Beelink GT1 Ultimate Android TV Box Review
Beelink GT1 Ultimate 3GB DDR4 + 32GB EMMC TV Box - EU PLUG
• Top-spec TV box that can theoretically handle almost anything you throw at it
• Lots of memory, quick processor, handles all media, 4k video output, tons of connections..the list goes on!
• Clean, bloat-free and easy-to-use interface
• Pretty cheap for what it is
• QODI (Beelink's version of Kodi) worked well
• Some instability in system apps like Settings
• Kodi doesn't seem to work well when downloaded directly from Google Play
Beelink is a Chinese company that has been manufacturing TV boxes, peripherals and mini-PCs since 2010. They’ve created some popular devices in their time but they haven’t all been models of reliability. Android TV boxes have been all the rage since the early 2010s before Smart TVs were widespread. With the power and flexibility of the Android operating system, they can vastly increase the functionality of your TV, especially in regards to streaming.
The inbuilt software you find in most modern Smart TVs isn’t a patch on Android! An Android TV box like the Beelink GT1 Ultimate pretty much works in the same way as your Smart TV software – it turns your TV into a computer with apps but with so much more! The thing is, manufacturing ultra-stable devices like TV boxes that run on Android isn’t an easy task so with that in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at their latest offering, the Beelink GT1 Ultimate.
The Beelink GT1 Ultimate
On paper, the Beelink’s GT1 Ultimate TV box is arguably the top-spec Android TV box on the market today. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best, but its sleekly designed exterior houses an impressive feature set and top-notch hardware that includes the S912 Octa Core ARM 2GHz processor, 3GB of RAM and 32gb of internal storage. It’s fully compatible with 4k screens and will deliver a crisp HDR picture on the very latest sets.
The Beelink GT1 Ultimate’s CPU and RAM should easily take care of streaming and gameplay duties. It’s designed with top-level streaming performance in mind and will seamlessly integrate with your 4K TV, if you own one. Also, it’s currently priced at just $71.99 – it certainly doesn’t break the bank!
In the Box
The Beelink GT1 Ultimate is a cool little square-shaped box that measures 96mm x 96mm. It has all of the connections you expect and a few more: a SPDIF for your speaker system, a USB for connecting a mouse, an SD card slot and of course, HDMI and DC power sockets.
In the box, you will find a remote for the Beelink so you can connect to your TV’s volume controls, etc. To do this, you’ll have to use the ‘learn’ feature and input a code for your TV’s brand – these are contained in the manual. You could swap out the remote for a separately available and inexpensive I8 wireless remote keyboard with trackpad. This vastly improves the control and functionality of any Android TV setup.
You’ll also find an HDMI cable and the power lead which is great – not all tv boxes come bundled with these cables. With specs, accessories and connectivity, you can see why it’s been dubbed the ultimate Android TV box and with its octa-core processor and ample RAM, it should theoretically crunch through any task with ease.
Testing the Beelink GT1 Ultimate
I tested the Beelink GT1 Ultimate on my 40″ Samsung Smart TV with mixed results. There were certainly some teething issues – random crashes of background apps, etc. The Settings app seemed to crash often.
One thing I’d suggest is leaving the box for a couple of minutes after start-up. If you launch into opening apps immediately then you may provoke system clashes that can lead to crashes.
Largely, I think these issues are fairly common throughout these Chinese-manufactured boxes as the manufacturers concentrate on providing high-spec devices at low prices. You can’t easily make a comparison to mainstream devices like the Amazon Firestick which would be more stable and on the whole, I think this box would offer a lot to someone who has the time to experiment with different apps.
Booting the Beelink GT1 Ultimate
Nothing intimidating here! You have the Google Play Store, settings, a favourite’s list for media, etc. Simple and easy to use. Remember to square the screen to fit your TV’s dimensions. This is accessible via Homescreen settings > Droid settings > Image size.
Google Play Store
You can access Google Play to install most apps including any media player apps like Netflix, iPlayer, etc, as well as all of your usual productivity apps like Gmail and Google Drive. I installed an app, BBC Weather, with no problems at all.
Stable functionality is going to depend on whether the app’s developers built the app for use on Android TV boxes – some apps just won’t be compatible and although the box will try to run them, they’ll likely crash or fail to work properly. Most apps developed by big companies like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, etc, will work fine and should offer most of what you need for streaming and organising your media.
You can also access the Beelink app store which contains specially-selected apps for the unit. The download process worked fine – no problems. I think this app-store contains apps which have been tested by Beelink themselves – there’s no easy way of confirming this, though.
KODI Media Center
Most Android TV boxes including the Beelink GT1 Ultimate make use of an open source media player called KODI. KODI is open source, meaning any developer is free to create apps for it and as a result, there are many great apps that are available for free through KODI. They can all be downloaded via the app’s add-on center.
KODI can run all sorts of apps which allow you to stream TV shows and films. You can also install all of your standard apps like YouTube, music apps like Spotify, iPlayer, Netflix and many more so they’re all in the same place on KODI. You have two options for downloading KODI. You can either download the latest Krypton version of the app from the Google Play Store OR download it through the device’s own app store. I suggest downloading it from Beelink’s own inbuilt app-store. I tried both methods and experienced fewer issues when using the version of KODI which is available through Beelink’s own app store.
The Beelink version of Kodi is actually called Qodi (renamed for copyright reasons). Once you download it via the Beelink app store, you’ll notice that it’s identical to Kodi.
You can download add-ons from the Kodi ‘repository’. I tried a couple, firstly through the latest version of KODI available on Google Play Store. BBC iPlayer worked but did seem to seize up. Twitch did the same when it came to video playback. When I tried to use the same apps from Beelink’s own Qodi, they worked fine.
The bottom line here is to use Beelink’s own version of Kodi – it’s likely that they’ve tweaked the app to work properly with the box.
Specs and Stability
The Beelink GT1 Ultimate has pretty much everything going for it in the spec department. It features ultra-fast dual-band WiFi 5.0 which should ensure fast and stable connections. It also features H.265 and VP9-10 Profile-2 decoding and it can play almost every media file format: 3D, 4K, AVI, DAT, H.265, ISO, MKV, MP4, MPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG2, MPEG4, RM, WMV.
Whilst the box has everything covered on paper, I did experience some stability issues with app crashes and slow loading. Media files played through its native media player worked fine – I tested this with a video that I downloaded from my Google Drive, which also worked with no issues.
As mentioned, the Beelink App-store contains apps with known stability on the device. It’s best to use these as much as possible and for general streaming usage, these cover the bases. Google Play Store apps will likely have some instability associated to them if they haven’t been developed with Android TV boxes in mind.
The Beelink GT1 Ultimate features Miracast functionality which enables you to stream video from your device or PC to the box without the need for cables – it works over WiFI. I attempted this with my Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and after experiencing problems, I found out that this is an issue on Sony’s side.
On paper, the Beelink GT1 is a very powerful device. Its high specs coupled with the ability to play almost any media, Kodi and many other Google Play apps, means it should be a future-proof Android TV device that suits the very latest TV sets.
In reality, though, I did experience some issues. Manufacturing a truly ultra-stable Android TV box seems extremely difficult! To use this box, you will likely have to press on through at least some gripes and issues. If you have Android knowledge and a bit of time, I think you’ll be able to best extract the plethora of features that this box offers.
I think that by using Beelink’s Qodi (rather than Kodi which is available through Google Play), you’ll have the most stable streaming experience.
- Brand: Beelink
- Model: GT1 Ultimate
- Type: TV Box
- GPU: ARM Mali-T820MP3
- System: Android 7.1
- CPU: Amlogic S912
- Core: 2.0GHz,Octa Core
- RAM: 3G RAM
- RAM Type: DDR4
- ROM: 32G ROM
- Max. Extended Capacity: 64G
- Decoder Format: H.263,H.264,H.265,HD MPEG4
- Video format: 3D,4K,AVI,DAT,H.265,ISO,MKV,MP4,MPEG,MPEG-1,MPEG2,MPEG4,RM,WMV
- Audio format: AAC,DTS,FLAC,MP3,OGG,RM,WMA
- Photo Format: GIF,JPEG,JPG,PNG
- Support 5.1 Surround Sound Output: Yes
- 5G WiFi: Yes
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth4.0
- Power Supply: Charge Adapter
- Interface: DC 5V,HDMI,LAN,Micro SD Card Slot,SPDIF,USB2.0
- Language: Multi-language
- HDMI Version: 2.0
- Other Functions: DLNA,ISO Files,Miracast
- System Bit: 32Bit
- Power Type: External Power Adapter Mode
- Remote Controller Battery: 2 x AAA Battery (not included)
- Product weight: 0.1930 kg
- Package weight: 0.5100 kg
- Product size (L x W x H): 9.60 x 9.60 x 1.60 cm / 3.78 x 3.78 x 0.63 inches
- Package size (L x W x H): 17.30 x 13.90 x 5.40 cm / 6.81 x 5.47 x 2.13 inches
- Package Contents: 1 x Beelink GT1 Ultimate TV Box, 1 x Remote Control, 1 x HDMI Cable, 1 x Power Adapter, 1 x English Manual