A while back I wrote an article titled “Turn your TV into a “Smart TV” running Android 4.1”. I gave an introduction on how with a cheap $45 device you could bring internet connectivity plus more to your regular TV (provided it has HDMI inputs). That article was written using the knowledge i acquired from reading online blogs and forums. While i was writing that article i was always thinking that i wouldn’t be prudent of me to make a recommendation without trying one for myself. So lets take that first article as the precursor for this one… lets begin!
The device I bought was the MK808B along with a Bluetooth mini-keyboard. The specs of the MK808B Android TV stick are as follows:
- Dual core Rockchip RK 3066 processor
- Quad core Mali-400 MP4 GPU
- 1 GB DDR3 RAM
- 8 GB ROM
- HDMI 1.4a video out
- Full size USB 2.0 port + 1 Micro USB OTG port + 1 Micro USB port for power
- Micro SD card port (32 GB Max)
- 802.11B/G/N WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0
- Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Of all the specs that i listed above the most important one to make note of, is the Android OS and the its version. This is where the functionality and utility of the device lies. With this device you can run any app that is in the Google Play store (except those depending on a cellular network) on your TV.
I will continue the remainder of this article as a review in which I highlight what I liked the most and what I didn’t.
What I liked
1. The device is relatively cheap and packs a lot of power in a rather diminutive package. As far as Android is considered, 1 GB of RAM and a dual core CPU with a quad core GPU; is more than enough to run at least 95% of the apps in the Play Store. I consistently got Antutu benchmark scores of 11000+, which makes it a ‘Samsung Galaxy II class’ device (if that is a thing).
2. Wireless and wired connectivity options are more than sufficient to have the device connected to and interacting with somethings else in your home. Whether that is your WiFi router, a bluetooth keyboard, a USB portable hard drive or a XBOX 360 game controller. Most important of all, it connects to the HDMI port of your TV.
3. The Android 4.2.2 OS and the resulting Android apps i am able to run on my TV. A good example of this is the fact that I have “WhatsApp” installed on my TV (i don’t even own an Android phone). Also i was able to install the leaked version of BBM before they blocked all the installations (again i don’t own a BlackBerry phone). As for other apps – i have tried most and kept some of the important ones like Facebook, FlipBoard, Tunein, MX Player, live wallpapers and most importantly, XBMC.
4. XBMC Android. I am adding this app as one of my “likes” even though it’s an app that doesn’t come installed on the device. If you have a large collection of movies (anime in my case), and you want the ultimate home theatre setup for the playback of movies, you need XBMC. Currently i am running XBMC 13 – Gotham, which now natively supports hardware decoding of 1080P movies on the MK808B.
5. The online community support for these devices is great. There are large forums dedicated to these devices. It is through these communities that you are able to get customized ROMs which add new functionalities and remove unnecessary ones. If you get one of these devices I would advise you search for a custom ROM for that devices. There is a lot a custom ROM will offer you such as high CPU clock speeds or added external peripheral support (e.g. webcams).
So i just listed 5 things that i liked the most about my MK808B. I am purposely keeping this list limited to 5 for the sake of brevity and going of course talking about things like N64 emulators. With that said, lets move on to the things i didn’t like about the MK808B.
What I disliked
1. The wireless antennae that is built into the device is rather weak. My wireless router has to be fairly close (about 10 ft) to the MK808B for me to get a strong signal. The same thing goes for the Bluetooth keyboard i use tO operate the device.
That’s it… that’S the only thing i disliked about the device. I have been using it for about 2 months now and that is the only fault i had. I should have bought the one with an external antennae.
For the price of $43 the price is well worth it. I should also add that this is my first Android device, as such i can say that the Android OS is worthy of whatever praises it has received. The MK808B is connected to the USB port of my TV for power, so my system is self contained, the devices powers on or off with my TV. So connecting it to wall power socket would use less than 1W of power. The processing power of the device makes it capable of running any app in the Google Play store, it playing back 1080P movies without stuttering will attest to that fact. That also includes games because i got an Epic Citadel benchmark score of 34.95 FPS on the “High Quality” setting.
I will end by saying that there is no need to pay the premium and buy a “Smart TV” for the sake of saying your TV has Facebook or WiFi built-in. If you want to impress your friends, just buy a regular HD TV and spend the remainder to buy an Android TV stick and have plenty of change to spare. Finish buy hiding the Android TV stick behind the TV, then show them your Android Jelly Bean TV running a game of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or Modern Combat 3.
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