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Monday, January 9, 2023

Homatics Box R 4K Plus Android 11 TV Box - Review (Updated with NEW DISCOUNT)

 

Homatics Box R 4K Plus – Android 11 TV Box - Review

Intro

Homatics is a fairly new player to the market of Android TV Boxes, media streamers and wireless home audio, and offers several interesting products in these categories on its website.

For this review I have received the Box R 4K Plus (internally known as SEI804HM), which is a certified Android 11 TV Box, and comes with the Google Play Store pre-installed. It is currently priced at $149.99* and FREE shipping to most countries.

* Check end of this article for a special discount code!

Included in the box: White Power adapter, White Remote control, Box R 4K Plus, Black HDMI cable, 2x AAA batteries for the remote and a Quick Guide leaflet.


Hardware

Let's start with the specs: Internally the TV box has 4GB DDR4 RAM, 32GB eMMC storage, BT5.0 and dual band 2.4GHz & 5GHz 802.11ax WiFi6 for wireless connectivity. On the back side we have the power port, 1gbps LAN RJ45, HDMI 2.1 (HDCP 2.2), 3.5mm audio jack for headphones/speaker, Optical audio SPDIF port, and a USB Type-C port. On the right side there are USB2.0 and USB3.0 Type-A ports. There is a reset pinhole just underneath the USB3.0 port.

On the front, there is an LED strip, which lights-up in teal color when the box is turned on, and red when off. I haven't found a setting in the menu to control the hue or disabling it altogether. Homatics are working on user-selectable colors, which should be available in the next FW update.

Half of the top is covered with an Aluminum plate, which should help with heat dissipation.

 


Homatics tells me that the side USB Type-C port (next to the optical audio port) is for use with a DVB tuner. It's rated 5V 1A.

The TV Guide button on the remote will only work when you have a DVB tuner attached.

Homatics have included a nice "easter egg". There is another 12V 1A USB Type-C port on the bottom of the TV box, which can be used for connecting other Homatics products, further increasing the TV box's functionality. They haven't specified what other products can be connected. I will update once I get the info.

(!) DO NOT connect an external USB drive to the bottom 12V USB Type-C port as it won't be recognized. In fact, it may get fried!!

The included power supply is rated 12.0V 1.5A (18W) and has a 1.5m/5ft cable. The power connector on the TV box itself says "DC 12V".

The supplied HDMI cable is 1.2m/4ft long, and rated "High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet". More info here.

The OEM is actually SEI Robotics, which is part of project "Hailstorm" - a project responsible for the Netflix certification. This TV Box has Netflix ESN, meaning it can play FHD and UHD DRM-protected media streams. This TV box also has Microsoft Playready DRM.

You can enable "Developer Options", in which you can allow the bootloader to be unlocked. Note that enabling this feature will disable the DRM-protection features.

You can install 3rd party apps after enabling permissions.

The SoC, Amlogic S905X4, which is quite capable, supports ONLY 32bit apps (Armabi-v7a). It's a quad-core CPU and includes an AV1 decoder in hardware, which is very welcome, especially for Youtube streams which are encoded with this fairly new codec. The GPU is the Mali-G31.

The thermal sensor seems to be disabled/not available, so we cannot get a reading of the internal temperature. I had to use a FLIR device, which registered around 36°C when streaming a soccer match on a Full-HD monitor.

 

 

User Interface

The home screen launcher is very nice and intuitive - it's the default Google Android TV Launcher. It is very easy to navigate and add/remove shortcuts to the top row. 

However, currently there is no quick way to close an app that's running in the background - You have to go through Settings > Apps > Find the app > Force Stop it. Homatics tells me they are working on it and planning to add an easy option to close running apps soon via a FW update.

There's also no easy way to switch between already-opened running apps, like the cards app switcher we get on Android phones.



 Video Playback

I copied a few of my test videos to the internal eMMC and played them back with MX Player:

Video from a Sony a6300 camera: MP4 container, AVC H.264, FHDp120 @94.8Mbps. It struggles to play it - I would estimate it's playing at roughly 15-20fps. It seems the relatively high bitrate here hampers the performance .

Video of a screen recording of the game Battlefield 3: MP4 container, AVC H.264 codec, FHDp120 @30Mbps. Plays smoothly without issues .

DolbyVision Encoded videos: Confirmed working! Plays them smoothly with correct colors .

Apparently, all popular DolbyVision profiles (profile 5, profile 7 MEL and FEL, profile 8) are supported.

If you have a Samsung TV which does NOT support DolbyVision encoded media - This is your solution!

In the HDR Settings menu, you'll find the options for Auto HDR and Dolby Vision, so this TV box supports all the major HDR variants - DolbyVision, HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG. Nice!

When attached to a UHD HDR TV (I used a 75" Samsung Q80T, which is a UHD HDR TV), I was able to stream UHDp60 HDR videos without any issue, when directly connected via Gigabit LAN to my router.

2.5K display resolution is not supported. If you connect such a monitor (2560x1440), the TV box will only allow up to 1080p59.94.

 

Audio/Sound

In terms of surround audio, it should support Dolby Atmos and DTS HD, though I haven't tested that. I cannot test surround sound until I get a new receiver, as my current one died.

 



Remotes and Accessories

I like the remote, small and handy. The big plus here is that it has a user-customizable button to launch any installed app of your choosing - very handy. Some might complain that it doesn't have the number keys, others might like it just the way it is - small and compact. If you find yourself switching channels often between News to Sports to Movies, I guess you'll miss the number keys. 

In fact, Homatics do offer a larger premium remote with the number keys, currently priced at $18.90.

Update: I have now received the Premium Remote for review. The number keys work as expected, so it's very convenient to switch between channels (for example, in Partner TV), or to type in passwords which contain numbers. The other additional keys have less useful functionality for daily usage, and as I understand - are geared towards a DVR accessory coming later in the future.

The Premium Remote uses 2x AAA batteries (included), just like the regular remote that comes in the box.

The Google Voice Assistant button works as expected .

By the way, the remote can be paired with other Android TV boxes. I have successfully paired it with the mecool KM2 Plus TV Box and it works just like with the Homatics TV Box. If you need a good quality remote for your TV Box - this one is recommended!


By the way, here are some lesser-known functions of the remote:

  • Long-press on Home button: Open Apps drawer (same as clicking on the red "Apps" in the Main Menu).
  • Double-press the home button: Opens recent tasks to close/run/close all (currently in BETA FW 3696).
  • Press the Profile button (left of the Google Voice button): Opens the "right-click" context menu of a shortcut/app.

What I'd like to see improved: Having an air mouse function, like LG TVs remotes have, backlit keys, and be USB-rechargeable.

There is an option to pair other remotes to the TV box, but any 3rd party remote may or may not work as expected.


 

If you connect a keyboard (either USB-wired or with a wireless dongle), here are some useful keys to help you navigate quickly:

F6: Open YouTube

F8: Open Netflix

F9: Open Amazon Prime Video

F10: Open Google Play Store

F11: Open FactoryTest app (if installed)

F12: Open the app assigned to the custom button on the remote

PrtScr: Snap a screenshot. It is saved in the Images folder on the internal eMMC.

 

Performance

I ran some light games on it and all worked nice and smooth. The racing game Asphalt 8, though not buttery-smooth, is playable with a medium setting - I was getting around 30-40 fps. Heavy 3D games will struggle, though. Don't expect 1080p 60fps on this one. Most likely you'll get 720p at around ~30fps.

It took 38 seconds to transfer 1.5GB of test video files from a USB3.0 flash drive to the internal eMMC using the fx Explorer app.

I also have the mecool KM2 Plus TV Box at home, which is quite similar in UI and functionality to the Homatics Box R 4K Plus. However, the Box R 4K Plus is a bit better equipped, as summarized in the following table:

Feature

Homatics Box R 4K Plus

Mecool KM2 Plus

OEM

SEI Robotics

SkyworthDigital

Box color

White

Black

RAM

4GB DDR4

2GB DDR4

Internal Storage

32GB eMMC

16GB eMMC

LAN Speed

1000 Mbit (1Gbit)

100 Mbit

USB Type-C Port(s)

1x side 5V, 

1x bottom 12V [not yet functional]

No USB Type-C port

microSD slot

N/A

Yes

SoC

Amlogic S905X4

Amlogic S905X4

GPU

Mali-G31

Mali-G31

Thermal sensor

N/A

N/A

Remote Control

Features

1 User-customizable button

No Number keys

No customizable buttons

No Number keys

Remote color

White

Black

Auto HDR

Yes

No

Dolby Vision

Yes

No

Power Adapter

12V x 1.5A (18W), White

12V x 1A (12W), Black

Max Video Res.

UHDp60 HDR

UHDp60 HDR

Chromecast

Built-in

Built-in

DRM

Google Widevine L1

MS Playready

Google Widevine L1

MS Playready

Android OS version

11

11

Best 3D Mark Slingshot Extreme Score*

375

377

Price

$149.99**

$50-$75

(After discounts/coupons)

* Best score of 3 runs. Test ran with OpenGL ES 3.1.

** Check below for a special discount.

 

Back ports comparison with the mecool KM2 Plus

 

Overview and size comparison

 

Conclusion

Obviously, the Homatics Box R 4K Plus is the better choice here, but it's also much pricier. I highly recommend purchasing it if it's on sale.

* As promised, if you use our special coupon code 1HDBIZ, you'll get a 10% discount.

NEW!! I have received an even better discount code, especially for you guys. Use coupon code 1HDBIZ15HOM to get 15% OFF.

Be sure to check out the 1HD.BIZ website and social media for a good deal.