We have found another great set-top smart box solution running Android that helps deliver your favorite apps and features to even the dumbest HDTVs on the market (assuming they have an HDMI connection at least). This round we have the G-Box Q3 Android Box by Matricom, a good solution for those looking to keep costs down while getting all of the bells and whistles crammed into a tiny little box that sits nearly by your TV.
It features Android Nougat (7.1) inside and a quite user-friendly interface where they organize everything into your typical categories, including Videos, Music, Apps, Games and Live TV. Powering it all is a Amlogic S905X quad-core processor joined with a Mali-450 graphics processor that offers up to eight graphic cores, providing all you need to be on your way with your favorite movies, TV, music and more.
It offers support for all of your favorite streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and more. You pretty much get to have fun with the Google Play Store and download whatever you want. Need some Amazon Prime Video? Then download yourself the Amazon Prime Video app and have at it.
The same thing applies to music. If you can download it to an Android Tablet, you should be able to download it to the Matricom G-Box. It comes preloaded with a number of music apps like Pandora and Spotify. You can of course download any other favorite to really get a collection started.
The fact that it features two speedy processors means that you will rocket through menus pretty quickly and zip right in and out of apps. It delivers this experience pretty well and the streamed quality of media is pretty much limited to your connection (and TV). This includes 4K in fact as we successfully were able to stream a 4K video on YouTube just fine as well as a 4K test file we used against it. It does seem to have problems with x265 files though at this resolution. Everything else seems to go pretty smoothly.
It also features all the apps you get to take advantage of thanks to Google’s Play Store. It already comes with things like the Chrome browser, Kodi, Facebook, Gmail and more (much more). Then you can fill in any gaps as required from the store.
Don’t forget all of the games in the store as well. So many Android games to download and play. Simply connect a Bluetooth controller (or USB) and enjoy both free and purchasable games. The selection of games is enormous. Matricom also offers their own optional wireless gaming controller that you can purchase.
This unit is light-years better than some of the boxes we have tested in the distant past when Android TV was only starting to really become a thing. It isn’t one of the best, but some of the best units will take you above $100 in price where this one currently rests around $80, making it a pretty darn good buy.
The only thing that really bothered us about it was that parts of the UI become difficult to tell what it selected and what isn’t Sometimes certain buttons or objects don’t highlight at all or their animation is so minimal you can’t tell which object is selected when moving around with the remote. When this happened, we switched on mouse-mode with the controller or opted for keyboard and mouse.
That last part is where it really shines as it has two USB ports on the back that allows you to connect just about anything when it comes to accessories. Gaming controller? Sure if Android in general supports it; Keyboard and mouse? Absolutely!; flash driver or other external USB hard drive solution? Yep! When we plugged in a small nano-USB receiver for a small wireless Logitech keyboard and mouse set, it began to work immediately. At this point we were in and out of screens within seconds. This is great since the mouse-mode on the remote drags really slow making it a little annoying. The fact that you can connect a storage device is also wonderful since you can load it full of music or movies and now it’s all accessible from this box via remote, keyboard and/or mouse.
The USB ports are only 2.0, so you won’t get the world’s greatest transfer speeds, but you will mostly be reading more than writing to such a device anyway and most consumers wouldn’t be doing too much (activity-wise) that would require anything faster.
Speaking of available ports, you also get an SD card slot on the side that allows you to do the same with a card. The back side also has an ethernet port if you prefer to go wired for internet, as well as optical-out for sound.
The box/packaging also includes a pretty cool little sword to swing around and smack other tiny little things with. Made of metal so that it may prove to be quite sturdy, maybe you could get a few pet mice to dual it out. Unless of course, you decide to use it for what it is really intended for, which is a small hole on the back of the unit that is used to reset the device back to factory settings with.
It offers a speedy on and off with the remote since it doesn’t truly turn all the way off. Like an Xbox One, it simply goes into a quick sleep mode. When you hit the power button on the remote again, the unit is on and ready within a second. If you ever needed to fully turn it off, you would simply hold the button down for a few seconds until it gives you the option. When you turn it on next, it will go through the full boot-up process.
As for the initial setup of the device, the steps are pretty fluid as it walks you through everything:
- Plug the unit in. It will begin to boot up.
- It runs you through pairing the remote by pressing the home and menu key for two seconds.
- You will then choose your language.
- It walks you through adjusting the resolution to your screen
- Then you choose a wireless network to connect to or plug in an ethernet cable for wired connections.
- It runs through a system update check — this may take a second as it takes awhile to find the update and then the download of the update goes a little slow (so it is either a very slow connection to their server, or the update includes a pretty large file — reminds me a little bit of an Xbox console update).
- At this point you are in but upon doing most things, it is going to ask you to sign into a Google/Gmail account for the purpose that it is a Google Android ran box. So you need to associate it to an account for downloading apps, customizing things and syncing to the cloud (etc).
Matricom has a nice/fun/clean logo that pops up during boot each time (full boot). Reminds me of a MegaMan head/helmet shot for some reason. I don’t know why but I felt it was important to point that out.
At this point, you are all set. You can begin logging into all of your favorite services and surrounding yourself with an unlimited selection of media. Plug in a drive filled to the rim with media files and you have so much more. You can use it to scroll through family photos as background material when family is over/visiting. You can run a slideshow presentation or a looping video and hide it behind a mounted TV to use as signage at a business or event. Your options are looking pretty good for the price of $80.
The remote it comes with seems to be pretty basic. You have your power button on top that triggers the on/off of the unit as well as the full shutdown and boot if you hold it down. There is a directional pad with an ok/selection button in the middle. Under that you have a menu, back and home button that helps get you around the screens with. Then you have a volume button (so you don’t have to reach for the TV’s remote for this simple task) and finally the mouse button. The mouse button switches between regular remote mode and the mouse mode. The mouse mode simply places a mouse cursor on the screen. The directional pad will control its movement and the ok button becomes your mouse click. Single taps of the directional pad doesn’t do much, so you would spend most of your time holding it down.
Again, we felt it to be a pretty slow process since it moves in such short steps, so you might find yourself using a wireless mouse and/or keyboard instead like we did during out tests of it.
Finally, the big question: “what’s in the darn box!?”–Well, you get a power adapter to plug it into the wall with, an HDMI cable to plug it into your TV with, two AAA batteries for the remote and the cool little sowed I was talking about. Beyond that you get a small card that walks you through the remote and its functions as well as where to go online if you have any questions (and of course you get the G-Box and the remote).
It’s a great little Android Box to match up to your TV with. The processing power delivers all of your favorite videos and music to you with little trouble (like I said, we ran into some hiccups with H.265 encoded 4K files, so you might want to stay away from that one format at least). You have all of Google’s Play Store to have fun with and the menus and apps are quick to get in and out of. With having a price of around $80, it stands tall along with its competition making it a great option for many.
|Buy from Amazon
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
|12.5 x 12. 4 x 2.1 cm
|Amlogic S905x Quad-Core @ 2GHz
|Penta-Core Mali-450 (up to 750 MHz+)
|2GB DDR3 RAM
|16 GB Flash Drive (plus, external drive support)
|Android Nougat 7.1 Full Version
|Broadcom 5G802, 11 Dual-Band
|V4.0 Low Power, Full Duplex
|10/100 Full Duplex
|MI 2.0, SD/SDHC/MMC, (2) USB 2.0, Optical Audio Output
|Remote Control, Power Supply, HDMI Cable
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