The Minix Neo T5 Android TV box adds Android TV 9 to any TV or monitor. It is easy to set up, and over four weeks of use, it is very reliable. By way of introduction, there are hundreds, if not thousands of Android TV boxes, dongles, and TVs themselves. Android TV has become the world’s largest TV OS with an accordingly large app store with almost every streaming service you can think of.
So our job is to find out whether the $139 price is justified over, say, a $99 Google TV dongle. Well, with a few caveats, it is pretty good.
It is a Google Android TV certified set-top box. You connect the HDMI 2.1 cable to any TV or monitor and turn it into Android TV with Chromecast
The ultimate image quality is dependent on your TV or monitor quality. The Minix’s main job is to supply an appropriate video and audio stream. If the TV is old or has issues, these will still be there. And while HDMI 2.1 (required for 4K@60Hz) is backwards compatible, the TV may not be compatible with higher data transfer or refresh rates
Android TV 9 (not upgradeable at this time)
2/16GB storage (not really for downloads)
HDMI 2.1 out 4K@60Hz and cable supplied
Optical SPDIF (to a soundbar)
3.5mm stereo audio (to headphones or AUX-in speaker)
USB 3.0 5V/2A and USB 2.0 5V/.9A
Micro SD reader (to 256GB)
1000Mbps Ethernet Lan
Wi-Fi AC dual-band 2×2 MIMO (433Gbps at 2m from the router)
5V/2A DC plug pack with pole connector
1GB RAM and 16GB eMMC (10Gb free) MicroSD slot to 256GB
Setup – easy
Simple, apart from the Netflix and Amazon Prime download/sideload (see later). But, unless you are tech-savvy, buy another type like Google 4K TV (review here 9.4/10) or the Blaupunkt Android TV (review here 9/10) – they are easier out of the box.
Plug the HDMI 2.1 cable into the monitor/TV. Power up the box and use the remote or your Android smartphone to set up Android TV. You can use an Ethernet LAN cable or Wi-Fi AC.
You can use the USB-A ports to add a keyboard or mouse (or a combo wireless keyboard Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch $99.95), but that may be overkill for a $139 device. Also, we noticed that a wireless keyboard (via a USB dongle) replaces some remote functions.
From there, Android TV will be available on the TV/monitor HDMI Port.
It is an IR remote requiring line-of-sight – you can’t hide it in a cupboard. Some dongles have BT remotes.
There are no dedicated streaming buttons – just an up/down/left/right wheel to access apps etc. Unless your dumb TV or monitor has ARC and CEC, the remote power on/off and volume buttons may not work. Apparently, you can buy more fully-featured remotes from Minix.
Sound is part of the video/audio data stream from streaming companies and catchup TV.
It will decode Dolby Audio (up to 5.1 – not Dolby Atmos) and a range of other standard codecs. Once decoded, the stream goes to the TV and downmixed to its PCM 1.0 mono or 2.0 stereo speakers. Optical SDPIF supports 5.1 sound for an attached soundbar.
First, the caveat – few certified Android TV boxes are Netflix or Android Prime certified. What this means is that these apps don’t appear in the Android TV Play Store. Bummer, and it is more that Netflix and Prime are dragging the chain on approvals.
Having said that, you can download/sideload the Netflix APK from here, and installation notes are here. Similarly, the Amazon Prime APK is here. Then log in to Netflix or Amazon Prime (different subscription accounts required), and you can use them. However, the highest resolution we could get was HD (720p) and 2.0 sound. If the content has an HDR metadata stream, it will display in HDR/10 – not Dolby Vision. It is fine with most other video codecs.
4K or not?
The box is 4K@60Hz capable, but you also need native 4K content. It does not upscale to 4K, so the content streams at the native TV/ monitor resolution – your TV may, or may not, upscale.
At this time, the most you can count on is HD or FHD unless you have a Kodi, Plex or Windows video server (you can use the Ethernet LAN to connect to these). However, 4K/5.1 from YouTube was flawless.
Google Assistant and Android TV
Due to privacy concerns, this does not have a microphone to summons Google. It is 100% Google Assistant compatible if you bark an order at a Google speaker.
Android TV is easy to use and only requires you to enter a Gmail address to get going and access the app store. All other apps have their subscriptions and login requirements.
Upgrades – policy needed
At the time of the review, the security patch was 5 August 2019. While security patches are not as critical for Android TV, we have asked the distributors to check with Minix on updates and will advise the update policy later.
The Minix Neo T5 Android TV box has more functionality than most dongles. Primarily a 1Gbps Ethernet LAN port, HDMI 2.1 and up to 256GB microSD storage. Overall it does what it says, but users need to understand that Dolby Audio and HDR/10 depend on the TV and soundbar – not the box.
It is well-made, Google-certified has extensive user forums and lots of good ideas for use. As such, it is an excellent box for those that know. I do, and I am having lots of fun – ‘exploring’ what it can do. I even found a link to update the firmware (as OTA does not seem to work in Australia). Still the same security patch date!
It is not for Joe and Jane Average due to the Netflix and Amazon Prime sideload issues. So the rating is a pass mark of 8/10 until Minix solves these issues. For the right techno user, it may be a 10/10.
Minix Neo T5 Android TV box
The Minix Neo T5 is a great Android TV box for a tech-savvy user who can find their way around Android TV and customise it to what they want.
Value for money
Ease of use
Well-made with lcoal support
Not for the average consumer - you need to be tech-savvy
Netflix and Amazon Prime need sideload and update to play 1080p