With more and more mini PCs hitting the market, it’s getting harder for makers to differentiate their products from the competition. One format that is starting to see a bit of use is the above-your-TV style chassis like this Pandora Smart TV Box. Other recent examples are the Rikomagic MK602 and OEM MK818 releases.
Like most, the Pandora Smart TV Box features a 2MP camera on the front suitable for Skype-ing, but the real action is inside and on the back panel.
Its powered by Rockchip’s first-generation dual-core RK3066 Cortex A9 SoC CPU with the standard 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 8GB of flash, preloaded with Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system. It’s not clear if there’s an Android 4.2.2 update available. You can expand the storage via the SD card slot on the back panel, good for cards up to 32GB.
On this style of mini PC, we’d have preferred the SD card reader on the front – especially since the Pandora is designed to be clamped to the top of your TV, requiring you to reach behind to install and remove cards. Another port that really should’ve been on the front is the 3.5mm stereo headphone socket, again for the same reason.
That said, all of the other ports on the rear arguably make sense – the RJ45 Ethernet port supporting 10/100Mbps speeds, HDMI output and the four USB2.0 host ports.
While there’s no external antenna, this one does include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi but no Bluetooth – however, one retailer we found selling this unit on Aliexpress is including a Bluetooth 2.0 adapter and wireless gamepad in the package.
As for the price, it’s selling on Aliexpress for around $163 including shipping, which makes it one of the more expensive models of its type. The MK602 sells for around $80; the MK818 for around $75 for very similar features and the same dual-core Rockchip CPU.
The Pandora Smart TV Box looks to be a decent model but it’d pay to shop around before deciding.
|Model||Pandora Smart TV Box|
|Processor||Rockchip RK3066 dual-core Cortex A9|
|Clock||Up to 1.6GHz|
|GPU type||ARM Mali-400 MP4|
|Operating system||Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean)|
|External storage||SD, up to 32GB|
|Wi-Fi connectivity||802.11b/g/n (inc. RJ45 Fast Ethernet)|
|No./type of USB ports||4 x USB2.0 host|
|HDMI form factor||Yes (inc. headphone)|
|Announce Date||August 2013|
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