After a while all of these Android TV boxes begin to look and sound alike – but are they? What about picture quality?
I just received a new Android 9 TV box from Banggood – and we did not get off to the best start. On opening the box, hidden therein was a nice, small, round TV box, very pretty compared to others I’ve seen.
The shape sets it apart. The H96 MAX X3 Amlogic S905X3 5G WiFi TV Box is round, not square and has (along the edge at the rear) USB3 and USB 2 connectors – one of each, as well as an HDMI output and both 3.5mm and SDPDIF audio outputs. There is a small 12v DC input and a TF card connection. Both Ethernet (RJ45) and WiFi are available. The H96 Max came complete with plug-in-the-wall power supply. All pretty standard stuff.
On the front edge is a clock display in purple. This is a bit of a waste of time as I found it insufficiently bright to view in any kind of strong lighting. The remote control is pretty standard for units like this – not really that special as it has no keyboard for entering passwords – but again, all pretty standard stuff. You can of course buy replacement RF remote controls with more buttons, very inexpensively and there’s a very popular and inmexpensive “air mouse” that does the trick..
The box has the standard Android Playstore (not a crippled Android TV version) and so the full range of Apps is available for use on the fairly uninspiring TV dashboard.
What for me makes this Android 9 box stand out from others is the picture quality on my 4K TV. I have used several such boxes and the picture quality on the H96 Max, given the right material such as YouTube 8K trailers (which downscale to 4K of course) – the quality in these circumstances is the best I’ve seen and makes up for the lacklustre remote easily.
I can’t of course demo such quality here so you’ll have to take my word for it. I’m no stranger to 4K trailers and videos but neither my Roku box nor my other recent Android boxes do them justice – this box does. I use the hard-wired Ethernet connection to view the demos and at home I have 75Mbps Vodaphone broadband so results will vary depending on the kind of broadband you have.
Given that I have other such boxes, does this one get the job? YES, absolutely.
January 2021 Update
Despite having a newer HK1 box which in theory should be better – and despite the newer box having a version of Mobdro installed which I cannot replicate and which works great, the H96 plays, for example, EuroNews perfectly without any stuttering, in good HD where the HK1 (link above), on the same 5G WiFi (the two sit next to each other) for some reason stutters when using EuroNews – I’ve no idea why, as Netflix, Amazon and BBC iPlayer perform perfectly on both boxes (and visually they are both great aside from the dim display on the H96.
July 2021 Progress and End of Updates
Even on hardwired Ethernet, this box tends to buffer a little on EuroNews – no idea why but it’s annoying – and that Android is not going to get updated now – but it works well otherwise.
And now the good news. The box comes complete with KDMC which CAN be updated. As you may know, KDMC (KODI) tends to be full of plug-ins that no longer work. Well, I’ve (easily) added two – THE CREW and THE AUTH and together they offer more movies and channels than you could imagine – most of which work. We’re talking all the major networks and some not-so-major networks – and stuff that goes from current, in some case back to the turn of the century.
In fact, right now, these two add-ons are so good you may be wondering why you’d need anything else. The same runs on my HK1 box and a Raspberry Pi 4 (2GB) which unlike previous RPis is now fast enough, particularly in the graphics department to make a great TV box – but if you still want to keep Netflix and Amazon APPs, perhaps Android boxes like this are a better choice?