Style over substance?
What is the Voyo V3 Mini PC?Well the clue is very much in the title here, this sleek little box is a Windows 10 computer which we’ve earmarked as a potentially useful little media streamer/player owing to its compact size and fanless design. In a wider context, there seems to be a general increased number of ‘TV boxes,’ running on Windows 10 as the manufacturers seem to be coming to the conclusion, with the right controller, it’s not a bad operating system to suit the TV screen, especially since it’s been widely deployed in tablets and smartphones and now has a more app-ish approach to functionality. The Voyo Mini PC v3 is currently (March 2016) available, online, for around £155 but prices can change at just about any minute so it’s best to check.
SpecificationIn theory, quite a chunk of the asking price is accounted for by the Windows 10 License, which some consider an unnecessary overhead. The Voyo V3 has a reasonably modest Intel Atom Z8700 processor running at 1.6GHz with an integrated graphics processor but there’s a healthy 4GB of RAM which should be sufficient for the light duties for which it’s designed. On-board storage comes courtesy of a 128GB SSD drive but, clearly, if you want to use this device as an everyday PC you’ll either to expand using an external or network solution or work in the Cloud.
Design & ConnectionsThe first words uttered by my 10yr old on seeing the Voyo V3 mini PC were, “Who squashed my iPod?” and, frankly, I can’t do any better than that as a visual description. It’s a very lovely thing, in actual fact, with its armoured white glass top sitting on top of an alloy chassis, set off by a champagne coloured metal trim. It is extremely tiny in height – just 99mm – and has a footprint of 130mm in both width and depth. The only thing letting it down is the illuminated power button/indicator at the front which shines blue when the device is powered up but also when powered down from Windows, which is slightly confusing. It's finish is also not in keeping with the rest of the package - the standby logo is printed off-centre and it feels cheap. Yeah, it's just a button!
Connections are placed down the right hand side and at the rear; on the side is a solitary USB 2.0 port while around the back are the power input, an HDMI mini port, a TF card slot, two USB 3.0 ports and an audio jack. Conspicuous by absence is a wired internet connection – you could use a USB adapter which is going to spoil the looks- but the alternative is WiFi 802.11n which is disappointing. If you are moving around or viewing high bitrate video over your network, this is a worry!
General PerformanceWe couldn’t honestly say that that we could easily replace our ageing Windows 7 i5 laptop with the Voyo V3. If your PC use extends to no more than web-browsing, face-booking, e-mailing, you-tubing and the like, then you would be fine with this device provided you don’t use it for hours on end, for the video streaming, as the Voyo does have a tendency to get very hot. Streaming via the Netflix Windows app for over three hours saw it lock up, necessitating a hard reset. We’ll look at the audio/video performance in depth, below, but of course this is going to apply when streaming over your own network and if you’re using high quality files, the demands on the processing are only going to increase.
We also tried using the Voyo as a PLEX server but we couldn’t really get acceptable performance, mostly owing to the lack of a LAN port but it also struggled to transcode high bitrate files. The same network limitations weren’t so apparent for streaming games from Xbox One, provided the console was wired to our router. Network transfer speeds were reasonable in terms of hitting the maximum for the spec, with a 4Gb file transferred both ways, four times, at an average speed of 48MB/s but the simple addition of 802.11ac wireless would have made a big difference, let alone a Gigabit LAN port. Outside of the other tasks mentioned, all we need for a PC to do is some light video encoding which while it proved adequate for, we wouldn’t necessarily trust it with larger files, owing to the heat.
Video & Audio PerformanceAs usual, because it’s what we use for our locally stored media, open source media software KODI (Version 16.0) was used for the testing, with files currently stored on an ASUSTOR NAS on a gigabit network, as well as a Samsung M3 USB 3.0 HDD. Audio/Visual analysis came courtesy of a Yamaha RXV-679 run through a Samsung UE65JU7000. It might be worth noting that we couldn’t get the KODI GUI to load before updating the graphics drivers to the latest. Intel provides a useful tool for keeping up to date here.
As is customary we’ll begin with the Ultra HD/4K files
3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps 3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24.000fps 3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/25.000fps 3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
3840 x 2160/AVC/MKV/59.940fps
Video and audio drop-outs - frequent!
3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
Freezing, audio & unbearable buffering
3840 x 2160/HEVC/MP4/29.970fps
3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/59.940fps
10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/59.940fps
It tried but failed with terrible blocky-ness & buffering
10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/23.976fps
3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/50.00fps
Stuttering & no audio
4096 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24fps
Switched in to 4096x2160 but either it couldn't handle the bitrate over WiFi but buffered terribly
It’s not massively future-proofed but the Voyo V3 Mini PC did OK with our 4K testing with low(ish) bitrate files; there is no support for HEVC 10-bit but you would be struggling to get that to play over the network with this device, even if the chipset were capable.
Looking at some lower resolutions as well as some interlaced video content we saw a marked upturn in the results.
720 x 576/MP2/mpg/25.000fps - Interlaced
Excellent scaling & deinterlacing
1280 x 720/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.00fps - Interlaced
1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps 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 1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/29.970fps
In fact, it played everything we threw at it here, at the correct refresh rate, automatically, with excellent deinterlacing and very good scaling, to boot. So, if your collection of files is 1080p, or under - and compressed somewhat - the Voyo V3 Mini PC is actually a good choice, with the caveat noted above – it gets very hot with video playback over extended periods– repeated.
With an eye to the future, we took a look at some very high bitrate files which will become important if we can ever rip our Ultra HD Blu-ray discs..
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
It’s a flat-out fail over the network for the Voyo here, which was totally unsurprising but it could just about play the 4K MKV at 120mbps from the USB hard drive. Again, it would get very hot if you were to do that for the entire length of a movie.
As far as 3D playback is concerned, we will just stick with the performance using the last stable build of KODI and avoid (paid-for) external player solutions but we will point out that there are promising signs that with KODI 17.0 3D playback for Windows users could see some great developments. But, for now, this is where we’re at…
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
Had to maunually engage TV mode
1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Top & Bottom
Needed to manually engage 3D mode
There is no support for frame-packed 3D, other than it playing in 2D just fine – both ISO and mkv – but both top and bottom and side by side play fine, as we would expect. You will need to engage the 3D mode on your display manually, however, although that could hopefully change soon.
The Voyo v3 Mini PC is not one for lovers of HD audio but that’s not really anything the manufacturer, or KODI, can do about it as it’s reliant on Intel. But, for the record, this is how it fared..
AAC (Dolby Digital) 5.1 AC3 (DTS) 5.1 AAC 7.1
Played as 7.1 but lots of crackles
Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Played as PCM 5.1
Dolby True HD 5.1
Played as PCM 5.1
Dolby True HD 7.1
Played as PCM 5.1
DTS HD-MA 5.1
Played as DTS Core 5.1
DTS HD-HR 7.1
DTS HD-MA 7.1
Played as DTS Core 5.1
Played as PCM 5.1
As expected, there were no issues passing through ‘regular’ DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 but anything more exotic missed the mark, although it could have been much worse. Barring DTS-HD Hi-res – which is only of very minor importance anyhow – HD audio was passed as either core DTS 5.1 or 5.1 PCM, in the case of Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+.
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
3D ISO playback
- Beautiful design
- It's a good price for the specs offered
- Windows is a solid platform for KODI
- Perfectly fine for light duties
- No wired LAN port
- ..and only 802.11n WiFi
- Can over-heat
Voyo V3 Windows 10 Mini PC Review
Should I buy the Voyo V3 Windows 10 Mini PC?If your use-case is fairly light – a bit of streaming, email, web-browsing etc, the Voyo V3 Windows 10 Mini PC provides pretty decent bang for buck, married with a very sleek design. The processor is phone/tablet grade but you do get 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage and that’s plenty for 1080p and low frame-rate Ultra HD video. As a dedicated media streamer it is limited however, in two regards; there is no wired LAN connection and Wi-Fi connectivity is throttled to 802.11n so it’s not well equipped for high quality material, either locally or internet based. It does fine with compressed Full HD – Netflix, Amazon Video et al but, even then, you might need to keep an eye on the Voyo V3 overheating. We experienced a number of system freezes when streaming 1080p for 3 to 4 hours; the design would seem to come at the expense of decent cooling so it’s not really a product we could recommend to AV enthusiasts but for smartphone/tablet style use on the big screen, it’s a stylish option.
What else could I consider?If you’re prepared to up your budget quite a bit, we can heartily recommend the Minix NGC-1 which is much more of a ‘proper computer’ and an excellent choice as a fanless/low power media hub/mini HTPC. Other than that, if all you want is a local media streamer you will be better served by something like a Chromebox or one of the better Android devices like the NVDIA SHIELD Android TV, Minix U1 or Wetek Core.
Networking, Internet, Streaming quality6
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
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