Very versatile device, but there are a few niggles.
This item arrived packaged in a very attractive retail printed cardboard box, very similar to high end smartphones – it definitely reeked of quality. Inside the box were the unit itself, a remote control unit, an antenna, a USB power lead, a short HDMI extender, an infra-red receiver and a sticker to stick the receiver in a suitable location. The supplied instructions are VERY basic, and don’t even tell you which option you should pick when powering the device on. You really need to understand both Android and Kodi to use this device, the instructions just aren’t enough.
The first thing I noticed about the item was that it is quite large compared to an Amazon Fire TV stick – I have two of those and use them with Kodi, so I always use it as a basis for comparison with other TV devices. The unit also has a cap on the end covering the HDMI plug. That’s nice to have, but considering it’s going to be plugged into a TV most of the time, and it’s not attached by a string or something, I suspect it will be quickly lost.
I’m a bit confused by the large, included aerial that plugs in the back of the unit, but maybe it helps in areas where wi-fi is weak. The various inputs the device has are awesome – you can watch media from a standard USB key, a micro-SD card, obviously over Wi-Fi etc.
The included remote is quite nice, but a bit confusing. It’s very large, and it would have been nice if 2 x AAA batteries had been included. The colour buttons are grey with text telling you the colour. It is only an infra-red remote control, not RF or bluetooth, meaning you need a big ugly wire (OK, short ugly wire) plugged into the device, to stretch to somewhere at the front of your TV where the remote can send to it. It’s also not a particularly friendly remote, and although letters are printed on the number keypad, I could only make numbers work, so putting in details like a Wi-Fi key were painful. If the Fire TV stick can get away with so few buttons on its remote, why can’t this?
At least the IR receiver has a sticker provided, but it doesn’t make it any more attractive, and it means that the device is less portable. It’s nice that a decent length of Micro-USB power cable is supplied. It’d be nicer to have the power supply too, but at least it’s an ubuquitous lead, and you can use your own cable if you want one shorter or longer.
The initial boot up of the device was very slow, cycling between a skateboarding blue android character, and the manufacturer logo, but once running, the screen was quite responsive. Kodi was quite responsive too, but after around half an hour of watching programs (some times less than 30 minutes, sometimes more) the program seemed to stop and you had to start it again, which I can’t definitely say is the fault of the device, but I’ve not had that issue on my Fire TV stick from the same source.
As the device is quite wide, it’s really useful that the suppliers have included a short HDMI extender. This allows you to hang the device vertically too, rather than having it stick out horizontally behind your TV. Once plugged in, the unfortunate result of all this though was a little rat’s nest behind the TV – the power cable, the HDMI extender, the IR lead, and the antenna making it look basically a bit of a mess.
Booting into the system with a random choice of startup options took me to a customised Android home screen, which had a link to the Kodi app, and other options, including all the usual Android apps that can be fully utilised. This makes the device quite an attractive choice if you just want an android box to use as a basic computer outputting to your TV. Running Kodi unfortunately brought op a quite old version (14.2), but I suspect you’ll be able to upgrade this if you wish – it may be preferable to some people to stick with the provided version though. Outside Kodi, there is a Media Browser app, that showed some promise, but kept disconnecting from my UPNP server. I also had problems initially configuring Wi-Fi, but turning Wi-Fi off and on again resolved that. It was a shame that there’s no 5ghz Wi-Fi option.
I really think that a decent set of instructions is needed with this device – navigating the home screen is not straightforward, and people buying a pre-configured device are likely to want it to be easy, and just “plug and play”. There’s not really been any customisation of Kodi, so you’ll probably need to install your own applications on there. At least you don’t have to go through the process of side-loading Kodi, so this is definitely a positive feature.
If you’re comfortable with Android and Kodi, and don’t mind the cables and IR remote, then considering the versatility of the inputs and the access to the Android OS, this is definitely worth a shot. For beginners though, unless you want to be thrown in at the deep end, you might want to reconsider.
Thanks to Satisfacargo Euro for providing this item for review.