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  1. #1

    The Prototype of our future Android Computers - Review of Minix Neo X5

    Tablets, Ipads have been eroding the market of PC slowly & now, companies have even made another step futher... the prototype of our future Android computer, the Minix Neo X5 Android TV box.

    As a introductory name, they are being sold as Android Mini PC stick or Android TV boxes. Underneath the hood, it's the same Arm Core cpu from different vendors. There are myriads of such TV boxes or Mini PC sticks from Aztech, Astone & many more brands from China. Reviewing here is the more notable Minix Brand Neo X5 from Hong Kong, China. X5 stood up from the rest by having the faster Arm Cortex A9 1.4GHz Rockchip 3066 chip with 1G of ram, 16G of storage & latest 4.1.1 Jelly Bean OS. Not reviewing the Android Mini PC sticks also, because in general many such Mini PC sticks still suffering from overheating, insufficient power for the USB ports & etc. While it's fun to have a small stick, hanging such a stick behind your TV with lots of cables dangling around isn't the kind of aesthetic I like.

    Here is a quick summary of what works & what does not & some solutions found.

    1. Minix default Android Interface(launcher) is not as friendly as Android 4.1.1 default. Android 4.1.1 default launcher is available but no easy way to switch launcher.
    Solution: Install any launcher & launch it & you will be given a choice to choose the Android default, Andriod new.launcher(=Minix) or the newly installed launcher. Select Android default.
    2. X5 goes into sleep mode & never wake up. Solution: Go to settings & developer options. Select 'Screen never sleeps'. It's odd such an important settings put into developer section.
    3. Skype call out for 5 seconds & disconnect automatically when connected to both ethernet & wifi. Disconnect wifi & skype will work normal on ethernet. Like wise, disconnect ethernet & skype will work normal on wifi. This is a bug obviously.
    4. XBMC works but no hardware acceleration. - there is a tweak for XBMC to launch media using external players like MX player. Not covered in this review.
    5. Wireless is weak compared to normal USB dongle attached to PC. Within same location in the room, Minix wireless not stable, but PC with a Wifi USB dongle reported good connection.
    6. The default remote control is infra-red & totally insensitive. I ordered the X5 together with a Measy RC11 airmouse which is much better then the default remote. Still, nothing beats the friendliness of a wired or wireless mouse.
    7. "KuaiShou Kan Pian TV version" not working, and cannot be replaced as it's listed as system app. Install KuaiShou Kan Pian & problem solved.
    8. Default file explorer does not remember samba/windows shares credential from your PC or NAS. Install ES Explorer. Automount in the Linux/Windows way is not possible still.
    9. The default media player is capable to detects & play from my NAS's upnp, my XBMC server as well as my MythTV server. Did not explore the built-in media server.
    10. Key Apps to install:
    a. MX Player supports hardware acceleration. But only 1 default subtitle srt file supported. Hope future updates supports loading more than 1 subtitle srt files eg. Eng, Chinese Traditional & Chinese Simplified. Those are important for my non-English speaking family members.
    b. Funshion. It seemed some US & HK Drama available in the Windows version but missing from the Android version.
    c. Kuai Shou US drama, Kuai Shou HK drama, Kuai Shou kan pian.
    d. Skype.
    11. Skype from Google Play store works out of the box. Which webcam works with X5? I am using ProLink one as shown below. It's available locally. Still have not figure out how to start skype automatically when X5 starts.

    Most people will hook the X5 up to their Full HD TV & use it with the air mouse/remote control.

    My setup:
    1. Hook up X5 with a HDMI-to-DVI convertor & use it on a DVI LED monitor.
    2. Connect a powered speakers to the audio out of the X5. USB speaker would have taken up another USB port.
    3. I connect a Prolink web cam, RC11 air mouse & a wired mouse to the 3 USB ports.

    This setup stays on 24/7 & i only turn off the monitor when not in use. It's been running stable since I disabled the 'turn monitor to sleep mode' option. Advantage of such setup is that, incoming Skype call will rings through the external speakers which stays on & not consuming much electricity. That will not work on the audio out through HDMI to the TV when it's switched off on idle time. The Minix cost around S$150 from online stores including the Air Mouse & shipment to Singapore. That's a price point that today DIY PC cannot beat.

    Today I measured the power consumption of the X5.

    I got ~3 watts at idle.

    I got ~4 watts while playing back Full HD movie with MX player running on hardware acceleration with the Mali Quad Core chip. Note that I tested on my pc, power consumption is lower when hardware acceleration kicks in. Without that, the cpu will be made to run at full speed to playback Full HD movies & consume more power instead.

    Note that, the measurement are all taken with the Minix X5 alone. My LCD monitor & the speakers is taking up another 20W or so. Total of the Anroid PC + Monitor + Speaker is ~ 25W. Even my ultra low power Intel i3 2100T consumes 35Watts on idle. May be this is finally the computing technology that finally save the earth.

    Last edited by coyote2; Dec 31st, 12 at 03:02 PM.
    WTS:Biostar A880G+ matx board for amd phenom ii cpu

  2. #2
    thx for the review

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  3. #3
    You can get it cheaper if it's the stick only.
    It is better to remain silent and be taken as a fool, than to speak and prove your ignorance beyond doubt.

  4. #4
    Yeah, cheap it is. Aesthetic, it's probably not. It will stick out at the TV side HDMI port with a lot of cables sticking out. And also, as mentioned overheating & insufficient power on the USB port due to the small size.

    Quote Originally Posted by rickysio View Post
    You can get it cheaper if it's the stick only.
    Last edited by coyote2; Dec 31st, 12 at 01:32 PM.
    WTS:Biostar A880G+ matx board for amd phenom ii cpu

  5. #5
    Trade offs la.

    And also FYI, latest is 4.2.1 already. Although not much difference, still called Jelly Bean.
    It is better to remain silent and be taken as a fool, than to speak and prove your ignorance beyond doubt.

  6. #6
    Cool updates:

    ftp://[email protected]

    Please read Minix's facebook snippet below for explanation & password.

    A non-samba version of hardware accelerated XBMC for your X5.

    Without samba, it's not possible to read your video collections from your network pc or your NAS.

    So, what is the use one ask?

    Get Navi-X from attached.

    Downloads - navi-x - Media Streaming Addon for XBMC & Boxee - Google Project Hosting

    Launch XBMC, --> Program --> Addon --> Install from Zip file --> select

    Backup, select Navi-X

    Select navi-xtreme Media Portal

    The rest is self explanatory.

    Enjoy the unlimited media.

    What exactly Navi-X extremePortal does? See examples below.

    Watching Live American TV in Navi-X, Revisited | XBMC HUB

    Last edited by coyote2; Jan 19th, 13 at 12:16 AM.
    WTS:Biostar A880G+ matx board for amd phenom ii cpu

  7. #7
    eh, how much and where you got it from?

  8. #8
    Aliexpress... there are many vendors... you can find out yourself which is cheaper with shipping included...
    WTS:Biostar A880G+ matx board for amd phenom ii cpu

  9. #9