Probox2 AVA is an attempt at something a bit different in this world of very similar Android based TV Boxes. It does that by incorporating a dual firmware which runs (at the same time) Android 6.0 along with OpenWRT. The latter is a Linux based firmware that is common in routers. It gives the device not only router-like abilities, but also NAS and several different possible server roles. On top of that, AVA’s elongated body contains space for a 2.5 inch HDD or SSD for storage.
My thanks goes to the Wilson from Probox2, for sending me a new and intriguing review sample!
What do we get in the box?
Looks and design
Usage and User Interface
AVA includes the standard launcher included with all recent Probox2 boxes. It is quite straightforward but quite differs from the standard Android vanilla launcher
On top of these standard screens, we can find the HDMI-In app that provides us with the ability to use a HDMI source (such as a digital TV tuner, a camera with a mini/HDMI port, or any other live source) to display it using the AVA (either full-screen or in a window – PictureInPicture) and even record it – immediately or with the scheduling function. Here are some pics of this function:
The second big feature in the versatile AVA box is the OpenWRT firmware, which in reality turns this box into a hybrid Linux/Android machine. The OpenWRT firmware deserves much more reading to get what it can do, but the gist of it would be a cross between Linux based router and a multitude of servers – including VPN, Web server, File Server (NAS) and many more. Here is the basic system screen of the web interface for the OpenWRT function:
||Realtek RTD1295DD Quad Core 64bit Cortex A53|
|GPU||ARM Mali-T820MP3 GPU (3-Core)|
|Memory / Storage||2GB DDR4 / 16GB eMMC|
|LAN||RJ-45 Ethernet Port (1000Mbps)|
|Wireless||802.11ac, Dual Band WIFI (2.4Ghz / 5.8Ghz)|
|OS||Android 6.0 + OpenWRT (NAS) dual system run simultaneously|
|Video Input||HDMI 2.0 with HDCP2.2 input, support PIP, HDMI IN stream and stream output via UDP|
|Video Output||HDMI 2.0a with HDCP2.2 output, Support 4K@60fps, HDR, HDMI-CEC Support 23.976 and 29.94|
|Audio Output||HDMI 2.0a (support 7.1 HD Audio passthrough and downmix), optical SPDIFPower DC 12V 1.5A adapter (CE, FCC, CCC Certified)|
|Peripheral Interface||1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 port, IR LED & receiver, LCD screen, TF Card Reader, Support 2.5” SATA I/II/III internal Hard disk, up to 4TB|
|Packing Included||Probox2 AVA TV Box, Standard remote control, HDMI 2.0 cable, DC Power cable, User 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. Antutu synthetic tests place AVA about one third from the top of the chart. The score it gets spells good performance, even with the 10 other boxes that precedes it.
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. Here AVA takes a (very) respectable 2nd spot, behind a Rockchip based box. It means that AVA can handle most 3d games available for Android without breaking a sweat.
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). It seems that AVA is the new king of the hill! with the speediest reading speed for external SD cards, and all around speedy card (internal and external) read/write performance – it reigns supreme. The RAM copy speed is a bit lower but still sits snugly in the top 6 of the list.
PC Mark Benchmark
PC Mark suite of tests tries to measure performance in day-to-day tasks such as image processing, word processing, video playback and editing and so on. In the new version (Work 2.0) which is more task intensive and varied, AVA takes first place in the total average score. However, in the older version (Work 1.0), AVA takes only 5th place – behind four boxes based on Rockchip chipsets. Still, a very respectable result.
3D Mark Benchmark
3D Mark is a labor intensive 3D animation and gaming Benchmark. It runs a series of 3d heavy game and video animations. AVA takes 11th place in this test, which places it on the top third of the chart. It still means that AVA should be able to handle any 3d intensive task (AKA games) that will be thrown at it.
Video Playback testing (Using KODI/TV Center)
|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) / 10Bit||Playing correctly **||Mixed Results|
|4K (4096*2304)||AVC (High@L5.1)||Playing correctly||Mixed Results|
|4K TS HEVC files||HEVC (H.265)||Playing correctly||Buffering and Stutter|
Probox2 tried to employ an external player in AVA, but that was problematic when it comes to LAN shares (authentication issues – I suspect due to the inclusion of OpenWRT). So they used a workaround: When playing content off LAN, Kodi uses its own internal playback engine – which means reduced compatibility and buffering issues with heavy bandwidth/decoding files (such as 4K HEVC TS files). When playing content from a locally connected storage (I tested using a 32GB SD card), Kodi used their own proprietary external playback engine which is tailored for this hardware. That meant that performance was near flawless as can be seen from the table bellow:
Antutu video tester which runs through multiple video and audio content did froze at first, and only worked properly after a recent firmware update. As can be seen, there are two point of interest: one is that two items did not play at all – that is unusual since all the boxes I’ve tested (around 40 so far) managed to complete the test successfully enough with only a few partial support results. The two partial support results are nothing of note (refers to MP4 combinations of AAC audio with AVC and MPEG-4 videos), but the items that failed to play are these:
These days, the viability of Kodi add-ons is very unreliable due to recent crackdowns against many of their developers. However, I tested several video add-ons and the ones that are still alive (such as exodus for instance) have performed quite well – even in HD streaming.
Network performance has been tested using Speedtest.net Internet speed measuring app, in WiFi and in Wired (*) mode. My Internet connection is 500 Mbit Symmetric Fibre connection.
- Wired works over Power-line adapters and those has been upgraded now to a AV1200 kit which gives a big bump to network performance.
Issues and Bugs
PCMark 8 Work 2.0 cannot complete benchmark testing as it gets stuck in the middle of the video tests Antutu Video Tester 3.0 cannot complete benchmark testing as it gets stuck at 66% of the test
- Two failed items in Antutu Video tester 3.0 – unusual for any TV Box
- Kodi set to play content over LAN only via its internal player which does not utilize AVA’s abilities to its fullest
First two issues were resolved after a reporting to Probox2 and waiting for a firmware update which arrived.
Angry Birds 2, a popular 2d game. It run smoothly enough, with reasonable load times. (same bug as most boxes with a blue key screen that would not be pressed – but it’s a game issue)
Asphalt 8 Airborne , intense 3d racing game. Game loaded up fine (load times a bit long), but in a heavy city environment with many moving objects the game was not completely smooth. Air mouse/game controller worked perfectly (as it should as it’s the Remote+ by Probox2 themselves)
Walking War Robots – an online 3d robot battle game. Game loaded fine and fast, even with the multiplayer/network features and multiple objects, the game run smoothly and even allowed (since a late update) to shoot and exit the game properly.
Probox2 AVA Conclusions
Probox2 provided me with another quality product, and this time the AVA is a more sophisticated one. Offering good performance across the board, with a few gripes (4k heavy files are not played correctly over local network without using Kodi internal player) which most have been addressed. I can truly recommend it – even with the somewhat high price tag.
Did I like it? Yes
Would I recommend it? Most definitely. Aside for the more standard bells and whistles (2.5″ HDD drawer, HDMI-in, and multiple format support), the OpenWRT firmware extends the abilities of the AVA to places that TV Boxes don’t usually venture to (NAS, VPN, Router functions and so on)
Like to buy it? You can find it on Amazon for 135 USD (click here)