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Appeared on: Monday, September 05, 2016
NexBox A95X Android Media Player review


1. Meet the NexBox A95X Media Player -- powered by the S905X chip

NexBox recently introduced their first Android 6.0 media player, powered with the latest generation of AmLogic chipsets, the S905X. This chipset, compared to the previous S905 , introduces improved performance, HDR and VP9 support. It is actually a quad core Cortex A53 SOC, which includes a Penta-Core (5-core) GPU that can reach speeds of up to 2.0GHz.

As we will see later on, the NEXBOX A95X very compact, which both its length and width to be only 93mm and the height is just at a amazing 11mm. You can hold it in your palm.

 

 


KodiCenter, developed by NEXBOX engineer team, is a place where users can find many useful Kodi add-ons for their TV boxes. Here, you can find an add-on which can help to maintain your Kodi (update, backup and much more), so you can be always updated with your HD video fun.

Specifications

Chipset Amlogic S905X Quad core Cortex A53 2.0GHz 64bit
GPU Penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750MHz+
RAM 2GB DDR3
ROM 16GB EMMC
Main Features
OS Android 6.0
3D Hardware 3D graphics acceleration 
Support Decoder format  HD MPEG1/2/4,H.264,H.265, HD AVC/VC-1,RM/RMVB,Xvid/DivX3/4/5/6 ,RealVideo8/9/10, VP9
Support Media format Avi/Rm/Rmvb/Ts/Mkv/Mov/ISO/wmv/ asf/flv/dat/mpg/mpeg/Mov/mp4/
Support Music format MP3/WMA/AAC/WAV/OGG/AC3/DDP/TrueHD/DTS /DTS/HD/FLAC/APE
Support Photo format HD JPEG/BMP/GIF/PNG/TIFF 
USB host 2 High speed USB 2.0,support USB DISK and USB HDD
Card reader TF cards
HDD file system FAT16/FAT32/NTFS
Support Subtitle SRT/SMI/SUB/SSA/IDX+USB
HDR Support
High Difinition video output 4k*2k
OSD type of languages English/French/German/Spanish/Italian/etc multil languages
LAN Ethernet:10/100M, standard RJ-45
Bluetooth V4.0
Wireless Support 802.11 b/g/n
Mouse/ Keyboard Support mouse and keyboard via USB;Support 2.4GHz wireless mouse and keyboard via 2.4GHz USB dongle
HDMI HDMI 2.0 4k*2k 60fps
SPDIF SPDIF output
AV&YUV Support
3G Support
DOLBY TrueHD and DTS HD  DOLBY TrueHD and DTS HD Bypass through HDMI

2. Amlogic S905X features

The Amlogic S905X is an advanced application processor designed for OTT/IP Set Top Box (STB) and high-end media box applications. It integrates a powerful CPU/GPU subsystem, a secured 4K video CODEC engine and HDR image processing pipeline..

The main system CPU is a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU with L1 instruction/data cache for each core and a large unified L2 cache to improve system performance. In addition, the Cortex-A53 CPU includes the NEON SIMD co-processor to improve software media processing capability. The quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU can be overdriven to 2GHz and has a wide bus connecting to the memory sub-system.

The graphic subsystem consists of two graphic engines and a flexible video/graphic output pipeline. The five core ARM Mali-450 GPU including dual geometry processors (GP) and triple pixel processors (PP).The multi-core GPU processor handles all OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 and OpenVG graphics programs, while the 2.5D graphics processor handles additional scaling, alpha, rotation and color space conversion operations. Together, the CPU and GPU handle all operating system, networking, user-interface and gaming related tasks. The video output pipeline includes advanced HDR10 and HLG HDR processing, REC709/BT2020 processing, motion adaptive edge enhancing de-interlacing, flexible programmable scalar, and many picture enhancement filters before passing the enhanced image to the video output ports.

click to enlarge!

Amlogic Video Engine (AVE-10) offloads the Cortex-A53 CPUs from all video CODEC processing. It includes dedicated hardware video decoder and encoder. AVE-10 is capable of decoding 4Kx2K resolution video at 60fps with complete Trusted Video Path (TVP) for secure applications and supports full formats including MVC, MPEG-1/2/4, VC-1/WMV, AVS, AVS+, RealVideo, MJPEG streams, H.264, H265-10, VP9-10 and also JPEG pictures with no size limitation. The independent encoder is able to encode in JPEG or H.264 up to 1080p at 60fps.

The chipset  integrates all standard audio/video input/output interfaces including a HDMI2.0a transmitter with 3D, HDR, CEC and HDCP 2.2 support, stereo audio DAC, a CVBS output, PCM, I2S and SPDIF digital audio input/output interfaces, and a stereo PDM digital MIC inputs.

The processor has rich network and peripheral interfaces, including a 10/100M Ethernet MAC with FE PHY interface, dual USB 2.0 high-speed ports (one OTG and one HOST) and multiple SDIO/SD card controllers, UART, I2C, high-speed SPI and PWMs. Standard development environment utilizing GNU/GCC Android tool chain is supported.

The greatest spotlight of the S905X is that it supports VP9 decoding while the S905 does not. Both of them support H.265 Another one is the price. As a newer model, S905X has better performance, however, the price is same or a little lower. Last,  S905X is tailored to Android 6.0, while S905 is for Android 5.1:


3. Package, design

The NexBox A95X is sold at Amazon.com for $66.00. The price is very competitive, compared with other media players. The device comes in three different configurations, with 1G+8G, 2G+8G or 2GB+16GB. For our review, we have in our hands the 2GB+16GB configuration.

The player is backed by an 1)year of warranty from NexBox and its distributors. Here is what you get:

The NexBox A95X features a sleek, plastic rounded shape. The outer shell is made out of environmentally friendly ABS. At the front side if the player there is an IR receiver and an operation LED. And as we already mentioned, it's very compact in size:

At the side panel there is a microSD port and two USB2.0 ports. The rear side includes the DC 5V input jack, an HDMI 2.0 port, an AV (Composite video port), an 100Mbit LAN port and the SPDIF port.

The design of the remote control is the generally same as we have seen bundled with other Android boxes. NexBox has added two features though; One-Key to Live and One-Key to Kodi. Just press one-key and you can watch live TV programs. In addition, pressing the one-key gets you to the Kodi interface. The control's response was not the best we have seen, so you'd better stay close to the player in order to use it.


4. Graphical User Interface

The player's GUI is different from what we have experienced with other Android players, and it is outlined in the following video.

The main screen is well designed and provides easy access to the main areas of the player. The player is highly based on KODI, but you also get YoutubeHD, NetFlix and Google Play apps:

More tabs are linking to pre-installed apps, Such as Skype, Twitter and more. You can also add shortcuts to more apps.

The Online section you see below includes even more apps - Pandora, Plex etc

The MoviePlayer, Music, Gallery, Miracast and Root Browser are found at the Local Tab.

Speaking of root, the device seems to have root access as root checker indicated. However there is no SuperSU user app installed so you'll probably not have full root access to the box.

Below are all the installed apps, as found under the Apps tab

The default FileBrowser is typical and offers limited functions, so you may need to get the ES File Explorer in order to have more control over the network devices.

SystemInfo will show a summary of the device specifications and firmware:

The player's settings section look familiar and almost the same with what we have experienced with other Amlogic S905 devices:

Over the Display->Screen Resolution section, you can set the HDMI resolution:

We selected 4K-24HZ , since our A/V receiver won't support 4K @ 60Hz. That gives the GUI a more sluggish performance, so you'd better connect the device at full 4K @ 60Hz:

The HDR option (Auto/On/Off) is located under the Display tab:

The Digital sound section is where you should choose the HDMI Passthrough function:

At the Playback settings you can turn the HDMI Self-adaption->On:

The device comes with 16GB memory, and just 1.31GB were used:

Android 6.0.1 offers great memory management so only 649MB are occupied, at least after the first boot:

More information about the NexBox A95X is provided under Android 6.0.1 tab:


5. Kodi Center

NexBox is highly based on the KODI software, but it has been "enhanced" with pre-installed add-ons and a unique app called Kodi Center. Through this app, you can add/remove add-ons for Kodi, which can be used to see TV Live, Sports, Movies, Cartoons and other channels. Usually those apps can be found online, but with NexBox you have them either pre-installed, all ready to get installed and run!

You can select all the apps to get everything installed automatically, or choose them individually:

 

Overall we liked the KODI Central, as it offers many useful add-ons for you in order to watch online digital content.

Moving on to the KODI itself, it is based at the 16.1 (19-05-2016 build) and it is highly customized. However, following the first boot we got prompted to disable some add-ons not compatible with KODI 16.1, an issue NexBox should look at and fix:

Below you see what comes pre-installed -- Exodus looks like a nice addon for Video users:

Several Music streaming services are also available:

Below you see the options section:

Under Video, we make sure Hardware acceleration is enabled:

Under Audio you find option to get HDMI HD-Audio pass-through:

What we also noted is that most default subtitle sites have been removed and only the opensubtitles.org is enabled by default:


6. Tests

The CPU-Z utility confirms that the AmLogic S905X has four (4) cores that run up to 2.02GHz and the processor can put cores at idle if they are not required:

Here is our system setup:

For the tests we used many audio/video files from KODI Wiki

HD Audio Tests (Audio Output at Box set to HDMI Passthrough)

NexBox A95X
HD Audio Internal video player Kodi 16.1 (Software Decode) Kodi 16.1 (HD Audio to Passthrough)
LPCM 5.1
No Audio at A/V Receiver PCM (2.0) PCM 2.0
LPCM 7.1
AAC 5.1
AAC 7.1
Dolby AC3 5.1
Yes Yes
Dolby Digital
Plus 5.1
No Audio at A/V Receiver No Sound - Slow playback
Dolby Digital
Plus 7.1
Dolby True HD 5.1
TrueHD at A/V Receiver Hiss and distorted sound at A/V Receiver
Dolby True HD 7.1
Dobly True HD 7.1 Atmos
No Audio
DTS-HD HRA 5.1
DTS 5.1 At A/V Receiver
DTS-HD HRA 7.1
DTS-HD MA 5.1
DTS-HD MA 7.1
DTS:X 7.1

The NexBox A95X supports HD-Audio for only up to 5.1 setups and by using the internal video player. Unfortunately, KODI HDMI-Pass through needs improvements and hopefully NexBox will take care of it with a firmware upgrade. If you choose the software decode, you will get PCM (2.0) only. We also noted that during playback with the internal video player, either the DD or DTS logo was appearing at the top right corner of the screen.

Video Bit rate Tests

For this test we used a test file available at this page. The player was tested with up to 400Mbps files using all the possible sources:

Maximum Perfect Playable File with internal video player
USB LAN (100Mbit) Wifi (802n)
Jellyfish H264 files 110 Mbps 60 Mbps 15 Mbps
Jellyfish H265 files 60 Mbps 40 Mbps 10 Mbps

Using USB/LAN/Wifi asa source for our test file, the player's playback limits with does have upper limits with H.264 and H.265 files with 110Mbps were 110 Mbps and 60 Mbps, respectively. Things were tougher for the player with LAN and Wifi file sources.

4K Tests x264 (AVC)

NexBox A95X Playback 4K H264 Files
Test Clips internal video player Kodi 16.1
4K 10-bit H.264 video sample @ up to 160 Mbps unsupported format jerky playback
4K Coastguard_ProRes (ProRes, 422 HQ, 23.976fps) No jerky playback
4K-HD.Club-2013-Taipei 101 Fireworks Trailer (AVC, High@L5.1, 29.970fps, 2 Channels AAC, 100mbps bitrate) Yes Yes
4k_QHD_RoastDuck_30p (AVC, High@L5.1, 29.970fps, 2 Channels AAC) Yes Yes
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps (AVC, High@L5.1, 30 FPS, 2 Channels Mp3) Yes Yes

big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps
(AVC, High@L5.1, 60 FPS, 2 Channels Mp3)

Video and Sound not in sync
NoiseRed-25fps-SlowMotion-120mbs (AVC, High@L5.1, variable FPS) Yes Yes
Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps] Yes, jerky playback
The Autumn - Trailer 4K (AVC, High@L5.1, 30.000fps, AAC 2Channels)
Yes Yes
TimeScapes4K2560p (AVC, High@L5.1, 23.976fps, AAC 2Channels) Yes Yes
BluRay 1080p AVC DTS-HD MA 7.1 x264 file (AVC, High@L4.1, 6 000 Kbps, DTS-HD MA 8 Channels) Yes with DTS-ES MTRX at A/V receiver, DTS Logo at the top right area, not proper Greek Subtitle support from the Built-in player Yes, DTS Logo at the top right area and jerky playback

Using the internal videoplayer, the NexBox A95X managed to playback most H.264 files without any issues. As we saw earlier, the player will playback up to 110 Mbit files, so files encoded at higher bit rates will result to jerky playback. The included KODI 16.1 performed better but there is stillroom for improvements.

4K Tests x265 (HEVC)

NexBox A95X Playback 4K H265 Files
Test Clips Internal Video Player Kodi 16.1
Astra-10994_H_22000-Astra H265 Tests 53.3 Mbps bitrate (10Bit HEVC) Yes Jerky playback
Astra_11023_H_23500 Test2 H265 51.2 Mbps bitrate (10Bit HEVC) Yes Yes, however displays wrong timing of the video file

Astra-11112_H_22000-Fashion TV UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate (8Bit HEVC)

Yes No
Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate (10Bit HEVC) Yes Yes
Astra_12343_H_30000-Insight UHD Pearl TV 4K UHD 59.4 Mbps bitrate (10Bit HEVC) Yes Yes
Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4 Yes Yes
DivX-HEVC-UHD-4k_QHD_RoastDuck_30p Yes Yes
Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia (8Bit HEVC)
Yes Yes, jerky playback
Hispasat-10730_V_30000-Hispasat 4K HEVC 65.3 Mbps bitrate (8Bit HEVC) Yes Yes, jerky playback
Samsung_UHD_7Wonders_of_the_World_Italy (H265 10bit, 50-60fps) Yes Yes
Samsung_UHD_Dubai-10bit-HEVC Yes Yes
Sintel_4k_27qp_24fps_1aud_9subs (8Bit HEVC) Yes Yes
4K 2160p Web x265 HEVC 10bit AAC 7.1 Yes -
No Sound
The video is displayed distorted with a green background
LG Demo DolbyVision Comparison Yes Playback is not possible

The NexBox A95X had a a great performance with H265 videos, and was able to deliver perfect playback using the internal Video player. On the other hand, the KODI 16.1 player has some problems, probably due to the fact that it is able to properly decode 8bit files and not 10bit files. Note that we also tried KODI 17 beta and the player's performance with H265 files was much better and without the issues we encountered with the 16.1 build.

4K VP9 Tests

NexBox A95X Playback 4K H265 Files
Test Clips Internal Video Player Kodi 16.1
Eye of the Storm 4K Ultra HD (VP9) Yes but without sound and not 100% smooth Yes
4K Hawaii Sunset _ GoPro Hero 4 Black 4k@30fps (2160p_30fps_VP9 LQ-128kbit_Vorbis) Yes Yes

The VP9 codec is finally supported by the AMlogic S905X chipset. The KODI 16.1 software gave perfect results, while the internal video player needs some tweaking.

Other formats

NexBox A95X Playback
Test Clips Internal Video Player KODI 16.1
sample_sorenson (Mov) No Yes
Big_Buck_Bunny (DivXHD Format) Yes
Hellboy2-Xvid (Xvid) Yes

Iron Man-Divx5 (DivX 5)

Yes
VC-1_23.976_sample Jerky playback Jerky playback
VC-1_29.970_sample Yes No playback
[Underwater] H264 Hi10P 720p No Yes
[Underwater] H264 Hi10P 1080p Jerky playback
1080p_Step_into_Liquid (WMV) Yes Yes
Blu-Ray ISO Doesn't support ISO Full menus - perfect playback
DVD-ISO Full menus - sound skipping (probably due to the DD Audio format)
Greek Subtitles Only UTF-8 are displayed perfectly Yes no problems

As you see above, we got perfect playback for the older formats (Xvid, DivX, DivXHD). We even tried more rare codecs like the VC1 and the Hi10P.

The ISO format isn't playable using the internal video player, while KODI 16.1 also seems to have some issues with the DVD-ISO format (probably due to the audio track of the tsst file). As a note, if you want to have non-english subtitles with the internal player, make sure they are encoded in the UTF-8 format:

3D Clips Internal Video Player KODI 16.1
Full MVC 3D ISO ISO format is not recognized Wasn't able to output 3D content
Full MVC 3D ISO #2 with 3D Subtitles
Full MVC 3D ISO #3 for Pop-out & Depth Evaluation

Full MVC 3D MKV

Yes, manually select 3D and TV returns to 1980p @ 50hz with 3D option
HSBS-3D (HSBS (side-by-side)
HTAB-3D (HTAB (top-bottom)

Regarding the 3D support, you should manually select 3D (either L/R or B/T) through the internal player in order to get things done.

The KODI 16.1 doesn't work well and we couldn't get the 3D file was not automatically recognized.

Benchmarks

Benchmark
Score
AnTutu 6.2.0
31467
AnTutu Video Tester v2.0
604
AnTutu Video Tester v3.0
904
3D Mark IceStorm Extreme
3930
PCMark
3034
GeekBench 3 (Single Core)
650
GeekBench 3 (Multi-Core)
1152
BaseMark OS II (overall score)
509
BaseMark X v1.1
10837
GFXBench ( T-Rex)
11 FPS
Quadrant Standard Edition v2.1.1
5148

Read/Write Tests

Moving on to the important read/write tests, the player scored the results you see below for various read and write tasks through the ES File Explorer, using external storage devices and moving/copying a 716MB file:

Source
Performance (mb/sec)
USB To Device
20.1
Device to USB
19.2
Wifi (2.4Ghz) to Device
1.60
Device to Wifi (2.4Ghz)
0.5
Lan to Device
6.7
Device to Lan
2.60
Device to MicroSDHC
8.5
MicroSDHC to Device
12.10

Obviously, the USB is the best option in order to get the highest performance. The WiFI performance of the player is very poor.


7. Summary

The NexBox A95X is possibly first ever media player armed with the latest Amlogic S905X chipset. In case you are wondering what the X means, it probably indicates "extra"performance and features compared to previous designs. The S905X chipset fill be succeeded by the S912 chipset, which will definitely offer ever more power. Compared to the the S905 chipset, you will get official VP9 and HDR support, in case you have an HDR-enabled TV. So the S905X could be considered as a minor upgrade compared to the existing S905 boxes that are currently available. Of course, don't forget that the S905X supports Android 6.0.1, which brings many enhancements in terms of both features and performance.

The A95X is the smallest Android TV device we have tested so far. It offers two USB2.0 ports, HDMI and SPDIF in case you need it. It promises to offer HDMI2.0 support and up to 4K @ 60hz AVC/HEVC playback content with 7.1 pass through abilities. The truth is that the player offers perfect H264/H265 playback, at least with the internal Video player. On the other hand, the included KODI has issues with HD-Audio and video playback.

Overall, the NEXBOX A95X firmware was stable, although benchmarks indicated a lower performance compared to competitors. In any case, it remains a small box that packs a big punch, probably essential for those looking for an entry-level, future-proof media player.

We liked

Could be improved



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