I’ve written a lot of reviews over the past two years about what streaming devices to buy, but I’ve never come out and said that you shouldn’t buy a particular device.
I worked in consumer electronics retail with Circuit City for a long time – over ten years, in fact. We were always taught to ignore our opinions on a product and just pitch its features and benefits. If any of you are in sales, you’ll understand what I mean.
Most products were beneficial to at least some customers, even if we didn’t like them.
Occasionally, we came across a product that is just so bad, or so overpriced that you really have to wonder what was going through the manufacturer’s heads.
Are they trying to rip off their customers? Or are they just out of touch with reality?
And this has to do with Android streaming devices how, exactly?
I’m glad you asked.
I’ve heard about SmartKodi from a few readers, and even the people over on the Kodi forums. I’ll give you a spoiler, their opinion of the company wasn’t at all good. But, I decided to check them out for myself.
I was NOT impressed.
So sit back, and let me explain why you shouldn’t buy the SmartKodi Smart TV Box.
You can find out about SmartKodi at SmartKodi.com. I won’t link to the site because that may indirectly help them out, and that’s definitely not my purpose here. All of the images in this article were taken on September 6th, 2015 and were accurate as of the time of this writing.
What streaming device is worth $325???
I’ll just leave that price tag here and let you consider that for a minute.
But wow….$325 for a streaming device is just a lot of money.
Look at it this way, you can get an NVIDIA Shield, AND a WeTek Play and still end up paying less than the SmartKodi box.
It must have some cutting edge hardware right?
SmartKodi Smart TV Box Hardware
The SmartKodi Smart TV Box boasts a “Specialist HiSilicon Chipset: ARM Cortex A7 1.5G Quad-core CPU+Mali-450 GPU.”
Wow. Sounds impressive.
Unlike almost all other Android boxes which use chipsets primarily intended for tablets, the Q1 Quad-core
box uses a HiSilicon chipset developed specifically for media playback(Set top box). This results in wider
format support, better video playback performance, and great image quality on your TV.
But wait…didn’t the ARM A7 come out back in 2011?
Even ARM themselves list the Cortex-A7 at the bottom of their processor listings. It ranks only slightly higher than the basement-dwelling Cortex-A5.
Sure, the ARM A7 is a good processor for power-efficient devices like wearables or phones and tablets. But unless the SmartKodi box has an internal battery that is somehow missing from it’s spec sheet, I don’t understand why they would choose a high-efficiency processor over a high-performance processor.
Surely there’s more to it.
“HDMI and composite AV output that suitable for any TV and display, with 1080i output resolution.”
Hmmm…I wonder what a comparable Android streaming device should cost?
I started out by looking at the specs and tried to find a similar device.
Then I realized that SmartKodi actually did smart shoppers a favor.
Their marketing page uses very specific language to describe the benefits of their CPU.
Remember, they use a “Specialist HiSilicon Chipset”
I wonder if there are any other devices that also use a Specialist (sic) HiSilicon Chipset.
I didn’t have far to look, actually.
It turns out that the exact same product description is used for the HiMedia Q1 Android TV Box in several places online. Check out this description from AliExpress:
Especially when you look at SmartKodi’s description again….
How much should it cost?
Ok, so now that we’ve established beyond any reasonable doubt which device this actually is, how much should it cost for the hardware itself?
The HiMedia Q1 quad-core streaming device is available from Alibaba for between $35-$40 per unit. That’s for distributors, resellers and bulk purchases. But you can get it from AliExpress for $51, or $83 after shipping. The description on AliExpress lists it as a Cortex-A9 in the heading, but if you scroll down it will actually list it as a Cortex-A7 everywhere else.
Do they offer anything extra?
Does SmartKodi offer anything extra to justify the obscene markup?
One year premium support. OK, I’ll admit that is a benefit to a lot of people. They don’t say exactly what “Premium Support” is over “regular support”, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Other than that, they don’t promise anything that they can control.
Things that are “Free for a lifetime” usually have a very short lifespan.
That’s something that you’ll see a lot of unscrupulous Android TV box sellers promote. They can’t sell you on the benefits of the hardware, because the hardware they’re selling is old and past it’s prime.
They sell you on the ability to get third-party add-ons to Kodi that will let you stream content, possibly illegally, from the Internet.
I’m not here to argue on the legal aspects of some add-ons. You’re presumably an adult and can make your own choices.
But I will say that devices that push this as a “benefit” to their product over any other product are at the mercy of those add-ons.
If the add-on suddenly stops working, then that device you overpaid for is instantly worthless.
Buy this, not that…
I’ve already put out a list of my favorite Android streaming devices, so that’s a good place to start. These are all from reputable manufacturers who develop the hardware that can run Kodi, Plex or whatever other media center you want.
If you want to get third party add-ons, you can do that too. There’s nothing that will stop you.
But you shouldn’t have to pay $325 for a device that should be a fraction of that cost.
Have you used the SmartKodi device? Do you have another company that you think ripped you off? Tell me about it in the comments below!