[Review] MK808b Android "TV Stick"

Discussion in 'Android' started by Sicklyboy, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Sicklyboy
    OP

    Sicklyboy Resident Mechanical Keyboard Addict

    Global Moderator
    5,709
    4,641
    Jul 15, 2009
    United States
    [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°̲̅)̲̅$̲̅]
    So, having had ample time to play around with it and see what it can do, I present to you, full of strengths, weaknesses, and opinions, my official review of the MK808b Android "TV Stick".

    :arrow: MK808 - $53.38 USD - Tmart.com

    [​IMG]

    Listed Features
    • OS: Android 4.1
    • CPU: Dual Core Cortex A9
    • Memory: 1GB DDR3
    • Storage: 8GB Flash
    • Networking: 802.11 b/g/n Wifi
    • Video Output: Mini HDMI
    • Power Input: 5v, 2A
    Looking for yet another toy to play with, I decided to purchase this after a recommendation from a friend following my curiosity of the subject. He said that the MK808 seemed to be a fairly popular TV stick, so I decided to purchase one. I planned to use it as a quick booting/always on computer to handle light emulation and streaming of multimedia from my networked PLEX server.
    Now, I need to make note of the fact that I am a custom ROM addict - I have not owned an Android device yet where within a few days of using it I have not rooted it and/or flashed a custom ROM to it. As predicted, I just could not leave this alone. The entirety of my review took place with this running Finless 1.7 ROM instead of the stock ROM. I did play with it a tiny bit on stock, however, and will make note of that at the end of my review as an after note.
    That said... let's start with the packaging and included accessories, followed by a quick rundown of the device itself. Packaging was fairly simple - a plastic box with a clear window on top for the device to be displayed; description on the back; inside was a plastic tray containing the device and its included accessories. (I'd like to note that contrary to the picture I posted, the MK808b was rotated 180 degrees in its package - face up, yet the text was upside down. Hardly an issue.) The MK808b shipped with a US AC -> USB charger (5v 2A), 4ft USB to miniUSB cable, miniUSB OTG cable, 1ft HDMI -> Mini HDMI cable, and a brief, black and white foldout instruction manual.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As for the device itself, it has a matte black finish with almost a rubberized touch to it... I can't really think of anything to compare it to at the moment. It's a little skinnier and about half the length and thickness of a Wii Remote (3.46" x 1.24" x 0.62" / 8.8 x 3.15 x 1.58 cm) and weighs in at a light 6.53 oz / 185 g. It has its miniHDMI port, full USB 2.0 port, mini USB OTG 2.0 port, mini USB 2.0 power port, a microSD slot (expandable memory), and a reset button that you push with a paper clip. Both the full and mini USB ports function as an OTG host port, making it very easy to connect USB devices.
    One thing I noticed was the inclusion of a Bluetooth sticker on the side. Nowhere on Tmart's website, the packaging, nor the manual did the device say it was Bluetooth enabled.

    [​IMG]

    Taking the device apart is incredibly easy. You will need to if you plan to flash a custom rom to it, more to follow on that. Popping the casing apart is as simple as sticking a flathead screwdriver in the very outer edge of the microSD slot and giving it a gentle twist. There is a Wifi antenna adhered to both sides, so be careful about how you handle it. Underneath that you will see a heatsink over the processor (which I was unable to remove so far, it's epoxied into place) and a plastic shield over the other side (also epoxied, but it peels right off without an issue.)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Under the plastic shield you find the Wifi and BT chipsets. If you plan to flash a ROM to it, read this topic on Freaktab. The MK808 has a few clone variants; the one I received was the MK808b Clone V2 /Sunvel Clone. As far as I can tell so far, the only adverse effect this really has is that ROM development for this chipset isn't as progressed as it is on the other variants. The device shipped with 4.2.2 Stock (not 4.1 as described), however the newest Finless rom available for the device is only 4.1. Still, I flashed it, and have absolutely no regrets about that.

    [​IMG]

    Closing it back up and progressing to usability...
    The device runs a stock Android UI (both stock ROM and Finless). The settings menus seems to be missing capitalization in a few places that it should be, but that's overlookable in my opinion. I tested Wifi and it does work quite well, however I have opted to use an Ethernet to USB adapter that I picked up off of Monoprice a few months back. I plugged it in to the full sized USB port, enabled "Ethernet" in the settings, and a few seconds later was connected to my network. Supposedly I can turn this into a Wifi hotspot, but it never initializes Wifi when I try to activate it, so I have yet to get that to work. I enabled Bluetooth and synced my BT keyboard and mouse. The mouse (Logitech M-RCQ142) works flawlessly; my keyboard (Motorola SJYN0700A), on the other hand, did not - it goes to sleep every few seconds, preventing me from typing out more than a few letters at a time. However, I do not own any other BT keyboards, so I was unable to test if this issue lies in the device or the keyboard itself. I found BT wouldn't always activate and sync at power-on, so I plugged in a basic Dell trackball mouse - works just fine. Being annoyed with the wires, I finally switched to my Logitech k400r wireless USB keyboard+trackpad, which again, works absolutely flawlessly.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Overall system performance is pretty fluid. There are few slowdowns through the use of it and when using basic apps like Chrome and Gmail. Youtube videos play just fine. Streaming from PLEX, both on my local network and remotely, I get very little buffering. Remotely, the picture did stop a few times for about a second, though only with one movie, so my server could have just been having a rough time on that. It decoded and played a 1080p test video from Samsung just fine off of a flash drive, though doing a direct stream from XBMC on anything above 480p over Wifi was very disappointing - the video lagged and needed constant buffering.

    [​IMG]

    Finally, the gaming aspect. I played Symphony of Eternity a little bit with my mouse, and it worked pretty well. I then fired up RetroArch to test various ROMS. Between MAME, SNES, NES, GB/C, and Genesis, it performed very, very nicely. Games ran smooth, sound was clear (although it took me a while to figure out that it was running at 61+ fps, so games ran slightly too fast. Once I capped it at 60 all was well). GBA emulation was a major letdown though, with lag, slowdowns, and choppy audio all across the board. I have yet to try it with a standalone GBA emulator. For controlling it, I purchased Sixaxis Controller from the Play Store, and after a few minutes of fudging around to get my knockoff PS3 controller to detect and sync, I was on my way and it worked quite well for every game I used it on.

    [​IMG]

    Packaging: 7/10 - The packaging, although effective, was a little cheap and flimsy.
    Features: 8.5/10 - I have few negative feelings towards this; aside from a few hiccups with Wifi/BT/Ethernet configuration, everything advertised (and not, in the case of the BT) works as it should.
    Interface: 8/10 - Default Jellybean TabletUI. Nice and clean cut, though I've never been a fan of how it interacts with mice. Luckily, the launcher is replaceable, as per Android standard.
    Power/Usability: 9/10 - This things time to shine was really when it was playing older ROMs and streaming videos off of my PLEX server. It performed beautifully during those areas.
    Price: 7/10 - $53.38 USD isn't bank breaking by any means, but I feel it might be just a few dollars too steep for this product considering it isn't the "official" MK808 with the RK903 Wifi/BT chipsets.

    Overall: 7.9/10 - The packaging may feel a little cheap and the price a little high for a clone device, but past that, if you want a little, always on computer or one that will boot very quickly (ready to use in under 8 seconds, usually), this might be worth considering. It works very well for emulation, and multimedia is great depending on the program you use. Shinobi III for the Genesis was one of my favorite games ever, and I got a huge kick playing the first few level sets on it on a big TV with my PS3 controller. In general, this thing is honestly pretty freaking neat and I would definitely recommend it if you were looking for something like this.
    :arrow: MK808 - $53.38 USD - Tmart.com

    Edit - Always forgetting something - how it performed for the brief period I used it on the stock rom. More or less the same as it does on Finless 1.7, but a tiny bit slower here and there. I would recommend flashing the new rom to it if you dare to do so, but if not, your experience shouldn't be hampered much, if at all.
     
    Devin likes this.
  2. Devin

    Devin "Local Hardware Wizard"

    Member
    5,713
    2,180
    Aug 17, 2009
    United States
    The Nexus
    Awesome I was looking forward to your review of it. :lol: Still no video glasses.