Review: Androstick – Transform Your TV
‘Turn your TV into a 95% operational Android 4.0 device’
The ANDROSTICK (for simplicity purposes will now be spelt in lowercase) makes for a pretty simple way to turn your Android device into a fully operational Android device. While it has its positives it also has its negatives. However, I guess that is to be expected in a sub-$100 device!
|Easy set-up||Hard to control|
|Android 4.0 ICS||Stock remote is almost useless|
|Great for web browsing||Slow WiFi|
WHAT WE LIKED
The Androstick does what is asked of it. For a ~$99 it really does get the job done. It’s small, it’s sleek and it’s easy to operate. It’s really quite nice to see my favourite mobile OS up on the biggest screen in the room. The set-up is incredibly simple. All you need to do is plug your HDMI dongle styled device into the HDMI port on your TV, plug it into the charger and you’re off. I turned my TV on and the Androstick was ready and waiting for me. Just like you would want with any TV, there isn’t much fiddling needed to get this thing operating as you would like.
It comes with a set of pre-loaded apps and has all the basics you would expect. I mainly used it for web and YouTube browsing, as well as flicking through my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I also used the Androstick for the obviously important task of playing games. After all, what is a mobile OS without Angry Birds? That’s right, the Androstick was the perfect match for Angry Birds. In fact, it completely renewed my obsession with those colourful, yet pissed off birds that just can’t seem to find their eggs. Gaming on the Androstick is really quite fun. I’ve generally been one to save gaming for the big boys – Xbox and PlayStation – until now, which makes me think that Ouya will be a huge hit. But let’s save that for another time.
The optional keyboard is also really fun way to use an Android device. While it is quite similar to the experience that you have with the ASUS Transformer line, it is even easier to use. The small keyboard (optional extra) is really quite usable and makes using the TV easy. While it has some annoying aspects it does a great job and is ultra-light and portable.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
When I heard that I was reviewing the Androstick I thought immediately about Google Play Movies and how incredible it would be. As an adamant user of the cloud, as well as being someone who doesn’t download any illegal content – I’ve fallen in love with G Play Movies. But what’s the issue here? For some strange, unexplainable reason I could not get the Androstick to access the movies section of Google Play. This was a huge negative of the Androstick and made me depressed at first – thank god for Netflix/Quickflix though. I myself am not a user of Quickflix but I can guarantee that Netflix worked on my Androstick without any hastle. Issue solved.
While the keyboard provided is incredibly light, easy and fun to use it does have some quite major drawbacks. For starters, I can’t for the life of me get the ‘home’ or ‘enter’ keys to work. I instead need to find work-arounds utilizing the trackpad or D-Pad and then left mouse button or OK button. Yes, there’s all those buttons too – which brings me to my next point. There’s simply too many buttons on the optional keyboard. While at first I thought the options could unveil a whole new level of usability, I quite quickly found myself stunned as to which buttons I should be using where. When do I use the left and right mouse clicks? When do I use the home button and when do I use the OK and Enter buttons? Too much is not too good.
Lastly, I found certain apps to be simply unusable. No matter how hard I tried, how much I pleaded, the calendar completely refused to cooperate with me. None of my events would load and I was lost in an un-planned world when using the Androstick. Thank God it exists on my TV and my phone/tablet/laptop are kindly sitting beside me. Another app that I struggled to set up was the Twitter widget on the homescreen.
The Androstick provides you with the ability to use it in Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich. Why you ask? I’m not 100% sure. My best guess is that they originally made it on Android 3.0 Honeycomb and decided to just keep it on the device. If you ask me this is a waste of ROM storage which could be used for other features.
That being said, the Ice Cream Sandwich OS of the Androstick has a really nice look and feel. It’s incredibly easy to navigate and allows you to get to the important parts of an Android TV quickly. Through touching just a few buttons you can find yourself at any of the main sections of an Android that you may need. You have easy access to any media content and your full list of apps. The custom UI of the Androstick is really nice and the devs have obviously thought out what would work for an Android on a TV.
When using the optional keyboard, the D-Pad always overrides the mouse. I generally feel as though it should be the other way around so it was quite strange to see this happen. I would often be using the mouse and not actually able to click on anything until I took the voyage to the same place with my D-Pad. If you’re using the on-screen keyboard with the stock remote however, you wont find the same issues.
There really isn’t that much you can say about the design. Once plugged into a TV the dongle is not to be seen again until your next transfer to another TV. However, it is quite thick and the cables are plugged in via the side. If you’ve got a tight squeeze behind your TV then you may want to measure out how much space you have before you make a purchase.
If you’re looking to be taking this thing around with you then it will definitely get the job done too. For a fully operational Android Smart TV, this thing is damn small. If you just heard about the device and didn’t know anything of its design you’d probably think it was the size of a Google TV or an Apple TV. But no, this thing is tiny. This thing is really able to move from location to location with ease.
- Easy set-up: The Androstick was completely set up in moments. There was nothing for me to do. It’s just as easy as a tablet set up.
- Non-Australian apps available on Google Play: As this is branded a T-Mobile Androstick, it tells me that non-Australian apps are available on Google Play, but will not let me use them.
- Remote has a tendency to stop working: Both the stock and optional remotes have a tendency to stop operation altogether at random times, which is nothing but incredibly annoying.
- WiFi is slow: The Androstick’s WiFi is unbearably slow at times.
|OS||Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|Processor||1GHz Arm Cortex-A9|
|Memory||Up to 32GB external|
|Ports||USB 2.0 & HDMI|
|Dimensions||89 x 33 x 16 mm|
The Androstick is an interesting one. While it is by no stretch a do all, be all and end all device, it does get a whole lot done with a really small price-tag. If you’re looking for something to play around with or the absolute cheapest way to get yourself a Smart TV then I’d definitely give this the tick of approval. However, don’t expect this thing to be your be-all and end-all device. Oh, and for the Android fanatics out there (like myself) wanting every piece that Android offers – this thing is for you. It gets the job done, is mighty portable and has a few little goodies that you’ll enjoy. All-in-all the Androstick isn’t pretending to be anything that it isn’t. It’s sub-$100 and performs as well as something that I’d expect to go for around $125.
If you’ve gotten to the end of this piece and are hungry for more then you may be glad to know that we’ve got something planned for you. We’ll be hosting a give-away in a few days time for the Androstick! Stay tuned! If you’d like a first chance entry then go ahead and make a comment below, you’ll be counted for double entry tickets before the competition starts!