Please like and subscribe if you enjoyed the video! It would help us a lot.
We have another modern Android TV Box in our disposal for a thorough review. This time its Mecool KM8’s turn to sit on the bench. It is equipped with the official Oreo version of Android TV, so that’s a first if we exclude the latest firmware updates of Xiaomi Mi Box and Nvidia Shield. It also relatively cheap and includes a voice remote as well. Let’s see how it performs…
Packaging – Specifications
Mecool KM8 arrived inside a –larger than usual- cardboard box with the orange color dominating, in a similar fashion to Xiaomi’s Mi Box. The Oreo Android TV operating system is mainly advertised, just as expected.
Inside, in a very thoughtful manner, we will find the main unit, its wireless detachable antenna, the BT based remote, an HDMI cable and the power adapter alongside with basic documentation.
The specifications list is similar to Mi Box’s with some differences in key areas. The 4-core AMlogic S905X accompanied by 2GB of RAM will try to pull off even the most difficult tasks, while the 16GB of ROM, the 2x USB2.0 ports, the Mbit LAN and the micro SD port will please the users that wanted more storage and connectivity options from the Xiaomi Mi Box. The later wins in wireless mode, since the KM8 implements single band Draft N solution. Bluetooth connections support the 4.1 protocol. 4K playback and HDR are officially supported, just like Google Cast and Google Voice search.
The Dolby Digital logo certifies the related compatibility but makes us wonder about the connectivity with DTS based audio codecs.
The highlight remains the official Oreo version of Android TV operating system.
Media Player – Remote
The main unit is just a tad bigger than the Mi Box. Still very small and dark gray colored. USB and Micro SD ports are on the side, while the rest are located at the back. Including the external Wi-Fi antenna. Build quality is decent and the design is simple and straightforward, square box, which is probably a good thing since it will not attract attention for the wrong reasons. There are ventilation holes at the bottom of the chassis and during our tests, thermal behavior was never an issue. The on/off power button on the front is a nice and very much appreciated surprise.
The Bluetooth based remote is very similar to any other Android TV based TV Box we have seen until now. Small, with good grip and lack of any short of numeric buttons. Button layout is very easy to remember which helps in everyday use.
Menus – Settings
We were already big fans of the Nougat Android TV version and the newer version could be no different. It is still based on big live tiles placed in rows but this time you get a row per major application instead of the more generic rows of the previous version. At first this may look complicated or crowded but you can remove and edit any row, while you can add shortcuts of your favorite applications to the position of your liking. You can now get a dedicated row for Spotify, Netflix, Google Movies etc. with the option to continue from where you left of being right in front of you, just one click away. Definitely a better graphical user interface although it requires manual input to get the most out of it.
The settings menu is fortunately the existing one from the Nougat version. There was no reason to change it since it offers both an aesthetically pleasing user interface and all the options you will ever need. From advanced audio and video options to account settings and main user interface adjustments.
No complains so far!
Overall performance of the KM8 was good but left some things to be desired. Probably due to the fact that the unit was equipped with an early version of the Oreo Android TV operating system.
Let’s start with the shortcomings first.
There is no support for NTFS formatted external drives. Only FAT32 is supported which leaves you with ~4GB per file restriction. This rules out the majority of High Definition video files out there, including lengthy ones from your home video collection.
The Dolby Digital logo was eventually put on the box for a reason. It looks like that bit-streaming of any type of HD Audio (ATMOS included) or DTS codecs is not supported. Fortunately you are able to get PCM sound in these cases. We can still recall older TV Boxes that had no sound with unsupported codecs.
Other than the aforementioned, the device performed as expected. The FAT32 limitation was obviously surpassed with playback via wired LAN. KODI is still the best way to sort your movie collection and handle its playback. Cinematic 24p is not supported but the pull down result at 60Hz is very acceptable. 4K/HEVC files are supported but it will be difficult to find such files in a size that the 100bit LAN will support without hiccups and buffers every now and then. 1080p file playback is even better, for the same reason (not so easily bottlenecked by the 100bit LAN connection). Picture quality appears to be correct (no weird gamma issues etc.)
Playback of music files (MP3/FLAC) was perfect as expected (stereo ones). Spotify playback was great too.
Gaming performance was OK for light 3D textured titles. More demanding games like PUBG and Fortnite are not ideal for the Mecool KM8.
Android TV – Streaming Services
Android TV is the best user interface possible for any TV Box. The newest version takes customizing to an entirely new level, even though it requires a little bit of manual tweaking to get the most out of it. Set it up once and you will good to go for as long as you use it.
Google’s Play Store is pre-installed in its TV variant. The presentation of this version is superior to what you have experienced with your smartphones and tablets. Due to the TV optimization factor, you may realize that some applications, including popular web browsers, are missing from Play Store due to no-TV compatibility. This can be resolved by side-loading the application.
You-Tube goes all the way up to 4K, but we experienced better playback at 1440p and 1080p resolutions.
Google Cast is also supported from your Google devices.
Although the device is promoted as “Google Certified” Netflix is having a hard time recognizing it as such, resulting to an error message preventing you to playback any movie or TV show. Until now there is no fix or workaround (other than of course try one of the many unofficial tablet-based versions/apk and opt for a 480p/720p playback).
You will find ~10GB of free space after the first boot. The device was not rooted.
An OTA update system is included but during our tests we didn’t receive one.
Mecool KM8 is a very nice TV Box but we can’t help but feeling that it is a wasted opportunity for something even better. It is plagued by some bugs most likely caused by the recent Android TV version. Same issues were found on the Xiaomi Mi Box too, but were resolved (many of them) in future updates.
The KM8 can handle all the basics with ease and style (Android TV user interface) but it will take a little more to be easily recommended. At least its issues are nothing a new ROM update can’t fix. Mecool (aka Videostrong) is very experienced with TV Boxes and may provide an update soon. As is, It would be better if you can find it on discount. It will not disappoint.
- 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.