A fully capable budget-minded modern TV set top box
Alfawise Android 8.1 TV Box / Sporting 2GB of RAM and 16GB of FlashRAM and 2.4Ghz Wifi
Within the USA it is common to find Roku set top boxes abundantly in electronics sections of brick and mortar stores. While these are capable of displaying full HD movies and television shows, they lack a lot of features especially for the price. Personally, I have been wondering about the alternative TV boxes for a while and just got around to acquiring one for personal use.
The Alfawise Android 8.1 TV Box is an inexpensive and entry-level yet feature packed TV set top box which can play many different types of movie file formats as well as the most popular Android apps. This is the official MaxConsole review of this device and we aim to put it through its paces and go over its main features without a full blown review of the Android OS (which you should be used to by now in your smart phone and tablet devices). Within this review, we will show some of the main features of the Android OS, however, which powers this nice shiny little TV box.
Let’s take a look at what is included with the Alfawise TV Box:
The device ships in a very plain non-descriptive brown cardboard box. Don’t let this fool you though, as this device has some very nice features and internal components. Within the box you will find the Alfawise Android 8.1 TV Box, a short HDMI cable (which is fortunate and saves a trip to the dollar store), a power supply, a remote control, and a small user manual which details some of the device’s features and especially shows how to operate the remote.
The remote control itself is not very robust but gets the job done. The first thing you will notice is that it does not have a pause button. I found this to be the most disappointing feature of this device but I found a work around which I will detail later in the review during movie testing.
Formats of movies supported are displayed in a short list in the manual. It is supposed to be able to play more movie formats than what is shown in the manual but here are the most popular ones that they decided to list: VC-1, H.265, H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, VP9, DIVX, and REALMEDIA. It also lists avi, mpg, vob, rmvb, mkv, m2ts, and ts.
If you are concerned with playback of photograph and music file formats, here is the list of what are supported: JPEG, BMP, PNG, MP3, WMA, WAV, AC3, DTS, and AAC.
This device supports four USB 2.0 ports with a maximum current of 2Amps at 5Volts DC. The manual only lists two USB 2.0 connectors for some reason and possibly this means that only two of the ports are power ports but I am not sure about that. The device also has one RJ-45 network adapter which I assume is at least 100 megabit and has a slot for SD/SDHC/MMC cards as well as a built in infrared module and of course the HDMI port and power port.
While Netflix may still be all the rage, rather than renting bluray and DVD discs these days, this TV box still delivers that capability. It comes with Netflix pre-installed and ready to go (after entering your login and password credentials for the service of course). This is a nice feature to have but this device fortunately is not limited to just that restrictive service.
Within the Alfawise TV Box’s Android OS you will find all the standard operating features that you are accustomed to and expect, including its settings and language options (a plethora of languages are available) as well as some pre-installed apps and the app store. The app store makes this device very powerful since you can install any Android 8.1 compatible app and the device will run it.
I am pleased to see devices like this in the wild especially at the price. This device only costs $29.99 at GearBest.com and is more affordable than most Roku/Netflix devices that are out. It delivers a lot more features than a Roku, with three built-in USB ports and a full sized SD card slot. This means that you can use whatever external storage you wish to store movies and TV shows without sacrificing the amount of content that you desire.
Let’s put this device through its paces and show how it works.
This device is simply plug-and-play just like a typical Roku or other HDMI enabled TV set devices. I have plugged it in to a 3-port HDMI switch box that I purchased rather inexpensively on eBay to a 27” computer monitor with audio-in and audio-out so it works just like a TV set with speakers for the testing.
While the 16 Gigabytes of internal ROM (this is what the Chinese typically call FlashRAM memory in their devices for some unknown reason. It operates the same way.) , I decided to copy some movies onto the device’s internal memory for ultra-portability. I found the 16GB of flashram to be sufficient for this review’s tests and video playback was fine both from the USB 2.0 Sandisk 16GB Cruzer Blade memory stick and the internal flashram the device came with. Although it is clunky to navigate an Android device with arrow buttons, I found it to be sufficient and easy to operate with the remote. I copy/pasted the movie from the USB memory stick to the internal flash memory of the device with no problems at all.
Playback using the default media player:
Playback is pretty basic on this device. The device playback is virtually designed for the end user to just press play and watch the movie all the way through. This is because there is no pause button and the remote features are very limited. I figured out pretty quickly how to re-size a SD movie to full screen as well as how to pause a movie with the default player. To pause a movie, press menu then quickly select the settings icon. This takes a little bit of practice but it works. I am a little disappointed that there isn’t just a proper pause button on the remote. Movie playback works fine. I later found that this device comes with another movie player: RKMC. What I found great about this media player is that not only does the “OK” button virtually perform as a proper pause button but it also plays more audio formats that movies come with and starts the movies in their intended aspect ratio without having to configure anything. I was happy to find this later on while writing this review so I could share that feature with my readers.
Playback using RKMC media player:
The RKMC media center allowed Oceans Eight to play its internal audio, unlike the default player. I found this to be an added bonus that it came already pre-installed on the device and made it very convenient to play this movie in particular not only with sound but also the correct 16:9 aspect ratio by default.
Youtube playback worked without any problems. I was able to use the typical Youtube settings that I am accustomed to on a PC web browser, including the Video quality settings. As you can see above, the cartoon goes up to 1080p video quality. This is what I would expect from a quality Youtube player.
This device is feature packed for the money. It sports a 1.5Ghz Cortex A7 CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of FlashRAM, four USB 2.0 ports, 2.4Ghz built-in WiFi, HDMI, and infrared for the remote. I found these features to be very sufficient for movie playback which is what this device mainly is intended to do. At $29.99, the Alfawise Android 8.1 TV Box is quite a bang for the buck device and an excellent addition to an HDTV. It also offers great portability, being a small device, for those whom want to take it with them on trips to plug into TV sets on the go.
We at MaxConsole would like to thank GearBest for providing the sample for review. This device can be purchased at their website for $29.99 (sale price) with free shipping:
Where to buy -> https://www.gearbest.com/tv-box/pp_009625527545.html?lkid=15441491