A few days ago, I wrote an Unboxing and Specs post regarding the M8, an Android TV Box high-powered by Amlogic S802 quad core Cortex A9 processor. The review took a little as i was awaiting a replacement firmware. I’ve now upgraded this S802 Box, and been able to complete a review. As usual , I’ll start by giving my 1st impressions, have a look at the computer programme and settings, test completely different king of video files, evaluate Wi-Fi performance, and try to hide most hardware options including Bluetooth, external storage, USB webcam, and so on. The overall user’s experience, is very just like Tronsmart Vega S89, but there square measure some notable variations I’ll go through throughout the review.
First Boot, Settings and First Impressions
android tv box ireland sent me a sample unit that they call M8, but I’ll simply refer to the device as M8 within the review. The device comes with a simple IR remote comes, but did not include 2 abdominal aortic aneurysm batteries. I only use the remote shortly, as I prefer using an RF remote with android, and I used Mele F10 air mouse during testing which has a QWERTY keyboard, and a gyroscope to simply move the mouse pointer. Beside the IR remote, the sample I received only included a 5V/2A power provide, so i additionally had to take a spare HDMI cable. Retail versions of the box may included an HDMI cable but. Before connecting the power, I’ve connected an local area network cable, an HDMI cables, and the Mele F10 USB RF dongle. There’s no power button on the device, so as shortly as you connect the power, a blue LED lits up, and the device boots to an equivalent Windows 8 / Metro-style user’s interface as Tronsmart Vega S89.
At the top of the screen there area unit status icons (Ethernet/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/Storage), the weather (only Chinese cities are on the market in the settings), as well because the time and date. There are also six main menus, the same a Vega S89, but with completely different apps: on-line Video (One Chinese app), My recommend (favorite apps), Setting, The firmware in M8 as quite a few Chinese apps, which were not gift or off from Vega S89 computer code. There are additionally shortcuts on rock bottom of the screen with 4K player, Music, Chinese IPTV app, and APK installer by default. You can add and take away those you would like as you want, and I’ve done this with XBMC and Play Store as you can see from the screenshot. The user interface resolution is 1920×1080.
The “Setting” menu gives you access to the settings shown in the same Metro-style with four sub menus: Network, Display, Advanced and Other.
The network settings allow you to choose LAN or Wi-Fi, the display settings has specifically the same choices as Vega S89: autodetect resolution, UHD / 4K output support, hide or show the status bar, adjust the show size, and screensaver. I’ve enabled the status bar, as it’s a lot of more convenient to use that approach, and the bar automatically hides once you play videos. The Advanced menu will let you begin Miracast (Source only, not a display), enable the software system Remote management (RemoteIME.apk, adjust CEC controls, set your location (only Chinese cities are available), set the screen orientation, and select digital audio output (PCM, SPDIF pass-through, HDMI pass-through). The Other button can provide some details regarding the android version (4.4.2) and kernel version (3.10.10). There’s also AN OTA System Update menu, which will not work. You can access the quality android settings by inquiring Setting->Other->More Settings. The Android settings in this box square measure supported the phone interface, not the tablet one, which needs many a lot of clicks.
I’ve used HDMI output with 1080p during my testing, which was automatically detected as I started the device. But If I switch to manual mode, I can additionally see 4K video output at twenty four, 25 and thirty cycles/second, and as well as 4K SMPTE. There’s also an av output, which is mechanically used, if HDMI is not detected. It works fine including stereo audio output. Once you are using av output, you can move to the setup menu to pick between 480cvbs and 576cvbs. To switch back to HDMI, insert the HDMI cable. and select the input on your TV. A reboot is not necessary.
There’s 5.75 GB area reserved for the user out of the 8GB NAND flash, and right after firmware upgrade, there’s over 5GB free space on the single partition on the market. The firmware was frozen. Looking into the “About MediaBox” section shows the model variety is “K200″, and just like the custom settings section, it shows Android four.4.2 is running on high of Kernel three.10.10.
I could install most applications from Google Play Store including Facebook, ES File explorer, Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Vellamo, Candy Crush Saga, etc… Sixaxis Controller failed to install returning a mistake in Google Play. It’s the same behavior as Vega S89, and I’ve been told all paid apps won’t install. I’ve also put in the Amazon Play Store, to use one of the free app of the day I previsouly downloaded on another device (Riptide 2).
As mentioned previously there’s no power button on the device, and all you’ll be able to do is to used the IR remote to enter and exit standby mode. A real power off would force you to disconnect the facility. I’ve checked the temperature of the box after running a 3D game. The top was fifty five °C, the bottom 43 °C, with my room temperature around twenty eight °C. This is precisely the opposite of Tronsmart Vega S89 where the highest is “cool”, but the bottom is hot.
As expected performance is sweet, and the system is extremely responsive, but the computer code is not that stable, as I experienced many hangs up / freezes, requiring a power cycle. This happened during benchmarks, gaming and whereas taking screenshots. In two instance, the device apparently turned itself off automatically (Blue light-emitting diode off), maybe due to heating. I also had some text input problems from times to times (double characters) exploitation Mele F10, and it also happened with Vega S89 however I forgot to mention it.
XBMC 13.0-beta 1 is pre-installed on the device, so I’ve used XBMC for video testing. I only used magnetic flux unit Players in case of errors, and to double check Dolby / DTs audio.. The videos are played from a SAMBA share on Ubuntu thirteen.10 using the local area network connection of the device. I had no problem for SAMBA configuration in XBMC nor metallic element File explorer.
I started with the videos from samplemedia.linaro.org, plus some videos with H.265/HEVC codec from Elecard:
- H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
- MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK.
- MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
- VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
- Real Media (RMVB) – Failed. Nothing happens.
- WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p/1080p is – OK. (1080p failed in Vega S89)
- H.265 codec / MPEG TS container, 360p/720p/1080p
- XBMC – Audio only then crash,
- MX Player – will play and audio works, but everything is in slow motion with several frames skipped.
I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:
- ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – No video, audio only.
- big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK. No audio/video sync problems as in Vega S89.
- h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
- hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Video is supported but some frames area unit skipped.
I’ve also tested common audio codecs below, using PCM in XBMC, and I got an equivalent results like Vega S89:
- AC3 – Can rewrite audio, but video was terribly slow
- Dolby Digital five.1 / Ray M. Dolby Digital seven.1 – OK
- TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
- DTS-MA and DTS-HR – OK
MX Player, however, won’t output any audio when enjoying these files using the H/W decoder.
Sintel-Bluray.iso, a free Blu-ray ISO file, could play simply fine in XBMC, and I could additionally navigate between the eight chapters of the video.
I’ve tested several 4K Videos in mx Player (XBMC will not work – audio only):
- HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (60 Mbps) – OK
- Sintel.2010.4K.mkv – Frequent pauses (buffering?) during playback once enabling S/W rewrite for AC3 five.1 audio. No audio output using the H/W audio decoder.
- Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – Slow motion video playback in MX Player…
I also tested many AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos, and they could all play, except one FLV which solely had audio output. I did not experience the audio/video synchronize problems I found in Vega S89 in any of the videos.
Links to various video samples employed in this review and be found in “Where to urge video, audio and images samples” post and comments.
Using Es File explorer, I’ve transferred a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash, and vice versa, repeating the check 3 times. I’ve tried testing the transfer at different times to avoid the problems I had with Vega S89. But the results were a lot of or less consistent. Wit5h this device there’s a clear difference in performance between transfers between SAMBA to the flash, and vice versa. Transferring the file between flash and SAMBA took between 3:16 and 4:54, but in the reverse direction it took between 5:51 and 7:47. The transfer times averaged a poor 5:02 (0.92 MB/s), which makes M8 the laggard among devices I’ve tried.
M8_Wi-Fi_PerformanceI’ve tried to play some of the 1080p videos from Linaro samples, and none of them could play while not pauses due to buffering.
I’ll add the usual disclaimer about Wi-Fi: “Please bear in mind there are several factors once it involves Wi-Fi performance, and the results you’ve got together with your setup could also be greatly different from those I’ve gotten here.”
Bluetooh is built-in in this android TV Box, and you can enable it only from the quality android settings, as there’s no option in the tube style settings. M8 won’t find any devices (I have a UNIX laptop with a Bluetooth electronic device and an android phone). However I will try my phone (ThL W200) to M8. Unfortunately it will not appear to figure that well, as I failed to transfer any files, as there’s no notifications after causation a image from either direction. My Ubuntu PC will discover M8, but fails to try.
I’ve skipped Sixaxis Compatibility Check (free app), as M8 can’t install paid apps, in this case, Sixaxis Controller.
I could use each an SD and a USB flash drive formatted to FAT32 with success, and played some MP3 and videos.
I could use a low price no whole USB digital camera with Skype. Video was OK, the “Echo Test” in Skype could record my voice mistreatment the digital camera mic, and repeat my voice. I could additionally begin a video decision in Google Hangouts, something that did not work with Vega S89.
I’ve tested games: Angry Birds Star Wars, Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide 2. The first 2 ar easy games that play fine on all recent twin core or quad core hardware. I’ve configured Beach Buggy Blitz to most graphics settings, and it could still run smoothly. Riptide 2 might run terribly well too. With the Mali-450MP6 GPU there should not be any issues running the overwhelming majority of mechanical man games with high graphics details.
Since we can’t install paid app, I could not take a look at Sixaxis controller. I found it’s usually tough to play games on mechanical man TV devices, but I’ve seen SomeCoolTechs video review of the Vega S89 using G910 bluetooth gamepad that works with several games while not a lot of problem, which I could need to verify. You could additionally use together with your smartphone as a controller using Droidmote.
M8 / TM8 Benchmarks
CPU-Z gives bascially the same data for M8 as for Vega S89. The CPU is reported as a quad core Cortex A9 r4p1 clocked between twenty four megahertz to one.99 Gc with associate ARM Mali-450 GPU, and the board is additionally the same: k200. However, the firmware won’t be totally compatible as Vega S89 Elite (8 GB flash) uses AP6220 Wi-Fi module (2.4 GHz), and Vega S89 (16 GB) and M8 (8GB) uses AP6330 (2.4/5GHz).
M8 gets 24,133 in Antutu from, the play store, against 22,603 for Vega S89 Elite. In Vega S89, Antutu detailed results showed “4x cores @ 1104 MHz”, but in M8 it shows properly “4x cores @ 1992 MHz”. Firmware is newer in the M8, so this could one reason. Some people have reported reaching thirty,000 points in Antutu, with allegedly the same firmware, so I marvel if it’s attributable to some thermal management, as my room is comparatively heat at twenty eight degree C. Just as with Vega S89, the GPU benchmarks have been run in portrait mode (607×1080), instead of full screen mode, which suggests that alternative apps area unit seemingly to possess problems too. I’d like to show M8 didn’t completely run Antutu once or doubly, so it could be potential they’ve extracted some a lot of performance because the expense of stability.
With 6536 points, M8 gets a significantly higher score than Vega S89 Elite (5363) in Quadrant.
Vellamo failed to run fully in M8.
M8 / TM8 has very performance, unfortunately the code is not continually stable, and there still quite a few issues that must be fix.
Let’s summarize the PROS and CONS
- Smooth and quick code.
- Android 4.4 Kitkat
- XBMC 13 pre-installed
- Blu-Ray ISO and 4K video playback
- 1080p user interface
- 4K video output up to 30 Federal Protective Service supported
- Good local area network performance (60 Mbps video playback OK)
- Good video formats/codecs support
- USB webcam works with Skype and Google Hangouts
- HDMI CEC support
- Stability problems. Not catastrophic, but the device might still suspend a couple of times. Could it be temperature related?
- Bluetooth not working.
- Poor Wi-Fi performance.
- Can’t install paid apps via Google Play.
- Sometimes non-optimal user’s experience:
- Need to switch between XBMC and maxwell Player reckoning on video files
- Multiple input devices required, e.g. if you use an air mouse, you still ought to access the IR remote to place the device into Standby.
- Bluetooth not available from default settings menu
- Only Chinese cities accessible for weather
- H.265 not working swimmingly (frames skipped). Probably not repairable (not supported by hardware, and GPGPU not supported by Mali-450)
- DTS, Dolby, AC3 not supported by hardware, but package decoded in XBMC (Can’t be fastened, SoC related)
As with Vega S89, the firmware wants some work. The main problems area unit the soundness of the code, and Wi-Fi performance is very poor. Bluetooth does not seem to be operating properly either, at least with my phone. Compared to Vega S89, M8 however provides a higher video playback expertise with none audio/video adjust problems, and the USB webcam can be used with each Skype and Google Hangouts. There’s the same ought to jungle between XBMC, and MX Player relying on the video codecs or instrumentality formats used.