The MK908 Review – Hands On Experience

I bought my MK908 from TaoBao and have been using it for over a month now. It’s a quad Core Android-based set top box for your TV. Although, the MK808 is pretty nifty, and you can get one for pretty chap, we are interested to test out this new variant with improved CPU and RAM.

The Tronsmart MK908 is an Android HDMI stick with a RK3188 quad core CPU from Rockchip, 2GB of Ram, integrated Blue Tooth and WiFi. It cost me about S$95 inclusive shipping from Taobao. Buying from Taobao was quite an experience though, even after selecting international shipment, the buyer contacted me and asked me to pay additional for shipping. Otherwise, I could have asked for a refund. Overall, it is still cheaper but it is not as easy as buying from Amazon or AliExpress.

mk908_02

On to the device itself. First thing I notice was that the WiFi worked much better than the MK808 which had a range issue. Some Android HDMI sticks have been reported to have heat problems, but the MK908 doesn’t seem to have such issues, although you would need to ensure a good power supply. The default box comes with a 2A charger which is pretty much sufficient. I also tried powering it from my TV and while it had no problems with my LG TV, it crashed repeatedly when I tested it from an old Sharp LCD 32″ TV, so the experience may vary. Another gripe I have is the supplied mini HDMI to HDMI cable is only about 20cm long. That is way too short and often leave my device dangling in mid air.

Overall video playback had also improved somewhat but no surprise on the video acceleration part, the RK3188 integrates a MALI400 GPU, which has proven to be extremely good for video output, since the very first MK802 last year. However, for apps that use Software Decoding, like XBMC, you may encounter some error. I used the libstagefright version of XBMC, which is a hardware-decoding enabled XBMC. You can download it here. I had also used an XBMCHUB version of XBMC which enables hardware-decoding by pushing playback to an external player like XBMC, I didn’t like it that much as some of the plugins wouldn’t work when it transfers to an external player. Although, this results in smoother playback. For the last month, I have been watching alot of streaming content, either through XBMC or Plex and the MK908 has performed up to task.

According to liliputing’s review, the MK908, is one of the fastest Android devices out there, beating the Nexus 7 in benchmarks. The Tronsmart MK908 comes with a full-sized USB port and two mini USB ports. You need to use one of those little ports to supply power to the device. This box is currently running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but you can update it to Android 4.2 or install a custom ROM if you’d like. I am currently using Finless ROM 1.5, with the 720P kernel. I don’t think there’s a need to stress the GPU further at 1080P. You’ll need a keyboard, mouse, or another controller to use the MK908 since it doesn’t come with a remote control or other input device. However, if you own an Android phone, you can install RKRemoteControl.apk (download here) to control the MK908 from your other Android device. It lets you use your Android phone as a mouse / keyboard for the MK908. Thus far, it seems that the app works only if you install the custom Finless ROM.

For the MK908, putting it to flash mode is pretty easy.

1) Remove any SDcard you may have installed.
2) Connected the supplied USB cable from the device OTG port to your PC.
It will power up and windows may detect the device. DO not worry about that. We need it powered up.
3) In the ROM kit run the ROM FLash Tool.exe.
4) YOu should see at the bottom it says “Found RKAndroid Mass Storage USB”
If it does not say that go into settings and make sure that
a) USB storage is turned ON
b) Under developer options, USB debugging is turned off
5) Once it says “Found RKAndroid Mass Storage Usb” in the flash tool click the “Reboot to Flash Mode” button.
6) Wait up to at least 10 seconds. The unit should reboot and the screen for the mk808 will be black (no ouptut).
7) If the unit does not reboot to a blank screen, repeats steps above
Congrats! You are now in flash mode! To get out of it at any time just unplug the USB power to the mk808.
It will boot back up normally out of flash mode.

Sean

Sean is a tech geek and star wars fan. He loves playing with new gadgets, writing little code snippets in Python, JS, and dabbling with Android programming from time to time, while keeping a lookout for the next biggest happening in the world of tech!

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