The writing may be on the wall for TV Boxes like this one. At the time of writing a market trader in the the north of England is being prosecuted for selling ‘Fully Loaded’ KODI TV Boxes. If the prosecution succeeds and a precedent is set no doubt HMG will put pressure on Amazon, Ebay and other online retailers to ban their sale. It should still be legal to sell TV Boxes but not with pre configured KODI or similar applications installed. So stock up whilst you can.
With rival boxes available now at less than £25 this unit must be considered now as being on the higher end of mid range. What extra features does the higher price bring?
Inside the small but nicely designed box was a the device itself, a UK power adaptor, medium sized remote control, HDMI cable, and a User Guide. The build quality seems fine and this model is a very typical TV box in this respect. The User Guide, as they often are, is small and poorly printed and contains little information of use anyway but is far from being the worst I have ever seen. I enclose a scanned copy of it on the end of my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause to read it.
As with all of these TV boxes this is essentially an Android phone without the mobile phone capabilities optimised for use with an HDMI TV as a media player for local and internet files.The core of this and similar devices is the remarkable Kodi media playing application.
The unit comes with all the necessary attachments including the one time costly HDMI cable inside. A decent range of ports is available for playing local files and additional equipment. It features: two USB, micro SD, HDMI, AV, Ethernet, power in. It features an Amlogic S905X Quad core Cortex A53 running at 2Ghz CPU, which is more than powerful enough for a TV box.
Getting the unit setup was pretty easy with all the essential apps pre installed. The only real task is to connect to your home network and it has both wifi and Ethernet options available. If you are familiar with Android then this is very simple, non Android users may find this more difficult. Once on the network to get the best from this device you should login to your Google account,so apps can be installed from the Google Play website, Gmail and YouTube will be auto configured at the same time.
Thanks to the two USB ports third party memory sticks, keyboards and mice can be used to make navigating the User Interface faster and easier, although the built in pop-up keyboard and remote control will suffice. The supplied handset is fine but some users may wish to invest in a wireless keypad to give the full range of keys and a built in mini touchpad. .
There are a variety of applications pre installed, some useful and some not, but with time you may discover that like me you find that everything want can be done from Kodi. KODI 16.1, currently the most up to date version is pre installed.
Kodi, as it is now renamed, is an immensely powerful and, for novices, frighteningly complicated media portal, with a host of plug-ins and remote repositories available. Without leaving Kodi I can view memory card files, files on all of my three NAS devices, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime.Kodi will also index and download subtitles, synopsis, song lyrics and images for all you home media files so when you browse your library this information is presented to you. Kodi can be a bit flaky to use and channels will appear and then vanish without warning so you need to keep on top of it.
This is a fairly well specified Android TV box. It comes with 2GB RAM, and with 8GB of storage. However, the box lacks both Gigabit Ethernet and dual band wifi (which gives access to the faster and less crowded 5Ghz band). That said, I must also say that in use I have found very little difference between any TV boxes once KODI is installed and running. This one works very well, has an easy to navigate onscreen menu system and seems stable and fast in use. It uses the reasonably up to date Android 6 Operating System and although Android 7 has just been launched it is yet to appear on any TV Box.
The on screen menus are attractive and easy to use and the faster processor and above average amount of RAM makes moving around fast and easy. However, once inside KODI this box feels pretty much as they all do.
I don’t really look on this device as a rival to easy access user friendly streamers like the Roku or the Amazon Fire TV as this device offers so much more but at the price of being difficult to configure as well as being more clunky and long winded to operate. Kodi uses plug-ins which are volatile in nature and tend to cease working without notice and need to be replaced or updated, A search on Youtube will find a host of guides to getting the best from KODI.
This is a good quality TV streamer but as with all Android TVs there is a learning curve to get the best from it. It has many attractive features and for me the main drawbacks are the lack Gigabit LAN, dual band wifi and and having just two USB ports rather than four.,
This is still an above average Android TV Box with enough extras to justify the higher cost.
Many essential apps pre installed including Kodi
Good build quality
SD card slot
KODI 16.1 installed
Android 6 installed
Kodi can be challenging for new users
No handset batteries supplied
Limited User Guide
Only two USB ports
No Gigabit LAN
No dual band wifi