I decided to buy an Android-powered set top box because my Apple TV 1 didn’t cut it for playing HD media, and I find it inconvenient to hook my MacBook up to the TV everytime I want to watch some HD media.
I came across the Mele A2000 on DealExtreme - it’s a cheap yet powerful Android box that can play 1080p video without any problem and has access to the Google Play Store.
The specs are as follows:
- OS: Android 2.3
- CPU: Allwinner A10 (Arm Cortex A8, 1ghz)
- GPU: MALI400MP OpenGL ES 2.0
- RAM: 512MB (306MB for CPU, 206MB for GPU)
- Storage: 4GB (+ 3x USB host ports, 1x SD card, SATA dock)
- A/V Connectors: HDMI, D-SUB (VGA), RCA (red/white/yellow)
- Network: Wifi, LAN
- Controller: One basic remote (with expected Android buttons + extra mapping)
From the spec, you can see that this is pretty much a small computer, for less than £60 over at DealExtreme.
I expected that the remote would suck so I also ordered a wireless keyboard/trackpad from DealExtreme when I ordered the Mele A2000. Any of the “2.4ghz” keyboard/trackpads that come with a USB dongle should work just fine with the A2000.
Additionally, Mele also make a “F10 Air Mouse”, which looks to be like these other keyboard/trackpad devices, but with a remote on the back side. Controlling Android with a mouse or trackpad is a lot easier, and luckily Android supports a mouse cursor just as if you were touching the screen.
After a small amount of fiddling (changing the language from Chinese to English, connecting to my home Wifi, changing the output to 1080p) I got the A2000 up and running nicely, and it worked with most files that I threw at it.
The Mele A2000 comes bundled with a bunch of applications, though mostly Chinese, these include some (questionable) video/music streaming applications, and some well know apps such as Tunein Radio. I installed the Android Netflix client from the Play Store, and though it worked well the controls are a bit unintuitative with the bundled remote control. Because it streams at mobile quality, video streams don’t look great on a large HDTV.
The Mele A2000 is a nice piece of hardware, it does what I expected it to do, and for the price it’s surprisingly high quality.
I’ll be writing a follow-up post to talk about upgrading the Mele A2000 to Android 4.0.3 and the problems I’ve had with that, as well as the solutions I’ve got.