This review unit was sent to me courtesy of the lovely people at Videostrong, so thank you very much, and especially Emmy & Cheryl, for the help!
Videostrong Technology Co. Ltd. was founded in 1998. They produce a line of android based TV boxes and dongles, as well as hybrid boxes. Hybrid boxes are TV boxes which incorporate other abilities such as DVB tuners of different standards (T2, S2, ATSC and others) as well as capabilities such as HDTV recording (PVR).
KI Plus is one of the latest models which Videostrong put out, and they have delayed its release to get a more stable firmware working – which is appreciated. The advantages of KI Plus (aside from the Amlogic S905 chipset): integrated DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 digital TV tuners. Those allow reception of over-the-air standard and high definition digital TV transmissions, where available.
What’s in the Box?
As can be seen both in the unboxing video and the photo below, the package is pretty standard, with the DC power adapter, HDMI 2.0 cable, and standard IR remote control and user manual. It contain most all of what you’ll need, aside from a Digital TV antenna, which is not included.
The KI Plus is a rectangle made of black plastic, with the model name printed in white letters on top of it. On the left we can see the indication LED/Power button. The KI Plus can also be turned off and on from the included Remote control.
I also took screenshots of the Main and app screens, as they are different than the standard launchers usually included with these boxes:
|Chipset||Amlogic S905 Quad core 64-bit Cortex A53 Up to 2.0GHz|
|GPU||Penta-core Mali-450 Up to 750MHZ|
|Memory / Storage||DDRIII 1GB / Nand Flash 8GB (4~32GB Optional)|
|LAN||Support LAN 100M/1000M Base-T|
|Wireless||Built in 2.4G WiFi|
|Video Output||HDMI 2.0 4Kp60 10-bit HEVC, 4Kp30 MPEG / VC-1 / AVS+ / H.264|
|Audio Output||HDMI Data Output / SPDIF / AV 3.5 mm output|
|Power||DC 12V/1A DC-in|
Benchmarks and Testing
All benchmarks have been repeated 3 times and results have been averaged to give a more accurate reading:
The Antutu benchmark tests single core performance over multi-core as it is a better indication of the performance of one device over others in most situations. Antutu 6.0.1 crashed at the end of each run, although it did complete it. I also experienced sound artifacts (fast chirping sound) during the 3d testing, where music was supposed to be playing in the background. The results of the tests draw a mixed picture, where in the older 5.7.3 version, the box takes the very last spot of the S905 based boxes, but in the newer 6.0.1 version, it sits pretty in the middle.
GPU Mark Benchmark
GPU Mark tests 3d gaming performance and also provides a normalized score according to the used screen resolution (for a more accurate result). The test is quite short and should be taken as a supporting result to that of the more serious 3D Mark benchmark. Both graphs shows the same grim picture: This device is not optimized for gaming or 3d heavy tasks. In both it takes the place before last, coming only before the weakest device I tested so far.
A1 SD Benchmark
A1 SD Benchmark tests RAM and flash memory speeds. As can be seen in the provided graphs, RAM is much faster (by a factor of about 40) than flash memory – that is why it’s in smaller amount and is also volatile (does not keep its contents after a reboot). Here we see a mixed picture again, with the storage showing low results (in the last 4 places) while the RAM speed shows its muscle as it settles in the 4th place!
PC Mark Benchmark
The PC Mark benchmark test suite gives a more task/day oriented picture of performance. Things like photo editing, web browsing and video playback are tested. The KI Plus takes a nice middle seat as it shows it is more than capable at performing day-to-day android tasks.
3D Mark Benchmark
3D Mark benchmark is considered as one of the best ways to test 3d performance on Android (and other platforms). Interestingly, unlike GPUMark, 3dmark shows the KI Plus a medium score that makes it a descent box for casual gaming. This is supported by actual gaming I tested as mentioned later.
Video Playback testing (Using KODI)
|Resolution||Video Format||Local Playback||Network (Wi-Fi/LAN) Playback|
|720p (1280*720)||AVC (High@L4.1)||Playing correctly||Playing correctly|
|1080P (1920*1080)||AVC (High@L4)||Playing correctly||Playing correctly|
|4K/UHD (4096*2304)||AVC (High@L5.1)||Playing correctly||Buffering and stutter|
|2160P (3840*2160)||HEVC (H.265)||Playing correctly||Playing correctly|
|4K TS HEVC files||HEVC (H.265) 10Bit||Playing correctly only from Movieplayer app||Does not play|
There seems to be room for improvement in the playback capability of the KI Plus. Mostly when it comes to Kodi, as I experienced some instability with the customized version that comes pre-installed on the KI Plus. Bear in mind, this is an early production sample, and the device is not widely available.
I experienced some Kodi crashes out to the android desktop (or app list) and noticed that the KI Plus does not actually retain programs in its memory (most likely to keep better performance, as there is no task killer/memory cleaning app) – so if you would switch from Kodi out to the desktop (“Home” button on the remote), it will actually force close the app, and when you re-open Kodi, it will go through the initial splash screen and content update procedure again.
I also noticed that 10 Bit TS files do not play (at all) inside Kodi. I have tried Kodi 15.2 official release, Kodi 16 Beta 5, and SPMC 15. All had issues playing back content on this device, and one would not show video playback at all (16 Beta 5). The 10 bit content did play correctly in the included movieplayer app – but only locally as the app does not have network connectivity on its own.
This leads me to believe that the KI Plus needs some thorough work in regard to Kodi compatibility and stability.
Digital TV performance
This is a special addition, as this box supports DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 digital TV protocols, and does it well. This capability is accessible both from the app list, and from the remote by pressing a button labeled “DTV”.
It uses a special app that comes pre-installed, called “DTV”. Upon opening the app (each and every time) you’re presented by the choice of one of the tuners: DVB-S2 or DVB-T2.
You’re also presented, only on the first time, with the option of scanning for channels. You’ll need to make sure you get an external antenna (not included in the package) or have an existing digital TV antenna at hand. The scanning process was fast, and reception was quite great, even if I left the small antenna I used in the room rather than placing it outside the near window.
Picture and sound quality are both great, especially in HD, but standard SD quality is good and stable as well. Recording is possible – either to the (Micro)SD card, or to an external USB drive. This can be set in the app settings, and record schedules can be set from the EPG by clicking on the desired program to set recording, or within a program – clicking on the remote control record button to initiate. I have successfully recorded a test segment of a Full HD program.
I did notice two issues: the first being that certain HD channels could not produce sound, even though they recognized the audio track (usually AC3 encoding), and the second – de-synchronization between the video and the audio. The audio did slowly catch up with the video in time.
Issues and bugs
- Kodi Add-ons did not always install properly at first time each time. Some required repeat attempts to get installed.
- Google play games service crashes upon running, and so does not function correctly inside games.
- Volume and/or information overlay comes up on kodi while playing back video without user interaction, occasionally.
- 10 mb bug is present. When attaching big capacity USB drives, they show as 10 mb drives, and do not allow file operations other than read.
- Antutu 6.0.1 crashes out at the end of testing, and produces a weak chirping sound during 3d tests (when there’s supposed to be background music).
- Digital TV – AC3 audio on some HD channels would not play sound.
- The pre-installed Kodi 15.2 custom version proved unstable as it crashed out to the desktop several times, mostly when stopping playback, but a couple of times just while navigating the menu.
- Other Kodi/SPMC versions did not work well on this box. They either showed a quarter screen playback image, no image at all, or had other issues.
Network performance has been tested using Speedtest.net Internet speed measuring app, in WiFi and in Wired mode. My Internet connection is 200 Mbit Symmetric Fibre connection. The included WiFi is 2.4 GHz only (802.11n) and so is quite limited. Wired speed is good:
I use an application called “GameBench” to measure frame rate and resource usage in games. The application did crash during testing, but I was able to run it long enough to gather resource usage information:
Asphalt 8 Airborne – a 3d graphic intensive racing game. The game run fine, but not completely smooth.
Angry Birds 2 – a popular 2d action game. Runs smoothly most of the time, with bits of slowdown both in-game and in menus.
Walking War Robots – an online robot warfare game that requires a game-pad (I don’t have a game-pad). WWR ran quite smoothly, but did produce an annoying static or distortion sound all through playing.
Did I like it? Yes, I did. The KI Plus is a interesting and good contender in the s905 crowded scene. The (now) standard s905 related issues are expected to be resolved in coming firmware updates, and this box offers out-of-the-box rooting (although I advise to install SuperSu to make the most of it). And then there’s the built-in Digital TV support. For many Kodi enthusiasts this box will give an almost perfect all-around solution which gives them crisp HD terrestrial digital channels which do not depend on internet availability on top of the good video decoding ability offered by the Amlogic S905 chipset.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. It has a few issues to patch up, but all in all it’s a great combined solution for a very good price.
So you’d like to buy this box? You can find it here: K1 PLUS S2 T2 Amlogic S905 Quad Core 64Bit TV Box Android 5.1.1 1G 8G 2.4G WiFi LAN HDMI2.0 3D DLNA AirPlay Miracast Netflix for 76 USD
Or, without the Digital TV tuner, much cheaper at 46 USD: K1 PLUS Amlogic S905 Quad Core 4K KODI TV Box Android 5.1 1G8G 2.4G WIFI LAN HDMI2.0 3D DLNA AirPlay Miracast Netflix
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