back to article FAVI smacks your dumb TV with £30 Android SmartStick

FAVI has brought out an Android stick that turns "any TV into a Smart TV", that's the pitch, and it's not far wrong as long as your TV has HDMI, you have a nearby port where you can juice up the dongle via mini-USB - and if you don't mind pushing an arrow around the screen every now and then. The FAVI SmartStick is an Android PC …

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HDMI HiFi

Don't most modern (separates) HiFi systems have HDMI loopthrough, so that they can extract and play the audio?

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JDX
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Re: HDMI HiFi

Why would the kind of person who has a modern separates HiFi, which is rather expensive, be spending £30 to add smartness to a crap old TV? This product is surely aimed at a much more typical audience who simply have a TV stuck in the corner and a bog-standard wireless router?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HDMI HiFi

Maybe one bright enough to understand that the TV's value is mostly as a display, and who wants to decouple the receiver functions from the screen, so as not to be hobbled with a limited function and source set, rather than someone who blindly and obediently buys this year's mediocre swiss army knife device?

Maybe I am an outlier, having an attention span and all.

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Re: HDMI HiFi

To add to AC, I have a TV that works (but is not smart). I can afford £30 if I want smartness, I can't afford £500+ and I do not want to be locked into the restricted services provided by the OEM.

Also, my guess is that devices like this will be hacked to provide even more functionality than a TV OEM would ever want to give you.

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Again proving that your TV is nothing but a display device.

This is what makes me doubtful of any such magical "Apple TV" announcement that was supposed to be forthcoming and legendary and world-ending. Pretty much anything that can be done on a smart TV, can be done with a £30 box and some open-source programming stuck on the TV instead.

I'd buy one, but the controls sound a pain and I already have an IR-extender and a Wii-sensor mounted atop my TV as the only things you can actually see apart from the TV and the remote control. Everything else is tucked away in a cupboard, but another HDMI run, plus USB / PSU, plus IR-out, plus some sort of wireless mouse / keyboard combo - it's too much mess. But it would be cool to have my Google Play account on the TV and playing things like Slay on it (just bought the Android version - about the tenth time I've bought that game, one way or another, since Windows 3.1).

Make me one that forgoes the IR and supports bluetooth mice/keyboards/Wiimotes, say, and you have a deal. It can't be that hard. A bluetooth dongle is only £1 now and you could literally just hide that internally and run some of the native Bluetooth support software for HID devices and Wiimotes and you're done. Probably a lot easier and cheaper to make than all that IR junk, to be honest.

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Anonymous Coward

We may see an 'Apple TV' with a screen but I reckon it's more likely to be an upgraded box (more powerful) or something larger with mic / cameras etc. for motion control. Either way think we will see current / new Apple TV set top boxes running Apps - can't really believe they don't already as at about £85 for an Apple TV box that turns your TV into an iPad it's a bargain.

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Slay

" ... and playing things like Slay on it (just bought the Android version - about the tenth time I've bought that game, one way or another, since Windows 3.1)."

Good lord, I'd forgotten all about that game. I didn't even realise there was an Android version.

Well that's my next long train journey sorted. Thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

"but another HDMI run, plus USB / PSU, plus IR-out, plus some sort of wireless mouse / keyboard combo - it's too much mess"

not from where i'm looking, the stick is out of site at the back of the tv and the mouse is a BT optical wireless which is happy to operate from the sofa or my knee. Absolutely no need for a keyboard, i use the device to stream from other PCs.

"Make me one that forgoes the IR and supports bluetooth mice/keyboards" as this and its ilk already do...

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Quote from the article: "Which is important as (in common with most sticks) there's no Bluetooth support."

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Anonymous Coward

@Lee Dowling

"Which is important as (in common with most sticks) there's no Bluetooth support."

Go proprietary. Logitech (and I'm sure many others) offer wireless mice and keyboards that use a very small dongle, and don't need a specific driver, so Bluetooth isn't needed.

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Anonymous Coward

^^ what he said - the bluetooth dongle goes in the usb port of the stick and hey presto (but no magic involved) instant bluetooth support

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> Quote from the article: "Which is important as (in common with most sticks) there's no Bluetooth support."

Which is a shame. Apple's trackpad seems like a more sensible living-room device than a mouse.

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Pint

of course the TV is on...

" which means that as a media player the stick is very much a video device unless one is happy to run the TV while listening to music"

How else does anyone playback audio or audio/video material these days?

PS3, Android Slabs & Slabettes, PVR's for playing back mp3, mp4, CD, DVD & Blu-Ray are all connected to the TV. How else is one going to listen to Freesat radio channels?

This looks like a useful product, if you don't already have an Android device that can just plug into the HDMI socket. Our xperias, transformer and Flyer already do and the the browsing and youtube is much better than from the PlayStation.

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Happy

Re: of course the TV is on...

All my devices go through my Surround system. I'd just plug the dongle into the back of that then I can just turn off the TV once I've got my audio streaming. This is of course if the media was not available to my PS3, Apple TV or Squeezebox which already stream plenty of media for me...

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Re: of course the TV is on...

Some of us want decent quality audio when we listen to music. Not the crap your TV can produce.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: of course the TV is on...

What is your point? Most of us have our tv's connected to something that does deliver decent quality audio from the tv.

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So as long as your Wi-Fi coverage is very good

Pity they didn't include an ethernet socket as well - I'd much prefer to rely on a wired network for something like this (even if I need to use a homeplug to get the network there) as despite my best efforts I can never seem to get totally reliable wifi in my house!

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I use a homeplug (Devolo) with a Wifi extender and I've yet to see any quality issues.

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Anonymous Coward

that's the ticket :)

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I think I'm going to have to go with something similar (to homeplug) for my Philips TV because cabling the things is a nightmare. I wanted to use WiFi for streaming but unfortunately Philips provided pants drivers for their own WiFi dongle so the connection breaks reliably after about 20 minutes watching films or a couple of hours listening to music. Philips say it's the access point but the same dongle connected to a Philips Blu-Ray player doesn't have any problems. Several firmware updates have failed to solve the problem but removed useful features like the ability to delete channels, because this is apparently "patented". It's failures like this which prevent TV makers from moving up the value chain.

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Anonymous Coward

What's the current status of Android on the RPi?

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Android on the RPi

There's an Android sub-section of the RPi forum at www.raspberrypi.org (scroll down the forum home page to the "Operating system distributions" section) - a quick scan over the topic names suggests Android is being worked on, but it's early days yet.

Personally, I run Arch on my RPi, but if I just wanted it to run as a TV media player, I'd look at one of the dedicated RPi media-centre distros, such as OpenELEC or RaspBMC. A useful Android distribution for the RPi could be some way off, though I may well be mistaken there.

On the other hand: if all you want is a really cheap Android media centre, this stick might suit better than a RPi (it'll be ready out of the box. for one). Doubt it'll only cost £30 by the time it reaches the UK, though...

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Re: Android on the RPi

RaspBMC is pretty fast and stable now, but as it is using the latest beta of XBMC it doesn't have a massive plugin support. The iPlayer plugin I tried crashes for example. But XBMC is a brilliant interface compared to some of the Android sticks'.

However I think the main advantage of the Android sticks is that Android has apps for services like Netflix and LoveFilm which as far as I know you can't get an XBMC plugin for.

Hopefully soon the Android XBMC port will work well enough on these things to give you the best of both worlds.

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Do what?

> many of us hang on to our sets for half a decade despite the industry's attempts to get us into annual upgrades.

Dream on TV makers. My CRT equipped set was bought in 1988 and ran for over 15 years until it was replaced for reasons of size. There won't be any new TV formats (3D, ultra-HD, smelly-vision) that would make us want to upgrade. So, barring technical failure I fully expect to be staring at the same screen for 10+ years and to never buy another TV again.

After the current crop of TVs eventually go pop, it's unlikely that the replacement would be a TV set - just a piggin' big screen with lots of ancillary gizmos attached, just like 1980's stereo systems: wires all over the place - happy days!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do what?

"So, barring technical failure I fully expect to be staring at the same screen for 10+ years and to never buy another TV again."

Fear 4k, as soon as the mainstream production chain is up to scratch, it will go more mainstream; be warned.

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Re: Do what?

I remember the Reg running an article a few years ago that basically stated that unless you have AMAZING eyesight, a HUGE screen, or a TINY living room, anything over HD is pretty pointless. (It was actually making the point that HD is often wasted, but seen as we're upping the ante...).

For those reasons, I can't see 4K going mainstream any time soon.

To contradict myself, the old broadcasters might go as far as subsidising 4K displays to get everyone hooked and prevent us all turning to a variety of upstart internet services in the next 5 years.

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Anonymous Coward

There is no margin in selling screens - the money is in the content. Pretty sure I read people like Samsung are making low single digit margins on screens (and that is despite their cartels etc.) and other people (Sharp?) are making losses? If I were Apple think I would be knocking the Apple TV boxes out even cheaper as they are a fantastic 'enabler' for iPhones and iPads.

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The Apple TV box doesn't need to be cheaper, it needs to be better. For £300, with a hard disk for recording, a DVD/Blu Ray player and connection to Macs / iPads / iPhones and the iTunes/AppStore it would be great. But they don't want to give you all that, they want you buying content on iTunes, often at twice the price you can get it on DVD. So it's a useful but limited device.

Admittedly at £100, it's almost tempting to get one just to play with. Given the low margins on screens I wonder if Apple will just knock out a Mac Mini with many bells and whistles. But if they're going to continue their war on DVDs I'll look elsewhere to avoid having to have more than one device.

As someone who can't read text on a TV screen, this smart TV thing is passing me by. I'd like to run my TV from my iPad or phone, but have one box that does iPlayer and other catch-up services, DVD and maybe Netflix. So far I'm looking at just buying/building a cheap PC and doing it with MythTV or Windows. Having finally got a Bluetooth speaker (cheap from the dying Currys), it's rather nice to run my music from my iPad while sitting on the sofa. Now it's time to sit down and do the research on running the telly properly. If only the TV manufacturers had a clue...

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Anonymous Coward

"they want you buying content on iTunes, often at twice the price you can get it on DVD. So it's a useful but limited device."

I'll give you that - to a point. But when recently comparing the price of some new released on blu-ray or DVD vs downloading on iTunes - iTunes were cheaper in almost every case. Now of course you can argue that they should be but remember iTunes will now let you stream and re-download the movie - forever and to all your devices. Really want to own that plastic box and spinning disk?

I also noticed a lot more movies available at £3.99/4.99 - yes mostly older stuff but similar to the £3-5 Amazon will sell the DVD for and again you get it on all your Apple devices forever and when you buy the HD version you using get 1080p, 720p and SD versions as well.

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Anonymous Coward

"forever" --- really!!!

"iTunes will now let you stream and re-download the movie - forever and to all your devices"

'forever' - that is a very long time, even the East India Company came and went in a mere 274 years, and they had their own country, I'm not sure I'd give Apple even that long...

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I'll give you that - to a point. But when recently comparing the price of some new released on blu-ray or DVD vs downloading on iTunes - iTunes were cheaper in almost every case.

Interesting. I've not looked at their prices in a while. To be honest I'm in limbo at the moment. I've recently moved, and been rather too busy for much TV. In fact I've not even got round to buying one yet... So for the last few months I've watched a bit of iPlayer on the computer, done a lot of DIY.

However, I've also stopped buying DVDs, even though you can pick loads up for £3. I'm thinking that with the prices of Lovefilm and Netflix at £5 per month, maybe it's no longer worth owning a DVD collection? Maybe a few special things, that I really want, but otherwise I might just be happy to stream everything. Anyway all this needs some research, which is my new year project, along with buying that telly and some kind of set-top box, or PC. I'm wondering about a PS3, but the user interface on my friend's is a right old mess, although maybe that's because we've always had too much to drink when we try to use it...

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Smart TV is a misnomer

I've got a Panny Smart TV and what a pain in the posterior it is to use, if I try to watch any web content it decides to use the Playstation to do it which kinda defeats the purpose. Also, if I wanted to buy a Rolling Stones album I would, I don't need you advertising crap to me every time I turn on the TV, I think it may get it's CAT5 removed this weekend, a dumb terminal is so much easier to use.

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Next step

Device you can plug your aerial into - with improved Wifi over the review version, access to a NAS or higher internal memory capacity and a half decent channel browsing/taping interface, I can see cheapo Android boxes eating into the market for Sky+/TiVo boxes (what's their generic name again?)

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Happy

Re: Next step

I've been calling V+, Sky+, Tivo etc PVR's (personal video recorders) or possibly DVR's (disc/digital video recorders).

So, "I recorded it on my PVR, but have yet to watch it" &

"Delete that long HD feature film, we're running out of space on the PVR"

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Anonymous Coward

Been around for ages...

Bought one of these via ebay over 6 months ago, same internals but no favi branding. Funnily enough it was straight after seeing an article about the favi on a rival site, sure took its time to make it here! Cost £29.95 inc postage, uk based seller. Works an absolute treat as a media streamer, no more cabling of various sources into my otherwise dumb (read non networked) tv, self powered by tv and operated by bluetooth mouse. Can stream from and to my tab, phone, internet radio and pcs via either smb or dnla. Great piece of kit for the money.

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I had to buy a Samsung branded wifi dongle for my mums new Smart TV, setting her back £50. That angered me a lot, especially as a the web browser is so fucking terrible. A dumb telly and one of these would have been better.

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No you really know ....

... what 'captive market' means.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 101

"I had to buy a Samsung branded wifi dongle for my mums new Smart TV, setting her back £50"

My Sammy is running an unbranded wifi dongle that works a treat, cost about £20. Some cheapo ones won't play ball, so you need to check the reviews, but (if my experience is general) there's no real need to pay for a branded item.

Mind you, the smart functionality built in is so slow and so crummy that it was hardly worthwhile, although the kids appreciate the access to iPlayer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 101

My Samsung Smart TV is pretty poo - the Panasonic is better but still not great. Both now have Apple TVs attached and if / when they can run apps it will be game over as the only 'smart' features I use the TVs for now is BBC iPlayer and 4oD etc.

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Addressing the digital divide?

How does this class of device look as a home computer for poorer UK school students who don't have one?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20899109 A third of poorest pupils 'without internet at home',

So you need an Internet connection and you can't legally borrow next door's wi-fi, but there are ways, I suppose.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Addressing the digital divide?

When I were a lad they had these things called libraries...

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Re: Addressing the digital divide?

I'm sure they did, but most of them have closed down now, those that are left rarely open past 3.30 outside of big cities / towns.

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Facepalm

Yippee

Now google can know about everything I watch as well as everywhere I go and everything I buy

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Jut a tip if you get one

The article says about network drops borking streaming.

Most of this is down to pluging the dongle for keyboard etc into the unit, use a powered usb hub and plug everything into that, it solves the need for using the charger plus you can have a mouse, keyboard and remote all vailable to you.

Am using the MK809 myself and opnce you upgrade the firmware to stock android its a great device for everything I throw at it, it even does 3D.......

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"The only way to get sound out is via HDMI (at least until Android starts supporting USB sound devices)"

Doesn't Android support USB audio devices?

I don't have a Nexus (stock Android) device to test with, but the Samsung Galaxy S3 supports USB audio devices (as well as most other USB devices I've tried with it) with USB OTG.

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(Written by Reg staff)

My understanding is that only the Siii supports any sound over USB, and there's a campaign to have it bundled in the stock Android release:

http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=24614

I tried a couple of USB audio devices (just in case) and had no luck with them at all.

Bill.

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Once bitten...

I was suckered by a "smart TV" about 2 decades age (there's a reason for the quotes - don't start slagging me off yet.)

It had a VCR built in underneath it, all in the same unit! Very clever and compact. Until the VCR stopped working, and I wanted to replace it with something else shiny. Then I had a TV with an in-built broken VCR, sitting on top of a VCR!

I'm not going to fall for it again, thank you very much.

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Unhappy

Re: Once bitten...

2 decades AGO. I proof read it (poorly), and everything :-(

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I have the Justop box (£40 from ebay) - its bigger (1.5 x pack of fags) than this little thing and requires its own external power supply - I use a mains master/slave trip so it goes on & off with the TV, but it has two full sized USB sockets and wired Ethernet, so homeplug gets round the streaming issues.

I quickly realised a mini-keyboard/mouse like the one featured in the video was a big bonus, but found a lot don't have the rage to be used across the living room.

It does a fine job on youtube (inc pretty good HD) & iplayer, but 4od only plays the ads!!!! - had to adjust the TV's audio lag to get lip sync, and its still a little off.

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