Zidoo z9s Media player Review
Zidoo z9s Specifications
The new model arrived inside a slightly bigger cardboard box than its predecessor. The media player itself has the same size so the increased dimensions mostly have to do with the larger remote.
Inside you will find the media player itself, the new backlit remote control, a SATA connector for external HDD connection, an HDMI cable, the power brick, and some basic documentation. Batteries for the remote are not included so you will have to buy them yourself.
Specifications are really impressive, especially in terms of connectivity.
The new Realtek RTD1296 (64-bit Quad-core Cortex A53 processor and the Mali-T820MP3 ) lineup is still equipped with 2GB of RAM which is no surprise since the higher end X20 model had the same memory size as well. It should suffice for flawless video playback. 16GB of fast eMMC flash memory fills the bill in terms of pre-installed memory modules.
As we mentioned, connectivity is superb with 2x USB3.0 ports, 2x USB2.0 ones, 2x SATA3.0 ports, 1x HDMI2.0a out (up to [email protected] with HDR10 support. No Dolby Vision so far), 1x HDMI2.0 In, 1x Composite out and 1x Optical out for legacy A/V receivers. The list is really complete and it will be hard to find anything else to ask for. Especially, users owning lots of external drives will be delighted since USB/SATA drive swapping will not be required.
Network connectivity is also top-notch with 1x Gigabit RJ45 port, Dual band high-speed wireless 867Mbps MIMO module with two integrated high gain antennas and Bluetooth BT4.2 connection protocol.
For the first time, a Zidoo Realtek based model is using Android 7.1 operating system. Judging from the “software custom work” of the past years based on Android 6.0, we are curious to see how the new APIs affect the overall performance.
The feature list in terms of software optimization is still solid. Full 4K HEVC compatibility, full HD Audio bit-streaming (ATMOS and DTS X included), Blu-Ray/UHD menu navigation of your backup discs combined with auto frame rate and resolution switching. Dolby Vision (still not “mainstream” in terms of releases) and video streaming licensing (Netflix/Amazon Video) aside, it is as good as it gets.
Zidoo z9s Hardware
- CPU: Realtek RTD1296
- GPU: Mali T820
- RAM: 2GB
- RAM Type: DDR3
- ROM: 16GB
- WiFi – 2.4Ghz + 5.8GHz Dual Band
- Ethernet LAN 1000Mbps
Most of us have grown accustomed to the Amlogic CPUs, but the Zidoo Z9S runs on a Realtek CPU the RTD1296 4X running up to 1.4GHz. I find this speed a bit low, but after monitoring the operating temperatures of the box it would have been dangerous to increase the clock any higher without increased cooling options. The Mali T820 is a nice addition as it provides Open GL ES 3.2 which is good for gaming.
Zidoo z9s IO Ports
- 2 HDMI
- 2 USB 2.0
- 2 USB 3.0
- 1 DC input
- 1 RS232
- 1 AV port
- 1 RJ45 LAN 100Mbps
- 2 SATA
- 1 Optical audio
Now that’s 13 ports in total, and I don’t think that there is any TV box to date with that many IO ports, and I think Zidoo is a record holder for the most amount of ports in a TV box.
Zidoo z9s Menus & Settings
The user interface is still the same as the one we found in the latest firmware releases of the X9S/X10 models. Tablet-like looking, but with large icons suitable for TV use and aesthetically pleasing design (fonts and background). As it usually happens, we get a main page with the main application and setting shortcuts and a drawer for the full list of applications installed. You can also add shortcuts of your favorite app in the main page’s last row.
Although we are really fond of the Nougat settings menu, Zidoo implements its own one that is mainly targeted to easy customization of audio and video options. WRT and advanced settings (not casual) aside, you will never need to launch the Android settings menu.
Zidoo is one of the really few manufacturers that include such an advanced set of video options. Frame rate and resolution switching, Blu Ray region, 3D and HDR conversion options, HDMI color mode and color space, etc. You will be able to fine tune every aspect. If you don’t know what you are doing, just leave it to auto, since chances are that Z9S will correctly detect your hardware.
Zidoo z9s video Playback
There’s no other way to say it, but the Zidoo Z9S played all of my 4K video samples without issues, even the stubborn 4K jellyfish video at 400Mbps bitrate the most boxes struggles to play. Now that is a great achievement for the Z9S, the team who optimized this device
Zidoo z9s 3D Gaming
Again, I played a number of games that would normally give TV boxes problems to play, and the Z9S was able to play them smoothly. However, during the gameplay I noticed temperatures rising above 70°C but no freezing during gameplay. So if you intend on gaming on this box I recommend getting a modem cooling fan like Evercool RC02.
Zidoo z9s Benchmarks
- Antutu – 53,372
- Geekbench 4 – 632 single-core 1,831 multi-core
- Ice Storm Extreme -5,939
- Sling Shot Test – 332
- RAM Copy – 2,700 MB/s
- ROM Speed – 1134MB/s read NA MB/s
- WiFi Speed – Max speed on both 2.4GHz + 5.8GHz + LAN
First of all, the build quality is really premium grade, and that is something you can always expect from Ziddoo.
It runs on a new CPU and GPU combination, which is the Realtek RTD 1296, together with the ARM Mali T820 tri-core GPU, which produces some amazing results while not having the highest benchmarks in the industry. You have the most connecting ports you’ll find on any TV Box. From 4 USB to 2 SATA connectors, and even an RS232.
It runs on one of the best custom interface and launcher in the industry, which is Ziddoo’s very own ZIUI, and it has more features and settings than any regular TV Box, and it includes a navigation bar. You can record from other media devices using the included second HDMI input port, and it can read up to 10TB external hard drives. and that’s huge.
It plays 4K videos the best I’ve seen for 2019, and that is without issues even the stubborn 4K jellyfish video that most boxes struggle to play. And its 3D gaming quality is the best I’ve seen for the first half of 2019.
- * Good design and aluminum alloy case
- * Supports 4K H.264, H.265, and VP9 playback
- * Many connection options (2x USB2.0, 2x USB3.0, 2x eSATA)
- * Simple GUI and great stock file manager with support for writing to external devices
- * Powerful subtitle function and automatic subtitle download support
- * HomeTheater app automatically scans and categorizes films and TV series
- * Supports HDMI2.0 output, up to 4K @ 60Hz with HDR10 support & HDMI-CEC function
- * 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 and 1Gbit LAN
- * Based at Android 7.1.1 transforms your TV to a fully android box
- * Supports Auto frame rate output function (24Hz) even with the default video player
- * Quality in audio and video reproduction (2K, 4K, HD)
- * Outputs DTS-HD MA (7.1) and Dolby Digital 7.1 channels with a default video player or ZDMC (KODI)
- * Front LED can be turned off
- * Backlit, programmable remote control
- * HDR->SDR conversion works very well
On the flip side. The box has to be updated immediately out of the box, because of missing Google features. It is running on Android 7.1 Nougat operating system which is old Android, but I was informed by a Ziddoo agent that Android 7 provides support for features like HDR to SDR mapping in their media player. You have to sideload a lot of your personal apps via flash drive because the Google play store and the Aptoide app store are restricted in many ways.
The box is not rooted, with no Google wide-vine DRM support, and this prevents Netflix in any form working on this box. The benchmark scores are lower than top boxes in the industry, but one score, which is the graphics benchmark score, is higher than most boxes runs a bit hot, so passive cooling is recommended. And though the included remote is way better than most, it does not have an air mouse feature.
- – High price
- – Wifi antennas are not detachable
- – The HDMI-in function doesn’t support recording (Update: HDMI-IN recording supported with new firmwareV1.2.22 or higher)
- – 4K Youtube playback is not perfect
- – HD (and 4K) Netflix playback is not possible due to lack of DRM licenses
- – Google Apps are not pre-installed (fixable)
- – ZDMC App is not pre-installed (fixable)
- – Ultra HD Blu-Ray menus navigation sometimes feel slow
- – No microSDHC/SDXC slot
- – Dolby Vision is not supported