EZTV Android based media player and Smart TV device – full review

February 18, 2013

enjoy tv promoThere are times when you see an advert for a device and you think, “don’t know, might be useful, not sure.” And that is that, the moment has gone. That is how I generally felt about Android based media players and set-top boxes (and there are plenty of them). They claim to turn your humble television into a Smart TV, give you Android in your living room with Internet etc. Could be useful, but I have Android on phones and tablets all over the house, do I need it in my living room? That was how I felt until I got my hands on one! Now I am thinking, “where has this device been all my life.”

I got hold of a box called the “EZTV“, it is described as a media player with Wi-Fi. On the actual box, which came from Chinavasion, it is called “Enjoy TV” with the slogan, “Make your TV smart and get connected.” What is different about this particular Android TV device is that you can add a¬†hard drive¬†and that makes all the difference! For $99 what you get is a small black box, which connects to your TV via HDMI, a remote control and a power supply. Power it up and (after the initial setup wizard) Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich appears with the familiar Android home screen. The device has a nice Wi-Fi antenna on the back so connecting to your Wi-Fi hotspot isn’t a problem.

Hardware

On the outside, the box is well made, shiny and has a big sleep / wake button on the front. The various LEDs which flicker when there is network or hard disk activity are hidden behind the plastic and give a reassuring glow when the box is working hard.

On the inside, the device is powered by a single core Cortex A9 Amlogic 8726 M3. It runs at 1Ghz and although it is a single core (which I was a bit dubious about), the device runs very well and since its main job is to play video and music, the CPU never falters.

For those who like to see the numbers, here are the rest of the specs:

  • Android 4.0.4
  • Amlogic 8726 M3; Cortex A9 running at 1Ghz
  • Mali-400 MP GPU
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • 2GB of internal flash memory

enjoy tv ports
In terms of connectivity this box shines. Not only can you add a hard drive (see below) but there are four USB ports. The device works with just about any USB keyboard and mouse (if you want to add them) and even with those you still get two USB slots free for use with flash drives etc. There is also an SD card slot so that you can slip in a card from your camera or phone to quickly show off photos on the device.

Along with all the different ways to access media there is Wi-Fi and a 100 Mbit/s (RJ45) Ethernet port. As well as the HDMI output there is a composite video jack and YPbPr component video. For those who want sound via a different route than the HDMI cable, the device has coaxial and optical outputs.

enjoy tv hard disk

On top of all those ports and connectivity options the EZTV also has room for a SATA hard drive and fitting it is simplicity itself. All you need to do is slide the release to open the lid, slot the hard drive into the molded bracket and then close the lid again! The device will take a 2.5 inch or a 3.5 inch drive. Once installed the drive appears as a USB device in Android.

The advantage of this system is that you can copy over all your media (over the network or via other USB drives) to the hard drive for easy access. In general I convert my DVDs to either .mkv, .mp4 or sometimes .avi so that I don’t damage my original DVDs. Also most of the Music I buy (from Amazon) comes as MP3 so I have copied my entire MP3 library to the Enjoy TV and it is all¬†available¬†in my¬†living¬†room. Thanks to the audio outputs it is easy to connect the device to my¬†amplifier¬†and speaker system.

Software

enjoy tv welcome

On first boot, the EZTV takes you through an initial setup wizard where you can join a Wi-Fi network, add your Google account, set your TV resolution (702p, 1080p etc) and interestingly enough you can set which Play Store you want to access via a built-in Market Enabler app.

enjoy tv market enabler

After configuration a standard Android home screen appears. The device comes with Google Play pre-installed which makes getting hold of any additional apps very easy and there are also some special media apps included which are optimized for the supplied remote control.

Performance

In one sense doing a performance test is a little redundant as the device needs to be able to play video (which it can at full 1080p HD using hardware decoding) and respond to user input, it doesn’t need more CPU power than that. But since it is an Android device, and this is Android Authority, it is at least worth looking at where it fits in the grand scale of things. The AnTuTu benchmark is 2800, which is low. A device like the original Samsung Galaxy S, which has a single core Cortex-A8 running at 1Ghz, scores about twice that on AnTuTu, but here is the thing to remember, smartphones with single core CPU tend to be using displays with resolutions of 800 ¬†x 480 (or similar), but the EZTV set-top box (STB) was¬†running¬†the tests on a TV with a resolution of 1280 x 672. So from the start it has to work much harder for all those¬†grueling¬†OpenGL graphics tests.

What this means in reality is that as a media player the 1GHz CPU is more than sufficient. Music and film can be played without any glitches or pauses and apps like YouTube run perfectly.

Usage

enjoy tv remote

The EZTV media player comes with a special remote control that is designed to work with Android. There are buttons for Home, the Play Store and the browser etc. as well as direction buttons. Android is of course designed to be used on a touch screen, but on the STB the remote’s navigation arrows are used to highlight different icons and then pressing OK is the same as a tap. The keyboard appears on screen and each letter needs to be selected and then OK pressed.

The remote does become annoying after about 3 minutes! I plugged in a keyboard and mouse and they both worked fine. In the end I settled for just leaving a USB mouse plugged in so I could quickly navigate around and use the remote control to pause and skip forward etc. There are a plethora of remote trackpads and wireless keyboards (separately or as a combined  unit) on the market and using one of these is probably the most convenient in the long run.

Because of the Market Enabler functionality and¬†because¬†Android¬†supports VPNs, it is very easy to configure the device to make it appear that it is in the USA or UK and get access to content that maybe isn’t available in your location. A lot depends on the¬†quality¬†of the VPN, but with the right provider you shouldn’t have any troubles.

Conclusion

enjoy tv next to television

Having a Android device that converts my TV into an Internet enabled TV is good, but having a Android device that can use an internal hard drive is brilliant. Much like the first generation Apple TV, this device is a true media player and in fact quickly becomes a media hub. The fact that you can browser the Internet, use YouTube, read your emails and play games is really just a bonus! A remote wireless keyboard/mouse combo device is probably necessary in the long term, but just with the remote or better with a USB mouse and the remote the device is fully accessible and easy to use. The built-in media and music player work well with the remote and for nothing more complicated than starting a movie or playing some music a few clicks of the remote is all that is needed.

There are lots of different Android devices designed to work with your TV and this one from Chinavasion is definitely worth considering.

Comments

  • Guy De Vos

    Does it have bluetooth?

    • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

      Sorry I don’t think it has Bluetooth… Oddly it is in the settings but you can’t switch it on!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ichuck7 Charles Chambers

    I assume it plays Netflix, right?

    • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

      Sorry I can’t test with Netflix, but I have used other video streaming services like the BBC iPlayer without any problems.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ichuck7 Charles Chambers

        Thanks.

  • lance ricoh

    Where did you purchase it from? Does it have cinavia restrictions on it?

    • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

      Follow the link in the article to Chinavasion’s store, they ship internationally.

      • Lance Ricoh

        Thanks Gary .. There now, comparing it against the DBV-T version of enjoyTV.would appreciate your input on cinavia restrictions prior to making a purchase.

        • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

          Lance, not really sure how cinavia restrictions apply to Android. Any content played (like a DVD rip) will have had any protection removed during the ripping process.

          If you use a media streaming service like Netflix or BBC iPlayer then the DRM and other restrictions will remain in media and can only be played via the correct app.

          Does that help at all?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001206136088 Dale Emery-Smith

            Cinavia protection is a hidden copyright protection embedded in the audio coding, therefore, any DVD rips would still have the cinavia protection intact and not play properly on a device capable of identifying the protection, eg. PlayStation 3

  • http://www.facebook.com/Trent8381 Trent Richards

    I wonder how many people read this article thinking this device is somehow connected with EZTV.

    • Kokusho

      Alot, myself included.

    • Luka Mlinar

      I knew it couldn’t be since EZTV are pirates but that’s what made me click here anyway :D

    • James Zhangya

      Hi, This EZTV is refer to EZTV Living Room Computer( http://en.ieztv.com/Index/Index/listClon/id/10 ) ?

  • anakin

    The only way i would consider buying ANY media player is if they can play ISO files with menus for my large collection of dvds and blu-rays.

    This one doesn’t do this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ichuck7 Charles Chambers

    Now if only there was a version of this with a blu ray player.

  • kabir

    Does it run a bit torrent client?

    • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

      I haven’t tried, but if an app is available in Google Play or in the Amazon appstore it should work.

  • demi

    Can you stream home videos from a NAS? What video formats will it play in HD or not in HD? Can you get a video player app which would allow for different video playback formats?

  • Candly

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  • Maggie

    Gary, Read your article with interest as I own an EZTV box from Chinavision however am having trouble with the VPN – Always says ‘Time out’ Any ideas – would appreciate any help Thanks Maggie

  • John

    The best Android TV Box by far is the SkystreamX. It has a dual core 1.5 Ghz processor, Mali 3d graphics processor, 1 Gb Ram, 8Gb internal memory, Preloaded with all of the good XBMC add ons and Android 4.2.2.

    Android TV Box

  • John

    The best Android TV Box by far is the SkystreamX. It has a dual core 1.5 Ghz processor, Mali 3d graphics processor, 1 Gb Ram, 8Gb internal memory, Preloaded with all of the good XBMC add ons and Android 4.2.2.

    Android TV Box

  • John

    The best Android TV Box by far is the SkystreamX. It has a dual core 1.5 Ghz processor, Mali 3d graphics processor, 1 Gb Ram, 8Gb internal memory, Preloaded with all of the good XBMC add ons and Android 4.2.2.

    http://www.skystreamx.com