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) .
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
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: https://goo.gl/DHc7vz
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.
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?