Back in September 2020, Jean-Luc wrote about the Mecool KM6 TV Box. This comes with the Amlogic S905X4 with AV1 support and preloaded with Android TV 10.
Since Jean-Luc could not review the KM6, I offered to do this for him. It was already mentioned the box was delayed in the previous article published in September. After that, it was further delayed until January 2021. So last week I received the Mecool KM6 deluxe for review.
It comes with a remote, a 2A/5V PSU, and an HDMI cable. My deluxe version has 4GB LPDDR4 and a 64GB eMMC flash. They also sell the KM6 Classic which comes with 2GB LPDDR4 and a 16GB eMMC flash.
Under the moto, don’t turn it on, take it apart. I opened the box to see its internals. There were 4 screws to undo under its rubber feet. It comes with a metal plate on the bottom which has a thermal pad making contact to the underside of the board. Also 2 SEC 1GB RAM modules are visible.
If I again remove 4 more screws I get to take the board out of its box. Now we see that there’s a well-sized heatsink on the SoC. Again 2 more NEC 1GB memory modules, and the eMMC module, as well as the WiFi chip. What surprised me was seeing an electrolytic capacitor on this board. I was told this isn’t a production unit, so this might be different on there.
I like the thermal design. Amlogic makes very power efficient SoCs, what also brings lower temperatures with it. So this heatsink + the contact with the metal plate should be more than sufficient.
Now we know what’s inside, we can turn on the box. The first thing I was met with was the question if I wanted to pair the remote. So I put some batteries in it and paired it. I can already say that I like the remote. It is simple with very few buttons and easy to use.
It also has a microphone for speech to text and a Google Assistant button. I’m amazed by how well this works. I’ve not needed a keyboard at all.
Further on I got to choose my language, connect WiFi and fill in my Google credentials. Also the possibility of pairing an Android phone with the box, which I do not have.
I also got the choice to install many recommended apps. Which I did. This did save me a lot of work. Most of the recommended apps I also use on my X96 Air S905X3 TV Box.
Once the configuration was done, all I needed to do to add the Google Play Store to the menu was click the plus button and select Google Play Store. Also all my other apps and games I can simply add to my favorites list this way.
To find out more information I asked my remote “open google play store and search for AIDA64”. My wish was a command, and it did what I asked it to. In AIDA64 I could see that the 4x ARM Cortex-A55 cores are clocked to 2GHz. This is 100Mhz more than my S905X3 TV Box. The total space of the eMMC was 53.82GB, and 3765MB of total memory.
I could not see any information about the thermals. I hope this can be fixed in an update.
I do not expect this box to overheat. But it is always good to know the true temperature of the SoC. I’ve done a lot of stress tests. And I did not feel much heat coming from the bottom metal plate.
When I initially connected my 4K display and set the display resolution to 4K60FPS, the display output was very buggy. There were some artifacts, and the screen went on and off. So my first idea was to change the HDMI cable. And this fixed the problem immediately. Because I’ve got way too many HDMI cables I lost track of which cable was delivered with the box. I should have tried that cable too.
For gaming, my PS3 controller was detected immediately with a cable and worked in games and with Android. This was a nice surprise. Often I need to use Sixaxis to make this work with Android. Though it didn’t connect with Bluetooth. For that, I could use Sixaxis. But I’m always close to the box so I don’t mind using a cable.
I played Asphalt 8. Worked great. Also played some PPSSPP. I made a video about gaming on the Odroid HC4 last week. I did not notice any difference in performance here. I even got all the same bugs as I had in EmuElec on the HC4. But for Nintendo64 games, it was a lot better than the HC4. Using M64Plus, every game I tried played great, and looked good too.
The main difference between S905X4 and S905X3 is that the former has AV1 support. This up to an amazing 4k120fps 10-bit. So I downloaded some 4K AV1 preview videos from Elecard, and I tried playing them with the default MoviePlayer. They all played smoothly.
Also, my travel videos on Youtube at 4K30fps play great, as does the 4K60fps Costa Rica nature video on Youtube.
I do not watch TV, Netflix, Prime, or any paid content. I’m a Youtuber, and I watch Youtube. The Youtube app is a bit limited for me, so I often use the Puffin TV Browser instead. Here I can see my notifications, give likes and comments.
AndroidTV 10 comes with Linux kernel 4.9.180. The Google Play Store is missing a lot of apps. No Firefox, no CPU-Z, Antutu, Facebook app, or even Google Chrome are to be found there. The only browser is Puffin Browser. This browser has little support. For some web pages, you’ll get the notification to download one of the more well-known browsers to be able to watch the page.
I downloaded a lot of APK files and tried installing all the above and more manually. Most programs did not work. Like CPU-Z 1.38 opened for about 3 seconds and then shut itself down. An older version did work. Firefox didn’t finish the installation, as didn’t the Facebook app. Antutu then installed but didn’t work as it should.
I could install AndroBench for storage benchmarks. Here I got for the eMMC :
PCMark Work 2.0 got 4,124 points, while PCMark on S905X3 reached 3,577 points. I must say I couldn’t find good benchmark tools to get much useful information.
I also sometimes noticed that the system got stuck for a few seconds. This doesn’t happen often but decreases the overall experience quality. When it got too bad I restarted the system and all was well again. It seems I’m always getting out of memory. If I’ve got this issue with the 4GB model, I would guess the 2GB version would easily get out of memory. With a fresh reboot, I’ve only got 2.28GB of free memory.
For a TV box it is great, and as 2nd device to watch Youtube while I’m using another device with a Linux desktop. But as a main device, it would be too limited for me. I don’t have a smartphone, and I like to be able to browse the internet and check my emails while I’m watching a Youtube video or a movie. That is not possible with Android.
I do love to be able to use my display at 4K and play 4K videos. Having AV1 is great for people who watch Netflix or any other streaming site that supports it. It saves bandwidth and is royalty-free, but it does not seem to work in the YouTube app yet.
I like Android TV 10 more than older versions. It’s simple and easy to use. Either with the remote or with my PS3 controller. And also with mouse and keyboard. I love to be able to use the Google Assistant with the remote to search for things. It ain’t perfect but often does a great job. This is the official Google ATV 10. So I suppose this will get updates, and hopefully more supported software.
I can also say that the probability of having Linux for this device is small. The maintainer of ArmbianTV has stopped his support for Amlogic TV boxes a while ago. So if you want Armbian Linux I can only recommend buying a supported SBC instead. The TX box can be purchased on Mecool store for $93.50 with CNXmecool coupon. Alternatively, you’ll also find it on Aliexpress for around $92 plus shipping.
You can also watch my Mecool KM6 Deluxe review video on Youtube.
Nico Andy Dekerf aka NicoD. SBC reviewer on Youtube @ NicoD’s SBCs. And forum moderator at Armbian. I’ve been using ARM SBCs for 5 years, and have in that time collected about 40 boards. I use ARM as main desktop, NAS, for gaming, handheld, when traveling powered by power banks that are charged with solar panels, … I just love ARM.
SEC = Samsung
Saying you don’t use the most popular streaming apps as a reviewer isn’t helpful, as it’s what most people would want to use something like this for and as such, should be tested. You don’t even provide any info on which DRM standards are supported. This makes for a pretty useless review.
Well no matter what else may be missing from the review, It’s the first review I have seen (of about 5 that I have seen) of an S905X4 device that intentionally made a point of trying the headlining feature of AV1 decoding. So that is something positive atleast.
I don’t watch these services either and in fact I am in a majority, so the phrase ‘most people’ is false.
There are other reviews in order to gain a fuller base of experience.
It was still a useful review.
The H96 Max X4 with s905x4 is on preorder on Aliexpress too.
H96 shipping their model with DDR3 ram. Wait awhile to see what Minix, Ugoos,, or Beelink will release for the new chipset. Personally I’m more interested in the RK3566 and if the top manufacturers can release it in a quality STB for $60-$70 price range.
A typical NicoD masterpiece. Talking all the time about himself (+50 times using ‘I’ alone), promoting his Youtube channel while not giving a sh*t about the task in question (reviewing an Android TV box with the obvious use case in mind).
Thomas, isn’t this a bit harsh ? The only place I found him talking about his tastes and habits is the sentence starting with “I don’t watch TV”. I’m reading the plenty of “I” as a way to report an experience, to narrate. OK it’s definitely not the best literary style but it’s used by plenty of people who are not used to this exercise; it takes a lot of practice to become a good writer, and I’m not sure I’d have done much better, but for sure it would have taken me a lot of time. It’s also interesting… Read more »
4K Netflix, Disney+ available?
No Netflix support at higher resolution, other streaming service reported OK by YouTube reviewers.
I was able to sideload a high res NetFlix APK. so far it’s working fine on KM6. https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/app-mod-netflix-8-1-2-build-3844-atv-for-uncertified-devices-by-netflix.4232373/
Can it run Openelec or Coreelec?
No and it is unlikely that they will support the headline feature (AV1 h/w decoding) when they do according to their write ups.
Just wanted to point out, that a big block of aluminum or metal is not equivalent to a good heatsink. On a heatsink you have conduction, convection and radiation. The latter is almost negligible for the temperatures these devices should reach, and both conduction and convection increase with contact area with air and airflow design (even when passive, convection can be made important as hot air raises). What I mean is, this is more of a thermal mass rather than a heatsink. Yes, I know, probably enough for the S904X, and at least having it connected to a metal makes… Read more »
YouTube reviewers report cooling good for streaming , web browsing and most high gaming settings. Cooler than a RPI 4 at same clock and same heatsink / cooling design.
It better be cooler than a RPI4 given it’s on a smaller node and uses smaller more energy efficient CPU cores.
Well, I tried to say I did not think this was not enough for this cpu, just that a metal plate is not a “good heatsink design”. Probably, the thermal design in this device is enough for the thermal requirements they have.
And being cooler than a Rpi4 is not a very hard requirement to meet 😀
Agreed. There’s one case where a large metal plate can constitute a good heat spreader, it’s when it is in contact with a very large surface of the enclosure (even a plastic one), because while plastic doesn’t conduct heat well due to the high thermal resistance, it does still spread a lot outside over a large surface. Some cheap devices like HDMI sticks are sold with a large plate, except that it’s in contact with nothing inside, just air, and that’s terribly inefficient. But I’ve had pretty good results with some, like the NanoPI Fire3 which spreads a part of… Read more »
What is the model number printed on the bluetooth/wifi chip?
Now i have to make up my mind if i should shell oit the 50 bucks extra for this or just go with the mi box…
Questions over qiestions…
Yeah great for you.
Poor review, not at all what I expect from CNX.
Are NicoD and “Jumbotron” on Phoronix forums the same person?
Better wait for Google TV Devices Based on android 11.
Is it a licensed version of Android TV? Does it have Widevine level 1 DRM? If not, limited use as a streaming box.
Even if it did, why would you pick this over the much cheaper Google Chromecast with Google TV?
Others have noted that Armbian and Kodi won’t support it. So: not appealing as a little computer.
Coreelec support Amlogic chips.
Chromecast does not support AV1
Mecool support widevine level 1, has as Ethernet port!
Google is Rolling Out a New Look for Android TV That’s More On-Brand
How did you get emuelec running this box is there a dtb file for it now.
I want to know this too