The Android TV Stick That Almost Works – My MK908 Story


Early adopter. Experimenter. Tinkerer. Guilty as charged. The allure of tech is more than I can resist.

I don’t know how I got there. No memory remains of the links that brought me to and and an entry on the Tronsmart MK908. It’s a little computer about the size of a large pack of Juicy Fruit.

The MK908 is designed to be plugged into a recent vintage wide screen TV or computer monitor. It’s meant to be an adjunct to your TV. It gets Netflix and MLBTV and nearly anything that’s delivered via the internet. You put it behind the monitor where it’s not seen and talk to it via WiFi or Bluetooth. There’s also an HDMI port, plus one full size and two mini USB ports and a microSD card slot.

The MK908 runs Android–meaning nearly all the apps in Google’s Play store. It is rooted.

Based on the last four paragraphs you’re probably not surprised I plunked down about $90 and ordered one from China. Units like this are impossible to find in the States. That’s a shame.

Damn you tracking! I watched it move through a mail center in China, disappear for a week then reappear in Flushing, Queens, Springfield, MA and then my local post office.

It came physical intact, but electronically broken! Oh, damn, damn, damn, damn!

It has a fatal ailment that’s also tantalizing. The unit powers on and plays for a while, then shuts the HDMI output (audio and video) for a second. It does this 40 to 50 times an hour! It works enough to see what it can do, but not enough to want to do it!

I’ve replaced every cable&#185. I reflashed the ROM. The problem persists.

I’ve been in touch with Anna at, where I bought it, following her instructions. I’m afraid the MK908 is going to have to go back.

IMG_9208mk908It’s a shame. This is really promising technology.

I’ve used it as a moving map watching the radar and later tracking airborne planes. It turns my TV into an additional all purpose screen.

What is that good for? Does it really matter?

I paid with PayPal. I will file a report with them Monday. I have filed a dispute report.

&#185 – Even I was surprised to find an extra HDMI to mini HDMI cable was in my cabinet.

Geoff The Early Adopter

mk908The TRS-80 was my first computer. It had a low-res black and white screen, loaded programs (poorly) from an audio cassette deck, could only deal with integers and was incapable of doing anything worthwhile!

I am an early adopter and this is what early adopters do. We buy stuff to see where technology is going. Often, that’s payoff enough.

All this adds up to tonight’s purchase of a Tronsmart MK908 quad-core Android TV stick. I’m turning my dumb TV into a smart TV, I think.

I won’t actually know for a few weeks. It’s coming from China.

In the past televisions weren’t good for computing. Your old, nearly square TV set had a nominal resolution of 640×480. Today’s HDTVs have 1920×1080 or 1280×720. That’s 2 megapixel and almost 1 megapixel versus 307,200 pixels.

The MK908 is around the size of a thick pack of Doublemint. It sits behind your TV, plugged into an HDMI port, connected to the Internet via WiFi. It runs on Android, like many smartphones and tablets. It downloads apps from the Google Play store.

This tiny computer puts your TV goes online. Netflix? Sure. YouTube? That too. It’s all available in high def… or as much def as your Internet connection can provide.

Image courtesy: liliputing.comUntil now these TV sticks have been almost powerful enough, but not quite. They worked, but sometimes took a quick break to regroup their thoughts or whatever it is computers do while they keep you waiting.

The MK908 is based on the Cortex A9 Rk3188 Quad Core CPU with a Quad Core Mali 400 GPU. CPU is central processing unit while GPU is graphics processing unit. HD video needs lots of processing power. Wish granted.

It comes with Android 4.1 installed and rooted. Android 4.2 is promised before my unit arrives.

All this takes place in a fanless computer that draws about ten watts. So it’s (reasonably) cool and absolutely quiet.

If all goes well my TV will become more of a utility monitor. Yes, I can still watch shows on-air or on cable, but I can also stream shows from the net, display websites or radar loops and run most apps built for Android smartphones or tablets.

Will it change my life? Probably not.

I am just excited to see where things are going. It’s fun being on the bleeding edge. Not everything turns out as expected. Lots of surprises.

I will report back. In the meantime, a review from