I was after a quality Android TV box with optical audio out connection to replace my aging Western Digital TV box. The problem was that there are heaps of cheap Chinese media streamers out there with the coax spdif connection that are fine for the average person. But I needed an optical out Toslink connection for my 5.1 home theatre receiver.
Now both coax and optical SPDIF is digital and will pass through 5.1 surround sound to a receiver, but I only had one spare Toslink optical connection on my amplifier. So the quest was on to review 4 of the best Android media streamers with an optical output connection.
If you would like the best value for money Android box with optical output then the Android T9 has to be it. It has the latest hardware at a great price. If you would like to learn more about these media streamers then read on.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 4 Android TV Box Supporting Dolby Digital Optical Out
- 2 Our #1 Pick
- 3 Ever Express T9 with optical output review
- 4 Yagala Android SPDIF passthrough TV box review
- 5 Honorable mention older Beelink GT1 Android box with optical output review –
- 6 What is an Android TV box?
- 7 No optical out on the Nvidia Shield what to do?
- 8 Android tv box freezing on startup
- 9 Conclusion
Top 4 Android TV Box Supporting Dolby Digital Optical Out
Our #1 Pick
The Everexpress 88 Pro 10 is a new breed of portable media players that are small and square. I like that they pack so many features into such a small form factor. This smart TV box is very new with Android 11 so we are still evaluating its performance.
If you are looking to stream 4k video from either online or from your local storage then the 1000mbps network connection and the 5Ghz WiFi will do the job nicely.
Packed with 16GB of fast DDR3 memory which is expandable you will have plenty of room to load up your favorite apps from the Google App store. The 2GB of ram is plenty enough which means you will never run out of program ram no matter how many apps you have loaded up.
The extra ram will help games run faster and smoother. This is not a gaming machine, but it is more than capable of running any game that you would normally run on your phone. It would be best to get a Bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse combo for that.
It is loaded with the latest Android 9 operating system which will give you many year’s worth of automatic security updates and bug fixes. This is the first for many new Android TV boxes in this range. So naturally, I was impressed with that addition.
I like that it has support DLNA for Android OS and Airplay for IOS systems so you can stream to your whole house.
Best of all it has a small 110 to 240-volt power supply so as long as you have a wall adapter you can take it anywhere in the world from Australia to the UK, to the good old USA.
Ever Express T9 with optical output review
If you love the latest hardware and features on an Android TV box then the Ever express T9 has to be it. It’s packed with 4GB of ram and a huge 64GB of internal storage so it is a very snappy and fast unit while navigating around.
On one side of the T9 is a range of outputs and inputs which include power, optical SPDIF, HDMI, and Ethernet in port. On the other side, it has TF Micro-SD, USB 2.0, and a faster USB 3.0 port.
Android 9 + TV box comes with a new user interface that has simple operation and a rich user experience. This TV box comes in with a wireless mini keyboard with a touchpad so it is a nice addition.
All in all, this is a very fast Android media player. It’s packed with the latest hardware and upgrades so it is no wonder it has a higher price than the rest here. If you want the best and don’t want to pay for an Nvidia Shield then this is the best Android TV box with optical output for surround sound.
Yagala Android SPDIF passthrough TV box review
The Yagala X88 Pro Android streamer box is a very nice cheap unit. It’s perfect for those that are just getting into video streaming and would like to play files up to 4k from either an HHD or over a wired network. I always recommend a wired ethernet connection for 4k video streams for smooth playback.
It comes with the cheap RK3328 Quad-Core 64bit Cortex-A53 CPU which is fine to play the latest 4k video files. It will run slightly slower than the current-gen RK3399 but this is not a problem with native 4k support.
I like that it has optical spdif out which is great at this price point. The AV 3 in 1 port is also good if you want to send video and sound to a legacy TV that only has composite in capabilities. Especially useful for an old outdoors projector or TV that we use outside.
The usual ethernet and wifi features are present so you will have no issues connecting this TV box to your network. I like that there is a clock time feature on the front of the box.
Its CPU uses the RK3399-6 cores 64-bit and will play anything you throw at it, even most Android games downloaded from the app store.
The included remote control is a no-frills device. I would recommend grabbing a wireless keyboard with a trackpad as soon as possible. This makes navigating the Android 10 TV box and its applications more enjoyable.
If you don’t need the latest hardware then the X88 is a great buy. Plus it comes with the newer Android 10 operating system.
Beelink originally made it into our review but the recent upgrade to its hardware meant that it dropped support for optical spdif. As it is now harder to come by we have had to update our review.
They can still be found cheaply online and they are a very good Android TV box. So if you would like the full review then read on.
The Beelink Gt1 is a very compact feature-filled Android TV box. It is packed with quality features like 3GB ram and the latest Amlogic 912 8 core CPU. Its hardware outputs are great like fast 1000MBs ethernet, optical spdif sound, HDMI, and 2x USB for hard drives or wireless keyboards.
I like that there is no external Wifi antenna, so it makes it a really clean install say if you need to mount it behind a wall-mounted TV. Did I mention this unit is tiny, as it fits in the palm of my hand.
It comes with the older 7.1 Android operating system with regular updates from the manufacturer. This device also is equipped with an update and backup manager called QodiMate which makes it very easy to update the software when there is a new version released for the GT1.
The remote has a nice feature that it can also learn the codes for your TV so you can turn both devices on with the one remote. You just need the number IR code for your TV. I still prefer a home theatre keyboard to use this Android TV box such as the i8 Rii backlit wireless keyboard shown below.
Updating the Kodi software was simple enough from the android store. I first had to uninstall the Beelink Qodi version by going to settings and then applications and pressing stop on the Qodi software. From there you can then uninstall the old Qodi version and install the newer ones from the Android app store. From now on it should auto-update.
After using this Beelink TV box for over a month it is now part of our home theater movie hardware. It will play anything we throw at it up to 4k video files. Its a great replacement for the aging WDTV box.
What is an Android TV box?
Video on demand is the replacement for the new generation of TV viewers. Our lives are so busy that we want to watch movies, sports, and TV shows when we want, whenever we want.
The rise of on-demand movies and TV from companies like Amazon and Netflix means we can watch our favorite shows when it suits us. This is where the Android TV box comes into play.
If you are stuck with an older LCD TV it is most probably not a smart TV. This means you will have trouble viewing your downloaded content on the TV unless you have access to a media streamer or an Android TV box.
Google has made available its Android operating system available for use with very powerful media players to playback online and downloaded video content. This operating system is very similar to the Android mobile phone software so it will be familiar to most people who use Google products.
Android media player app
At the time of writing the latest version of the Android media player app is 10. Many of the apps you can find for your smartphone are available for the media player.
Qodi is what we use the most for streaming our video files. But you can use any of your favorite movie players. Just be sure to log in using a Google account so you can download files and apps.
Plex is also cool to be able to stream files from another computer.
The hardware inside TV boxes
The hardware inside these Android TV boxes usually consists of quad and octa-core CPU processors with 1-4 GB of ram and 8-64GB of onboard storage. Depending on the make and model. The following CPU configuration is very popular in a lot of Android Kodi TV boxes in 2018. Anyone will easily play 4k video files.
S905: AMLogic Quad-Core Low-end processor
S912: AmLogic Octacore Improved performance compared to the S905 and a good low-to-mid range CPU.
RK3328: Rockchip Good low-to-mid range.
RK3399: From Rockchip it is a very High-Performance CPU
NVIDIA Tegra X1: High Performance
The standard features found on most midrange models will be
- Ethernet cable connection 100-1000mbs connection
- USB ports for expansion
- SD card for expanding internal storage.
- Optical or Coax cable s/pdif sound output
- 5V power input
- Headphone out jack
- Wifi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities
Depending on what you need your TV box to do will depend on the features and hardware required. For example, if you would like to connect a whole heap of USB peripherals like flash drives. HDDs and wireless keyboards then the x92 is your best choice.
No optical out on the Nvidia Shield what to do?
If your computer, Nvidia Shield, DVD player, or Android TV box doesn’t have an optical out connection you can always add in an HDMI audio extractor box such as the J-Tech one shown.
Basically, it takes the HDMI audio signal from the HDMI input and converts it to a 2 channel analog stereo output or 5.1 channel Audio output via the optical Toslink connection.
This is the cheapest way to get an Nvidia Shield optical out. The HDMI will still transmit video to the TV or projector but the surround sound will be captured and sent to the receiver or soundbar.
Android tv box freezing on startup
Now I haven’t had this issue but have helped my neighbor fix his android TV box freezing on startup. It is usually a failed update or stuck program glitching.
Try unplugging the Android TV box from the mains power first. After that, you will need to do a clean wipe or firmware rollback. This will wipe all of your settings.
Each Android TV box is different for a reset so check your user manual for the procedure. The way that worked for me was to press and hold the power on button at the same time as the back button.
Next, you will get the splash screen followed by the Recovery mode. Release the remote buttons as soon as you reach recovery mode. In the recovery mode, you can choose to Reboot the device and see if the problem is fixed. In case a reboot doesn’t fix the problem, select “Wipe data/Factory reset” Then, select Yes on the next confirmation page.
It is hard to pick an Android box with optical output as there are not too many good choices out there. There are plenty of coax digital 5.1 SPDIF android streamers in the market because these are cheaper to build. But if you are like me and only have spare Toslink connections on your amplifier then the Beeling GT1 will be a great performer.
To add an extra wow factor to your home theater why not install one of the best LED lights for behind TV.
Remember to keep your applications updated for trouble-free performance. Kodi is the leader in movie-viewing apps so stick with it and you will have heaps of fun viewing free TV shows and movies with all the fun plugins.
I am a qualified Industrial Electrician for the past 20 years and I love to share my knowledge on home repair and maintenance jobs.
I love fast toys like Motorcycles, Cars, Jetskis, Boats, and Computers so writing about them is easy. Working on them is fun.
To keeps costs down I do all my own mods, repairs, and servicing. These skills I want to share with everyone. DIY is a skill everyone can learn.