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Matricom G-Box Q2 Android TV Box Review

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Two million Americans can't be wrong, can they?

by Mark Hodgkinson May 18, 2016

  • SRP: £99.99

    What is the Matricom G-Box Q2?

    This Android media box is the successor to what, according to the manufacturer, was the most popular device of its sort in the US last year with more than 2 million units shipped. The G Box Q2 naturally builds on the capabilities of the original with 4K Ultra HD playback, HEVC decoding and a more accomplished chipset onboard, among the headlining new features. At its current asking price of £99.99 (May 2016), the Matricom G-Box Q2 finds itself amid some very strong competition indeed and its video and audio playback capabilities will need to be first rate for it to make the grade.

    Specifications

    The Matricom G-BOX Q2 comes running Android 5.1.1 and is powered by an Amlogic s812 Quad Core GPU with a Mali-450 Octo Core GPU providing assistance. There’s 2GB of on-board RAM and 16GB of built-in storage, as well, so it’s a fairly standard set of specs that are close to becoming outdated, given that a lot of newer devices are already using AMLogic S905 processors.

    Design, Connections & Control

    The design of the G-BOX Q2 is a cut above the plethora of sub £60 devices on the market although, don’t get us wrong, it’s still a black box but the edges and corners are rounded and there’s an illuminated blue logo on its top. The build quality is nothing special, however, as the plastic casing is lightweight but it does stay reasonably cool when in use.

    Matricom G-Box Q2
    The Matricom isn’t blessed with loads of physical connections but there’s enough for most people’s need. Along the right-hand side is full-sized SD Card slot while everything else is around the back; rear facing connections are two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone/microphone jack, a ‘fast’ 100Mb Ethernet Port and an HDMI 1.4 connection. There is also Bluetooth version 4.0 and dual-band (2.4/5Ghz) Wi-Fi capability too.
    Matricom G-Box Q2
    The supplied remote control is fairly typical of the product category in being small and light but the rubberised directional and OK buttons are of a slightly higher quality than most. There are volume controls, a context menu button and a home key, also, in addition to a mouse pointer option which is slow and cumbersome but necessary in some cases where the input is assumed to be touchscreen. The remote operates over infra-red, so it does require line of sight and you can power the box on and off directly by using the power button, which isn’t always the case with these things.

    User Interface & Features

    Matricom has gone to greater lengths, than most, to ensure the G-Box Q2 is relatively easy to use with a very remote friendly UI. The menu system scrolls downwards and, by default, is split over seven categories – Latest Apps, Favorites, Videos, Music, Games, Apps & Settings – with the items within each then running horizontally across the screen; if you’ve ever used the Sony XMB menus you’ll be instantly at home albeit the orientation of the options is reversed. There is some ability to customise by adding apps to each category but you can’t get rid of any of those categories without deleting everything within it.
    Matricom G-Box Q2 User Interface & Features
    Matricom G-Box Q2 User Interface & Features

    There is also a shortcut to access all those submenus from any option in a horizontal bar at the bottom of the screen, as well as quick access to anything recently used via the Menu button. Perhaps where the G-Box Q2 best distinguishes itself is within the Settings Menu which has a number of assistance options at the bottom. From here you can read tutorials, initiate a reboot recovery, update the system software and look at what any update has changed and, finally, there’s an electronic version of an owner’s manual which is a link to the product’s Wiki page – unfortunately it’s not been updated for the new model and still points to that of the predecessor. We do have to point out that the model supplied for review came with two very dubious apps installed, which both gave direct access to copyright infringing content and if that carries over in to the retail units, we very strongly disapprove.

    Video & Audio Performance

    Following some experimentation, we settled on using the Android specific fork of KODI, SPMC (v16.3), for media playback duties although it didn’t prove to be any more effective for what is a pretty mediocre media player.

    As noted above, the G-Box Q2 does provide HEVC decoding and Ultra HD playback at up to 30 frames per second. Testing was carried out via a NAS over a wired Gigabit network, as well as from a USB 3.0 hard drive, on a Samsung UE65JU700 and Sony XD93 via a Yamaha RXV-679 AV Receiver.

    Beginning with the 4K Ultra HD tests...

    4K Tests

    SPMC/KODI

    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
    No auto output frequency switching but played smoothly
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24.000fps
    No auto output frequency switching but played smoothly
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/25.000fps
    No auto output frequency switching but played smoothly
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
    No auto output frequency switching but played smoothly
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MKV/59.940fps
    Video aretfecating and audio drop-outs
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
    Audio cutting out, bitrate too much as well with video also with issues
    3840 x 2160/HEVC/MP4/29.970fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/59.940fps
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/59.940fps
    Unsupported
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/23.976fps
    Unsupported
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/50.00fps
    Some audio drop-outs and video artefacts
    4096 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24fps
    Played OK at 3840x2160 but no auto-switching to 24p

    The first thing we can see from the results – and this applies across all resolutions uniformly, and not just for Ultra HD/4k – is that the G-Box Q2 is incapable of automatically adjusting the video output refresh frequency to match the framerate of the content at hand. The net result, as far as the end user is concerned, is that without adjusting a system setting every time you watch some video, you’ll get less than smooth playback. As a rule of thumb, most movies require the TV to be outputting 24Hz (or multiples thereof) but you wouldn’t want that in terms of other apps and user interfaces, as it would cause navigation to feel very slow.

    In terms of the Ultra HD and 4K playback, in general, the G-Box Q2 performed as expected with anything above 30 frames per second beyond the capabilities of the chipset. The same can be said for 10-bit HEVC encodes, which is the format Ultra HD Blu-rays use.

    Moving on down the resolutions, again the Matricom provided few surprises..

    SD/HD/Interlaced

    SPMC/KODI

    720 x 576/MP2/mpg/25.000fps - Interlaced
    Surprisngly bad deinterlacing for the chipset
    1280 x 720/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.00fps - Interlaced
    Again, poor deinterlacing
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps
    No frequency auto-switching at 1080p either
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/24.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/30.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/59.970fps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/ISO/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/23.976fps
    Completely locked up box disabling Amcodec didn't help
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/29.970fps
    Completely locked up box disabling Amcodec didn't help

    With the output frequency caveat noted above, the G-Box Q2 is reasonably capable with standard and high definition material. We would usually associate the S812 processor with having very good deinterlacing abilities, however, but the implementation on the G-Box Q2 is lacking, which will be of concern to those with live TV as part of their media centre solution. It’s also totally incapable with VC-1 encodes, to the extent where the power needed to be pulled from the back of the box after trying to play any of them back; that’s not unexpected with the processor but still of concern to some.

    With Ultra HD Blu-ray requiring data transfer of around 128Mb/s and assuming of course it’s ever cracked and you want to stick your collection on some networked storage, you’ll need a device with a network connection up to the job. The Matricom G-Box Q2 is clearly not that device.

    High Bitrate

    SPMC/KODI

    1920 x 1080/AVC/M2TS/23.976fps & 90mbps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 100mbps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 110mbps

    3480 x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 120mbps
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 120mbps


    3840x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 140mbps
    10-bit 3840x2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 140mbps


    3840x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps

    10-bit 3840x 2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps



    The fastest network speed available via the Q2 seems to peak at around 70Mb/s which is fine for conventional Blu-ray but there’s the likelihood it will struggle down the line.

    We had very little expectation in terms of the 3D capabilities of the Matricom and, in fact, it slightly exceeded that.

    3D

    SPMC/KODI

    1920 x 1080/AVC/ISO/23.976fps Frame Packed
    Played fine in 2D
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Frame Packed
    Played in 2D
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Side by Side
    Played OK but no 24p auto-switch
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Top & Bottom
    Needed to manually engage 3D mode

    The G-Box managed to correctly identify the side by side material, and subsequently switch the TV in to 3D mode and it displayed top and bottom encodes correctly but there is no support for frame-packed (full resolution) 3D, although at least that played fine in 2D mode.

    Going in to the audio tests, we honestly had no idea what the G-Box Q2 was capable of and, in all fairness, it could have been worse.

    Audio

    SPMC/KODI

    AAC (Dolby Digital) 5.1
    AC3 (DTS) 5.1
    Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
    Locked box
    Dolby True HD 5.1
    Played as PCM 5.1
    Dolby True HD 7.1
    Played as PCM 7.1 with rear channels mixed up
    DTS HD-MA 5.1
    Played as DTS Core 5.1
    DTS HD-HR 7.1
    Played as DTS Core 5.1
    DTS HD-MA 7.1
    Played as DTS Core 5.1
    LPCM 7.1

    The major fail was with Dolby Digital+, which again locked up the box completely, but at least it sent out multichannel audio with most formats. There were no issues with regular Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 but HD audio formats will play only as DD or DTS core, which will be no loss if your amp/AVR doesn’t support TrueHD or DTS-HD formats but obviously a problem if it does; in the case of Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Q2 also mixed up the rear channels too.

    Video Review


    How future-proof is this video streamer?

    4K Ultra HD playback up to 60 frames per second
    HEVC decoding Full HD
    HEVC decoding Ultra HD
    7 Channel HD Audio pass-through
    Netflix HD/4K
    3D ISO playback
    HDMI 2.0
    Over The Air (OTA) Software Updates
    Manufacturer version of KODI

    Conclusion

    6
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Nice user interface
    • Design is quite pleasant
    • Remote better than most

    Cons

    • Over-priced
    • Lacks comprehensive file/codec support
    • Sample came pre-installed with copyright infringing apps
    You own this Total 1
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    Matricom G-Box Q2 Android TV Box Review

    Should I buy the Matricom G-Box Q2?

    If your needs are fairly conventional and you’re not overly fussed with playing back video at the correct refresh rate, then the Matricom G-Box Q2 will fit the bill. The design is quite attractive, connectivity options are good and the supplied remote control is of an above average standard. The menu systems and user interface are also friendly, helpful and well presented. Unfortunately, however, when it comes to the audio visual side of things, the Matricom really doesn’t justify the price-tag and your £100, or so, could be much better spent on something that does.

    What else is there?

    You can do oh so much better when you’re prepared to spend this kind of money in a media box. Even a little Cherry Tail Windows 10 device like the Tronsmart Ara X5 Plus leaves the G-Box Q2 for dust, in terms of file type and codec support. You can also get a Minix U1, which not only beats the Matricom hands down for video and audio but also has better firmware support; we can say likewise for the Wetek Core too and, in fact, just about any streamer we’ve reviewed commanding a circa £100 price-tag.


    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    7

    Performance

    6

    Networking, Internet, Streaming quality

    6

    Features

    7

    Set up, Menus, Remote

    7

    Value for Money

    6

    Verdict

    6

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