IF YOU LIVE somewhere you can’t get Google TV, yet want an Android device attached to your brand new flat panel TV, then maybe Webia’s Android TV is what you’ve been waiting for. We spotted the Android powered box at the Broadband Taiwan show and it piqued our interest as there aren’t too many devices of its kind that runs Android as yet.
The base specs aren’t all that impressive as at its core is a 720MHz ARM 11 SoC from Telechips, a Korean maker of various ARM solutions. It features a hardware decoder for most common video formats such as MPEG-1/2/4, H.264, VC-1 and Real Video which makes this fairly average ARM core handle HD content. You also get 256MB of DDR2 memory and 512MB of Flash memory, although this is of course shared with the Android OS, so only about half of that should be user accessible for apps. The model pictured above didn’t appear to be a final unit, as it still had phone features, but also some custom software by Webia.
As this is a media player it also sports a pair of rear USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, composite video out via a breakout cable, a 10/100Mbit Ethernet port, an SD card slot and a front mounted mini USB port. Optionally the Webia box can be equipped with an internal SATA port which means a 2.5-inch drive can be fitted. It also supports Wi-Fi via a USB dongle and interestingly enough VoIP by attaching a DECT phone to one of its USB ports.
The remote control sadly didn’t seem to be very well integrated with Android and it felt like a chore to navigate with it, especially as there was no virtual cursor to be seen in lieu of having touch support. The navigation felt similar to Android phones with a trackball, except instead of a trackball you end up with a standard four-way remote control layout and a select button. It’s clear that some tweaking is needed before the Webia Android TV box is ready for retail, even more so as Android it still limited to 1024×768 which doesn’t exactly look great scaled up on a 1920×1080 display. It’s worth noting that video will play at full 1920×1080 as this isn’t limited by Android as long as the source files are full HD.
There are a few custom apps that come pre-installed which include a couple of streaming TV apps – as there’s no built in TV-tuner – a Samba streaming server that allows content to be streamed over a network from the Webia box and a custom video player that looked like the most polished of the custom apps. It’s always interesting to see new Android devices that aren’t phones or tablets, but it’s clear that Android 3.0 is very much needed when it comes to using higher resolution displays in combination with Android. Until Google decides to launch Android 3.0 we can’t really recommend getting any Android based devices that are intended to be used with screens with a greater resolution than 1024×768.S|A
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