When searching for an Android Mini PC to purchase for my home media center, I made a list of the criteria that needed to be met. First, I wanted a device that would provide a mature and stable platform for software and upgrades. In other words, I didn’t want to be on the bleeding edge. I also looked for the latest stable Android build with the highest degree of app compatibility. Secondly, I wanted to find the best combination of top hardware performance and low price among the second generation sticks.
Finally, I narrowed it down to PCs that had a large amount of user support to enable my wish to upgrade and expand the stick as far as I wanted to take it. After comparing a number of Android Mini PCs, I came to the conclusion that the Tronsmart MK808B was the best overall choice for me.
The MK808B is a second generation Android Stick. 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 (4.0 and up), 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 MK808B is powered by the Rockchip RK3066 chipset, and the Dual Core ARM A9. It’s complimented by the Mali 400 Quad Core Graphics processor. It has 1Gb of RAM and 8Gb of internal solid state storage. For I/O it has 3 USB ports; one full size for connecting USB hubs or other devices, one for the included power adapter and one OTG port for communicating with other devices. It also contains an HDMI out for connection to your TV/Monitor and a Micro SD slot for adding up to 32Gb of Class 10 solid state memory.
With the included Android 4.2 (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. Because it supports 3D acceleration, you can also play a variety of 3D games at full frame rate and resolution.
When configured with additional storage and accessories, the MK808B can easily serve as the cornerstone of a media center and also as a perfectly capable computer for browsing the web, checking email, listening to music or making phone calls over Skype.
Androset has an updated version of the Androset MK808B Dual Core on Amazon.
What I like about the MK808B
This is an excellent choice for getting started in Stick Computing. Since the MK808B can be found online for around $50, it’s one of the best price/performance values on the market.
Because it runs Android 4.2 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.
Boot time is under 30 seconds and applications load quickly. The dual core processor and the quad core Mali GPU enable demanding graphics applications like 3D to run without the usual jitters you see on less capable sticks. You’ll find that performance is as good as standard tablets and even approaching those of desktop PC’s.
Unlike some other models, there are no overheating issues with the MK808B. An over-sized heat-sink blankets the processors. Even after days of continuous use, it remains warm to the touch without additional cooling. Extensive surface ventilation on top and bottom help with heat dissipation.
The “B” in the MK808B stands for Bluetooth, which is built-in to the stick. Bluetooth 3.0 supports a wide variety of input devices as well as speakers and headsets. The latest version of the ROM, from the original sellers, comes rooted, and includes Soft Power Off and Auto-Hide Status Bar. If you’re not satisfied with the factory ROM and applications, there are several possibilities for upgrading that I’ve outlined below.
Overall I would give the MK808B 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 the total package, you’d find it hard to make a better choice.
Company Product Information
The MK808B is made in China by several different manufacturers and is distributed under a few brand names. Though there are clone products on the market, the original and latest model can be found from resellers who advertise the vendor name “Tronsmart”. 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
- MK808B Android Mini PC 1.6ghz Dual Core Cortex-A9 Rockchip 3066
- User Guide
- Power Adapter
- USB Cable
- HDMI Cable
- OTG Adapter Cable
Here’s a video I made to show you what comes in the package.
Unboxing the MK808B
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
- Built in Bluetooth 3.0
- HDMI, USB 2.0 and MicroSD card ports
- 3D Accelerator for 3D graphics and gaming
- Android 4.2 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||3 (1 Full Size, 1 Power, 1 OTG)|
|Dimensions||~ 3.15 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches|
|Hard Drive Interface||USB 2.0, Solid State|
|Power||DC 5V 2A|
Pros and Cons
- Double-sized heat-sink keeps MK808B cooler
- Preloaded with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and supports Google Play
- High Definition (1080p) streaming video from Youtube, Netflix and others
- High degree of compatibility with apps from Google Store
- Comes Rooted, Soft Power Off, Auto-Hide Status Bar
- Wifi and BlueTooth antenna better reception
- Good selection of upgradeable Firmware
- Supports Android Smartphone Control
- Some users have complained about WiFi and Bluetooth reception, but others get excellent results.
- Clones are out there with older ROMS and various issues
- Not compatible with all HDMI capable tv/monitors.
Compared to earlier Android Mini PCs, such as the MK808, the MK808B is the evolution of an already good thing. Only a few Sticks can claim the price/performance and compatibility of this unit. Because of the latest software upgrades, the built-in Bluetooth and the large installed base and overall supportability, it makes an excellent all around choice.
Like its forerunner, the MK808, there’s a certain amount of enthusiasm for this Stick PC because of the possibility of installing 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.
While it’s certainly not for everyone, and takes some learning and patience to get installed, the opportunity is there to give you greater control over and flexibility with your Stick.
NOTE:You’ll need access to a computer running Linux to install PicUntu.
Because of growing user support there are a variety of options for upgrading the MK808B. Warning: 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 MK808 section. You should look for Finless ROM 1.7 or newer, which has been tested as compatible with the MK808B. You must be certain which device you have, original or clone, and choose between 720p and 1080p. This firmware version allows you to adjust application memory to 2GB, offers root access and fixed a variety of other issues.
If you are not satisfied with the default file manager, or even the one included with your ROM upgrade, try HD File Manager from the Google Play Store. It’s a free download and only takes minutes to install.
You may find that the picture size doesn’t fill your widescreen TV. To correct this, go into the screen settings and shift the zoom to 100%.
Some users find the default Jelly Bean launcher too difficult to navigate on a large screen. To resolve this, download and install “GO Launcher HD” from the Google Play Store.
Many Stick Computers come with a male HDMI connector for attaching directly to your TV or monitor. The MK808B uses a female mini HDMI connector and connects to the display with an included cable. The cable is only about a foot long and too small for many installations. 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.
The MK808B supports Kodi for Android to turn your Stick into a full Media Center. You’ll need to download the .APK file directly from the Kodi website and install it by following the instructions provided there. Don’t forget to remove the .APK file from your storage after the app is installed.
Who is the product for?
The MK808B is a versatile little device. If you’re looking for something that is fast, upgradeable and priced right, then this is your Stick. If you’re hobbyist like I am, there’s a large group of users on the forums that can challenge you to expand and update to the max. If, on the other hand you just want a solid Android media stick, the MK808B can take its place as the focus of your media hub, or alternatively as a capable general purpose PC.
“Finer than older models, HD movies play nicely and it can select different audio streams, comes with the latest firmware so no upgrading needed, even has the EU adapter. Not so much heat on the body while running in normal mode. Buy RC11 Android Monitor Wireless Keyboard Air Mouse also, and you got the whole packet.”
“Android 4.2.2. Rockchip smartphone/tablet remote app which is FREE (like Droidmote). You can control pretty much everything with this app. Did not use any Bluetooth capabilities. The server software (eHomeMediaServer) is already loaded with the device. Just google “rockchip remote” and download to your smartphone/tablet to control this TV stick.”
“It’s pre-rooted and has Google Play on it already. On a decent TV, it’s about as good a web browsing experience as you’re likely to ever get.”
“Video quality was stunning. Netflix and Youtube were really good. I was able to play videos embedded in websites as well and the results are really good.”
Video Review of the MK808B
Summing it up
That fact that I own this stick should tell you what I think about the MK808B. It is a very cost effective way to turn your HDMI TV or monitor into a smart TV and more. I’ve yet to find anything from the Google Play store that didn’t run. Overheating problems are not an issue with the MK808B. It has a large heat-sink and ample ventilation. With some upgrades the ROM and apps, it can also become a full-fledged primary or secondary computer.
Order with confidence and get fast delivery with Amazon.com