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Probox2 EX Extreme Media Player Review

Probox2 EX Extreme Media Player

Probox2 EX Extreme Media Player


  • Product Name: Probox2 EX
  • Manufacturer: Probox2
  • Review Date: July 30, 2015 15:00
  • MSRP: $129.99
  • First Impression: Mildly Interesting
Processor Amlogic S802-H Quad Core Cortex A9 CPU, up to 2Ghz
GPU Octo Core Mali-450 GPU, up to 600Mhz
Memory 2GB DDR3
Internal Storage 16GB eMMC
Networking 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11n Dual Band WIFI (2.4Ghz / 5.8Ghz), Bluetooth 4.0
OS Android KitKat 4.4
Video Output HDMI 1.4b, up to 4K@ 30fps, Support HDMI-CEC
Audio Output Via HDMI 1.4b, optical SPDIF
Power DC 5V 2A adapter (CE, FCC, CCC Certified)
Peripheral Interface USB 2.0 Port x 2, OTG Port, TF Card Reader, AV Port
Supported Video Formats DAT/MPEG/MPE/MPG/TS/
Supported Audio Formats MP2/MP3/WMA/OGG/
Dimensions 115mm x 115mm x 26mm / 200g

When Apple announced the original AppleTV as a work in progress back in 2006, it ushered in an era of network connected devices that aggregated digital content for enjoyment on your TV.  In 2008, Roku joined the scene followed by Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV set top box.  While there have been other hardware players in the marketplace, they really haven’t been more than a footnote.

A new entry to the set top box arena, Probox2, hopes to make a big splash with their Probox2 EX Extreme Media Player.  The AppleTV-sized Probox2 EX is based on the Android 4.4.x Kitkat operating system.  For those who don’t follow the multiple iterations of Android’s OS, that means that there is no native Adobe Flash support on the Probox2 EX.

Under the hood, there’s plenty of raw CPU power and storage.  The Probox2 EX runs an Amlogic S802-H Quad Core Cortex A9 CPU running up to 2Ghz.  Processor cores are variable speed.  For graphics performance, the box features the Octo Core Mali-450 GPU running up to 600Mhz.  There’s 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC solid state storage memory and support for up to 128GB microSD cards.  Web cam support, Bluetooth 4.0, as well as wired 10/100 Ethernet and wireless 802.11n WiFi (2.4GHz and 5.8GHz WiFi bands) are all standard.

Probox2 EX

The Probox2 EX includes a number of connectivity options for users

Most of the aforementioned competitors’ hardware rely almost exclusively on network connectivity.  They have deprecated physical interfaces.  This isn’t the case with the Probox2 EX.  It has more physical interfaces than the new Macbook.  In addition to its networking support, there are two USB 2.0 ports, an OTG Port (an on-the-go USB interface allowing USB devices, such as mobile phones, to act as hosts), a TF Card Reader, and an AV Port. 

Better hardware does not compensate for a poor user interface and this is where Probox has failed to deliver.

For outputs, the Probox2 EX has a single HDMI 1.4 port and Toslink (SPDIF) digital audio interface.  While the Probox2 advertises that the EX supports 4K/UltraHD there’s some fine print to this as any savvy Audioholics reader will immediately pick up on.  The EX does not have an HDMI 2.0 port and it therefore cannot support HDCP 2.2.  That very fact means it will not be able to support every kind of UltraHD content.

As we’ve talked about many times here on Audioholics, HDMI 1.4 has always been able to support UltraHD content but only up to 30fps.  UltraHD isn’t all about resolution either. Without an HDMI 2.0 port, you won’t be able to get all the benefits that will come with the emerging UltraHD standard such as wider color gamut, increased dynamic range, UltraHD content at 60fps, etc (you can read more on HDMI 2.0’s features here).  Probox2 should be a bit more up-front on this issue as the average consumer doesn’t understand the complexities surrounding UltraHD.

Probox2 Plus RemoteThe Probox2 comes with two remote controls: a traditional IR remote and the Probox2 Remote Plus.  The IR Remote is nothing to write home about.  However, the Remote Plus is a multi-function air mouse.  To use the Remote Plus, you need to plug in the included USB dongle to one of the EX’s two USB ports.  Once you do that, the EX and the Remote Plus are automatically paired. 

The Remote Plus has an embedded microphone that you can use for Skype or Google hangouts or for voice to text instead of using the onscreen keyboard.  There’s a button on the remote that, when pressed three times, will allow you to run the remote horizontally and use it as a wireless gaming remote.  This is a really cool feature of the Probox2.  Even the Roku’s Bluetooth wireless remote can’t do this.  Casual gamers may find this feature on the Probox2 very appealing.

Almost all of the Probox2’s competitors put their foot into either the Airplay or DLNA camp.  The Probox2 EX is somewhat unique in that it supports DLNA, Airplay, and Miracast streaming which means that you can stream content from just about any supported device out there.  You won’t get such broad support out of an AppleTV or Roku device.  This feature is a huge potential benefit to home, business, and professional users who need to accommodate a mixed OS and device environment.  In theory, a single Probox2 EX could serve as a streaming hub in a conference or board room.

Specs Probox Roku3 AppleTV
Processor Amlogic S802-H Quad Core Cortex A9 CPU, up to 2Ghz BCM11130 900 MHz Apple Single-core A5 (ARM Cortex-A9)
GPU Octo Core Mali-450 GPU, up to 600Mhz Unspecified Apple A5 (PowerVR SGX543MP2)
Memory 2GB DDR3 512 MB 512MB
Internal Storage 16GB eMMC 256 MB 8GB NAND Flash for Cache
Networking 10/100 Ethernet, 802.11n Dual Band WIFI (2.4Ghz / 5.8Ghz), Bluetooth 4.0 10/100 Ethernet 802.11 dual-band (a/b/g/n compatible) with WEP, WPA, and WPA2 support

10/100 Ethernet, WiFi (802.1a/b/g/n) Bluetooth support for Apple Wireless Keyboard
OS Android KitKat 4.4 Roku OS Apple TV OS
Video Output HDMI 1.4b, up to 4K@ 30fps, Support HDMI-CEC HDMI, 720p,1080p HDMI, 720p, 1080p
Audio Output Via HDMI 1.4b, optical SPDIF Digital over HDMI (Dolby® 7.1 and 5.1 surround pass through) HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through
Power DC 5V 2A adapter (CE, FCC, CCC Certified) 12V – 1A power adapter Built-in universal 6W power supply
Peripheral Interface USB 2.0 Port x 2, OTG Port, TF Card Reader, AV Port USB None.  USB port is for service online
Supported Video Formats DAT/MPEG/MPE/MPG/TS/
USB Media formats: MP4 (H.264), MKV (H.264)
Streaming formats: H.264 video up to 1080p, 30 frames per second, High or Main Profile level 4.0 or lower, Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
Supported Audio Formats MP2/MP3/WMA/OGG/
AAC, MP3 HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through
Dimensions 115mm x 115mm x 26mm / 200g 3.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches 23mm x 98mm x 98mm /0.6 pounds


Unlike the AppleTV, which gives you a fixed set of applications, the Probox2 EX allows you to  download and install apps from the Google Play Store.  Once downloaded, apps are cleanly laid out and organized on the screen.   While some users will love that flexibility to install various apps, the Probox2 still doesn’t come anywhere close to the slick, polished, and consistent user interface of the AppleTV.  For example, the Netflix implementation on AppleTV is still the best I’ve seen on any device. 

No Multi-Channel Audio Support?!?

Speaking of Netflix, while it’s pre-installed on the Probox2, it appears to stream audio in 2.0 only with no indication that it will ever support 5.1 audio.  This is a HUGE let down for ALL Audioholics and oddly omitted from every professional review we've seen on this device.  In our opinion, this is a major misstep and may sour home theater enthusiasts from considering the Probox2 as a serious media player.  AppleTV’s and Roku’s Netflix implementations natively support up to 5.1 multichannel audio (with the Roku 3 offering Dolby 7.1 surround passthrough) on Netflix and other apps!

Unlike the AppleTV and Roku, the Probox2 allows you to group apps into tabbed categories.  Some of those categories are pre-defined and pre-installed apps such as MX, Movie, Netflix, Google Chrome and others are already grouped for you.  Fans of XMBC will be happy to hear that XMBC v14.0 alpha is pre-installed. 

probox2 user interface

The Probox2 EX's user interface is neatly organized and allows for app grouping, but isn't as polished as the AppleTV.

Other competitors don’t have this tabbed grouping feature.  The AppleTV, for example, will only allow you to re-order or disable certain apps; but you’re still navigating all those apps on a single screen.  This tabbed approach and overall UI interface is a significant step up to the Roku’s cumbersome interface but doesn’t necessarily trump the AppleTV.  While I applaud what the Probox and underlying Android OS are doing, the overall interface still isn’t as refined, polished, and consistent across all apps as the AppleTV’s. If you want the best overall UI experience, the AppleTV is still the device to beat.

Probox2 User Experience

All in all, as far as Android-based boxes go, the Probox2 EX is quite possibly the most powerful and advanced set top unit available on the market today.  However from a user experience standpoint the Probox2 is an epic failure for all but the most tech savvy customers.  We spent over 2 months trying to configure the Probox2 to stream audio and video off our Samsung Smartphone with no success.  Netflix and streaming YouTube videos would often drop audio with no way of getting it back unless you shut down the problematic app, and then power cycle the Probox2.  Our most recent annoyance using this device was when Steve Wilson put on a FREE live concert on Yahoo.  I was unable to get audio whether I watched the event on IE, or Google Chrome.  After about 30 minutes of fussing around with it, I gave up and just used my Smartphone to watch and LISTEN to the event.

Probox2 Screen

Probox2 App Screen (hey I got Crossy Roads!)


When I contacted Probox to let them know of these issues, they pointed me to this page on their site to  update the Firmware.  I was a bit floored by the complexity of this process especially without having a keyboard attached to this device.  I was unable to make this work and quite frankly I can't see how the average consumer who this product targets would have much better success.  In comparison, the Apple TV Firmware Update procedure couldn't be any easier as are MOST devices that connect to the internet.  I guess I'm just used to operating more intuitive devices that often auto-update or offer a simple push button notification (think Oppo Blu-ray player). 

So basically I spent two months playing with the Probox2 and didn't get any further than downloading games from the Android Playstore, watching movies on Netflix limited to 2.0 audio when it actually worked or browsing the web from the comforts of my big screen TV. 

I searched the internet to see how other users felt about their experience with the Probox2 and found some interesting threads on Probox's own website.

Customer Complaints 1

Customer Complaints 2

Issues with Showbox

Miracast Streaming Issues

I even elected my sister-in-law who is very tech savvy with mobile and portable devices to try the Probox2 and see if she would have any better luck, and here is what she had to say:

In my opinion, the Probox2 device is definitely not user intuitive. It doesn’t give any on screen directions. This is not for the average consumer.  In comparison, I was able to screen cast with Google Chromestick easily. I can play Netflix, Youtube, etc straight from my phone or tablet when interfacing with Chromestick which is something I was NOT able to accomplish on the Probox2. I don’t need a remote with the Chromestick because the screen on my device is the remote. It is also cheaper. The Chromestick also gives you on screen instructions. It tells you that you have to download an APP to be able to cast screen and overall its a much easier and more intuitive device to operate.


While the Probox2 EX price point is higher than the AppleTV and Roku models, tech savvy users who want the ability to run native Android apps on a device interfaced to their HDTV may find it to be exactly what they’ve been waiting for.  But there are a few BIG caveats.  Lack of multi-channel audio is a big fail in my book.  The better hardware that Probox2 offers over the competition does NOT compensate for its poor user interface.  What good is having all this horsepower if you can't use it?  Does one buy a Z06 Corvette to sit in traffic or commute to the grocery store, or do they buy it to track it and test it to its limits?

I was really hoping this device would bridge the gulf between the PC and home theater system.  I was hoping for a single device that would handle ALL of my audio and video streaming, and App management and instead I got a couple of months expanding my vocabulary of colorful metaphors each time I tried to configure or use this device.  It's rare that I actually caution people NOT to purchase a product we've reviewed.  But I have to tell you, don't expect miracles with this product.  Although it promises you the moon, I found it mostly delivered cheese. 

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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