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Review: The SCISHION V88 is a decent $25 TV Box

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This article contains referral links from which we may receive some financial benefit. As a principle, we only refer and recommend products and services that we would ourselves be happy to buy.

A long time ago I wrote about how you could turn your dumb TV into a smart TV using a T.V Box. It was a brilliant idea that I somehow never got to implement mostly because my laptops have an HDMI port . At some point however the pain of having to fumble with an HDMI cable everytime you want to watch something gets to you.

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So I made the choice to finally buy my first T.V box. I hoped into a kombie and went into town and got the shock of my life. None of my favorite techstores had TV boxes in stock even though they were stocking every Chinese phone under the sun.

I decided to try Dipleague groups and classifieds sites and got another nasty surpise. Several individuals were selling boxes from several years ago with 512MB of RAM and other rubbish specs for prices north of $100! Some of these boxes come with Android 4.2.2 to match.

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Gearbest to the rescue

I decided to wait for the Black Friday sale and pounced on the cheapest box I could find. I got the SCISHION V88 for $22  on promotion and paid $1 in shipping costs you will not find a cheaper device than this. The device comes with the following specs:

OSAndroid 6.0
CPURK3229 (RockChip QuadCore)
GPUMali-400
RAM1GB
ROM8GB
Maximum Extended Support32GB
Decoder formatsH264 and H265
Video QualityUp to 4K 30fps scaled to up to 1080P output
USB Ports4 USB 2.0 ports
SD Card Slot1
Power5V
WIFIYes 2.4G
Ethernet Port100Mbps
OutputHDMI

The device comes with an infrared remote control but you can use an air keyboard and mouse combo if you want. You can get these for $9 from Gearbest.

The Good

The device supports YouTube videos up to 720P. I have a 1080P T.V so my work around if I need a higher resolution is to use youtube-dl. The device comes with a custom version of Kodi called RKMC which thankfully does not come with any illegal addons as has become the norm these days.

You also get a Netflix app, GMail and Facebook apps. While the first one is a must for some it’s hard to do email and Facebook on your TV unless you have the aforementioned keyboard. I quickly uninstalled these apps. In my tests the TV box could indeed play videos up to 4K at 30fps. Basically this means this box can handle most of what you can throw at it including 3D movies.

I had my concerns about the 1GB RAM but it never became a problem as you will not really be multitasking much on your TV. My SmartDNS Proxy VPN and DNS apps installed like a charm. I could even install and use Korean Drama on it. Since I have managed to wean my wife from African Movies I did not dare to install iRokuTV and risk her relapsing. Google Play Movies also works like a charm.

The Bad

I could not get the Hulu app to work on this TV Box and I think I have an idea why. It is also the same reason why you cannot install the stock version of Kodi from the Google Play Store. This device comes with a Rockchip processor and while that works almost all the time there are some caveats.

While this is an ARM processor it uses a non standard video API which  complicates development. To reduce bugs Kodi have decided to abandon all custom patches. Rockchip have their own version of Kodi called RKMC but this is a fork of the ancient version 16 RC which means addons such as subtitle downloaders will not work. Newer versions of Rockchip now use a standard API which means they do not have the problem but the 3229 CPU which comes with this box is one of the old ones.

While I could never get Hulu to work there was an easy fix for Kodi. I simply downloaded FTMC a patched version of Kodi that is more modern. To be fair the preinstalled RKMC is an excellent player that is elegant until you want to use the latest Kodi addons which will not work. Those who want to play videos and such will find it capable. You can also install MX Player from the Play Store and get excellent results.

VP9 problems

The second hurdle I encountered was that the box will not play videos encoded using Google’s VP9 codec. The only way a box with such humble specs can play HD content is through hardware decoding and this box does not come with the VP9 decoding support. When you attempt to play such a video the box attempts to use software decoding and the results are horrible. It’s like listening to a drowning cat.

This should not be much of a problem as you are unlikely to encounter VP9 videos in the wild. The only place you are going to find them is on YouTube and that is unlikely to be a problem for you as YouTube offers multiple encoded streams anyway. The YouTube app will automatically select the supported encoding for you.

When dowloading videos using using youtube-dl use the following command:

youtube-dl --no-overwrites --continue --restrict-filenames --verbose --verbose --print-traffic --write-sub --format 'bestvideo[height<=1080][ext=mp4]+bestaudio[ext=m4a]' URL

Make sure to replace URL with that of the video you want to download. This will download videos up to 1080P plus the best m4a audio. It is a useful command even if you are not using the box. You can tweak it to suit your needs for example replace 1080P with 720P.

To buy or not to buy

This is the cheapest box around and it comes with excellent video playing support. You can play music or video from your SD card or USB stick. You even get 4GB of ROM to work with. If you get the keyboard you can have a lightweight computer for less than 30 bucks so yeah you should be buying this.

A similar device can be bought locally for $100 at least. So even if you are paying premium for the USD you are going to be making massive savings. I paid $6 duty on my device so in any case you are not going to pay more than $40 for this device. So it’s a no-brainer for me. To fully enjoy this device you need a TV with an HDMI port obviously.

Please click here to buy the V88 and get 8% discount. Also for $28 ($3 more) you can get the V88 Mars which comes with Android 7.1 to boot. The later also comes with VP9 support.

Black FridayKombi

Black Friday refers to the day that Zimbabwe's currency, the Zim Dollar crashed in valued, losing 72% against the United States dollar on 14 November 1997. The day kicked of economic collapse and a depression that Zimbabwe is yet to recover from. The crash of... Read More About Black Friday

Kombi is the informal name of minibuses in Zimbabwe. This is usually given to the 18 seater type which are privately owned but used for public transport in the country. They are the most popular form of public transport in Zimbabwe a result of the... Read More About Kombi

10 thoughts on “Review: The SCISHION V88 is a decent $25 TV Box

    1. You can buy this on Gearbest and have it shipped to Zimbabwe via Belgium Post $5. It will take 15-30 days to arrive to you. You will also have to pay duty of about $6. While you can Pay Duty using Ecocash you will need a Visa/MasterCard to buy and for the shipping costs $30 (or less if you use your coupons)

    1. No just old shows.Law and Order SVU, XFiles , How I met your mother and of course current show episodes

  1. Great Article. But ever since EcoCash discontinued their VCN Mastercard, been offline on the online purchases. Mind sharing which Bank Mastercards/VISAs still allowing such transactions?

    1. You can always use the usual suspects FBC MasterCard and Ecobank Visa. Most banks that still have Visa don’t allow new clients to sign up. Another alternative is to use Payoneer Mass Payments

    1. Well Payoneer is an international payments company. If you are one of those people that have international clients you can bill and invoice them using Payoneer. When they pay you you money goes into your Payoneer Account. You can then use the Payoneer MasterCard to make payments or withdraw cash at MasterCard ATMs and POS.

      This solution only works if you are receiving money from abroad and want to avoid having it turned into Bollars. I

        1. Yes but Payoneer have been at pains to explain that they offer a mass payments solution. I.e they can help you receive payments from companies such as Envato, Fiver, Freelance, Taboola etc you can then spend these earnings via the MasterCard. So if you are looking for a card to make payments find a local bank like Steward, Ecobank and FBC they specialise in those sort of things. Get Payoneer only if you receive foreign payments.

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