Android Mini PC review

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I am what is considered a “cord cutter”.  I’ve decided to not to pay to watch traditional TV via a cable or satellite TV provider. Instead, I read and/or watch my news on my computer, phone or tablet via subscriptions to YouTube channels, Netflix, and various online services.  I  recently got to review a popular type of Android device, an Android Mini PC by GearZap.  I previously owned an older version of a similar Android TV stick, and was excited to get a chance to review a newer model with more features. Let’s take a look!

Note: Images can be clicked on for a larger size.

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This Android mini PC came with the mini PC device, 5V/2A USB plug with microUSB cable, an instruction booklet, and a converter for a UK plug (since this device is sold via an online UK store).  The tech specs are as follows:

  • Operating System: Android 4.2
  • Processor: Dual Core A9 RK3066 1.6GHz
  • GPU: Mali-400
  • Memory: DDR3 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: v3.1
  • Memory Card Type: microSD(HC), up to 32GB
  • External HDD: Up to 500GB
  • Audio Formats: DTS, AC3, LPCM, FLAC, HE-AAC
  • Video Formats: MKV, TS, TP, M2TS, RM/RMVB, BD-ISO, AVI, MPG, VOB, DAT, ASF, TRP, FLV
  • Video Codecs: MPEG-1
  • Picture Formats: JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF
  • Subtitle Formats: MicroDVD [.sub]
  • Output Resolution: 1080P
  • HDMI: 1.4
  • USB: USB2.0

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Here are photos of the front and back of the Android mini PC, which is plastic and has a smooth feel. The dimensions are roughly 3.8 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches.

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On the bottom side, there is a slot for a microSD card, as well as a microSD port.

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On the back of it is another microSD port and a USB port.

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Conveniently, the HDMI port used to connect to your TV or monitor is built right into the stick!

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To test the unit, I connected my Logitech K400 keyboard (which has a built in trackpad), and the microSD cable that it came with.  I was then able to use the built-in 5V USB port on my TV to power the mini PC – just enough to power it up.  I could have also used the included USB adapter with an outlet.

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Once it was connected to my TV, it booted up within 10-15 seconds, and I was able to connect to my home WiFi network.  I then connected to my Google account and downloaded a bunch of my favorite video apps, such as Netflix, DramaFever, HBO Go, YouTube etc.

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As you can see in the screenshots, the Android mini PC comes with a few stock apps, which include some settings apps, video, and audio apps.

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This Android mini PC came with Android Jelly Bean 4.2, but I was able to easily update it to 4.2.2.

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The two different “settings” apps give you a larger view of the same Android settings, most likely for it to be a little bit easier to see on the screen.

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I love the fact that I am able to use a microSD card, as well as browse my home network for any SMB servers that contain files that I want to watch.  This make for a great media center or home theatre PC.  I also really loved that I was able to connect my Bluetooth over-ear headphones and watch TV in bed without disturbing anyone.  There was no audio lag (that I could tell), and the video play was really smooth no matter which app I tried.

I think the best thing about this Android Mini PC is the fact that you can download any of your favorite Android apps and watch it on a big screen – there is quite alot of capability packed into a little TV stick. The only thing I would wish for is an ethernet port so I can transfer files a bit more quickly on my home network (instead of using WiFi).  This particular Android Mini PC is sold by GearZap, and is available for £79.95 including VAT, which equals roughly $125 USD at the time of this review.

 

Product Information

Price:£79.95 including VAT, roughly $125 USD
Manufacturer:GearZap
Requirements:
  • Monitor or TV with HDMI input
  • Input device such as USB or Bluetooth keyboard & mouse
Pros:
  • Connects to existing Android account
  • Small/portable
  • Low power consumption
Cons:
  • No ethernet port
  • Input device not supplied
Posted in: Android related, Audio, Video, TV Gear, Reviews

17 comments… add one

  • alzie September 24, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Very cool, but
    it could use one more thing for us cord cutters,
    an over the air tuner.
    I wouldnt mind if it grew a bit to accommodate it.
    Right now, I m using an old pc for this.

    Hmmm . . . it does do usb, so
    i wonder if it could be used with a hauppauge?
    Android apps for the same?

  • Tech September 24, 2013, 3:20 pm

    Cord cutter here as well.
    The one thing I have struggled with when it comes to these android sticks (in all of their flavors) is Hulu.
    There are some shows on Hulu that will only play on a computer….not a tablet, smart phone, roku, etc….only a computer.
    I have not found an android stick that gets around this so far.

    Any ideas?

  • Elizabeth Rodriguez September 24, 2013, 3:59 pm

    If you already have an Android stick, try using Google Chrome, then in the options, select “request desktop site”. This will render the webpage as a desktop browser instead of the mobile browser!

  • Ali September 24, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Hi
    i am canada base living its great but how can i see the us available
    program on this device.

  • nicky September 25, 2013, 6:23 am

    but can it decode 1080p X264? :p

  • Anthony September 25, 2013, 11:21 am

    only thing that prevents me from cutting the cord is sport. While there are options, like MLB TV, NHL CenterIce, etc., the BlackOut policies prevent them from being useful

  • James September 30, 2013, 12:34 pm

    Just a note. There seems to be only ONE microSD slot and actually TWO micro USB ports (not microSD ports), as well as a full size USB port.

  • Elizabeth Rodriguez September 30, 2013, 2:01 pm

    @James, thank you! I see now that I mistyped that.

  • Android Stick October 13, 2013, 8:28 am

    Have you also tried a Custom firmware like finless? I noticed huge improvements in especially the Netflix app.

    Maybe it’s because you have a dual core stick it runs without problems. The Quad Core sticks need custom firmware to work properly

  • john November 6, 2013, 5:04 pm

    XBMC is a great program as a home theater program. I use the SkystreamX to run XBMC on my TV. It comes preloaded with all of the good add ons. I didn’t have to spend hours programming it. I just plugged it in, hooked it up to my internet and starting watching all of my favorite TV shows, Movies and live sports. It also turns your TV into a smart TV with over 800,000 Android Apps. I highly recommend this Android TV Box

    Android TV Box

  • aamir November 11, 2013, 1:43 am

    does this use phone version of the app or tablet version? I ask because if this is able to run nba league pass mobile then I’m sold

  • Elizabeth Rodriguez November 12, 2013, 8:39 am

    @aamir It’s an AOSP “mobile phone” version, so you might be good to try it.

  • aamir November 12, 2013, 11:04 am

    Elizabeth, do you mind trying to see if it works? Obviously you don’t have to buy it, but just see the price. the reason I ask is because the NBA differentiates between tablet and mobile and charge accordingly.

  • MAx December 10, 2013, 8:58 pm

    I wonder if USB to Ethernet adapter would work. I would also prefer to have wired internet connection and this USB Female to RJ45 Ethernet Male Wireless Network Converter Adapter for 2-3 dollars on E bay should do that. Anyone tried it on these mini PCs?

  • eric February 11, 2014, 2:12 pm

    how do you control the screen? Pair the phone to the mini pc? or via a bluetooth keyboard and mouse?

  • Brother Marvin April 6, 2014, 1:53 pm

    I wonder how this mini pc device can offer full internet browsing on my tv Or is this posible?

  • Chad June 1, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Eric – You can pair a wireless keyboard and mouse with them. Some have built in bluetooth, but most work with other remotes right out of the box.

    Brother Marvin -Essentially these devices turn your tv into an android based tablet. I own 3 of these devices and have a site where I have probably tested 10 different Android Mini PC’s or Android TV Boxes. I also own a Samsung smart tv, essentially these boxes made me feel dumb for buying the smart tv. They are small, cheap and have way more functionality.

    Without a doubt these devices are awesome. Check out the G-Box Midnight MX2, I have a review on my page. I received it to review it and absolutely fell in love with it.

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