Not everyone is looking for the best and fanciest Android TV box to convert their big screen into a smart TV. Some people are just looking for something cheap that works. The Diyomate Android TV Box has been developed with these consumers in mind. Costing less than $30, it is probably the cheapest Android TV box on the market that can deliver 4K.
But as many of us will know, when you buy cheap, you often get what you pay for and the product doesn’t always deliver on the promise. So, what about the Diyomate? Read our complete review to find out.
Spoiler Alert! This TV box functions and you can use it to get your favorite streaming services working on your TV. However, I think that it is probably worth it to pay the extra $10 to get a more reliable box.
Diyomate is a Chinese-based electronics firm based in Shenzhen that has been producing and exporting consumer electronics since 2003. They are the tenth most popular consumer electronics brand in the Chinese market and export significantly to the Middle East. Their market share is significantly smaller in the U.S. but growing.
What technology do you get under the hood for your $30?
- CPU S905X 64-bit Cortex-A53 up to 1.2GHz
- GPU Quad-core Mail 450MP2 750MHz
- Android 7.1 Operating System
- Image: H.265 10-bit 4K*2K@60fps, H.264 AVC/MVC 4K*2K@30fps
- 1 GB of RAM
- 8 GB of ROM
- TF Card expansion to 32 GB
- 2.4GHz Wi-Fi
- 100M Ethernet Connection
- HDMI 2
- 2 x USB 2.0
So, what does this all mean? It means you get something that is almost as good as you would expect from a slightly more expensive box, but the gaps between this product and the next step up are pretty noticeable.
While the CPU and GPU you get are the same as you would expect from pretty much any Android TV box under $75, everything else is just a bit sub-par.
While advertising suggests that this box uses the Android 9 operating system, if you look at the specifications, this box is still running on Android 7.1. This is not necessarily a bad thing: that is a very stable version of Android that works well on Android TV. But it does mean you are missing out on a lot of the upgrades that come with Android 9.0 and 10.0, and also puts an overall life expectancy on the box as the Android OS on this machine can’t be updated beyond 7.
While the box still manages to deliver 4K content, don’t necessarily expect it to be snappy. It has only 1 GB of RAM to manage its processes, so you will definitely want to do one thing at a time when using this box.
Its connectivity may also lead you to stare at the ring of death more often than you would like. It only features 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi and not the 5Ghz we have come to expect with most boxes. Also, while you can plug it directly into your broadband using the 100M ethernet connection, it doesn’t have the Gigabit connection we have come to expect from most boxes.
Moreover, while the box is capable of delivering 4K, you won’t be able to use this box to stream 4K content from the most popular streaming services, such as Netflix and Prime Video. This is because these streaming services have a limited list of streaming devices that are authorized to access their 4K content. On the list are mostly the big-name hardware, and Diyomate is just too small within the market to expect them to be added to the list any time soon.
The remote control is also very disappointing. It’s not sleek. It looks like your standard remote and it doesn’t have voice command or air-mouse functionality to make navigating easier. Plus, this box won’t integrate with your smart home system if you have one.
Add to this that you only get 8 GB of storage, which can only be expanded to up to 32 GB using a TF card.It only has USB 2.0 and not USB 3.0, and it just doesn’t look good when compared to a lot of the other devices that are available.
Comparison With Other Affordable Android TV Boxes
The Diyomate is one of the cheapest 4K Android TV boxes on the market, costing less than $30. It is a good $10 cheaper than even some of its closest competitors, such as the Transpeed and the Pendoo T95. But it also just isn’t as good as either of these boxes, so you should probably pay the extra $10 and get a better quality TV box.
Diyomate vs Transpeed
The Transpeed uses the same CPU and GPU as the Diyomate, but it uses Android 10.0. This is the most recent Android operating system, which means it has the best compatibility with all the latest apps and programs.
The Transpeed works much faster with 4 GB of RAM, and it also has 54 GB of ROM expandable to 2 TB via a TF card for storing media. Plus, you can transfer files to and from the device much more rapidly using USB 3.0.
Unlike the Diyomate, it is Widevine certified for delivering 4K content. But this still means it can only access HD content on Netflix and Prime Video and not full 4K, but this problem is universal across cheaper devices, with the exception of the Amazon Fire Stick 4K.
The Transpeed also doesn’t offer voice command, but the wireless remote comes with a mini-keyboard, which can make searching and navigating a whole lot easier.
Diyomate vs Pendoo T95
The Pendoo has very similar specifications to the Transpeed with the same CPU and GPU and the Android 10.0 operating system. It also has 4 GB of RAM and a nice 32 GB of ROM built-in for the same price-tag.
The Pendoo well and truly outclasses the Diyomate by delivering 6K resolution, but it lacks the same features as the Transpeed in specifically unlocking Netflix in 4K and a voice emote that integrates with a smart home system.
Diyomate vs Fire Stick 4K
All of these affordable devices can be compared with the Amazon Fire Stick 4K, which costs only slightly more and you can get it for under $50.
A lot of people don’t like Fire products because they use the Amazon operating system on top of the Android operating system. This means you can’t download apps from the Google Play Store and have to download them from the Amazon Store, where the selection is significantly more restricted. However, this is not a significant problem, as you can just sideload any apps you want onto the device.
The important things are that:
- This Fore Stick is authorized to stream Netflix, Prime Video and other streaming services in 4K, so you will get a better picture
- It comes with the Alexa remote for voice control and you can control it from an Alexa smart speaker as well. So, for those extra few dollars, you get two very important things that are missing from the cheaper devices.
The specs of this little device compete well with the cheaper boxes, with a quad-core processor 8 GB of storage, and you can even get a Gigabit Ethernet connection if you want, though it does mean buying an extra bit of kit.
Which Is The Best Value
Which of these affordable streaming devices is the best depends on what your priority is, but it is certainly difficult to justify the Diyomate as your top choice, unless your main concern is spending as little as possible.
What To Look For In A Cheap Android TV Box
You can get some great Android TV boxes for very little money. Because Android is an open operating system, a lot of electronics manufacturers are making affordable streaming devices based on the technology.
But there is a difference between affordable and cheap. While you can get a box that does the job for next to nothing, you probably won’t be happy when you are stuck dealing with slow loading times, arduous searches without voice control, and not enough storage for the media you want.
So, the key is to know what you need, and then find the cheapest box that delivers.
I would suggest the key features to look for when assessing a cheap Android TV box are the following:
- Minimum 2 GB of RAM
- Minimum Android 9.0 or later
- 4K at a minimum of 24 frames per second
Nice to have:
- Voice remote
- Integrates with smart home set up (Alexa or Google)
- Unlock Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in 4K
This last criterion is particularly challenging. This is because it is not about the specs of the box, but rather whether Netflix and Amazon Prime have put them on their list of devices approved for accessing their 4K content.
That list is dominated by big-name devices that cost more, and you will struggle to find a cheap Android TV box that can do this. So, it is very important to decide whether this is a priority for you. If it is, you probably aren’t going to get away with investing in a cheap Android TV Box.
The cheapest Android-based streaming device on the market that can unlock this content is the Amazon Fire Stick 4K, which costs $50, and may set you back more if you want any of the extras.
But after this, you are looking at a significantly more expensive box, like the NVIDIA Shield.
The new Diyomate 4K Android TV box is one of the most affordable on the market, and if you hook one up to your TV, it will do the job. But, when you compare it to devices that cost just $10 more, you can get a lot more bang for your buck if you spend a few dollars more.
While I wouldn’t complain if a Diyomate box landed on my doorstep, it is not at the top of my purchase list.
Have you used the Diyomate Android TV box? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.