What’s the Best Android TV Box (2017/2018 Edition)?

Since I was often asked which TV box to buy, I wrote a guide entitled “What’s the best Android TV box?” in April 2016. Time has passed, new products have launched, I tested more devices, and got further reader feedback, so it’s time for an update. There’s still no device that rules them all, and since everybody has different requirements and price points, what could the best Android TV box ever to one person, maybe be a piece of junk to another. Before purchasing a TV box, you should consider what you plan to do with it, and find the device with matches your needs and budget. So first, I’ll provide a list of things to look for – beside the SoC/RAM selection – before selecting three TV boxes that stand out (in no particular order), as well as alternatives worth looking at. Things to Look for The list is basically the same as last year, except I added two …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Sub $20 TV Box, and 14% Discount on TV Boxes and Mini PCs (Promo)

Black Friday is over, but companies still offer discounts for Cyber Monday, and GearBest has some specific deals for TV boxes and mini PCs. If you are after the cheapest TV box model around, Sunvell T95D based on Rockchip RK3229 with 1GB RAM and 8GB RAM is sold for $18.99 with coupon Bfriday303. But they also have other models sold at a discount: Zidoo X10 Media Center based on Realtek RTD1295 with 2GB/16GB configuration, HDMI input, and 3.5″ SATA bay – $164.99 shipped with coupon Bfriday289 Mecool M8S PRO W TV Box (S905W / 2GB / 16GB) – $25.99 shipped with coupon Bfriday284 Xiaomi Mi Box (International) – $66.99 shipped You can also use GBTBMP coupon on any TV box or (Intel) mini PC to get a 14% discount on any model, but bear in mind this is limited to China warehouse, and if the product is already discounted, the “normal” price will be set before applying the discount. A …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Mecool VS-RK3399 Board Linux Benchmarks

I’ve just showed how to install Debian, and build a Linux image from source on VS-RD-RK3399 board (aka Mecool VS-RK3399) last week-end, but at the time I did not run any benchmarks on the board. We already have plenty of benchmarks for Rockchip RK3399 in Android, so instead I started by installing the latest Phoronix Test Suite in Debian: … and ran the tests I did on NanoPi NEO 2 earlier: For whatever reasons OpenSSL and Mafft failed to download, but we still have the other benchmarks to compare with. Note that the Debian image is likely not optimized, and while the system runs an Aarch64 kernel, the rootfs is only 32-bit, which may have affected some of the benchmarks. But let’s see what’s we’ve got, starting with John the Ripper password cracker, a multi-threaded benchmark. We’d normally expect hardware platforms based on Rockchip RK3399 SoC to outperform all other Cortex A53 or A17 based boards in the list, but …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Checking Out Debian and Linux SDK for VideoStrong VS-RD-RK3399 Board

VideoStrong VS-RD-RK3399 (aka VS-RK3399) is a features-packed development board powered by Rockchip RK3399 hexa core core processor which offers an alternative to Firefly-RK3399 board. The company sent me a development kit for evaluation, and I’ve already looked into VS-RD-RK3399 hardware and SDK in the first part of the review. Today, after shortly looking into the pre-installed Android 7.1 OS to make sure the board boots fine, I’ll report my experience with Debian 9, and building it from source. A Quick Look at Android 7.1 I connected the board to my HDMI TV, added an Ethernet cable, and after powering it, VS-RK3399 promptly booted into Android 7.1 with the following launched. It just has a few apps pre-installed, and lack Google Play store, but as I’ve seen in the new version of the SDK, a patch for Google Play store is provided, if that’s something you need for your use case. The version I had pre-installed was built on August 14, …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid STB Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, TV Center, and DVB-T2 & DVB-S2 App

Last year I reviewed K1 Plus T2 S2, an Android TV box powered by Amlogic S905 quad core processor with DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 tuner support, which worked with some caveats. VideoStrong has now send me an updated model with Amlogic S912 octa-core processor, which I presented in the post entitled Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid Android STB Review – Part 1: Specs, Unboxing and Teardown, where I listed the specifications, and showed photos of the device and the boards (main board + tuner board). I’ve now had time to play with the device, and in many respects the user experience is very similar to the one I got with KI Plus T2 S2 models, but there are also some tweaks, and a few bugs which I’ll report in the second part of the review below. KIII Pro Hybrid TV Box Setup, Settings, & Power Consumption The four USB ports are really convenient, as I could connect a USB hard drive, an …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Mecool KM8 P Amlogic S912 TV Box Runs Android 7.1 Nougat, Sells for $39 and Up

We’ve already written about Android 7.1 on Amlogic earlier with week with an overview of the system and SDK from a developer, and there were some issues and user interface inconsistencies. However, I’ve just seen GeekBuying is now taking order for Amlogic S912 powered Mecool KM8 P TV box running Android 7.1 for $38.99 and up. Mecool KM8 P specifications: SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 System Memory – 1 or 2GB DDR3 Storage – 8 or 16GB eMMC flash and micro SD slot up to 32GB Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60Hz with CEC and HDR support, and 3.5mm AV port (composite + stereo audio) Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports Misc – IR receiver, status and network LEDs Power Supply – 5V/2A Dimensions – 97 x 97 x 10 mm The box ships with …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid Android STB Review – Part 1: Specs, Unboxing and Teardown

K1 Plus T2 S2 review has been a popular post on CNX Software, as many people tried to improve their experience with the device. VideoStrong has just send an updated version of their DVB-T2 + DVB-S2 TV box with Mecool KIII Pro octa-core Hybrid STB powered by an Amlogic S912 processor combined with 3 GB RAM and 16GB storage, and the same dual tuner configuration. I’ve started the review by posting some pictures of the hardware, inside out, before reporting my experience with Android, especially the DTV part, in a few weeks. KIII Pro Specifications SoC –  Amlogic S912 octa core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with  Mali-T820MP3 GPU System Memory – 3 GB DDR3 Storage – 16GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot up to 32GB Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60Hz with support for HDR10 and HLG, and 3.5mm AV (composite video) jack Audio Output – HDMI, AV (stereo audio), optical …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Mecool BB2 Pro Review – TV Box with DDR4 Memory – Part 2: Android Firmware, Benchmarks, Kodi

Most Android TV box comes with DDR3 or DDR3L memory, but Mecool BB2 Pro comes instead with 3GB DDR4 memory that’s supposed to offer 50% increased memory bandwidth. That’s why I was interested in reviewing the box. I’ve already checked out BB2 Pro hardware in the first part of the review, so the second part will focus on the firmware, video playback in Kodi 17, and benchmarks to find out if there’s any improvement over other Amlogic S912 using DDR3 memory. It’s not the first DDR4 box I’ve tested however, as Eweat R9 Plus powered by Realtek RTD1295 processor also included DDR4 memory, but based on my tests, there’s was no noticeable differences with Zidoo X9S based on the same processor, but with DDR3 memory. But this time, we’ll see if it is any different with Amlogic platforms. First Boot, Settings and First Impressions I connect a USB 3.0 hard drive to one of the USB 2.0 port, and a …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon