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MyGica ATV1900AC Android Media Player Review

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Some nice frills but lacking substance

by Mark Hodgkinson Jan 28, 2016

  • SRP: £130.00

    What is the MyGica ATV1900AC?

    This Android media hub piqued our interest when the company behind it, Geniatech, announced a major press event with the chipset vendor AMLogic at the recent CES 2016. As it turned out, no major news really came out of Las Vegas but the ATV1900AC promises much and, according to the company’s global website, that includes 4K/Ultra HD playback of both Netflix and YouTube; frankly we’re struggling to believe this is the case but the proof is in the pudding, and all that. There’s also the de rigueur support of 4K/Ultra HD resolution playback with HEVC decoding, voice control and Android 5.0 to whet the appetite. Online prices, at the time of publishing (Jan 2016), are around the £120 mark which is definitely at the high-end for a device in this class.

    Specifications

    The ATV1900AC sports an AMLogic S812 processor with a MalI 450 GPU and 2GB of RAM. There is 16GB of unified memory on board, with around 12GB available out of the box after system files are accounted for. The MyGica supports Ultra HD resolutions at up to 30 frames per second but the lack of HDCP 2.2/HDMI 2.0 already makes this device look outdated with all the new products coming to market.

    Design & Connections

    Well the ATV1900AC is a little bit different to most of the numerous media boxes we’ve reviewed, at least, but it’s hardly a stand-out design. The main differentiating feature is a, largely superfluous, display panel at the front which just gives you indication of whether the box is in standby or operational courtesy of small light in its corner. Next to that is a manual power on button, while the plentiful connections are on the right hand side and at the rear. There are 4 USB 2.0 ports on the side; at the back we have an HDMI 1.4 output, a Gigabit LAN port, a mini-SD Card slot, a Toslink digital audio output and the power supply connection. Dual antennas affixed to the back panel take care of the MIMO 802.11AC Wi-Fi connectivity. We can’t fathom whether the ATV1900AC is supposed to support Bluetooth, or not. There’s no mention in the spec sheets but there is a Bluetooth Menu in Settings but when we tried to switch it on, nothing happened so, either way, Bluetooth doesn’t appear to work which will disappoint some.
    MyGica ATV1900AC Design & Connections
    MyGica ATV1900AC Design & Connections


    Remote Control

    The supplied remote is rather nice actually and quite similar to the one shipped with the Wetek Core. It comes with a USB dongle to work over RF so you (mostly) don’t require line of sight to operate the box. There’s a built in mouse function, thanks to the gyroscopes inside, which we found very accurate and easy to use. There’s also a built in microphone which allows you to web search and launch apps which, again, we found surprisingly accurate and responsive. You can also power down the device using the remote, although that only works over infra-red so does need line of sight. All in all, it’s a bit of a winner and we’d consider purchasing one separately for other boxes.
    MyGica ATV1900AC
    MyGica ATV1900AC


    User Interface & Menus

    This is another area where MyGica has done well with a nicely presented launcher with the customary tiled interface, which is very responsive and easy to navigate. The homescreen is split in to two sections, covering apps and settings, with the latter being some shortcuts to the main settings menu. That, in itself, is very much in the style of the Android TV devices we’ve seen and, again, attractive and easily navigable.
    MyGica ATV1900AC User Interface & Menus
    MyGica ATV1900AC User Interface & Menus


    Apps & Features

    Ultra HD Netflix? Forget it! The best the ATV1900AC can muster is a paltry 480p so there’s clearly some inter-company miscommunication going on about the DRM support aboard the device. The new set of devices do promise Widevine Level 1 support, which might mean Full HD playback from services such as Netflix and Amazon, but, for now, if you’re looking for those, look somewhere else as the MyGica is no better than most of Android boxes for that pursuit in this regard. You can get 1080p YouTube, however, although that’s nothing to really brag about. Something worth shouting about is the fact the ATV1900AC has received one over-the-air software update, so there’s none of that downloading files and burning image files to SD cards or USB memory devices we’ve had to undergo with other boxes. That said, there has only been the one software update, so far, and no sign of another on the way.
    MyGica ATV1900AC Apps & Features
    MyGica ATV1900AC Apps & Features


    Video and Audio Performance

    It is definitely worth checking that your ATV1900AC has the latest software installed – just in case the auto-update doesn’t work – as it includes support built in to the Android Kernel for automatic refresh rate switching in KODI. Basically, that means your TV will be outputting the correct output frequency for the framerate of the content being played, which is a must if you want smooth video playback and it works very well on the MyGica for every resolution we tested. All tests were conducted via a Samsung JU7000 Ultra HD TV also, for the non-4K, a Panasonic ST50 plasma and for the HD Audio tests, a Denon AVR-X2100W was used. The KODI version was the latest stable build from Google Play (15.2 Isengard) and we also used the built-in ‘4K Player’ (AMLogic’s own) too. Note the MyGica won’t automatically switch refresh rates in the native player so we just left it at default resolution outputs (1080p60 & 4K2K30 aka 3840x2160 at30Hz).

    Test Results

    The MyGica ATV1900AC is heavily billed as a ‘4K’ Player but, alas, it performed poorly here, especially within KODI. As you can see from the results below, it didn’t fare much better with the 4K Player.

    4K Tests

    Internal Player

    KODI

    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
    Partial success - played at 30Hz with judder

    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24.000fps
    Partial success - played at 30Hz with judder

    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/25.000fps
    Partial success - played at 30Hz with judder

    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/29.970fps

    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MKV/59.940fps
    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/H264/MP4/23.976fps

    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/HEVC/MP4/29.970fps
    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/59.940fps
    Crashed KODI
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/59.940fps
    Crashed KODI
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/23.976fps
    Crashed KODI
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/50.00fps
    Video OK, Audio drop-outs made it unwatchable

    Crashed KODI
    4096 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24fps
    Partial success - played 3840x2160@30Hz with judder

    Crashed KODI

    Ugh! As we can see, Ultra HD playback within KODI was a bust with each and every test file (and some more we tried besides) crashing from KODI back to the Launcher. Why, we’re not sure as the hardware is capable. We tried at different resolution outputs, with and without ‘adjust refresh rate’ enabled in KODi but the results were just the same. We could get Ultra HD output through the built-in player but, as said above, that comes at the expense of the auto refresh switching which is a far from ideal situation for a media player.

    Stepping down in resolution, we'll now take a look at Full HD, 720p, and Standard Definition performance with both progressive and interlaced video:

    SD/HD/Interlaced

    Internal Player

    KODI

    720 x 576/MP2/mpg/25.000fps - Interlaced
    Played but with mediocre to poor deinterlacing

    Played but mediocre to poor deinterlacing
    1280 x 720/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.00fps - Interlaced

    Played but in wrong aspect ratio
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/24.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.000fps
    Played at 50hz but with strange judder
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/30.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/59.970fps
    Began to play but then stalled & froze
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/ISO/23.976fps
    No audio

    Audio OK this time but no video
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps
    Audio OK this time but no video
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/23.976fps
    Stuttered badly

    Crashed KODI
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/29.970fps
    Crashed KODI

    While results are certainly better than with the 4K material, we were still left disappointed by the MyGica here. Deinterlacing proved poor – in contrast to other S812 devices we’ve tested – which is bad news if you have broadcast TV as part of your setup and, more like other AMLogic boxes, VC-1 playback was either non-existent (KODI) or just plain poor (native player); we have previously found that disabling amcodec in KODI results in better VC-1 handling but not with this one, alas. The ATV1900AC also had some issues with material at 25 or 50 frames per second which led to either incorrect aspect ratios being displayed or stutters in playback.

    For those looking to play uncompressed Blu-ray rips, the ability of a player to deal with high bitrate material is of huge importance. Going forwards, when folks begin ripping their Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the capability will become even more important. All files were tested via WiFi (802.11ac Router) and Ethernet from network storage and from a USB HDD connected to the MyGica.

    High Bitrate

    Internal Player

    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


    Crashed KODI
    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
    Unbearable stutter



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



    We already knew the ATV1900AC was incapable of playing 10-bit HEVC files, full stop, which is how the vast majority of UHD Blu-rays will be encoded so all the crosses in those columns above were no surprise but we were a little taken aback that the MyGica seemed to top-out at 110Mbps on 8-bit material as it should have the horsepower to handle more. It will be plenty for most, at this time, with normal Blu-ray rips but there’s no wiggle room here and certainly the pervasive feeling of a lack of future-proofing reared its head again here.

    The recent AMLogic chips have plenty going for them, in terms of video playback, but 3D isn’t a particular strength although the ATV1900AC did slightly better than expected.

    3D

    Internal Player

    KODI

    1920 x 1080/AVC/ISO/23.976fps Frame Packed
    File type unrecognised


    No response from player
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Frame Packed
    Partial success - played Top & Bottom & 30Hz but with good sense of depth. TV had to be manually switched to 3D mode

    Played in 2D
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Side by Side
    Partial success - played at 30Hz. TV had to be manually switched
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Top & Bottom
    Played at 30Hz

    The MyGica played everything bar 3D ISO (although that is kind of crucial given the complexity of ripping 3D Blu-ray); albeit we had to resort to the internal player for the frame packed MKV file. Even then, you would need to switch the Android display settings to output 1080p24 or 2160p24 if you want anything like smooth playback. While we say that 24p is optimal for most movie and ‘major’ TV series, what that usually means is actually 23.976 and unfortunately Android doesn’t natively do that so you would still get frame skips every 40, or so, seconds which, certainly, this reviewer finds pretty jarring. It’s better than no support, at all, of course.

    Rounding off the testing with a spot of HD audio, we again had very little expectancy the ATV1900AC could, or would, deliver and those expectations were proven very realistic.

    HD Audio

    Internal Player

    KODI

    AAC 5.1
    No audio
    Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
    No audio

    Down-mixed to 2.0
    Dolby True HD 5.1
    No audio

    Crashed KODI
    Dolby True HD 7.1
    No audio

    Down-mixed to 2.0
    DTS HD-MA 5.1
    No audio

    Crashed KODI
    DTS HD-HR 7.1
    No audio

    Down-mixed to 2.0
    DTS HD-MA 7.1
    No audio

    Down-mixed to 2.0
    LPCM 7.1
    High pitched interference, video stuttered badly

    Crashed KODI

    The only thing replayed correctly was the easiest test of the lot with every other codec and configuration either non-playable or down-mixed in to two channels. At least most of the files down-mixed successfully in KODI but that’s not going to cut the mustard for those that require HD multi-channel audio output.

    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/XBMC

    Conclusion

    6
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • Nice interface
    • Great remote
    • Good connectivity
    • Impressive network performance

    Cons

    • 4K playback through KODI is poor
    • General audio/video file support also lacking
    • It's far too expensive
    You own this Total 0
    You want this Total 0
    You had this Total 0

    MyGica ATV1900AC Android Media Player Review

    Should I buy the MyGica ATV1900AC?

    We never say don’t but, let’s be honest, with £120 to spend you could do so much better. The ATV1900AC has its plus points – the user interface is well planned and responsive; we can say the same about the remote, too, and WiFi and network speeds were truly excellent. It’s also well built, receives over-the-air software updates and the company behind the device definitely has some substance.

    Now here comes ‘the but.’ Unfortunately, the MyGica ATV1900AC is just not that good a media player, especially with 4K and HD audio, so if you’re looking for a well future-proofed, high-specced media hub, this is not the one you’re looking for. If all you need is 1080p with reliable refresh rate switching and just ‘standard’ Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, the ATV1900AC works well but that in no way justifies the price-tag; shave a further fifty pounds from the price and we’re looking realistic. We do look forward to seeing the future models from Geniatech – as they do seem genuinely promising – but this one misses the mark.

    What Else is there?

    If 4K/Ultra HD is a prime concern then the best players are the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV and Minix U1. The Wetek Core is also a great choice - for significantly less money - and offers much better playback of video, plus OpenELEC and HD streaming from the likes of Netflix . If you're not so bothered about Ultra HD, although it does support 4K up to 30 frames per second, the HiMedia Q5 is a great choice and can playback 3D and HD audio, with just a few limitations. If you want a 'straight' media player with no extras, it's difficult to ignore the Chromebox.


    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    8

    Performance

    7

    Networking, Internet, Streaming quality

    7

    Features

    7

    Set up, Menus, Remote

    8

    Value for Money

    6

    Verdict

    6

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