4.4
Bad

The MX Pro is an ARM-based, Android 7.1 set-top box that claims to be a “Super Android TV Box” with a “professional and high-performance quad-core CPU”. Coming in at about $35-40 on Amazon, it’s certainly a bargain.

But in a market where you can get competing products like the Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Stick for nearly the same price, is this Android set-top box worth the investment?

In this comprehensive product review, that’s what we’ll put to the test. Let’s get started with our deep dive into the MX Pro.

 

 

Packaging, design and specs

mx pro packaging unboxing
The packaging of the MX Pro Android set-top box. Source: Flixed.io.

After removing the MX Pro from its Amazon Box, I was pretty impressed, overall. The box feels quite solid, and despite there being a small dent in one side of the box, it felt quite sturdy.

As can be expected from a low-cost Android set-top box, most of the technical information and writing on the box isn’t exactly up to snuff.  The box boasts that the MX Pro includes “The lateset [sic] technology based on android system in the box.”

Grammatical issues aside, the packaging of the MX Pro meets my expectations.  There was no shrinkwrap or of seal, though, which would have been nice to see.

There was a bit of rattling, but the box itself is packaged well and did not shift at all during transportation. It’s nestled in a form-fitting cardboard tray.

mx pro packaging unboxing review android box
A look at the internal packaging of the MX Pro. Source: Flixed.io

The rattling that I heard was the power supply, HDMI cable and other accessories included with the MX Pro. These are all pretty durable, so I wasn’t worried about any damage incurred during transportation.

Build Design & Quality

mxq pro 4k mx pro android tv set-top box review
The top of the MX Pro – confusingly labeled with an “MX PRO 4K” label. Source: Flixed.io

The box itself is very lightweight. I would estimate that it was lighter than my smartphone, so it’s quite a featherweight. The overall design is fairly attractive. The box is finished in matte-black and a large MX Pro 4K logo is prominent on the top of the box.

Now, this is a bit odd – the unit was sold as the MX Pro, not the MX Pro 4K, and it does not support 4K streaming.

As far as I understand, this discrepancy can be attributed to the fact that this box is sold by several different companies, with slight differences in packaging and exterior styling. However, the false advertising will likely mislead a lot of customers.

The bottom of the unit is also finished in the same material, while the sides are built out of a glossier plastic. On my unit, I saw no visible defects, misalignments or other problems.

Ports and inputs

mx pro inputs android tv set top box review
The rear quarter of the MX Pro box, with several input ports visible. Source: Flixed.io

For such a cheap Android TV set-top box, the MX Pro certainly has plenty of ports for you to use. There are a total of 10 ports on this device, and they take up 2 full sides of the unit.

  • 4x USB ports
  • 1x SD/MMC reader
  • 1x SPDIF port
  • 1x AV port
  • 1x HDMI port
  • 1x Ethernet port
  • 1x 5V power supply port
mx pro inputs android tv set top box review unboxing
The other rear quarter of the box, with multiple USB ports and SD card inputs visible. Source: Flixed.io

Internal specifications

mali 450-mp processer android tv box
Source: Android Authority

A nice design is all well and good, but the real key to an Android set-top box is the internal components. To stream media effectively, the box must have reasonably high-quality internal hardware components.

The MX Pro is built around a quad-core, 64-bit ARM processor, the Cortex-A53. This is the same processor used in quite a few other Android set-top boxes, like the Matricom G-Box Q3.

Graphics processing is handled by a penta-core ARM Mali-450 GPU, which is supposed to be able to handle 4K output. However, documentation from the company claims that the maximum resolution this unit can support is 1920×1080, and some product descriptions say that it even supports 4K – so there seems to be some confusion about what this set-top box can handle.

Even the box itself claims that the unit is capable of “4K UCD” – so this inconsistency is somewhat worrying. In fact, in later tests, I found that this unit may only be capable of displaying 720p. This is a huge problem, considering it’s advertised as a 1080p-capable box.

Included storage comes in the form of an 8GB NAND flash storage. This is a bit small, though capacity can be increased by using an SD card or by attaching a USB hard drive/flash drive to one of the 4 available USB ports.

This unit only comes with 1GB of RAM which is also a bit concerning. Most modern set-top boxes running Android 7+ include at least 2GB of RAM.

Connectivity is supplied by the built-in 2.4GHz WiFi antenna, which supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n.  5GHz is not supported on this unit. You can also use a 10/100 Ethernet port to connect directly to an Ethernet cable.

Bluetooth is not supported, so you won’t be able to use any Bluetooth remotes or accessories with the MX Pro.

Accessories

review accessories mx pro android tv set top box
The accessories included in the MX Pro. Power supply, remote, and HDMI cord are all visible. Source: Flixed.io

Besides the actual MX Pro set-top box, this package comes with a standard 5V power supply, a remote control, an HDMI cable and an nstructioni manual. There are no batteries included, which is a bit annoying.

mx pro unboxing accessories android tv alternatives
The contents of the entire package, unboxed. Source: Flixed.io

Remote control and input

mx pro remote control input unboxing
The remote included with the MX Pro. Source: Flixed.io

The remote control is pretty basic. It’s an infrared model, similar to most other inexpensive remotes supplied with set-top boxes.

At the top are two power buttons, used to control both the MX Pro and your TV. You can control the settings, TV input and volume of your set with this remote.

Below that, you’ll find four buttons for home, back, app view and mouse input, as well as the standard directional control ring that is on most remote controls. There is also a number pad, with a backspace function and a mute button.

It also does not have any built-in AV controls, so you will have to use either the arrows or “mouse mode” to control video playback.

The mouse input is a strange feature, designed to help you navigate touch-focused apps. By clicking on it once, you’ll get a black mouse cursor on your screen, which can be controlled by the directional ring.

However, the performance of this mouse is abysmal. Input is often ignored entirely, and it requires about 20 seconds to move the mouse all the way across your screen.

Additionally, the mouse does not go away once you press the button again to exit mouse mode. It remains on the screen even after you exit an app. You have to move it all the way to the side of the screen if you don’t want to see it anymore. That’s inconvenient, and a huge drawback when it comes to navigating the UI of the MX Pro.

mouse input mx pro review android tv
As you can see, the mouse is visible on the center of the screen. Source: Flixed.io

Overall, I’m not disappointed with the build quality of the MX Pro, but I’m not impressed.

The MX Pro was packaged well, and the build quality feels okay, despite a relatively lightweight body design. I would have preferred a shrink-wrapped box, but this may be a decision of the individual merchant – not the company.

In addition, there are plenty of ports included on the device, and the internal components are of fairly high quality.

However, the remote control is a bit unreliable and confusing to use. Additionally, the included HDMI cable was incredibly short – probably only a foot and a half in length – and batteries were not included for the remote.

 

 

Hardware and software setup

First boot and initial setup

android tv box mx pro setup unboxing installation
Basic instructions included with the Android set-top box. Source: Flixed.io

You don’t get a ton of help when it comes to initial setup with the MX Pro. The user’s manual is fairly basic. However, it’s not exactly rocket science. You just have to plug everything in, hit the power button and you’re good to go.

Once you’ve connected the power, a blue LED will begin to glow on the front of the MX Pro, indicating that it’s receiving power. Once you’ve connected the HDMI cable, you’ll see this screen upon your initial boot. You’ll then load into the main menu of the device.

Next, you’ll have to set up wireless networking. Open up Settings, and select your WiFi network. Then, just enter your password when prompted to do so.

It is a bit of hassle to do this with the built-in remote if you have a complex password. My 30+ digit WPA key took me a while to enter, and the remote would occasionally ignore my input, making this a difficult task indeed.

However, I did not have any difficulty successfully connecting to my wireless network after fighting with the remote. Things went pretty smoothly.

That’s it! There are no complex registration steps, no difficult setup procedures or any other problems.

All I had to do was plug in the unit, pop the batteries into the remote and get started – no muss, no fuss. I didn’t even have to update the OS; the box came preloaded with Android 7.1.2., with an April 5, 2017 security patch, which is a very recent Android OS.

With no complex updates, annoying proprietary bloatware or difficult setup steps, the MX Pro offers a reasonably easy initial setup. Though the provided instructions are not very helpful, the entire process is quite intuitive.

However, a mobile-centric UI does mean that it’s a little difficult to navigate the MX Pro’s menus – but more on that later.

 

 

Navigation and Ease-Of-Use

The main home screen user interface is pretty intuitive, overall. The design isn’t terrible, but it does look pretty dated.

main menu screen mx pro review hardware android tv box
The main menu screen of the MX pro. Source: Flixed.io

The layout of the initial screen includes several categories:

  • Online Video
  • Recommend
  • My Apps
  • Local
  • Settings
  • Music

Online Video, Music, Local and Recommend all essentially do the same thing. They allow you to add apps to their screens as shortcuts. Here’s an example:

music add shortcut ui mx pro review
An example of the shortcut functionality of the MX Pro. You can add a preferred app using the orange “Add” button. Source: Flixed.io

You can access the built-in music player of the Android box, or you can press “Add” to choose from a selection of other apps that are installed on your MX Pro.

There’s also a bottom row of apps that can be accessed directly from the main menu. By default, it is populated by YouTube, Facebook and Kodi, though the pink “plus” button will allow you to add other shortcuts.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to edit or remove these categories.

Overall, the UI was pretty snappy while I was using this device. There wasn’t a lot of lag when transitioning between menus. However, the MX Pro is clearly not built as an Android TV device. Instead of using an Android TV operating system, it runs a standard Android OS which treats your TV like a giant tablet. This is pretty obvious when you look at the UI for System Settings, for example.

mx pro settings mobile android version set top box review
The settings menu of the MX Pro. Note the mobile-focused UI. Source: Flixed.io

As you can see, the settings take up the vast majority of the screen and look just like they would if you turned an Android tablet or smartphone, putting it into “Landscape” view.

Obviously, this is not ideal. Android TV was built specifically for use with media players, and the fact that this set-top box runs stock Android means that it’s going to be a bit difficult to use from the comfort of your couch.

Every app and app store that checks the MX Pro’s hardware will see it as a giant tablet – not as an Android TV device. This means that you will not be able to download Android TV-specific apps, and your UI settings will default to those used on mobile devices.

You’re also going to have to make ample use of the remote’s “Mouse” button which, as we discussed, does not exactly offer stellar performance. This makes navigating touchscreen-based menus a real chore.

The main screen of the MX Pro is built to be easy-to-navigate, but the experience begins to fall apart as soon as you start to navigate through different apps.

Though the MX Pro is responsive to input – when the remote responds correctly – it’s not easy to navigate, and many of the screens on the main UI are redundant.

The remote can be a really big problem, as missed inputs and the super-slow “mouse mode” make it very hard to enter text

If you don’t mind living with a few UI annoyances, the MX Pro is okay. However, if you aren’t all that tech-savvy and don’t like troubleshooting, you should stay away.

 

 

Apps and Performance

Let’s take a look at the apps available on the MX Pro, and their performance.

Pre-installed Apps

pre-installed apps MX Pro review android tv set top box
A view of some of the pre-installed MX Pro apps. Source: Flixed.io

Let’s get into the pre-installed apps on the MX Pro. You can find all of your installed applications by pressing the My Apps button on the main menu.

There are a total of 21 apps installed on this unit by default and it’s free of bloatware, for the most part. The apps include:

  • ApkInstaller
  • Apps
  • Calculator
  • Chrome
  • Downloads
  • Facebook
  • FileExplorer
  • Kodi
  • Media Center
  • Media Center (yes, there are two)
  • Music
  • MX Player Pro
  • My Family Cinema
  • Netflix
  • Play Store
  • Settings
  • Show Box
  • Skype
  • Twitter
  • WifiDisplay
  • YouTube

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but we can quickly discuss some of the more unique apps on this device.

APKInstaller

apkinstaller app mx pro review
Source: Flixed.io

APKInstaller is built to allow you to install APKs from SD Cards, USB disks or internal memory. That’s its only function.

Apps

The Apps section doesn’t do anything aside from bringing up a different view of all of your pre-installed apps.

FileExplorer

File explorer install apks mx pro setup review
Source: Flixed.io

As the name suggests, this built-in app lets you browse all of the files present on your system.

Media Center

Confusingly, there are two apps called “Media Center.”

media center player mx pro review android set top box
Source: Flixed.io

The “Media Center” with the blue icon allows you to do things like connect via Apple Airplay and attach DLNA Digital Media Players.

media center network stream mx pro video playback review
Source: Flixed.io

The “Media Center” with the orange icon allows you to browse SD cards, local storage and USB drives for media files to play, including video, audio, and photos.

MX Player Pro

media player local files mx pro video playback app
Source: Flixed.io

MX Player Pro is just another video application that allows you to play locally stored videos on your MX Pro.

My Family Cinema

my family cinema app pre-installed set top box android mx pro
Source: Flixed.io

My Family Cinema appears to be some kind of streaming service. However, whenever I tried to access it, I ran into an error message telling me that I “wasn’t registered” and that I couldn’t register, because my “User Did Not Exist”.

Show Box

show box app android mx pro review
Source: Flixed.io

Show Box seems to offer streaming movies and trailers. However, it didn’t work properly with the provided remote. I could navigate up and down, but could not select any content, even with the “mouse” function of the remote. It also has banner ads at the bottom of the screen.

I suspect that this is an Android mobile app, and it is trying to take touchscreen input, so it does not work properly. Why it’s included with this Android set-top box, I’m not quite sure.

WifiDisplay

wifidisplay mx pro streaming screen app
Source: Flixed.io

WiFiDisplay is intended to allow you to connect to WiFi enabled displays. I can’t attest to how well it works, because I don’t have a connectable display.

App performance

I’ll get this out of the way now. Downloading and using apps on the MX Pro is not a fun experience, and the entire process is extremely confusing and complex. What do I mean? Let’s take a look at my attempt to get the pre-installed Netflix app running.

Netflix

Things did not start out well when I tried to access Netflix on the MX Pro. I was greeted with a message telling me that there is an app update available.

netflix mx pro review application update google play
The update message that appears every time I open Netflix. Source: Flixed.io

As soon as I tried to update my Netflix app, Google Play crashed.

google play store error update not supported netflix mx pro review
This message appears every time I try to update the Netflix app. Source: Flixed.io

I decided this was probably because I hadn’t yet signed into the Google Play Store, so I figured I should go log in and update Netflix.

Interestingly, it appears that the MX Pro does indeed support the Android TV version of the Google Play Store, as opposed to the mobile version we saw on other apps. It seems that the manufacturer has installed Android TV versions of some apps, despite the fact that the Android TV OS is not used in the MX Pro.

Next, I tried to search for Netflix, and I didn’t find anything.

Oddly, Netflix was completely missing from my search results. I also searched for Hulu and Spotify. No results.

netflix not available google play mx pro review
The search results for Netflix in the Google Play store: note the app’s conspicuous absence. Source: Flixed.io

After searching for 15 minutes and finding nothing, I gave up. Netflix continued to crash every time I tried to boot it up, even after signing into the Google Play Store.

That’s not exactly an auspicious start for an Android box that is designed to replace a device like the Chromecast, Roku or an Amazon Fire TV. I at least expected Netflix to work without any issues.

After a bit of investigation, I think I’ve found out the issue that caused this problem. It turns out that some apps, like Netflix, block rooted Android users from installing their applications.

It appears that the MX Pro is treated like a rooted device by the Google Play Store – so a lot of apps that you normally might expect to find won’t show up properly.

That’s a serious blow to this device. If you can’t even download apps like Netflix or Hulu, how is it supposed to replace a device like an Apple TV or a Chromecast?

Sure, you could sideload APKs for Netflix. However, with the clumsy navigation of the remote, that would truly be a nightmare, and it may not even work.

Onto the next app:

YouTube

youtube mx pro review streaming
Source: Flixed.io

I decided to give YouTube a shot. Hopefully, it wouldn’t disappoint – and upon signing in, I was pleasantly surprised. It turns out that the MX Pro does come with an Android TV-optimized version of YouTube.

I played a music video at 720p, then decided to check out a few movie trailers at 1080p, which is supposed to be the highest resolution that this video player supports.

However, I was surprised to find that this YouTube app only supports resolutions of up to 720p. There was no 1080p option at all.

Still, navigation was very easy and playback was uninterrupted by buffering or jittering. The picture was jaggy, though, because the MX Pro was not displaying in 1080p. Besides the resolution issue, YouTube worked like a charm.

PBS Video

pbs channel streaming mx pro google play
Source: Flixed.io

To get a better idea of the streaming performance of the MX Pro – and because I couldn’t use Netflix, Hulu or any other of my own streaming services – I decided to download PBS Video.

I had to sign in using an auto-generated code and my Facebook page, but the process was easy on the Android TV version of the PBS Video app.

However, the overall user experience left something to be desired. The menus for the app were oddly grainy, just like YouTube. I suspect that the MX Pro can only render media at 720p, rather than 1080p, as advertised. This is a major issue, given that the unit we purchased specifically mentioned supporting a 1080p resolution.

Once I got a stream working, the functionality was fine, but the grainy, jaggy video still left something to be desired. Though Amazon product listing clearly states that the MX Pro supports 1080p, it clearly doesn’t.

Media Center

I decided to test this set-top box out with some local media, to see if this 720p issue was based on my internet connection. I had a flash drive handy with some of my video files on it, so I plugged it in and opened up Media Center.  My device was immediately recognized, and by navigating to “Video” I was able to see all of the video files on my USB drive.

media center local playback video mx pro
The main Media Center Screen. I clicked “File” to the right of “Video” to access my files. Source: Flixed.io
pasted image 0 20
All of my flash drive’s files appeared immediately. Source: Flixed.io

I decided to play Star Wars Episode VI and see how it looked. I had purchased a 1080p version of the film, so I expected to see a crystal-clear HD picture.

That wasn’t what I got. Just like when I streamed via YouTube and PBS, there was a surprising amount of graininess in the picture.

jagged pixels 720p streaming mx pro
A screenshot of the movie. Notice the awkward side letterboxing and jagged pixels. Source: Flixed.io

Besides that, the video played back just fine – no stuttering or hiccuping. It’s just a shame that the MX Pro does not seem to support true HD video.

To say I’m disappointed with the performance of the MX Pro would be an understatement. For starters, many of the pre-installed apps on the MX Pro do not work correctly, including the Google Play Store. Because the Google Play Store seems to believe that the MX Pro is jailbroken, you can’t access most popular apps through the Google Play Store.

Your only option is to “sideload” these apps with a third-party application. This can be a complex process, and you shouldn’t have to do it just to watch Netflix.

Additionally, every stream I watched was grainy – and some streaming services were locked to 720p. This leads me to believe that the MX Pro doesn’t support 1080p streaming, as it claims to in its marketing materials.

Worse still, interacting with most applications is a chore because of the tablet-like interface of this Android set-top box. Although some applications are Android TV-enabled, most are just stretched-out phone/tablet apps.

I really can’t recommend the experience of downloading, using and installing apps on the MX Pro. It disappoints in almost every way possible.

 

 

Value

So, is the MX Pro worth $35-$40? In my opinion, definitely not. While there are some decent aspects of the MX Pro’s design – setup was simple and fast – these positive attributes are outweighed by a whole host of problems.

Competing products deliver a much better experience than this unit. For $40, perhaps we should not expect too much from this Android set-top box. Yet, it wasn’t all bad. Navigating the custom system UI was pretty easy, and all of the stock apps functioned rather well.

Overall, the MX Pro is not worth your money. You can’t even download popular streaming apps like Netflix or Hulu less you sideload them.

The price tag of $35-40 puts the MX Pro in the same price tier as the Roku Stick, Amazon Fire TV and the Chromecast, despite lagging behind significantly in terms of performance and experience.

 

 

Overall Review: 4.4/10

The experience of using the MX Pro was uneven. Navigation was difficult, the UI was ugly and you’re blocked from downloading the most popular Google Play applications.

I really can’t recommend using the MX Pro. It’s hard to use, confusing and does not even offer a 1080P resolution.

To use it properly, you’re going to need to do quite a bit of troubleshooting – and with better options like the Chromecast available for the same price, it’s simply not worth it. Here’s a quick recap of why.

Packaging, design and specs: 6

The design of the MX Pro is fairly attractive, and the package in which it was delivered kept it protected, and was quite solid. In addition, a host of available ports make it easy to use this Android box with third-party keyboards, mice and other accessories.

However, the MX Pro feels a bit flimsy, and the IR sensor does not always pick up remote input correctly. Not only that, it seems obvious that this box does not output true 1080p video and is hard-locked at 720p.

Setup and user interface: 6

Initial setup of this unit was a breeze. All I had to do was plug it in, connect to my home WiFi network and that was it. There is no complicated registration or setup like with some other third-party Android set-top boxes, which is nice.

I experienced no lag or stuttering of significance while using the MX Pro. Some apps crashed occasionally – like Netflix – but the overall experience was fairly smooth. This surprised me given that the unit only has 1GB of RAM.

One glaring issue with the navigation experience of the MX Pro is the mobile-based interface. Though select apps do use an Android TV version, you’re going to be battling with a UI designed for touchscreens most of the time.

This makes things like inputting your email and passwords for Google Play and other services a gigantic chore. The remote included with the MX Pro doesn’t make things any easier on for you either. It misses inputs regularly and has spotty performance even when aimed directly at the unit.

Navigation and ease-of-use: 5

The remote control and shoddy UI combine to make the MX Pro a displeasure to use in just about every way.

Tasks that should have taken seconds took minutes instead. The pre-installed apps are split between traditional tablet/phone Android apps and Android TV apps, leading to a fragmented and poor user experience.

Apps and performance: 3

Most of the pre-installed apps on this device don’t work properly, such as Netflix. And because it is “jailbroken”, the Google Play Store blocks popular streaming apps like Spotify, Netflix and Hulu, as well as hundreds of other highly-desirable apps.

When a streaming app actually worked, streaming performance was okay – but most apps looked grainy and ugly, and though the streams did not stutter or buffer, they looked jaggy and low-quality.

Value: 2

For the $35-$40 price tag of this unit, you can get a Roku Stick, Chromecast or an Amazon Fire TV Stick. All three of these devices offer you much more for your money. The MX Pro is an awful value for your money – full stop.

MX Pro Review
Packaging, Design and Specs6
Setup and User Interface6
Navigation and Ease-Of-Use5
Apps and Performance3
Value2
4.4
Bad
Summary
The MX Pro offers decent streaming performance when it works. Unfortunately, it has a clunky UI and does not even deliver 1080p streaming, so it's not worth your money.