I’m writing up a review for my Noontec A9 Smart TV Box since none seem to exist. The trouble is I’ve never owned a Smart TV Box other than a modded XBox running XBox Media Center or a PC running Windows XP connected to the TV, so I have no real comparison.
Out of the box the Noontec doesn’t have a lot. It has a tiny 11 button remote and a power supply.
The Noontec A9 is really easy to plug in and get up and running, especially with a HDMI connection (obviously you’ll need to buy the HDMI cable as extra). Simply plug in an Ethernet cable (optional, WiFi could also be used), your TV, the power supply, and you’re up and running.
At very first you need to confirm your Internet is connected. If you didn’t connect an Ethernet cable you should set up WiFi under Settings. Load up the Browser on the home screen to ensure your Internet is up.
A USB keyboard and mouse goes really well with the A9. I plugged in some generic PC versions and they work great. However on Android there are some minor differences to the keymap that you’ll need to know. The very first one is right click won’t bring up a menu, it has the same action as the “Back” button.
USB Keyboard Keymap
Another thing I needed to do before I did anything at all… Out of the box the default firmware wasn’t so crash hot, and at the time of writing v1.1.06 OC03 11-11-29 is the latest firmware available from the Noontec download page. Installing the firmware is fairly easy but you’ll need an SD memory card. I tried using a USB flash drive but it would not install correctly. As Noontec instruct, you simply download their ZIP file and extract the recovery.img file to the root folder of your SD card. Then when inserted into your A9 which is already powered on, it pops up with a dialog to install the new firmware.
With the pre-installed firmware I couldn’t install ES File Explorer, the Android Market said it wasn’t compatible with my device. After performing the firmware update I could. This app is really useful to install as it allows you to play videos from Samba/CIFS/Windows File shares. So for a downloader like me, I just setup ES File Explorer to read some shares on my PC and I download videos on my PC and when they’re available I can play it on the TV with the Noontec remote.
One slight disadvantage for video playback with the A9 is there is no information on rooting, or installing the SuperUser application and the /system/xbin/su binary it requires. This means you cannot use CifsManager which would be the desired operation for playing media from Samba shares – since it would allow any application to play the media, and not limit you to media players that support Samba shares. It’d also allow you to run ClockSync which seems wise considering that “Automatic Network Time” is a feature of GSM networks that the A9 cannot support since it has no support for GSM networks or any mobile phone networks at all.
YouTube and any website which uses Adobe Flash Video (FLV) also works very well on the A9. YouTube obviously works best with the app pre-installed with Android, while some FLV streaming sites for pirated content don’t work so great as the overload of Flash based advertising can overload the browser making it quite slow. ABC iView doesn’t work so great since the screen layout of the A9 increases the size of the page, and essentially blows it up so its too big to be useable. I’d love it if either ABC or Noontec did something to fix this.
For an overall rating on the device, with ES File Explorer it does do the tasks I purchased it for – play video from the downloads folder on my PC and from websites which use Adobe Flash. The interface is a little clunky on the A9 and could be improved, however it is useable & functional. Compared to Apple TV, the A9 is cheaper and doesn’t have limitations of iTunes software or DRM. Given the clunky UI and the comparison to Apple TV, the price is probably very reasonable.