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We reviewed the flagship model recently, and now it is time for Zappiti’s entry-level model to sit on the bench. Much smaller in size, but with lots of similarities to the pricier models, the Mini 4K HDR model is still going to compete in the major league of media players. Let’s see how it performs.
- Since in many aspects the Mini is identical to the Pro 4K HDR model, this review will be differential only where required.
Packaging – Specifications
Since it has the word “Mini” in its title, we never expected anything different than the compact packaging that arrived. Smaller actually than what we expected.
Inside you will find the main unit, the remote, a wall power adapter with extra-regional plugs, an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable (nice surprise there), an IR extender (quality surprise as well!) and a SATA cable alongside a detailed manual not easily found in the competition.
The unit is backed by Realtek’s RTD1295 SoC, the exact same one used in Zappiti’s 800$ flagship model. 2GB of RAM are still used and our only main concern has to do with the limited 8GB of ROM.
I/Os are incredibly rich though, for both its size and price including the following:
1x HDMI 2.0 out (Main)
1x HDMI 1.4 In (DRM restriction for recording is applied)
1x Optical out
1x AV out
1x IR extender port
1x USB3.0 port
2x USB2.0 ports (two on the front)
1x SATA connector
1x SD/MMC card reader
Network connectivity is also stellar with fast dual-band AC Wi-Fi (dual antenna setup), BT 4.0, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
Zappiti did not cut any corners from the Mini model since it supports all the features expected at this price point and then some. 4K/HDR, auto frame rate switching with proper 23.976 motion handling, HD Audio pass-through (DTS X and Dolby ATMOS included), and DVD/BD/UHD menu navigation are all supported. Zappiti also includes a unique feature called “direct output”. By enabling this option you bypass any internal processing (Zappiti’s magic pixel enhancer for example) while at the same time able to deselect/remove unsupported resolutions (4K if you have a 1080p only display etc.) For last, Zappiti promises better HDR to SDR conversion than the competition by implementing their custom made gamut mapping formula to convert BT.2020 into BT.709.
And for last we have Zappiti’s custom software wizardry related to probably the best Cover Art indexing in the market for movies and TV shows.
By the looks of it, the Mini model “only” lacks the hardware changes compared to its high-end brother, Pro 4K HDR we recently reviewed. On paper, it looks like it ticks all the right boxes at its price range.
Media Player – Remote
Based on Zappitis’s product lineup and its competitors utilizing the same SoCs (Zidoo, Dune, Himedia, Egreat) we expected a unit similar in size to Dune HD Pro 4k and Zidoo Z9s. Surprisingly, the Zappiti Mini 4K HDR is even smaller! Measuring only 161 x 100 x 27.5 mm, we are probably dealing with the smallest Realtek 1295 based media player in the market today.
Built quality is very good with high-quality plastic material. The unit lacks a front LED screen, just like any other Zappiti model. All USB and card reader I/Os are located on the sides, while the rest of (basic) connections are located at the backside. The wireless antennas are not detachable.
The remote is backlit, which is a nice surprise for its price range. It does not support BT connectivity but its range is way above average. A numeric keypad is also present to make your life easier in cases it is required.
Menus – Settings
Just like its flagship brother, Zappiti’s graphical user interface (GUI), although based on stock Android by utilizing the main screen and an application drawer, is eye-pleasing due to its simple, minimal design. In the main screen, you will only find three very large (media player friendly) icons corresponding only to dedicated media playing features, Video (Movie/TV Shows Wall), Explorer (File manager for easier access), and Music (Zappiti’s music playback software). You do get an extra row at the bottom for shortcuts of your liking.
You don’t get a dedicated, customized settings menu, but instead, Zappiti offers the “Zappiti Service” application that allows you to access some exclusive features like Direct output which bypasses all internal video processing (including Magic Pixel) thus providing a more accurate, native image. In order for you to access settings like HDMI Audio out (RAW/LPCM etc.) or HDMI resolution, you will have to use the classic Android menu. Furthermore, very important video options should be easier to access, since deep color and color space options are located in the developer’s menu. This is probably our only complaint as far as software is concerned.
The following settings and tips worked best for us:
- Direct output enabled (you can deselect any unsupported resolutions of your display) from Zappiti Service
- Force resolution enabled from Zappiti Service
- Auto frame rate enabled from Android menu
- HDMI Audio to auto from Android menu
- HDMI color can be conveniently selected from the internal player during playback.
- To avoid color banding during UHD playback, you may have to select different HDMI color/color space options from the developer’s menu.
Ideally, if you select the correct settings based on your setup, you will never have to change them again.
Oddly (and beneficially for its owners) the Mini performed in a similar fashion compared to the 800$ model.
Music playback was on par with the competition, via HDMI and optical outs. The pre-installed Zappiti Music Player had excellent performance supporting all popular (or not) formats.
But most will purchase the Zappiti Mini 4K HDR model for its video playback capabilities. By being based on the now dependable Realtek RTD1295 SoC which is specifically optimized for video features, it did not disappoint.
For starters, we performed all our tests with the direct out option enabled, to get the most accurate, processing free, picture quality possible. The direct out mode appears to be less tuned and closer to the original “source monitor image” than the default video output implementing the MagicPixel v2.5 enhancing (slightly warmer image, more eye-pleasing). If your preference leans towards the MagicPixel tuning you can always select it. If you intend to calibrate your TV or projector, you should do it with the direct out mode (our opinion).
Video playback quality is perfect with very good 24p motion handling in all cases. 4K+HDR is, of course, supported just like all latest and greatest audio codecs, DTS: X and DOLBY ATMOS. Our HDMI analyzer confirmed the aforementioned even though both MaxCLL or MaxFALL information were constantly at zero (Realtek minor bug, Zappiti is already on it for a future fix). Image quality appeared to be accurate when compared with an HTPC (tested with an RTX2060 unit). You also get a very clear picture with the direct video mode enabled.
The 3D format is properly handled and supports MVC files aside from the usual .ISO images. Video upscaling from an SD source is basic due to the lack of any dedicated special processing. You should be able to enjoy your DVD backups just fine though (we found the processing of our Lumagen unit superior, but that is normal since it costs a lot more than the Zappiti unit alone).
Vertical position shifting works with PGS subtitles (not in menu navigation mode) which is great for the majority of users owning projector screens with added masking.
Video file type compatibility was also great since all popular codecs are supported. You will also experience zero issues with your home videos since all file types produced by smartphones (Samsung S7 Edge/iPhone SE, X/Xiaomi Mi 9, and iPhone X tested) or camcorders (Sony AX33) had an exemplary performance. DVD/Blu-ray/UHD menu navigation is once again supported for both your backup rips and ISO images. Minor incompatibilities are to be expected (mostly related to the appearance of menus) just like in any other Realtek based media player. You can always choose the simple playback to avoid any hassle in case of a tricky title.
If KODI is your thing, the latest Leia 18.2 version works very well with the Zappiti, even though not all features are supported (auto frame rate switching and menu navigation among others). At least HD Audio passthrough works properly.
Wired network performance was excellent even with very high bit-rate 4K files. Skipping chapters are handled instantly with no lags or buffering delays. You must be aware that in order to do so, your network setup should be up to par (Gigabit certified components). Wireless performance was also very good since almost all of our 1080p Blu-Ray backups had no buffering issues. Just like in the wired connection, your access point should also be up to the task (a high-speed dual-band with good range)
The 8GB internal ROM flash module proved to be capable of capable for speeds up to ~ 70mb/s during reading and 45mb/s during writing tasks.
The overall impression is that performance-wise, we are not dealing with a “mini” unit at all.
The exclusive Zappiti software is a major selling point for their whole lineup. The Mini model is no exception since it performs the same!
The one that stands out the most is Zappiti Video. In short, it is Zappiti’s solution for a movie wall. Compared to the competition, Zappiti Video takes advantage of Zappiti’s servers to store movie info/metadata of your collection. You will only have to register once and you will be good to go. The main procedure is to store your movies inside a “MOVIES” folder and your TV shows inside a “TVSHOWS” one. After the relatively fast scanning, you will end up with an eye-pleasing and heavily customizable poster wall. The results are also very accurate but in case of a miss-match, it is very easy to correct the result on your own. You can change literally everything. From the cover and background photos, all the way up to film’s description, actors, and eve movie file info! (Video, codec, audio codec, resolution, frame rate, etc.) The same applies to TV Shows. Did we mention the background music related to each title while browsing? How cool is that? Our only minor complaint is that the access to each title’s trailer is via the settings menu and not from the title’s poster. You also get Zappiti’s subtitle download service that does not require registration or log in to a 3rd party service.
Zappiti Explorer is a file manager to access your (external) HDDs, NAS or Server directly without using Zappiti Video. It is as simple as it sounds and with one click on the video/audio file of your selection the playback will start. It still supports menu navigation and the same video player will be launched with the full set of features (4K/HDR, auto frame rate switching, HD Audio, etc.). The only thing missing is the option for downloading subtitles that is available only with Zappiti Video. We had no issues accessing all popular network types (SMB, DLNA).
Zappiti Music is the music playback application. While there is no music scrapping available (probably for the better since we have yet to experience any decent implementation so far), the application can automatically recognize and display images inside the music folder. Playback quality is on par with the competition and supports a wide range of music file types.
Zappiti also provides better control via smartphones and tablets (Both iOS and Android are supported) with the Zappiti Video Control and Music applications.
We haven’t mentioned anything so far related to the operating system used. This is because, with the exception of the Android classic settings menu, it is not required anywhere else for all the basic and advanced features of this model. You do get some preloaded software but none can be considered as junk or bloatware. Aside from the Play Store, you also get Aptoide pre-installed for more options. Multitasking is only available through the lower bar that can be shown if you have a mouse/keyboard combo like our trusty Logitech K400.
The device is not pre-rooted and you will find 5GB of available free space after the first boot. For the price point, a larger ROM module could probably be selected. The limited storage space automatically puts the unit to a “streamer only” media player category.
The overall system response is very good because of the capable SoC and fast storage flash module. Although this model is not optimized, nor advertised, for gaming you will still be able to have many fun hours with Play Store’s 2D and light 3D titles.
Due to limited DRM licensing, video streaming services like Netflix will be limited to 480p resolution. For the same reason, Google cast is also not supported and you will have to use 3rd party apps instead. You-Tube can go all the way up to 4K if you follow Zappiti’s instructions here. The Google Play variant goes only up to 1080p.
Open WRT is still supported with advanced NAS-like features that can be paired with your external HDD (via SATA port). All you need is to enable it from the Android menu and then launch the web-based settings via the Chrome web browser. Although possible, we advise against continuous 24/7 NAS-type usage.
Zappiti operating system relies on the Android 6.0 version.
The flagship model has amazing performance, while the Mini has amazing value for money. Performance is also great and most users will not have to invest in pricier models that usually don’t differ in terms of playback performance that much.
Zappiti software is still here in all its glory with no corners cut. Sorting your videos will be nothing less than an amazing experience.
Our only complaint relates to the limited available internal ROM free space. If you don’t care about downloading a bunch of apps and games it will not be an issue. Connectivity is great for its size and network performance is amazing for the price point.
Overall, the Zappiti Mini 4K HDR is a great choice in the ~250€ MSRP price range. Chances are you will get a better street price.
We would like to thank Zappiti for sending over a review sample for a non-sponsored and unbiased review.
If this review helped you towards making your decision, we would appreciate it if you made your order through the following affiliate link(s). This way we will be able to review more products in the future.