Review | Probox2 Air AMLogic S905x TV Box

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Probox2 Air Rating:

Hello again!

I’ve been working diligently to get my readership up, and I try to publish articles as often as possible. However, I don’t forget about the reviews as they are a big part of this blog.

Today I introduce another new contender in the ever growing number of new AMLogic S9xx based boxes: Probox2 Air – It’s brand new (barely out in the market) S905X model, and it is the first one I ever tested that runs on Android 6 “Marshmallow”.

Thank you to Wilson from Probox2, for the review sample of the new “Air” TV box, and for the continued help and support of this blog!

Why the move to this new OS version? Because the new AMLogic chipset (S905X, and also S912) uses a developer’s kit that ONLY works with Android 6 and up (Nougat anyone?).

A few words about S905X and later about Probox2. AMLogic came out with a slew of new SoCs – the first being the budget S905, which shows spectacular video performance (at the expense of lower general performance) at a budget – with 30-45 USD prices not uncommon. Recently we started seeing S912 models trickling into the market with pretty good prices and specs, but not from the big companies (Minix, Tronsmart, Rikomagic and so on) as yet. And now we see S905 more powerful brother, the S905X which brings a few more features to the table:

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“Borrowed” from Nexbox’s site, with thanks!

I should add that this box also supports HDMI 2.0b (required for proper HDR video implementation), and that CNXSoft tested S905 based box against a S905X box and came back with surprising results (the S905 came out a bit stronger than the S905X – could be due to the new never used OS, or/and other reasons).

What’s in the Box?

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Box content of the Probox2 Air

As can be seen, the box contains the bare necessities: a black (and quite small) Probox2 Air Amlogic S905X TV Box, quick guide, external antenna, standard IR remote, HDMI 2.0b cable, and a power DC adapter.

Looks & Design

 The new Probox2 Air is really small and thin. The material is the standard black plastic, but the front LED is similar to that of “K.I.T” from “Knight Rider” wide and thin.

Specifications

Chipset  Amlogic S905X Quad Core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU up to 2GHz
GPU  Penta Core ARM Mali-450 GPU up to 750MHz+
Memory / Storage  2GB DDR3 / 16GB eMMC
LAN  RJ-45 Ethernet Port (10/100Mbps)
Wireless  802.11ac Dual Band WIFI (2.4Ghz / 5.8Ghz)
Bluetooth  Bluetooth 4.0
OS  Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Video Output  HDMI 2.0b, up to 4K*2K @ 60fps, Support HDR, HDMI-CEC**, HDCP 2.2
Audio Output  Via HDMI 2.0b, optical SPDIF (5.1CH, 7.1CH)
Power  DC 5V 2A adapter (CE, FCC, CCC Certified)
Peripheral Interface  RJ-45 Ethernet Port (10/100Mbps), USB 2.0 Port x 2, OTG Port, TF Card Reader, IR Sensor (Remote included)
Packing Included  PROBOX2 Air, Power Adapter, IR Remote, Dual-Band Antenna, HDMI Cable, User Manual

Benchmarks and Testing

All benchmarks have been repeated 3 times and results have been averaged to give a more accurate reading:

Antutu Benchmark

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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. The Air placement is at the lowest third of the performance table, and comes to show that a newer SoC does not necessarily mean better performance (or maybe just lower clock speed).

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. Air performs better in this test than in Antutu, and takes a middle spot.

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 RAM copy speed measured placed the Air on top of the chart. I cannot say if this is a real score, cached one, or due to good components and Android 6. However, the Internal/External SD read/write speeds are not as impressive, and places it square in the middle of the bunch – above new competitors such as Himedia Q10 Pro, and it’s Probox2 predecessors (including the S905 based Z model), but below other S905 and RK3368 based boxes.

PC Mark Benchmark

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PC Mark is a benchmark that tests several real-world aspects of android devices. Tests such as web browsing, photo editing, writing (copy, cut, paste) and so on. The box takes a decent middle placement, but it is evident that the purpose is more towards video playback and less for every day tasks (although it will function quite well in those).

3D Mark Benchmark

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3D Mark benchmark is considered as one of the best ways to test 3d performance on Android (and other platforms). The demanding 3d mark benchmark places it at 13 out of 20 boxes. Again showing that the box is not targeted at gamers but more at video and Kodi enthusiasts.

Usage and Performance

Rooting is not built-in at this point, but I am assured by Probox2 that it will be in the next firmware update.

The box booted properly and quite fast. Plenty of USB ports, but all are in the veteran 2.0 standard and not 3.0. This may also be due to the fact that it’s still a budget box aimed at a moderate price range.

Kodi performed smoothly up to and including 1080p. No crashes, no hiccups. However, it does come pre-installed with several add-ons and it makes the exit problematic (mentioned in the next “bugs” section).

UltraHD/4k content performs well – from local storage – including 10 bit HEVC, heavy (over 50 MB/s) samples and TS files.

Android 6.0 is a nice upgrade, and offers better handling of storage expansion. When you plug in a Micro-SD card or a flash drive, it detects the manufacturer and lets you choose if to add it as a transparent expansion (pending formatting by the device) to storage, or as a portable appendage – showing it as a separate storage and keeping the content intact.

Bugs & Issues

  • At first, the box crashed a few times – from the settings menu, and also after changing the launcher. After restart, it seemed to have settled, but we need to remember that this is still early stages in terms of firmware maturity.
  • Kodi comes pre-installed with several add-ons, and as such (and as it often happens in such instances), it does not close fast – or sometimes does not close at all.
  • Network speed testing shows good results, but 4k playback over network (5Ghz) is jerky and buffering with most of the samples I tested.

Network performance

Network performance has been tested using Speedtest.net Internet speed measuring app, in WiFi and in Wired mode. My Internet connection is 200 Mbit Synchronous Fibre connection. Speeds measured are Wired (Lan over Powerline), Wireless 2.4GHz, and Wireless 5GHz:

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Video Playback testing

Video playback testing was done with the latest official Kodi (16.1):

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  Some buffering
4K / HD / FullHD HEVC (H.265) 10Bit  Playing correctly  Stutter, Audio Loss, Buffering

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probox2,air,s905x,streamer,kodi,review,unboxing,amlogic,tv,film,antutu video,benchmark

Gaming performance

Asphalt 8 Airborne – a 3d graphic intensive racing game. The game performed quite well. Mostly smooth and load times were quite reasonable. As there is no root solution I cannot test resource usage and CPU usage.

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Angry Birds 2 – a popular 2d action game. The game ran quite smoothly and load times were good. As there is no root solution I cannot test resource usage and CPU usage.

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Walking War Robots – an online robot warfare game that requires a game-pad. The game recently had its graphics upgraded. However, the frame rate is good and smooth, and load times were normal. As there is no root solution I cannot test resource usage and CPU usage.

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Probox2 Air Conclusions

Did I like it? Yes. It is quite stable, and amazingly small. The price is not among the cheapest but you get good support, and though there is room for improvement – especially in video over WiFi/LAN performance – I do like this box even at this somewhat early (firmware wise) stage.

Would I recommend it? Yes I would. But as I mentioned, it is not the cheapest S9xx boxes you’ll find.

For purchase, you can find it here for 79.99 USD:
PROBOX2 AIR ANDROID TV BOX, AMLOGIC S905X + AC WIFI + H.265 / VP9 HW DECODE + HDR10 + ANDROID 6.0 + KODI

Comments

Comments

  1. kurt

    thanks

    i like Probox2 and have 4 of their boxes. i was waiting for someone to review the “air”

    any chance you know if plugging a ps3 dualshock controller works?

    it didn’t on Probox2 ex+ for some reason and Probox2 never figured out why

    worked on original Probox2

    1. Post
      Author
      admin

      Hi! Thanks for visiting. Sadly I have no way of testing this controller on the Air, simply as I don’t own it. It’s quite likely that they changed the Linux kernel between the original and the newer boxes, and the new one is missing that support. That also means that unless you find a custom firmware with a diffident kernel, or one that had that driver implemented, you’ll be out of luck.

  2. kurt

    thanks. oh well, i’ll keep searching for a newer box that works with the controller

    i enjoyed the review so hope to see you do more in the future

    good bye for now

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