Welcome back to the new Streaming Tips: Questions from Readers section. Every Monday and Wednesday I’ll be taking a question submitted by you and answering it in a short post. If you’d like to submit a question, head on over to this page and use the contact form. If I end up using your question, I’ll send you an Amazon e-gift card for $5 US, $5 CDN or £5 UK
Today’s question is from Dave in Calgary, Alberta:
Good day Tim. I have a 2 part question if you don’t mind.
1. I read your reviews on the best set top boxes to consider and am leaning heavily towards the Minix Neo U1 thanks to you. But a friend bought a “no name” one direct from China and brought it over to my place and it seemed to work very well. I was very impressed with how quickly it was able to find obscure movies that aren’t easy to find even on the internet. It streamed just fine via wifi with no buffering etc. Do you think it’s in a person’s best interest to stick with a brand? The Minux Neo U1 is $170 up here in the great white north on Amazon and of course one can’t help but at least consider the knockoff Chinese Android box.
2. Android 6 doesn’t seem to be readily available just yet on most boxes. Do you think it’s worthwhile to wait for the next gen boxes to have the Marshmallow operating system built in based on what you’ve learned thus far?
Thanks for the consideration Tim.
Thanks for the question Dave, and Go Flames…as long as they’re not playing my Canadiens. 🙂
Let me tackle the second question first. Should you wait for Android 6?
In my opinion, that shouldn’t be the deciding factor when you’re shopping. If you happen to find a box you like that has Android 6, then great. But there just isn’t as big a difference between Android 5 Lollipop and Android 6 Marshmallow from a TV box perspective.
Really, the only increase you’ll see on your TV box is a 4K display mode for apps. Basically this upscales the resolution of the app to 4K – if the app is programmed to take advantage of it. That last part is the key. If the developer doesn’t enable it, you’re not going to see it. By contrast, there were a lot more useful additions to Android 5 like the more advanced Android RunTime (ART), Audio in and out through USB, and oh yeah…Kodi 17 will only run on Android 5 and higher.
Take a look at the image to the left. That’s a pretty common ad for a “knockoff” Chinese Android box. You’ll find dozens like it if you go on eBay or GearBest.
What can you tell me about the company?
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a brand snob. So keep that in mind when I’m writing this. In general, I think that brand’s got their name for good reasons like having a better price, better service or higher quality. You will find ridiculously stupid exceptions to that rule, but it’s served me well in life. Here’s the bottom line:
Generic products focus on the product more than the brand. With brand name products, the brand is more important than the product.
Stick with me for a sec, because here’s where I let my inner analyst out.
Generic stuff is a commodity. The company is basically selling something that they can get at the lowest price, putting a minimal amount of work into it and marking it up for a profit. They don’t care about the components, quality or customer complaints because they can just replace it with another generic product when the decide to sell something else.
Brand name products are different. If they sell a bad product, or don’t take care of their customers, it’s the brand that suffers, not the product.
I’ll use Tronsmart as an example. They used to be one of the top TV box brands. Their stuff was great and people loved them…and then they took their foot off the gas. Support got slower. Firmware was late. They didn’t answer questions or address problems as fast as customers liked. The brand took a hit. Now, nobody wants to buy them because their brand isn’t worth the extra money.
If there’s one thing that I want everyone reading this site to take away from here is that the price has to be justified – generic or name-brand.
Hope that answers your question!