Wintel W8 Android & Windows 10 TV Box Review

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  • Decent playback via Windows
  • It’s cheap
  • Android OS is outdated & not well tailored for a TV device
  • Overheating
  • No remote control

What is the Wintel W8?

This little, and we mean little, media box packs both the Android 4.4 and Windows 10 operating systems in to its diminutive shell so it’s prospectively a good choice for someone looking to kill two birds with one stone. It’s equipped with an Intel Atom Z3735F processor with generation 7 on-board graphics and it has 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. Since launch, sometime toward the end of 2015, the price of the Wintel W8 has dropped rather dramatically so you can now (July 2016) pick one up for around £65 which doesn’t sound bad, at all, but let’s see if there’s any real worth to it being able to run dual operating systems and whether either, or both, are up to the demands of being a compact media hub.

Design & Connections

Wintel W8

As we said above, the W8 is seriously small which gives some concern over it staying cool in operation; there’s no fan, of course, and nor can there be much of a heatsink, built in, but there are some ventilation holes on the bottom and very small, machined slots on the left side and at the back. Compared to the better TV boxes we’ve seen, the build quality is decidedly second grade with a cheap feeling plastic shell and a very clicky – not in a good way – power button on the front.

Connectivity options are hardly plentiful and rather crammed together on the left-hand side and at the rear. There are two side mounted USB 2.0 ports next to a Micro SD card slot whilst the back ‘panel’ is home to a 3.5mm headphone jack, a fast (100Mb) Ethernet Port, an HDMI 1.4 port and a further USB port, this time of the micro variety, and that’s your lot.

Notably, the W8 doesn’t come equipped with any form of controller so you’ll need to suppy your own, in some form or other. We used a Rii Mk3 with no issues so most wireless keyboards should work fine.

Wintel W8


Clearly the most notable feature of the Wintel W8 is its ability to boot in to either Android or Windows but we really don’t think it brings a great deal of added value. The reason for that being the Android version is old and outdated, compared to most media boxes that run a minimum of version 5 (Lollipop) or some that even have version 6 (Marshmallow). Support for version 4.x is dwindling from developers and in the case of KODI, will cease altogether when the newest version of the media centre software is released shortly.

Wintel W8 FeaturesWintel W8 Features

The interface for Android is also absolutely stock with no real customisation to take in to account this is a device destined to be plugged in to a TV whatsoever, although you can scoot around it OK with directional buttons/keys from whatever control device you choose. You will need mouse pointer functionality to install any apps from Google Play, however, but that’s the case for every Android TV Box without the LeanBack launcher installed.

Video & Audio Performance

Let’s not beat around the bush, the audio/video playback credentials of the Wintel W8 running Android 4.4 are poor, even with SPMC, which is a fork of KODI designed for Android devices. Fortunately, the Intel chipset fares much better with KODI for Windows, which transforms the Wintel in to a fairly nifty little player.

For the record, testing was done using KODI 16.1 (Jarvis), and also some experimental ‘nightly’ builds for 3D playback via a NAS over a wired Gigabit network, as well as from a USB 3.0 hard drive. The primary display used was a Sony KD-55XD93 through a Yamaha RXV-679 AV Receiver.

4K Tests
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
No audio
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
As above
3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/50.00fps
Stuttering & no audio
4096 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24fps
Switched in to 4096×2160 but either it couldn’t handle the bitrate over Ethernet or the file itself. Either way, it buffered terribly
For a processor designed primarily for mobile devices, the Wintel W8 copes pretty well with the demands of Ultra HD video, although there is no support for 10-bit files. As per other devices we’ve tested using the same internal architecture, the W8 was perfectly capable of automatically outputting a video signal to complement the frame-rate of the content; so, for example, 25 frames per second material is delivered at 50hz and 30 frames per second content is sent at 60Hz. We did, however, experience a few lock-ups with the box when running the Ultra HD (and high bitrate) tests which we can only attribute to the box overheating – it did feel extremely warm to the touch – and that would be a worry going forwards.

There were no such problems for standard definition or low to medium bitrate high definition and, in fact, the video processing of the Intel Z3735F is really rather good, all in all.

720 x 576/MP2/mpg/25.000fps – Interlaced
Excellent scaling & deinterlacing
1280 x 720/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
Excellent scaling
1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.00fps – Interlaced
Excellent deinterlacing
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 actual fact, it played everything asked of it, and all at the correct refresh rate. In addition, the W8 also has impressive deinterlacing, where required, and excellent scaling too. That means, if like the vast majority of folks, your video collection is of resolutions 1080p, and below, and not bit-for-bit copies – i.e. they’re compressed – the W8 will serve you well. As per the 4K tests, however, we got a lock-up when playing our full Blu-ray rip of Sicario so it isn’t flawless.

With more of a look to the future of home video, we tested some very high bitrate files which will become important if we can ever rip ourUltra HD Blu-ray discs

High Bitrate
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 3840×2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 140mbps
3840x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps
10-bit 3840x 2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps
The ‘fast’ (100Mbps) Ethernet port fitted in to the Wintel W8 just doesn’t cut the mustard with very high bitrate content. In fact, when testing data transfer rates, the fastest speed we recorded was only just over 60Mbps, which is fine for 1080p Blu-ray but not enough for anything more. We’ll have to see how the likes of UHD satellite broadcasts shape up in the long run but we would imagine the W8 will have just about enough throughput to handle broadcast ‘4k.’

As we noted above, there are some nightly builds of KODI knocking around, created by one developer in particular and based on the upcoming v17 of the software, that address 3D playback for Intel based hardware. Whether the work will ever make it in to a main release remains to be seen but the portents are good and so were the results with the Wintel W8.

1920 x 1080/AVC/ISO/23.976fps Frame Packed
1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Frame Packed
1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Side by Side
1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Top & Bottom
As you can see, there were no issues at all with 3D playback and, provided output resolution was set at 1080p (and not 3840×2160), the TV was auto-switched into 3D mode. Now, for anybody looking for a 3D KODI solution, be warned that the nightly builds are not without issues and there are certain elements of functionality missing but fingers crossed the gaps will be filled soon enough.

We’ve noted before that driver support for certain chipsets is missing from Intel, in terms of HD audio, and that’s the case here also.

AAC (Dolby Digital) 5.1
AC3 (DTS) 5.1
AAC 7.1
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
Played as DTS Core 5.1
No audio
Played as DTS Core 5.1
LPCM 7.1
Played as PCM 5.1
True to form, there were no problems passing through standard DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 but TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD MA were ‘down-mixed’ to 5.1 PCM and core DTS 5.1 respectively.

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
Using Windows
3D ISO playback
HDMI 2.0
Over The Air (OTA) Software Updates


Is it worth buying?

The Wintel W8 is a decent enough little TV box for the price, although we do have our concerns over build quality and, in particular, heat dissipation from within its tiny shell. Connectivity options are decent with a couple of USB ports, HDMI output, built-in WiFi and an Ethernet port among them and the W8 has enough power to output Ultra HD video resolutions. The Wintel also works well with KODI built for Windows but the Android implementations are lacking. In fact, you could say the whole dual-booting capability of the W8 is lacklustre, with an outdated version of the operating system and minimal customisation to take in to account this is a box designed to plug in to a TV – you don’t even get a remote control. For those on a very tight budget, the W8 is worth a look but we think it would be better to save just a few more pounds for something more accomplished.

What else is there?

Assuming dual-boot isn’t a pre-requisite and, in this case, it really offers very little, the Tronsmart Ara X5 Plus is definitely worth a look for an extra £15 to £20. The processor is the same but other components are superior and we had no concerns about it getting too hot. Upping the budget even more will net you an ultra-reliable media streamer like a Chromebox or one of the superior Android devices such as an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, a Minix U1 or a Wetek Core.




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