The Probox2 Ex is a box designed to let we run Android apps on a TV. We’ve seen plenty of those over a past few years… though there are a few things that assistance this indication mount out.
First, it’s powerful. It has a Amlogic S802-H quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, dual-band WiFi, and other plain specs. Second, it comes with a wireless controller called a Remote+ that we can use as a remote, a microphone input, an atmosphere mouse, or a video diversion controller.
In other words, a Probox2 EX and Remote+ aren’t usually designed to let we tide Netflix to your TV. You can also use it to hunt a web, play video games, and perform many other tasks though plugging in a keyboard… nonetheless we competence still wish a mouse, keyboard, or third-party diversion controller for some tasks.
W2Comp sells a Probox2 EX for $150, and a store sent me a demo territory to test.
It’s a rapid appurtenance that is means of regulating many Android apps though complaint. But while it has a tradition user interface designed to make Android a bit some-more TV-friendly, a Probox2 EX is still regulating an handling complement designed for phones and tablets with touchscreen displays.
That can lead to some inconsistencies in a user interface and problems regulating some apps.
So is a Probox2 EX value a $150 seeking price? IT depends what you’re looking for.
The Probox2 EX is a black box measuring 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 1″ and weighing about 7 ounces. You can simply reason it in one hand… though distinct an Android phone or tablet, you’re not unequivocally meant to.
Instead we put it by your TV and offshoot adult a arrangement with an HDMI cable. There are also AV and SPDIF ports for audio and video output.
You can bond to a internet over WiFi or Ethernet. The box has a 10/100 Ethernet pier and supports dual-band 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. You can screw on an tractable receiver that competence assistance boost WiFi reliability. During my tests, I’ve found a wireless opening to be rapid and reliable.
There are dual full-sized USB ports on a side, as good as a micro USB OT port. You can use these to bond a keyboard, mouse, outmost storage, or other peripherals. If we devise to use a Remote+ that come with a Probox2 EX, you’ll need to block a receiver into one of these USB ports.
The box has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, though we can also supplement removable storage interjection to a microSD label slot. It facilities Amlogic’s S802-H 2 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor and ARM Mali-450 8-core graphics.
On tip of a Probox2 EX there’s a energy button, and on a bottom there are a array of vents. The device can get a tiny comfortable when it’s in use for a while, though it never gets utterly hot, so we theory those vents do a flattering good pursuit of permitting atmosphere to upsurge by a case.
The Remote+ that comes with a Probox2 EX is a tiny remote that fits absolutely in one hand. It facilities a energy button, direction-pad, keys for some elementary Android functions including Home and Back buttons, and volume buttons.
But there are also A, B, X, and Y buttons that we can use for gaming. Turn a remote sideways, and it looks a bit like a classical Nintendo-style gamepad. Ergonomically a remote feels improved in mural mode than landscape mode, though it’s good to have a choice of regulating a singular remote for both elementary navigation and gaming.
Unfortunately not all Android games will play good with a Remote+. Check out a opening territory next for some-more details.
There’s also a symbol on a remote that we can daub to toggle between atmosphere rodent and gamepad functionality. In atmosphere rodent mode we can call around a Remote+ like a Nintendo Wiimote to pierce an on-screen cursor. This lets we daub opposite tools of a shade or even form regulating an on-screen keyboard.
You substantially wouldn’t wish to daub out prolonged email messages regulating this hunt-and-peck character typing.
Even entering long, secure passwords with an atmosphere rodent can get a bit tedious. But it’s good to be means to enter URLs, hunt terms, or brief usernames and passwords though plugging in a keyboard.
In a tip left dilemma there’s also a microphone icon. Tap it and we can use a mic built into a tip of a Remote+ for voice recording, search, or communications.
It can be a bit wily to use a mic during times. Since a Probox2 EX is regulating a chronicle of Android designed for phones and tablets, drumming a mic idol on a on-screen keyboard, or a hunt box triggers Android’s voice approval feature… though afterwards we have to quick daub a mic symbol on a Remote+ before we start talking. It won’t spin on automatically a approach a mic on a phone or inscription would. If we don’t daub a symbol quick enough, Android’s voice approval underline competence time out.
You can also take a Remote+ and block a USB receiver into a Windows mechanism if we want… though while a volume buttons work as you’d expect, Windows doesn’t always respond a approach you’d design (if during all) to a other buttons on a remote control.
Google skeleton to launch a chronicle of Android optimized for TV screens this fall. It’s called Android TV, and while it’s formed on a same program that runs on phones and tablets, it will have a user interface designed for use with a vast shade and remote control instead of a tiny shade and your fingertips.
The Probox2 EX doesn’t run Android TV. It runs Android… on a TV. That means a program regulating on this device is substantially matching to what you’d run on an Android tablet… though it includes a tradition home shade that is designed to make Android easy to navigate with a remote control.
There are vast icons for categories including Movies, TV Shows, Music, and Games. You can use a arrow keys on a Remote+ to switch between categories and select apps we wish to run. You can also perspective all of your commissioned apps, or customize categories. Want Netflix to uncover adult in a TV Shows difficulty and Youtube to uncover adult in Movies? You can do that.
What we can’t always do is find apps that work good though a touchscreen… or during slightest a mouse. The Probox2 EX facilities a Google Play Store and allows we to download usually about any app you’d like… though some apps can be tough to navigate regulating arrow keys given we need to use appropriate gestures to entrance some menus or options. While swiping creates a lot of clarity on a tablet, it’s an peculiar approach to correlate with a TV.
Fortunately we can use a atmosphere rodent underline of a Remote+ to swipe… though good fitness perplexing to use a singular remote control to obey multi-touch gestures.
I was means to navigate YouTube, Netflix, and other video apps regulating a brew of arrow pivotal presses and atmosphere rodent functions on a Remote+. It works… though it’s not utterly as user accessible as regulating those apps on an Android inscription or regulating TV-optimized versions of those apps on a Roku.
Certain Android facilities such as notifications and a Quick Settings row are also a bit wily to use on a TV. You don’t see a standing bar during all on a home shade of a Probox2 EX unless we use a Remote+ atmosphere rodent (or another device) to appropriate down from a tip of a screen. That’s a good thing if we don’t want to see notifications… though it can be a bit treacherous if we do.
While we can slap a TV-friendly home shade on Android, we’ll substantially have to wait until Google releases a chronicle of Android that’s meant to run on TVs before things like notifications that are designed to be swiped divided with a fingertip will disappear.
The Probox2 also has a settings menu that’s optimized for vast displays and remote control-style navigation, though if we wish to entrance some-more modernized settings, you’ll find another settings menu: one that’s clearly designed for phones and tablets and not big-screen TVs.
But there are a few reasons we competence wish to cruise a device like a Probox2 EX instead of a Roku. It comes with a XBMC media core app pre-installed, supports Miracast wireless arrangement features, and it also has a possess media actor that can automatically detect song or videos connected to your network around DLNA-enabled devices. we was means to tide audio and videos from a common network expostulate with no problems.
And there are games… a Remote+ was designed with gaming in mind. So how does it work as a diversion controller? That depends on a game.
I tested a few opposite titles and saw churned results.
- Riptide GP2: The remote was automatically rescued by this racing game, though a diversion suspicion it had shoulder buttons and other keys that it doesn’t indeed have. This done it unfit to perform some actions and done a diversion fundamentally unplayable.
- Asphalt 8: Airborne: This diversion had a same elementary problem: it suspicion there were some-more buttons than a remote indeed has. If we don’t need to brake, that competence not be a problem… and we *can* try to expostulate a competition automobile though ever braking. But it’s substantially not a good idea.
- Rayman Jungle Run: This diversion doesn’t use a gamepad-style controller, though we can play it flattering simply in atmosphere rodent mode given we usually need to daub a shade to control a action. It indeed plays flattering good in this mode.
- Robot Unicorn Attack 2: You can play this diversion regulating a atmosphere rodent by drumming opposite tools of a screen.
- Wind-up Knight: Finally! This diversion works ideally with a Remote+ given it recognizes a remote and allows we to use a gaming buttons as intended. we usually played by a initial few levels, so it’s probable that we competence need some-more buttons than we have during after levels. But it was kind of sparkling anticipating a diversion that seems wholly upheld during slightest during a starting levels.
If you’re looking for an Android-powered device for personification games on your TV, a Probox2 EX could be that device. But you’ll substantially wish to deposit in an Xbox or Playstation-style controller that will work improved with games like Asphalt or Riptide. And we competence have to differentiate by a sea of touch-friendly games that were never unequivocally meant to be used on a TV to find games that will work on a vast screen.
Or we could buy an Ouya for $100. Sure, it’s not as absolute as a Probox2 EX and it doesn’t have full entrance to a Google Play Store, though it has a diversion store that facilities titles that we know will work on a console.
If there’s anything that creates a Probox2 EX program knowledge attractive, it’s a helper (if master-of-none) peculiarity of a box. While not each Android app works good on a TV shade or with a wireless remote control, there’s nobody to tell we that we can’t during least try to run your favorite apps on a Probox2 EX.
And there’s during slightest one elementary approach to make some media apps a bit some-more TV-friendly: implement Cheapcast. This is a giveaway Android app that lets a Probox2 EX (or other Android devices) act like a Google Chromecast.
When a Cheapcast is running, we can glow adult Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies, HBO Go, Twitch.tv, or other apps on your Android phone or tablet, daub a button, and send a video to your TV while regulating your phone or inscription to play, pause, quick forward, or rewind.
The Probox2 EX also comes pre-rooted, that means we can entrance that need base privileges including Titanium Backup, Root Explorer, or apps such as Complete Linux Installer which lets we run Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora or other desktop Linux handling systems alongside Android regulating VNC… nonetheless after spending an hour or dual fiddling with a installer, we haven’t had most fitness removing anything other than a authority line to uncover adult myself.
The Probox2 EX has an ARM Cortex-A9 processor during a time when inclination with faster or some-more fit architectures are starting to arrive. But it does have one of a fastest Cortex-A9 chips around. The Amlogic S802-H processor is a quad-core savage that scores good in benchmarks, and some-more importantly, seems to be means to hoop usually about any charge we can chuck during it.
The box boots quick and feels flattering zippy when it comes to rising apps or loading web pages.
Wireless opening also seems flattering good. It connects to my home network roughly now and a vigilance stays strong. we downloaded several games that use around 1GB of information and didn’t remove my internet tie while a downloads were in progress. I’ve also streamed a series of HD videos over a internet with no problems.
Theoretically a Probox 2 EX should be means to support 4K HD video, though we don’t occur to have a 4K arrangement handy. we did bond it to a 1080p monitor… and a box motionless to outlay 720p calm to that display. There competence be ways to get loyal 1080p output, though out of a box a device is optimized for 720p displays.
In terms of tender benchmarks, a Probox2 EX seems to have a lot of tender CPU power: it’s one of a fastest systems I’ve tested to date… though we tend to exam inexpensive systems and haven’t spent any time with an Android device featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 or newer CPU or an NVIDIA Tegra K1.
Still, a Probox2 EX scores aloft in CPU-specific benchmarks such as AnTutu than several of a fastest tablets I’ve reviewed recently: a Asus MeMO Pad 8 and Asus Transformer Book T103 featuring Intel Atom Z3745 Bay route processors. It also scores scarcely twice as high as a 2013 Google Nexus 7 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor.
The Probox2 EX is about uniformly matched with that Nexus 7 when it comes to graphics performance… during slightest as judged by a 3DMark benchmark. Both inclination route behind a Transformer Book T103 in that test.
The Probox2 EX competence be one of a best TV boxes regulating Android during a moment… though that doesn’t meant it’s indispensably something we should buy.
First, you’ll notice that I’m perplexing not to call inclination like this Android TV boxes anymore… given Android TV will shortly meant something else entirely. Google skeleton to hurl out a possess chronicle of Android optimized for TVs, and it substantially won’t usually be a inscription handling complement with a tradition app launcher thrown on.
Google’s new Android TV program competence also be a bit some-more sealed down than a program that’s accessible on inclination like a Probox2 EX, and it’s not transparent if Chinese device makers will be means to use it though Google’s pithy permission. So we competence see central and unaccepted TV boxes regulating opposite versions of Android in a future.
Anyway, a thing about a Probox2 EX is that while it lives adult to a guarantee of vouchsafing we run Android apps on a TV… a law is that many Android apps weren’t designed to be run on a TV. A wireless remote control usually doesn’t act a same approach as fingers on a touchscreen.
But a Remote+ that comes with a Probox2 EX does help. It has atmosphere rodent capabilities that let we do many of a things we would with a toucshcreen (or mouse), and while a gamepad buttons don’t work ideally with each game, when we do find a diversion like Wind-up Knight that works with a Remote+ we can get a flattering good gaming experience.
At $150, a Probox2 EX is some-more costly than a Roku, an Amazon Fire TV, or an Apple TV. And it’s not unequivocally as good as those boxes during a one thing they do well: permitting we to simply find and play videos, music, and other calm from hundreds of sources.
But a Probox2 EX has a absolute processor, a sincerely vast volume of storage, enlargement options interjection to a USB and microSD label ports, and a versatile handling complement that allows we to customize your knowledge by installing usually about any app that can run on Android… either that app is designed for TVs or not. I’m not prepared to reinstate my Chromecast with a device like this yet… though we can positively see how it competence interest to some folks.
Thanks again to W2Comp for providing Liliputing with a Probox2 EX and Remote+ to review.