MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC Review
What Is The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC?
What is the MK802 Android mini PC? It is a tiny computer that is about the size of a slightly large USB flash drive. Like a computer, it has a CPU, a GPU, RAM and storage space and it even connects to the internet through built-in WiFi. As the name would suggest, it runs on Android operating system, the same as your Samsung Galaxy or Google Nexus smartphone.
This MK802 Android Mini PC review covers the contents of the MK802 package, the specifications, how to setup the MK802 plus suggestions on how to make use of one.
The MK802 has a HDMI connector instead of a VGA port. It connects to any monitor or HDTV with a HDMI port. It also comes with a couple of USB ports. These can be used to connect USB accessories such as keyboard, mouse (both wired and wireless), webcam, external USB hard drive or even a gamepad.
Like any computer, the MK802 can be used for email, web surfing, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, watching movies, listening to music, view photos and play games; just like any Android tablet except that you are running it off your large screen TV.
This is also the reason why the Android mini PC is also referred to as the Android Smart TV dongle or the Android TV stick as it actually transforms your TV into an Android computer.
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<< Image Credit - Roy Yap >>
Mini MK802 Android 4.0 Google TV Box HD IPTV Player PC Allwinner A10 1G DDR3
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Unboxing the MK802 Android Mini PC - What is included in the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC box?
The MK802 Android TV stick came in a nicely packaged small green box with the Android logo on the front. The entire box weighs about 11.4 ounces. The box is sturdy and fairly well made so first impressions are good.
The following items are packed in the box:
> MK802 HDMI dongle which is about the size of half a deck of cards
> Simple but full color manual
> Mini HDMI cable
> USB cable
> Mini USB to USB adapter
> Power adapter
The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC has a few ports:
> A mini HDMI port to be used with the HDMI cable to connect to an HDMI capable display.
> A full sized USB port for connection to a supported USB peripheral.
> A mini USB port that can be used for powering the unit via USB. A mini USB adapter is provided in the package if you wish to convert it into an extra full sized USB port.
> Power port that connects to the provided power adapter to power the unit from the mains.
> A micro SD slot to expand the storage capacity if needed. It supports up to 32GB.
The unit itself is made from glossy plastic and is very light. The construction does not seem to be very sturdy but it does not look like a cheap device either.
MK802 Android Mini PC Specifications - Chipset, Memory, Storage size, Video Formats, Audio Formats, Size, Weight
The hardware specification of the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC is about average or the equivalent to what you will find on a mid range Android tablet released about a year ago.
Although it is not very powerful by any means but it is good enough for most people. It runs on a 1.5GHz Allwinner processor that is underclocked to 912 MHz. Not sure why this is so but it is most likely because the device is running pretty hot.
It has come to my attention that the 1.5GHz Allwinner processor is actually a mislabeling of sorts by the manufacturer as it is actually combination of 1.0GHz rating of the CPU and 0.5GHz rating of the GPU so the 912 MHz rating may be the max rating and not due to underclocking. Thanks Tatanko.
Currently there are 2 versions of the MK802, one with 512MB of RAM and another with 1GB RAM. This MK802 Android TV stick review is based on the newer 1GB version. Besides the RAM, everything else is the same. It also comes with 4GB of on board flash storage which you can further expand using the micro SD slot (up to 32GB) or hook up an external USB hard drive via one of the two USB slots.
If you are worried about the shortage of USB ports, don't be, as the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC supports USB hubs as well to increase the number of USB devices that you can connect to it. The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC measures 3 x 1 x 0.4 inches and weighs about 1 ounce.
Last but not least, the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC comes with built in WiFi (802.11b/g/n) but there is no accelerometer, Bluetooth or GPS receiver. All in all, the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC has quite an impressive hardware specification list for a device of its size and price.
The MK802 Mini PC for Android comes installed with Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) which has better support for tablet devices and hence makes it more user friendly when connected to a big screen monitor or HDTV.
The MK802 Android TV dongle supports resolutions up to 1080p but the current firmware actually upscales 720p to 1080p so it is not real 1080p yet. The China manufacturer, Rikomagichas released an updated firmware that supports native 1080p but I have not installed it yet as it has some reported bugs.
Detailed instructions on downloading the latest Firmware Rev2 plus installation guide can be found on my Firmware Upgrade and Linux for MK802 Android Mini PC article.
I have finally updated my MK802 to the latest Rev2 firmware. I can confirm that the new firmware does support 1080p plus a few other new resoultion options as well.
Detailed instructions on how to update the firmware plus lots of useful information can be found at Envy This Stuff's MK802 FAQ.
If you are an advanced user, if might interest you to know that the MK802 Android dongle already comes rooted which means that it is very easy to modify the firmware or upload with alternative OSes. There are already developers who have come up with different flavors of Linux that runs on the MK802 including Fedora, Ubuntu and Puppy.
Check out my Firmware Upgrade and Linux for MK802 Android Mini PC article for a guide on all currently available Linux OS flavors for the MK802 plus instructions on where to download the images plus how to install them on the MK802.
<< Image Credit - Rikomagic >>
Setting up the MK802 Android TV Stick - Getting the MK802 Android TV Stick up and running in 5 minutes or less
Setting up the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC is really easy. First connect the provided mini HDMI cable to the MK802 and to your HDMI capable display. Make sure that the display supports 1080p or is at least HD Ready (able to downscale 1080p to 720p).
Please note that since the MK802 computer on a stick does not have a separate audio output port, audio is via HDMI and if your display does not have speakers you will not get any sound.
There is an alternative method to get sound if your HDMI display does not output audio. You will need a USB Sound Card. Just connect your speakers to the 3.5 mm audio jack on the sound card for audio.
Secondly, you need to connect some kind of USB input device for you to interact with the device. The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC supports a variety of devices including both wired and wireless mouse and keyboard, keyboard with touchpad or even a USB gamepad.
I have tried with both wired and wireless keyboard and mouse and both worked well. If you plan to use the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC with an HDTV in the living room, a wireless "fly mouse" is recommended. I have not tried this but others have and have reported them to work great in such an environment.
The Logitech Rumblepad 2 Gamepad has been found to work with the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC without any remapping required. The left analog stick has the same mapping as the d-pad but the right analog stick does not work.
The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC is also found to work well with both wired and wireless PS2 controllers with the use of a PSX to USB converter so if you have a PS2 controller lying around, you can use that as well.
If you are running short on USB ports, you can attach a USB hub (powered preferred) to increase the number of ports. The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC can be used as a media player by connecting an external hard drive with all your favorite movies. Others have also managed to connect a USB to Ethernet network adapter to use a wired connection instead of WiFi.
The newly released updated firmware is supposed to add support for webcams so that the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC can be used with Skype and other apps that require a webcam.
Check out my new article on How to use Skype on an MK802 Android Mini PC for easy 3-step instruction on setting up your MK802 Mini PC and selecting compatible USB webcams/microphones for Skype.
I have finally updated my MK802 to the latest Rev2 firmware. I made a quick test using a Logitech C270h webcam I had on hand.The mic worked but unfortunately I couldn't get the camera to work. I will experiment further with this.
“Power up the MK802 using the display's USB port as this means the device will power up and down together with the display ”
There is no power switch on the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC. To turn it on, just connect it to the mains with the included power adapter or connect the mini USB port to a powered USB port. One tip is to power up the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC using the display's USB port as this means the device will power up and down together with the display and save you the hassle of manually unplugging the MK802 to switch it off.
Booting up takes about 1 to 2 minutes and after that you are good to go. Like any Android device, you can link the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC to your Google account and it will sync with your Gmail account including your calendar and contacts.
The device comes preloaded with some apps including most standard Google apps such as the default Android browse and Gmail, a video player that supports playback of most video formats including MKV, AVI and MP4 and YouTube.
There are a few Chinese apps including an app for Chinese video site, Youku and Chinese movie streaming apps PPTV and PPS.
The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC comes with access to the Google Play store so you can download both paid and free apps from the store. If you already own an Android phone, paid apps that you already own will show up here as well if you have linked your Google account to the device and you can download those to the MK802 without paying for them again.
For a more detailed write up on the actual setup process, check out my Turn Your TV into a Smart TV with the MK802 Android Mini PC lens.
If you face any problems while setting up your MK802 you can check out the MK802 Android Mini PC Troubleshooting Guide for possible solutions.
<< Image Credit - Roy Yap >>
USB keyboard and mouse combos that work with the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC
These wireless keyboard combos have been verified by MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC users to work using either the original firmware or the updated V2 firmware. A wireless keyboard allows you to sit back comfortably from your TV as you control the MK802.
Check out my detailed review of the Rii, iPazzPort and FAVI mini wireless keyboards and how well they work with the MK802 and other Android Mini PCs.
Portable USB 2.4GHz Wireless Air Fly Mouse Multi Keyboard for PC (Black)
If you plan to use the MK802 together with a big screen HDTV then the best way to navigate is to use a flymouse type of keyboard plus mouse controller. The flymouse allows you to control the cursor on the screen like a Wii remote by moving it in the air and if you need to enter any text, you can do it quickly and accurately with the built-in full QWERTY keypad. Highly recommended.
Unisen iPazzPort KP-810-18R Wireless Keyboard and Touchpad with Learning Infrared (IR) Remote Control 2.4G RF Google TV Compatible
Another great mini wireless keyboard to pair with the MK808. This one has a touch pad instead of air mouse function. On one side is a full 82 key QWERTY keyboard with backlight while on the other is a learning IR remote for 2 devices. Check out my full review of the keyboard here.
Another great air mouse option is the Mele Fly Sky air mouse. This one has a remote control like button on one side and a full QWERTY keyboard on the other side. Recommended.
Another mini wireless keyboard but this one comes with a trackball instead.
Full sized wireless keyboard with track pad combo.
Need some ideas on how to make use of the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC?
Now that you know what the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC is and what it can do, you may be wondering about the usefulness of such a device beyond having a portable computer especially if you already own an Android phone which can do everything that the MK802 can do and probably more. Here are some ideas.
CONVERT YOUR DUMB TV INTO A SMART TV
By connecting the MK802 to your HDTV, you instantly upgrade it into a smart TV that is better and more powerful than any smart TV that is currently on the market today.
Not only does it allow you to browse the internet with full support for Flash, you will also have access to online video sites like YouTube, social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter, media streaming services such as Netflix and Pandora.
It can also run most of the thousands of available Android apps on Google Play including games such as Angry Birds Space which incidentally already comes preinstalled.
SHOW ME HOW!
Easy step by step instructions on converting your HDTV into a state-of-the-art Smart TV using the MK802 Android PC for under US$100!
TURN THE MK802 INTO A MEDIA PLAYER
The included media player is quite a capable player that is able to play almost all the movie files that I threw at it. At this moment, the MK802 is still not as versatile or as user friendly as a dedicated media player.
For those who are interested in this function, you will be pleased to know that there are currently efforts in place to port XBMC over to Android. XBMC is an open source media player that is highly customizable and has huge support from the developer community.
The team that is porting XBMC over to Android have been working on it for a month now. Unfortunately they have hit a few snags, the biggest being support from Allwinner is lacking and the team is unable to get hardware video decoding working. It could be just a communication problem and there is a Plan B to use an external player from within XBMC. I am still keeping my fingers crossed on this.
NEED AN EXTRA COMPUTER FOR THE KITCHEN OR BEDROOM?
If you have a spare HDMI capable display lying around, you can just hook up the MK802 to it together with a wireless keyboard/mouse and you have a great internet capable computer that can store all your recipe and cooking videos to be used in the kitchen or for some quick web browsing before falling asleep.
The MK802 itself can be neatly tucked away at the back of the display for a neat wire-free setup.
IT IS NOT A REAL COMPUTER UNLESS IT RUNS LINUX
If you are a Linux fan or if you had always wondered what attracts all the geeks to Linux, you can turn the MK802 into a quick and dirty Linux computer by running Ubuntu or one of the many flavors of Linux that has been successfully ported over to MK802.
What's even cooler is that you can dual boot the MK802 by loading Linux into the micro SD and let it boot from it. You also have the choice of replacing the firmware entirely. This is currently still work in progress as there are still functions that are still not working well yet but that is what you Linux guys live for right?
TURN IT INTO AN ANDROID NOTEBOOK COMPUTER
If you can get your hands on a Motorola Atrix Lapdock which is basically a dumb dock with a screen, keyboard and trackpad that was sold as an accessory for the Motorola Atrix phone, you can turn the MK802 into a notebook computer. You can read on the details on how this is done and watch videos of the setup here.
Continuing on ideas on how to use the MK802 Mini PC
CREATE THE ULTIMATE GAMING MACHINE!
While the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC is not ideal for running most Android games due to the lack of a touch screen and other hardware limitations, you can turn it into a classic gaming device by hooking up 2 USB game controllers and then install game emulators such as GENPlusDroid (Genesis emulator), SNESDoid (SNES emulator), SuperGNES (SNES emulator), NESDroid (NES emulator) and MAME4droid (arcade emulator).
Here are test results from users on their experience in running emulators on the MK802.
> SNESDroid - Roms ran ok but sound was choppy
> SNESoid - works good
> John NES Lite - worked good
> Frodo C64 - worked good
> N64oid - work with a few glitches and no lag
You may not even be restricted to just classic gaming despite the MK802's pretty average CPU as there is a possibility of installing OnLive on the MK802 and play the latest PC games!
For games that uses onscreen game pad controls, you can use the GameKeyboard app to map the touch buttons onto a physical game controller.
If you do not want to subscribe to OnLive, you can try your luck at streaming PC games directly from your own PC. This is similar to the OnLive service except that the games run off your PC instead on OnLive's servers. You will need the Kainy app on the MK802 and it will stream the games via Wifi or 3G. You will need the GameKeyboard app as well to map the onscreen controls to a game pad.
Thanks to exodus for the idea
SKYPE ME ON MY TV
Now that the new firmware supports webcams, it is even possible to turn your TV into a Skype device. Just plug a cheap USB webcam into the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC and you got yourself a Skype capable TV for under $100. You can now Skype with your relatives and friends from the comfort of your couch.
Thanks to exodus for the idea
Since I have created a separate article on running Skype on the MK802, I have moved all the updates from this article over to the new article. For details on how to setup Skype and a list of camera choices, please visit the link below.
SHOW ME HOW!
Easy step by step instructions on turning your HDTV into a Skype capable device. Engage in video conference calls from the comfort of your couch.
Well, not really but the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC can run a remote desktop app like LogMeIn, PocketCloud or Splashtop and connect to your PC running Windows. The screen refresh rate is a bit slow so you won't be watching videos on it but you can control most functions and a great way to show off to your friends.
USE IT AS A BITTORRENT RIG
The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC's power consumption is only about 3 Watts at full load which is very low and makes it ideal as a torrent rig. Install a free torrent client like tTorrent Lite or aDownloader and connect a 1TB external hard drive and you are good to go. Happy torrenting!
USE THE MK802 AS A HOME AUTOMATION CONTROLLER
Read about Yoctopuce's efforts in using the MK802 as a simple wireless controller for a home automation system. It is a workable solution but they faced some problems with poor WiFi connection on the MK802.
If you are interested in home automation, check out my INSTEON Home Automation article on how to get a working home automation system on a budget.
USE THE MK802 AS A FIREWORKS REMOTE CONTROL
This is another great project from Yoctopuce that pairs an MK802 and an iPhone to work as a fireworks remote control. The iPhone is used as a controller that communicates with the MK802 via WiFi which in turn controls a relay that fires the fireworks. Yoctopuce has instructions plus a nice video that shows off his handiwork.
USB webcams that work with the MK802 Android Mini PC
These USB webcams have been verified to work with Skype on the MK802. Please note that firmware update and/or additional apps may be required to get them to work properly. For details and full listing of tested webcams and mics, please refer to How to use Skype on an MK802 Android Mini PC.
The only tested 720p HD webcam that works.
VGA webcam with auto focus.
Very basic webcam.
USB gamepads that work with the MK802
Plan to do a little gaming on the MK802? These game controllers have been tested and verified to work on the MK802.
The Logitech Rumblepad 2 works out of the box with the MK802 without the need for remapping any of its buttons.
Recapture the nostalgia of playing on a classic SNES by plugging in a pair of Classic USB Super Nintendo Controllers with the MK802 running a SNES emulator. Dump your collection of SNES ROMs in an external drive or in a micro SD and relive the glory of 16 bit gaming.
Other USB devices that work with the MK802
Here are a few other USB devices that work on the MK802.
If you plan to use the MK802 as a media player, you will need somewhere to store your movie collection. Connect a 1TB drive with your movie collection to one of the USB ports and turn the MK802 into a powerful media player. Be reminded that the MK802 only works with FAT and not NTFS file system.
Use this USB Sound Card to get audio if your HDMI display does not support sound. You can also use the built in mic for Skype calls.
The Verdict - The pros and cons of the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC
The GoodThe MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC currently sells for about US$70 and it is available online from eBay, Amazon and many online retailers. For its price, it's a great device but keep your expectation at realistic levels considering the hardware specifications.If you are shopping for a new TV, you can save a whole lot by forgoing the Smart TV function and just buy an MK802 instead. Android 4.0 works surprisingly well without a touch screen but a fly mouse is highly recommended.Great support for USB devices and peripherals especially for mice, keyboard, trackpads, game pads, thumb drives, external hard drives. Latest firmware from Rikomagic adds support for webcam and LAN adapter.Because the device comes rooted out of the box, it is also targeted at the developer community so expect to see a lot of hacking and adding of versatility to the MK802 in the near future.
The BadThe 1.5GHz Allwinner processor (underclocked to 912 Mhz) does show its age and can choke when you try to do too many things at once or run processor intensive apps such as high end games. While the manufacturer has released a firmware update to support true 1080p, I think 720p may be more suited for it.Since the MK802 does not have a touch screen or accelerometer, any app that requires multi touch or accelerometer input will not work.< Update >There is now a solution for apps that require multitouch and accelerometer support. It requires a firmware update and the Droidmote server app. Details here.No Bluetooth but users have reported that it does work with certain Bluetooth mice and keyboards with the addition of a USB Bluetooth dongle.No GPS but I don't find this to be a big issue as you won't be using the MK802 on the go.No analog audio output so it cannot be used with a pair of earphones. Audio is only via HDMI.Some users have been complaining about difficulty in connecting to their router or the MK802 causing interference to their WiFi network. Further details on this issue and possible solutions here.
The UglyThe MK802 does produce quite a bit of heat especially if you are doing processor intensive tasks such as watching HD video for a prolong period. So far it has not caused any problems yet but I have this nagging fear that it might burn out one day.If you plan to run the MK802 for extended periods, it is possible to mod it by adding heat sinks. Details here.Follow me on TwitterI update this review on a frequent basis with new information. Follow me on Twitter for update notifications on my Squidoo activity.Follow @SquidooRoy<< Image Credit - Roy Yap >>
Check out my comprehensive guide that highlights all the important features and differences between all the different Android mini computers.
MK802 II Android Mini PC
There is an upgraded version of the MK802 called the MK802 II Android 4.0 Mini PC. However, this is only a very minor upgrade to the original Mk802. The biggest differences are:
- Revised form factor with a full sized HDMI connector built into the unit itself. You can now plug the MK802 II directly into the display's HDMI port without the need for an additional HDMI cable.
- An additional mini-USB port bringing the total number of USB ports to 3 - 2 Mini-USB and 1 full size USB.
- Soft start/shutdown now possible. The original MK802 can only be powered down by cutting off power to the unit.
Besides the above differences, the new MK802 II is about identical to the original MK802.
Rikomagic MK802 II New Generation Mini Android 4.0 PC Google TV Box HD IPTV Player
The new MK802 II comes in a brand new form factor which makes it easier connection to TV/Displays with a built-in full size HDMI connector located conveniently at the end of the device.
A newly redesigned ESD circuitry protects and eliminates ESD problems. An additional mini USB port has been added and the device now has a total of 3 USB ports while maintaining its incredibly compact form factor.
MK802 III Android Mini PC
The MK802 III Dual Core Android 4.1 Mini PC is Rikomagic's (the manufacturer of the MK802) update to the MK802 which is based on the Rockchip dual core RK3066 chipset. It is similar to the MK808 as it comes with 8GB of storage and also Android 4.1 (Jellybean).
Check out my MK802 III Review for more details.
Rikomagic MK802 III Dual Core Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Mini PC Rockchip RK3066 1.6Ghz Cortex A9 1GB RAM 8G ROM HDMI (Black)
This is the Dual-Core TV box model from Rikomagic. It comes with Android 4.1OS and 1GB DDR RAM and 8GB ROM. The MK802 III Android dongle can support 1080P video (1920*1080).
The Other Opinions
Other reviews of the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PCEngadget - MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC hands-on impressionsAndroid Central - AllWinner MK802 - A Quick Hands-On ReviewLaptop Mag - Android 4.0 Mini PC ReviewLiliputing - $74 MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC: First impressions (video)
Are you an MK802 owner? Let us know what you think of it.
Do you have any questions about the MK802? Ask here and we will try to help.