Android Set Top Boxes / Android-on-a-stick
We have all seen them, these little guys
Androids on sticks, essentially not much bigger than a flash drive, yet they are little android smartphones or "Mini PC's".
Some of you have seen them, some of you (like myself) probably even bought one, and in some aspects they're great, play a little game here and there, little web brosing, netflix or something.
But then you go and run something like XBMC or Plex on them, and thats where it all falls apart, you see, the majority of the cheap androids on sticks come with Allwinner A10 SoC's , which are terrible, on the XBMC wiki it actually says to stay away from these things or anything powered by one, because its all closed source,and because of that they cant do hardware or software video decoding on it , and there is a special video processor that apparently let it decode 2160p , obviously i cant try that because i dont have a 4k video and a 4k Telly to test it on so it's their word really, but that VPU is closed, and nothing can grab into it, so whilst it may run android relatively well ( and on a few of them even ubuntu 12.04) running even an SD video on XBMC with stutter to no end, and HD 720 or 1080p is completely out of the question, it's annoying, because it can run the relatively heavy skin confluence, and even Aeon Nox without any or very few hiccups, but then it tries to play a video and is all like "sorry bro im all out of juice".
My question is, why are they all like this? why are they all made with these cheap SoC's in them, whether they are Allwinner, or AMLogic, or Rockchip or some other unknown ARM Licensee which have next to no documentation for dev work? and there are so many clones that buying an original is dificult, i actually bricked one of mine, it was sold as a rikomagic MK802+ , and it had something completely different inside and just wouldnt work, some are sold as dual-core and are single core, the dual-core Rockchip (the RK3066 if you must know) has been documented to have terrible overheating problems and crappy wifi performance, so there is a metric boatload of these sticks with them why?
And also there is ther software, android just sucks on a TV can we come out and say it, unless you heavily customise it like the OUYA and gamestick guys are doing its not an enjoyable experience, and dont get me started on those "Air remotes" those are always crappy, you shouldn't have to have a curser on your TV, i mean there is launchers like this :
actually called TV Launcher, and they are just big arse tiles that you can comfortably navigate with a remote, but you shouldnt have to go and find a launcher, and either struggle with a remote or you the horrible paradigm of mouse and keyboard from 10 feet away trying to see in the playstore for TVLauncher, and what is up with the navbar? the navbar looks even worse on a 32" TV than it does on a 10" tablet.
if you could hide the Navbar and boot straight into XBMC or Plex, that'd be great, the remote could have Home,Back,Recents and search on it.
and the remote, why can a remote not have, up down,left,right and enter D-Pad, home,back,recent and search button, volume controls would be nice but not a necessity.
and back to hardware, now , is there a reason that no one uses Snapdragons, or Exynos' or OMAPs? is it because of licensing costs? RAM is dead cheapo why not throw a Gig or 2 in there.
form factor, i dont care if it was in the USB stck form factor that you can hide behind your TV or one of thesse guys :
that you put under the TV, i dont care, both are acceptable.
but why cant we have a Snapdragon 400 with an Adreno 320 in there, or a dual core Exynos thats in the S II with the Mali-400MP , with 2GB of RAM, local storage doesnt really matter because i'll be streaming from a NAS but put in like 8 or 16GB for system storage.
is this too much to ask? is a streaming device that isn't the Apple TV too much to ask for? i really dont wnt an Apple TV, and these Android on a stick things could be great, if they stopped using terrible SoC'sand there was a way to boot straight to XBMC/Plex, and terrible Remotes, oh god please stop with the Air-motes they are a bad solution to a bad work paradigm.
Am i crazy, am an idiot, should i just go buy a an Apple TV or a Pivos XIOS and be done? i really dont want to build yet another HTPC, i want one of these ARM solutions because they are teeny tiny and take almost no power. share your thought below