Would you believe that you can actually buy a brand new computer for a little less than ₱4,000? In a way you can, when you buy the Remix Mini.
First released by Jide in late 2015, after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, this pocket-sized CPU first claimed to be the world’s first true Android PC. After all, it was hyped up to be the computer for the average Joe; you simply plug it in a TV or LED/LCD monitor’sHDMI port and you’re done. However, it initially garnered mixed reviews from top tech blogs worldwide.
With the later batches of the Mini now available here on Poundit, we’re going to revisit it to see if it’s living up to the hype. Here’s what we have to say about this computer—and to test it out, we’re even using it to write this review.
The Package and the PC
The Remix Mini comes in a sturdy cardboard box that proudly proclaims its status. Inside is its power adapter and an HDMI cable for connecting the machine to a video output source—either a LED/LCD monitor or a TV.
Both cables are quite short, though, so you may need to replace the provided HDMI cable with a store-bought one. And unfortunately the power adapter is proprietary; so far, there are no third-party substitutes for it. Hence, it’s best to keep an extension cord handy if the nearest wall plug is quite far away.
That said, our test unit has the following specifications:
- 2GHz quad-core cortex A53 (64-bit Allwinner)
- 16GB eMMC internal storage
- 2GB memory
- Video support: H.265 4K hardware decoding and 1080p HDMI output
- Audio line out/headphone minijack (digital/analog)
- HDMI port support for multichannel audio output
- Two USB 2 ports and Ethernet port
- Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi support
- Up to 128GB expandable storage via microSD
- Remix OS
There’s also a quick setup guide plus a product description and warranty pamphlet in the box. And like most desktop PCs, you will also need a USB mouse and keyboard (sold separately).
Even without those guides on hand, setting up the Mini is a breeze. Simply plug everything in their respective ports—especially the mouse—then tap the Remix logo on top of the Mini to turn it on.
After a few updates and configurations, you can now install the programs you need on the Mini. But instead of installing programs like you’d do on Windows, you can install apps from the Google Play store. This means that you have a lot of functional or fun apps to choose from, including the Microsoft Office for Android suite, Spotify, YouTube, and even your favorite games.
So what’s the total setup time? Less than 30 minutes, including installing apps. The quick setup time will actually make you wonder about the amount of bloatware other OSs have. And with this easy setup, the Mini is literally a plug-and-play device.
Introducing Remix OS
While the Mini is running on Android, it’s not exactly the same stock OS you’d see on a smartphone or tablet. It actually runs on the Remix OS, a customized Android OS for this gadget; hence the customized UI that admittedly looks and works a lot like Windows 10.
This design choice is rationalized by the Jide team themselves. As stated on their website: “With over 30 years of operating system history, many features and functions have withstood the test of time. In an effort to pay tribute to those who came before us as well as place users in an environment in which they are already comfortable, we’ve endeavored to make Remix OS 2.0 feel like home.”
Hence, the Remix OS has a handful of features that are unavailable in stock Android installs, such as a taskbar, right-click functionality, and the ability to resize windows. You can even press Alt+Tab on your keyboard to shift from app to app. And the OS seems to have significantly improved from the time it was first released. While some earlier reviews complain of lag when switching app windows, we have not encountered any such problems during testing.
However, since it does run on Android, several apps tend to default to their tablet version once installed. Not all apps also offer right-click support, which is understandable, considering that most apps on Google Play are built for touchscreen devices.
For Work and For Play
Those little kinks don’t take away anything from the Mini’s great performance. We were able to write this entire review using Microsoft Word for Android. The said app ran smoothly on this pocket-sized computer, even with the YouTube app and five tabs on Chrome open in the background. And considering that the Microsoft Office suite for Android can be downloaded for free, the Mini is definitely a steal at its current price. No need to pay for expensive licenses!
Even as an entertainment system, the Mini is a great budget option. With a good monitor or TV, simply set the Remix to the right resolution to enjoy sharp, HD video on YouTube. After all, this pocket computer has two available resolutions: 1280×720 and 1920×1080.
Speaking of YouTube, there are several ways to watch your favorite videos using its Android app on the Remix OS. First is in full-screen mode, which is the best choice if you want to create your own budget personal theater system.
However, you can also use the standard window mode to watch the video. And yes, the save to watch offline feature is available on the Remix OS—something that most other desktop systems don’t have.
On top of that, you can also have the middle ground: a borderless window mode, which essentially is the full-screen mode in a resizable window:
While YouTube may be the only video streaming app fully-supported on the Remix OS, we hope that other apps such as iFlix and Netflix will follow suit.
If you want to watch video files on the Remix OS, you can simply stick in a microSD card at the back of the machine. Then just check out the list of supported video players on the Remix Community Choice Apps list.
Spotify is also fully compatible with the Remix OS, though you would be using the smartphone layout for the said app.
The only downside is the sound quality—it is average at best. However, that’s something that can be quickly remedied by plugging in a pair of better speakers or a headset into the audio jack.
If you also want to watch videos stored on a USB flash drive, then don’t let the lack of ports dissuade you. You can actually attach a USB hub to one of the two ports at the back, then attach your mouse, flash drive, or even an external hard drive to the hub.
And since the Mini runs on Android, this means that you can also play many of your favorite mobile games on a full screen. While some games such as Ragnarok Online Valkyrie do look a bit pixelated, we’d have to say that the original Angry Birds game looks stunning on a wide screen.
With these functionalities, it’s easy to say that getting a Remix Mini is a better option than getting a cable subscription, digital TV box and all. While at ₱3,990 it’s more expensive than a month of cable TV, think of it as a one-time payment that you won’t need to renew.
For a little less than ₱4,000, the Remix Mini is a solid option for an entry-level, budget PC. It’s the ideal everyday computer for those who only need the basics to get the job done: email, office applications, a web browser. That alone makes it a great option for cash-strapped students or business owners who have little capital to spare for office equipment.
At the same time, it’s also a great starting point for creating a budget entertainment system. Simply plug it in to transform an ordinary flat-screen TV into a newer smart TV, at the fraction of the price. With all these features, the Mini is definitely worth every peso you pay for it—and even more.