Zidoo recently released their new media player lineup, consisting of five models, all based on the newest Realtek RTD1619BPD System on Chip (SoC). We currently have the Z9X Pro model that should provide the exact same video performance as the rest.
Packaging – Specifications
Compared to the product’s performance the packaging shouldn’t matter much, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the one we got. The Zidoo Z9X Pro arrived in a white/grey eco-friendly enough cardboard box. Included are: The media player, the remote, a SATA connector for external HDD connection, an HDMI cable, the power brick, and basic documentation. The required batteries (3xAAA) for the remote are not included.
Specifications are similar to the previous generation, with some nice updates.
- Android 11. Newer OS version with updated security and stability.
- New SoC (RTD1619BPD with improved single core performance.
- Updated Music Player.
- WiFi 6 transmission protocol up to 1200Mbps with high gain antennas.
- 4GB of RAM compared to the 2GB of the previous Z9X model.
- Internal ROM is doubled as well to 32GB eMMC.
Connectivity remains the same:
- 1x USB3.0
- 2x USB2.0
- 1x SATA3.0 (up to 16TB)
- 1x HDMI2.1 Out
- 1x Optical Out
- 1x A/V Out for legacy connections
- 1x RS232
- 1x Gigabit RJ45
- 1x 2.4G + 5G dual-band WiFi, 802.11 a/b/g/n/AC/AX 2T2R , 802.11ax MIMO OFDM
- 1x Bluetooth BT5.2
Zidoo still supports all major playback features, and then some with auto frame rate switching, accurate MaxCLL/Fall information, HD Audio, 3D frame-packing, and its own developed poster wall and music playback applications.
Media Player – Remote
We still deal with an Aluminum alloy unit, of the same dimensions as its predecessor. The new, dark gray color is pleasing and more suitable for living rooms. The Wi-Fi antennas are not detachable but fold well, even with most of the cables connected to the back of the unit. All basic connections (Power, LAN, HDMI) are located at the back which is ideal for cable management. The power switch is always welcome. The 3x USB ports are on the sides. Proper heat dissipation is achieved via large openings to the sides and bottom.
On the front, we still find the same LED display, with its brightness settings (off, dark, light) found inside the quick settings menu.
The remote is a new one, with a pleasing design at first glance. The black-on-black color though elegant, makes the identification of the buttons a bit harder, even in daylight. Fortunately, it is backlit for a hassle-free operation with the lights closed. The layout is easily memorable and the feel of the buttons is upgraded compared to the previous one. In case you prefer to use your smartphone, Zidoo has also got you covered with its application for both iOS and Android platforms.
Menus – Settings
New SoC, same software. The UI still sports the same Android-like look but with large icons suitable for larger screens. As it usually happens, we get a home screen with the main applications and setting shortcuts and a second one for the full list of the installed applications. You can also add shortcuts to your favorite apps on the main page’s last row. We wish Zidoo used the UI of its pricier units which is cleaner and more media friendly.
The Zidoo (quick) settings menu was something in need of no change. All the settings you will ever need are there and perfectly organized by category. Playback, Display, Audio, Network, and Other. The integration of the new high dynamic range processor from Dolby added two very interesting settings in the Display-> HDR category. “Dolby Vision VS10 Engine” and “Dolby Vision Low Latency”. Their impact on video performance will be mentioned later in a separate section.
The previous model was very successful in covering all the essentials. Upon viewing from the spec list of the new model we presume that it performs at least as well, and can be better at specific areas, that do not necessarily deal with pure audio and video performance.
It is very important to mention that many bug fixes were ironed out with Firmware versions equal or newer to v1.0.75, so make sure you update to the latest (even beta) one available.
The playback of music files (MP3/FLAC) is typical. We understand that not many will purchase the Z9X Pro for dedicated music listening/streaming (Zidoo just released a successful lineup of music streamers), but truth be told, it handles the job well. The native music player is developed by Zidoo, it keeps getting better via updates, and you will get lossless music playback with all major file formats like DSD (SACD ISO, DSF, DFF), WAV, APE, DTS. Limitations may still apply (like 2ch playback of a multi-channel one) depending on the file type. As expected, no issues were experienced with Spotify playback.
But most will care about video performance and we can confirm that the Zidoo Z9X pro did an excellent job.
As far as 4K playback is concerned, we experienced proper MaxCLL/FALL transmission and accurate 24p motion handling. The auto frame rate switching also worked perfectly when required. Upscaling is better than its predecessor as you can see here, which is a nice upgrade for owners of SD or HD video files (personal videos etc.). Projector owners can still benefit from very good HDR to SDR tone mapping. Dolby Vision video playback is supported by almost all major formats, BD/UHD backups, and/or dedicated video files.
1080p playback in all of its forms (BD rip, ISO image, 3D ISO, MKV, and other containers) was perfect, including motion handling.
During video playback, there are tons of options to select from. Aside from the usual ones, you get excellent subtitle support and customization (height, color, size, even the spacing between the lines) while you can also download the ones missing. During menu navigation mode you can still alter the height of the subtitles (no other options are available), a feature to be appreciated by the owners of projector screens with masking applied. Downloading of subtitles is also supported and works well, just make sure the filename matches the movie’s title for better recognition.
Menu navigation is still supported, but you may encounter minor glitches here and there since Zidoo (just like any other manufacturer promising disc-less BD playback) has to rely on its custom implementation for the task. It makes total sense for the Blu-ray Disc Association to refuse to provide its disc engine to vendors who opt for BD.ISO playback.
Audio pass-through is perfect once again supporting all the audio codecs up to Dolby ATMOS and DTS X. Stereo down-mixing is also possible in case you want to connect the Z9X directly to your TV screen.
The unit arrives with no Google Apps pre-installed, with the most noticeable one missing being YouTube. You can download the “G” firmware variant, which includes Play Store in case you care for 3rd party applications. As with all Realtek-based solutions, you can not max out official streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, etc.) in terms of audio and video performance.
Wired LAN Gigabit performance is stellar. High-bit-rate UHD files had no issues, just like Blu-Ray ones. Switching chapters and long-time jumps are lag and buffer-free, even during playback of very high bit-rate UHD files.
Wireless performance took a great boost with the WiFI 6 protocol. Higher bit rate files are easier to stream now and only the most demanding 4K remux files will need to pause for buffering. Make sure your network setup is equally good.
Streaming from both of my NAS servers (Synology and Asustor) was perfect using SMB protocol.
Although it is not advertised as a gaming platform, the performance was better than before due to the higher single-core performance (up to 15-20%). Don’t expect very demanding, modern 3D titles to have flawless 60fps performance, but you will make do with lower settings with less simpler games. Don’t forget to add a gamepad.
Dolby VS10 Engine
The now highly popular, Dolby VS10 engine is promoted to map non High Dynamic Range (or HDR10) content to Dolby Vision. It is true and it gets the job done, but the most important feature is the ability to properly process DV material to HDR or SDR displays based on their EDID (Extended Display Identification). Once enabled, you can rest assured that you get the best outcome from any other media player on the market. Owners of projectors (1080p and/or 4K ones) that cannot reach the required HDR brightness levels will feel right at home without the need for additional external processing. Make sure to pay attention to the corresponding options to match your display.
Home Theater 4.0 (Poster Wall)
Zidoo names its poster wall implementation as Home Theater, which is now in its 4th generation. It offers a nice balance between features and simplicity. You get a well-designed theme that is fairly customizable (selection via filters, custom matching of unmatched video files, poster selection, poster size, trailers, soundtracks, etc.) As always, the larger the movie library the slower its navigation gets. But there are good workarounds by changing the size of the posters. TV titles are also supported but the process will require more precise folder and file labeling from the user. Movies and TV shows are not mixed together and you can select each one by choosing the corresponding icon.
The initial scraping/indexing processing time is dependent on the volume of your library, but it is relatively fast. Although previously considered as a given, we nowadays must start appreciating the fact that the poster wall service is integrated into the unit and no subscription is required.
By default, the unit arrives without Google Services. Don’t worry though, since you have the option to manually download and install a FW version that includes them. Depending on your needs, several well-known applications can be installed, including games. The latter has decent performance, but you should not expect the latest 3D games to have a high frame rate. But chances are that no one would buy the Zidoo unit for such a purpose.
Android 11 comes with newer security patches, but the TV boxes are kinda “immune” to such risks.
Zidoo was always great with providing updates, so you can rest assured that any minor bugs will be ironed out soon. The device is not rooted.
The Z9X Pro is an evolutionary and not a revolutionary product. This was expected due to the great performance of its predecessor. You can still benefit from the faster WiFi protocol, a slightly better upscaling, the noticeably faster browsing (menus and poster wall), and the increased headroom provided by the doubled RAM and ROM capacities.
If you are looking for a do-it-all media player for your local video files, look no further, the Z9X PRO is a must at its price point. Let’s not forget that Zidoo is the only brand so far implementing the newest Realtek SoC.
We would like to thank Zidoo for sending over a review sample for a non-sponsored and unbiased presentation.
If this review helped you in 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.
- Amazon DE link (pending availability)