H96 Max Plus USB 3 TV Box

imageThe H96 Max+  is, how can I put it, wonderful. It has Android 8.1, both WIFI and high speed Ethernet, 4k HD video (yes, I have a 4K TV) 32GB storage (4GB internal RAM), USB 3.0, HDMI output and more. At the time of writing, it is a very low £38.87 at Banggood.

At this point I would normally send you off to look at the ad but in this case you might be put off as it is the usual gloss complete with language errors. The unit deserves so much more.

I’ve tried all manner of TV boxes from PCB level Android units to full blown Android TV. The former generally work but often need some technical knowledge to set up and often come with old versions of Android, The "Android TV" units (as against full Android which this unit supports) are, in my experience, a let-down.

Quick screen grabWho wants the restricted content and stripped down Android TV Play Store when you can have the full App store. Indeed, the only thing up to now I can’t get this box to run is NowTV and I believe that is a SKY restriction more than a problem with the unit as I cannot get any other Android unit to fire off NowTV to the big screen.  Netflix is fine, Amazon TV is fine, YouTube is fine and unlike the Roku, there is a VPN facility for those of us who travel overseas. The IPlayer as yet does not seem to want to know Android 8.1 but the BBC Radio IPlayer works a treat. Meanwhile my SmartTV handles the normal IPlayer no problem. I’ve installed a ton of apps such as TED-TV but it would take weeks to do justice to all of them. Thanks to the 4K RAM and 32GB built-in memory (expandable by microSD) there seems to be almost no limit in sight to what I can put into this box. I was originally determined  to crack NowTV rather than buy another unit just for that but eventually took the plunge - the units are cheap and Sky doesn't do 4K (at least, not for NowTV)  -When ARE they going to join the modern world?

H96 Max Plus TV Box

As usual with these Android units, initially I noted some edge content missing off-screen but in this case a very simple and very welcome zoom facility immediately corrected the issue – end of story – no technical knowledge required. I now have a perfect picture. I DID have a slight issue with the remote control which seems to be missing the odd useful button. Eventually I just bought another control. I am amazed at how well this is working with my “bargain” Aldi 4K TV. The overall result is stunning and trust me, I’m no novice to HD TV.

The unit displays a “skin” but unlike "Android TV" you can get to normal settings and the full Android Play Store without issue.

Skin

I cannot stress enough that my crude screenshots are not intended to convey the quality out of this unit. Hopefully they do help otherwise. Not ALL of these packages were installed by default but took seconds to get from the Playstore. I should point out that the Netflix and Prime apps are free but you will need subscriptions to these services of course.

image

If you need more storage, the unit has sockets for both USB sticks and uSD.

Here’s the link - H96 Max Plus RK3328 Android 8.1 USB3.0 TV Box -- https://goo.gl/oS5DRB

More Android TV Boxes -- https://goo.gl/UxpC64 

EU Warehouse --  https://goo.gl/QceUQM

Note: The images here are meant to help but probably fail to get the quality across. Take my word for it that image quality (clearly, depending on the App and your broadband) is superb.

 

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24 thoughts on “H96 Max Plus USB 3 TV Box

  1. Usually tv boxes have 1-2Gb of RAM, this one 4Gb and very cheap in comparison to fanless mini PC. Is it possible to install some Linux here? I'm looking for one more fanless mini server for home automation.

    1. You know, that's a REALLY good point. Of course, if there IS a Linux for it, it would be all down to support... I wonder if the Armbian guys have come across this yet? I've been complaining about 1GB in Raspberry Pi for ages. Other boards have more but very FEW have 4GB RAM, yet here we are with a fast, capable board with full 4K video and 4GB RAM, in the right hands it could be an establishment challenger at a price well below the competition. I'm updating the blog incidentally right now. As this board clearly does a cracking job with Android, the icing on the cake would be a Pi-compatible Linux installation... for sure.

    2. It's always only about the SoC. RK3328 is one of the few 'open source' Rockchip SoCs and is already used on some development boards (Rock64 and Libre Computer Renegade for example) and as such runs pretty well with Linux.

      Do a simple web search for 'H96 Max Plus site:armbian.com' (then you'll find out what to expect when buying TV boxes with H96 as part of their name --> RK3328, RK3399 or even Amlogic S905x, you can never trust into getting the SoC you're interested in)

      The problem with these TV boxes is that the vendors usually don't give a sh*t about their specs being correct and next batch of boxes using same ingredients as older ones. One typical symptom is exchanged wireless chips or different DRAM chips needing different bootloaders. Not a problem with vendor's Android flashed to onboard eMMC storage but as Linux enthousiast you can end up with days of your life wasted on getting a device to boot that received positive reviews in the past (based on an older variant of a box with the same name)

    1. If it's about running Linux: I don't think so.

      TV boxes are meant to have random hardware inside and only the Android on the internal flash memory is prepared to deal with this.

      If you need to run Linux the problem is not Linux but exchanged hardware parts that need an adjusted bootloader for any other OS running other than the adjusted Android on the internal flash storage.

      Another 'nice' example: https://forum.armbian.com/topic/4877-h2-sunvell-r69-android-tv-box-aliexpress/?page=8

      If you think about Linux and TV boxes always have in mind that a new batch of a box that looks the same, is called the same and smells the same is something entirely different. But hey, at least it's your wasted money and time 🙂

        1. Sure, if you want to run Android then choose any of those TV boxes from vendors who get the Google stuff licensed (according to Libre Computer Google simply doesn't do this with SBC vendors any more: https://libre.computer/2018/09/27/android-release-for-tritium-and-le-potato/)

          If you want to run Linux better spend the additional 5 bucks for a development board instead of a TV box since here you know the board vendor cares about hardware compatibility unlike TV box vendors who create new batches of boxes with same name and same written 'specs' but entirely different inside.

          And if you want Linux with more than 1 GB you need to choose something else than RPi since the VideoCore IV design all RPi rely on is not capable of dealing with more RAM. The 1 GB are already an ugly hack according to Kristina Brooks who tried to developed an open source 'firmware' for the Raspberries before she gave up: https://irclog.whitequark.org/linux-sunxi/2017-04-02#19158500;

          1. Not "any" of the TV boxes. I've played with lots of them - most have old versions of Android, many are not rooted, some have screen overscan issues with no simple utilities to fix, etc. Not all of us have the time, skill or desire to mess with operating systems. I've done my share but for TV boxes I want a recent Android (in the knowledge that updates are unlikely), most if not everything working and decent ROM/RAM - so I can spend more of my limited leisure time watching shows (after installing god knows how many packages for the different services) in jitter-free decent quality - and of course at low cost as this will not be the only device attached to the TV.

            For Debian etc I'm happy to do more and have done but again it would be better use of my time developing or modifying actual programs than re-inventing the wheel in operating systems. I've been through many different boards and, well, we'll not open up the backup discussion again but the PI 2 and 3 are quite easy in that respect. I continue to watch and revisit Armbian, checking for new developments.

  2. Stuck here with only The Voice Romania, Love Island Romania, X-Factor Romania, and a rip-off of Family Fortunes seemingly on nightly rotation - I really need one of these to hook onto the VPN to back home.

    If only iPlayer would work with it...

  3. I bought this TV box and it has a wifi broblem. If security is WEP it works fine. If it is WPA it drops it, and it stops downloading. Any other with this problem?

    1. I can't argue with that as I only briefly used WIFI. I tend to use a hardwired connection for TV-related stuff to get the best speed. Cant you fire it back at the supplier? I have to say that apart from a poor choice of remote control, mine works a TREAT.

      1. I think that the problem is on software. So is it is easier to operate wifi with wep security until an update fix this problem, than to send it back to China

      2. Pete said 'poor choice of remote control'
        I got a '2.4GHz Mini Wireless Keyboard Mouse Touchpad For Android Smart TV' from eBay.

        It works fine with my H96 box.

            1. you can even use it for your tv, replicating your remote, here's a full review:
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9K0ygh61ns

              here a lot of other models: https://www.banggood.com/search/air-mouse.html?sbc=1

              just stay away from this model, it costs more than the one i put in other comment and has way worse in the air movement recognition...
              https://www.banggood.com/Wireless-Air-Mouse-Keyboard-Game-Remote-Controller-For-Macbook-PC-iPad-Projector-Smart-TV-Box-p-1171894.html

  4. I have one of these, specifically rk3228-8d4-v1.1,,
    it has a problem running any linux.. Uboot sees uSD OK, kernel loads, the dtb,
    then loses uSD, if you have a usb stick with right LABEL or uuid it will run from that
    After quite a while I have hacked a blodge, many errors in dmesg, runs from
    uSD, I still don't understand the problem (which is in dtb). NOT recommended

    1. As the unit is supplied with Android and intended specifically for use as a TV box I can't be of much help if someone chooses to hack it and use it for something entirely different. The only thing I would (and did) change on this unit is the remote.

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