Updated December 2020
Thanks, Dan, for this article inspiration. Dan’s question: How do I update the firmware on my Minix Android TV Box?
If your Android TV Box is starting to feel a bit slow and glitchy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to rush out and upgrade to the next generation box. It might just mean that your firmware needs updating.
OK, that’s great, but what is firmware and how do you update it? That is exactly the question we are going to answer today. And because (spoiler alert) firmware updates are about the hardware, the process is a bit different depending on the TV box hardware that you are using.
To answer Dan’s question, this article will look specifically at updating firmware on MINIX Android TV boxes. If you are looking for general information on updating the firmware on Android TV boxes, read our 2020 Guide here.
What Is Firmware And Why Does It Matter?
For a full and complete discussion of firmware, go here. But, as a brief intro, firmware is the software that runs the hardware of your Android TV box. It tells your Wi-Fi, your Bluetooth, your video card, and everything else what it should be doing.
This is different from the operating system, which for the Android TV box will be Android, which runs you applications. Firmware is specific to your hardware.
It is stored on the read only memory (ROM) of your box, which is the part of the box that holds data permanently, even when it is switched off.
As manufacturers develop their technology, they may update the firmware on their existing devices to enable it to perform better in light of changes to the Android OS or other applications. It can also help close security vulnerabilities that have been identified.
So, it is a good idea to ensure that the firmware on your device is always up-to-date for the best possible performance.
Why Do I Need To Update My Firmware Manually?
But, while MINIX does their best to make this available on most of their devices, it is not always the case.
If you happen to get a TV box that has been sitting in somebody’s warehouse, it may have missed some important updates.
If the device is old enough, it may not even have the ability to get new updates wirelessly.
That’s why you may need to do a manual update before you can use the MINIX System Update App.
How Do I Manually Update My MINIX Firmware?
If you need to update your MINIX firmware manually, don’t worry, I’ve got a walk-through video for how to do a manual firmware update on a MINIX TV box.
The video will specifically cover the NEO X8-H, but the steps are the same for all of the MINIX Android TV boxes.
I also have another post showing how to use the Amlogic USB Burning Tool, which goes over the same process but in a little more detail.
What MINIX TV Box Do I Have?
Not every firmware update is compatible with every MINIX TV box model, so you do need to know which model you have. There are a few ways you can check that.
If you don’t have the box, the device may be listed in one of two places:
This is by far the easiest way to tell what TV box and what firmware version you have.
If you navigate to the Settings screen in the MINIX Metro UI and click on the big, green Other box, the model number will be listed there in the upper lefthand corner, below the Model Number section.
You’ll want to stick around at this screen because you’ll also be able to tell what firmware version you have right here.
This is the easiest way to find out what the model number is. But what if your MINIX TV box is “bricked” and won’t boot to the home screen?
On the bottom of the device, you will see a couple of barcodes. The picture on the left shows the bottom of the MINIX NEO U1 (top) and the MINIX NEO Z64W (bottom). In each case, if you look at the barcode on the right, you’ll find the model number listed there.
The Z64 makes it very easy to figure out. Not only is it listed in the long product code underneath the barcode, but it is written in plain English above it.
The NEO U1 is a little more difficult, but it’s still there.
Looking at the top box, the full model number is “JU1PCBOX15B05697.” If you ignore the “J,” the next characters will be the model number: “U1” for the NEO U1. For the bottom device, the full model number is “JZ64WBOX15100085,” which would make the model number “Z64W.”
How To Find Your Firmware Release Date
MINIX, rather than classifying their firmware by date, gives each of their firmware releases a number, such as FW006. And the setting section of your box will tell you what date your firmware was released, but not which version of the firmware it is. So you need to do a little bit of research to put the pieces together.
You would normally have to search through posts on the Official MINIX Forum to find out which firmware you have and if any updates are available.
But I like to make things simple when I can. So, for now, just find the date the firmware was released, and we’ll cross-reference it in the charts below. You’re going to want to look at the Build Number section.
In the example above, the full Build Number is KOT49H.20140701-test-keys. If you strip out everything else, the release date for this firmware is 2014-07-01.
For my readers in the US, the rest of the world will use a Year-Month-Day format for their dates. This will be July 1st, 2014 in this example.
Use the chart below to cross reference your device in the first column, with your build date in the second column to find your MINIX firmware version in the third column.
If I wrote a post giving more detail about a particular MINIX TV box or firmware version, then you can click on the blue link to get more information.
One last note: The MINIX NEO X5 and NEO X7 are RockChip-based devices, so the AmLogic USB Burning Tool will not work to update their firmware.
Table last updated in 2016. If your MINIX box is not on the list, go to the MINIX Forum to find what version of the firmware you have.
|MINIX NEO U1||2015-12-10||FW003|
|MINIX NEO X8-H Plus||2014-11-22||FW001|
|MINIX NEO X8, X8-H, X8 Plus||2014-12-13||FW002|
|MINIX NEO X6||2014-10-24||FW001|
|MINIX NEO X7||2013-08-13||FW003|
|MINIX NEO X7 Mini||2013-09-12||FW006|
|MINIX NEO X5||2013-11-08||FW005|
|MINIX NEO X5 Mini||2013-08-28||FW002|
Now that you know which MINIX firmware version you have, you can also make sure that you have the latest firmware available.
I always recommend updating to the latest firmware. This ensures that you get to take advantage of any bug fixes or new features that MINIX comes out with after you buy your device. After all, things like Adaptive Refresh Rate and the MINIX Remote App are just too cool not to use.
If you need more detailed information on any of the MINIX firmware versions, check out the Official MINIX Forum. They’re a great resource and something that I use all the time.
What Is The Difference Between MINIX Firmware And Android Firmware?
People often get confused when we talk about firmware, as the term is used to refer to two different things. First, there is the hardware firmware (which will be your MINIX firmware) that controls the hardware of your TV box, so it manages things like your Wi-Fi and your video card. Then there is your operating system firmware, which is basically the version of Android that you are using, for example Android 8 Oreo or Android 9 Pie.
Both of these firmwares can be updated, and your TV box system may help you with both of these via OTA (over the air) updates. But sometimes you need to do it yourself. When this is the case, you need to go to the website of the manufacturer of your TV box to find the hardware firmware update you need, while you will get your operating system update via Android.
With most TV boxes, you can only update your Android operating system within the version of Android that your box was designed for. This means you can update from Android 8.0 to 8.100, but you can’t update to Android 9.0.
What Is The Latest MINIX Android TV Box?
MINIX released the NEO U22-XJ in March 2020, and it is a great, powerful Android TV box running Android 9.0 Pie off an AmLogic quad-core. It features 4GB of RAM and 34GB of ROM to deliver 4K streaming with Dolby Vision and Dolby Audio.
The box comes with a lot of bells and whistles including dual Wi-Fi and a GB Ethernet connection, plus three USB 3.0 plugs and a TF card slot to massively expand storage space.
Considering how important up-to-date firmware is to the smooth running of an Android TV box, it surprises me that it’s something we don’t talk about more often.
In fact, a lot of people don’t really understand firmware, what it does, and that it can be updated. This is a problem that manufacturers contribute to by not always making it easy to find information on their firmware.
The result is that people often get frustrated with a glitchy TV box and upgrade to something new, when all they really need to do is update their firmware.
But now that you have read this article, you know all about firmware and how to update it, so you won’t fall into this trap in the future.
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