I was a little disappointed that no batteries were included so make sure you have some AAs handy.
Mipow Playbulb Candle Review: Design
There’s not to say about the Mipow Playbulb Candle design except that it looks like a candle.
The unit is symmetrical, tapering at the top and bottom. The whole thing is made out of white plastic: matte for the base and translucent for the body.
Inside the unit is the LED flame, the scent chip holder, wind sensor and power switch.
The bottom of the unit unscrews to reveal the battery compartment for 3 AA batteries. The base also doubles as a tealight candle if you want to light things up old school.
Mipow Playbulb Candle Review: Using It
A flick of the power switch immediately brings the candle to life with a pleasing glow after a second.
The candle is controlled via the Playbulb X app (iOS/Android) which allows you to set the candle to one of the million supported colors. A host of other modes are also available, including rainbow and pulsing.
You can even turn the candle on and off on a schedule, though it’s a little simplistic.
The candles light outputs matches a tealight candle pretty well. It’s perfect for ambience though don’t expect it to replace your lamp.
Unlike the bulb, the candle can even be blown out like a real candle. You can even set it up to turn off all your Mipow lights at the same time.
If you flip the Playbulb over, you can use the base to hold a normal tealight candle too. It’s a useful inclusion but not as fun as a smart candle (wow, never thought I’d write that!).
The scent chip is a nice addition but will likely be inconsequential to most. Each color seems to have a different scent. They’re subtle but noticeable. I wasn’t able to find where you buy replacements from though.
Should You Get It?
I really like the Mipow Playbulb Candle. A lot of people will argue a smart candle is ridiculous but I personally loved being able to set the right atmosphere from my phone. Couple it with the Mipow Smart LED bulb and a Logitech Smart Control and you can get that cinema ambience all from your smartphone.
It’s definitely a niche product, but if you’re wanting to add some smart lighting, the Mipow Playbulb Candle is an appealing option.
You can buy the Mipow Playbulb Candle from GearBest for around $19.99 for a single candle up to $49.99 for a pack of 3.
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 DroidBOX T8-S Plus is a solid-feeling unit made entirely of metal. The design is very similar to that of the Zidoo X9 or HiMedia Q10. It’s an nice black metal box, with chamfered silver edges that looks elegant.
The front of the unit houses an IR reciever, LED display and power button.
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.
The rear of the unit has the WiFi antenna, DC In, Ethernet, HDMI, Composite ports and optical audio.
Flipping the unit over exposes the 2.5″ hard drive tray. After unscrewing the two screws, the tray slides or, exposing the unit’s internals. The actual hard done is held in place with 4 additional screws.
Now, I had an issue with the unit not booting into Android after rebooting from OpenELEC. However, after wiping the SDD with my Windows PC and formatting it in OpenELEC, everything seems OK now. I checked around the web to see if anyone else had the same issue and didn’t find much so it’s seems to be rare. DroidBOX support were helpful getting the issue resolved though.
Booting up the unit is done via the power button, with a cold boot taking around a minute. Standby isn’t supported so you’ll need to keep the unit on powered on all the time if you want it to always be available.
The DroidBOX T8-S Plus comes with a TV friendly launcher that reminds me of the one that ships with Probox’s devices. It uses square tiles that act solely as app shortcuts – no folders here.
Harddrives installed in the 2.5″ bay can actually be used as internal storage, allowing you to install apps on it in addition to other multimedia. It’s an awesome feature and great for those who need lots of storage space for apps. It’s great to see over 100GB of free space on an Android device.
There’s a heap of pre-installed apps including FilmON Live TV, Skype, IPVanish and MX Player. Droidbox have also packaged their own apps including Control (for getting help and fixing issues), Market (DroidBOX’s app store), DroidBOX Play Market (a dedicated store for games), DroixBOX Share for streaming media, DroidBOX Switch for switching to OpenELEC and their customised version of Kodi called DroidBOX Media Center.
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.
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 it.
Wireless streaming was also good, streaming my 4K H.264 samples from my NFS share without any noticeable buffering.
The Amlogic S812 has some decent gaming chops so I expected games to play pretty well. Riptide GP2 played well even on max settings, though the framerate dipped with lots of water movement or general action onscreen.
OTA updates are supported, with the company regularly releasing firmware updates that fix bugs and add features.
OpenELEC is also pre-installed. A quick click on the DroidBOX Switch app automatically boots the box into OpenELEC. If you’ve used OpenELEC before you know what to expect: An appliance-like experience based around Kodi. I didn’t notice any obvious issues when I quickly played with it but will examine it in more detail when I do my full review.
Verdict So Far
So far, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen with the DroidBOX T8-S Plus. Performance was good in my belief testing and DroidBOX’s customisations add real value.
Keep posted for my full review in the coming days.
The UNIC UC46 is the company’s latest compact projector. Boasting similar specs to the company’s popular UC40 model, the new model adds improved cooling and UNi-Link, a feature that allows you to stream multimedia via wifi.
UNIC have provided a respectable set of inclusions:
1x UNIC UC46 LED Projector
1x IR Remote
1x Composite Cable
1x Power Cable
1x English User Manual
UNIC UC46 Projector Review: Design
The design of the UNIC U46 is predictably similar to its predecessor. Essentially a large black box, the device definitely nails the projector aesthetic. There’s a subtle geometric design on the top now that looks nice and helps give the projector some style cred.
The front of the unit features the projector lens protected by a removable rubber cap. The car’s only held in place with friction and would fall out with a some jostling so if you’re transporting it, you may want to find a better lens cap.
The top of the unit has some controls for navigating the menus and controlling media playback. There’s also dials for adjusting focus and keystone correction to get the clearest picture.
All the ports are located on the right and rear of the unit. The right side features a 3.5mm audio output jack, composite video output, HDMI In, an SD card slot and two USB ports, although one can only be used for charging devices whilst the other can be used for media playback. The rear has the IR sensor and VGA port (hidden at the very bottom of the unit).
Underneath the projector, there’s a riser. It’s essentially a long screw that allows you to tilt the projector so you can easily position the projector on a table. It’s pretty handy when you can’t raise the projector high enough.
UNIC UC46 Projector Review: Using It
Powering up the projector is done via the power button. It takes a few seconds to boot up before you can access the interface.
There’s a fan to keep the unit cool and it’s not particularly quiet. Thankfully, it’s slightly quieter than UNIC UC40 but you’ll definitely be able to hear it during quiet scenes.
The UI is identical to the that of the UNIC UC40. It’s colorful, with several tiles for each type of content: movies, music, pictures and text.
Oddly, there’s no Settings menu item. Instead, settings is brought up via the menu button on either the remote or projector itself.
The file browser is basic, with icons representing the content. Pausing over a video causes it to start playing. However, you have to hit the play button to actually start playing the video as pressing OK adds the video to the playlist instead. It’s a little unintuitive but you get used to it.
The inbuilt media player does a decent job of playing back the most common formats. I didn’t have issues with 30fps H.264 videos, MPEG2 and the like, though don’t expect more demanding videos to work. Attempts to play 4K H.264, H.265 and Hi10p didn’t work at all. Similarly, Dolby audio isn’t supported so you’ll either need to transcode or add a dedicated media player.
One thing to note is that the UNIC UC46 doesn’t seem to have any onboard memory. Settings will be saved as long as you keep the unit plugged in but it seemed to reset itself as soon as I unplugged it from the wall. That’s not an issue if you’re keeping the projector in one place but could be an issue if you’re wanting to transport it around.
UNIC UC46 Projector Review: Image Quality
Normally, I’d review a projector describing looking at the picture quality relative to something like an LCD TV. However, that’s really not fair to a sub-$100 projector that won’t even get close to units 10 times the price.
The UNIC UC46 boasts 1200 lumens of brightness but that’s still not enough to overpower ambient light. I wouldn’t bother trying to use the projector in a well-lit room.
However, turning off the lights changes things dramatically. The image is bright and colors are vivid. Too vivid in fact – I recommend turning off the unit’s super color setting it as it tends to overstaturate the image.
There’s a number of image presets but I found all of the to be pretty awful, with a tendency to oversaturate images. That said, after playing with the settings, I was able to get a pretty nice looking image.
The 800×480 resolution (DVD quality) is definitely lower than what we’re used to in the world of 1080p and 4K television. That said, detail is reasonable enough for movies or gaming.
For watching a movie, playing some games or as a screen for the kids, it’s pretty perfect given its sub-$100 price tag.
You’ll need to focus the image using the focus and keystone correction wheels to get maximum sharpness though sharpness falls off from the centre of the image. Using keystone correction exacerbates this so the closer you can get the projector to level, the better the image quality.
When I reviewed the UNIC UC40, I complained about the transparent UNIC logo constantly in the top right corner of the screen – even over video. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and the UC46 doesn’t exhibit the same flaw. You’ll just get unadulterated images.
You may also notice the black dot in some of my photos. Unfortunately, my unit had a dead pixel which, given the 800×480 resolution, meant that I had an omnipresent black dot on the screen. However, I’d wager it’s just bad luck.
UNIC UC46 Projector Review: Audio Quality
The UNIC UC46 also boasts on-board sound for an all-in-one setup. However, the unit’s tiny 1.5W downward-firing speaker predictably sounds hollow and lacks bass. It’s functional but I’d strongly recommend taking advantage of the 3.5mm output jack to connect the projector up to a better quality speaker like the Blitzwolf F1 Bluetooth speaker.
UNIC UC46 Projector Review: Wireless Streaming
The biggest feature of the UNIC UC46 is “UNi-Link” – UNIC’s wifi-based solution for streaming content straight to the projector without any wires. Miracast, DLNA and Airplay are supported, covering off the most common standards.
After changing over to the UNi-Link input, just connect to the UNi-Link WiFi hotspot using the password displayed on the projector. Afterwards, navigate to the provided IP address and use the web-based UI to connect the projector up to your wireless network.
The web-based configuration tool is basic at best and looks more like a relic from the MySpace era than anything else – complete with Clipart-style GIFs. It’s hideous and thankfully, setup is probably the only time you’ll need to use it.
There’s also a remote on there that has the key features but keeps the same hideous design. I’d recommend you stick with the physical remote.
The actual streaming features work really well. I tried streaming video from my server using BubbleUPNP and to worked flawlessly. I was able to dream 720p and 1080p H.264 videos via WiFi without any buffering.
AirPlay and AirPlay mirroring worked using my iPhone 6 on iOS9 pretty much flawlessly. I did have the occasional situation where I couldn’t play the next video. However, such glitches are pretty common with unofficial Airplay implementations across the board.
Should You Get One?
For its price, the UNIC UC46 is a real bargain. As long as you have realistic expectations of a projector that costs only $75, the UNIC UC46 checks a surprising amount of boxes. Whilst the DVD resolution is on the low side, it’s sufficient for watching movies or playing games on. Combine that with the in-built media player and Uni-Link wifi streaming functions and you’ve got a great package for cheap entertainment.
The Mipow LED Smart bulb is one of a growing number of smart appliances. Featuring an inbuilt Bluetooth radio, RGB LEDS and an E27 screw, is the Mipow LED bulb a must have accessory or a useless gadget? Read our Mipow LED Smart bulb review to find out.
I want to say thanks to GearBest for sending me a sample to review.
There’s really not much to say about inclusions as I wouldn’t expect too much to be packaged up with a light bulb.
Inside the box, you’ll get:
1x Mipow LED Smart Bulb
1x English instruction manual.
Mipow LED Smart Bulb Review: Design
For a change, I really can’t say much about the product’s design. It looks light a slightly more modern light bulb.
Larger than a standard light bulb, the Mipow bulb is cylindrical. Most of the bulb is made of metal, with a white translucent cap to diffuse the RGB LEDS and lead to more uniform color distribution.
It looks nice and would fit well in most modern light fittings that favour exposed bulbs.
However, the light beam is slightly more directional than a traditional bulb due to its design.
The bulb is only available as an E27 screw so you’ll need to make sure your lamp or light fitting supports it or get pick up an appropriate adapter.
Speaking of fitting, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got enough clearance to fit the bulb in. I didn’t have any issues but some smaller lamps may not have enough room to accomodate the smart bulb’s slightly larger frame.
Mipow LED Smart Bulb Review: Using It
Using it is dead simple. Just screw the bulb into your light and turn it on. The bulb will automatically switch on its Bluetooth radio, ready to connect with the Playbulb X app on your smartphone (Available on Android and iOS).
The bulb is set to white initially but stays on the last color next time you turn it on thanks to its inbuilt memory.
The light’s 5W of power is distributed between 10 warm white LEDs and 4 RGB LEDs, leading to much more light when used “traditionally”, rather than colored. The white light is good enough for normal use (~280 lumens). When colored, it’s works well for changing the look of a room. I got some pretty cool effects using it to light up the back wall of my home theatre.
The light bulb is controlled entirely from the app. Those looking for support for web services such as IFTTT will be disappointed, though the unit is a fraction of the cost of bulbs that support web services.
After selecting a specific light (or a group of lights you’ve created, up to 5), you’ll get a color wheel that lets you set the bulb’s color to any of the supported 16 million colors.
There’s also presets for red, green, blue and white, a slider for setting the brightness, from max to completely off and a toggle that changes the bulb’s color when you shake your smartphone.
The app generally works well but lacks a little polish. The light bulb responds surprisingly quickly and everything is pretty intuitive. I did experience the occasionally oddity such as the color change in Candle mode not working or rarely the app didn’t connect to the bulb on the first tap but these are minor issues.
There’s also a couple of lighting effects to spice things up: pulse, rainbow, different rainbow (!?) and candle. They all look pretty cool, though the flicker effect in candle mode is too subtle unless you’re in complete darkness.
Speaking of flicker, there really wasn’t any noticeable during testing. The light from the Mipow Smart LED bulb remains consistant.
You can schedule the bulbs to turn on and off at a certain times but complex schedules aren’t supported, like different on/off times on the weekend.
If you’ve got Mipow’s other products (such as the Mipow Playbulb candle), there’s some pretty cool integration such as color sync and blowing out the candle can actually turn off every other item in the group.
Should You Get One?
The smart lighting movement is growing rapidly and the Mipow LED Smart Bulb is a great way of dipping your toes in without breaking the bank at a measly $14.
Though it lacks more advanced features such as IFTTT integration, it’s also a fraction of the price of more advanced alternatives such as Philips’ Hue range.
If you’re wanting to play around with LED smart bulbs, you can’t go wrong with the Mipow LED Smart Bulb.
The Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless controller is the company’s sole gaming product but one that complements their TV box products well. Borrowing pretty liberally from the Xbox 360 controller’s design whilst packing in both Android and Windows compatibility (including D-Input!), is Tronsmart’s controller any good? Read our Tronsmart Mars G01 review to find out!
I want to say thanks to GeekBuying for sending me a sample to review.
Tronsmart have packed in an impressive collection of goodies inside the box:
1x Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless controller
1x USB Wireless Reciever
1x Micro USB OTG cable
1x Micro USB Charging Cable
1x Carry Bag
1x Instruction Manual
Tronsmart Mars G01 Review: Design
As I mentioned at the start of the review, the Tronsmart Mars G01 looks like the Xbox 360 and PS4 controller had a baby. It borrows heavily from the Xbox 360 controllers’ well-liked design whilst adding some tweaks for usability.
The controller’s wings sit comfortably in the hands and the addition of rubber fins along the sides is a nice touch. They both assist with grip and help keep your hands cool if you get sweaty hands.
There’s the full suite of buttons here. There’s two analog sticks, a d-pad, four face buttons and four shoulder buttons, two of which are analog triggers. Start and select buttons are also present.
The face buttons follow the Xbox’s ABXY layout and are made of clear plastic, with colored embossed letters. It looks fantastic.
There’s also a Tronsmart button that doubles up as the power/mode button, as well as a set of four LEDs that show which mode the controller is in.
There’s also a micro USB port located at the top which is for charging the internal 600mAh battery.
The Tronsmart Mars feels like its relatively well made, with a solid frame and comfortable form factor. I did find the triggers squeak a when pressed slowly but this doesn’t affect gameplay.
Tronsmart Mars G01 Review: Using It
As a 2.4Ghz wireless controller, setup is as simple as plugging in the tiny USB wireless receiver and turning on the controller by holding down the “T” button on the centre of the controller.
The controller will automatically boot into the last mode it was on. Holding down the “T” button will toggle through the various supported modes including X-input, D-input and an Android-specific mode.
Most Android devices should automatically recognise the Tronsmart Mars G01 as a controller and be ready to use in supported games or emulators. I didn’t have any issues playing Beach Buggy Racing and Riptide GP2 on my UGOOS UT3S.
Using it in Windows is just as easy, with Windows 10 recognising the controller as an Xbox 360 controller. I tested it out in Sleeping Dogs and had no issues. The triggers are correctly detected as being analog.
There’s also D-Input support for older games which is great. I fired up the original Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (before X-Input support was patched in) and everything worked as expected, though I did need to remap some of the controls.
Speaking of controls, they feel nice and responsive, with satisfying actuation. The analog sticks feel good too. However, I found the d-pad was a little stiff. It didn’t affect my ability to pull off combos in fighting games, but it wasn’t as pleasant as other controllers.
Range was good thanks to the use of 2.4Ghz. I didn’t have any lag or dropouts when gaming on the other side of my living room.
Tronsmart claims the battery should be able to get around 20 hours of gameplay from a single charge (reduced to 5 hours if using vibration is active). I wasn’t able to clock up enough hours to drain the battery but 3-4 hours of gaming and the controller was still going strong. There’s also an auto-off mode to save battery.
Should You Buy It?
The Tronsmart Mars G01 is a good wireless controller that offers plenty of flexibility. If need D-input support, the Tronsmart Mars G01 is a good option, with the pricier Logitech F710 being the only other comparable choice.
The controller itself is comfortable and the controls generally feel great, though the need to plug in a USB dongle will be a pain for some Android phone/tablet users who may prefer the freedom of a Bluetooth controller.
The Tronsmart Mars G01 is available from GeekBuying for under $30. Use coupon EYIUBVVW to get another $5 off!
The Gamesir G3 Enhanced Edition is a game controller that claims to do it all. Offering Bluetooth 4.0, 2.4GHz wireless and wired connection options, it boasts support for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac.
Couple that with the included phone holder (if you opt for the slightly pricier model) and you’ve got a go-anywhere controller that will be compatible with almost anything you throw at it.
However, is it any good? Read our Gamesir G3 Review to find out!
I want to say thanks to GearBest for sending me a sample to review.
Please note that there’s actually several models of the Gamesir G3. I’ve reviewed the Enhanced Edition which offers both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wirelss support. The standard G3 only has Bluetooth connectivity.
What’s Inside The Box?
Gamesir have provided an impressively comprehensive set of inclusions with the Gamesir G3:
1x Gamesir G3 Controller
1x USB Wireless Reciever
1x Micro USB Charging Cable
1x Dual Micro USB Cable
1x Carry Bag
1x English Instruction Manual
1x Smartphone Holder
Gamesir G3 Review: Design
The Gamesir G3’s design is reminiscent of the PS4’s gamepad. It mimics the controller’s famous boomerang shape, with large side grips that fit comfortably in the hand. The unit’s lighter than the PS4 and Xbox One controllers but still feels well-made. I’m not worried about it breaking on me.
The whole unit is almost entirely black, save for some red details underneath the analog sticks. It looks elegant and fits well with the gamer aesthetic.
The top of the unit houses the micro USB charging port for charging the internal 600mAh battery. The bottom of the unit has 4 LEDs which light up based on the mode the controller is in.
The Gamesir G3 offers up a full set of controls, including a d-pad, dual analog sticks, four face buttons, four shoulder buttons (two of which are analog triggers), start and select buttons. There’s also turbo/clear buttons to allow automatic repeated keypresses – perfect for games requiring rapid, repeated keypresses.
The four face buttons (using the XBox’s ABXY layout) are glossy and transparent, lighting up with various colors when turned on. The effect is really cool. It can be turned off if you find it too distracting.
If you opt for the slightly pricier package, you’ll get the phone clip included. This lets you mount 4-6 inch smartphones onto the controller for an on-the-go gaming setup. The clip simply clamps over the controller and the phone holder can be tilted into the most comfortable position.
My issues with the Gamesir G3’s design are minor. The smartphone clip can be a little tight on the controller. Whilst this means it doesn’t budget when clipped on, it can be a little tricky to lock in initially but that’s a pretty minor complaint.
Gamesir G3 Review: Using It
The Gamesir G3 supports a heap of connectivity modes including X-input, Android, iOS and PS3 both wirelessly and wired. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a controller that’s so flexible.
Each of these are activated by holding the appropriate face button and powering the controller on using the Gamesir button in the center of the controller. For example, holding down the X button will activate the controllers X-input mode.
Using it on an Android device is easy. After booting the controller into Android mode and selecting the Gamesir G3 in my UGOOS UT3S Bluetooth menu, the controller was ready to use. Games with Built-in game pad support such as Riptide GP2 worked perfectly out of the box. Emulators required a little bit of setup as usual, mapping buttons and analog sticks, but this is pretty much par for the course for nearly every controller.
There’s even a mouse mode (activated by holding select and pressing X) that allows you to control the mouse cursor using the left analog stick. Handy for apps that require mouse support. I even used it to play Jetpack Joyride as controllers aren’t natively supported.
Using it on Windows is just as easy. After plugging in the included wireless USB reciever or via the micro USB cable, just boot your controller into X-input mode. The Gamesir G3 is automatically detected as an Xbox 360 controller and you’ll be able to play any supported games. I tested out both Sleeping Dogs and Spec Ops: The Line and both worked perfectly.
iOS support is limited to iCade so you’ll need to look for compatible games. Those hoping for MFI controller support should look elsewhere unless you’re willing to jailbreak.
In terms of feel, the Gamesir G3 holds up well. The buttons all have nice actuation, with satisfying tactile feedback when they’ve been pressed.
The analog sticks feel responsive. Each has a rubberised coating and textured rim to help with grip. It’s once again similar to the PS4 controller’s design, though the PS4 has a tiny bit more grip as the centers are also textured. That said, I never had my thumbs slip during some pretty intense gaming sessions so I think you’ll be find.
The d-pad also feels great. It’s not stiff or mushy and responds nicely to commands. I didn’t have any issues pulling off moves in classics such as Street Fighter.
Wireless range was great, whether I was using Bluetooth or 2.4GHz wireless. I didn’t have any issues playing games from around 6 meters away. That said, the 2.4GHz wireless range was superior due the technology itself versus Bluetooth.
Battery life has been good, with a single charge lasting quite a few hours without any signs of going flat. The company claims that you should be able to get around 18 hours of gameplay from a single charge and it seems like a reasonable estimate. There’s also a battery saving mode that turns the unit off after 5 minutes of inactivity or 1 minute after disconnection which is handy.
Should You Get One?
I have to admit, I was blown away by the Gamesir G3. The company clearly knows its audience and has designed a controller that’s comfortable, immensely flexible and doesn’t break the bank.
Whilst it doesn’t feel quite as solid as Sony’s controller, it more than makes up for it with its sheer flexibility. Being able to hook it up via wireless or via USB to a wide range of devices is excellent, plus mounting your smartphone using the clip is great for gaming on the go.
If you’re a multi-device gamer, the Gamesir G3 is the best controller I’ve found so far. I’ve even invested in a second one for gaming with friends. Highly recommended.
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.
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 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.
Jumping over to the rear of MK06, there’s DC In, optical audio, Ethernet, HDMI out and another fullsize USB 2.0 port.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Video Performance (Kodi 16.0)
1080p 3D SBS H.264
1080p 3D ABL H.264
1080p High Bitrate H.264
4K 30FPS H.264
4K 60FPS H.264
Unwatchable (Video lags behind Audio)
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
Not Supported (Crashed Kodi)
Unwatchable (Decoding Issues)
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.
5.1 Audio Passthrough
Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine via Kodi 16.0
Netflix works via the Netflix app. However, the resolution is limited to 480p like most Android boxes due to the lack of Netflix certification.
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
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.
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: Networking
Networking performance was tested using Wifi performance was tested using Wifi Speed Test, conducting 3 tests and averaging the results. My router is approximately 5m away, with a single wall between the router and the device. WiFi performance is heavily impacted by a number of factors so your performance may vary.
Wireless performance was 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.
Ethernet performance was reasonable, with upload and download speeds of 627.8Mbps and 873.9Mbps respectively.
Rikomagic MK06 Review: Benchmarks
Antutu Video Tester 3.0
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme
GeekBench 3 Single Core
GeekBench 3 Multi Core
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
Should You Get One?
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.
You can get the Rikomagic MK06 from GearBest for around $67.
Blitzwolf have entered the world of VR with the Blitzwolf VR headset. Building on Google Cardboard’s foundation, the Blitzwolf VR headset adds in premium materials, padding and straps. Is this the ultimate Google Cardboard VR headset? Read our Blitzwolf VR headset review to find out!
I want to say thanks to Banggood for sending a sample to review.
Blitzwolf have provided a respectable set of inclusions inside the box:
1x Blitzwolf VR Headset
1x Replacement Rubber Bumpers
1x English Instruction Manual
1x Cleaning Cloth
Blitzwolf VR Headset Review: Design
Taking the Blitzwolf VR headset out of the box, it’s clear that this is a fairly large headset – probably on par with other VR headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR and Oculus Rift in size.
The unit is leagues above Google Cardboard in terms of build quality (as you’d expect!). The whole unit is made of plastic, with elastic straps to hold the unit on your head and thick leather-like padding around the eyes for added comfort.
The three elastic straps are fully adjustable and held in place with velcro. I’ve got a large head but didn’t have any issues adjusting them to fit.
The front of the unit shows of some Blitzwolf branding. Prying off this faceplate (it’s held in place with magnets) reveals additional ventilation for your smartphone.
The entire front of the unit also opens up (again, using 3 strong magnets to hold it shut) to allow you to fit in your smartphone in the unit’s telescopic grip. Blitzwolf have stated that 4-6inch phones are supported, though you may need to remove your case to get it to fit. That said, my iPhone 6, Galaxy S4 and LeTV 1S fit in just fine.
The part of the headset that comes in contact with your phone’s screen has foam to protect it from scratches which is a nice touch. Cutouts are also available for routing cables, such as chargers and headphones if you need it.
With the smartphone holder being held closed with magnets, I was worried it wouldn’t hold the phone in place when closed. Thankfully, I was wrong. Even with some more vigorous head movements, the front panel remained securely shut.
There’s a couple of dials that allow you to tweak the headset to make it more comfortable. The top dial allows you to adjust pupillary distance (aka PD – the distance between your pupils). There’s two dials on the side for myopia adjustment, bringing the image closer or further away if you’ve got issues with distance vision. There’s a little play in these dials which doesn’t affect use but does attract from the build quality somewhat.
Google Cardboard comes with a magnetic switch which is used to interact with some apps but this functionality is missing on Blitzwolf’s unit. Instead, you’ll either need to open up the front panel to physically touch the screen or opt for a Bluetooth controller. However, most VR apps are designed to be controlled only with head movements or a controller so this wasn’t as much of an issue as I first thought it would be.
The unit’s build quality feels good and durable, so I’m not concerned that it’ll fall apart on me.
Blitzwolf VR Headset Review: Using It
Using the Blitzwolf VR headset is simple. Open up the front on the unit, slide your smartphone into the holder (making sure to keep everything centered) and fire up your favorite Google Cardboard-compatible app.
Use the aforementioned dials to tweak the unit’s settings to make the image sharp and you’re ready to go.
Lens quality was fantastic and leagues better than those that came with the Google Cardboard headset. The lenses are clear without any unusual distortion, leading to nice, sharp images.
That said, image quality is also dependent on your smartphone’s resolution, as using Google Cardboard tech halves the horizontal resolution. At times, my Samsung Galaxy S4’s 1080p resolution looked a little grainy but that’s not the fault of the headset. If you’re wanting a better image, use a phone with a higher resolution (such as the Xperia Z5’s glorious 4K screen). A larger screen also leads to a more immersive experience.
I tried a heap of VR apps (check out my favorites here) and having a proper VR headset is far more immersive than Google Cardboard. Without light leaking in and no need to hold the headset in place, the experience is leagues better.
The leather-like padding around the eyeframes is nice and comfortable, even after lengthy gaming sessions. However, I got a little sweaty around the eyes.
My smartphone also got a little warm too, so I’d recommend opening up the front vent if you’re planning on playing with VR for long periods of time.
Should You Get One?
Do you want to flirt with VR without draining your bank account? Finding Google Cardboard isn’t durable enough for you or just sick of holding it on your face? If so, I thoroughly recommend the Blitzwolf VR headset.
It’s well made, comfortable, leagues better than Google Cardboard and an affordable upgrade to experience the wonders of virtual reality. Thoroughly recommended.
You can get the Blitzwolf VR headset from Banggood for around $26 or with a Bluetooth controller for an extra $1.
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0+EDR (A2DP, AVRCP), 3.5mm Aux In
Range: Approx. 10m
Battery Life (Rated): 10-12 hours (Playback)
Power: micro USB 2.0 port for charging
What’s In The Box?
Blitzwolf have provided a solid set of inclusions. Inside the box, you’ll get:
1x Blitzwolf F1 Bluetooth Speaker
1x 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable
1x Micro USB charging cable
1x Wrist Strap
1x Instruction Manual
Blitzwolf F1 Review: Design
The Blitzwolf F1 looks fantastic The Blitzwolf F1 features a solid aluminium shell that has a nice sandblasted finish. Each speaker grill has it’s own pattern, with a bold X on the front and a diamond on the rear.
It’s also a good size – around the size of a pencil case. This means that it’s small enough to chuck in a bag and take with you.
The top of the speaker features 5 diamond-shaped rubber buttons for skipping tracks (oddly labelled as +/-), answering calls/pairing, play/pause and a power button. There’s also a tiny hole for the microphone.
Only the larger Call/Pairing button is backlit. I would have liked to see them all lit up to make it easier to use in the dark but it’s not a big issue.
The ends of the speaker are capped with contrasting red rubber. A flap on the right side hides the charging and Aux in port, resulting in a very clean looking unit. These rubber flaps also help the unit achieve its IPX-5 rating, with Blitzwolf claiming that the unit should be safe from splashes, dust and drops.
The left side has a connector for a wrist strap which is nice inclusion but I have to admit I didn’t use it at all while I was reviewing the unit.
Blitzwolf F1 Review: Using It
Holding down the power button for a few seconds boots the unit. Pairing is done like pretty much every other Bluetooth speaker, by selecting the “Blitzwolf F1” from your smartphone’s Bluetooth menu. There’s a tone that lets you know when it’s paired that sounds pleasant unlike a recent speaker I reviewed.
Music playback is either controlled via your phone or the unit’s onboard controls. Whilst the Play/Pause button’s function is obvious, the +/- buttons actually pull double duty. A short press will skip tracks whilst holding them down will adjust the speaker’s internal volume. This is actually independent of your smartphone’s volume so you can push the speaker pretty hard.
There’s also the Call button which will answer an incoming call on the speaker, whilst holding it down will put the speaker into Pairing mode.
The Bluetooth connection is rock solid, and I didn’t experience any breakups at the 10m limit, even through a wall. Bluetooth can be a bit of a drainer on your smartphone’s battery though. Thankfully, the Blitzwolf F1 supports Bluetooth 4.0, meaning the speaker sips energy from your smartphone when paired.
Auxiliary input is handy for devices that don’t support Bluetooth. Connecting up the included 3.5mm cable automatically switches the speaker to using the cabled connection making it incredibly easy to use.
Blitzwolf claims that the speaker should be good for around 10-12 hours and that feels about right. After a few hours of blasting sweet metal, I’m only down to 75% so their estimate seems right.
Blitzwolf F1 Review: Sound Quality
The Blitzwolf F1 is a great sounding Bluetooth speaker. I found low, mids and highs to be fairly balanced. It’s clear the dedicated subwoofer is at work here, as most Bluetooth speakers sound tinny due to tiny drivers not being able to cope with lower frequencies.
Bass-heavy tracks such as Hard by Tech N9ne and Bass Face by The Midnight Beast sounded great, maintaining their punch. Mellow tracks showed off good detail whilst the chaos of death metal balanced bass with treble to ensure the complex vocals remained clear over powerful drum beats.
That said, at maximum volume, highs became slightly more pronounced as the subwoofer tried to match the drivers volume. That said, audio still sounded excellent, outperforming most other speakers in this price range.
Distortion was incredibly rare, with only a single test track creating some slight crackling at maximum volume.
Speaking of volume, the Blitzwolf F1 is pretty loud. According to my sound meter, I was able to hit 95db at 30cm at 90 at 1m, which is pretty impressive, particularly for such a compact unit. BlYou won’t be replacing your home theatre or dedicated stereo system with it, but filling up a small to medium sized room was no issue.
The hands free feature is a nice addition but in practice is pretty useless. Whilst I had no issue hearing the person on the other end, the Blitzwolf F1’s microphone simply isn’t sensitive enough so I could barely be heard. Don’t throw out your Bluetooth headset just yet.
Should You Get One?
The Blitzwolf F1 is an impressive Bluetooth speaker. With great audio quality, a good mix of features and top-notch build, the Blitzwolf is a great option that offers the style and most of the features of Xiaomi’s top-of-the-line speaker without the price tag. A great option.
You can get the Blitzwolf F1 Bluetooth speaker from Banggood for around $35.
The Mpow Armor Plus is an incredibly rugged Bluetooth speaker packing dual 8W drivers, a subwoofer and aux in. It certainly looks the part, but how does it sound? Read our Mpow Armor Plus review to find out!
I want to say thanks to Mpow for sending me a sample to review.
Mpow have included an good set of inclusions in the box:
1x Mpow Armor Plus Bluetooth speaker
1x micro USB charging cable
1x 3.5mm-to-3.5mm audio cable
1x Carry Bag
1x English Instruction Manual
There’s no power adapter in the box, but the Mpow Armor Plus charges via micro USB so pretty much any USB charger should do the job.
Mpow Armor Plus Review: Design
Taking the Mpow Armor Plus out of the box, you’re struck by just how militaristic this speaker is. The whole unit’s a stylish gun-metal grey, with strong geometric features. From its chunky style to dark colour scheme to geometric angles and exposed screws, this unit looks ready for battle. I love it.
The whole body of the unit is covered in thick silicone to protect the unit, including the buttons. The buttons are embossed into the rubber, protecting the electronics from dust and water. There’s all the key buttons here, including power, skip tracks, volume controls and a button to answer phone calls.
The unit is dominated by the massive metal speaker grills on the front and rear and surrounded by a chunky plastic frame. There’s a massive Mpow logo on the front of the unit. A rubber flap on the right side hides the unit’s micro USB and aux in ports.
The unit’s heavy, weighing in at a hefty 1.3kg, though that’s not surprising given the large battery and rugged design. It’s not the most portable Bluetooth speaker but that’s not what it’s designed for. It’s designed to be placed somewhere and be ready to take a beating, like on in the outdoors or on a building site.
The unit feels well-made and, whilst I wasn’t willing to try to beat it to the edge of death, it had no issues surviving a few waist high drops with only minor scratches.
Mpow Armor Plus Review: Using It
The massive 5200mAh battery takes a good few hours to charge.
Holding down the power button for a few seconds boots the speaker into pairing mode. Simply pick the Mpow Armor Plus from your smartphones Bluetooth menu and you’re ready to go. The speaker will reconnect automatically to the last paired device quickly.
Speaking of pairing, there’s handy spoken cues for turning on the unit and pairing. However, the “Power On” cue always starts a fraction of a second into the sound clip. It doesn’t affect usage at all but it sounds odd and is a disappointing oversight.
Music playback can be controlled via your smartphone or the onboard controls, allowing you to pause or skip tracks easily.
Audio volume on the speaker is separate from that on the phone so by maxing out the phone and speaker volume, you can achieve some serious volume thanks to the unit’s dual 8W drivers.
Behind the thick rubber flap is the 5V 2.1A USB port that can be used for charging your gadgets. Whilst I replace a dedicated power bank with the Mpow Armor Plus, the feature is definitely handy if you’re away from a power outlet – like out camping.
The Mpow Armor Plus is water resistant but not waterproof. It’ll handle splashes fine but don’t submerge it unless you want a dead speaker.
Battery life was good. I was easily able to get around a week of regular use so Mpow’s 22 hour estimate seems about right.
Mpow Armor Plus Review: Sound Quality
Sound quality is a mixed bag. When I initially tested out the speaker, I thought it sounded pretty average. However, later found out there’s actually two audio modes, indoor and outdoor, that sound drastically different.
The speakers outdoor mode (seemingly the default mode out of the box) prioritises bass over everything else. Music sounds muddy, with subtle elements drowned out by the units surprisingly powerful lows.
This seems to cause an odd fluctuating volume effect, with treble -centric passages appearing louder than those demanding more bass.
Thankfully, pressing the phone button toggles the unit into indoor mode. There’s no way to tell which mode you’ve changed to, as a genetic thunk only alerts you that you’ve changed modes.
Indoor mode causes music to sound far more balanced, with treble getting a welcomed boost. The weird volume fluctuations also disappeared too.
Thankfully, there appears to be a memory mode so it’ll stay in the same audio mode when you turn on the speaker next time.
In terms of volume, the Mpow Armor Plus it’s capable of some serious volume, easily filling a medium to large room with music.
I didn’t notice any clipping or distortion during testing, even at maximum volume which is a massive plus.
Mpow Armor Plus Review: Microphone Quality
I wouldn’t recommend using the Mpow Armor Plus as a handsfree device, despite it’s built in microphone. Audio quality is fine for recieving a call, with the audio being loud and clear enough.
However, trying to speak to the person on the other end is terrible. The microphone is simply not sensitive enough so the person on the end can’t hear you at all.
Should You Get One?
The Mpow Armor Plus has me conflicted. From an purely audiophile perspective, it’s pretty average – not amazing but not terrible. However, the Mpow Armor Plus is a decent speaker that definitely handles the “Armor” part of its namesake well.
If you’re wanting a speaker that you can throw around and can pump out plenty of volume and bass, the Mpow Armor Plus is a respectable option. Those looking for a solution for listening to music around the house should consider other alternatives.