REVIEW: Beelink A1, a mini TV-Box with RK3328 SoC and 4GB of RAM

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Today we offer you the review of the new mini TV Box Beelink A1 that uses the Rockchip RK3328 SoC and offers us some interesting features in terms of video playback. A model that stands out certainly for its small dimensions but even being so small we have quite interesting specifications like its 4GB of RAM, Wifi ac adapter and Gigabit Ethernet connection port. Let’s see how it is defended in our review comparing it with all the models of the competition.

  • NOTE: The review has been updated with the 704NO Firmware version that substantially improves this device

SPECIFICATIONS

ModelBeelink A1
CPUAMLogic S912 Cortex-A53 Octa Core
GPUMali-T820MP3
OSAndroid 6.0.1
RAM3 GB DDR3
Storage16 GB eMMc
WiFiWiFi ac
Bluetooth4.0
Ports1x USB 2.0
1x USB 3.0
HDMI 2.0a
microSD reader
Ethernet Gigabit
AV connector
 OthersRecovery button
 ContentIR Remote
HDMI Cable
5V/2A DC adapter
Manual
Medidas: 3 x 3 x 0.66 inches
Peso: 3.17 oz

CONTENT DESCRIPTION

Package content

The Beelink A1 TV-Box presents a cardboard box with the image of the model in the foreground. Inside the box we find the mini TV-Box in a top compartment, the rest of complements we have in separate boxes, we have an IR remote control, HDMI cable, manual in English and a small adapter 5V 2A.

Product Details

The case of the Beelink A1 is completely made of plastic has dimensions of 3 x 3 x 0.66 inches, certainly a very small box. In the front part we have a led panel that indicates the time of quite brightly and the IR receiver.

On the side we have a microSD card reader with the typical self-extracting mechanism, next to it we have one USB 2.0 port and other USB 3.0 with conventional Type-A format.

In the back part we find the other ports, a jack with AV output, Gigabit Ethernet connector, HDMI 2.0 video output that allows us to have video up to 4K @ 60fps and the DC-IN power connector.

In the lower area of ​​the Beelink A1 we find a series of holes to ventilate, a hole for the recovery button in case we need to update the TV-Box from a PC and on the sides two rubber strips that stick the device to the table.

CONNECTING THE DEVICE

Connection and desktops

We connect the Beelink A1 to the current and the mini TV-Box is started directly lighting the front led, in a few seconds a waiting message appears and then we have the configuration wizard to start the system.

The Beelink A1 desktop is the classic of this brand based on tiles, we have a weather widget, basic app launchers and in the right zone a customizable area to put the apps we want. In the lower zone we have different messages of connected networks, volume and icon to shut down the system.

  • Boot time: 15 seconds

If we navigate to the right or left of the main screen of the launcher we have two more zones that we can personalize, in general this system is designed to handle with the IR remote control that comes to us of series.

From the firmware version 704NO we have navigation bar and notification bar something helps us if we want to use a mouse to manage the system for example.

We have few apps installed by default, we have Bee Files Explorer and Bee Music, two applications designed by Beelink to manage files and music on a simple way with the IR control.

Bee Files Explorer allows us to navigate the internal drive or the external drives we connect to handle files in a comfortable way, the same happens with Bee Music that shares design but is focused on audio files.

In the Beelink A1 we also have the Media Center app with a design that gives us the option of exploring media content on the device, on connected external drives, or on SMB and NFS network paths.

System Settings

In the Beelink A1 we have two types of settings, on the one hand those that are Android TV type which are quite simple and allow to read comfortably on a TV and if we enter on “More Settings” we have the classic Android settings.

In the Android Classic Settings we have some options more than in the previous settings but they are quite limited and apparently some menus have been removed that would have allowed us to fine tune the system.

Podemos bajar o apagar el led frontal del TV-Box entrando en los Ajustes clásicos de Android, sección pantalla y en Brillo, este cambio solo está disponible desde el firmware 704NO.

User Experience

The performance of the Beelink A1 is quite good thanks to its 4GB of RAM, we can load a good number of applications in multitasking without being closed, to use this system we have to keep pressed the Home key on the remote control. This TV-Box since the firmware version 704NO have good stability of the system, we recommend installing that version or higher to get the maximum performance to this device.

Android System

As an operating system in the Beelink A1 we have installed Android 7.1.2 , a very modern system.The kernel as we see is quite old, the version is 3.10.104 and the compilation is dated 2017-09-25. With this version we have done the review that you can read in the following pages. This was the original version of the review but it has been updated with the 704NO firmware.

Brand Support

The brand Beelink gives us a rather prolonged support to their TV-Boxes as we have seen over the years. The OTA system works perfectly since the firmware version 704NO.

Storage and RAM

Integrated in the Beelink A1 we have a total of 16 GB of eMMc storage memory, from this storage memory we have actually available about 11 GB , a correct figure, luckily the system has a single partition in memory storage thing that facilitates the management of our archives. We can always expand the internal space using an SD card since Android 7 allows it.

In this mini TV-Box we have 4 GB of DDR3 RAM that behave normally, of this amount we are available about 3 GB at boot which allows us to open a good number of apps or tabs of our internet browser.

We passed our tests to memory and internal storage in the Beelink A1 using the SD bench app that gives us correct figures for this range of devices, could be faster but not annoying in normal use. The USB 3.0 port gives us speeds of 55 MB/s a correct figure for this type of connector.

Consumption and temperatures

As for power consumption the Beelink A1 using the RK3328 SoC gives us a low figures like other similar boxes. At peak performance the SoC reaches 5.6 Was a peak consumption point. The temperature of the box can be somewhat high if we make heavy use because it is very compact, for multimedia playback use this should not be a problem.

The temperature of the box is not worrisome and we have not noticed a loss of performance running applications. In our test we see the SoC arrives punctually at 1.5 GHz although normally it stays in 0.8 GHz

Google Play and Amazon App Store

If we browse the Google Play Store since the firmware version 704NO we have excellent compatibility with all apps and there is no problem when installing them. With the Amazon Apps store equal result, a good alternative to Google that also gives us a free app a day something that always goes well.

Root

In the system of the Beelink A1 as we can see if it has root by default, something that will not affect us in services like for example Netflix or Amazon Prime Video as we will see in our analysis in the corresponding section.

Power Off / Standby / Power On

In the Beelink A1 when pressing power off key on the IR remote control or in the launcher the system turns off completely leaving with 0.4 W of consumption, to turn it on we can do it from the remote control.

TEST BENCH

Video and audio connections.

In the Beelink A1 we have the new Rockchip RK3328 SoC a product that has video output support for HDMI 2.0a which gives us the option to be able to view contents with a maximum resolution of 4K@60 MHz with 10 bit color, the system it also supports HDR which seems to be detected automatically when playing these files.

In this system there is no automatic refresh rate adjustment option, something that would be interesting since it avoids us to reproduce contents with the annoying Judder effect. Within the advanced settings of HDMI video output we find several image controls for Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Tone something that is appreciated to control the overall image quality.

DLNA and Miracast

Installed in the Beelink A1 we can share the screen using the Miracast app, we had NO problem using a Smartphone LG G5, we know this type of connections depends on many factors and we cannot ensure that it works perfectly in all scenarios. The system have installed by default a DLNA server with which we can connect without problems using for example BubbleUPnP, we do not have app to do Airplay.

Webcam

We test the videoconference on the Beelink A1 using the Hangouts and Skype apps, we could not use them since there is no image displayed or the app is closed when trying to use the videoconferencing, another firmware failure.

NETWORK CONNECTIONS

Wi-Fi and Ethernet

By default in the Beelink A1 we have a Dual Band AC Wireless Wi-Fi Adapter and Gigabit Ethernet chip, with which we have connected with an ASUS RT-AC1200G+ Router, a mid range device. We transferred files over a SAMBA network connected through 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi and achieved a speed of about 20 mbps, with the 5Ghz Wi-Fi network we reached about 27 mbps a value that can be improved. This model has a Gigabit network connector with which we used a Category 6 network cable to guarantee the speed, using this connection we reach about 152 mbps. The resultsar correct within this protocol although at 2.4 GHz the results are low.

We also ran tests on the network adapters for streaming using the iPerf measurement tool with which we have the maximum connection speed in each type of network. With this figure we have how far we can reach using the available connections, the final performance will depend on our internet provider, the contracted speed, the distance of our Wi-Fi network and other factors. The results are correct and undoubtedly highlights the 5 GHz Wifi adapter that gives us good performance.

In our tests of wifi coverage with the equipment as always located at a distance of about 5mts and with a wall we verified that we have connection without cuts, the signal reaches a good level with about 52 dBm, a good result for an internal wifi antenna but in order to have signal stability it is better not to go too far or to box the box behind a screen.

Bluetooth

Integrated with the WiFi adapter of the Beelink A1 we also have Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity with which we have no issues detecting other devices, we have tested a few helmets BT and some one gamepad BT without major problem.

CONTROL SYSTEMS
Remote control

Accompanying the Beelink A1 we have a basic IR remote to handle the device, is powered by two AAA batteries. Apart from the usual keys we have several keys to clone functions of other controls, in the back we have a text that explains how to do it. If we keep pressing the Home button appears the multitasking function to change the active app, we also have mouse function to move the pointer with the central crosshead.

Remote control app

To control the Beelink A1 remotely with the service that is integrated to be used with the AMLogic control app, with it we can handle our TV-Box remotely from a Smartphone or tablet if they are in the same Wi-Fi network. It is only necessary to enable the remote control option in the settings of the TV-Stick and install the app on the device that we want to use to control it. If have problems with this method we can use the alternative CetusPlay to control it from our mobile or tablet.

Gamepad and games

To control games on the Beelink A1 we connected an Xbox 360 Gamepad and the device recognizes it without problems, it also works correctly the Xiaomi Bluetooth Gamepad. We can use them in games with this type of support, in general we will not have problems with conventional PC controls. With the GPU Mali-450mp2 that incorporates this SoC RK3328 the performance is something fair in heavy games where we notice that they drop some frames per second, in conventional games we are not going to have problems of compatibility none.

PERFORMANCE TEST

SOC

In the performance section the Beelink A1 we have a SoC Rockchip RK3328 that includes four ARM Cortex-A53 64-bit processors and a Mali-450MP2 GPU.A fairly basic SoC that theoretically reaches the 1.51 GHz but really limited to 1.3GHz. This SoC incorporates hardware decoding support for the H.265 , VP9 , 10-bit color codec and even HDR , is capable of outputting video signal at 4K @ 60fps thanks to the HDMI 2.0a video output connector.

Benchmarks

Antutu

With this famous test we get an idea of the general performance of the device and we can compare it with others. Since this tests changes a lot of scale we can not use it in our graphics.

Geekbench 4

A new benchmark in SoC testing that offers fairly reliable numbers of CPU’s working in a single core or multiple cores ate the same time, it also has a section of GPU computing that gives us an overall result of the processing capacity.

3Dmark

The graphical performance test par excellence with a fairly solid continuity in the results which helps us to compare the performance of GPU’s historically.

PCMark

This benchmark tests the device in various scenarios of image processing, web browsing and other everyday uses of our device, the results are useful to check if you defend well in these areas.

VIDEO AND AUDIO TEST

Video format test

We passed our usual tests of video reproduction in the Beelink A1, in this mini TV-Box we have the Rockchip RK3328 SoC and gives us positive results. It is possible to play the most common files without major problems at native resolution in a fluid way. We can watch videos at 1080P resolutions or also in 4K format encoded with h.265 codec, this SoC also supports HDR modes and 10 bit color files an option seems to work on the native player and on KODI without any problems.

  • If you install KODI from Google Play and it closes follow these steps: KODI-System> Settings> Video> Settings level change to “advanced”, go to “Acceleration” touch where there are 3 options with 3 round points. Deactivate “amcodec” leaving the other two active.

Test results

H.264 formatDefault playerKODI
BBB – H.264 8bit – 1080p@25fps – 7 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Birds – H.264 8bit – 1080p@24fps – 40 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Samsung Oceanic Life – H.264  8bit– 1080p@30fps – 40 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Anime – H.264 10bit – 1080p@24fps – 10 MbpsArtifactsFrame skip
Skyfall – H.264  8 bit – 4K@24fps – 10 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Timelapse – H.264 8bit – 4K@24fps – 43 MbpsCorrectCorrect
H.265 format
Tears of steel – HVEC 8bit – 1080p@24fps – 17 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Beauty – HVEC 8bit – 4K@120fps – 12 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Anime – HVEC 10bit – 1080p@24fps – 21 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Samsung UHD Dubai – HVEC 10bit – 4K@24fps – 51 MbpsCorrectCorrect
HDR format
Life of Pi HDR –  HVEC – 4K@24fps – 45 MbpsCorrectCorrect
TravelXP HDR HLG – HVEC – 4K@24fps – 20 MbpsCorrectCorrect
Planet Earth II – HDR HLG – HVEC 10L5 – 4K@25fps – 31 MbpsCorrectCorrect
  • The MKV, Blu-ray ISO and BDRemux formats are only containers, inside we can have different codecs, resolutions, audio channels, chapters or subtitles. To play the Blu-ray format menus we need KODI or a compatible program.

Native player

The native player of the Beelink A1 is the classic that offers Rockchip as standard in their systems, we have several options but it is not the deepest in the world, in the section 3D is where we have more options.

Pressing Menu we can access the settings where it stands out the PiP that allows us to put a floating window of the video that we are reproducing at the moment, something useful if we want to sail and see at the same time some video.

Leaving the Home key pressed we can control the PiP video window to put it back to fullscreen or close it directly, we can also change app with multitasking.

Audio format test

The Beelink A1 has a RK33328 SoC, this is a processor that is officially NOT licensed for the use of audio pass through for DD and DTS . For sound testing we use our Yamaha RXV-577 AV receiver and check that the device has audio pass through for DD and DTS 7.1, you need to have the version 706NO installed to have good results in this area.

Test results

Formato audioPCM*HDMIOptical
Dolby Digital 5.1CorrectCorrect
Dolby Digital Plus 7.1CorrectCuts
Dolby True HD 7.1CorrectCorrect
Dolby Atmos 7.1CorrectCorrect*
DTS 5.1CorrectCorrect
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1CorrectCorrect
DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1CorrectCorrect
DTS-X 7.1CorrectCore *
  • PCM – Stereo downmix from DD or DTS
  • Core – Only the core of the format Dolby / DTS is played
  • * Our AV receiver does not support these native formats but we check that it does downmix fine

WEB NAVIGATION AND STREAMING

Navigation

We pass some performance tests on the Beelink A1 using the standard browser where we have no problems opening a large number of tabs thanks to its 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. Content that is rendered in HTML5 does not have major problems with the included serial browser that is Chrome.

DRM

As for the DRM certificates needed for some paid streaming apps we do not have any installed series, something habitual in this type of models, as novelty we see that we have CENC ClearKey .

Youtube and streaming apps

From Google Play we installed some of the most common Streaming apps to watch TV online and we have no problems. Since the firmware  version 704NO we have Youtube up to 1080p.

Streaming services with subscription

We do our battery test as usual on the most popular streaming services to verified if can work correctly, the power of this device is more than enough to see any type of content on this services, although as we know we are limited on the streaming quality for the restrictions of each company.

  • NOTE: We remind that these TV-Box do not have official support for these streaming apps, the compatibility with these services can vary depends of any new limitations imposed for this companies. The tests are perform with the indicated firmware and the version of the streaming app at the date of the review.
Streaming serviceVideoAudioPerformance
NetflixSD (480p)*StereoCorrect
Amazon Prime VideoSD (480p)StereoCorrect
HBONot working
  • For more details consult our Guide for Netflix on Android, inside you can found a solution for Error 0013 and installation method on rooted devices or chinese TV-Boxes.

CONCLUSIONS

Beelink A1

8

DESIGN AND CONNECTIVITY

7.0/10

HARDWARE

8.5/10

SOFTWARE

8.0/10

SUPPORT

9.0/10

PRICE/QUALITY

7.5/10

Pros

  • Compact design
  • 4GB of RAM & USB 3.0
  • Wifi ac & Ethernet Gigabit
  • Android 7.1
  • Good support from Beelink

Cons

  • Little hot on demanding apps

Opinion

After testing the mini TV-Box Beelink A1 equipped with the SoC Rockchip RK3328 in our review, we can say that it is an interesting product that since the 704NO firmware version has received substantial improvements. Now the system is rendered at 1080p, Android is much more stable, we have compatibility in Google Play and in general everything works much better, a good support from Beelink that has quickly solved all the main problems.

On the other hand in the Beelink A1 we have 4GB of RAM, a very generous figure that makes the system move smoothly when loading several applications or navigate with a good number of tabs in the browser. On the other hand the system behaves very correctly in the reproduction of 4K video, HDR or H.265 codec. In general an interesting device for its design and that has improved a lot with the updates of its firmware.

Where to buy

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ibrahim
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ibrahim

does it contain miracast

Sagun Joshi
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Thank you for nice review. Is it supporting dts hd and dolby digital true hd pass through? Can I watch bluray movies through usb hdd with HD Audio?

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