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

The DroidBOX T8S-Plus’ Amlogic S812 has a fairly powerful GPU so gaming performance was solid as expected.

Jetpack Joyride was silky smooth whilst Beach Buggy Racing was great on maximum settings. Even titles such as GTA San Andreas ran well when maxed out.

I did get a some slowdown when maxing out Riptide GP2 however, but this was occasional and the game remained very playable.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-GTA-San-Andreas

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

I didn’t have any issues hooking up my DroidBOX Play gamepad via Bluetooth to play the various games I tested. My Gamesir G3 also worked via Bluetooth.

Sixaxis Compatibility Checker reported the DroidBOX T8-S Plus as compatible too.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus 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

Wireless performance was respectable on the DroidBOX T8-S Plus, with upload and download speeds of 44.5Mbps and 43.2Mbps respectively on the 2.4GHz band and 65.7Mbps and 82.7Mbps on the 5Ghz band.

Wireless streaming was also good, streaming my 1080p and 4K H.264 samples from my NFS share without any noticeable buffering.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-03

Ethernet Performance

Ethernet performance was average, not reaching half of the Gigabit standard. Upload and download speeds were 445.4Mbps and 418.3Mbps respectively.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
Antutu 6.0.1 41224
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 7584
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme 6011
GeekBench 3 Single Core 554
GeekBench 3 Multi Core 1407

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Review: Power Consumption

OS Off Standby Idle 1080p24 Video Under Load
Android  0.4W  N/A 5.4W 6.7W 11.9W
OpenELEC  0.4W  N/A 5.4W 6.2W 6.7W

Verdict

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-04

The DroidBOX T8S-Plus is well-built and thought out device. DroidBOX have created a device that performs well and the company really added to the hardware. Their value added software is great, particularly the helper app which is perfect for those not familiar with the inner workings of Android. It really is the most user friendly Android box I’ve used to date.

It’s not perfect but it’s a solid package. Add in the regular firmware updates, the ability to expand your storage via an SDD plus the other inclusions make the DroidBOX T8-S Plus a winner.

Getting One

You can purchase the DroidBOX from the company directly or via Amazon.

If you’re wanting an all-in-one solution, I’d fork out for the Gamer’s Edition which packages the DroidBOX T8-S Plus with a 120GB SSD, DroidBOX Play gamepad and the DroidBOX VIP Plus Mini Keyboard which is great value for the extra cash.

Check Price at DroidBOX

Himedia Q10 Pro Review: A Premium Android Powerhouse?

The Himedia Q10 Pro is the company’s latest Android TV box and one of the few Android boxes using the quadcore Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 SoC. With a 3.5″ HDD bay, touch-enabled control panel and a premium pricetag, is Himedia’s latest device a winner? Read our Himedia Q10 Pro review to find out.

I want to say thanks to Himedia for sending me a sample to review. You can pick up the Himedia Q10 Pro from Amazon and GeekBuying.

Please note: HiMedia have released firmware 2.0.6 for the HiMedia Q10 Pro that supports 4K UHD Blu-ray navigation on Android 7.0.

Check Price at Amazon

Himedia Q10 Pro Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Hisilicon Hi3798C V200
  • CPU CPU
    Quad-core 64bit Cortex A53 CPU
  • GPU
    ARM® Mali™-T720
  • Operating System
    Android 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB eMMC
    SD Card Slot
    SATA 3.0 (Up to 8TB)
  • Other Features
    IR Reciever/Transmitter
    Touch Panel
    Aluminium Case
  • Power
    12V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
    Composite
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
    SP-DIF
    Composite
  • Other Interfaces
    1x USB 3.0
    1x USB 3.0 Type B
    2x USB 2.0

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    Dual Band Wireless AC
  • Ethernet
    Gigabit
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

  • Dimensions
    226 x 180 x 50mm
  • Weight
    950g

What’s in the Box?

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you’ll get:

  • Q10 Pro Android TV box
  • Power Adapter
  • Learning IR Remote
  • HDMI Cable
  • English Instruction Manual

Himedia Q10 Pro Review: Design

The Himedia Q10 Pro is a seriously huge device size. Coming in at a beastly 226x180x50mm, it’s around the same size as a Playstation 4.

However, it’s massive frame is put to good use. The front panel features a large LED display, a set of touch controls and the power button.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Front

The right side has a lock that slides to open top of the unit, exposing the 3.5″ internal SATA bay.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-05

Jumping over to the left, you’ve got a USB 3.0 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-LeftMost of the ports are on the back. From left to right, you’ve got USB 3.0 Type B port, optical audio out, composite video out, ethernet, HDMI out, an firmware upgrade button and DC in.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Back

The remote that comes with the Himedia Q10 Pro is pretty much identical to the one that shipped with the Himedia H8. Thankfully, it’s pretty nice including the key Android functions, dedicated media controls and even buttons that can be learned from other controls so you can control or amp from the one remote. It’s a nice touch. The keys themselves are reasonably quiet too.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-09

Himedia Q10 Pro Review: Using It

Booting up the unit takes around 25 seconds with a keyboard and mouse connected. Standby unfortunately doesn’t seem to be supported so you’ll have to leave it idle or power it up every time. It can be powered up via the remote however.

The Android launcher is a modernized version of the one seen on the Himedia H8, keeping the same bright multicolored tiles and comprehensive skinning whilst using a flatter, Material-inspired design.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Android-01

There’s a few preinstalled apps, including Facebook, Skype, Kodi 15.2 and Happy Cast for AirPlay support. Google Play works as expected but the box isn’t rooted.

You can also use the device as a fileserver using the built-in Samba server which is great, particularly given that you can chuck in a massive harddrive and get the unit to double up as a fileserver.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Android-02

Interestingly, the unit has two 12GB partitions: One with 11.46GB/12.12GB free and the other with 11.36GB/12.02GB free.

The Himedia Q10 Pro is also comes with OTA update support. I wasn’t able to test it out however, as I already had the latest firmware pre-installed. The company does have a reputation of releasing firmware updates to fix issues however.

Android performance was good without any noticeable lag, whether it’s navigating Kodi, launching apps or just using Android itself. The firmware itself feels pretty stable and the only crashes I experienced were with 3DMark (which has been giving me grief on a few boxes).

Himedia Q10 Pro Review: Media Playback

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Android-Kodi

The included version of Kodi was out of date so I installed the latest version from the Google Play store to complete my tests (Kodi 16.1 at the time of writing) and used the Himedia Wrapper to enable automatic framerate switching.

Codec Video Performance (Kodi 16.1)
1080p 3D SBS H.264  OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264 OK
1080p24 H.264 OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264 OK
1080p60 H.264 OK
720p50 H.264 OK
1080i25 H.264 OK
4K 30FPS H.264 OK
4K 60FPS H.264 Unwatchable – Audio Out of Sync with Video
1080p24 HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC OK
1080p VP8 OK
720p Hi10p OK
1080p Hi10p Unwatchable – Decoding Issues
1080p MPEG2 OK
1080p VC1 OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel) OK

Deinterlacing performance was good, without any obvious artifacting on interlaced samples.

Automatic framerate switching is supported but to get it working in Kodi, you’ll need to get it to use Himedia’s internal player as it doesn’t work using Kodi’s native player. The Himedia Wrapper APK will do the config for you and then you just have to enable it under Playback settings.

23.976FPS content appeared to play back fine, without any obvious stuttering. However, I’ve heard reports of occasional stutters on long videos.

Please note: HiMedia have released firmware 2.0.6 for the HiMedia Q10 Pro that supports 4K UHD Blu-ray navigation on Android 7.0.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Android-03

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine via Kodi 16.1

Netflix

Netflix works via the Netflix Android app, however, playback is limited to 480p like most Android boxes.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-04

AirPlay and MiraCast

Using the included Happy Cast app, AirPlay worked intermittently for audio and video. AirPlay Mirroring wouldn’t function at all. However, a future app update will likely fix this issue.

Alternatively, you could pick up AirPlay/DLNA Receiver (PRO) from the Google Play Store.

Miracast worked perfectly using my Samsung Galaxy S7.

External Storage Support

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

Himedia Q10 Pro Review: Gaming Performance

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Beach-Buggy-Racing

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

The Hisilicon Hi3798C V200’s Mali-T720 GPU so I expected decent gaming performance and the Himedia Q10 Pro performed well. Beach Buggy Racing played back perfectly at maximum settings whilst maintaining a fairly solid 30fps.

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

I didn’t have any issues hooking up my GameSir G3 via Bluetooth and use it to play Beach Buggy Racing.

As the box isn’t rooted, I wasn’t able to run SixAxis Compatibility Checker.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-03

Himedia Q10 Pro 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

Wireless performance was fantastic on the Himedia Q10 Pro, with upload and download speeds of 44.0Mbps and 36.6Mbps respectively on the 2.4GHz band and 115.3Mbps and 135.2Mbps on the 5Ghz band.

4K H.264 streamed fine wirelessly from an NFS share on my server.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-08

Ethernet Performance

Ethernet performance was decent, with upload and download speeds of 595.8Mbps and 644.4Mbps respectively.

Himedia Q10 Pro Review: Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
Antutu 6.0 37326
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Crashed Before Benchmark Selection Screen
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme Crashed Before Benchmark Selection Screen
GeekBench 3 Single Core 687
GeekBench 3 Multi Core 2187

I wasnt able to complete the 3DMark benchmarks as the app kept crashing whenever I tried to swipe to the other benchmarks. This isn’t the first box that I’ve seen this happen on so I suspect the issue is with the 3DMark app rather than the Q10 Pro.

Himedia Q10 Pro Review: Power Consumption

Off Standby Idle 1080p24 Video Under Load
 0.8W  N/A 5.0W 6.8W  8W

Should You Get One?

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-10

The Himedia Q10 is an excellent Android TV box. Although the pricetag may be a little high for some, it’s exceptional performance and features make this a solid choice for those wanting a good all-round Android box that offers top image quality and respectable gaming grunt.

Where to Buy the HiMedia 10 Pro

The Himedia Q10 Pro is available from the following stores:

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HiMedia Q10 Pro Android TV Box Impressions

The HiMedia Q10 Pro is a new Android TV box interestingly powered by the quadcore Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 SoC, feautures a 3.5″ HDD slot and runs Android 5.1.1.

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

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Himedia Q10 Pro Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Hisilicon Hi3798C V200
  • CPU CPU
    Quad-core 64bit Cortex A53 CPU
  • GPU
    ARM® Mali™-T720
  • Operating System
    Android 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB eMMC
    SD Card Slot
    SATA 3.0 (Up to 8TB)
  • Other Features
    IR Reciever/Transmitter
    Touch Panel
    Aluminium Case
  • Power
    12V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
    Composite
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
    SP-DIF
    Composite
  • Other Interfaces
    1x USB 3.0
    1x USB 3.0 Type B
    2x USB 2.0

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    Dual Band Wireless AC
  • Ethernet
    Gigabit
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

  • Dimensions
    226 x 180 x 50mm
  • Weight
    950g

What’s in the Box?

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you’ll get:

  • Q10 Pro Android TV box
  • Power Adapter
  • Learning IR Remote
  • HDMI Cable
  • English Instruction Manual

Himedia Q10 Pro Impressions

Unboxing the Himedia Q10 Pro, I was surprised at the unit’s MASSIVE size. I’ve seen a number of chunky Android TV boxes but this is a beast at 226x180x50mm. I’d probably put it on par with a Playstation 4 in terms of size.

The Q10 Pro definitely puts its large frame to good use. The front panel features a large LED display and a set of touch controls plus the power button.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Front

The right side has the open button to access the 3.5″ internal SATA bay. Sliding the release switch allows you to pop open the whole top of the case and reveal the 3.5″ HDD bay.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Right

Jumping over to the left, you’ve got a USB 3.0 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-LeftMost of the ports are on the back though. From left to right, you’ve got USB 3.0 Type B port, optical audio out, composite video out, ethernet, HDMI out, an firmware upgrade button and DC in.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Back

The included remote is pretty nice too. It’s got a full suite of controls, a mouse mode and several buttons that can be learned from other IR remotes so you can control your TV from the Q10 Pro’s remote which is nice.

Booting up the unit takes around 25 seconds with a keyboard and mouse connected. Standby unfortunately doesn’t seem to be supported so you’ll have to leave it idle or power it up every time.

The Android launcher is essentially identical to that seen on the Himedia Q10, with its bright multicolored tiles and comprehensive skinning for everything including the Settings.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Android-01

There’s a few preinstalled apps, including Facebook, Skype, Kodi 15.2 and Happy Cast for AirPlay support. You can also use the device as a fileserver using the built-in Samba server too which is nice. Google Play works as expected. The box isn’t rooted out of the box.

The Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 handles Android well and I didn’t experience any slowdowns at all.

A quick media test with the latest Kodi 16.1 from the Google Play store (it automatically updated when I logged into my Google account) saw both my 1080p H.264 and H.265 samples play back perfectly.

Automatic framerate switching is supported but you’ll need to set up Kodi to use Himedia’s internal player as it doesn’t work using Kodi’s native player. Thankfully, there’s a Himedia Wrapper APK that can do the config for you.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Android-Kodi

Video streaming via wifi seems to be good. My 4K H.264 videos streamed from my NFS share without any buffering so networking performance seems respectable at this stage.

The Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 comes with a Mali-T720 GPU so I expected decent gaming performance and the Himedia Q10 Pro performed well. Beach Buggy Racing played back perfectly at maximum settings whilst maintaining a fairly solid 30fps.

Himedia-Q10-Pro-Review-Beach-Buggy-Racing

In terms of benchmarks, the Himedia Q10 Pro scored 37326 on Antutu 6.0.4 whilst it scored 687 and 2187 on GeekBench 3’s Single and Multi-Core tests respectively.

Verdict So Far

I’m impressed with the Himedia Q10 Pro so far. Though its massive frame may not be for everyone, its performance seems to be solid at this stage and the 3.5″ bay is a massive plus for those wanting to store all their media in one place.

Getting One

The Himedia Q10 Pro is available from Amazon, Aliexpress, W2Comp and eBay.

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Rikomagic MK06 Review: How’s Rikomagic’s First Amlogic S905 Box?

The Rikomagic MK06 is the company’s latest Android TV box and their first using the quadcore Amlogic S905. Opting for lower-end specifications with a price to match, is Rikomagic’s latest device a winner? Read our Rikomagic MK06 review to find out.

Thanks to Rikomagic for sending me a sample to review.

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Rikomagic MK06 Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Amlogic S905
  • CPU CPU
    Quad-Core Cortex-A53 up to 2.0GHz
  • GPU
    Penta-Core ARM® Mali™-450
  • Operating System
    Android Lollipop 5.1.1
  • RAM
    1GB
  • Storage
    8GB
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
  • Power
    DC 5V/3A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0, SP-DIF
  • Other Interfaces
    3 x USB 2.0

Connectivity

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

Physical

  • Dimensions
    116 x 112 x 19 mm
  • Weight
    245g

What’s In The Box?

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Inside-The-Box

Rikomagic have provided a fairly comprehensive set of inclusions in the box:

  • 1x Rikomagic MK06 unit
  • 1x Power Adapter
  • 1x IR Remote Control
  • 1x HDMI Cable
  • 1x USB-to-USB cable
  • 1x English Instruction Manual

Rikomagic MK06 Review: Design

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Front

Rikomagic have played it safe with the design of their latest Android TV box. Reusing the case from the MK12 and MK68, the Rikomagic MK06 is a black square with a single rounded corner.

The top plate features a subtle geometric pattern and the whole unit is made of glossy plastic. Unfortunately, this means its probe to fingerprints so you’ll need to to keep it clean.

The design itself is unobtrusive however and fairly practical, with ample room to plug in cables and USB devices that you need to.

Ports are located on the left and rear of the unit. The left side houses two fullsize USB 2.0 ports and a micro SD card slot.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Left

Jumping over to the rear of MK06, there’s DC In, optical audio, Ethernet, HDMI out and another fullsize USB 2.0 port.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Back

Rikomagic have continued their “reuse” approach, packing in the same IR remote we’ve seen with their other Android boxes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I’ve always found Rikomagic’s remotes pretty decent.

All the key functionality is here, with Android commands, directional buttons and volume controls. There’s even a mouse mode if you need it, though is suggest forking out for an Airmouse such as the Rikomagic MK705 for a much better experience.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Remote

Thankfully, the buttons are pretty quiet, unlike some of the cheap included remotes I’ve seen to date so they’re not distracting when used. Range was fine, able to reach across my lounge room with ease.

Rikomagic MK06 Review: Using It

The Rikomagic MK06 boots automatically when plugged in. A cold boot takes around 59 seconds With a wireless keyboard and mouse plugged in. Resuming from standby is instant.

The Rikomagic MK06’s UI is the same as we’ve seen on previous models, with various tiles for key apps, themed collections of apps (such as games) and the app drawer.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Android-01

The launcher is definitely TV friendly, though animations aren’t smooth enough, making it feel less polished compared to other launchers I’ve seen shipped with TV boxes.

There’s a few preinstalled apps, with Kodi 15.2, Media Center, Miracast, Skype and, interestingly, iPerf all making an appearance. Kodi 15.2 came with a whole bunch of add-ons preinstalled so I simply uninstalled it and installed a stock version of Kodi 16.0 from the Google Play store.

Speaking of the Google Play Store, it works and the device is rooted out of the box for those that need it.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Android-02

HDMI CEC is supported and worked well with my Samsung TV, allowing me to use the TV’s remote to control the Android box.

The MK06 also features a single 4.08GB partition with 3.5GB free out of the box, making it much easier for users to use all of the included storage how they want. 3.5GB isn’t a lot though so you’ll need to be mindful of how many apps you need to install.

The Rikomagic MK06 is also the first Rikomagic box to come with OTA update support. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to actually test it as my box was already pre-installed with the latest firmware.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-OTA

The firmware feels pretty stable. However, I did occasionally experience a several-second pause when exiting apps sometimes. I also had issues with luckluster 3D performance and benchmarks failing (more on that below).

Rikomagic MK06 Review: Media Playback

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Kodi

The Rikomagic MK06 came preinstalled with Kodi 15.2. However, I had issues with video only rendering in the top left of the screen. Updating to Kodi 16.0 via the Google Play Store seemed to fix the issue so I’ve used that version for my testing.

Codec Video Performance (Kodi 16.0)
1080p 3D SBS H.264 OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264 OK
1080p24 H.264 OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264 OK
1080p60 H.264 OK
720p50 H.264 OK
1080i25 H.264 OK
4K 30FPS H.264 OK
4K 60FPS H.264 Unwatchable (Video lags behind Audio)
1080p24 HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC Not Supported (Crashed Kodi)
1080p VP8 OK
720p Hi10p OK
1080p Hi10p Unwatchable (Decoding Issues)
1080p MPEG2 OK
1080p VC1 OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel) OK (Kodi reported some skipped frames though)

Media playback was generally good, handling all of the most common file formats with ease.

Deinterlacing performance was good, without any obvious artifacting on interlaced samples.

Automatic framerate switching isn’t supported unfortunately, meaning 23.976/24Hz content may exhibit judder depending on the video.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-07

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine via Kodi 16.0

Netflix

Netflix works via the Netflix app. However, the resolution is limited to 480p like most Android boxes due to the lack of Netflix certification.

AirPlay

Using the included Media Center app, both AirPlay and AirPlay Mirroring worked fine using an iPhone 6 on iOS9.

External Storage Support

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

Rikomagic MK06 Review: Gaming Performance

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Beach-Buggy-Racing

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

Despite using the Amlogic S905 like a number of other Android TV boxes, the Rikomagic MK06 performed worse than other boxes I’ve tested to date.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-Jetpack-Joyride

Whilst the simpler Jetpack Joyride was perfectly smooth, playing Beach Buggy Racing at 1080p on maximum settings struggled to achieve a playable framerate. Lowering the graphics settings to the default lead to a much more pleasant experience.

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

I didn’t have any issues hooking up my GameSir G3 via Bluetooth and use it to play Beach Buggy Racing.

SixAxis Compatibility Checker reports that the MK06 should be compatible so you should be able to hook up your PS3 controller via Bluetooth.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-03

Rikomagic MK06 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

Wireless performance was pretty good on the Rikomagic MK06, with upload and download speeds of 40.6Mbps and 49.8Mbps respectively.

In terms of real world performance, I was able to stream 1080p and 4K H.264 videos from my NFS share without buffering. However, I did experience terrible buffering at one stage that seemed to resolve itself after a reboot so I’m not sure what happened.

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-04

Ethernet Performance

Ethernet performance was reasonable, with upload and download speeds of 627.8Mbps and 873.9Mbps respectively.

Rikomagic MK06 Review: Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
Antutu 6.0  25390
Antutu Video Tester 3.0  893
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited  Wouldn’t Finish
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme  4261
GeekBench 3 Single Core  600
GeekBench 3 Multi Core  1248

Benchmarking performance was either on par or lower than other Amlogic S905 boxes I’ve tested to date. Antutu and GeekBench 3 Multi-Core were noticeably lower than competing boxes.

Interestingly, Antutu kept reporting that the MK06 didn’t complete the 3D component of the benchmark, which is why the score is so much lower than other Amlogic S905 boxes.

Furthermore, I wasn’t able to get a score for Ice Storm Unlimited in 3DMark as the benchmark kept terminating before it finished.

Having so many issues with the 3D side suggests there’s either a hardware issue or Rikomagic have a lot more work to do with the firmware.

Rikomagic MK06 Review: Power Consumption

Off Standby Idle 1080p24 Video Under Load
 0W 0.5W  2.5W  3.9W  6.5W

Should You Get One?

Rikomagic-MK06-Review-05

The Rikomagic MK06 is a flawed Android TV box from Rikomagic. It handled media playback well, though no automatic framerate switching in Kodi is disappointing. However, this combined with lackluster 3D gaming performance make it hard to recommend over more polished Amlogic S905 boxes available.

Getting One

You can get the Rikomagic MK06 from GearBest for around $67.

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Zidoo X5 Review: How Good is Zidoo’s First Amlogic S905 Android Box?

The Zidoo X5 is Zidoo’s latest Android TV box and their first powered by the Amlogic S905. It also features 1GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB of eMMC storage, b/g/n WiFi and 10/100 Ethernet. Sporting a stylish design and bringing Zidoo’s trademark ZIUI to the table, is Zidoo’s latest a success or a flop? Read our Zidoo X5 review to find out.

Thanks to Zidoo for sending me a sample to review.

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Zidoo X5 Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Amlogic S905
  • CPU CPU
    Quad-Core Cortex-A53 up to 2.0GHz
  • GPU
    Penta-Core ARM® Mali™-450
  • Operating System
    Android Lollipop 5.1.1
  • RAM
    1GB DDR3
  • Storage
    8GB eMMC
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
  • Power
    DC 5V/2A

Interfaces

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

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi 2.4GHz
  • Ethernet
    10/100
  • Bluetooth
    4.0

Physical

  • Dimensions
    136 x 136 x 20.5 mm

What’s In The Box?

Zidoo-X5-Review-Inside-The-Box

Zidoo have given the basics to get you connected:

  • 1x Zidoo X5 unit
  • 1x Power Adapter
  • 1x IR Remote Control
  • 1x HDMI Cable
  • 1x English Instruction Manual

Zidoo X5 Review: Design

Zidoo-X5-Review-03It’s great to see that Zidoo have come up with another unique design for the X5.

The device has a square footprint, but gently tapers down towards the front of the unit.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Front

The glossy silver shell is reminiscent of the one we saw on the Zidoo X1. I was expecting it to attract fingerprints, but it’s actually not too bad.

The X5’s ports are on the left side and rear of the unit. The left side has two fullsize USB ports and a micro SD card slot.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Left

The rear of unit has a reset button, DC power, AV output, 10/100 Ethernet port, HDMI output and optical audio.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Back

The bottom lip underneath the Ethernet port is a massive design flaw. It handily blocks the ejector pin on the Ethernet cable, making it a nightmare to try and remove – even with the various tools I had on hand. It’s disappointing that such a flaw made it through to the final version.

The included IR remote is reasonable. It’s got your typical set of Android buttons, a numpad, colored shortcut keys and a button to toggle mouse mode.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Remote-01

There’s also a separate set of controls that can be learned from your TV remote. That’s useful, allowing you to control everything from the one remote. Though I’d recommend you get a Logitech Harmony if you want to control more than 1 device.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Remote-02

The buttons are reasonably nice and not too loud. It’s better than most Android boxes, but  there are better ones out there. As usual, getting an airmouse will have a much more pleasant experience.

Zidoo X5 Review: Using It

The Zidoo X5 boots automatically when plugged in. With a wireless keyboard and mouse plugged in, a cold boot takes around 46 seconds whilst resuming from standby is instant.

Zidoo have included a “power management chip inside the X5 that allows it to cleanly power on and off via the remote.

Zidoo’s ZIUI from the X1 has come across relatively unchanged. It still uses it’s attractive tiled UI with various shades of grey.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Android-01

There’s a host of preconfigured tiles for key apps such as Kodi and the Google Play Store. Additionally, there’s a row of customisable shortcuts which put your favorite apps at your fingerprints.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Android-03

Interestingly, Zidoo have opted to limit the UI to 720p which is strange given that the Amlogic S905 can easily handle 1080p output. Thankfully, video output is unaffected and still renders at the correct resolution.

The Settings menu is skinned identically as other Amlogic S905 boxes, including the same capitalization issues.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Android-02

There’s not to much in terms of preloaded apps, with Kodi 15.2, Media Center, Miracast and an APK installer making an appearance.

Google Play works as I was able to install my various apps. It’s not rooted out of the box though Zidoo have created a “One Key Root” APK that will easily root it for you.

HDMI CEC is also supported and I had no issues using my Samsung TV’s remote to control the Zidoo X5.

The unit ships with Android 5.1 and boasts a single 4.76GB partition (of which 4.62GB is free). I’m glad to see more manufacturers doing this, as it maximises the amount of usable space for the end user.

As with other Amlogic S905 boxes, the SoC handles Android 5.1 well. I didn’t have any lag or slowdown when navigating Android, though Kodi would take a little while to exit.

The Zidoo X5 supports OTA updates. Zidoo have already released firmware 1.0.10, though it’s not available on their OTA services so you’ll need to download it and use the local update features. That said, the actual update process was just as streamlined as with Zidoo’s other Android boxes.

Zidoo-X5-Review-Android-04

Firmware seems fairly stable. The only issue I encountered was constant crashing of the pre-installed version of Kodi unless the cache was clean. Thankfully, installing Kodi 16.0 from the Play Store solved the issue.

Zidoo X5 Review: Media Playback

Zidoo-X5-Review-Kodi

With the recent release of Kodi 16.0, I tested media playback using this version.

Codec Video Performance (Kodi 15.2)
1080p 3D SBS H.264 OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264 OK
1080p24 H.264 OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264 Watchable (Lots of Skipped Frames)
1080p60 H.264 OK
720p50 H.264 OK
1080i25 H.264 OK
4K 30FPS H.264 OK
4K 60FPS H.264 Unwatchable (Video lags behind Audio)
1080p24 HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC Not Supported (Crashed Kodi)
1080p VP8 OK
720p Hi10p OK
1080p Hi10p Unwatchable (Video Froze)
1080p MPEG2 OK
1080p VC1 OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel) OK

The Zidoo X5 performance was generally good, with most common formats playing back perfectly. However, it’s disappointing to see that my 120Mbps H.264 sample didn’t play smoothly.

I was impressed to see that automatic framerate switching worked. 23.976FPS content played back well without any noticeable artefacts, though I couldn’t verify that it was natively rendering at 23.976Hz or 24Hz.

Deinterlacing performance was good, without any obvious artefacts when playing back interlaced samples.

Zidoo-X5-Review-08

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine via Kodi 16.0

Netflix

Netflix works, though video is only rendered at 480p due to the device not being Netflix-certified. Unfortunately, this is the case for 99% of Android boxes.

External Storage Support

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

Zidoo X5 Review: Gaming Performance

Zidoo-X5-Review-Beach-Buggy-Racing

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

The S905’s pentacore Mali-450 GPU performed solidly. Jetpack Joyride was smooth and I was able to max out Beach Buggy Racing at 1080p whilst still getting a good framerate.

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

Zidoo-X5-Review-Jetpack-Joyride

I hooked up my shiny new GameSir G3 via Bluetooth for some Beach Buggy Racing. Thankfully, it worked fine.

According to SixAxis Compatibility Checker, the Zidoo X5 is compatible so those wanting to hook up their PS3 controllers should be fine.

Zidoo X5 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.

Zidoo-X5-Review-10

Wireless Performance

Wireless performance was fairly strong, achieving 33.7Mbps up and 45.1Mbps down.

Realworld performance seemed good, though I did suffer terrible speeds at first. Nothing would stream without buffering every few seconds until I rebooted the unit. Afterwards I didn’t have a problem streaming 1080p and 4K H.264 videos from an NFS share so it must have been a temporary hiccup.

Zidoo-X5-Review-09

Ethernet Performance

Jumping over to a wired connection, the 10/100 performance came very close to spec, achieving 97.3Mbps upload and 94.3Mbps download.

Zidoo X5 Review: Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
Antutu 6.0  35958
Antutu Video Tester 3.0  922
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited  6698
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme  4643
GeekBench 3 Single Core  580
GeekBench 3 Multi Core  1658

Zidoo X5 Review: Power Consumption

Off Standby Idle 1080p24 Video Under Load
0W 0W 3.4W 3.2W 6.5W

Thanks to the Zidoo X5’s dedicated power chip, standby power is essentially 0W. Great for those mindful of power consumption.

Should You Get One?

Zidoo-X5-Review-02

The Zidoo X5 put up a solid performance, with good media playback (with automatic framerate switching), respectable gaming performance and an intuitive UI. Some unusual bugs mar the overall product, though Zidoo are more dedicated to providing regular firmware updates than most companies.

Though it’s on the lower end in terms of hardware specs, if you’re after Android TV box that ticks most of the boxes and are willing to overlook its flaws, the Zidoo X5 is a good option.

Getting One

You can get the Zidoo X5 from GeekBuying, Amazon and AliExpress for around $60.

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HiMedia H8 Review: How good is HiMedia’s Latest Android Box?

The HiMedia H8 is an Android 5.1 TV box powered by the octacore Rockchip RK3368 processor. With a stylish design, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage, how does it perform? Read our Himedia H8 review to find out!

I want to say thanks to Himedia for providing a sample to review

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HiMedia H8 Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Rockchip RK3368
  • CPU CPU
    Octacore Cortex A53 processor at 1.5 GHz
  • GPU
    PowerVR G6110
  • Operating System
    Android Lollipop 5.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB Flash
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
    Power button
  • Power
    DC 5V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Other Interfaces
    2 x USB 2.0

Connectivity

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

Physical

What’s in the Box?

HiMedia-H8-Review-Inside-The-Box

Himedia have given you everything you’ll need to get connected inside the box:

  • 1x HiMedia H8 unit
  • 1x IR Remote Control
  • 1x Power Adapter
  • 1x HDMI Cable
  • 1x Instruction Manual

Himedia H8 Review: Design

The Himedia H8’s rectangular design is simple yet elegant. Despite looking similar to other Android tv boxes, a silver chamfered edge helps it look unique yet still blend in with your other AV equipment. The unit’s black matte finish looks nice and keeps fingerprints to a minimum.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Front

Himedia have opted for an all-metal case and it really pays off. The case adds weight to the unit which makes it feel well-made, rather than a cheap Android box.

In terms of ports, they’re located on the side and rear of the unit. On the right side, there’s two fullsize USB 2.0 ports.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Right

The left side houses a full-size SD card slot.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Left

Most of the ports are located on the rear of the unit. From left to right, we’ve got the external WiFi antenna, optical audio, composite video output, HDMI output, Ethernet and DC In.

It’s interesting to see that Himedia have opted to include the three composite video outputs rather than the single port that requires an adapter. It’s not something that’s often seen any more but I’m sure a few users will appreciate it.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Back

The included IR remote is pretty comprehensive and feels great. Aside from the typical Android buttons (namely Home, Menu, and Back), there’s also a full set of multimedia controls, a 3D button and even a TV buttons which can be learned from your TV’s IR remote.

For those that need it, there’s also a mouse mode, though I’d recommend that you fork out for an air mouse for a far better user experience.

I also think it’s important to call out that the remote isn’t clicky like those included with most Android boxes. That means that button presses are nice and silent, making the controller feel well made rather than cheap and nasty like others on the market.

HiMedia-H8-Review-06

HiMedia H8 Review: Using It

The HiMedia H8 automatically boots when plugged in to power. With a USB keyboard and mouse connected, a cold boot takes around 30 seconds. There’s no standby mode unfortunately but the unit can be powered on and off via the remote.

HiMedia have shipped the H8 with a unique TV-friendly launcher that looks like a more refined version of the MediaBox launcher we’ve seen before, with nice animations and a consistent design throughout.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Android-01

Everything animates smoothly, such as the transitions between pages to the menu selector, making the interface feel very polished.

There’s large shortcuts for key apps such as Kodi and YouTube whilst folders allow you to organise your apps so they’re readily at your fingertips.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Android-02

There’s a couple of pre-loaded apps such as Netflix, Facebook and Kodi to name a few. The Google Play store is installed and I was able to install various apps from there without issue. The box isn’t rooted from the factory but there’s methods available.

OTA updates are also available via Settings menu, making it easy to update to the latest firmware from HiMedia’s servers or local media.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Android-04

As expected from the Rockchip RK3368, the processor handles Android 5.1 well.

Firmware seemed to be stable, as I didn’t have any crashes during testing.

Himedia H8 Review: Media Playback

HiMedia-H8-Review-Kodi

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
1080p24 H.264 OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264 OK
1080p60 H.264 OK
720p50 H.264 OK
1080i25 H.264 OK
4K 30FPS H.264 OK
4K 60FPS H.264 Unwatchable (Video lags behind Audio)
1080p24 HEVC OK
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC OK
1080p VP8 OK
720p Hi10p OK
1080p Hi10p Unwatchable (Decoding Issues)
1080p MPEG2 OK
1080p VC1 OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel) OK

The HiMedia H8 did a solid job playing back media, handling almost every file I threw at it. The usual culprits tripped the box up, with 4K 60Hz H.264 and 1080p Hi10p video samples struggling to play back like nearly every box I’ve tested.

HiMedia-H8-Review-Android-03

I was impressed to see that automatic framerate switching actually works! This is something few Android boxes actually have functioning and is a massive plus for media fans. Whether I was playing 24Hz or 50Hz content, the Himedia H8 automatically changed my display’s refresh rate to match.

23.976FPS videos seemed to play without any visual artifacts. However, I couldn’t verify if the box was rendering the video at 23.976Hz or 24Hz.

Deinterlacing performance seemed good, without any major artifacts during playback.

5.1 Audio Passthrough

Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough worked fine via HDMI.

Netflix

Netflix worked fine on the HiMedia H8. However, video resolution was limited to 480p like most other Android boxes.

HiMedia-H8-Review-05

External Storage Support

I didn’t have any issues playing back videos from my USB-powered 2.5″ HDD or USB flashdrive.

Himedia H8 Review: Gaming Performance

HiMedia-H8-Review-Beach-Buggy-Racing

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

Gaming performance was good as expected, with both Jetpack Joyride and Beach Buggy Racing playing well at 1080p on maximum settings.

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

Unfortunately, the Himedia H8 doesn’t have Bluetooth so Bluetooth devices aren’t compatible. That means a 2.4GHz controller such as the Tronsmart Mars G01 is a must.

Gaming using my Tronsmart Mars G01 was perfect, with the pad automatically detected as an Xbox 360 controller when plugged in and working with Beach Buggy Racing.

HiMedia-H8-Review-04

Himedia H8 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

Wireless performance was reasonable, achieving 48.7Mb/s upload and 42.8Mb/s download when connected to the 2.4GHz band.

In terms of real-world performance, I didn’t have any issues playing back my 1080p and 4K H.264 samples from my NFS share.

HiMedia-H8-Review-03

Ethernet Performance

The HiMedia H8 was almost able to saturate it’s 100Mb Ethernet port, achieving 95.9Mb/s upload and 94.6Mb/s download.

HiMedia H8 Review: Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
Antutu 6.0 37976
Antutu Video Tester 3.0 469
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 7913
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme 5125
GeekBench 3 Single Core 676
GeekBench 3 Multi Core 2317

Himedia H8 Review: Power Consumption

Off Standby Idle 1080p24 Video Under Load
0W N/A 3.8W 4.1W 6.2W

Unfortunately, as standby isn’t supported on the HiMedia H8, no power consumption values can be reported for this mode.

Should You Get One?

HiMedia-H8-Review-02

The HiMedia H8 is an solid Android TV box. It’s well-built, performed well during gaming and media playback and even supports Automatic Framerate Switching in Kodi – a massive plus for movie lovers. However, the lack of Bluetooth may be an issue for some, particularly if you’re a gamer.

Overall, the HiMedia H8 is worth a look if you’re wanting a capable media player that can handle some gaming too – as long as you’ve got a USB-based controller.

Getting One

The HiMedia H8 is available for around $100 from GeekBuying, AliExpress and Amazon.

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