Looking at possible solutions to replace my ageing laptop as a media centre, I turned myself over to the AndroidTV space. You have many different types of AndroidTV on the market, but what is it do you really need? Where do I buy one? What should I be looking at? I'll be going over the PROBOX2 Z and I'll let you know how I feel about it.
A contender in the Android TV space has been PROBOX2, you may be wondering why? They've made a name for themselves in 2013 coming out with Android mini PC. They garnered attention for their ULTIMATE, EX and EX+ systems. These systems have the ability to run a variety of Android applications just like our current smartphones and tablets. One of their newest midrange models the Z was recently released and it runs the Lollipop flavour of Android.
The front of the box features an IR that makes uses of the remote that ships with the device. You'll notice that the LED is blue while the device is functioning and red when the device is on standby. On one of the sides, you get a standard 2.0 USB port and a microSD slot. On the back end of the Z you'll be greeted with the other USB port, optical audio out, ethernet (RJ-45) and an HDMI port.
Inside the package you're provided with a nice and useful little remote, however, I highly suggest getting yourself a wireless USB & mouse combo, it will same you aches and pain. Granted it wouldn't be complete without the proper power adapter for you to enjoy this device.
When it comes to unpacking the hardware in this little box, we are faced with an Amlogic S905 processor, 1GB of DDR3 RAM (I would highly recommend going with the 2GB version), 8GB of eMMC storage (expandable via the microSD slot) and a full 1080p video out. You can check out the actual box for more information about the specs.
The startup sequence for this device is pretty good, it's about the same with the most device. Upon first boot, I highly recommend you give it a good minute or 2 to settle and see if there're any updates before launching yourself at it. You will notice a bit of lag when attempting to switch between applications and this is where the 1GB of DDR3 of ram isn't enough in my opinion, but aside from that once you have the application running you're good to go.
I've experienced no connectivity issues with the WiFi or Ethernet, however, since I'm going to be using it for streaming, I decided to opt for ethernet option and since my main switch is right there, why not!
This media player handle playing videos smoothly whether I was at 1080p or 4K, the rendering was perfect and everything was in sync. Personally, I wouldn't recommend intensive games that some might be tempted to grab from the Google Play store. Browsing the internet via the default browser is more than enough for most users. Since this device only has a default 8GB of storage capacity, you may want to think about adding an extra 64 microSD card if you intend to play local content.
The Z comes with its own launcher which has a “Home”, “More” and “All Apps” tabs which allow's you to access all the needed content very easily. You have a very large icon selection area all over the screen and the minimalist approach might appeal to many. You may have noticed that there's a marquee at the top that scrolls the current weather condition for your area once setup.
As with many Android device, the Google Play store is pre-installed and this allows you to bring it, even more, customization. It provides a straightforward interface that anyone can manage to use. So the freak of doing everything custom went ahead and started to replace some apps with others. As a default, Kodi is installed, ES File Explorer and the likes.
There's been no OS or OTA updates, the server clearly indicates no updates available at this time. I did do the 1 or 2 updates needed for the applications that are pre-installed.
In terms of day to day use, I've been able to watch all my shows from the various service you have, whether this might be on Kodi, Crackle, CraveTV, Shomi, Netflix, it played everything flawlessly. When it comes to doing more than streaming such as surfing the web, launching apps, loading games it did good, but it could have done much better.
This definitely not meant to be used for gaming.
You can definitely put your hands on this little baby for about $49,99 USD, which is a steal if you ask me. While they aren't the TOP #1 contender in this field, they're definitely right behind them when it comes to price, quality and entertainment.
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