The Rockchip MK808 series of Android devices have proven to be one of the most popular units on the market. It improves upon the MK802 system it replaced in many ways. This is really the first Android mini-PC that we can actually use without worrying about overheating. But is it good enough for mainstream use? There’s only one way to find out. Our MK808B review will find out.
Rockchip is a relatively new Chinese company which designs and builds integrated chips using the ARM architecture. The company was founded in 2001, but is still not a household name outside of China. But with a rather aggressive product release schedule and partners such as ARM, they aim to change that. ARM has an enormous user base with over 6 billion chips in use today. ARM processors are found in almost every smartphone on the planet, as well as many TVs, set-top boxes and some tablets you may have heard about. (iPad maybe?)
The Rockchip MK808B is an Android mini-PC stick that comes loaded with Jelly Bean (Android 4.1), includes 1GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB flash ROM, a dual-core Cortex C9 processor running at 1GHz. This particular device is the Bluetooth capable version of the MK808, as noted by the ‘B’ after the model number. It also has built-in 802.11b\g\n Wi-Fi.
As you can see, there are two USB slots and one power-slot which is also USB. This enables you to have the external power adapter (included), a wireless keyboard or mouse and one other peripheral attached without having to use a bulky USB hub.
Should you need more flash storage than the 8GB on board memory, there is an external micro-USB slot. I was able to use one that I had lying around from an older cell phone without any issues.
The MK808B Android Mini-PC stick comes with the most commonly used connections: power adapter, HDMI cable, USB cable and OTG cable. In my setup, I didn’t even use the USB cable because I was able to plug my mouse’s wireless adapter directly into the unit.
Our MK808B review begins with the setup. Setup was just as easy as you would expect an Android device to be. The wireless adapter detected my network immediately, even from some distance away. What I found surprising was that the adapter detected several wireless signals from my neighbor’s routers. One of the big complaints about Android mini-PC sticks was their wireless connectivity, so this is good news to the early adopters of the MK802 and earlier versions of the MK808.
Once connected to a wireless network, Google’s update notifications start appearing in the menu bar. This is very similar to installing Windows on your PC for the first time. The next 30 minutes are often spent updating your fresh installation, and this device is no different.
Another bonus was that my Microsoft Wireless Mouse 3500 worked right out of the box. No workaround or third party drivers were needed!
Both the home screen and the settings screen look exactly as you would expect an Android device to look. The home screen can be customized with different backgrounds and live wallpaper. The resolution is considering that the OS was originally designed for a 4 inch telephone screen, not a 40 inch TV screen.
And of course, our MK808B review would not be complete without a screenshot of Angry Birds. One of the great things about this device is that the camera button in the menu bar will take a screenshot. This is a great way to prove you found all the golden eggs or beat your friend’s high score.
Stats – The raw numbers
I used CPU-Z to get a snapshot of this device. Not that I didn’t trust the manufacturer’s specifications, but it’s always nice to get independent results for our MK808B review.
It’s worth noting that this screenshot was taken after all updates were completed and after installing most of my “daily use” apps.
One of the main things I wanted my Android mini-PC for was to stream video over my network. My video files are located on an external hard drive connected directly to my router, an Asus RT-N66U which was approximately 30 feet away in another room. As I mentioned before, the MK808B had no trouble finding the router initially, and kept a solid connection throughout testing. The video text was done with a 720p mkv file streamed over my network using the default video player. After a short delay, the video started playing with no noticeable loss in quality. To be honest, I was not expecting an older Polaroid LCD TV to look this good. I definitely have no complaints from video playback.
Also important to note, even after the 30 minute video test portion of the MK808B review, the device remained cool to the touch. This is very important if the unit is going to be on all the time.
- I like the size of the unit. It’s small enough to hide behind the TV so that you wouldn’t notice it unless you knew it was there.
- I like that the setup was so easy. Too many devices on the market are built for the enthusiast who doesn’t mind a lot of tweaking in order to make them work. The MK808B just worked.
- The wireless strength. I was apprehensive about wireless connectivity, but they seem to have gotten the bugs out.
- A power switch. It may sound simple, but I would like a power switch, or at least a “sleep” switch.
- A way to “pinch-zoom”. One of the best keyboards for Android devices (and Windows PC’s for that matter) is the Logitech K400 Touchpad Keyboard. Unfortunately, there is no support for a “pinch-zoom” which makes certain apps rather difficult to use. I’m hoping that third party vendors will come up with a workaround for this.
- Better resolution within the OS. As I mentioned, during the MK808B review, the videos we tested looked great. The main screen and internet looked slightly jagged because the apps were designed for a smaller format screen. This is ‘nit-picky’, but important.
Our MK808B review shows that the Rockchip MK808B Android mini-PC is a great unit. At under $50, it makes for an easy way to turn any TV into a smart TV or game console for the kids.
For more of the best Android PC reviews check out our Android PC Buyers Guide!