The GT1-A is the second TV Box we review from Beelink in a short time. This one is also a new model but with a different SoC and targeted audience. The GT1-A is heavily promoted for its Android TV operating system alongside with support for 4K resolution Netflix playback.
Packaging – Specifications
Like any other Beelink product, this one also arrived in a compact size cardboard box. The packaging is the same as the one found in Beelink’s GT1 Ultimate model. This is no surprise since this one is supposed to be an evolutionary product of the older model. Despite its size, all contents were nicely protected inside. Aside from the main unit, you will also find a generic voice remote , the power adaptor and an HDMI cable alongside with basic documentation. You will have to buy batteries for the remote on your own since none were included.
Unlike other new releases, the GT1-A model does not implement the newest S905X2 System on Chip (SoC) from Amlogic, but the older S912 Octa-core one. Also instead of 4GB of RAM, we now get 3GB which is the maximum amount of RAM we ever got with this SoC. Despite being older, the S912 still supports all the new trends, like 4K resolution, HDR, and HDCP2.2. Out unit arrived with 32GB of internal storage.
Connectivity is adequate with 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x Micro SD slot, 1x HDMI 2.0 and an A/V jack. We never had USB3.0 ports with the S912.
Networking capabilities are also very good with a Gigabit LAN, a fast wireless dual band Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth module that uses the still relevant 4.0 protocol.
Android 7.1 (Nougat) is the pre-installed operating system in its TV variant for better experience with larger displays.
Media Player – Remote
Since the GT1-A is an evolutionary product, is carries the exact same chassis as its predecessor. Very compact (~10x10cm) and with the same gray-ish texture on the top side. Still made of plastic.
Due to the compact design, the port layout is expanded in to two sides, instead of the ideal back side only solution. On the side we will find one USB port and the SD slot, while on the back the rest of the connections (power, HDMI, LAN, A/V and the second USB). Since there is at least one USB port at the back, cabling management should be easy.
The remote is the basic OEM voice (IR+ RF connectivity) one we have seen before in other brands. It requires a USB dongle for its connection so keep that in mind since in reality you will have only one USB port available. Just like most of voice type remotes, it does not include numeric keypad but at least the layout is easy and the voice search works well (a decent microphone was obviously installed and the Android TV OS helps a lot as well). Just keep in mind that a focus targeting towards the unit/dongle is required for frustrating-free use. Since we are dealing with Android TV and voice controls, a BT remote would probably be a wiser choice.
Menus – Settings
No more dated launchers. Although not in its latest version, Android TV (Nougat) is still the best user interface for any Android TV box. On the top row we get suggestions and videos based on your Google account traffic and on the lower row we get the application and game rows (one app per icon), which can be edited according to your liking (both in content as well as order). You can use the voice command on your remote for more interactive results.
The settings menu is the Android stock one appearing at the right side of the screen. As always navigation is easy and all settings appear in the right way divided into easy to understand categories (Audio, Video etc.). Setting up the device according to your needs should be easy.
Beelink GT1-A proved to be a very interesting TV Box in terms of performance and features.
Just like in all TV Boxes, audio playback was hassle free with no glitches. We tested stereo mp3s and FLAC files for that matter. Spotify playback was also perfect as soon as it was synced with our account.
Video performance was way more interesting.
Since we were dealing with pure Android TV OS, there was no video player pre-installed we all our tests were with the latest official KODI 18 downloaded from Play Store.
Performance was almost similar to any other S912 based player. All 1080p and 4K popular encodings had absolutely no playback issues. We had no buffer/lag problems with 200Mbit 4K test files also. 24p (23.976) motion handling was treated nice (higher end media players like Zidoo/Dune/Himedia and Egreat have better performance in this segment). HD Audio pass-through was excellent with proper support for all HD codecs like Dolby ATMOS and DTS X. In case you require stereo output (for connecting the unit directly to your TV set), PCM down-mixing is also supported without loss in audio details. Beelink also implemented an auto frame-rate switching function (you must enable it from the Android settings menu) which, although activated normally, did not actually work properly in practice. For example we could notice the resolution switch to 24p but after a slight jump forward or pause/play function we would almost always notice severe judders that would require a playback restart or a pause/play action. Many will consider the 60Hz pull down method as more preferable and hassle free (our recommendation).
Great news in terms of Netflix playback too, since it supported playback all the way up to 4K and for the first time (in a S912 based TV Box) there was also support for multi-channel out via Dolby Digital+. Lets just hope that HD Netflix support will not be omitted in the future like in other TV Box from Chinese brands.
Gaming was pretty solid, not in the level of Nvidia Shield, but you will be able to play almost all available 3D games even in their lower settings.
Internal storage performance was above average with write speeds greater than 78Mb/sec. We have witnessed way worse results than this in competitive products. The very good read speeds assist towards a more responsive experience with fast application and game launching.
Wireless performance was very good especially if your Dual Band access point can provide a strong signal to Beelink’s position. Average bit-rate 1080p streaming from our NAS/SERVER was totally possible. We got 4K Netflix playback too (variable bitrate)
Even though Android TV has newer updates, the pre-installed Nougat one is still great and tailor made for presentation on large screens.
You get Google’s Play Store in its TV variant which excludes many applications and games that are not officially TV certified. You can always side-load them though. This is the case for all TV Boxes with an Android TV operating system.
You-Tube was also in its TV variant and supported resolutions up to glorious 4K resolution just like Netflix.
Unfortunately, even though such license was mentioned in the settings menu,there was absolutely no way we could get Chromecast to work. Not even for simple apps like You-Tube. While the Beelink GT1-A appeared as a cast option on our smartphone screen, selecting it resulted to absolutely nothing. Too bad although you can always try casting with third party applications.
Voice search worked like a charmed via the provided remote. We had seen this model before, but we never got a similar performance. The remote’s dongle had a V2 sticker on it that might have a part in its upgraded performance.
Overall system performance was fast, including web browsing via Google Chrome (you need to sideload the app).
The root switch and the automatic update options are always nice additions. We did not however receive any update during our tests.
Although the GT1-A arrived a little bit too late (we are in the S905X2 SoC era while expecting for the even faster S922x next month), it still provides solid performance and features missing in newer solutions. We are mostly referring to 4K Netflix playback (with Dolby Digital+ support) and HD Audio streaming. All new TV Boxes relying on new SoCs support none of the afforementioned.
The Beelink GT1-A can’t be considered as a serious contender for your dedicated home cinema, but it is certainly a great option for your bedroom, play room or as cheap Netflix/game station.
It is competitively priced and you should consider it if you are looking for an Android TV Box. If you can get it on discount, even better.
- Gearbest offered the unit for an honest review and that is exactly what we did.
- If this review helped you towards making your decision, we would appreciate if you made your order through the following affiliate link(s). This way we will be able to review more products in the future.
- Gearbest link