In a pre-order opportunity, I picked up an Android-powered Smart Stick from FAVI Entertainment with no specific purpose in mind other than to tinker with apps on the big screen TV. As the version I purchased could handle up to 32Gb external SD card memory, I picked up the 4Gb model.
The premise of the device is interesting: turn any device with an HDMI port into an Android-powered system. Although it can be plugged into a standard monitor, it’s best used on a large screen TV. They thought ahead and included an HDMI extension cable in case your available HDMI port doesn’t accommodate the case of the Smart Stick. This was handy for my TV that only had a few ports available.
It uses USB for power, not to be confused with the main USB port at the bottom of the device. The mini-USB connector for power is used with the supplied cable to connect to either a USB port of the TV (usually a service port of some kind) or to a power transformer. As part of my pre-order deal, the folks at FAVI included a USB power adapter. This may be standard, but I’m not sure. From the forums, it seems that some TVs vary the voltage output on the USB service ports based on the screen resolution, causing issues with the device. I’m currently powering my system from a service port on an LG television, have no issues at all.
They provide a small IR remote and receiver to allow you to interact with the software, but they “highly recommend” a wireless keyboard. FAVI has their own brand of mini keyboard, but I didn’t go that route as the small keys would drive the family crazy. I opted for a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard, attaching the micro USB transceiver to the USB port on the Smart Stick. The keyboard integrated trackpad and keyboard were recognized without and issues. However, as the OS expects to be running on a system with mutli-touch screen, some apps like Angry Birds take some getting used to with the trackpad, but do work.
The Google Play store works without any issues, and things like Netflix seems to work great. In fact, they work better as we are used to the 720p resolution from our Wii player, whereas the Smart Stick will output full HD resolution. I have seen a few “tablet” application (kids games mostly) that are designed for fixed vertical tablet orientation break when running on the Smart Stick as orientation changes are not supported. This is not a problem with the Smart Stick, but with the game software.
Overall I’m impressed, and looking forward to the software update they will be releasing soon. I’ll check this out first before trying to loadup anything else on the device. Others have already loaded up user interface clients for home media centers, essentially making this small device a portable alternative to other streaming media players, with the bonus of running Android apps.
For the price, two thumbs up.