This is the first TV Box I’ve had the pleasure reviewing that includes the HiSilicon 3798M chipset.
This review unit was sent to me courtesy of the good people at Open Hour (Syabas), so thank you all, and especially Jane and Elynn, for the swift and great communication.
What’s in the Box?
Gecko from Open Hour is an attempt at producing a high performance TV Box while keeping the cost under 90 USD.
So what do we get? The player – Gecko (keeping the naming method after the previous “Chameleon” model), AC power adapter, High speed HDMI cable, AV breakout cable, Infrared remote control, 2 x AAA batteries, Quick Start guide, and a One year limited warranty card.
Did Open Hour succeed in their attempt? The answer is Yes, and No.
Gecko is a 4K capable Android (customized Kitkat 4.4.2 variation) based on the less familiar Hisilicon 3798M chipset, with 3d BDISO, Samba server, USB 3.0, HD Audio pass-through , and Framerate Sync support out of the box.
The Gecko is a small and elegant box. Unlike the previous reviewed box, the Antenna is not incorporated into the body of the Gecko, but it is also not detachable. The box’s dimensions are smaller than most other boxes, by 10%-25%. I suspect that’s partly due to smart design, and partly due to hardware compromises.
On the front side of the box, you can see the IR sensor, and a small hole. No information was found on the quick start guide or the product page regarding it, but it may be the factory reset / safe boot internal button.
On the left side of the box, we can find the antenna, a Micro SD card slot, a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 slots.
On the back side of the box, the AV jack, LAN jack, Optical SPDIF, HDMI, and power jack can all be found.
The top of the Gecko shows a printed “Open Hour” logo, but not the name of the player.
The bottom is perforated to allow for air cooling, and include some information regarding the model, power input and standards.
|CPU||Quad Core Arm Cortex A7 CPU, 1.5Ghz|
|GPU||Quad Core Mali-450 GPU|
|Memory / Storage||1GB DDR3 / 8GB NAND Flash|
|Wireless Connectivity||802.11b/g/n WIFI With External Antenna|
|OS||Android Kitkat 4.4.2 (with Special Launcher)|
|Video Output||HDMI 1.4a, 2160P30Hz, H.265 Main Profile@L5.0 High-tie up to 30FPS|
|Audio Output||Via HDMI, optical SPDIF|
|Power||DC 5V 2A adapter (CE, FCC, CCC Certified)|
|Peripheral Interface||RJ-45 Ethernet Port (10/100 Mbps), USB 2.0 Port x 1, USB 3.0 Port x 1, MicroSD/TF Card Slot, AV Port, IR Sensor (Remote included)|
|Packing Included||Open Hour Gecko, AC Adapter, Dual-Band Antenna, AV Breakout Cable, High Speed HDMI Cable, Remote Control, 2 x AAA Batteries, Quick Start Guide, Warranty Card|
|Dimensions / Weight||115mm * 115mm * 26mm / 200g|
Benchmarks and Testing
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 single core performance stands at about half of its competitors. This is not a good number for heavy or intensive tasks.
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.
Gecko keeps showing low figures in this 3d animation benchmark. It is not targeted at 3d gaming, or may even not for gaming altogether, unless it’s a light 2d game.
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).
Again, the Gecko box shows low marks both in RAM and Internal SD read/write speeds. It does look a bit better when reading an external SD card, but overall SD read/write is between 12-17 MB/s while RAM copy speed hovers around 700 MB/s. This is a bottleneck that may limit the bandwidth required for some tasks.
* PC Mark Benchmark
* The PC Mark benchmark tests are lacking, because out of the three boxes tested, only the Minix X8-H was able to complete the video test portion of the test fully. It seems that both the EX+ and the Gecko require the use of specialized codecs in order to play some encoded video files. However, video testing with the included Kodi media center seems to produce great results.
As can be seen from the graphs, the performance of the Gecko is nothing to write home about. It would not be the optimal choice for the office related tasks that android may be used for.
3D Mark Benchmark
3D mark, one of the heaviest and demanding benchmark of the lot, shows an even greater distance between the Gecko and current (as well as last year’s) boxes. Remember: this pertains to gaming solely, and does not affect video performance in Kodi.
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|
|2160P (3840*2160)||HEVC (H.265) / 8Bit||Playing correctly||Playing correctly|
|4K (4096*2304)||AVC (High@L5.1)||Playing correctly||Buffering and stutter|
|4K TS/MKV 10Bit HEVC files||HEVC (H.265)||Does not play / play with artifacts and stutter||Does not play / play with artifacts and stutter|
Gecko has great video quality, and when it plays local content, it’s one of the best out there for almost (not 10 Bit TS files) any type of video file. But, due to slow network performance both via wired LAN and via wireless (up to 802N 2.4GHz only) connection – it simply pose a problem with higher bandwidth (mostly 4K content, but also heavy or large rips of bluray FHD content) network playback.
- Open Hour updated me, that even though Gecko does not support 10 Bit HEVC TS files, it does support 8 Bit HEVC TS files.
|Frames Per Second||Minix Neo X8-H (Amlogic S802)||Probox2 EX+ (Amlogic S812)||OpenHour Gecko (HiSilicon 3798M)|
|Asphalt 8 Airborne||23||33||N/A *|
|Angry Birds 2||30||31||N/A *|
|Walking War Robots||25||29||N/A *|
|Resource Usage||Minix Neo X8-H (Amlogic S802)||Probox2 EX+ (Amlogic S812)||OpenHour Gecko (HiSilicon 3798M)|
|Asphalt 8 Airborne||8%, 169MB||12%, 326MB||N/A *|
|Angry Birds 2||9%, 201MB||13%, 315MB||N/A *|
|Walking War Robots||10%, 99MB||13%, 275MB||N/A *|
* The Gecko is not pre-rooted, and currently only a tentative and possible solution may be found for it (http://forum.openhourlab.com/showthread.php?tid=1100). That means that Gamebench, the app I use for measuring frame rate and resources usage could not be used with it. I did run the games regardless, and can say that Angry Birds 2 did run, though not too fluidly, Asphalt 8 Airborne would not start at all, and Walking War Robots worked fine (not smoothly but playable) though control was an issue. Air mouse is supported and may be ordered separately.
* Price for Minix was taken from Geekbuying website, Price for Probox2 was taken from W2Comp website, and Open Hour Gecko price was taken from product website. Prices are as found, without any current discounts.
Gecko is a powerful video streaming solution with a slick interface and a stable (unrooted) operating system. But…
- It uses a special player (hiplayer) inside Kodi to make the most out of the chipset’s hardware supported codecs (and allows support of HD Audio passthrough as well as 3DBDISO support), but also detracts from Kodi’s abilities: you will not be able to see extra info about films and tv episodes as you would if you right click and play using Kodi’s (usually) default DVDplayer internal application
- The special player also causes issues with volume control and leaves you only with your TV\Receiver volume control (changing the volume through android with the remote does not do anything)
- The usage of an external player (hiplayer) causes a short delay of a few seconds between pressing the play button and the actual beginning of playback
- Reverting to the original internal kodi player hurts performance and picture quality
- Gecko does not go into sleep mode when you press the power button, but actually turns itself off each time
- Gecko performs great on the video performance (inside Kodi) and image quality fronts thanks to the video processing capabilities of the HiSilicon 3798M chipset. But the price is the required use of specialized codecs and/or proprietary player to achieve it
- It seems that HiSilicon (the chipset manufacturer) did not work closely with Kodi as AMLogic and others did, and so there is no specialized codec included within Kodi to handle the hardware decoding. It also did not work on integrating the video codecs into android – which is what Minix seem to have done, which allows for good video playback with almost any application
- Open Hour did a good job providing a cheaper (than its predecessor) solution for the Kodi only users. But at a certain cost, which may not appeal to some. It also does not take into account the flood of Chinese brands and re-brands of cheaper (half priced or even less sometimes) options.
|Excellent video performance||Corruption in (10 Bit) TS file playback|
|Great image quality||Customized Kodi is lacking (Uses external, problematic player)|
|Good responsive soft-button remote||No Air mouse included|
|Slick user interface (launcher)||No pre-rooting and issues with certain games and applications|
|Stable||Slow network performance|
Did I like it? Yes, but only for Kodi usage.
Would I recommend it? Yes, but with reservations. Gecko is more suitable for people who are interested in mostly or exclusively a TV box, and not a more versatile android mini-PC, and that is due to its poor performance outside of the KODI ecosystem.
So you like the Gecko and want to buy it? For online purchase, there is only one official place to go for this slick combo: Open Hour (click on the name to get to the product page, but be aware that they are currently out of stock and you can only as for notification when the product is back on sale)
I did also find the product on eBay, but the costs are higher due to high shipping + import charges added during purchase.
I hope you like the review, and you can expect more to come soon!
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