Minix is very well-known for its wide range of Android PCs. These Android computers have found a sizeable market niche, in bringing the Android operating system to monitors, old TV sets and the many smart TVs which lack the power to be anything more than glorified browsers. The Minix Neo X6 is a budget friendly media hub for the masses.
Packaging And First Glance
The very first thing that you’ll notice when you get your Minix Neo X6, is the packaging. I love it when a device comes in good packaging and Minix has been constantly improving their packaging over the last few couple of years. I’m always pleased that Minix does it’s best to deliver quality from the very first second you set your eyes on their products and I try to point this out whenever I receive one of their devices. Upon unboxing the Neo X6, you find the usual product manual and brochure which shows you the line up of Minix products available.
The Neo X6 sprouts a large, 13 – 14 cm antenna. The entire media hub is made out of a no-excuse soft plastic which is pleasant to hold and see whilst having a sturdy feel to it when picked up. The build feels different from earlier devices and doesn’t have the same pleasant touch as the older X5 mini and X7. On the front of the device is a rectangular plastic slip where the IR receiver is located – an unusual aesthetic feature on MINIX devices which usually houses the IR receiver behind the uni-body shell.
Ports And Connections
The media hub sprouts a variety of ports: a 3.5mm headphone port, 1 HDMI 1.4 port and an ethernet port are all at the back of the devices along with the power port. On the right side of the device: the power button, a micro SD slot and two USB 2.0 ports. The X6 also connects via WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. When streaming media, it is important to note that the X6 does not support 4K playback, only Full HD 1080p.
The X6 was designed as a low-cost model for those who want to stream full HD 1080p video but isn’t meant as a gaming device, primarily due to the lower end Graphic Processing Unit (GPU). It boasts a quad-core cortex A5 chip, the Amlogic SoC S805, which is specifically targeted towards the android TV hub market. Minix are touting that they have fine tuned the SoC to the needs of this device and are betting that this SoC will replace the Rockchip RK3066 devices as well as compete with the Rockchip RK3188 devices on the market.
The Mali-450 GPU uses the Utgard microarchitecture and is the device’s limiting agent, when it comes to deciding whether to buy the X6. It was not designed to process high quality graphics, and those looking for something along those lines would be better off going for the higher end beast, X8-H Plus (keeping in mind that it is also roughly twice the price). The RAM, which is at 1 GB, is adequate however 2 GB would have been a nice addition and an aide in future proofing the X6. The Android hub also comes with 8 GB of internal storage.
Software And Performance
First and foremost, when buying the X6, you are buying an Android KitKat device and that comes with all the perks and downsides of owning an Android device as well. Whilst previous Minix iterations struggled somewhat in this part of the market (as did most OEMs), that appears to no longer be the case. Minix now supports OTA updates and the Metro UI is one of the nicer Android PC launchers. Even if it isn’t your cup of tea, you can simply choose to forego the Neo X6’s android treatment and choose stock android or any other launcher you’d like to install onto it. I have personally found the XBMC android rendition to be my favourite launcher for the Neo X6. Besides being aesthetically appealing, it is also a practical launcher for an operating system which was primarily designed for touch interfaces.
One of the biggest advantages the Neo X6 brings to your TV, monitor or projector, is access to the Google Play Store. With over 1 million apps and services, this is by far the biggest advantage to owning an Android PC. I have often stated, that devices like the Neo X6 are a way to turn any screen into a low cost PC. That being said, most applications are not optimised for these larger, non-touch screens, so you must expect some hiccups here and there whilst surfing the multitude of apps available. One may also want to consider purchasing a handheld console as well as a keyboard for easier navigation and more enjoyable gaming. Although the Neo X6 does come with a remote, it get’s very frustrating trying to go through the interface by just pressing side arrows. This problem has been faced by all Smart TVs and it’s why most choose to buy a third party controller. Minix offers the Neo M1 airmouse and Neo A2, both of which I shall take a more in-depth look at in upcoming reviews.
As I mentioned above, the X6 is designed to handle media and not gaming. This showed in it’s performance tests. Although performing well when handling Full HD movies, anything which required greater graphics processing, such as Asphalt 8, was met with skipped frames or long loading times. Simpler, less graphic intensive games did perform properly and if you’re only a light gamer, you should have no trouble with the Neo X6.
The Minix Neo X6 is on sale on Amazon in the US for as little as $72 and in Europe for approximately €89/£70. The Minix Neo X6 brings the Android OS, the ability to play games and stream media, in a small package, at a very decent price. At such a cheap price, it’s an indirect competitor of the more refined and specialised major media hubs offered by Amazon, Roku and Hulu. For more details about the Minix Neo X6, you can head over to the Minix website. Are you a Minix owner? Have any questions about the Neo X6? Let us know below!