As an avid streamer and cord-cutter, I know how important it is to have a powerful and flexible streaming device. After hearing good things about the MECOOL KM1, I was eager to get my hands on this Android TV box and take an in-depth look at how well it performs for streaming, sideloading apps, and more.
In this review, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about the MECOOL KM1 from an impartial perspective, looking at both the pros and cons. After testing this device extensively, I’m ready to share my unbiased thoughts to help you determine if the KM1 is the right addition for your home streaming setup.
Introducing the MECOOL KM1
The MECOOL KM1 is an Android TV box powered by a fast Amlogic S905X3 quad-core ARM processor and Mali-G31 MP2 graphics. It comes equipped with 2GB or 4GB of RAM and 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of internal storage.
Some of the highlights of this streaming box include:
- Android 9.0 TV OS
- 4K video support
- Voice control remote
- Dual-band WiFi 5
- HDMI 2.1, USB 2.0/3.0
- Bluetooth 4.2
- AV connectivity
It supports all your favorite streaming apps including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and many more. Thanks to Google Play Store access, you can also install mobile apps not available on competing platforms like Fire TV.
Let‘s take a more in-depth look at the MECOOL KM1‘s capabilities across a range of usage scenarios:
Smooth Android TV Experience
The MECOOL KM1 runs Android TV 9.0, rather than the standard Android OS found on many cheaper streaming boxes. This provides a polished, optimized interface designed specifically for TV usage.
Compared to no-name generic Android boxes, the Android TV experience felt fast and responsive. Jumping between apps and scrolling through menus was snappy with no lag, thanks to the fast S905X3 processor and ARM Mali GPU.
Android TV offers customizable home screens with content rows tailored to your viewing habits. Google Cast is seamlessly integrated, allowing you to cast videos, music, and more from your phone or tablet to the big screen.
One of my favorite features is hands-free Google Assistant voice control, which worked reliably for searching for content, launching apps, controlling smart home devices, and anything else you would use the Assistant for.
Overall, Android TV provides a robust platform designed for an exceptional living room viewing experience. The MECOOL KM1 takes full advantage of Android TV’s strengths to offer a smooth and polished streaming interface.
Out of the box, storage is somewhat limited depending on the model you choose. The entry-level 16GB model I tested had only 10GB free for adding apps and games.
Thankfully, it‘s easy to instantly expand the storage – I plugged in a USB 3.0 flash drive, formatted it as internal storage, and the KM1 seamlessly adopted it as extra built-in memory. Apps could now be installed directly onto the flash drive.
This is a crucial feature for any streaming device. Many popular apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Plex take up over 1GB each. Games can easily occupy 1-2GB or more. With expandable storage, you never have to worry about filling up the onboard memory.
I installed a 256GB flash drive in my MECOOL KM1, which provides ample room for dozens of apps, games, and media files. The ability to add essentially unlimited storage is a major perk that enhances the long-term utility of this device.
App Support & Sideloading
One shortcoming of many generic Android boxes is poor app support outside of the basics like YouTube and Netflix. The MECOOL KM1 delivers a much more well-rounded app experience.
All the major streaming services I tested worked perfectly, including Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, Plex, and more. Even niche apps like VRV, Boomerang, and PBS Kids streamed smoothly.
However, Netflix is not natively supported and requires sideloading an modified APK. The sideloaded Netflix app worked relatively well, though I did need to use a wireless mouse to navigate properly.
Outside of streaming, I installed many productivity, social media, and utility apps without issue. Media center apps like Kodi and Plex excelled thanks to the efficient S905X3 chip, handling 4K HDR playback without difficulties.
Access to the Google Play Store unleashes countless mobile apps that expand the capabilities of the KM1 beyond dedicated streaming devices like Roku or Fire TV. For most sideloaded apps, performance was satisfactory. The combination of Android TV flexibility and sideloading support adds tremendous value.
Given its cost, I was skeptical about how well the MECOOL KM1 would handle gaming. However, its gaming prowess ended up being one of the most pleasant surprises during my testing.
I connected an Xbox One controller over Bluetooth and tried several graphics-intensive 3D games from the Google Play Store. Performance consistently exceeded my expectations, with smooth gameplay and no noticeable lag or stuttering.
Of course, the Mali-G31 GPU integrated into the S905X3 chip isn‘t going to compete with dedicated gaming PCs or consoles. But for casual big-screen Android gaming, the MECOOL KM1 provides perfectly enjoyable performance on undemanding 3D titles optimized for Android TV devices.
The KM1 certainly won‘t satisfy hardcore gamers looking for cutting-edge performance and graphics. But its solid gaming capabilities add entertainment value beyond just video streaming, especially for families with kids.
Wired and Wireless Speed Tests
To evaluate real-world connectivity, I ran extensive tests to benchmark the MECOOL KM1‘s wired Ethernet and wireless WiFi speeds.
For WiFi, I connected to the 5GHz band on my ASUS RT-AC3100 router located approximately 20 feet from the KM1. For the wired tests, I used the included Ethernet adapter plugged into the same Gigabit fiber connection.
Here are the download and upload speed results:
- VPN enabled: 70 Mbps down / 47 Mbps up
- VPN disabled: 94 Mbps down / 86 Mbps up
- VPN enabled: 72 Mbps down / 36 Mbps up
- VPN disabled: 213 Mbps down / 125 Mbps up
The MECOOL KM1 posted excellent speeds under optimal conditions on my high-speed fiber connection. Performance remained strong even with my IPVanish VPN enabled. Of course, your real-world speeds will depend heavily on your own network environment and ISP speeds.
Note that the 100 Mbps Ethernet port does bottleneck wired speeds. But for most users, the wireless AC WiFi should deliver ample bandwidth for smooth 4K streaming. Overall, the KM1‘s connectivity capabilities are more than sufficient for home streaming usage.
Voice Remote Performance
The MECOOL KM1 comes packaged with a compact Bluetooth voice remote. It feels sturdy and well-built, unlike the cheap plastic remotes included with many budget devices.
The remote checks all the boxes you would expect, with playback controls, voice input, hotkeys for major apps, and standard directional navigation. My only complaint is the lack of a dedicated mute button, an odd omission.
Voice search worked flawlessly to locate content and launch apps hands-free. The remote handled everything smoothly during daily use, though high-end remotes like the NVIDIA Shield remote do feel more responsive. For a bundled remote, it‘s fully functional and gets the job done.
Pros of MECOOL KM1:
Based on my experience testing the MECOOL KM1, here are the major benefits that stood out:
Android TV– The polished Android TV interface feels fast and optimized for big-screen enjoyment, unlike generic Android. Hands-free Google Assistant is a bonus.
Expandable storage– Easily add virtually unlimited storage with an external USB drive. This massively boosts its long-term utility.
Great performance – Fast processor and capable GPU provide snappy navigation and smooth media playback.
Sideloading – Install countless apps beyond dedicated streaming platforms for added flexibility.
Gaming capabilities – Casual 3D gaming is surprisingly playable for an affordable streamer.
Sufficient speeds – Excels in wireless connectivity tests, ideal for steady 4K streaming.
Well-constructed remote – Compact remote handles all expected media control and voice functions.
Cons of MECOOL KM1:
No device is perfect, so here are a few downsides I encountered while evaluating the KM1:
No native Netflix – Requires sideloading modified Netflix APK, with imperfect navigation.
100 Mbps Ethernet – Wired port limits speeds versus Gigabit on NVIDIA Shield.
Uncertain updates – MECOOL doesn‘t have the best reputation for long-term firmware updates.
Long shipping times – Slow 1+ month delivery direct from MECOOL‘s site.
Limited support – Don‘t expect much customer service if issues arise down the road.
Remote lacks mute – Minor nuisance, but dedicated mute button would be nice.
While the MECOOL can‘t match the NVIDIA Shield TV in all regards, it does hold up surprisingly well in many aspects considering the much lower price. But you do make some trade-offs around long-term support and Polish.
Verdict: Great Streamer with Some Caveats
In closing, I was genuinely impressed by the MECOOL KM1‘s excellent streaming performance, especially considering its affordable cost. Core strengths like the intuitive Android TV interface, ample connectivity, external storage support, and great CPU/GPU capabilities make this device punch well above its weight.
However, factors like Netflix workaround, marginal remote, unpredictable updates, and mediocre support do need to be taken into account.
For patient cord-cutters on a tight budget who primarily want a smooth streaming box for all the major apps, the MECOOL KM1 represents a stellar value – as long as you stick with a 4GB RAM variant. But those wanting a more premium long-term streaming investment may want to spend up for the NVIDIA Shield TV.
Overall, the KM1 hits the sweet spot of price versus performance, delivering a compelling Android TV experience at a fraction of the cost of higher-end competitors. If you manage your expectations around its limitations, I can easily recommend this streaming media player as an affordable Fire TV and Roku alternative.
So in summary – for smooth streaming, flexible app support, and awesome expandable storage at a bargain cost, the MECOOL KM1 is a winner in my book. Despite some corners cut, it accomplishes exactly what most cord-cutters need from a home streaming box. The MECOOL KM1 earns a solid 4 out 5 stars.