Well it had to come. We’ve seen rocketing progress in phones and tablets, why not TV PC add-ons? These little HMDI pluggable computers are around the size of a matchbox and instantly convert your humble flat screen television into a digitally intelligent monster capable of letting you browse the web, play games and more, courtesy of the ever present Android operating system.
The Halo Android Mini Quad Core PC TV represents the latest generation of these ‘TV dongles’, and really blows the specs out of the water. The thing features a quad core 1.6GHz processor, 1GB RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, a 2 megapixel camera with microphone, 8GB internal storage with support for microSD cards up to 32GB and more.
The product comes in an attractively designed package, with the full range of bits and pieces you’d expect, including a competent user guide, an HDMI cable and a USB power block with charger cable. Gone are the days when you got a bare bones white box and a flimsy photocopied user manual.
The box itself is, unusually, rather more square than the typical USB stick shape of these dongles, but it’s quite attractive in a minimal design way. There are no protruding bits, and reassuringly a set of cooling vents on the bottom, as we know from experience these things get warm in use. The one thing missing in our view, seeing as it comes with a camera, is any kind of bracket for attaching to the TV, you need to either lay it down at the base, or use some Blu-Tack and imagination. The power cord could also do with being a little longer for this purpose.
The unit also comes with a good set of ports, including DC power microUSB, a microSD card slot, two full sized USB slots (very useful if you’re using wired keyboard and mouse), HDMI slot for connecting to the TV, headphones out and an OTG microUSB slot for attaching external hard drives or other data storage accessories. Nicely equipped.
This is a crackingly fast unit, and really eats up the data processing, which you’d expect with the quad core 1.6GHz processor and quad core graphics processor cranking away. The device runs apps flawlessly, is great for surfing and for running high resolution video from video apps such as iPlayer or YouTube, and the games run brilliantly. The one thing with games of course, is the fact that you really need a games controller to play properly, because a keyboard and mouse, or trackpad, really can’t mimic a touchscreen well enough.
See our video review below for the hands on experience.
This little box is actually a marvel of engineering, cramming a huge amount of very cool tech in a box around the size of a matchbox. The device copes excellently with just about everything you can throw at it, including games, browsing, media and movie playing and the works. The only main issue we had with it, and this seems to be common with most of these current Android dongles, is the camera, which we had problems getting to work. The resolution of the camera is also not yet as good as it could/should be, but we’re confident that these issues will be fixed fairly soon as the technology matures.
Overall it’s a great way to upgrade your old television to a new intelligent (smart?) TV, and let you access the growing amount of content which is being delivered via your Internet connection. The unit is priced at $89.86 / £56.12 and comes with a 12 months warranty.
OS Version: Android 4.2
CPU: RK3188 Quad Core
GPU: Mali-400MP4 Quad-Core
Processor Speed (max): 1.6GHz
Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
2 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera
Video Resolution: 640×480
Power Source: Power Adapter or USB Cable
2x USB Ports
Micro SD Card Slot
3.5 mm Audio Out Port
Micro USB Port
Micro USB Port (For DC IN)
Main product dimensions: 95x60x15mm (L x W x D)
Main product weight: 48g