MINIX NEO U9-H Octa-Core Media Hub for Android

My passion for having the ultimate in home entertainment electronics goes back to when I was in high school many years ago. In those pre-Internet days you had to spend a lot more time researching your purchases. If you were an audio enthusiast, like I was, chances are you had a subscription to Stereo Review magazine. Each issue was like Christmas morning. I poured through that magazine, hungry for the latest news.

Since there weren’t specific home electronics TV shows or other sort of information media, the only other way to get good information was to experience it first hand. Growing up in a small New England town, this was no easy task. My friends and I would routinely make the hour plus trip into the “big city” of Burlington, VT to check out the newest hardware (and albums) from our favorite audio store. I’m sure the staff at that particular store grew tired of our endless testing and questions. Especially because we seldom made purchases until we were sure it was what we wanted. That could take weeks or months.

Between the magazines and our personal experiences we made our choices – for better or worse and had to live with them because the cost of acquiring them, and the limited possibilities of reselling them made us very shrewd buyers. I kept my main gear Pioneer, Infinity and Bose through all of my high school years and then sold it to a friend to help finance my first year of college.

How things have changed. Now we get all the information we need at the press of a key. You can not only find a plethora of comparisons and reviews, but thousands of thoughtful comments from nearly anyone who’s bought the product before you. It’s a vast difference, and one that comes with it’s own challenge – sorting through all the information to find something useful that you can trust.

That’s the approach I take when writing reviews. Aside from my own personal experience with products, I sift through the mountain of information that’s out there and try to condense it into something fairly short that’s useful enough for you to make a buying decision.

My own personal quest for the ultimate in media technology will continue as long as the engineers and marketers keep bringing us new products. I hope you find my reviews helpful in your own quest.

What I like about the MINIX NEO U9-H Octa-Core Media Hub for Android

Having already reviewed the Minix Z83-4 Windows-based Mini PC, I was anxious to dive into the Neo U9. I am not alone in that sentiment. The U9 has been one of the most highly anticipated Mini PC’s in quite a while.  It’s no wonder.  Minix has a great track record of producing quality products at low prices, so it’s no wonder the market was just waiting.

The NEO U9-H bills itself as the Ultimate Home Theatre Experience. It makes a case for that in several important areas. First, it supports 4K HDR video. This means you’ll be able to play back the highest resolution content available to the consumer market. The U9-H not only plays it, but plays it well, with skip-free playback from many of the popular online sources.

The Audio support is superior with Dolby Digital Cinematic Surround Sound. Sound support is provided through a Optical digital out, which is rarely included with devices in this price range. The result is full rich sound across the entire range.

This packaged version of the U9-H includes the Minix NEO A3 Gyro mouse and QWERTY keyboard. The mouse alone is worth picking up if you have any sort of stick, but it’s particularly suited to the U9-H because of the dedicated media playback controls and Voice Input. With the A3, a continuation of the NEO line of Gyro mice, you can use voice input to control virtually any application you install on the U9-H.

Speaking of applications, you’ll be able to choose from thousands of Android apps because the OS is Android 6.0 and provides full access to the Google Play Store. Instead of bundling the Google TV, as many other makers have chosen, the Minix U9-H uses a clean version of Marshmallow to give you more freedom and without the need for APK’s or side-loading.

The 802.11ac 2 x 2 MIMO Dual-Band Wi-Fi provides the highest throughput for your media streaming. Of course you could use the built-in Gigbit Ethernet, but with the Wifi AC you don’t have to.

About the only gripes I can come up with for this Mini PC is the lack of USB 3.0 ports. There are three USB 2.0 ports, but with a system this capable, the absense of 3.0 seems a curious oversight. They also could have bumped up the RAM and storage on the unit. Many of the systems coming out now are 4GB/32GB and so a 2GB/16GB seems a bit behind the curve. But because it runs Android 6, for a few more dollars you can install a Micro SD card and install apps to the expanded storage.

Company Product Information

Established in 2008, MINIX has emerged as a global leader in the development of small form factor computers and media hub technology. They are headquartered in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, with US operations based in South San Francisco, California.

In the Spring of 2017 they began production of the quad core Mini PC known as the NEO U9-H.

What’s in the Box

  • MINIX NEO U9-H 64-bit Octa-Core Media Hub for Android
  • NEO A3 Six-Axis Gyroscope Remote with Voice Input
  • HDMI Cable
  • OTG Cable
  • Micro USB Cable
  • External WifiAntenna
  • 5v, 3a Power Supply
  • Setup Guide

 

Features, Specs and Tech Details

Octa Core Cortex A53 Processor(64-bit)
Mail-820MPX GPU
2GB DDR3(32-bit)
16GB eMMC 5.0 Storage(MLC)
802.11ac 2X2 MIMO Dual-Band Wi-Fi(2.4GHz/5.0GHz),Bluetooth 4.1
Gigabit Ethernet
HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz,Support HDMI-CEC,HDR
Micro SD card reader
USB 2.0 port*3,OTG port*1,Kensington lock ready
Microphone jack,Headphone jack,IR receiver(remote included)
Android Marshmallow 6.0.1
Power port, Power Button, Reset Port

Pros

  • Clean version of Android 6 Marshmallow
  • A3 remote has voice search for any app
  • Optical audio out and Dolby Digital audio
  • Optimized for UHD 4K video
  • Dual Band WiFi with external antenna
  • Remote Shutdown

Cons

  • No USB 3.0
  • Voice Search cumbersome
  • Smallish amount of RAM and Storage

 

Tips/FAQ

Netflix

There’s been some debate about whether the U9-H supports 4K video on Netflix.  While some owners have been able to stream 4K successfully, others have not.  For a short time, Minix was providing a Netflix APK to allow for 4K streaming.  However, that link seems to go up and down depending on the day.  If you are buying this box specifically for Netflix 4K streaming, I’d suggest contacting Minix or Netflix for the best information.   Netflix has indicated they are working to provide support for many, many devices, so it’s probably just a matter of time.  In the meantime, there are plenty of other sources for 4K video.

Some customer reviews

I have a 4k TV and I compared this device to the other 2 Minix devices.This device is the best one I have ever seen especially in running 4k content.

I researched for weeks on which Android TV box to buy and I decided to go with the Minix u9H with A3 remote. Boy am I happy I did. The Minix is a mini powerhouse.

Well what can I say. Someone actually took the time to listen and craft a product of high quality and craftsmanship. Not something that was rushed to market to make a buck.

Conclusion

The MINIX NEO U9-H is an superior device for media streaming HD content.  It’s also a great option for a general purpose Android computer for accessing the web or any number of Google Play apps.  Paired with the NEO A3 Gyro controller, its a dynamic duo for content consumption.