There’s no question that hooking your television up to the Internet to widen the choice of entertainment you can consume is huge at the moment. Cord cutters (those who are shutting down their cable subscription) and satellite TV refuges are everywhere. Which explains the popularity of the cheap Android TV boxes which you can plug into your TV and WiFi network to make your telly smarter. Now there’s a new wave of these boxes arriving which offer recording as well. We test one of them out.
The Tronsmart Pavo M9 is a fairly standard quad-core Android TV box with 1 GB RAM, a 1.5GHz processor and 4K resolution support. It runs Android 4.4, and at first glance offers nothing special in terms of features or performance. But underneath that nondescript exterior lies a racy little fellow who likes nothing more than to record material from either another Android box, a DVD or other HDMI output device. Check out our video below to see how it works in practice.
The device comes in a reasonable package, which includes all the bits you need to connect and do the job. An HDMI cable, power block and charge cable, a remote control and a user’s guide are all included. The remote is pretty basic, i.e. it’s not an air mouse, but it does the job once you insert the two AA batteries (not included).
The truth is there’s nothing really spectacular about this box at all, until you navigate to one particular icon. But before you do that, you’ll need to plug the M9 into another HDMI video device. In our test we plugged it into an older Android TV Box (also coincidentally a Tronsmart). You do this by doing a daisy chain. Take a cable from the M9 HDMI in port and plug it into the other Android box HDMI out socket. Then take a cable from the M9 HMDI out port into the TV. Connect both boxes to the WiFi in your home and you’re ready to go.
Now comes the fiddly bit. As you’ll see from the video above, you need to switch between the two remote controls. Power them both up, then use the M9 remote to hit the HDMI IN icon on-screen (1), then the box will switch view to the older box. At which point you set up the content you want to record (2), hit the Menu button the M9 remote and press OK to start recording (3).
The result is a nicely recorded video of whatever was playing on your screen at the time. You get some options to tweak the quality (and therefore filesize) of the recording, as well as setting up automatic video length in case you only want to record a specific amount of content at any time. The key thing, however, is the fact that the resulting video quality is rather good, and definitely watchable. It’s not top top quality, but good enough to enjoy.
On the face of it the Pavo M9 is a competent, if unexciting addition to the Android TV box market, but when you factor in the cool recording function the whole picture changes. Up till now it has been problematical to do a decent recording from an Android box, and the video results have been less than stellar. But with this new device all that changes, and while it’s still a bit clunky in that you have to use two remote controls, this is definitely the way these boxes will go in future.
We expect to see all-in-one devices reach the shelves within the next 18 months, which should improve things greatly. In the meantime, if you’ve been looking for a quick and easy way to record from your digital Internet television feed, this is an option you should seriously look at.
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
CPU: MSTAR MSO9180D1R Cortex A9 r4 Quad Core Processor , MSTAR
RAM: 1GB DDR3
ROM: 8GB eMMc
Wifi Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n
Resolution: 4K*2K and H265(HEVC)
HDMI Port: Standard HDMI female, Support HDMI IN,Support HDMI-CEC
HDMI Version HDMI 1.4b
1 x RJ-45 Ethernet Jack (100Mbps) – Supports hotsport sharing via Wi-Fi
1 x TF card reader
1 x USD 3.0 port
2 x USD 2.0 port(one could be a OTG port)
1 x HDMI IN
1 x Composite video and audio port
1 x Optical SPDIF
1 x IR receiver
Other Function: Built in XBMC ZIDOO version, support dolby dts hardware decoding
Power: DC 12V/2A
Dimension: 145 x 145 x 25mm