[Updated] Review | Minix Neo X8-H 4K TV Box

Minix Neo X8-H

[Update at end of article]

Tech Specs:

  • Minix Neo X8-H Android TV Box
  • CPU: Amlogic S802-H Quad Core 2.0Ghz (Cortex-A9)
  • GPU: Mali-450
  • RAM: 2 GigaByte DDR3
  • Storage: 16 GigaByte Nand Flash
  • Expansion: SD Card Slot, support max 64 GigaByte (reported to support up to 128 GigaByte)
  • Wireless Communication: 802.11n Dual Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.8GHz), Bluetooth 4.0
  • Dimensions: 135*125*25mm
  • Weight: 292 Grams

Packaging & Content

  • 1 x TV Box
  • 1 x OTG Cable
  • 1 x Power Adapter
  • 1 x USB Cable
  • 1 x HDMI Cable
  • 1 x IR-Remote Control
  • 1 x User Manual
  • 1 x Antenna
  • M1 Air Mouse
  • 1 x USB Receiver
  • 1 x User Manual for M1 Gyromouse Remote

Package contents

Setup and impressions

The Minix X8-H comes pre-loaded with Android 4.4 and a few apps, including XBMC media center ver. 13.2 (codename “Gotham”).

At first use, you boot in like any android phone or tablet, and go through the google sign-in/sign-on process, with one main difference – you are required to set-up the minix-specific configuration. It mostly pertains to Audio, Video and network settings – as the device supports wired LAN connections where tablets and smartphones do not.

The main screen can be either the basic google launcher, or a metro (tiles based) launcher. I found that it’s a matter of preference rather than one over the other.

After setting up the device, and adding any wanted apps via the google play store or manually, it’s time to set up XBMC which is the main attraction of the Minix.

The version included is specifically made for Minix devices, and that’s the main reason why the newer “Kodi” (version 14 alpha) is not included, though it is expected to arrive in a future update. It’s a powerful free media player that can handle multimedia of many types including Photos, Music, Video (both film and TV) and also provide access to specific resources via the web, and even Live TV channels through DVB adapters (not a possibility in Minix products as confirmed by Minix support) or IPTV access.

However.. It requires quite a bit of work to set it all up. If you like to access NAS or simply your PC/Mac hard drive via the home network, you’ll need to set up the path to it, and define what kind of content is available and where. Afterwards, the content may be updated on regular intervals automatically, but it doesn’t mean there won’t be mistakes.

The Minix allows for either wireless Wifi connection (2.4GHz or 5GHz) or 100Mbit LAN wired connection and both works very well.

It’s size is quite small and comparable to two average smartphones side by side. The bulky antenna adds some height but it’s still a relatively small device.

The package I got included a Gyromouse remote, which contains a gyroscope and allows to use the said remote as a pointer to control the screen in a similar fashion to that of a touch screen. It’s not quite there as the response time is not as fast or as accurate as that of a touch screen, but it’s a step-up from a standard remote for the same purpose.

Performance

I found that XBMC is less accurate with the identification of films and TV series than the older generation NMTs (popcorn hour devices are a good example in conjunction with a jukebox plugin). If the name of the show or film is not clear enough it might give an incorrect title, poster and description,  or even skip it all together.

Overall however, the device played locally and over the network any content I threw at it, and aside for some hiccups with live channels content (which is to be expected as the sources are unreliable to say the least) it performs admirably.

I still find that file/directory copying and moving between the Minix and my PC is cumbersome to say the least. I cannot access the device via SMB (windows network access) the same way I could with my old NMT streamer, even after performing ROOT on the device. I need to use ftp server program, or the internal file manager program to achieve the same goal. But that might be simply lack of knowledge of the Minix possibilities on my part.

All in all, the device is a very capable media streamer which is future proof for the next 2-3 years.

I recommend it.

[Update]

Just 5 days ago, a new updated version of the player named “Minix NEO X8-H Plus” was released. The changes are significant as the CPU is replaced from S802 to S812 which allows for HEVC (or x265) encoding in hardware – allowing for highly compressed 4K content to be played properly. In the model reviewed it can only be played in software mode up to 720p due to the heavy processing required for the codec. The new CPU also includes a more advanced WiFi communications supporting the AC protocol, and a 1000Mbit instead of the 100Mbit LAN connection.

 

[Update # 2]

Since the update before last (005 or 006), SMB server option has been added to the Minix X8 series. This allows a (much easier) way to access the device over a local network using drive mapping or simple command lines. Thank you Minix!

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