A few months ago I backed the Remix Mini project on Kickstarter, which was a massive success. Initially just looking for a modest $50k, Jide ended up raising more than $1.5 million.
I backed the $80 early bird tier which got me 2 x 2G Remix Mini Android PC’s with 16gb of storage (although some is taken by the OS).
The whole premise of the Remix Mini is to offer a fully featured Android powered PC (which is tiny) at a really low cost, running on a forked version of Android 5.1 aptly called Remix OS. Comparatively, there is nothing else out there like this.
So how does it stack up? Firstly, can I just say how glad I am to back a project on Kickstarter and actually receive it in a timely manner. Not all projects deliver on time, but the Remix team managed to ship within a week of their initial estimate.
The Remix Mini is definitely no supercomputer that will produce amazing benchmark results, but for the $70 retail cost you get a quite powerful little Android PC.
– 1.2GHZ quad-core Allwinner processor
– 16GB of flash storage
– 2GB of RAM
– 802.11b/g/n Wifi
– Bluetooth 4.0
– Ethernet port
– 2 x USB 2.0 ports
– Micro SD slot
– HDMI port
– 3.5mm headphone jack
Setup / First Boot
I was surprised how quick it was to get everything setup. From turning on until booting into a usable desktop environment, it takes about 20 seconds.
Initial setup took about 2 minutes (choosing language, connecting to wifi and logging into my Google account). I used a wireless keyboard and mouse, plugged in the adaptor and everything just work.
I then performed some updates on Google apps and services, installed apps and games I wanted and in 10 minutes I had a nice customised Remix Mini.
A note on screen resolution:
By default my resolution defaulted to 720p which looked horrible on my 50″ TV. Go into the display settings and change it to 1920×1080 and you’ll immediately notice the difference. This seems to be happening to everyone, so don’t be surprised or worried if everything looks horrible on first boot (which it will).
Remix OS 2.0
One of my favourite features of Remix OS is the fact it comes with a legit file manager application that looks great.
Everything feels intuitive. The usual keyboard keys work, my keyboard volume keys adjust volume, the
print screen button launches the screenshot tool. Hitting the Windows key opens up the start-like menu. Everything felt fast and snappy. Installing apps is easy and there is something liberating about browsing the Play Store with a keyboard and mouse.
Rather than focusing most of this review on features you can look up yourself, I thought I would focus on application compatibility with social media apps, streaming, gaming and more. After all, the Remix Mini is nothing without great app support.
Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords
As a guitarist who is always learning to play covers, this app is invaluable. I have the tab pro in-app purchase (which I don’t have on the normal website) and my phone’s small screen makes it hard to see tabs sometimes. Lucky, this works!
I use Slack for communicating at my day job and also on various contracting gigs as well. Works well.
Worked without any issues. I was able to post statuses, browse and do everything I can in the app on my Galaxy S6.
Another application that works without issue. You could just use the website, but the app will always yield better performance.
The Remix doesn’t have a camera, but it does support various webcams, so Instagram could be useful, although I am not sure if you can use a webcam with Instagram. This app seemingly works as well.
When I am on the computer I love to listen to music through Spotify. This is one of those essential applications in my opinion. Once again, this appears to be a fully functioning application.
Although it does look a little strange on a large screen. Maybe the web browser version of Spotify might look better fullscreen? Still works though.
At the moment there is an issue with Remix OS and Netflix. However, it is an issue the team are aware on and trying to get a patch out for as soon as possible. The app itself loads, but I was unable to stream any content, which is the same for everyone else.
Even though this game has its shortcomings, I still play it. I thought I would see how this drag and touch heavy application faired with a keyboard and mouse. There is a bit of lag (I have a big city), but the game is usable.
Worth mentioning to be able to login and get my city via Google Play Games, I had to perform a couple of updates as prompted for the game services and games app itself. I also experienced one crash as well, but only because I was scrolling fast.
Clash of Clans
Another game I play a bit is Clash of Clans. When you’re building your village, sometimes the drag and drop can be annoying. My immediate thought was a mouse would make it easier to create more precise town layouts.
I love this Adventure Time game. And to my amazement, it works well on the Remix. There is a little lag on the initial table load animation, when the screen spins but it isn’t a dealbreaker.
Candy Crush Soda Saga
Words With Friends
Some of us still play this game and surprisingly it works well on Remix OS. There is a word for that, oh yeah it’s: awesome.
Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Powerpoint
The whole gang of Microsoft Office applications works on the Remix. So now you can do word processing, create your school reports and write your novel.
Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Sheets
As expected, all of Google’s office type tools work. This means if you’re not part of the 1% and still use Microsoft Office, you probably use Google’s free office alternatives.
I am pretty impressed with the Remix Mini. But there are a few downsides, which are definitely not dealbreakers.
- No ability to zoom in and out inside of apps. I couldn’t find a way to replicate pinch to zoom
- Encountered various UI glitches (flashing windows and text)
- Low specification hardware means some games lag
- Included HDMI cable is really short
- Some UI lag when switching between apps (multitasking isn’t that great)
- Power adaptor doesn’t come in an Australian size, so I had to get a US plug and use a converter
- Not all apps are optimised for larger resolutions (not Remix’s fault though)
Uses for the Remix Mini
You’re probably wondering, why do I need a Remix Mini, what makes it a better choice than a cheap Android tablet or phone? Or an old laptop.
- A very kid friendly device. The ability to install games is a bonus and there are a lot of kid friendly apps that would work on this.
- A cheap study PC. If you’re just wanting something for writing text for school studies and the occasional Youtube/Facebook consumption.
- A media centre PC. With its HDMI output and support for 4K HD streaming, you can install Plex or Netflix and use it as a media PC.
- In-car PC. The size of the Remix Mini makes it perfect for an in-car PC paired with a touchscreen and powered from the cigarette lighter (the Remix only consumes 5 volts of power).
- IoT (Internet of Things) enabled device. Wanting to experiment with creating internet connected devices, then the Remix is a great entry with support for HDMI, Bluetooth, Wifi and more.
- For traveling. Don’t like the thought of carrying a laptop? Take your Remix with you, HDMI cable, keyboard/mouse and plug it into the hotel room TV.
I am impressed. The Remix Mini isn’t overly powerful, but for simple use it is fantastic and Remix OS is equally as impressive, it is what Chrome OS should have been.
Unless you’re wanting to play visually demanding games, the Remix can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, and for the price, it can’t be beaten.