Back in February I reviewed the Favi Smart Stick, a computer the size of a large USB drive that runs Android, plugs directly into your TV's HDMI port, and is intended to turn a "dumb" TV into a "smart" TV. As I noted, the UI was just OK but at a price of $50 for the 4GB version I thought it was a pretty good deal.
Even so, this week, if you want the real deal, I have the smart TV product for you. The product is the JynxBox Android HD and I'm really impressed. This is what you might think of as a "Pro" version of products that make regular TV smart.
The Jynxbox Android HD
The design of the JynxBox Android HD package has that "Apple" feel ... slick and polished. At only 0.6 inches and 4 inches square, the Jynxbox Android HD has an Amlogic 8726 M3 1.2GHZ Cortex A9 CPU, a Mali 400MHz 3D HD GPU, 1GB RAM (DDR3), 4GB internal NAND flash storage, and runs Android 4.04 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
Oh, and a big thumbs-up to the JynxBox designers: The status LEDs on the front aren't the usual eye-blinding blue ... they're a reasonably bright but discrete shade of orange.
Also on the front face is an IR port for the remote. This remote is actually a gyroscopic mouse which, while it works OK, suffers from the same problems all gyromice do: Moving the pointer with any precision is tricky and you have to keep messing with the position of the remote so you don't find yourself with your hand pointing away from the screen but still controlling the mouse (the resulting misalignment is physically and perceptually uncomfortable).
On the right side of the Jynxbox Android HD there's a micro SD card slot (up to 32GB) and two USB ports, while the back has a 10/100 Ethernet port, another USB port, an HDMI port (1080p is the highest resolution supported), and the power connector. There's also built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi.
The UI is pretty much the standard Android interface which begs the question, why not remove the apps and features that aren't relevant to the device, such as the Camera app and the various settings and apps that support GPS and cellular operation.
On the plus side, the Jynxbox Android HD supports USB ATSC tuners, wireless USB keyboards and mice, Bluetooth USB adapters, Google Play Store, and also supports side-load apps installation. And as a media center running XBMC the Jynxbox is great. In fact, the look and feel of the system running at 1080p is really impressive with fast, responsive and clean graphics.
Downsides? Just minor ones: The documentation is sparse and, as noted, the system could be (and should be) configured to remove the unnecessary apps and features. Even so, as a package, the Jynxbox Android HD is impressive. Priced at $120, the Jynxbox Android HD (sold in the U.S. by BoxTop Theater) gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.
That out of the way, let me harken back to something I mentioned in Gearhead last week, the Seagate Wireless Plus. This is a portable (10.5 inches by 3.5 inches by 0.78 inches weighing 0.56 pounds), battery-powered (approximately 10 hours of operation), 1TB drive with a built-in 802.11 b/g/n WiFi access point (it supports up to eight simultaneous device connections) that is capable of relaying network traffic to another WiFi network. It also has a USB 3.0 port for loading and unloading content from a PC or a Mac.
The Seagate Wireless Plus
Using the free native iOS or Android apps you can configure the Seagate Wireless Plus as well as browse content on both the local system and the Seagate Wireless Plus and copy between the two.
The Seagate Wireless Plus does exactly what its specs claim. I've been using the device for the last few days and it is pretty much flawless. I also used it with the Globalgig Hotspot I discussed a few weeks ago and the Logitech Broadcaster Wi-Fi Webcam I discussed last week, and as I suggested, this configuration delivers a remarkably flexible, mobile video capture and storage solution that's powerful and extremely cost-effective.
The Seagate Wireless Plus is an outstanding product and gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.
Gibbs is serving in Ventura, Calif. Become a client at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter and App.net (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).