Fancy yourself a home theatre PC (HTPC) that won’t break the bank? The UG 802 provides this in the palm of your hand – but does it deliver?
When we received the UG802 for review we were surprised at the tiny dimensions of the unit. The packaging is so tiny that the power supply did not fit in the box and came externally.
Open up the packaging and you are presented with the “PC”, an HDMI 1.3 cable, and a Mini USB cable for the power supply.
Inside the UG 802 is a dual-core 1.2Ghz Cortex CPU, a quad core GPU, and 1GB Ram. Storage comes in the form of 4GB solid state memory, expandable to 32GB with the provided SD card slot. You don’t fit a lot of media on 4-32GB of storage, but more on that later. WiFi connectivity is 802.11b/g/n. Software is Android 4.0.4.
Both the HDMI and the USB power cable are too short to be practically useful, causing our test unit to hang suspended in mid air from the back of various displays and power plugs. Providing a longer HDMI cable should lessen some of the aggravation of having to play trapeze artist with the unit.
Setting up and the frustrations of short cables aside, the UG 802 is a nifty unit. There is a USB port, and you can attach mouse, keyboard, and USB drives without problem. We would have preferred at least one more USB port to negate the need for a USB hub to fit multiple devices.
To interact with the device we were provided with the Measy Air Mouse. Frankly this is an awesome piece of kit, and works well with the touch oriented interface of the UG 802. Say what you will, but Android is not a traditional keyboard and mouse friendly interface.
We tried installing Apps from the Google Play store, but had no success. Something did not allow any secure connections from the UG 802 to the internet. We tried messing around with settings on the pre-installed Avast Firewall, but eventually gave up.
The pre-installed apps included the excellent XBMC. XBMC was originally built as a media center interface for the XBox (hence the name XBox Media Center) but over the last few years it has become available for a variety of operating systems, such as Android 4.0 installed on the UG 802.
It worked fine, but will require some tinkering in order to stream your shared media library if you have a media storage server in your house.
This brings up the next question, if you already have a media storage server for your movies and music, why get the UG 802? You would get youtube and internet on your TV, but many TV’s offer this out of the box today.
The nice interface? Well XBMC on a purpose built machine will offer a dedicated media platform with much more storage than the UG 802 already offers, and you can have it all on one device, as opposed to rolling out a storage server and then forking out the cash for the UG 802.
As a stand alone device it is short on storage, despite being able to upgrade to 32GB with a flash card, and if you already have a HTPC with your storage, why get the UG 802 if it will require setting up to get to your stored media?
The only scenario where the UG 802 will really make sense is if you have many dumb TV’s in your house and a centralised storage server that can serve media to all of them. This would make a lot of sense for a guest-house or hotel.
Overall the UG 802 is a fun device with some basic shortcomings.
A note on the Measy Air Mouse; it is a 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi mouse and keyboard, and really is the real star of this setup. You get it in two flavours; one with a touchpad on board, and one where you move the physical device and the pointer goes where you point the remote. Think magic wand.
We had the magic wand version, the “Air Mouse + Keyboard.” A source of irritation was the requirement to stop typing and wave the mouse around before continuing. Typing was also problematic at times with one key-press resulting in two or sometimes three of the typed characters being entered.
The air mouse component was brilliant though. For managing a home theatre interface it was extremely intuitive with a 5-year-old and 7-year-old using it with minimal fuss.
I rate the The Measy Air Mouse + Keyboard as follows
Value for Money: 7/10
Ease of Use: 9/10