If you’re looking for a powerful media hub that runs on Android for your TV and you don’t mind it running version 4.4 (Kitkat), the Minix NEO X8-H Plus is a great option. It basically turns your TV or LCD monitor with an HDMI connection into a smart TV or Android desktop. If you choose to use the Android launcher instead of Minix’s custom launcher, it will look exactly like an Android phone or tablet.
If you’re already familiar with Android OS, there’s not much to learn when it comes to actually using Minix since it works just like an Android device. Personally, I’m not fond of the “Minix Metro” launcher (pictured below) and rarely use it. The default Android launcher, though, feels right at home.
Before going any further, let’s see what you get when you purchase this Android box.
Box Contents and Accessories
Here’s what comes inside the box:
- Minix NEO X8-H Plus box
- Minix IR-Remote
- Dual Band Antenna
- Power Adapter
- HDMI Cable
- USBA Cable
- OTG Cable
Additionally, you’ll also receive Minix’s own NEO A2 Lite remote control, which is a nice added bonus. Trust me, the Minix IR-Remote that comes in the box just doesn’t compare, and you’ll probably never even use it.
Setting Up the Minix NEO X8-H Plus
Before setting up the Minix Android box, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with all of the buttons, ports and jacks it has.
- Power button
- Headphone jack
- Microphone jack
- USB 2.0 ports (three total)
- SD/MMC card slot
- OTG port
- Recover button
- HDMI port
- Optical audio port
- Ethernet jack (it also supports WiFi)
- DC 5V power-in jack
As you can see, from USB ports to a headphone jack, the possibilities of how to use this box are practically endless. For instance, if you don’t have a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, you can connect it for more convenient navigation.
To connect the box to your TV or monitor, you’ll need an HDMI cable and an available outlet for the power adapter. That’s it. The TV or monitor you connect to can be 720p, 1080p, or even 4k (yes, this box supports it).
For navigation, you can choose to use the included remote, the A2 Lite remote (also included), a wired mouse, a USB wireless mouse, a Bluetooth mouse, a USB air mouse / gyro-mouse, or even a remote control app for your Android device.
When you first turn the box on, you will be sent to the Minix Metro launcher by default. However, pressing the “home” button on the remote will prompt you to go to the Android default launcher or Minix Metro. Like with any Android device, you can choose to use that launcher just once or always.
You’ll then want to set up your WiFi if you’re not connected via an Ethernet cable. You can do that in Settings (same as you would on your Android mobile device). Once you’re connected to the Internet, it’s smooth sailing.
The Google Play Store is also included so that you can download all of the apps you want and need. With 16GB of space and the ability to insert a micro-SD card or flash drive for extra storage, you should have plenty of room for your apps.
I’d recommended accessing your media via XBMC, Plex or something similar, though, or attaching an external hard drive. There’s no point in using up your space for this when there are so many other options / ways to do it.
Using Minix as a Media Center
Since the Minix NEO X8-H Plus comes preinstalled with Kodi (Previously known as XBMC) (Minix edition with full hardware decoding support), it only makes sense to use it for managing and playing videos, music, games, viewing pictures, etc. If you enjoy Kodi, you’ll love that feature. Personally, I prefer Plex and have a Plex Pass subscription to help support the developers, so I can only vouch for Plex’s functionality on the box.
Currently, I have absolutely no complaints. Plex works perfectly and is the main app that I use on Minix. It’s the only app I use for viewing media besides YouTube – although my husband does use Netflix from time to time.
This box was clearly made for media watching because everything looks crystal clear, and there’s never any lag. I wish I could say the same about other media boxes I’ve tried. Even my smart TV doesn’t look or play as well as Minix does, which I’m really shocked about.
It goes without saying that you can use any Android app you choose on the box to watch TV shows and movies, listen to music, and play games. It all depends on your preference. As I said, I prefer Plex for TV shows and movies since I download them to my computer and access them through Plex. However, for music, I prefer Spotify.
The Minix NEO X8-H Plus also makes a great gaming device, especially if you’re using it on a big screen TV. I only have a 42″ television, but I love how crispy the games look. My personal favorite is a Nintendo emulator that allows me to download ROMS (via the browser) and play them right on Minix.
I also connect my gamepad via Bluetooth, and I can literally play for hours. I prefer old school games, so it’s quite a treat for me. If you play any regular Android games that support a gamepad, that’s sure to be fun as well.
The A2 Lite Remote Control
The NEO A2 Lite remote is an air mouse that pairs flawlessly with any Minix Android box. While there is a nice selection of buttons that you can use to navigate and perform actions, the air mouse is a breath of fresh air and gives you even more control and flexibility.
You just press a button to activate it, point the remote at the screen, and control the mouse pointer by moving the remote around in any direction. If you’re familiar with the Wii wand controller, it works exactly like that.
If you hate entering text on-screen one letter at a time, you’ll love the full QWERTY keyboard featured on the other side of the remote. Just turn the remote over and you can type away as if you’re on your mobile device – using your thumbs.
The remote also features a six-axis gyroscope, accelerometer support, multi-media playback buttons, and built-in IR transmitter. It runs on 2 AAA batteries (not included), has a range of up to ten meters, and is a dream to use. Even when the remote is not directly facing the box, it still picks it up and navigates flawlessly.
The only issue I have found is that the power button is not very responsive. It works okay once the device is on (to turn it off, restart or put to sleep), but I always end up pressing the actual power button on the Minix Neo X8-H Plus box itself because pressing the power button on the A2 Lite remote is frustrating. Sometimes it works after pressing five or six times, but it’s just quicker to press it on the actual box.
I’ve only scratched the surface of this powerful Android box. I even forgot to mention that there is an LED indicator that turns blue when the box is on. It’s tiny and hard to see from far away, but it’s there. Also, the recovery button can be used together with the OTG port when connecting the box to a PCO for service/manual upgrade purposes.
As you can see this box delivers on quality and functionality. If you are looking for a belated holiday gift or just want a good Android box for yourself, this one is highly recommended.