I get asked all the time about my opinion on different Android boxes. To be honest, most of them are fairly generic boxes that have trouble standing out in a crowd.
Every now and then you get one that stands out for an entirely different reason.
That’s the case with the StreamSmart S4 and StreamSmart PRO.
Update January 2018: StreamSmart.tv has been “under maintenance” for several days and many of their distributors have mysteriously closed up shop. What happened?
…maybe people read this review. 🙂
In case you missed part one…
This isn’t the first time that I’ve come out against buying an Android box. It’s rare…but it does happen.
Back in September 2015, I wrote the first “Don’t Buy this Box” article about SmartKodi. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Kodi boxes on the market – selling for $325 and promising “Free TV for a Lifetime.”
The article got some pretty high praise from a Team Kodi rock-star: Nate Thomas.
Nate and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but we did agree on our opinions of manufacturers like SmartKodi. Check out the comments on that article to see what he said.
Since then, there haven’t really been many boxes which have ticked me off that much. I’m not against Fully Loaded Kodi boxes, even though that’s not how I choose to watch my TV. A ton of people love them and I think they have a place in the industry.
I’m also not against people charging for providing a service, as long as it’s giving a fair value to the customer.
But what I don’t like is when a company is obviously overcharging for a device and making an insane amount of money off their customer’s lack of knowledge.
As I said in that first article:
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.
The StreamSmart box Anti-review
You can find out about StreamSmart at StreamSmart.tv. There are other sites with similar names, but I’ll get into that in a minute. They’re all online stores, and all sell the same product. I won’t link to any of the sites 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 December 27th, 2016 (except for two images which are noted in their descriptions) and were accurate as of the time of this writing.
So if you’re ready to find out why you shouldn’t buy a StreamSmart Android Box, let’s get started.
I’m going to cover both the StreamSmart S4 and the newer StreamSmart PRO in this article, because I believe that both are an absolutely horrible value for your money.
First I’ll list out the specs of each below and then get into why. Please note: the following specs have been copied in their entirety from the StreamSmart.tv website. Only the order of the specs have been changed in order to put all relevant hardware specs together at the top of the lists. No item has been added or removed.
StreamSmart S4 specs
- AMLOGIC S805 QUAD CORE 64 BIT ARM CORTEX A 1.5 GHZ CPU + QUAD CORE MALI 450 GPU
- 1 GB DDR3 RAM AND 8 GB NAND FLASH STORAGE
- ANDROID 4.4 KITKAT SUPPORTS GOOGLE BROWSER, FLASH10.2 AND HTML5
- MEGABIT ETHERNET 10/100M RJ45 PORT
- INTERNAL WIFI 802.11 A/B/G/N/AC DUAL WI-FI (2.4GHZ/5.8 GHZ)
- USB2.0 HOST× 3(CONNECT TO USB DEVICES)
- SD/MMC CARD READER
- HDMI 1.4 AND AV OUTPUT AND COMPONENT(YPBPR) OUTPUT THAT’S SUITABLE FOR ANY TV AND DISPLAY.
- ***CHANNELUP ACCOUNT INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE***
- ***HD VIDEO***
- SUPPORTS VIDEO FORMATS: VC-1, H.264, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DIVX, RM, ETC.
- SUPPORTS AUDIO FORMATS: MP3, WMA, AC3, DTS, AAC, FLAC, ETC.
- SUPPORTS PHOTO FORMATS: JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG
- FULL HD SUPPORT
- ABILITY TO UTILIZE USB MOUSE, KEYBOARD OPERATION AND 2.4G QWERTY REMOTE
- ANDROID VIDEO: YOUTUBE,XBMC
- MULTILINGUAL GUI SUPPORTED.
- SUPPORT ALL STANDARD SD/HD VIDEO OUTPUT FORMATS: 480I/P, 576I/P, 720P, 1080I/P
- SUPPORTS 3D HDMI DISPLAY
- ERGONOMICALLY DESIGNED REMOTE CONTROL MAKES OPERATIONS SIMPLE AND COMFORTABLE.
- MCU POWER ON/OFF BY REMOTE CONTROL
StreamSmart Pro specs
- AmLogic S905 Quad Core 64 bit ARM Cortex A53 2.0 GHz CPU + Penta Core Mali 450 GPU
- 2 GB DDR3 RAM
- 8 GB eMMC storage
- Android 5.1 Lollipop Supports Google browser, Flash10.2 and HTML5
- GigaBit Ethernet 10/100/1000M RJ45 Port
- Internal WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Dual Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.8 GHz)
- USB2.0 Host× 3(connect to USB devices)
- SD/MMC card reader
- HDMI 2.0 and AV output and Component(YPbPr) output that’s suitable for any TV and display.
- ***CHANNELUP account included with purchase***
- ***4K Video***
- Supports video formats: VC-1, H.264, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DIVX, RM, etc.
- Supports audio formats: MP3, WMA, AC3, DTS, AAC, FLAC, etc.
- Supports photo formats: JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG
- Full HD Support, ability to utilize USB mouse, keyboard operation and 2.4G QWERTY Remote
- Android Video: Youtube,XBMC
- Multilingual GUI Supported.
- Support all standard SD/HD/UHD video output formats: 480i/p, 576i/p, 720p, 1080i/p, 4K
- Supports 3D HDMI display
- Ergonomically designed remote control makes operations simple and comfortable.
- MCU power on/off by remote control
How much should a StreamSmart box cost?
What would you pay for such an amazing piece of cutting edge technology?
I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here because neither of these devices have anything close to cutting edge technology.
The AmLogic S805 that’s in the StreamSmart S4 was announced way, way back in April 2014. CNX-Software did an excellent write up back then of the differences in the main AmLogic chipsets at the time: the MX, S802, S812 and S805.
In the image below, you can see a current selection of the AmLogic S805 Android boxes at GearBest. With the exception of the Android projector and one crazy box priced at $200, all of the devices are currently priced between $32 and $65 US. For the record, these prices are accurate as of December 29th 2016.
The StreamSmart PRO boasts the newer AmLogic S905 processor. This is still a good performing chipset, and the one found in both the MINIX NEO U1 and SkyStream One. Even though this is a newer chipset, the S905 still came out in the latter half of 2015. If you’re interested in the performance difference between the S805 that’s in the StreamSmart S4 and the S905 that’s in the StreamSmart PRO, CNX-Software did a comparison test back in November 2015. Caution, it’s a technical article, so it may be a bit heavy for the casual reader.
At GearBest, similar devices range between $36 and $79 US – excluding the $26 Android stick. To be fair, Android stick PC’s normally have less features than their TV box counterparts. Comparing on cost isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Again, these prices are accurate as of December 29th, 2016.
StreamSmart costs HOW MUCH???
If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably got a good idea that I think a StreamSmart box is insanely overpriced.
But just how much are they?
A StreamSmart box is over seven times more expensive than they need to be!
Seriously. I did the math.
If you look at the nine (normal) AmLogic S805 boxes in the GearBest image above, their average cost is $45.66. Compare that to the $349 that StreamSmart charges for the S4 and that’s 7.64 times more than the average S805 Android box.
The average cost of the twelve S905 Android boxes at GearBest is $57.08. That works out to be 7.86 times more expensive than the average!
With that much markup, there better be some killer features, right?
The after-the-sale support is handled either by forum, Facebook group or via email. There’s no option to talk to a live support representative that I can find on their website. I will say that the response time on their official Facebook group is evidently very quick.
There’s also a “Support News Feed” which sounds like a great way to keep users informed of changes, except that it redirects to a Tumblr page with three posts on it. The first is from January 2nd, 2016, and then the other two from December 15th and December 27th, 2016. I guess it was a slow news-year at StreamSmart.
The lack of live, personal support is a big strike against StreamSmart. If I’m paying a premium price for something, I expect to be able to talk to someone in person when I have a problem.
Arguably the main benefit to buying a StreamSmart box is the lifetime subscription to ChannelUp.tv.
What is ChannelUp.tv? It is an IPTV subscription service which advertises “unlimited entertainment at your fingertips!” It appears that ChannelUp.tv is affiliated with StreamSmart, but I wasn’t able to confirm that, and they did not replay to my email question at the time of this writing.
Basically it’s a paid Kodi addon which has paid streams so it purposefully limits the number of people trying to get on to the streams at any time. In theory, you can get pay-per-view and premium channels as part of your subscription cost.
I won’t go into why I think these services are a bad idea here, but I will STRONGLY recommend using a VPN if you choose to subscribe to ChannelUp or any other service of this type. Even then, you probably won’t be protected when these finally become illegal to use. After all, they’ll already have your account information so they know where you live. 🙂
What I will do though, is show why – even with a lifetime subscription to ChannelUp.tv – either StreamSmart box is still insanely overpriced.
The image below is taken from ChannelUp.tv and shows the various pricing tiers for their service.
I will give them credit for offering a bunch of different ways to sign up with the service. You can have a 24 hour trial or choose to pay monthly, semi-annually, annually or even a one-time payment for lifetime access.
As you can see, ChannelUp.tv offers a lifetime subscription for $149.79.
The ChannelUp.tv service is available on different hardware, so you don’t need a StreamSmart box to use it.
So let me break out my calculator again:
|Value of Lifetime ChannelUp.tv subscription:||($149)|
|Total value of StreamSmart S4 hardware:||$200|
|Value of Lifetime ChannelUp.tv subscription:||($149)|
|Total value of StreamSmart PRO hardware:||$300|
StreamSmart is overcharging their customers between $200-$300 per device!
Can I get it cheaper on eBay or Amazon?
You could, probably.
StreamSmart goes out of their way to make it difficult to use anyone but their authorized resellers (more on that in a minute). In December 2015, they unceremoniously told their customers that any device purchased “on Amazon or eBay after 1/1/2016 are no longer covered under warranty, supported, and will be shut off.”
But don’t worry. If you happened to buy your device on eBay or Amazon and suddenly find yourself with a very expensive paperweight, StreamSmart will be happy to sell you another one of their devices with a small discount.
After all…they certainly have a healthy profit margin, right?
I cannot put into words how disgusted I am by this. If you are a manufacturer of a product, then you have the obligation to support your product no matter where it was purchased from.
That’s why a manufacturer’s warranty exists.
I will leave it to legal professionals to figure out if that is within the bounds of the law, but my opinion is that it’s a pretty scummy way to take care of your customers.
What does Team Kodi think about StreamSmart?
There are only a couple of references to the StreamSmart box on Kodi.tv, but there’s one discussion that really stands out to me.
Ned Scott, the former Team Kodi member in charge of the Kodi Wiki, and Kodi developer Wrxtasy, who created the “Recommended Kodi Box” guide both chimed in on the StreamSmart box – and they didn’t mince their words.
In Ned’s words, “I know people need to make a profit, but the price they’re selling their product at is at scam-levels.”
Moderator Wrxtasy went even farther:
…this device is a GPL Open Source Violator box and actually illegal to sell in its current form. This sort of practice pisses Kodi developers and the Open Source community off no end. StreamSmart are freeloaders, actually stealing other people hard work unless they show us this modified Kodi code.
This is nothing more than an Illegal Scam Pirate Box, sold at a ridiculously inflated price to fool Mums and Dads and Joe public into thinking its legit.
Why are there so many websites promoting StreamSmart?
At this point, you might be wondering why there are so many websites promoting StreamSmart.
Well, it turns out they do it because they’re actually selling the StreamSmart boxes themselves.
StreamSmart promotes it’s reseller program directly on the front page of their website and promises an “average part-time income of $3,500” or a full-time income “exceeding $15,000!”
I wonder how they can make that much selling a Kodi box?
If you Google “StreamSmart” you can quickly find several of these resellers like StreamingSmart, Captain StreamSmart and MyFreeCable.tv.
To be fair, I’ll say again that I have nothing against small businesses or selling your knowledge for a fee. But when you’re deliberately price-gouging your customers…that’s where I draw the line.
Why are there no StreamSmart reviews?
That’s a really good question.
I tried searching for any StreamSmart reviews but could only find a few “unboxing” videos. There was nothing that I could see that would show any benchmark tests or experiences using the product other than basic interface.
It’s entirely possible that there aren’t any StreamSmart reviews because the box is so expensive. Many of the review sites just starting out purchase their own products for review. A box that costs $449 is much less likely to be reviewed than something that costs $50. More established reviewers will likely put the box through rigorous testing and that will be bad press for the company.
There are better options:
My Top Picks For Best Android TV Box of 2018
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NVIDIA Shield TV
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Amazon Fire TV
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At this point, I think I’d recommend you buy anything other than a StreamSmart box.
I put out a list of what I think are the best Android boxes on the market. You could actually buy all three devices on that list for less than the cost of the StreamSmart PRO. If you’re looking for a good, cheap Kodi box, I’ve got some ideas on that too.
You shouldn’t be looking at a device that costs over $400 that isn’t cutting edge.
What should you do if someone tries to sell you a StreamSmart S4 or StreamSmart PRO?
..then walk away quickly.
Have you used a StreamSmart box? What do you think? Tell me about it in the comments below!