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Posts Tagged ‘netflix’

Xiaomi Mi Box (US) Android TV TV Box Review

February 12th, 2017 19 comments

Introduction

The Mi Box is the first Xiaomi product I have used. I received it beginning of December and have been using it regularly since then. I have received 3 updates which went through uneventfully. I was very pleased with this box. I ended up getting one for my in-laws and one for my 4 year old sons bedroom. The UI worked as expected. I have an Nvidia Shield Android TV, and the Mi Box complements it very well. Having Plex Server running on the Shield and Plex on the Mi Box is pretty fantastic to easily share content. Not to mention way more cost effective than putting a Shield in every room.

What’s Inside

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The build quality is good. The power supply puts out 5.2v which is not typical.

I do wish it had more USB ports. A single USB is inadequate. I found myself swapping USB out frequently during testing. There is optical audio and it has the round form factor. Luckily the cable I had had the adapter attached to the end, and it worked fine. No Ethernet adapter is present either.

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Teardown Photos

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Android TV UI

For anyone unfamiliar with Android TV UI I took a few screen shots. Across the top in the first screen capture a recently used/suggestion line appears. The top line will update based on your usage games, TV shows, YouTube, news etc.

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Not all apps populate this. HBO GO, Plex, Netflix, do update. Immediately below there is a MI Box Recommends section which is static.

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I was able to disable it under setting > apps to unclutter the main screen. These screenshots were taken when I first plugged in the box. I personally like the UI of Android TV and appreciate that Google ensures all apps to work with remotes and a mouse/touchpad is not necessary.

 

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Casting

Another thing that I was forced to use because DirecTV Now does not have an Android TV app yet, is the casting feature. I had it on the Shield but never really used it. Between casting my screen from my phone to most video apps I found it very easy to use. My son will navigate YouTube Kids on his tablet and cast to the TV. This is a feature you won’t find on most android boxes and I found it very convenient and easy to use.

Voice Search

During my usage and showing my son how to use the voice search I grew to like it a lot. Voice searching that is able to return YouTube, Netflix and other video apps is really convenient. My son is 4 and doesn’t speak very clearly yet but it does a good job of recognizing his voice allowing him to find the video’s he wants. (minecraft, lego, minecraft, lego, minecraft, lego) 🙂

Passthrough and Auto Framerate

I spent many many hours trying to find a good combination in Kodi/SPMC/TVMC/FTMC and couldn’t get it to work consistently. DTS only worked for me. I hope they resolve this with software in the future.

Benchmarks/Testing

This is not really fair but I performed a side by side comparison of 3DMark: Xiaomi Mi Box vs Nvidia Shield. I thought it would be interesting to see. Fear not, the Mi Box does well with light gaming. I had no problems playing games that didn’t require a controller.

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WiFi is fair at about 15Mbps on my busy Unifi 2.4 GHz network. I also have a 5GHz N built into my router and strictly using it for testing. I was able to get about 30 Mbps throughput. I still prefer a wired connection when possible and was able to use a USB to Ethernet adapter on the MI Box. I moved 2 files below one on 2.4ghz and one on 5ghz. I don’t have an AC network to test.

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I ran a few other tests and info apps below.

Widevine Level 1 Supported – Click to Enlarge

36,151 points in Antutu – Click to Enlarge

Amlogic @ 2.02 GHz – Click to Enlarge

MIBOX3 board name: once – Click to Enlarge

While reviewing

So not all apps are available due to the restrictions of Android TV and Google necessitating the apps be remote friendly. But you might run into a situation where you want to side load. If you have a air mouse or some other hid device connected it’s not a big deal. In order for to launch them in the past you loaded sideload launcher from the play store, It allows you to see all apps regardless if they are Android TV optimized. It works and is pretty easy. While reviewing I ran across a pretty neat app. TV App Repo. It makes sideloading even better.  What it does is create a small app that is basically a shortcut to your side loaded non Android TV app. Now all the apps can be launched from main screen without navigating to the sideload launcher sub menu. It worked on the few I tested. On the community addition, there are a few apps that it hosts one of which was Amazon Prime video. But I didn’t have luck getting videos to play other than trailers.

Final Thoughts

I wasn’t going to perform any benchmarking on this box. I don’t think that it is relevant. But I knew it would be crucified. This box was in my opinion built to consume media and I think it does it very well. All the streaming media apps worked great. The only drawback is that HDMI passthrough and auto framerate switching did not work consistently enough in Kodi or Plex. Streaming from HDHomerun works well even over WiFi. Amazon Prime Video is missing from this box. I did try some other methods to watch and only was able to cast from a web browser successfully.

During testing I didn’t use Kodi much and stuck with the main streaming apps that are optimized for Android TV. I hope Koying, the maintainer of SPMC, a fork of Kodi, brings some love to the Mi Box in the near future or even the Kodi team.

If you’re not an audiophile this will make a great box to stream with and hopefully save some money. If you are an Audiophile the Mi Box complements the Nvidia shield on other TV’s where surrounds sound doesn’t matter.

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending a review sample and their patience while I reviewed it. I really like to use the products for a while and get a good feel for them. If you are thinking about getting a Mi Box, it helps CNX by clicking & purchasing through this link.

YokaTV KB2 Review – Amlogic S912 TV Box with 32 GB Flash

December 15th, 2016 14 comments

CNXSoft: This is another review by Karl about Amlogic S912 based YokaTV KB2 TV box.

Introduction

Today we will be looking at Videostrong YokaTV KB2. Below are the specs from Videostrong website.

yokatv-kb2-specifications

This is my first S912 device so I had high expectation. I have been using it for quite some time now with no major issues. I received approximately 6 OTA updates since I started testing and some welcome updates have come.

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Build

When I receive a box first thing I do is take it apart and check out the inside. I was excited when I found out it had 32 gig of storage. It is not too common.

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Then when I opened the box I was really happy to see an antenna that wasn’t soldered on. Makes it easy to add a different one. +1 for KB2. Then I noticed the heat sink. It seemed a little small. I was right, it runs warm.

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Simple Mod

First thing to do: get this baby running cooler. When stressing the box, the temperature got over 80+°C a couple times. It ran between 70 and 75 °C on average before the mod. The case is mostly plastic except the bottom cover. Bingo! A couple squares of 5mm thermal pads between the board and the bottom of the case and thermal issues are gone.

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I started SetCPU and ran the built-in stress test, it tops out around 72 °C, and quickly cools after stopping the test. I put a square approximately where the CPU is and while I had it open, where the memory is although I don’t think it is necessary. After the mod, the box runs about 60 deg Celsius.

Antutu

For this test I use SetCPU to set the Min and Max frequency for the CPU to 1.5 GHz which is the max for this processor. It will give the best score.

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Network Test

I am not sure why my WiFi was slow on the tests below. I don’t have an AC access point yet. The best I have is N, maybe that is the cause. Some friends over on Freaktab are getting some really good speeds on AC with this box. I might have damaged something when I opened the box.

Below are the results but take them with a grain of salt. I do a simple file transfer test of a large movie with optimum conditions for WiFi then one in more real world scenario.  

5ghz 3ft from NAS to internal SD

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2.4ghz 3ft from NAS to internal SD

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Gigabit Ethernet from NAS to internal SD (This is as fast as my NAS can transfer)

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Next is more real world where AP’s have more obstruction.

5ghz 30ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-5ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash-30feet2.4ghz 30ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-2-4ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash-30feetSome More Benchmarks and Info

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Apps

I’ve used several apps and only Netflix and Direct Now had some issues:

  • Sling TV
  • Netflix (SD) – Stopped working after updating the app
  • Kodi
  • Chrome – Chrome works really well. I open a bunch of heavy URL’s and it performs excellent. Nothing scientific here. Go to several sites that I visit daily and I felt no lag.
  • Plex
  • Emby
  • HDHomeRun
  • Crackle
  • DirectTV Now – Worked with some hacking
  • Player-MediaCenter App – I will admit it has been a while since I tested out this app. It acts as a DLNA receiver and Airplay receiver. I didn’t have much luck in the past but I tested on my one Apple device the screen mirroring worked.

At some point Netflix stopped working. Keep getting few seconds of video then error 0013 “Sorry, we could not reach the Netflix service….” Not sure if it is Netflix update or box update that caused the issue. I went back and did some more testing to narrow the issue down. If I reverted back to the Netflix that came pre-installed I had no issue.

DirectTV Now is a new service in the US. With some persistence I was able to get it running. Video wasn’t perfect but neither was it on any devices I tested. It was surprising that it plays better on KB2 then Nvidia Shield. It is mostly watchable but stutters some. It is new so hopefully ATT will get this fixed soon. I had to do a couple things to get it working. After Googleing and a lot of experimenting I used 2 apps from play store: Hide My Root and Fake GPS. I also had to make 2 build.prop changes: ro.build.type=userdebug to ro.build.type=user and ro.build.tags=test-keys to ro.build.tags=release-keys. I tried on a couple different boxes after figuring this out and seems to work universally.

Remote Control

The remote is big but there is a built in app that is pretty convenient. There are 4 color coded buttons on the remote that you can customize to launch the apps that you want through an app on the box. There is also a dedicated app button that brings up a listing of all the apps. Everything else is pretty standard. You can also program the remote to turn your TV on and off through a learning feature. But alas I still prefer either an air mouse or touchpad with full keyboard.

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Status Bar

Thank the gods…there is an option to turn the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen off and on in Android settings…It is about a 50/50 split for people that like them and those that don’t. This was the first box that I have tested that gives the user an option.

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Audio Passthrough

All the below tests worked. I set Android to SPDIF. I tested with latest SPMC 16.4.2 and Kodi 16.1. Turned on pass-through DTS and AC3 and all the videos below worked with no clipping. I have a 5.1 system. If I didn’t have the AC3 ticked I would get no audio on some. First box with 100% working that I have tested on stock firmware.

yokatv-kb2-kodi-audio-pass-through-settings audio-file-list-dts-dolby-truehd4K Video

4k testing went well. I was able to play all videos smoothly with one player or another that it was supposed to play. Below are the test results. This box does not play 4k H.264 video @ 60fps per sec, so stutter is expected. Kodi and derivatives play best with amcodec turned off. The box ships with Kodi 17 beta but since it is beta, it is not very stable. I uninstalled it, and tested with Kodi 16.1 from the Play Store instead. I am not sure why 4k 8bit H.265 works better with amcodec turned on. I found the same results on S905x boxes. For the testing, I wanted to find the best overall solution and that is Kodi with amcodec turned off.

Test File Name With Amcodec Without Amcodec MX Player
23.976fps (in MP4) GoPro Epic Russian Wingsuit in 4K good
24fps (in MP4) SPRING 4K (ULTRA HD) good
25fps (in MP4) Burj Khalifa Pinnacle BASE Jump – 4K good
29.970fps, 51Mbps (hdmkv’s iPhone 6S 4K clip) iphone6s_4k good
59.940fps (in MKV) samsung_seven_wonders_of_the_world_china_uhd-DWEU wont play stutter stutter
60fps (in MP4) COSTA RICA IN 4K 60fps (ULTRA HD) w Freefly Movi wont play good
H264, up to 30fps Sony_Alpha_7R_II_video-test-4K good
H264, 50-60fps linkin_park_ultra-hd wont play stutter stutter
H265 8bit, up to 30fps LG_4K_View-the-Feeling good stutter good
H265 10bit, up to 30fps Samsung_UHD_Dubai good
H265 10bit, 50-60fps Samsung_UHD_7Wonders_of_the_World_Italy good
UltraHD HDR 10bit HEVC, 24fps Exodus_UHD_HDR_Exodus_draft good
VP9 The Curvature of Earth 4K 60FPS good not as good best

Alternate Firmware

Super Celeron has put together a nice modification of the latest stock firmware from 11/23. He cleaned up the firmware and made some adjustments to boot to bring idle down to about 1% and got auto frame rate switch working. See full changelog.

So to get 100% working pass-through and auto frame rate switching after installing the firmware above, as well as SPMC version 16.5.2. Codec acceleration is a little muddy at times. 4K files work best with amcodec off, and anything less work best with amcodec on. Below are my settings.

yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-automatic-frame-rate-switching yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-audio-pass-through yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-video-codecsConclusion

I had this box for a while now and used it as my main box and it has performed really well. Consistent updates from Videostrong is much needed in the box world. I hope it continues. Gigabit Ethernet performed really well. Pass-through working 100% is fantastic and will make a lot of people happy. Video support in Kodi is really good. VP9 support is not 100% but MX player gives everyone an option if they have movies in that format.

I would like to thank Videostrong for sending a review sample. YokaTV KB2 can be purchased on Gearbest, Geekbuying, and Aliexpress for about $68.

How to Play Netflix HD on any Android Device with Widevine Level 1 DRM

November 28th, 2016 29 comments

A while ago I wrote an article entitled “Why Doesn’t your Android TV Box Play Full HD or 4K Videos in Netflix?” basically explaining that most TV boxes running Android could only play SD quality, because HD and higher quality requires both Widevine Level 1 DRM, and Netflix certification, and the second part is the most difficult since Netflix need to spend time testing a given product, and may not agree to do so for smaller manufacturers. The end result is that only a small subset of devices can play Netflix HD.

netflix-hd-tabletSamsung Tab S2 is one of the device with Widevine Level 1, but is not certified by Netflix, and by default can only play SD quality. But XDA Forum user chenxiaolong apparently found a workaround and as the photo above shows is now able to reach HD resolutions (e.g. 1920×1080) with Netflix using his tablet. After analyzing packets between the server and his two Samsung tablets, he noticed that he could set “enableWidevineL1” from the JSON response to true, and provided a method showing how to change the app without uploaded a modded apk. But others followed his instructions and released a modified Netflix HD apk.

Although it might or might not breach Netflix TOS, please note that this has nothing to do with piracy at all, nor does it skip DRM, as it still requires both a Netflix HD subscription and a device supporting Widevine Level 1 DRM. Sadly that also means the trick will still not work on most cheap Android TV boxes that are limited to Level 3 security. It’s also quite possible Netflix eventually notices and changes the code to prevent this little hack. You can check Widevine DRM support with DRM Info app.

Thanks to Theguyuk for the tip.

Categories: Android Tags: Android, hack, netflix, tablet, TV box

Giveaway Week – WeTek Core Android TV Box

November 1st, 2016 267 comments

For day 2 of this giveaway week, I’ll send one lucky winner WeTek Core Android or OpenELEC TV box powered by Amlogic S812 processor, and one of the rare boxes with support Netflix HD, which is partially why I listed it as one of the best Android TV boxes.

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But as discussed in WeTek Core review, there are also other reasons the box stands out with HD audio pass-through and automatic frame rate switching support, support forums, regular firmware updates, and WeTek is one of the few companies providing an official OpenELEC firmware image.

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All accessories shown above are included, except the HDMI cable.

To enter the draw simply leave a comment below. Other rules are as follows:

  • Only one entry per contest. I will filter out entries with the same IP and/or email address.
  • Contests are open for 48 hours starting at 10am (Bangkok time) every day. Comments will be closed after 48 hours.
  • Winners will be selected with random.org, and announced in the comments section of each giveaway.
  • I’ll contact the winner by email, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another winner.
  • Shipping
    • $17 for registered airmail small packet for oversea shipping payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest (for a given product) is complete.
    • If Paypal is not available in your country, you can still play, and I’ll cover the cost of sending the parcel by Sea and Land (SAL) if you win.
  • I’ll post all 7 prizes at the same time, around the 10th of November
  • I’ll make sure we have 7 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this giveaway week, I’ll draw another person.

Good luck!

WeTek Core was released late 2015, but it’s now out of stock on WeTek store and Amazon shop, as it may have been replaced by more recent Amlogic S905 based WeTek devices such as WeTek Hub. I can still be found via some eBay sellers.

Large American Technology Companies Abusive Practices Against Bloggers

September 10th, 2016 53 comments

OK the title might be a little over of the top, but within the last month or so, I’ve been a “victim” of three American companies’ requests, via third parties, namely their customers or technology partners, never directly, to delete or amend the content of this blog. One which I believe is justified albeit not really necessary, and two are just ridiculous, with the latest one prompting me to write this post.

us_companies_against_free_speech

The first issue was about a post entitled “Allwinner A64 based Pine A64 and Banana Pi M64 Boards Can Now Run Windows 10 IoT Core“, where I shared .ffu firmware file links that I found directly via a page on Microsoft Azure github about Banana Pi board. There were accessible without any EULA, or agreement. So The Internet being the Internet, where you can freely share links that don’t break any sort of copyrights or promote hate, I added the links to my post, as well as a video showing the board with Windows IoT.

Two days later, I received an email from a company telling Microsoft had been asked them to ask me to “remove the ffu links from the article as MS are quite sensitive about publishing them” and “could you remove the video?”. I reluctantly did it, since I’ve received DMCA requests from Microsoft in the past for allegedly infringing on their copyrights in that post, but the way Google words them, it’s nearly impossible to find out why exactly. Google will normally comply with Microsoft request, so the page was removed from Google Search results, but funnily enough I can find it in Bing… On the bright side, there’s a lawsuit against DMCA by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in progress… Who knows, this might also help terminate YouTube’s “you’re guilty until proven innocent” policy regarding fair use of copyrighted audio and video…

The second US company asking me to modify my content this month was Intel, against by proxy, through their customer. The post was “Intel Atom C3000 Denverton Processor Targets Low Power Servers“, and a company contacted me to remove two pictures, and references to a specific company, as Intel had seen this was in conflict with an NDA. I got the picture and info from Anandtech, but I was explained that there’s been a misunderstanding with Anandtech when they published the pictures, and I could see they had themselves removed the pictures, so I did it too as I felt it was a fair request. However, I still have a hard time understanding how those two pictures can negatively impact Intel business, and IMHO they’d better focus their efforts on more important things. It also took them around 50 days to report the issue…

Netflix was the third company asking me to remove content or even delete a post by proxy. The interesting part is that I did not have any input from any company involved when I wrote “MINIX NEO U9-H 4K HDR Amlogic S912-H Android TV Box Coming in October“, as I got all my info from HDBlog Italia, except for one confirmation about the use of Amlogic S912-H processor. The post was written five days ago, and today I received an email by a third party asking me to remove the post. Wow, that’s quite a request without explanation… So I asked why and whether I could amend part of the post instead, and I was told that Neflix was quite unhappy about my post because of the text in bold below:

One interesting point is that Widewine Level 1 DRM is supported, so some premium video streaming app will support HD and maybe 4K UHD. It does not mean Netflix HD/4K will be supported however, as this requires an extra agreement with Netflix, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

It’s quite a well known fact that Netflix HD and 4K does not work on all devices, and Netflix even have a list of working devices. It’s quite hard to understand why this comment would become an issue, unless Netflix feels like it makes them look like the deliver a poorly supported service… Anyway, I changed the “inadequate” post by removing the text in bold, and wrote this post instead to make everybody happy 🙂

Android TV Box Survey Results – Kodi, YouTube, Netflix, Brands, Support, and Prices

August 16th, 2016 4 comments

I’ve launched a survey on behalf of a TV box manufacturer two weeks ago, and the results are now in with over 400 respondents. As promised, the company provided the results so let’s have a look.

First, most of respondents use a TV box without tuner, while some have both, and a few others haven’t purchased one yet.

TV_Box_Tuner_or_NotSurvey participants where then asked about the most important apps in an Android TV box with a 1 (not important) to 6 (very important) scale.

TV_Box_Kodi_YouTube_NetflixThe results are not really surprising with Kodi and YouTube being the most sought after apps. Netflix came a distant third, and a fair amount of respondents want their TV box to support HD resolutions. Most people could not care less about Hulu and Sling TV.

The third question was about the price people were ready to pay for a TV box with the same specs, but from various brands. It looks prices listed during the survey changed overtime, so we have three sets of answers instead of just one.

TV_Price_Brand_MINIX_WeTekThat part of the survey was a little odd, as both WeTek and MINIX TV boxes would sell for the same total price (with shipping), but MINIX would include shipping, while WeTek would have separate shipping.The price listed for Nvidia Shield is most probably for actual specs, rather than similar specs. Anyway, it seems respondents are ready to pay a bit more ($15) to a lot more ($60) for a given brand and the support that comes with it.

The final question was just about the extra price people would pay for specific features such as Netflix HD, and good support.

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The majority of respondents some Netflix users, who already paid for their subscription fees, some who don’t use Netflix at all, don’t feel like they want to pay extra to get HD and 4K UHD support for this single app, although some do. $10 extra seems to be the sweet spot for community and support.

There was also a lucky draw for the survey, and the company already selected the winner: Andrés.

Have Your Say with this Android TV Box Survey (and Potentially Win One)

August 1st, 2016 15 comments

While you probably know what you want in an Android TV box, it’s quite difficult to find out what the market wants exactly, so I’ve been asked to run a short survey about Android TV boxes, the importance of Android apps like Kodi, Plex, or Netflix, brands, and support.

TV_Box_SurveyIt will run for about 7 days, the results will be public, so I’ll post them once they become available. The survey is short – 5 questions -,  and anonymous, except if you want to participate in the lucky draw to win one Android TV box, as you have to leave an email address.

Categories: Android Tags: Android, kodi, minix, netflix, nvidia, TV box, wetek

Review of No.1 D6 Android Smartwatch Powered by Mediatek MT6580 Processor

July 23rd, 2016 13 comments

Karl here with a new review. This one is a little different. A smart watch, but not your average smart watch, as most smartwatches supplement a phone. This is a standalone smartwatch. It runs full Android 5.1. It is the D6 by No. 1. It has a 3G radio and SIM card slot. I was really excited when I found out I could do this review.

Below are some pics from their website.

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Another professionally shipped and packaged product and some box pics

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No1_D6_Smartwatch_Specs

Here are the specs from No. 1’s website.

Product Overview
Model NO.1 D6
Product modeling Android Smartwatch
System Android 5.1
CPU MT6580 quad core Cortex A7 @ up to 1.3 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
Screen Resolution 1.63″ 320 x 320 resolution
RAM 1GB
ROM 8GB
Wifi Support
Google Play Support
Features
Make calls Support
See text messages Support
Contacts Support
Heart Rate Support
Pedometer Support
Bluetooth BT2.1 + BLE4.0
Browser Support
Barometer Support
Voice Search Support
Alarm Support
Weather Support
Health Data Synchronization Support
Change Clock Face Support
Install App Support
Operation frequency GSM/ 850/900/1800/1900 ; WCDMA 850/2100
Language Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (simplified), Indonesian, Malay, Czech, Danish, German (German), German, English (UK), Spanish (United States), Filipino, French, Croatian, Italian language, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Netherlands, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romania, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, Vietnamese, Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian language, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Thai, Burmese, Khmer, Korean, Japanese
Hardware
Speaker Support
Battery capacity 450 mAH
Antenna Support
Side buttons Support
Chargers Support
USB Support
G-SENSOR Support
Package weight 170g

First Impressions

The watch looks good to me. I had a few people say it looked big to them but I don’t feel like it is too big….in fact I wish it were bigger. Below are some pics I took. My pictures don’t due it justice so that is why I posted the professional pics above.

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No1_D6_Android_Smartwatch

First Tests

First thing I did was try to push it to the max and do some absurd testing. What does that entail? For me it was watching movies on a watch. Kodi Netflix MX player, Plex, HdHomerun, and Emby.

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To my surprise most worked pretty well considering it is a watch. With Emby I couldn’t use the built in player and had it use MX player and I couldn’t get Plex to work at all. This is not a deal breaker…it is really a ridiculous test but sometimes you do things just to see if they could be done. I also ran Antutu and got a 23221 on version 6.1.4….not too shabby for a watch.

No.1_D6_Antutu_6_Score

OTA Firmware Update

After a couple days I received notification that the watch needed to be updated. So I performed the updated and followed the instructions. It went through and when it booted the first time after the update it hung on the boot animation and got really warm. I waited a long time I took the battery out and when I turned it on next it booted properly. Then a 2nd update appeared but this time the watch soft bricked. I went to the website, downloaded the latest firmware, and installed it. It mostly went off without a hitch except I should have waited to plug in the watch until after I installed the drivers. It took 30 tries for me to catch the device in the device manager to install the drivers manually from the download. Included in the download were the drivers and flashing tool and img. It did not come with any instructions that I saw but it was easy to reflash. (Received another update today and it installed perfectly.)

Setup

I didn’t like the built in launcher at first so I installed Nova Launcher. Added 3 widgets one is clock, circle battery widget from the play store, and power control widget. Nova is pretty customizable so I was able to mimic an android phone setup. But I ended up getting errors with Nova and it would force close frequently and I had to choose default launcher over again.

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I really wish Nova worked better, didn’t close like this, and I think it takes a toll on the battery. I installed Apex launcher which worked pretty well and not too heavy but had to sacrifice too much. After a while I ended up back with the stock launcher. It’s good enough for a watch that runs full android with a small screen.

Use

So as I see it, there are a couple ways use the device. You can use it as a standalone. Pop a SIM card in and use it as your phone. A Bluetooth headset is necessary for this. Speaker phone is weak and there is no privacy. I tested first with a Ting SIM card. Popped it in and I was immediately up and running. I only made a few calls this way. I also tested with a Metro PCS SIM. Not quite as easy…I had to call and give Metro my IMEI number, and about 30 minutes later I was in business. I am not a fan of Bluetooth headsets so I didn’t enjoy this way. And I got caught at the end of the day once before I started charging midday without phone service. 2nd way is you can use it paired to your phone through Bluetooth and receive notifications, pass files to the watch and uninstall applications on the watch. Use it like a traditional smart watch. I didn’t find this particularly useful and when you get out of range of the watch both the watch and the phone beep. I opted to use it standalone. When out and about I turn on my hotspot on my phone and when home I use my home WiFi. This seemed to work best for me. You could also pair the phone and watch and also use hotspot. I just didn’t find notifications particularly useful. The good thing about this watch is you get many choices.

Battery

The battery has a 450 mAh capacity…which is tiny considering this processor is installed in full size phones. I really had to watch what I installed and had to be conscious of background tasks or it would destroy the battery. After testing to see if I could make it all day I started charging on my lunch break at work after that I didn’t have to be concerned with battery life. It charges relatively fast. After receiving the last OTA update when this review was nearly complete, I got significantly better battery life. I used it quite a bit the next day and I had about 20% left at the end of my work day with no charging. Depending on how it is used will significantly impact battery. I would recommend a second charging cable. It is proprietary with magnets that aren’t particularly strong. I found sometimes it was difficult to get it to stay.

Apps

I installed lots of different apps. Everything would install and was mostly usable. On a small screen it was sometimes difficult to navigate. I covered all the video apps already but I also installed ES File Explorer and to get on the pop bandwagon I installed Pokemon Go and it played fine.

No1_D6_Smartwatch_Android_Apps

There are thousands of apps and if you would like for me to test one leave a comment below and I will give it a shot. I live in the United States so some apps might not be available.

Radios/Antennas

Cellular, WiFi, or GPS worked ok. I had more dropped calls than I typically did with my smartphone. I do live in rural America so this will vary. WiFi range was OK. With Pokemon Go I did notice that trees were enough to disrupt the GPS signal.

Final Thoughts

It’s a pretty neat watch considering what it is doing in such a small amount of space. With this last update from No.1 battery life improved a lot. I wish it had come earlier in the review. It is definitely up the tech junkies alley and would make a cool gift. I am sure there are a lot of uses that it could be used for. There is a long thread on XDA as well covering the watch and I would imagine a custom ROM will be out soon. People are already flashing an img from another smartwatch on this one. Supposedly 6.0 will be coming to the watch in the near future and hopefully bring adaptable storage to the watch. If you have any questions feel free to post in the comments below.

I would like to thank Chinavasion for sending the NO. 1 D6 to review. It comes in 3 different versions: silver like shown in review, gold, and black. You can purchase it for $76.99 on their website. Alternatively, you can also find the watch on GearBest, GeekBuying, eBay, and Aliexpress for similar or slightly higher prices up to $90.