IconBit Toucan Manta: The Review

Yes I have been overzealous with my Iconbit Hardware purchases, and no I’m not endorsed in any way by them, although they should pay me or at least send me a bottle of vodka. Any who, this time I was looking into installing an Android for TV system, which seems to be the craze right now.

First of all the design of this device, is ridiculously awesome. I have never seen such a design implemented on an AV peripheral. Looks aside, this mini PC is equipped with an HDMI output, Digital optical output, 2 USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, an SD card slot, and a wireless gyro remote. The CPU is a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 and it has 1GB DDR3 of RAM. The USB interface supports all USB peripherals (keyboards and mice), pendrives, hubs, and also external Hard Drives. I suggest investing in a cheap keyboard with mouse pad, as text input is frustrating using the gyro remote. I also suggest not really trusting the external HDD support, as most of the time a large enough HDD will cause the device to reset. The device sports the Android Jelly Bean firmware, which is much better than the ICS, yet I think it has been poorly implemented on this device due to the severe amount of glitches. Most of the applications, even ones with low CPU usage, crash most of the time, and at times they even manage to crash the device which then has to reset. There is also a huge flaw concerning the power button. Even though the manual clearly indicates that by holding the power button pressed the device will shut down, as soon as you press and hold the button the device automatically goes into standby mode, and hence to power off the thing you actually have to unplug it.

The Toucan Manta is being marketed as being a media player as powerful as their XDS series, but honestly I really had a rough time with media playback. When trying to play AVI or MP4 files, the media player either stutters or stops playback after encountering some kind of error. This does not happen just with the built in media player, but with any kind of media player downloaded from the play store. An even bigger problem arises when trying MKV files, which again the device has been advertised as being able to play. Upon playing any kind of MKV file, the frame rate drops drastically and the only way to play it in a viewable way is by disabling sound decoding. This means that you either watch the movie in perfect video but no audio, or watch the movie in a shitty frame-rate and perfect audio. Again this happens with any kind of media player application, and I believe that the problem must be due to missing codecs for the ARM A8. Things like this make the device incredibly flawed, and the only reason I can think to justify this, is that the hardware was pushed into the market with no proper testing, and the software implemented in the device was originally designed for another product in the line, hence all the hiccups. Iconbit might have wanted to penetrate the market quickly and eventually release updates and patches to fix all these bugs. The only peripheral which I deemed to work well was the 2.Ghz wireless remote, which is the only usable gyro remote in a series of frustratingly bad gyro remotes Iconbit released with some of their products.

It is a real shame that such a device with so much potential has so many defects. This hardcore Android PC is being held back by the half-arsed firmware implementation, and is unfortunately rendered only useful to keep your kids occupied with the cheap games on Google play or to watch FilmOn TV.

Overall Rating: 4/10