Tronsmart MK908 quad-core Android TV stick performance (video)

The Tronsmart MK908 is an Android TV stick with a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and strong WiFi performance. Like other Android sticks I’ve tried, it’s designed to let you run Android apps on a TV, and it’s probably one of the best devices of its type I’ve tested in the past year.

Geekbuying sells the MK908 for about $90, and the company sent me a unit to test.

908_01

The MK908 looks a bit like a chunky USB flash drive. But it’s a full-fledged mini computer with a Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor. Out of the box it runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but it’s possible to upgrade the firmware and new software (or custom ROMs) become available.

On one end of the stick you’ll find a mini HDMI port. The other features a full-sized USB port and a mini USB port. On one side there’s a microSD card slot, and on another there’s a second mini USB port.

Use the included HDMI cable to connect the MK908 to a TV and plug the power supply into the mini USB port on the end and the device should boot into Android in under a minute. There’s also a mini USB to full-sized USB adapter in the box in case you want to plug in more than one USB peripheral.

For instance you could connect a keyboard and mouse, a remote control and a gamepad, or other hardware that Android should automatically detect.

In my tests I used two different wireless keyboard and mouse or touchpad options, and both worked just fine.

The MK908 features built-in 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. I haven’t really tried out the Bluetooth function, but WiFi performance is great. I’ve had problems getting some other Android TV sticks (and tablets) to work in my third floor office because my wireless router is on the first floor. The MK908 works just fine anywhere in the house.

It’s also one of the fastest Android devices I’ve ever tested. While it doesn’t score quite as well in benchmarks as the Cube U30GT2 tablet (which is interesting, since they both have the same processor and the same amount of RAM), it’s faster than the Google Nexus 7 tablet with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU or the Coby MID8065, which has an Amlogic AM8726 dual-core processor.

MK908 benchmarks

In terms of real-world activities, the MK908 opens web pages quickly, streams audio and video over the internet without problems, and has full access to the Google Play Store, where you can download hundreds of thousands of apps.

For $90 you can get a device capable of running far more apps than you’d get on any set-top-box running Google TV. Unfortunately you also get a user interface that’s designed for touchscreens rather than remote controls — and some apps that are available for Google TV such as Amazon Video aren’t available for Android devices like the MK908.

Still, if you connect a wireless keyboard and mouse you can use the MK908 to turn your TV into an internet-connected media center. It streams videos from Netflix and Google Play Videos without any problems at all.

I was also able to stream videos from a shared network drive. Since I have a home theater PC set up as a digital video recorder, I have hundreds of TV shows and movies hanging out on a hard drive. Rather than transfer those files to the MK908, I can stream them using a video player such as MX Player.

Unfortunately performance was a bit shakier when I tried using the XBMC media center app for Android. Right now it appears there’s not support for hardware-accelerated video playback in XBMC, so some videos had low frame rates and audio/video sync issues.

It also took longer to load my video folder and launch videos using XBMC. That’s a shame, because XBMC is designed for big-screen devices like televisions, while MX Player is designed for smartphones and tablets. But XBMC is also still under active development and it’s possible that future builds will work better on devices like the Tronsmart MK908.

As it is, I wasn’t able to run XBMC 12.1 at all. It was only after installing XBMC 13 Alpha 2 that I was able to run the media center software on this mini PC.

Tronsmart ships the MK908 pre-rooted, which means you can install apps that require root permissions such as Titanium Backup.

The Tronsmart MK908 is available for purchase from Geekbuying for $90.

  • Juraj

    can it run ubuntu? what about resolution, can new firmware fix 720p to 1080p?

  • Zaatour36

    thanks for the detailed review, its been a long time since I read a full article (thumbs up :) )

    Geekbuys is so horrible in customer service, or even responding to customers, I made an order last Thursday for Tronsmart T428, and just last Monday they responded that it wasn’t available.
    I asked them to change to Tronsmart MK908 same day and time, but finally after emails and Facebook messages they responded yesterday, and said will be shipped same day or today, yet nothing have changed!

    • Kerry Hales

      I have never had an issue with Geekbuying. I think, in your case, they simply ran out. They are constantly updating the ROMS and doing cool things like Rooting the device and providing better XBMC. I agree they could do better, but I have no problem getting things from them.

  • http://twitter.com/kryptonite_2448 Josh

    Can you touch upon adding SportsDevil repo in XBMC and what kind of quality of video you’re able to get when doing so?

  • Cj

    Any chance some other form of Linux like Ubuntu or lubuntu will run?

    • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

      It will in time but the RK3188 is too recent to have community support and Rockchip is famous for not providing any other support than for Android.

      • someone

        That sucks. I guess I’ll pass on them. Don’t want Android.

    • Androihub Ye

      Last week,Kimdecent Technoloy told me the price for MK908 came down.

      http://www.aliexpress.com/store/803232

  • fwupow

    So I’m trying to figure why “Tronsmart” needs to market both an MK908 and a T428 when they appear to be almost identical products.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremiahbyong Jeremiah Yong

      one has a female hdmi port and the other has a male hdmi port

      • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

        It’s about time that MiniPCs abandoned male in favor or female HDMI connectors. Hopefully other PCStick manufacturers will do the same.
        I don’t know anyone who plugged a PCStick directly into their HDTV’s female HDMI connector. Standard HDMI cables are male-male and female-female couplers cost about US$5.

    • http://twitter.com/strauzo strauzo

      The t428 have a different wifi module that is new and support also 5ghz that is usefull for miracast and wifi direct

      • Marzel

        How do you come to this conclusion? As far as I am informed both sticks have a Broadcom AP6330.

      • http://twitter.com/cnxsoft Embedded Software

        MK809 -> AP6210

    • Adoan412

      mini usb vs micro usb, the ability to run hdmi from the box rather than it be some flash drive style product, those two aesthetic details alone sealed the deal for me on the MK908.

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

      Actually, that seems to be the same price.

  • SeanKPS

    “The other features a full-sized HDMI port and a mini USB port”
    — you mean USB

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremiahbyong Jeremiah Yong

      actually there is a mini usb port…

      • SeanKPS

        yeah, several USB not several HDMI

      • SeanKPS

        negitv

  • xs2pkt07

    Yes, I have a question similar to SeanKPS,
    Do you mean two HDMI (mini and full) or a full USB?

    I was curious to get an android stick/tv that has an additional HDMI-in, to connect my set-up box and use android as an common hub for TV. Unfortunately, there are not such devices yet. (except ASUS Cube but out of bx its google tv not full featured android) :(

    Awaiting for Hauwei MediaQ M3 eagerly.. I hope it match my expectations.
    If you know some similar devices, please share with me. Thanks

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

      Sorry, as the pictures show, he’s right. Two mini USB ports, 1 full sized, and a mini HDMI.

      • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

        Are you sure? The female HDMI in the photo doesn’t look like a mini to me.

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

        Yup. It needs a mini to full-sized adapter to connect to a TV.

      • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

        Thanks for the clarification. That adds another US$5 to the cost. My Surface Pro has an even worse mini DisplayPort video output connector that requires a US$13 adapter (http://www.sfcable.com/1840-SF-30.html). Microsoft charges US$39.99 for it (http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/productID.264828600)

      • Jeff Meden

        If its packaged like the MK808 (looks like it from the pics) the adapter is included (mini-HDMI male to full HDMI male) so there aren’t any extra parts required.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremiahbyong Jeremiah Yong

    Hopefully this will run ubuntu

  • http://twitter.com/strauzo strauzo

    the best solution to use well all apps and multitouch games is DroidMote. i suggest to use this remote app to have full Android experience in your Tv

  • Zach

    “work better on devices like the Tronsmart MK918.” You mean the MK908 right? If not I’d like to know more about this mystery stick.

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

      Sorry, it was just a typo (that I apparently made twice… *sigh*)

  • DK

    Hi, Just wanted to know if i could use a usb hub with the device to connect an external hdd & a similar keyboard like the one in your review. Also have you tried to use Flash Player in the device, let me know how flash player is working, thanks.

    • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

      I’ve been able to use unpowered USB hubs with all the MiniPCs I’ve tested, so I assume Tronsmart T428 (which I have on order) and MK908 will handle them on the full-size or micro-USB OTG connector.

      • DK

        Ok Thanks

      • DK

        Sorry but would you also know if flash player would work well on it.. Also do you know what video file formats it supports when streaming videos to it over my network. and when streaming over a network would you know if a .srt file (subtitle file) would work for most of those streamed videos. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vcomme.vaseline Vcomme Vaseline

    Odroid…for ubntu!!

  • Kerry Hales

    Nice review. Thanks!

  • Jasri

    Can this “candy bar” stream movies from NAS over the wifi?

  • Javi

    ZERO Devices Z4C is coming and also very similar. But its price wil be 79USD only!

  • nspeer

    As regards the MK908 (RK3188). I flashed the firmware update and that brought my Antutu score from 10,000ish to 13,400 – 14,400 range. The WiFi rarely gets full bars, but I am going to get a WiFi extender as my router is on a different level of the house. One glitch I am getting: when WiFi is on and then Bluetooth is turned on, the WiFi signal immediately plunges to almost ZERO. Anyone had that issue?

  • EA

    Are there any heating issues with this device?

  • Andrew

    Can you use the mk908 or the t428 with a touchscreen monitor? Like a 22 inch dell s2240t?

  • Wheeler

    Has anyone been able to use this, with a touchscreen, in a car? This would be awesome for a carputer build. Just need to find a way to hook up a GPS and get audioi output to amp.

  • TF

    If I just want to play networked videos and Hulu/Netflix is there enough of a performance gap over the MK808b etc models to justify buying this one? That would be the extent of my family use as far as pushing its limits.

  • Paul

    Can I attach an external hard drive to the USB port and access it from Android?

  • best buy

    its really good website !1949deal