Sunday, November 25, 2012

Equiso - Android TV

I don't watch a lot of TV - Modern Family, cooking shows and the show about guys looking for junk in barns is about it (plus an occasional movie or two.)

And since I'm an Apple TV user with Netflix and Hulu I thought I was pretty well set in the TV department.

Then I saw the Kickstarter for Equiso. And thought, "Hmm an HDMI Android TV; that might actually be kinda cool!"
I bought into the kickstarter and got one.

I'm running the second beta update and it's improved somewhat since the initial release.  Still, it takes way too long to boot.  But once it does, it actually works - most of the time.

They've included a unique remote - in the picture above, it looks like two remotes but it's just one double-sided remote.  One side offers a traditional QWERTY keyboard and the other an accelerometer based cursor remote.  It takes a little time getting used to it, but it works rather well.

The Equiso itself is tiny - it looks like an oversized USB thumbdrive.  One end plugs into your HDMI port on your TV and the other end is a USB port.  I've got it connected into a USB port expander with a keyboard and mouse plugged in just for fun.  Apparently on newer monitors it can take power from the HDMI port.  With my old monitor it gets it's power from the USB port expander.  It connects to the Internet via WiFi.

I rooted it and loaded VMLite VNC Server, TouchDown, and an SSH server to it along with Insync, a Google Drive sync program.  I also loaded Skype on it and hooked up a cheap Microsoft camera and it actually worked.  The video was pretty pixellated but I managed to call my iPad and have a quick video chat with myself.

I watched Super 8 on it last week and while it looked pretty good, the video froze a couple of times (I did have a bunch of apps running and should probably have shut some down.) It's 1080P, but the monitor I used only supports 720P so I didn't get the best picture.  I expect these issues will get resolved with one of the upgrades (and with a better monitor.)

It's available now for $79 from their facebook site.  The "pro" version isn't on sale yet, but it should cost about $100 and is available for pre-order.

So, for now, it's a nice, inexpensive Android platform to play with - and you can watch movies on it!

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