–Do you have an HDTV?
–Is it “Smart”?
–Don’t know what “Smart” means?
If you answered “maybe” to any of the above questions then this is the gadget for you and “maybe” everyone you know.
EQUISO (pronounced ‘EHK-KWEE-SOE’) is a Kickstarter Project, that after “mostly” a short delay has begun shipping/arriving to backers. (me being one) The EQUISO in layman’s terms is a Screen-less Android 4.0 device all squeezed into the form factor of a USB thumb-drive. Possibly inspired by this. Although the EQUISO was only $69 ($39 for early backers) instead of $79 and includes the gyro remote/keyboard. For those who are interested and missed the Kickstarter window, you can still purchase them on Ebay from EQUISO. There are two models: standard for $79 with 512MB of ram and the pro model for $99 with 1024MB ram.
–Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
–1Ghz Arm Cortex A5 Processor
–512 MB DDR3 RAM
–Mali 400 3D Graphics Processor
–802.11 N wireless radio
–8 GB Memory Internal
–1.4 HDMI Plug n’ Play Interface, 3D, ESD protection, CEC
–USB 2.0 Plug n’ Play Interface
–USB 2.0 Micro – Powering of the Device (For TV’s with no MHL)
Shipping came via USPS express mail. I received mine within 2 days of the ship confirmation from California to Georgia. Packaged in the box is the EQUISO Smart TV Stick, Micro-USB Cable, USB/AC charger, Gyro Remote/Keyboard, and USB Transceiver.
For me, being a TECH enthusiast, Android User, and JAVA Developer setup was a breeze and should be expected for everyone else. You do not need anywhere near my credentials to get this thing up and running in a few minutes. If you are a novice though I regret to inform you that the device does not come with any instructions, only a simple graphic printed on the bottom of the box. To provide a little assistance I have enhanced that simple graphic below with a few extra details to help get you started. Also YouTube is getting a few tutorials from the community as well. You will want to check these out so you can tweak your initial setting and get the WiFi up and running. Some users reported experiencing problems with auto detect on screen resolution. No problems auto detecting 1080p on my old el-cheapo Dynex 55inch 120hz HDTV. EQUISO has already stated that an update to the resolution auto-detect issue would be include in the next firmware update as well as necessary fixes.
The first thing I noticed after fully booting it up is that the desktop grid is smaller than my Android tablet. The EQUISO grid appears to be a 4X5 array while my Android tablet is 8×7. Maybe there is a setting to adjust or possibly a future firmware upgrade to personalize the grid out side of installing different launcher. EQUISO has removed as much extra ware as possible from Ice Cream Sandwich trying to make it as streamlined as possible. With the hardware they have chosen I can understand that they do not want too many, if any, background tasks devouring the few resources you have available. 512MB of RAM can only take you so far, however there is a pro model with 1GB on the horizon. I recommend installing a Task Killer immediately. The device’s performance is reminiscent of early gen single core Android 4.0 phones. EQUISO did state that they opted to go with an older highly-optimized A5 chip due to excess heat worries from the newer A10 and above chips. I have read multiple complaints about the MK802 crashing due to excess heat but I can say that so far the EQUISO has remained stable. I don’t plan to play any Tegra level games so this trade off in power for stability is understandable. All I desired was FLASH support and Netflix.
Speaking of Apps, the EQUISO has full access to the Google Play store and is recognized as a tablet device and thus tablet app recommendations are presented to you on the Google Play home screen. Immediately I installed a small cadre of apps to test with such as Angry Birds, Netflix, HBO Go, Agent Dash and MineCraft. All apps except for HBO Go load smoothly. HBO Go is tolerable but the video stream stutters possibly every five to ten seconds and you can clearly see slowdown caused by mouse pointer movements however zero interruption of the audio stream. Netflix though is very solid, quick loads and smooth HD video playback just like Youtube. Angry Birds, Agent Dash and MineCraft all are playable with minimal frame stutter, however the gestures with the remote will take some serious practice to adjust to.
The EQUISO remote is what convinced me to back this project. It is by definition an air mouse (put those Wii skills to use) with an Android themed design, which is a good thing. I followed the updates on Kickstarter and recall the designers declaring that the remote will detect its orientation and thus either disable/enable the keyboard or gestures. Initially I thought this was a good idea, as to avoid inadvertent key presses or mouse movements. However after using the Remote I can honestly say that the buttons provide enough solid resistance that this would never happen. Because of this function you have to be in a mostly upright position to use the remote. You could not for instance lay on your back with the remote above your face and use the keyboard because it would disabled, locked in air mouse mode. This is another option I hope they make available in future firmware upgrades. An additional feature they added to the air mouse is the infrared capability to power cycle on or off your television, however instructions are not available yet as to how one would program it to work with their HDTV, so currently there is a function-less power button on the remote that begs to be pressed.
In conclusion I understand that this is a Kickstarter project and thus we can classify this device as late beta and all of us backers are the testers. Problem is many people do not understand this and believed they were purchasing a final retail product, and thus are pretty angry with the delays and bugs. I, being a developer myself, am pretty pleased with what they have achieved so far. I know that there are cheaper Chinese alternatives out there but they lack support (not including the Home Brew community) and I am pretty sure that they do not come with any form of customer service. Hopefully the EQUISO team aren’t in this to make a quick buck and run. I think they are a couple of guys ‘and gal(s)’ with good ideas who are out to make a name for themselves and to do that they must support this device, provide a form of customer confidence, and grow their brand.
Don’t fail us EQUISO!! We have faith in you! –signed a backer
Expect a video review in the next week or so.