The A5X MAX Android 8.1 TV Box

Regular viewers may recall I reviewed a rather nice TV Android box some time ago – the H96 Max Plus. I’m particularly choosy about these units, again regular readers will know that I’ve used and tested a number of mini-board level products such as various NanoPC boards and others for use as TV boxes and right now back in Spain I’ve left one such unit in place.

Here in the UK, rather than a board level product,  I’ve been using the H96 Max Plus for months now without issue on my 4K 55” TV, producing quality output from Netflix, Amazon TV, iPlayer and much more. UK viewers note that few if any of these units can handle NowTV due to rather childish restrictions from Sky. I use a separate Sky-vendored box for NowTV (produced of course by Roku and crippled for Sky purposes) .

A5X Max

Of course there is much more to quality TV than simply resolution (just as well as very little of the video material out there is 4K or anything like it) and one TINY gripe I’ve been harbouring without knowing exactly where to pin the blame, is black level control. I got very annoyed over Christmas when I went to see a pal of mine as his TV seemed to have more consistent blacks than mine. Which brings us to the A5X Max box.

Well, here’s the news. I received the A5X Max TV unit from GearBest several days ago and initially dismissed it as the supplied IR remote is, to say the least, abysmal (see above).  You may recall I said the same about the remote that came with the H96 Max Plus and sure enough, I swapped remotes and the A5X is performing well.

Do I like this unit better than the H96? Well, yes. The menus on these units are much of a much-ness but I think the black-level control on the A5X is a little better and hence it wins pride of place – the H96 is going to Spain with me as it is way better than the NanoPC board I have over there. Here in the UK, picture quality is my primary focus due to my rather nice 4k TV  (in Spain I have only average broadband). Here, whatever edge the A5X has means it wins.

Sadly I cannot find the order for my remote control but they are widely available on Ebay – here’s a random example of the  control (air mouse) I use – Wireless Keyboard Remote Qwerty Fly Air Mouse for Android TV Box M8 2.4GHz XBMC

Remote control

In the example to the right, the UK supplier states “2.4Ghz” referring to the little dongle that comes with it – of course the actual control is IR. The 2.4Ghz refers to the radio link back to the Android box which in this case is standard Android 8.1 – not to be confused with a lot of rubbish out there using earlier versions of Android or worse – the horribly crippled Android TV software.

Here’s the link back to GearBest, my thanks to Stella at GearBest for bringing the A5X Max to my attention.

Gearbest link for the A5X MAX Android 8.1 TV Box:

And here are more images – pointless showing you the actual unit in my dimly lit living room (stock images are nicer anyway) but I thought you might like to see some output straight from the box, live in my living room.

A5X screen

A5X Max

I do have one issue with this box – a minor one – I could not figure out how to stop the weather featuring New York – where I DON’T live – update March 2019 – I never did figure that one out but I AM using the box on a daily basis.

Note that I’ve examined Android TV boxes with the “Android TV” PlayStore – wouldn’t touch one with a bargepole. This unit uses the normal Android PlayStore without restriction.

Sound quality from the A4X is fine – and lest I forget, there’s a nice novice-friendly ZOOM control to handle any overscan issues – all boxes should have this but sadly, many don’t. I love it – another reason the A5X Max box got the job.

Further to the first comment in here from AcmeUK, I double checked, the A5X Max installs BBC iPlayer without issue whereas iPlayer will STILL not install on the H96 Max Max Plus. I can’t help thinking this is more down to crappy design on the iPlayer. Google only give iPlayer a rating of 3.4 – not uncommon for British TV apps. There really is no excuse for this.

While I’m here – the A5X has FOUR USB sockets, one of which is USB 3 – no doubt handy if you want to add a hard drive. Personally I’m happy to stream the videos I have over my network (wired). The A5X  also has SPDIF and AV sockets, Ethernet socket, an MMC socket and a pair of full size SD sockets… what more could you want?


14 thoughts on “The A5X MAX Android 8.1 TV Box

  1. That USB3 port is nice. Definitely makes it future proof.

    I use the FireTV stick which once or twice a year Amazon sell for under 30 pounds/euros. Easy enough to side-load with whatever additional software you need.

    I mention it as it has one key thing going for it that these larger boxes don’t have, size. I’ve been taking my FireTV stick to hotel rooms these last 4-5 months and it has totally changed what would otherwise have been a TV I never turned on. Now I’m on my Plex library, Netflix, etc as and when needed.

    In the long run I’ll probably get a box like the one you have above, and keep the FireTV stick in the suitcase ready for the next trip.

    One small tip that may be relevant to someone – often once you have an Android box as the ‘smart’ part of your TV, you naturally look to save some money and get the non ‘smart’ version of your new TV. Be careful. I did that in one of my rooms and my otherwise great ‘dumb’ LG TV lacks a headphone output port! I didn’t even think to check as I presumed ‘no smart TV’, didn’t mean ‘no headphone slot’ either.

      1. Sometimes you want audio out, not HDMI – and from a variety of inputs so it has to be in the TV… and Bluetooth almost always has some lag, no matter how small.

        1. right… a friend of mine extracted audio from SCART port (if still present), there are info on internet on how to do that… this way you can have a PARALLEL audio out to the main one, without disconnecting the scart… he uses this to have bt headphones connected to tv but standard audio out functional, too… a couple of resistors to regulate volume, or a stereo potentiometer, and that’s it… BOTH audio out are working AT SAME TIME, he just needs to turn off tv audio if he wants bluetooth one… i think this is the schematic, from this link:

          1. confirmed by comments in that link: it works in parallel with internal speakers, and volume is fixed, the remote volume control only affects internal speakers, not the scart out one… i’ll do it myself, using an old scart cable 😀

            1. this is how to add a double potentiometer to regulate volume, 4 is GND, you need to use pins 1 for R-out and 3 for L-out, the image refers to pins 2 and 6 which are audio IN, look at it only as a reference for the pots, but use pins 1, 3 and 4

      2. It’s being used as a gaming TV – I have various old consoles attached to it plus a Chromecast, so many devices most of which do not support Bluetooth, which ruled out a simple Bluetooth connection from a single device. Additionally a HDMI audio splitter works for most devices but critically not all, so that didn’t work either.

        After buying various little gadgets I ended up spending more than the £40 I saved on not getting the ‘smart’ version of the TV in the first place.

        The solution was to listen to audio from the PS4 via a headset plugged into the controller, use a HDMI audio splitter for several consoles and Chromecast, then not have headphone possibilities for the one other device that I can’t remember off the top of my head.

        Lesson learnt: Also check for a headphone socket in the small print

    1. ~I HATE that – my last SMART TV din’t have normal audio out either – just HDMI. Just lack of thought.

  2. But will iPlayer install?

    iPlayer says the version of Android on my H96 Max Plus is not compatible!

    1. I had that with the H96. Not tried recently but originally iPlayer would not load on the H96, I assume as it had a very new Android. However it just installed on the A5 Plus no problem. Now you mention it I will try again on the H96.

      1. Actually as the A5X ha the same version of Android as the H96, my original thoughts on operating system newness were wrong. iPlayer installs and works a treat on the A5X but will not install on the H96, which seems odd. I’ll try Paul’s suggestion. Actually this isn’t a problem for me as the TV handles iPlayer itself as does my Humax FreeSat box. More for completeness and for others who may not have such facilities.

        I wonder how to get hold of earlier APKs for iPlayer. I got my iPlayer from the Google PlayStore but I do know that both the A5X and H96 will handle APKs..

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