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Android TV boxes - What is out there.


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#1 dryster

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 11:50 AM

This section is more for generic units, an area to discuss what is out there at the moment and what options we all have for making our "old" televisions smarter.

So, you bought a flat panel TV, LCD or Plasma over the last four years and the industry has decided that it is going to be obsolete, how? - well, they are going to make the TV one big app machine (and sell those apps) - your TV will become "smart" and have it's own operating system, well, I'm not really happy with that, I can see the headlines now:

"Help, I bricked my TV!!"

Which is not what we want. Anyhow, we can all keep our ageing LCD and Plasma's by investing (good word huh, when was the last time an electronic gizmo was an investment?) - yes, buying a set top box or dongle. Of course, the industry can't get out of the phrase "set top box" and as we all know, TV's don't really have tops any more, well, not something that you can balance anything significant on that is.

What is out there at the moment?
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#2 wacky1980

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 10:08 AM

there is a really interesting market emerging in china that i've been following the last few months. there are a handful of generic android mini-pc style tv boxes that are, quite simply put, wifi android-on-a-stick devices that you plug right into the back of your tv. attach a wireless mouse/keyboard, and you've made your tv into a "smart tv" a la google tv, only without the set-top box.

if you're a fan of alibaba.com (or it's consumer-focused sister, aliexpress.com) you can find a number of these devices for sale under $50. i will list a couple of them here:

Taiwan Original 8G Andriod 4 Mini Smart Google TV Box Wifi Network DDR3 512M HD

Newest and portale Android 2.3 tv box ,tv dongle support wi-fi, 2D 3D accelerate,1080P HDMI1.3 ,TF, remote control

these things sport specs like 802.11b/g/n, android 2.3/4.0, 512/1024mb ddr3, 2/4/8 gb internal nand, 1ghz+ telechips/cortex/etc processors, hdmi 1.3 out, usb/nand flash in, etc etc. quite interesting. i have yet to order one up (i don't have an hdtv, so i would need a conversion box to make them worthwhile) but they are sprouting up on domestic auction sites now and are getting pretty decent reviews.

this may be the future of connected tv. why would you want to spend an extra $100-300 for wifi-enabled tv's that come packed full of bloatware and are essentially locked up, when you can buy a $50 stick that you can root and mod into a potentially much more powerful package?

Edited by wacky1980, 14 August 2012 - 10:11 AM.

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#3 dryster

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 11:18 AM

I think that we all want to believe that a $50 device will provide everything we want, true, one of these sticks can run the Netflix app, and Youtube, Vevo, Vimeo and all the other things available free now, yet, I have this sneaking suspicion that, like in the days of FTA satellite (or dodgy satellite) there will be a gradual strangulation of content that we want to see.

In the UK and Europe they have changed the way that people can listen to radio, they call it DAB, at first glance the system has benefits, but in addition, the data stream can be encrypted, so that to listen, you would have to decrypt/unlock. Nothing new there, but AM/FM stations were indeed "free to air" as were our TV signals back in the day (of course, licensing fee aside) and the trend is to push things out digitally, so that more monetary (and geographic) control can be applied.

So what has that to do with the Android TV box?, well, I believe we are all sort of in a digital "sweet spot" at the moment, as it seems we can grab stuff from everywhere, free! - well, I think that may change over the next decade, especially as the internet becomes more controlled by the corporate world (and government meddling) - those "resilient" websites will disappear, ISPs will throttle more (because they're owned by the media giants) and we will be obtaining our content through more nefarious means.

However, the general public, the average joe, will not want to do that, they're the "gas and go" type media consumer. They may meddle with an Android TV dongle, because it's only $50, but, and this is the same story as with tablets, they will find the whole firmware/hacking/updating and maintaining an uphill struggle (relying on their tech buddies, who will rapidly get tired).

So I think that the Android box, in the form it is today, will have to evolve into a supported device for the general consumer, OTA updates from some big company, ie, a better and more expanded Roku or Apple TV, something with content (content, unfortunately that will cost money) and that's where Google or Amazon will step in with their own Android TV boxes.

Remember the days before "plug and play" well, that's sort of where the $50 Android box is at the moment, it's shy of the working out of the box device, sure, great fun for the likes of your average Slatedroid junky, but for the average consumer, a long dark corridor of frustration.
Tablets past : Nationite Midnite. Witstech A81E : White Pandigital Novel : Zenithink ZT280 C71 M3-C71-1M : Blackberry Playbook : EV2 NEC Renesas Dual A9 Cortex : Zenithink ZT-180 v2 512mb 4gb : Telechips TCC8902 : Elocity A7+ Tegra : Ainol Novo 7 Tornados : Eken T01A A10 : Ampe A76 A13 : Aishuo A816 S5PV210 : HT SurBox 701 AML8726-M : iPad v1 : Kindle 4th GEN - currently still have the Eken T01A A10 the Kindle and the iPad. Have become a cord cutter over last 12 months, Roku, Apple TV, HTPC with ATSC/QAM and soon to test out the OUYA.

#4 wacky1980

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 12:03 PM

i do have to agree that keeping a mod setup running well tends to require more time than most are willing to put in. personally, i feel it's worth the time in my home, but i've hacked too many wii's, rooted too many androids, etc for other people to keep them all current.

i see what you're getting at with the content bubble we are currently experiencing. however, i don't necessarily agree. the opensource movement seems to grow stronger and more robust at every turn. it's my hope that we'll see some of the bigger developers out there embrace this trend, rather than fight against it. i feel that content will follow this path as well. we're seeing this massive shift away from pay-tv broadcast services, as more people adopt ip-based entertainment providers and find "alternative" sources such as p2p and streaming.

i'm no analyst, and i can't begin to imagine what's in the pipeline just beyond the horizon, but i think we're about to see an explosion of new devices that will allow us to get to our content in more convenient, more interesting ways than are currently aware of. what happens to the availability of the content itself, imo, will be dictated by its accessibility.
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#5 Mp4

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:16 PM

hey guys , so i do have my google cloud stick and so far i love it , i am now putting it through the paces , and been shooting video . i hope to have it posted by wednesday .
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#6 wacky1980

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:36 PM

hey, how does the wifi perform on your cloud stick? and does it tend to run hot?
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#7 Nickos-V

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:51 PM

hey guys , so i do have my google cloud stick and so far i love it , i am now putting it through the paces , and been shooting video . i hope to have it posted by wednesday .

Can you tell us where you bought it? Also, link to a product spec page. Is this really from Google? I have not seen it so would like more info.

*MINIX NEO X5 (RK3066) - OK. Not fun because uses mouse cursor.
*YUANDAO N80 DUAL (RK3066) - Very good
*CUBE U30GT (RK3066)- Defective; buttons broke in 2-3 weeks; Bad quality control!!! I will never buy a Cube again!!! - Very good while working
*WOPAD I7 (RK2918)- About OK. Sluggish because has weaker ARM chip (RK2918) & less RAM (512 MB).

#8 wacky1980

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:01 PM

look up a few posts into this thread. you can find them on aliexpress or also the e bay. search for "android tv box" or "android tv stick" for starters.
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#9 dryster

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:20 PM

@wacky1980

Not going to disagree about the opensource movement, I just believe that content has to be paid for, that's one of the reasons why FX, HBO and SuperChannel are producing good content, because they have a pipeline of cash. The trouble is, and it is a contentious issue, I know a LOT of people who just take that content, they don't pay and they justify it in some way. That right there is an untenable system.

Like classic books, I hate what corporations like TCM have done and believe that if anything is thirty years old or more it should be public domain, however, of course, Disney and the like would not agree as they want to sell the same product over and over.

This is actually drifting way off topic (and it's my fault). I do however think the Android stick is going to be a fun device and it's about time that the processing power is available as a portable device, I expect now what we want is a roll up screen that you can hide up your trouser leg.

On an unrelated note, fascinating that they have updated the firmware/software on the mars rover, hopefully they won't see the Android Screen with the triangle and the exclamation mark once completed...
Tablets past : Nationite Midnite. Witstech A81E : White Pandigital Novel : Zenithink ZT280 C71 M3-C71-1M : Blackberry Playbook : EV2 NEC Renesas Dual A9 Cortex : Zenithink ZT-180 v2 512mb 4gb : Telechips TCC8902 : Elocity A7+ Tegra : Ainol Novo 7 Tornados : Eken T01A A10 : Ampe A76 A13 : Aishuo A816 S5PV210 : HT SurBox 701 AML8726-M : iPad v1 : Kindle 4th GEN - currently still have the Eken T01A A10 the Kindle and the iPad. Have become a cord cutter over last 12 months, Roku, Apple TV, HTPC with ATSC/QAM and soon to test out the OUYA.

#10 Mp4

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:21 PM

ok my quick review for some of my favorite members :yahoo:
Wifi works great ( read some reviews where they said it was weak , no prob here)
needs to be rooted ( done and done)
netflix installed , works great picture is grainy atr some time but very watchable

Heat , no problem so far

Oh sorry , no this is not from Google although it does have Google play preinstalled
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#11 wacky1980

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 02:30 PM

@dryster

i suppose you are correct. premium content is called "premium" for a reason. i guess my argument should be revised to state that the content market is becoming more competitive, rather than more open. but yes, on topic. it's my hope that i can pick up one of these things soon. if you watch the auctions, they sometimes go for as little as $40 + free ship.

@mp4

that's great to hear. the largest complaints i'd heard so far were the weak wifi and that the sticks would run hot being enclosed in that compact form factor.
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#12 Mp4

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:02 PM

xbmc installed looks good but have no control over it ,
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#13 Nickos-V

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:14 PM

Oh sorry , no this is not from googel although it does have google play preinstalled

Like other poster said. Android TV BOX or Android TV Stick are the real names. Some sellers call them Google TV or Google stick or Google Cloud Stick. etc., =) Not your fault. Seller's fault for making them sound like Google produces these.

I just wasn't sure if Google had released an ARM TV stick or not.

Can you tell us what model you bought? There are couple of different ones out there to choose from.


Later,

*MINIX NEO X5 (RK3066) - OK. Not fun because uses mouse cursor.
*YUANDAO N80 DUAL (RK3066) - Very good
*CUBE U30GT (RK3066)- Defective; buttons broke in 2-3 weeks; Bad quality control!!! I will never buy a Cube again!!! - Very good while working
*WOPAD I7 (RK2918)- About OK. Sluggish because has weaker ARM chip (RK2918) & less RAM (512 MB).

#14 wacky1980

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 03:18 PM

xbmc installed looks good but have no control over it ,

i haven't been following the progress with the xbmc port as much as i'd like. is there an android verison that's running and stable(ish) yet?
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#15 Mp4

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 04:35 PM

looking for the link now , I actually thought it was mk802 , but its not
I will def post the link as soon as i find the exact one incase anyone else following wants one
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#16 Mp4

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:53 AM

hey all here is the promised link
http://lightake.com/...ick_White-55106

Not a plug but i did buy it from Lightake.com. they appear to be having some site issues but I am sure they will get it sorted in not time
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#17 mdenard0

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 06:54 AM

You should check out the Kickstarter page for the Equisos smart tv device. It is available for pre order on ########### and Amazon. Starts shipping Aug. 31st. If it works like it does in the demo videos it could be a great alternative to the generic sticks.

#18 Nickos-V

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:55 PM

hey all here is the promised link
http://lightake.com/...ick_White-55106

OK. Uses Cortex A5 chip from Telechip.

You should check out the Kickstarter page for the Equisos smart tv device.

OK. This also uses Cortex A5 chip but not sure whose chip they are using.

I would actually choose stick with AllWinner A10 because more powerful chip but not sure who uses that. MK802+? Also, 1 GB RAM is really worth having to make everything run smoothly.

Though very soon they maybe coming out with dual core sticks. Those will really kick butt.
http://www.cnx-softw...ming-to-market/

I probably will not buy Android TV stick because tablet is all I need but kinda neat seeing these better versions coming out.

*MINIX NEO X5 (RK3066) - OK. Not fun because uses mouse cursor.
*YUANDAO N80 DUAL (RK3066) - Very good
*CUBE U30GT (RK3066)- Defective; buttons broke in 2-3 weeks; Bad quality control!!! I will never buy a Cube again!!! - Very good while working
*WOPAD I7 (RK2918)- About OK. Sluggish because has weaker ARM chip (RK2918) & less RAM (512 MB).

#19 Mp4

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:08 PM

I remember when tablets 1st started to come to market , no one could figure out how they would be used. would it replace laptops etc etc. what i found is the TV stick is going to be a gee whiz thing for a bit until it finds some footing , I know one company is trying to turn it into a gaming machine .one wants to use it for low cost restaurant tv advertisement

I think some parents will buy it as a low cost computer for smaller kids
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#20 wacky1980

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 10:51 AM

Though very soon they maybe coming out with dual core sticks. Those will really kick butt.
http://www.cnx-softw...ming-to-market/

aliexpress already has the mk802 upgrade available for pre-order, will be shipping 8/25:
First Dual Core UG802 Android Mini PC Upgrade of MK802 IPTV 1G RAM+4GB ROM Quad Core GPU google tv smart android box Preorder
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