Review For The Matricom G-Box MX2Posted: December 4, 2013
The G-Box MX2 is the premier set top box by Matricom, a US based electronics company that makes Android based set top boxes and tablets. The product is one of many coaster or hockey puck sized devices used to glean content from the world wide web.
The device sells for $99.00 and can be purchased from Matricom’s website via Amazon. The MX2 ships with Android 4.2 and XBMC installed. Both programs can essentially be used as the OS for the device. The device is a versatile mini PC capable of running any app that can be downloaded from the Google Play store as well as any app for XBMC. With its latest firmware update the MX2 also has some AirPlay capabilities adding to an already versatile device. Along with multiple ports for external storage an Ethernet port along with Wi-Fi ability the MX2 has a lot to offer.
OTA Updates Make Future Upgrades Easy
The MX2’s latest firmware version 1.1.6 like its predecessor can be updated via an online updater. This greatly simplifies software upgrades. If a unit does not have the latest firmware it can be upgraded via a USB Flash drive or an SD Card. Matricom provides easy to follow instructions on its website as well as support over the phone if needed. Over the air updates brings the G-Box in line with more established set top boxes and separates it from the pack when it comes to other Android based mini PCs.
Two Operating Systems For The Price Of One
The MX2 has three different front end options. There are two variations on the Android 4.2 base as well as XBMC. When the MX2 is powered on there is a choice to use one of those three options to access the programs. Launcher a standard Android set up formatted for a TV screen. This set up features a few main app launchers including Settings, Chrome Browser, File Browser, All Apps, Photo Gallery, Calendar, Movies, Movie Player for movies stored locally or on external drives and the App Installer. The 3D Launcher is a custom front end designed to take advantage of the added TV real-estate. There are individual Launchers for major functions like Web Cam, XBMC, Settings and Chrome browser as well as preset folders for games , Local Apps and Online
Cinema, which is meant for video apps from the Google Play Store like YouTube for Google TV, Hulu Plus Netflix etc. The rest of the apps are housed in the “All Apps” folder, that includes any app you have stored in every folder as well as key apps like the Google Play Store and media receivers like AirPlay and Miracast. Along with the two Android options the MX2 can be configured to launch XBMC at start up. All of the Android apps can be accessed from XBMC’s programs including the 3D launcher tab. Once XBMC is chosen as the default start up program pressing home on the controller will return you to the XBMC home screen instead of one of the Android configurations. This option may be attractive for those who primarily want an XBMC box which is part of the allure of the G-Box MX2 in the first place.
Mirroring and AirPlay
The MX2 supports the Android based mirroring protocol known as Miracast. This gives Android device users the ability to share content from their tablets and phones on the TV screen whether the feed comes from an app on the device or whether it is stored locally on the device. The latest firmware update also allows AirPlay functionality, though not to its full capacity. Currently IOS devices are not capable of full screen mirroring on the MX2 but any internet based video that can be seen in a browser can be sent straight to the MX2. A number of apps are compatible also including YouTube CNN, Yahoo Screen and even the IOS version of Plex. This gives users the option to use both XBMC and Plex effortlessly on the same set top box. This is something that sets it apart from both Roku and Apple TV.
The MX2 comes loaded with a dual core processor which is the standard for set top boxes putting it in line with industry leaders the Roku 3 and Apple TV. The MX2 also comes loaded with 1 gig of DDR3 RAM. This means that apps in both android and XBMC load and open quickly and perform well once activated. The device is fully loaded in order to make your viewing experience a pleasurable one. The combination of processor power and RAM and a high performance CPU gives the user a very stable product fully capable of executing the tasks it is designed for.
Custom Version of XBMC
A major selling point for the MX2 is its integration of XBMC . XBMC is in many ways the one app to rule them all. The custom version of XBMC provides a number of services that cannot be found on other set top devices like the free version of Hulu, Aljazeera International, The Onion, Top Documentary Films and many others. Thanks to the MX2 those apps are easy to add and access. Besides the previously mentioned services there are hundreds of XBMC apps preinstalled saving new users time and energy that they would have otherwise spent on finding and installing them. This essentially provides users with an app store, which is something that a standard fresh copy of XBMC does not provide. Conspicuous in its absence on XBMC is Netflix but this is the case with any build of XBMC and not specific to the MX2. While this is unfortunate one of the advantages of MX2 being an Android machine is that it supports the Android App for Netflix.
While the MX2 does not have a large hard drive it starts with 8Gb of storage which is more than enough to take care of its intended functions. However, it can support two terabytes of external storage. The box itself has 4 USB ports that can be used to connect external hard drives, and an SD card slot with a 32 GB capacity. That is a lot of room for music and or movies. If all of those terms don’t mean much to you than it is quite possible that you don’t need that capacity to meet your needs. But for those with expansive personal media needs the MX2 can fit the bill.
Hooks Up to Virtually Any Television
The MX2 like any item that delivers HD content has 1 HDMI port but unlike some of its competitors it also includes a single port for the old fashioned red, white and yellow audio visual cables. This means that if you have purchased a TV in the last 20 years you can hook an MX2 to it.
The MX2 currently ships with a controller that looks and feels like an inexpensive universal remote. It is capable of performing all of the tasks asked of it as far as launching apps and navigating through its main menus in both XBMC and Android. But because the controller has no spectrometer it can be problematic when accessing many of the Android apps available in the Google Play Store. The company has addresses that problem with the release of the Matricom G-Mouse controller which can be used like the Nintendo Wii in order to point and make selections and includes a full keyboard. Another strong option is the Hausbell Mini Keyboard. It is a full QWERTY keyboard with a track pad along with volume controls and other buttons that makes for an easy media experience as well as easy navigation of any android app that has a need for swiping. Along with those controller entries numerous other wireless keyboards and wireless mice can be used with the device. Wired options work as well. The 4 USB ports provide ample options for inputs.
Android Control App
Users looking for another controller option may choose to download the Android App Tablet Remote from the Google Play Store. The app allows users to use a phone or tablet to explore the MX2 use the Android keyboard to type and the tablet itself as a game controller when applicable. The app is not an official Matricom app. Download on both your mobile Android device and the MX2. Tablet remote is not available for IOS devices.
Every device has a problem now and then. When they arise it is important for customers to get answers to their questions as quickly as possible. Matricom provides strong US based customer support over the phone where callers can often speak with developers and coders who understand what the software is supposed to do, what causes problems and how to fix the issue. They are responsive and helpful. Matricom has also set up a tips page that addresses frequently asked questions through both written instructions and short video tutorials. There is also a forum where topics from A-Z are discussed and problems are solved. A great option for getting to know the device better before and after a purchase is the GBOX USA YouTube channel. The channel has numerous videos that address many of the main questions that may arise for new users.
Great for Gaming
The set top box can serve both your video entertainment and video game entertainment needs. Because the MX2 is a full android based minicomputer it can support any Android based video game system emulator as well as USB based controllers for the XBOX and PlayStation. Emulators are computer programs that mimic the gameplay of game consoles. It is the understanding of the emulator developers that anybody who downloads a game or (rom) has a physical copy of the game also. There are emulators for numerous game systems available as well as roms (the games). The MX2 also supports gameplay for numerous Android games from the Google Play Store.
Matricom has put a great deal of thought in to this product as well as its latest firmware update. The MX2 is a compelling entry that can meet numerous entertainment needs both in video delivery and through video games. The G-Box loads its Android apps quickly and crisply. Its Android 4.2 OS supports thousands of functions and the MX2 runs the software very well. All of its OS configurations perform admirably especially with the newest firmware. Its custom XBMC loads quickly and plays videos in 1080p when applicable.
-4x USB 2.0 Ports
-HDMI v1.4 video output
-USB Storage Extendable (Flash Drives/HDD)
-SD Storage Extendable (Up to 32GB!)
-10/100 Ethernet Port
-Composite Audio/Video Out
-Amlogic A9 Dual Core Neon HD CPU
-Mali400 Dual Core High Performance 3D GPU
-1GB RAM (DDR3)
-Android 4.2.x Jelly Bean installed
-XBMC 12.1 Frodo
-Android Apps from the Google Play Store
-Apps from XBMC
-Custom Version of XBMC
-Multiple apps already included
-Many repositories already included
-Up to 2 Terabytes of storage via external hard drive space
-USB Storage Extendable (Flash Drives/HDD)
-8GB Total Internal StorageB
-SD Storage Extendable (Up to 32GB!)
-US based phone support with knowledgeable developers http://matricom.net/contact-matricom/
-Message boards Official Forum http://matricom.net/forums/#/discussions
-Library of G-Box instructional videos on YouTube-Motivated by their giveaway Channel GBOX USA
-Tips and Tricks on the Matricom Website http://matricom.net/category/mx2-tips-tricks/