ARNU Box Mach Q Review

ARNU Box Mach Q Review

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The ARNU Box (Formerly Armada) Mach Q Pure Linux is a compact Linux set-top box from the same team that launched the Mach 8 Pure Linux box last year. With a new name and website to boot the ARNU Box team is out to show the world why you should take a good look at a pure Linux build over the more typical Android boxes that are marketed for use with Kodi.

The Mach Q can display apps and media in beautiful arrangements.
The Mach Q can display apps and media in beautiful arrangements.

Performance
The Mach Q is considered an entry level product but it still packs a big punch. With a quad core A5 processor running on Linux the box can deliver a lot of power in a small package. We tested a number of Kodi apps including 1080 video clips and music apps and found that they loaded quickly and smoothly. Navigation through the menus was crisp and precise. We utilized the devices ethernet connection and tested a few of the company’s cloudwords and were very impressed with the speed at which the program downloaded and installed the software. It’s wireless performance was on par with other devices on the market. We always recommend a wired connection for streaming.

First set top box with Isengard
The Mach Q is the first set top box on the market with Kodi 15.0 Isengard available immediately after the build became the standard. With a number of new features Isengard improves on the popular media center platform and with the box’s Linux backbone it really sings. We just wonder how long Isengard will last as the flagship of Kodi. If you have a device without Isengard a quick OTA update will fix that.

Features

4 active cores
The ARNU Box Mach Q has four active cores dedicated to Kodi. This means it will have maximum power when streaming, accessing your personal movie collection or pushing out music from your playlist. How a box actually utilizes its hardware is very important and this one gets the most out of its components that it can.

Cloud Word Installer

Typing USA in the Cloudword Installer set up populer US add-ons.
Typing USA in the Cloudword Installer set up populer US add-ons.

Cloudword Installer is a signature feature for Kodi builds from ARNU Box. Cloudword Installer is a configuration tool exclusive to the Kodi build on boxes from the company that allows you to add addons quickly including large groups of them. Instead of adding a repository and going through multiple steps to install your favorite addons one by one typing in something simple like USA instantly adds dozens of the most popular US based apps from sports and news to entertainment. There are official cloudwords for a number of configurations as well as individual apps as well as unofficial cloudwords like the popular 123c produced by Kodi enthusiasts. ARNU Box does not endorse them but they can be found on forums. Our video demo at the bottom of the story shows Cloudword Installer in action.

Kodi Blue Skin
For those of us who have been using Kodi or XBMC for years navigating the program is old hat. But for new users it can be quite confusing. The ARNU Box Mach Q employs the company’s simple Kodi skin that has been nicknamed the Blue Skin, due to its blue toned look. It is a very clean skin with intuitive menus based on the Quarts skin popular with IOS/Apple TV fans. In some ways it is like things went full circle considering how popular XBMC was on Apple TV.

OTA Updates
Nothing is more annoying then when a company announces a firmware update that requires users to

The Blue Skin is easy to navigate especially for new users.
The Blue Skin is easy to navigate especially for new users.

download it from a website,  or even worse a forum, save it on their computer, put it on an SD card, plug the SD card into a set-top box and then shove a tooth pic in the audio port to launch into a developer screen where you then have 3 or more steps to go through until your device is updated . If you have not done this before and think it sounds pointlessly complicated you are not alone. It is anti intuitive and awkward. This device has a different approach. users can update to the latest firmware right from programs and be up and running in minutes. The OTA updates come directly from the box and quickly get you up to speed.

Set Up Wizard
The Pure Linux products from ARNU Box come installed with a helpful set up wizard that walked me through the process of choosing a network, adding cloudwords and even prompted me to set up music and movie libraries for Kodi. This feature was a lot like something you see on products like the Roku family of products. New users will appreciate the exploratory nature of the guide. It is easy to navigate and available at the push of a button.

Help Videos
The Mach Q has step-by-step help videos that teach users how to do all of the major functions that the device is capable of. Importing media, creating cloudwords/backups, etc. Complete with video and captions the help feature is actually one of my favorite aspects of these product and something often overlooked by most developers.

What Comes with it?

Mapped Remote
How many times have you ordered an Android box that comes with some super basic remote with not much moreARNU Box Remote than some directional buttons and an “OK” maybe a number keypad. That is far from the case with this box. The ARNU Box remote which actually rolled out with the Mach 8 Pure Linux, is designed for users to get the most out of their Kodi experience. With buttons that access all of the key video playback, settings, screen size, and more navigating the already basic skin is very easy. At first glance the remote may look intimidating but no big surprise, there is a video that explains how to get the most from it if you need any help. In the end if you choose to you can just use the directional buttons and center button till you get used to the functions.

Detailed Manual
ARNU Box comes with a well organized easy to follow manual that explains all of the key features and operations of the box. This is a major departure from so many other products I have had a chance to work with. Detailed instructions backed up with clear pictures give tips and step-by-step instructions on important things like setting up Wi-Fi or changing settings. There is also a diagram of the remote to help you learn its functions. Most products don’t provide more than a small hard to read leaflet or something obviously translated into English.

Specs


Processor:
 Quad-Core Cortex A5 Processor
GPU: Octo Core Mali-450 GPU
Memory: 1GB DDR3
Flash Memory: 8GB
Ethernet: 10/100
USB: USB 2.0 – Two Ports
Card Slot: SD/SDHC/MMC
Video Output: HDMI 1.4b (Up to 1080p)
Audio Output: HDMI 1.4b, Optical SPDIF

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