First Look: $69 G-Box Dyno Android 4.0 mini PC with ARM Cortex-A9

The G-Box Dyno is tiny desktop computer that sits in the palm of your hand. It’s got the guts of an Android smartphone or tablet, but it doesn’t have a display or touchscreen. Instead you plug in a keyboard, mouse, remote control, and TV or monitor to run Android apps on a big screen.

G-Box Dyno Mini PC

At first glance the G-Box Dyno looks nearly identical to the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC that was released earlier this year. But the Dyno has a faster processor, better ventilation, and comes with a remote control. And it sells for just $69 (or less).

The folks at Android TV Box sent me a unit to review. Here are some initial impressions.

The PC-on-a-stick features an Amlogic AML8726 ARM Cortex-A9 single core processor. That’s the same chip used in Diamond Multimedia AMP1000, although the G-Box Dyno costs sells for just over half the price of that media player.

It features 1GB of RAM, 4GB of built-in storage, a microSD card slot for extra storage, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, HDMI output, a full-sized USB port, and a mini USB port.

The mini PC comes with an HDMI cable, power cable, and an infrared remote control which you can use to navigate through the Android user interface even if you don’t plug in a keyboard or mouse.

The remote has arrow buttons, volume keys, an OK/select button, and Android keys for basic functions including home, back, zoom, and opening the app drawer.

The G-Box Dyno comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and ships with a custom app launcher which bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Microsoft Bob. It offers quick and not particularly intuitive shortcuts to the web browser, media apps, file browser, and settings.

Unlike some Android mini PCs I’ve seen recently, the G-Box Dyno does not come pre-rooted, so if you want root access to files, folders, and settings, you’ll need to find a way to root the device yourself.

Fortunately the device also includes a more standard Android launcher app if you want to customize the home screen with the app icons and widgets that you use most often. You can also download and install third party app launchers from the Google Play Store, because the Dyno comes with Google’s app store preloaded.

The Amlogic processor is significantly faster than the Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex-A8 chip in the MK802, and the new device feels much more responsive than that little computer.

It probably also helps that the Dyno also has 1GB of RAM, while the MK802 on my desk has just 512MB (I bought it before 1GB models were available).

On the other hand, while I’ve never had problems picking up a WiFi signal on the MK802, the G-Box Dyno is a little more finicky. My router is in the first floor of our house, while my office is on the third floor. Sometimes the Dyno noticed the router, sometimes it didn’t. In order to get online, I had to enable the mobile hotspot feature on my phone to share my 3G connection.

While you can use the Dyno as a little Android powered computer, it’s designed to be used as a TV companion. It comes with a pre-release version of the XBMC media center application for Android. The user interface is pretty snappy, and it can handle video playback reasonably well.

I wasn’t able to get the Netflix app from the Google Play Store to function at all, but I had more luck once I installed Diamond Multimedia’s build for the AMP1000 media player. The user interface is very sluggish, but once videos start playing they look fine.

The official YouTube app force closed whenever I tried to open it.

I’ll be trying out more apps on the G-Box Dyno in the coming weeks, and keeping an eye out for third party development. I’m interested to see if anyone manages to get Ubuntu or other Linux-based operating systems up and running on this type of hardware.

But despite the goofy custom app launcher and mediocre WiFi performance, I could certainly think of worse ways to spend $69. The G-Box Dyno certainly isn’t the best little internet TV box money could buy, but for the price it’d be tough to find one that’s quite this versatile.

  • nards barley

    “I could certainly think of worse ways to spend $69…but for the price it’d be tough to find one that’s quite this versatile..”

    I am counting on the $65 MK808 (after $ newbie coupon) to be more versatile, although I have some concerns about it now.

    http://www.armtvtech.com/armtvtechforum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=22&sid=bb5f90f1e5353997f2943f4eb54bbed6

    • nards barley

      plus I had to buy an air mouse for $17 which has got to be better than one in cluded with this unit.

  • W00fer

    Any pics of this thing opened up, so we can see the IR receiver and chipset layout? Thanks.

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      The IR receiver is something you plug in. You can see it in one of the pictures.

  • http://twitter.com/codedivine rahul garg

    Brad can you run this memory bandwidth benchmark (takes about 10-15 seconds): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.codedivine.rgbenchbw

    Leave all options at default and simply press “Run”.

    Disclosure: It is my own app, but just interested in knowing the results.

  • Peter Pan

    The price of 69$ isn’t that attractive if you live outside US…buying it from ebay from the seller mentioned in the article doesn’t make any sense than…better go for UG802 or MK808

  • Devlon Macormister

    performance is lower than rk3066 but i bet this one can get some linux support faster

    if this got linux support and vga drivers it would be golden as i am itching for past 6 months to get one ofthese sticks with a dualcore and linux to run as a backup video steamer and a basic html/php server for development and testing..

    • Voice of reason

      I don’t believe it has dual core. The “mx” is not claimed by the G-Box Dyno web site

  • max

    It can’t be a Amlogic 8726-mx which is a dualcore cpu. It must be Amlogic 8726-M3 which is single core with Mali400x1 or may be Amlogic 8726 – M3L which is with single core but with dualmali. But i still doubt until we see the circuit board.

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      You’re right, this is a single core CPU. According to Antutu, it’s an Amgloic 8726M SKT SH.

  • Kerem

    I can’t see internal storage, there is just 512 Mb system storage , Where is the 4GB ? is there any one has any idea or help me?

  • http://games25.com/ Zombie Zombev

    It is cheap and solid device if you ask me. For that money you can get better one.