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 [REVIEW] Minix NEO X7

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Deen0X
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Msg n°1 MessageSujet: [REVIEW] Minix NEO X7 Jeu 26 Sep 2013, 15:46

[REVIEW] Minix NEO X7


Acknowledgments

To Belchine store for give me a sample of Minix NEO X7 to test it and write this review.

NOTE

Due the limit of this forums about characters by message, i cannot post the entirely review in one single message.

This is only a summary of the original article that i posted in in my blog.

Special note for this review

This is my first review wrote directly in english. Because english is not my native language (mine is spanish), surely i will do many mistakes on writing this. I will appreciate any correction on the article if you found anything important to be corrected, but i think most of the information on this article is technical based, and i prefer to be so "graphical" while i can, then most of the info (when i consider needed) will be followed by some picture that help to understand some of the points that i want to comment.

Because english is not my natural speaking language, most probably this review will be a little bit "decaffeinated" or "unjuiced" that a normal review where i comment freely any aspect of the device i´m reviewing. I will do my best to generate a useful article for people that wants to read something about this.

For Spanish readers, i hope will have a little bit of time to generate a proper version of this article. For now, please try to read this directly in english, or use the translate tool on this blog for generating a google-translated version.

Usage of this article

Author give permission to use this review, part of this or by a link reference, to anybody wants to use it, with only one condition that you must keep the author of this article, and the original source, that is in my blog.

There is a Spanish version on this link.

For any update for the content of this article, i suggest to visit the link avobe.

Introduction

Minix is a well known brand that manufacture some interesting devices that are focused on manufacturer quality and theri software finish. From a time, Minix means a good quality and robust brand of products, focused on Set Top Boxes based on Android.

From beginning, when i opened the box of the device i feel that i´m with a very interesting device (even without turning on). Usually i avoid to read reviews or comments of the devices i review, but this time was a little bit hard, because most of the info about this device on blogs and web are accompanied by positive comments and feedback. This make on me to raise my expectations about what i want from this device as user. Expectations are at the same height that what i finally test, but this is part of my conclusion at the end of this article. I can say that buying this device is going for sure for a quality product, but don´t expect something perfect. There are some points where Minix may work and focus their efforts on a next device, but for now, what they are offering to their customers, is a very good device that will ensure hours of entertainment on their homes.

Some friend ask to me about if this device is better than OUYA. I hate to do comparisons on my review articles, and more if i wrote a specific article (in spanish) about what i think about OUYA device. The only thing that i can say is this device  (or this kind of devices) most probably will offer what many users expect from something like OUYA (without counting their marketplace, of course), but take it easy, if you consider on buying something like this instead of OUYA, think you will need almost a decent controller, that will increase the final price of this device (and may round the double of OUYA), but depending on the needs and usage of each user, may be worth acquiring one kind of device than another.

But this is a review for Minix Neo X7, not a comparison with other devices. I will invite to you to read (and forgive my bad and rude english) and take your own conclusions about this.

Hope you enjoy with this article, and found useful.

Product showcase(Checking of the external view of the package)


The packaging of the device come with a full informative printed box, related with the contents. Is a specific box designed for this device, and there is no information about other specs or features than the device have.


In the back side, we found a summarized table with technical information about the device.

Package contents(Unboxing y full description of the package contents)


When the package is opened, we found the following elements thats, i understand, are part of any standard shippment for this product.


Contents:


  • Wall Charger (5V) with EURO connector standard
  • HDMI cable
  • Remote Control of the device (IR)
  • Minix NEO X7 Device
  • MicroUSB cable (for connecting device to PC)
  • MicroUSB OTG cable
  • Dual-Band Wifi Antenna (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
  • Setup Guide


Android Games


Android games are specific for touch screens, and may use another device sensors such tilt sensor, and most of them show on screen controls to interact with the game, but only few of them have native joystick/gamepad support.

For now, there are some alternatives that we can use to bring these kind of support (joysticks/gamepads and other devices) on these games, bringing another way of playing using physical controls. Most of these alternatives are based on emulating the events and mechanisms that the device originally support for interact with the games. Most of these events are touch screen based, then this kind of apps will "emulate" these touches, linking physical controls (buttons, sticks) to screen locations.


From the current alternatives and for doing my testings (giving support for a virtual touch interface, giving special attention on devices such Android Sticks/Android TV/Set Top Boxes that don´t have a real touch interface, but not limited only for these kind of devices), I'm using the Tincore Keymapper for providing gamepad support for games that have touch screen interface. I test devices using many gamepads/joysticks i have, searching for suitables controllers that can be used with the device, including keyboard and mouse too for interact with games.

In the videos that i capture, i try to show what happen on the screen enabling the Android visual feedback (Settings>Developer options>Show touches). With this enabled, people who see my videos can se where is the virtual touch control is working on the screen, when i´m using any kind of devices that can interact with the device (gamepad, keyboard, mouse, touch screen, etc). This feedback appears on the screen as white circles that blink (when pressing buttons), moving (for swipes), moving in many directions (for sticks/dpad), etc. This interaction correspond to a emulated finger touches on the screen surface. I consider so important this kind of information (visual feedback) to be captured on video, and for this reason most of my videos includes these white "circles" or "dots" on the screen.

Dead Trigger


A popular game that can be played using gamepads, because have native support for it.

In the vídeo, i´m using a Sixaxis Gamepad, with the Sixaxis Controller App to pair and connect.

In game, i configured the gampead, assigning each button for actions game. The result is a shotter that can be enjoyned using a gampead, and giving a full inmersive experience.

The game can run using full HD Graphics, and run well and smooth.

Bard's Tale


One of my favourites games on the playstore. Graphics for this game are intense HD, and is a good game to feel how the device works, most important, the data storage works, because the game load dynamically all the contents, while user plays on it, then if you have a slow card reader, then the game will show with slowdowns.

The game runs ok, clear and smooth.

R-Type


Classic arcade shooter that becomo to an android version. The game have native gamepad setup, and i use a Sixaxis (via sixaxis controller app) to play directly.

Gangstar Rio


A GTA style game that run smooth on the device. To play, i used Sixaxis controller and Tincore Keymapper to map sixaxis on screen (in fact, i don´t like sixaxis touch editor)

Shadowgun (normal version)


A classic FPS game on android, and part of many reviews of devices. This game have direct support for gamepads, and you can play smooth on the device. You will forgive you´re on an android device, and you will inmerse on a desktop gaming console!

Real Racing 3


A game well knowed by their graphics. The game looks and feel superb, but there is a little issue with the audio that make a constant echo or double sound.

To play this i used Sixaxis Controller and Tincore Keymapper, and change the game settings to handle it with a control layout that will be useful to be handled via Tincore.

After Burner Climax


A game a little bit different of any other i usually test on my reviews. The game run and feel ok on the device.

Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation


This saga give a serious FPS alternative to Android games. This is the third part of this saga, but bring the same experience on gaming like the last of them. A totally immersive FPS game that runs smooth and nice on the device.

I´m using Sixaxis (with sixaxis controller app), and Tincore to map controls on screen. In the game i configure to use two virtual sticks to map directly to analogs on the controller. The game can be played in very handly way with this config.

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour



A game that cannot be apart of any review. Good graphics, good gameplay, etc.

The game runs and feel great, even using Tincore (and sixaxis), the feel of this game is something serious from a normal desktop gaming device.

N.o.v.a. 3


Another common gaming for testing devices. In this case, the game run with some issues (performance), and there is no sound (or only glitches). Most probably, using another firmware i will be able to run flawesly this game.

Sine Mora


A beautiful shooter game, that run and look superb on this device. I use tincore to do simple mapping to the game interface, and this is so responsive and feel so smooth.

Six Guns


 The android version of "Red Dead Redemption" game. Controls are a little bit hard to configure (with Tincore), but the game can be played well.

Need for Speed Most Wanted


A game that is near from what you can get from desktop gaming consoles. A serious title that run smooth and flawlessly on the device, and can be controlled fully via Tincore keymapping, and setting some options in game such control layout.

Emulation (Playing emulated games)


In the same way that Android games are an important way of testing the performance of a device, emulation is another factor to get in concern, and most important, for systems that are quite hard to be emulated, because with these emulators/roms we can see differences between devices. (most of times, the pure power of a CPU/GPU can run better a game in a device, and get poor performance in another device)

In Android, we get many emulator alternatives (emulated systems) that we can recreate on the device that we are testing. We can use emulators of old computers, videogame consoles, and is possible to run some x86 system (MS DOS, windows 9x but so limited), and we can run most modern systems such Nintendo64, Playstation one (PSX), both of these emulators are consider the top of the current frontier of emulation, but this is not limited to these systems. There are new emulators that most probably will become the new top/frontier, with emulation of PSP that many games currently are playables with near of 100% of speed, or Nintendo DS, that currently is able to run many titles.at full speed (or near to)

This way, we can say that the emulators are important than Android games en terms of entertainment, and for this reason are a big and important part of any testing planning of any device.

DraStic (Nintendo DS)

In the current state of the Android emulation, this is the most interesting and surprising emulator on the market. This app is able to emulate many commercial games, with full speed (or near to) and in a short time this emulator become as one of the most popular apps of this kind on Google Playstore.

This emulator run flawesly in most of devices with average specs (dual core and up)

Fifa 09


The game run smooth and with any problem. emulation is "perfect". for this demo, i´m using a X-Arcade connected to the device, and mapped/configure directly on the emulator.

GRID


A 3D game running on the NDS emulator, and run fine. all games that don´t request a pointer, run flawlessly and are good alternatives to play as normal desktop console.

For pointers, i recommend to use normal mouse devices to emulate touches, because will bring more near experience to the original device.

PPSSPP (Playstation Portable PSP)


The only PSP emulator for Android. This app can run many games in a playable way, and get so many updates to improve their emulation and new features.

Tekken 6


Most possible i can adjust some parameters on the emulator to run better, but without touchin nothing, you can see how this game work on the device directly.

Assassins Creed


I saw some videos where some guys can play this with good performance and less graphics glitches. I don´t know how to configure convenient the emulator, but this is what you get running directly the game.

Lego Indiana Jones 2


This game run smooth and with few minor glitches. Fully playable and run smoothly and a recommended game to try this emulator.

Mame4Droid Reloaded (Arcades)


Personally, i think this is the best arcade emulator on the Store. I prefer this (for arcade) instead of another alternatives than Retroarch or similar, because many titles run smoothly than another emulators.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3


A game that is known hard to be emulated smoothly. Last time i tested using Retroarch and their specific options for Mortal Kombat games, but this time i test using Mame4Droid Reloaded, and the game run well. I think Retroarch emulation is fine than this, but this is only a test running the game.

Mortal Kombat 4


Following the Mortal Kombat sage, this game is another hard to be emulated. The game run... well, is not playable, but the test i think is interesting about what the emulator and the device can emulate.

Retroarch Playstation (PSX)


This app really is a suite of emulators integrated in the same interface. Using a common interface, many options are easy to configure, because many of these configs are common between all of the emulators, things such Screen Config, Button Mapping, etc.

This last time this app get important updates that include new cores, and most important, improve performance and features. This solution is an All in One app, that try to get most of the current emulator cores on Android running in the same app.

PSX - Metal Gear Solid 


Classic videogame that is useful to use as test, because many people know it and know how it must run.

In my opinion, the emulation is fine. I'm using a X-Arcade on this demo (i forgot to change the controller for testing this with a sixaxis)

PSX - Strider 2


An action game that run without problems.

PSX - War Gods


Who remember this game? I played this on arcade for many time (but now, i´m a complete noob trying to play this)

The game have some audio issues, but is iplayable in general words.

PSX - Tekken 3


This is one of the most common testings that users do in PSX emulation. The game run well, with good speed and no problems in general.

Pros, cons and improvements.


As in every product, there are pros and cons points that are good to mention in a clear way. These points will help to us to decide if the device features are enough for what the user are looking for in a device of this kind.

Pros are based on features that highlight, comparing the device with another similars, or these features improve the experience of the user.

In the another hand, the cons are these points that worse the experience, or the feature is not enough for fulfill what we expect from the device.

Finally, the improvements pints are some features or specs that i think must be improved in a supposed new version of the device, and will generate a better experience in my opinion.

Pros


  • Very good material quality, robust manufacture and nice look and feel. The device appears to be and is serious.
  • Good ammount of USB ports. 3 Standard and 1 MicroUSB
  • Audio Output Port
  • Audio Input Port (Microphone)
  • The bluetooth module integrated works fine. No disconnections and is so responsive for Bluetooth Controllers such Sixaxis (via Sixaxis Controller App)
  • Very  good quality external antenna
  • System come very clean. No bloatsoftware, no unnecessary programs.
  • Good size for app partition. By default, come with 1GB
  • CIFS support in stock firmware
  • Cold working. I do not perceived very hot zones on the device before an intense usage.
  • New OTA feature included on new firmwares.
  • Including options for standby, turn off and reboot the device when pressing power button.
  • Is a bad point that the original firmware freezes/hang or reboots the device frequently, but is a positive that the manufacturer keep a line of updates for this device, and solve problems like this. In fact, in the same page, the manufacturer keep giving support (releasing updated firmwares), for older versions of this device. This is a very good sign in my oppinion.


Cons


  • There is no dedicated ventilation slots on the device. Is not a very important point, because i do not perceived warming on the device, but ventilation may help to keep cold to CPU
  • Remote Control is so basic, so most probably any keyboard or device will bring more functionality.
  • The remote control need to handle in any way the mouse pointer on the screen to become useful
  • No info about what is and how to use AirClip service.


Improvements


  • Add a sort of flymouse to the package, or adding this functionality to their remote control
  • Add an all in one card reader
  • Add led indicators for common operations: wifi traffic, lan traffic, sdcard access, etc.


Conclusion

This device is one of the best of this kind that i tested, but is not perfect.

Manufacturer appears to be serious, and is concerned about bringing news updates for their devices, inlcuding this Minix NEO X7 that from their release date (on july?) up today, they releases 5 firmwares, adding fixes and improvements to the device.

The device runs well with the stock firmware and will be enough for most of users, but there is a custom firmware from Finless that give some extra features that some users will appreciate.

I think that any customer that will consider in buying this device, will get a quality product and most probably will be a smart and advantage buy, instead other cheapest alternatives that most probably fail on other points.

Set Top Box is a very smart alternative, because their internal space give to the device a way to get ventilated and run cold. TV Sticks have these kind of problem, that need a very good way to keep ventilated the CPU/GPU, and avoid hangs and reboots of the device.

Bluetooth responsive is good, and enough for transform this device in a full featured desktop gaming retro-console, bringing a complete solution of entertainment for home.

Final words


I want to apologize again about my english, because i sure do many mistakes, and i´m not so comfortable to talk freely about what i want, but hope main ideas and concept are ok for most of people, and be understandable.

Writing this was a bit... harder for me, but personal enriching, and i want to do again in future, writing directly in english, because i know many readers uses google translator to read these articles (and i´m so glad to know many people do it)

Was a pleasure on giving all this info for you, and most of all, i hope this will be useful for those people that want to read about this device.

Zalu2!

Deen0X


Dernière édition par Deen0X le Jeu 26 Sep 2013, 18:36, édité 1 fois
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SpikeSpiegel
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Msg n°2 MessageSujet: Re: [REVIEW] Minix NEO X7 Jeu 26 Sep 2013, 18:32

Great! Thanks Deen0x...

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Msg n°3 MessageSujet: Re: [REVIEW] Minix NEO X7 Jeu 26 Sep 2013, 21:12

Great review, thanks!
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Msg n°4 MessageSujet: Re: [REVIEW] Minix NEO X7

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