It is apparently a new pattern for Mecool to release Android TV versions of its existing TV boxes. We have such a case now with the Mecool M8S Pro L Voice Android TV version. The standard model left some good impressions during its review. This one has some extras that should boost the user experience. Let’s see how it performs, below.
- In order to provide a full review experience, the presentation will differ only where required, since the design and specifications are exactly the same.
Packaging – Specifications
No surprises from Mecool. All its products arrive in the same white cardboard packaging.
Inside you will find the media box itself, an HDMI cable, the new BT based voice remote, the power adaptor and quick start documentation. There are no included batteries (2xAAA) for the remote so you will have to buy them yourself.
Basic specifications are exactly the same with the standard model by sporting the now famous mid-range S912 8-core Amlogic CPU, Mali t820 GPU and 3GB of RAM. Out model arrived with 16GB of ROM but there is also a 32GB version available.
Connectivity is typical for an S912 based unit with 2x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI 2.0 (4K and HDR support), 1x SD slot and 1x a/v out. No S/PDIF out this time so pay attention if you own a receiver with no HDMI ports.
For networking, the Mbit LAN, the Dual Band Wi-Fi and 4.1BT will be more than enough for the average user. Although we usually have good performance with Mbit ports, we would just prefer to see the Gigabit equivalent installed instead.
An Android TV user interface based on Nougat 7.1 is the operating system of choice.
Media Player – Remote
Once again there are no changes compared to the standard model. It is very small, rectangular and made of plastic. Color remained black with the curve lines/grilles providing a nice, but with no thrills, casual look.
The majority of I/Os are located at the back and right side. USB ports and SD slot are located in the side, while the basic connections (power, HDMI, RJ45) are at the back for easier cable management.
Fortunately, the remote is a completely new Bluetooth based one, similar in dimensions and layout with the ones seen in Xiami Mi Box 4K and NVidia Shield. You will only find the absolutely necessary buttons (back, home, option, voice, volume, power and navigation) that are easy to learn and memorize their position (the remote in not laminated). The wireless connection with the main unit is Bluetooth based which will allow you to use all remote’s function without any type of targeting.
Until now, we have both a powerful main unit (S912, 3GB RAM) and a very good remote that promise a much better than average Android TV experience.
Menus – Settings
Booting into the main menu takes less than a minute long. During the first boot, you will have to enter your Google account credentials in order to have the full Android TV experience and proper sync with your account and general preferences.
The Android TV user interface is exactly the same as the one found in NVidia Shield and Xiaomi Mi Box 4K we reviewed last year. Still remains modern, stylish and highly interactive with your Google account.
At the top, Google makes sure to show you news and videos of your liking (based on your history) and below you will find, per row, big icons for every application or game installed per category. There is only one main page and this makes things easier since you will not have to navigate too many screens to find what you want. Inside the settings menu you can change the order of the icons/applications the way you see fit.
The settings menu is the default Android 7 one, with a special sub-menu appearing on the right side while the rest of the screen remains blurred/faded out. All the options you will ever need are just one click away and setting up your TV box will take only a few minutes.
An OTA update system is included but we did not receive one during our tests.
Nothing has changed much from the standard version’s performance.
Playback of all mp3/flac audio files, including Spotify, is perfect, just as expected.
Video playback via KODI was very good with all type of media files. The unit’s incapability to support proper 23.976 framerate with KODI may result to some minor judder. The best way to deal with it is to select a 60Hz output and let the pull down conversion handle the rest.
High bit-rate 4K/HDR content has good playback but only via USB since the wired Mbit LAN will lead to frequent buffering. Things are much better though with 1080p material through wired LAN, even original Blu-Ray backups. All other popular encodings are supported too. Auto frame rate switching is not supported but that is the case with the majority of media boxes, especially in the below 150$ segment. You can also try alternate video players, like Mx Player, for even better results.
Bit-streaming of Dolby ATMOS and DTS: X soundtracks are also supported. Proper down-mixing to stereo is also possible in case you wish to connect the unit directly to your TV set.
Miracast is also supported as expected for an Android TV OS based media box.
Internal storage and RAM benchmarks are considered typical for the price range. We have seen both better and far worse.
Wireless Dual Band performance is adequate only for low bit-rate 1080p material.
Overall good and snappy performance, just as expected from the popular SoC although we have experienced better performance in benchmarks from other S912 based media boxes.
Android TV is a special version of Android. It is enhanced for TV/media streaming so all not compatible or not TV oriented apps do not appear in Play Store.
It is not a major concern with the exception of the lack of any web browser (a couple of them exist but with not so user-friendly user interface) that may lead you to side load the .apk file of your favorite one.
Browsing You-Tube or Play Store is a joy using voice control from the remote. Google can be proud for such integration. Just make sure your voice is clear and chances are you will rarely see irrelevant results.
Navigating through the menus is very easy using the cycle button on the remote and the fast CPU alongside with the 3GB of DDR3 RAM makes sure that no lags will appear.
Gaming is also good on Mecool M8S Pro L and gaming with 3D titles was possible. Only in 3D intensive parts of a demanding game we could detect lags.
Fortunately, the provided remote is recognized as a gamepad so you will not face any compatibility issues starting a game but we strongly suggest you use a more appropriate one (gamepad style) for these tasks.
The Widevine L1 DRM license is able to provide 4K You-Tube playback and up to 1080p in Netflix.
There is an option for over the air (OTA) updating, but we received none during our test.
A lot of people were expecting a TV Box like the Mecool M8S Pro L Voice. Until now the only way to get an Android TV media box was the NVidia Shield and the Xiaomi Mi Box 4K. The first one costs almost four times more, and the later carried omissions not accepted by many (wireless only, quad core SoC, 8GB of ROM, still stuck to Android 6.0).
At the same price of the Xiaomi unit, you now get a faster processor and better gaming performance. Xiaomi still offers better licensing (up to 4K with Netflix/Amazon, including surround sound) and superior Dual Band Wi-Fi capable of streaming high bit-rate video. It is up to you to choose which one suits you the best.
If you are out for a relatively fast TV box with nice user interface and a Full HD Netflix license, then the Mecool M8S Pro L Voice Android TV version is definitely a quality pick.
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