Minix Z83-4 Fanless Mini Windows 10 PC

On first impressions, you would be forgiven if you thought this was going to be another android TV media player from Minix. However you would be wrong. 

The latest helping from Minix, the Z83-4, is so much more. Running Windows 10, as well as being used as a media/entertainment box, the versatility of this box means it can be be used a home desktop PC. 

Design

The box has stayed with its tried and tested design with its high quality plastic enclosure. The nice addition to this model is the aluminium base adding that extra quality.

 

 

Looking directly down : 

Left hand side – there is the screw attachment for the Wifi antenna and also room for a Kensington lock to secure the Mini PC. 

The wifi in the Z83-4 is dual band so can connect to both 2G and 5G signals. 

Right hand side – there are three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, a SD card input and the power button. 

Rear  – there is a 3.5mm audio jack, mini display port & HDMI port, and finally an ethernet and power jack point. The inclusion of Mini DP and HDMI means dual output is now possible! Two screens from one mini-PC this small is something I haven’t seen before so props to Minix for the inclusion of this.

Specifications 

The mini computer has an Intel Cherry Trail quad-core chip (X5-Z8300), 4GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB eMMC flash storage and runs Windows 10 (fully licensed Home edition). In addition to the earlier mentioned connectivity, the Z83-4 also has bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. 

The Z83-4 is also “fanless” which means that quite amazingly, the mini computer runs without making a noise. After around 6 hours of continuous use I haven’t noticed a noise nor it has it become overly hot. 

From the specs, the only disappointment is the limited 32GB memory – however I have learnt that this is a restriction required to meet specs for windows licensing. It is probably what has kept of the price of box down which in the grand scheme of things is good. This is because this can be remedied by using an external hard drive via the USB ports or even expandable memory of up to 64GB using the micro SD input. I have currently hooked up my 1TB portable hard drive with no issues.

 

 

Set-up and usability

Set up of the Z83-4 is really simple. In order to use and navigate you will need either an air mouse controller (i.e. the MINIX A2 Lite) or conventional mouse and keyboard. If you plan to use this as a desktop computer, I think the conventional format of mouse and keyboard will be more suited. The air mouse is more suited for using it is an entertainment PC so it really depends on what you want to use it for.

The mini PC connected simply to my LG 22inch IPS screen via HDMI with no issues at all. It also connected with no problems with my 42inch LG television. 

I always test video playback first when testing the processor capability of any devices and for the Z83-4 which advertises 4K playback, I tested a 4K file. The Z83-4 was able to playback the 4K file with no lagging at all. The same can be said for 1080p playback on youtube and also lower quality files ranging from MKV, MP3 and AVI – all tested with no issues. KODI for windows also runs smoothly. 

The mini PC allowed me to multitask just as well as I can with my office desktop PC. I was able to listen to music, use Chrome as a browser and photoshop with Adobe with no signs of struggle.

 

 

Summary

The size of this thing is amazing considering what it can be used for. This will no doubt replace my larger desktop PC saving space, looking great whilst most importantly, not losing any power/productivity for the tasks I require. I have identified no issues with usability or its hardware. 

My only criticism is with the limited 32GB storage as this may put some people off. For me, I had no problems as I have two portable hard drives I can use and also use cloud storage for documents/photos which is more than accessible in Windows 10.

All things considered including its very affordable price – this is a fantastic product and if you are in the market for a mini PC – or even a desktop PC, you should definitely consider the MINIX Z83-4.

VERDICT : 5/5 1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks

You can purchase the Z83-4 from :
MINIX Direct store @ AMAZON UK : 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/MINIX-NEO-Z83-4-Dual-Band-Technology/dp/B01M24W77N/

KOCASO MX9200 9-Inch Android Tablet

The Kocaso MX9200 is a budget entry tablet with a 9-inch screen. Priced below £40, lets be fair, you wouldn’t be expecting the greatest of tablets but lets find out.

It arrives in impressive retail packaging, well packed with various descriptions of its capabilities on the front. It is shipped with a 9 inch tablet pouch, a stylus and also a pair of headphones. A great set of accessories to get you started. As with any product I gave this a full charge before using it.

In terms of the build quality, it is well built with a plastic exterior and doesn’t feel cheap to hold. With the power/sleep button at the top and volume buttons on the side all the buttons are easily accessible. The back of the tablet is coloured purple and also has a TF card in put source. A bonus is the inclusion of a OTG cable allowing you to connect USB sticks to the tablet (to make the most of this install a file explorer app).

Running Android OS 4.4 it provides a familiar platform for android users and it is easy to navigate through. It comes with the basic apps installed and no additional extras which I prefer as I usually have to go through and delete a lot of apps with those pre-installed machines. It runs a 1.2GHz processor which seems to provide enough power to run gaming apps and also provide movie playback. It was able to support playback of HD movie files but due to limitations of the screen, playback was not actually HD.

Youtube videos, Netflix and movie files from my TF card have all played successfully albeit do not play in HD due to limitations in its design (the screen is not HD) and plays with average quality. You need to look at the screen directly as if the tablet tilt forwards/backwards it becomes difficult to watch.The battery life seems to be decent, currently at around 25 per cent after approx. 6 hours of continuous use.

The tablet also has two cameras (front and rear) which are not at all as good quality as you would expect from higher end tablets but provide enough clarity to capture moments or play around with certain apps.

The tablet has a lot of good features and I think would be a good start to anyone who hasn’t used an android tablet before and the included accessories makes this ready to go out the box. For those who have become accustomed to higher end products like iPad and Samsung tablets you would not be impressed by this but then again that is like comparing a Vauxhall to a Rolls Royce which would be unfair.

I think for under £40..the tablet does what I expected…no more or no less. A good addition to the budget tablet market.

VERDICT : 1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks 3/5

MINIX Neo U1 – Android Media Box

After having much experience in using and reviewing the plethora of android based media boxes on the market, one which had been somewhat elusive was the MINIX brand.

The guys at MINIX sent me over a sample of their boxes and out of them all, my favourite has been the MINIX Neo U1.

01

I have used and reviewed many android boxes before ranging from between £20-60 and they are all pretty similar with no obvious reason for the price differences. A lot of them are really similar and probably just rebranded versions of each other. The MINIX however is a brand of its own with a unique design and a high quality build. With 2GB DDR3 RAM and Quad Core ARM Cortex A53 the system seems to handle everything with ease, no freezing and no lagging. The 16GB eMMC memory is a massive improvement on 8GB which is not usually enough yet still shipped with most products. Its power allows 4K playback with ease.

My first thoughts on using the device was just how smooth and responsive it was to my commands. The MINIX Launcher provides easy access to your apps and gives a whole new look to the android 5.1 operating system. It also comes with an app which updates the system connecting to MINIX to make sure its always up to date.

It comes with an attachable antenna to amplify the WiFi signal which has done wonders for me. Previous boxes fail to achieve the best speeds in my bedroom where I usually stream from. Although still not full signal, this has reached 4 out of 5 bars which is something I haven’t managed in my blackspot of a bedroom and I can finally stream HD Netflix without buffering! The box also comes with preinstalled XBMC without any add-ons. This version is also customised for MINIX!. Some “fully loaded” boxes comes with all sorts of add-ons that I’ll never use. This way I can pick and choose and put the latest updates on myself.


I am very impressed by the A2 Lite wireless air mouse that comes with this package. You can simply aim and move the mouse around and the cursor follows on the screen! It requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included) and the USB dongle (included) to run.

This is the best android TV based product I have had the pleasure of reviewing. No hesitations in saying that as it has beaten the rest hands down. Yes it is more expensive…but if you want a smooth and seamless experience it is worth it.

VERDICT : 1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks1476572686_keditbookmarks 5/5

Amazon UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/MINIX-Quad-Core-Six-Axis-Gyroscope-Technology/dp/B01L1E3K5A/