DroidBOX

DroidBOX T8 Mini Android TV Box Review

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

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

Check Price at DroidBOX

In This Review

DroidBOX T8 Mini Technical Specifications

General

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

Interfaces

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

Connectivity

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

Physical

  • Dimensions
    167x123x23mm
  • Weight
    250g

What’s in the Box?

Inside the box, you’ll get:

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

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

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Hardware

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DroidBOX Share

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

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

LibreELEC

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

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

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

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Media Playback

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

Codec Video Performance (DBMC 16.6.0)
1080p 3D SBS H.264
1080p 3D ABL H.264
1080p24 H.264
1080p High Bitrate H.264
1080p60 H.264
720p50 H.264
1080i25 H.264
4K 30FPS H.264
4K 60FPS H.264 Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
1080p24 HEVC
4K 30FPS 8-bit HEVC
4K 30FPS 10-bit HEVC
1080p VP8 Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
720p Hi10p Watchable – Some Skipped Frames
1080p Hi10p Unwatchable – Skipped Frames
1080p MPEG2
1080p VC1
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)

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

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

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

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

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

5.1 Audio Passthrough

5.1 audio passthrough in Kodi worked fine during my testing.

Netflix

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

External Storage Support

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

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Gaming Performance

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

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

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

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

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

Both worked perfectly for playing Beach Buggy Racing and emulators.

DroidBOX T8 Mini Review: Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
Antutu 6.2.1 35498
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 7274
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme 4317
Geekbench 4.0.3 Single Core 636
Geekbench 4.0.3 Multi-Core 1599

Verdict

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

Getting One

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

Check Price at DroidBOX

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