The DroidBOX® T8-S Plus Gamer's Edition is the latest in the range of T8 devices released by DroidBOX®. Improving on its predecessor, the DroidBOX® T8-S, it features a newer Amlogic S812 processor, Android 5.1 Lollipop, 1000Mbps LAN and 802.11ac WiFi. With the Gamer’s Edition version, you also get a DroidBOX® Play Gamepad and a DroidBOX® VIP Plus remote.
Since this review was written, the Gamer's Edition no longer comes with a hard drive pre-fitted; the price has dropped accordingly.
The DroidBOX® comes in a nicely designed cardboard container with everything you need to get up and running. Inside the box is the DroidBOX® itself, a power supply unit, a 1 metre HDMI 1.4 cable, a standard remote control and a user manual. The Gamers Edition also comes with a pre-fitted 120GB SSD which is made into internal storage usable by Android.
The DroidBOX® T8-S Plus is housed in a metal casing with fully curved corners. It also has a silver trim around the side and power buttons which improves the aesthetics over the plain black metal casing of the T8-S. The DroidBOX® logo can be found at the top and front of the case. The case looks and feels sturdy and more importantly quality, especially when compared to cheap plastic android devices.
The included user manual covers the basics of connecting all the components to your DroidBOX®and Television. And once powered on, how to setup the WiFi or Ethernet connection. There is a short troubleshooting checklist if you do run into any problems at this stage. For further assistance the manual refers you to visit their websites extensive How To section and forums. The manual covers the immediate essentials and clear information on how to find anything else.
Upon switching on your DroidBOX® and allowing it to boot you are presented with the home screen. The time and date are shown in the top left corner and some system stats including the available storage, CPU percent used and memory used. These are both good features and it is an easy and quick way to keep check on things. The home screen allows you add a few favourite apps and you also have access to two additional custom favourites screens accessed by scrolling left or right.
The user interface, when digging a little deeper into the system settings, is different to other Android devices. The traditional Android settings menu is still available but you are at first presented with a clearly laid out screen with icons and descriptions. This is a great feature as it is not intimidating to newcomers, but also contains many of the commonly accessed settings for more advanced users such as additional favourites menus for games and media. The VIP Plus remote works great with the interface, you can use either the traditional TV style navigation buttons or point the remote at the TV and use the air mouse feature to navigate by pointing and clicking.
The DroidBOX® comes with a good selection of games pre-installed. The main genres are covered such as First Person Shooters, Racing, Arcade and Casual. The DroidBOX® Play Gamepad works great with the games. At first setup, it takes a few moments to pair the gamepad with the DroidBOX® via Bluetooth and after that you shouldn't need to do it again. The Play Gamepad is comfortable to hold for lengthy gaming sessions and the battery lasts up to 20 hours before recharging.
Not every Android game supports gamepads so this is something to be aware of. I found many games from the DroidBOX Market and Google Play Store to work great, such as Minecraft, which as everyone knows is a great game and even better on a large TV. Games that are pre-installed include some arcade action with Crazy Taxi and Turbo Dismount which are great for quick blasts.
The first person shooter Respawnables is playable both online and offline and reminds me of Team Fortress. And to relax after a hard day's gaming there is the Zen puzzler Quell Memento. There are thirteen games pre-installed and many more available to download. The 120GB of internal memory provided by the SSD is great, even the most demanding user will find filling up this amount of space with apps quite a challenge.
The range of preinstalled apps is a good starting place. There is a decent variety of media apps including Kodi and DroidBOX®’s own derivative DBMC, 4K Movie Player, Miracast, Netflix, Music and Youtube. There are also some applications including Browser, ES File Explorer, Gmail, Maps, Speed Test and Skype. You can always download more from the Google Play Store or DroidBOX®’s own Marketplace app.
As well as gaming, the DroidBOX® is more than capable of watching other media such as videos and music. At the time of writing, Kodi 15 is pre-installed but 16.2 is available in the latest firmware update, it is very close to a vanilla version of Kodi which includes a few shortcuts to install add-on repositories. Kodi is capable of playing just about every video, music and photo format you can find and it plays 1080p and 4K content very well. The up and coming h.265 video format is supported via hardware decoding and works just fine.
In summary the DroidBOX® T8-S Plus Gamer's Edition is a great bit of kit. While it is at the higher end of Android price range, you feel that you get your monies worth with a metal case that looks and feels quality. The included VIP Plus remote is great and the Play Gamepad works very well with a wide variety of games and plenty of storage space to keep them on. The selection of preinstalled software is very good and the additional support from apps such as the DroidBOX® Control Centre is something that shows how dedicated DroidBOX® are to providing a first class product and support.