Media platforms have been around for your TV for years, but Android TV is perhaps one of the most powerful. It has more potential that you can unlock compared to a Roku or Apple TV, but a lot of that depends on what hardware is available. “Power users” demand a lot of ports and performance specifications, and the Mecool KM3 Android TV Box delivers just that.
Ports, ports and more ports
The physical design of the KM3 is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s a simple box with a shiny plastic finish, a metal bottom with holes for heat dissipation, a “breathable” LED on the front, and ports on the rear and left sides. These ports are the real story of the hardware here.
The back of the Mecool KM3 offers an HDMI port, an Ethernet port (10 / 100m) and an audio jack. On the side, two full-size USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0) and a microSD card reader. With these ports, you can easily connect a flash drive, external hard drive, or microSD card filled with local media, without the need for additional dongles or peripherals.
Under the hood, there’s an Amlogic S905X2 processor capable of delivering 4K video and HDR, paired with 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of onboard storage. In contrast, Chromecast with Google TV has the same chipset, but half the RAM and only 8GB of storage. Even the high-end processor Nvidia Shield TV Pro only has 16GB of onboard storage. The base model, however, comes with 64GB. Either way, that’s plenty of space for apps and the ports leave tons of expansion for movies, music, and more.
Finally, let’s take a second to talk about the remote. It has a basic design with a D-Pad, navigation buttons, Google Assistant button, and volume controls. It connects via bluetooth and I have no complaints about the connection. It was solid as a rock through and through. I wish however that there was at least one button to open some app on the device. A customizable button would be killer considering the destination of this box.
Software and performance
Capable specs that can do just about anything… except Netflix
Another important aspect of this device is its performance. The S905X2 chipset isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but with Android TV and 4GB of RAM, this package offers more than enough power for just about anything, whether to run downloaded apps not intended for Android TV or to play games. My typical use hasn’t really pushed this machine to its limits, but I’ve noticed in every app and the interface as a whole that everything is much smoother and faster.
Android TV 10 is what you will find in the box on Mecool KM3. There aren’t any major customizations here other than a handful of preloaded apps (Twitch, Tubi, Sideload Launcher). It’s the same experience you’ll find on a Shield or a Mi Box. The only thing that gives me a reason to take a break is the update tool. Mecool uses a custom tool instead of Google’s and historically it never works well. This is a Google certified box (meaning Mecool has Google approval to use the Google Play Store and apps), so that’s something to keep in mind.
It is good, however, that Mecool pre-loads some apps that are really suitable for its target audience. As mentioned, Sideload Launcher is installed and allows users to easily access and open downloaded apps that are not directly designed for Android TV. Beyond that, there is also a file explorer and a movie player. They are very basic, but they get the job done.
What could be the biggest problem for most people is the lack of official support from Netflix. You can run Disney +, HBO Max, Peacock, and even Prime Video on the KM3, but Netflix is simply not available because the device is not certified by Netflix. despite be certified by Google. You can side-load the app, but it won’t play movies or shows in anything other than SD (480p). Shame.
The Mecool KM3 is not the first Android TV box that I would recommend to most people. However, for its under $ 100 price point, I think people who want more from their media streamer than just the basics, this might be the best option in its price range. The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is what I think more people should buy if ports are the priority, but the point is that $ 200 is a lot to spend on a decoder.
If you are buying on Android TV because you want to 1) load apps from the side, 2) take advantage of external storage and peripherals, and 3) play local media, this Mecool box is a good way to do it while still maintaining a really comfortable software interface to use on the couch. I would recommend the KM3 way before any of those generic “Android TV” boxes you find on Amazon (seriously, don’t buy them). This is a suitable Android TV with all the benefits that come with it.
More Android TV boxes for consumers don’t try to serve a customer outside of the typical media streamer, those using Netflix, YouTube, etc. Mecool’s offering can deliver this experience, but it expands the package to include the features desired by the “power user”: more ports and more storage. For half the price of a Shield TV Pro – between $ 70 and $ 90 depending on the retailer – it’s worth checking out if those are your priorities. You can buy the KM3 directly from Mecool (free keyboard remote control during Black Friday), Walmart, Gearbest, and Aliexpress.
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