Satechi Smart TV Box Review
Having a well thought out interface that perfectly fills the screen of an HDTV, the customized Android experience shows its depth by giving us access to the Google Play Store.
Surprisingly, the Satechi Smart TV Box has a pretty convincing customized Android interface that easily beats some of the boring and lukewarm interfaces on some other devices. Technically, it’s running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, but in sweetening the pot, the Google Play Store is accessible right out of the box – meaning, its functionality is deepened thanks to the availability of it. Relying on a paneled interface, a small left pane and a large one smacked right in the middle, it’s a simple and straightforward UI that fits perfectly to the size of any HDTV.
Another cool thing about the customized Android experience is that it fully supports XBMC, which is essentially a multimedia management system, to enable us to do a variety of functions. For starters, it’s a hub where we can watch videos, listen to music, and of course stream content that’s stored locally somewhere else in our home network. In addition, seeing that it has access to the Google Play Store, its multimedia prowess is strengthened by being able to download all of the popular streaming apps.
Using the remote can be challenging, but at least its overall performance is swift and without major delays.
Armed with a quad-core 1.8GHz processor with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, the Satechi Smart TV Box’s performance is pretty manageable. Navigating around using the remote is pretty tight, with barely any lengthy delays, so we’re content with the experience. At times, though, it feels like a tedious process trying to perform specific functions with the remote.
First and foremost, typing things up with the remote is a labor on its own, mainly because it’s just not equipped for the task at hand. With the on-screen keyboard, it’s a pain having to constantly move from one letter to the other, until we have everything we want.
Strangely, the remote is great for scrolling and selecting stuff, but when it comes to surfing the web, it’s rather hard to see on screen what’s being highlighted or making selections. Instead, we’re constantly finding ourselves switching to the mouse cursor mode, which is enabled by pressing on the red hot key button on the remote, to manually make selections.
Thanks to the available USB ports on the box, our typing woes are reduced thanks to connecting peripherals, like a wired keyboard and mouse, to help better the navigation. Nevertheless, it just boggles us that it doesn’t have Bluetooth incorporated! Indeed, you can connect a USB Bluetooth adapter if you have one, but you still need to download the Android 4.2 Bluetooth drivers before using it – a painstaking process for your average consumer.
On the surface, the Satechi Smart TV Box is a versatile thing that gives you the full Android experience on your HDTV. Better yet, the interface it’s using is actually pretty good – beating out some of those watered down experiences we tend to see on some other devices. In comparison to something like Google’s Chromecast dongle, the Satechi Smart TV Box shows how much more expansive and useful than its media-streaming-only rival. However, with its sticker price of $110, it comes at a high cost that’ll make it hard for consumers to see its potential. On top of that, some people might be turned off by its lack of Bluetooth connectivity – something that would make it easy for people to interact with the box from the comfort of a chair or couch. At the end of the day, it’s a solid effort put forth by Satechi, but a lower price point would help make it more competitive.