The MK808 is one of those gadgets that creates a fervent emotional response among both its owners and critics. Fiercely loyal users tout it’s incredibly low price and amazingly strong performance. Detractors, on the other hand, point out that few minor issues tarnish an otherwise great device. There is truth in both sides of the argument, and some of the major criticisms have been addressed in both hardware and software updates. On balance, when you look at the overall value provided by the MK808, I think you’ll recognize that it’s still one of the best choices for Stick Computing.
The MK808 is considered a second generation Android Mini PC device. In case you’re new to the category I’ll give you a very brief introduction. The products in this segment include a variety of USB stick sized computers that connect to your television or monitor via an HDMI connection. They are characterized by their small form factor and extremely low power consumption. They usually include WiFi and a way of connecting Ethernet, keyboard and mouse via USB or wireless.
The majority of these computers run Android (either 4.0 or 4.1), but a growing number are starting to support Linux. That means they can be used as a TV connected streaming media device, or as a mini productivity computer when connected to a suitable monitor and keyboard.
The MK808 was one of the first Stick Pc’s to included the Rockchip RK3066 chipset, and the Dual Core ARM A9. That means the performance is roughly twice that of the first generation Allwinner based devices.
With the included Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or the optional PicUntu Linux (*see below for more info) you can watch superb 1080p HD content from Netflix, Youtube or many other services. You can also play a variety of games at full frame rate and resolution, including 3D games like Dungeon Hunter.
Properly configured with additional storage and accessories, the MK808 can serve as the center of a media room or as a perfectly capable computer for browsing the web, checking email, listening to music or making phone calls over Skype.
The MK808 has been replaced by several different models, including the Androset MK808B Dual Core on Amazon.
What I like about the MK808
This is a excellent entry point into Stick Computing. Since the MK808 can be purchased for less than $50, it’s still one of the best values on the market.
Because it runs Android 4.1 you can access Google Play and many familiar applications right out of the box. You can watch 1080p HD videos from Youtube, Netflix, Google Play and HBO Go. It’s also possible to install Kodi for full media center functionality. The external case is solid with a rubberized external surface that makes it feel polished compared to some of its competitors.
The boot time is fast (under 30 seconds) and application loads are surprisingly swift. The faster dual core processor and the quad core Mali GPU make even demanding graphics applications like 3D games a pleasure. You’ll see performance as good as standard tablets and even approaching those of desktop PC’s.
Unlike some other models, there are no overheating issues with the MK808. Even after hours of continuous use, it is still just warm to the touch. The extensive surface ventilation on top and bottom no doubt contribute to its coolness.
With some additional customization, as I outline later in this article, the MK808 is a tiny marvel that can effectively replace a costly and energy-consuming HTPC.
Overall I would give the MK808 3.8 out of 5 stars and that’s only because of a few issues I’ve detailed in the Pros and Cons below. For overall value you’d find it hard to make a better choice.
Company Product Information
The MK808 is made in China by several different manufacturers and is distributed under a few brand names including Sain Smart SS808, Primal GV-20 and iPEGTOP MK808. In order to insure the authenticity of the product and the best quality and service you should always purchase a product like this from a name that you trust, such as Amazon.com.
What’s in the Box
- MK808 Android Mini PC 1.6ghz Dual Core Cortex-A9 Rockchip 3066
- User Guide
- Power Adapter
- USB Cable
- HDMI Cable
- OTG Cable
Here’s an unboxing to give you an idea of the basics.
Unboxing the MK808
Features and Specifications
- Rockchip RK3066, Cortex-A9, dual core processor, running at 1.6Ghz
- Quad-core Mali-400 Graphics Processing Unit for high quality video playback and 3D gaming
- 1GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB Internal Flash Storage, support for up to 32GB Micro SD card
- Supports 1TB external storage
- Built in 802.11b/g/n WiFi wireless network access, HDMI, USB and MicroSD card ports
- Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, Google Play Store pre-installed
|Max Screen Resolution||1080P|
|RAM||1 GB SDRAM DDR3|
|Graphics||Quad Core Mali-400|
|Number of USB Ports||2 (1 Full Size)|
|Dimensions||~ 1.60 x 0.70 x 3.90 inches|
|Hard Drive Interface||USB 2.0, Solid State|
|Power||DC 5V 2A|
Pros and Cons
- Very fast boot into OS and fast application load times
- Preloaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and supports Kodi
- High Definition (1080p) streaming video from Youtube, Netflix, Google Play and HBO Go is very good.
- Runs cooler than many other similar models
- SD Memory Expansion up to 32GB
- Dual antenna makes for better WiFi reception
- Supports Skype Live Chat
- Some users have complained about WiFi reception, but others get excellent results.
- Does not come rooted
- No power switch means it must be unplugged (see Tips below for solution).
Compared to first generation models, such as the MK802, the MK808 is a giant leap forward in usability and performance. A few of the more recent competitors have surpassed this unit in performance but because of its large installed base and overall supportability, it still makes an excellent choice.
There’s a lot of enthusiasm for this particular Stick PC because of the availability of Ubuntu Linux. A flavor of Ubuntu 12.10, called PicUntu is available for free download at this website. PicUntu supports screen resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 pixels, and supports WiFi, Ethernet, audio, and other core functions.
You can add other Linux applications to use your device as a mini-server or even as a full-fledged computer. Available packages including Apache, Samba, Joomla, Flash, Java, and desktop environments including Xfce and GNOME.
NOTE:You’ll need access to a computer running Linux to install PicUntu.
Because of the wide community support there are a variety of options for upgrading the system. It should be stressed that you should only attempt to upgrade ROMs if you have some expertise and can follow the instructions exactly. Improperly flashing a ROM can cause your device to become non-functional!
One of the best known upgrades is called the Finless ROM, named after its creator. You can find the upgrade in the FreakTab forums under the Tech Room section. You should look for Finless ROM 1.7C or newer, which has been tested as compatible with the MK808. This version allows you to adjust application memory to 2GB, offers root access and fixed a variety of other issues.
When you boot up the MK808 the physical keyboard is enabled by default. To utilize the onscreen keyboard with your remote, go into the setup and turn the physical keyboard to “Off”. Also, you’ll notice that the picture size may not fill your widescreen TV. To correct this, go into the screen settings and shift the zoom to 100%.
Some users find the Jelly Bean launcher too difficult to navigate on a large screen. To resolve this, download and install “GO Launcher HD”.
Many Stick Computers come with a male HDMI connector for attaching directly to your TV or monitor. The MK808 uses a female mini HDMI connector and connects to the display with an included cable. If you purchase a mini to full-sized HDMI adapter plug, you can use an ordinary (and inexpensive) HDMI male-to-male cable to connect your device.
Who is the product for?
The MK808 is an exciting little device. If you’re looking for something this is fast, expandable and cheap, then this is your Stick. For the hobbyist, there’s a large community of users that can challenge you to expand and update to the maximum. If you just want a solid Android media stick, the MK808 can serve as the center of a formidable media hub, or as a capable gaming or general purpose PC.
Some customer reviews:
“Great little device! I used it as a home theater pc… have not had a lag issue or crash or a heat issue, it just runs great. it is the only android I have not hacked in any way, its that good! .”
“OK guys i bought this item 2 days ago and i gotta say I love this product very fast, and lets just put it this way – it’s a tablet in your TV.”
“Pictuntu works flawlessly with this stick, the only one of six different types that I ordered (looking for one that worked). The others may work someday, but this one works today.”
“This is the best MK808 Dual Core Android 4.1 TV BOX Rockchip RK3066 Cortex-A9 Mini PC Smart TV Stick.”
Video Review of the MK808
Summing it up
I’d definitely recommend the MK808 as an extremely cost effective way to turn your HDMI TV or monitor into a complete home theatre. Android 4.1 loads runs as fast as you expect it would. Overheating problems that plague some devices are just not there. With some tweaking of the ROM and OS, it can also become a full-fledged primary or secondary computer.
Order with confidence and get fast delivery with Amazon.com