An Android TV box is more than a typical TV box, it’s a gateway to world full of entertainment that includes catch-up TV, streaming services, games, music and so much more all thanks to the Google Play store, which is just the same as you would find on any Android phone.
The specifications and software of this Android TV box
The S95X Android TV box is by no means a powerhouse, but its specifications are well in line with its current price (£47.99). Under the hood, there’s 1GB of ram, which is sufficient for watching catch-up TV, using streaming services like Amazon Prime and playing the odd game, however, if you attempt multi-tasking the box starts to lag a bit as I learned.
With only 8GB of ROM, this Android TV box is likely to get full very quickly, although you can always expand the storage memory by inserting a MicroSD card and since this runs Android Marshmellow it has the ability to merge the MicroSD card and the ROM together to form one large storage area. Of course, this means you are essentially giving the MicroSD card up to the Android TV box, so no other device will be able to use it again until it’s reformatted. For more information check out this review of a MicroSD card I used as adopted storage.
Running the show where it comes to the system on a chip is the popular Amlogic S905X which consists of a Mali-450 penta-core GPU and a quad-core Arm cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 2.0GHz. This is capable of producing a 4K resolution at 60fps, which sounds quite impressive, unfortunately, though, I can’t check this out as I don’t have a 4K TV. While that is certainly impressive, this isn’t exactly a top range processor, in fact, given just how cheap the average Android TV box is, including the S95X, this is more of a mid-range setup,which when paired with only 1GB or ram feels low range. That’s not to say the box is slow at doing things, but as I mentioned earlier, it is slow when you try to do loads of things at once, so if you want to keep it running smoothly don’t forget to clear away those unused applications.
Gaming on this Android TV box isn’t too bad, I have been playing GTA: San Andreas on it with a Bluetooth gamepad connected. The game manages to run smoothly with next to no issues at all, so long as I don’t have too many applications running in the background. It should be noted that not all games will work due to the fact there’s no touchscreen, however, games like Candy Crush can be played using a mouse connected to one of the USB ports on the box. Games with controller support such as GTA can be played using a wired or Bluetooth Android controller.
The S95X Android TV box is running a heavily skinned version of Android 6.0. The user interface is very much designed for a TV and is easy to use. It does a few issues though such as the awkward way you add applications to files. It’s easy to do, but it’s awkward at the same time. Then there’s the fact that while you can set a wallpaper it doesn’t actually show anywhere apart from the open tasks window, so customization also feels a bit limited too, although if you can live with having a phone optimised display on an Android TV box, then you could always go down the custom launcher root.
I have been using this box mainly to watch catch up TV on services such as 4OD and Dave and I am really impressed with just how well it handles these applications. It also comes installed with KODI for you to play with. Other notable pre-installed applications include Youtube and Netflix. There really is a lot you can do with this Android TV box.
What’s the design like ?
With a square form factor and a slim shell, this isn’t too bad in the looks department, although it is rather generic, which means you will no doubt see loads of similar boxes with different brand names on the shell.
Running along the right-hand side of the box are two USB ports and a MicroSD slot, while around the back of it are several ports including the plug, HDMI port and an Ethernet port. Each of these ports is easy to access as the cutouts have been precisely cut to ensure this happens.
The included remote is very generic and fits the same insults as other Android TV box remotes I have come across. While it works wonders and does it job, it has one particular feature I am not a fan of. Said feature is the mouse mode, which is essentially a mode where you use the arrows to move a cursor around the screen. This is nothing like a real mouse as you can only tell the cursor to go up, down, left or right. This makes the experience horrible, especially when you pair it with the fact the cursor speed is very slow. Thankfully there are a range of air mice remotes you can buy, which make the experience so much better. Of course, you could also connect a standard mouse to the box and use that to navigate the menus.
The s95X is far from perfect, but it’s still amazing. It opens up a world of entertainment on your TV set that can’t be rivaled by the likes of a Freeview box or a Sky box. The ram isn’t good enough for multi-tasking, but it runs one or two applications at a time with no issues. With a wide range of entertainment options to choose from boxes like this really are the future.
I received this product at a discounted price in return for my honest and unbiased review. This has had no effect on my overall opinion of the product.