HiMedia is a Chinese brand name located in Shenzhen,China and has been operating since 2005. They have a large range of TV Boxes and that’s their sole product range. As a result, they are quite experienced in the field.
Today, I look at one of their latest and greatest TV Boxes, the H8 Core (not to be confused with the older, previous Allwinner A31 based variant). The H8 Core is based on Rockchip’s RK3368 Octa core CPU.
This review unit was sent to me courtesy of the good people at HiMedia, so thank you all, and especially Nicole, for the great communication and help.
What’s in the Box?
The box contains the basic items: H8 TV Box, DC power adapter, HDMI 2.0 cable, IR Remote control, and a user manual.
The H8 Core is encased in a brushed aluminium box, with passive cooling only. That means it is completely silent. Most of the connections are on the back of the unit, aside from the SD/MMC reader which is on the left side, and the USB ports on the right side.
The H8 Core does not have any buttons on it, and can only be turned on and off (no suspend/sleep option) from the included remote. There is no recovery pin hole either, and any and all upgrades are done either online or locally via the upgrade option in settings.
|Chipset||Rockchip RK3368 28nm Octa-core CPU, up to 1.5GHz|
|GPU||PowerVR G6110 GPU|
|Memory / Storage||2GB DDR3 RAM / 16GB Flash Memory|
|Wireless||IEEE 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4G|
|OS||Android OS 5.1.1|
|Video Output||HDMI 2.0 @ 60Hz, Composite|
|Audio Output||HDMI out, SPDIF (optical)|
|Peripheral Interface||2 x USB 2.0 Host, SD/MMC 2-in-1 Card Reader, SPDIF Optical Audio Input, 1 x HDMI 2.0 cable, 1 x RJ45 LAN Port|
|Packing Included||1 x H8 Core, 1 x Power Adapter (DC 5V/2A), 1 x HDMI 2.0 Cable ,1 x Learning IR Remote Controller,1 x Manual|
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.
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.
*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). * The results showing in the tests may be skewed due to caching (as can be seen, a similar effect was observed in the other RK3368 based box tested). The results being skewed is re-enforced when you look at the other benchmarks and see that their results do not correspond to a RAM that’s twice as fast. The internal storage and SD card testing also show a higher than expected result that don’t necessarily correspond to real world results. The A1SD benchmark did notice it and alerted in that regard. I also used the (much) longer “accurate” measuring to get a better picture of the box’s results.
PC Mark Benchmark
The PC Mark benchmark tests shows an apparent lead for the new HiMedia H8 Core. Also, only the Minix X8-H and the H8 Core were able to complete the video test portion of the test. It seems that both the EX+ and the Gecko require the use of specialized codecs in order to play some encoded video files.
3D Mark Benchmark
3D Mark benchmark is considered as one of the best ways to test 3d performance on Android (and other platforms).
On the H8, even though it identified it as OpenGL ES 3.1 capable, it could not run the 3.1 or the 3.0 tests correctly, so I was forced to run the OpenGL ES 2.1 tests instead. This happened before in another RK3368 I’ve tested (the ENY EKB368), so it might be a known issue.
The mediocre results may indicate a need for some improvements in the firmware that will elevate this box to it’s proper high placement. (closer to or even higher than the EKB368)
Usage and Performance
First impressions and testing shows a fast boot time of 27.21 seconds from “On” to desktop.
I was pleasantly surprised by the remote control. It has universal functions which I may test later, but the buttons are soft, it has a “mouse” function (not air mouse, just the kind you use the arrows to move the cursor around the screen), and it’s quite responsive. It does have a bit of sharp edges, but that can be corrected easily.
Rooting is not built into the default firmware, but can be achieved with a manual local file upgrade (Be aware that it will factory reset your box and also revert the language to Chinese, as well as possibly negating your warranty).
One of the built-in tools in Android (4.x and 5.x) is the screenshot. It is not accessible in this box, but thanks to the root I was able to install a third party free tool so I can take screenshots in good quality.
Kodi performance was a less encouraging affair. There are bugs in this custom version of Kodi (15.1 Beta) which includes the RK codec to allow for hardware video acceleration. Those bugs manifested in small video stutters (the video stops for periods of less than a second and than continues while the audio continues without pausing), video completely stopped while audio continued in another occasion, and all videos took a few seconds to start, while fast forwarding resulted in long delays (up to 20 seconds!) while the audio comes back first and then the video syncs in.
Most of these issues were resolved when I switched to SPMC 15.0.0 (another Kodi fork which includes many codecs built-in and is more stable than custom kodi versions). Also, the pre-installed media manager (accessible from the H8’s desktop) was able to play most content without an issue, aside from the heavier 4K content which still lagged and stuttered. SPMC solved most of the issues, but not all. I experienced a few mid-playback crashes (from SPMC to the desktop), and browsing SMB shares from both Kodi and SPMC was very slow.
Note: All of these and other issues I encountered have been reported to HiMedia to be rectified and dealt with in future updates.
Video Playback testing (Using SPMC)
|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|
|2160P (3840*2160)||HEVC (H.265)||Playing correctly||Playing correctly|
|4K (4096*2304)||AVC (High@L5.1)||Playing correctly||Buffering and stutter|
|4K / HD / FullHD||HEVC (H.265) 10Bit||Does not play||Does not play|
I have tested the H8 with three games, but could not measure frame rate or resource usage accurately due to performance measuring issues. (both GameBench could not grab statistics correctly, and FPS meter was unable to maintain correct frame count at all times)
Asphalt 8 Airborne – a 3d graphic intensive racing game – run well in normal settings. But, I could not measure FPS consistently. I did see it kept at 45-60 fps at most times. It did think that I am using a phone or tablet and would not let me control it via the remote control arrows.
Angry Birds 2 – a popular 2d action game – worked great, with a frame rate between 35-55 fps at most times. (measuring was unreliable)
Walking War Robots – an online robot warfare game that requires a game-pad – seemed to load and play fine, with a frame rate of 35-45 and no issues, other than the need for a game pad.
Did I like it? Yes, But it will take a few rounds of firmware updates to get this box to its full potential. It’s not there yet.
Would I recommend it? Yes, but keep in mind that it is a new model with some growing pains. It also shows good format support including HD audio via its Media Manager app. (also BD-ISO playback)
I hope you enjoyed the review, as you can expect quite a few more, and soon!