This MECOOL Now Android TV Box review provides an in-depth look at the features, specs, pros, cons, and overall value of this streaming device. As an experienced Android TV box reviewer, I aim to give readers the information they need before deciding if the MECOOL Now is the right box for their needs.
Overview of the MECOOL Now
The MECOOL Now is an Android TV box with a unique built-in camera for video calls on your TV. It runs the Android 10 TV operating system and has powerful specs including a quad-core ARM processor, 2GB RAM, and 16GB storage.
Some key features of the MECOOL Now include:
- Built-in 2MP camera for video calls
- far-field microphones for voice control
- Android 10 OS for easy streaming
- Google Assistant integration
- Expandable storage via USB
- 4K video support
- Gaming capabilities
- Privacy controls for camera and mic
At first glance, the MECOOL Now seems ideal for grandparents who want an easy way to video chat with family on their TVs. It could also work well in business settings like conference rooms.
I‘ll dive deeper into the video calling features and overall performance below.
Hands-On Testing and Review
I tested the MECOOL Now for over a week, using it daily to evaluate the setup process, streaming, speed, video quality, gaming, expandable storage and more.
Here are my detailed findings after extensive hands-on testing:
Unboxing and Setup
The MECOOL Now comes neatly packaged with the Android TV box, power adapter, remote control, HDMI cable, and instructions.
Setup took less than 5 minutes – I simply connected it to my TV via HDMI, connected to WiFi, and logged into my Google account. The default launcher is the Android TV home screen so it felt very familiar.
The device has a nice solid feel and build quality. The angular body is designed to sit upright on your TV stand. The folding arms on the bottom provide stabilization front and back.
Video Calling Performance
I tested video calls extensively using Google Duo, which comes pre-installed. The call quality over WiFi was excellent – very clear video and audio in both directions.
The built-in far-field microphones allow you to be heard from across the room, which worked flawlessly. The privacy shutter and mic mute switch are handy features.
Overall, video calling worked better than I expected. The picture from the 2MP camera is sharp, and the microphones pick up sound very well. This makes it much easier to have natural conversations.
I was impressed that the MECOOL Now could handle a smooth video call even in a large room with people approximately 20 feet away from the box.
Streaming and Android TV OS
The MECOOL Now runs the Android 10 TV operating system, so the interface and streaming options are the same as other Android TV boxes I‘ve tested.
Pre-installed apps like YouTube and Amazon Prime Video worked great. Streaming was very smooth even for 4K content.
However, there is no Netflix app on this device. You‘ll have to sideload it yourself if you want to use Netflix.
I couldn‘t sideload any apps on my test unit – more details on that below. But in general, the Android TV OS provides a great streaming experience if you primarily use the apps available in the Google Play store.
Gaming was a pleasant surprise on the MECOOL Now. I connected an Xbox controller via Bluetooth and played various Android games.
Graphics were crisp, gameplay was smooth, and I didn‘t experience any lag. The quad-core processor and 2GB RAM provide enough power for casual gaming. Storage is limited at just 16GB, but you can add a USB drive for more space.
While it won‘t match dedicated game consoles, the MECOOL Now handles Android games very well. Casual gamers should be satisfied.
Speed and Connectivity
In my testing, the MECOOL Now provided excellent WiFi speeds – over 300Mbps down on 5GHz connection. Wired ethernet speeds were capped at 100Mbps due to the port limitation.
It maintained solid speeds whether using a VPN or connecting directly. Streaming and downloads were very snappy.
My main gripe is the 100Mbps ethernet port. Gigabit would have been better for wired connections. But the fast dual-band WiFi somewhat makes up for this.
The MECOOL Now comes with 16GB of internal storage, which is ample for the OS and some apps. But you‘ll want more space for games, videos, etc.
Thankfully, you can easily expand storage via the USB 3.0 port. I plugged in a 256GB flash drive, formatted it as internal storage, and it worked perfectly.
All new apps installed to the USB drive automatically. And I could manually move any app data between internal and external storage.
So lack of internal space isn‘t an issue since you can add a huge, fast USB 3.0 drive for media and more.
My biggest complaint with the MECOOL Now is that sideloaded apps are completely blocked. This means you cannot install any apps outside of the Google Play store.
I tried various sideloading methods and none worked. MECOOL has disabled this ability, likely for security purposes.
This severely limits the usability for power users who want to install restricted apps like VPNs, IPTV players, hacking tools, etc. Many apps cordcutters use are not allowed on Google Play.
Not allowing sideloading on an Android device eliminates so much functionality. It‘s a dealbreaker for me personally. I reached out to MECOOL about this and they claimed it was required for certification.
Hopefully MECOOL will remove this block via a software update. Until then, it prevents the MECOOL Now from reaching its full potential.
MECOOL Now Specs
Here are the technical specs for the MECOOL Now Android TV box:
- Processor: Amlogic S905X4 quad-core ARM Cortex-A55
- RAM: 2GB LPDDR4
- Storage: 16GB eMMC
- Graphics: ARM Mali-G31 MP2
- Operating System: Android 10 TV OS
- WiFi: Dual-band WiFi 5 (802.11ac), 2×2 MIMO
- Ethernet: 10/100M LAN port
- Bluetooth: 4.2
- USB: 1x USB 3.0 port
- Video Outputs: HDMI 2.0 up to 4K@60fps
- Audio: Digital audio over HDMI
Pros and Cons of the MECOOL Now
Based on my experiences testing the MECOOL Now, here are the main pros and cons:
- Excellent video call quality
- Intuitive Android TV interface
- Far-field microphones
- Privacy controls for camera and mic
- Good performance for streaming and gaming
- Fast WiFi speeds
- Expandable storage via USB
- Great build quality and design
- No sideloaded app support
- No Netflix app included
- 100Mbps ethernet port
- High price for Android TV box
- Limited internal storage at 16GB
Who Should Buy the MECOOL Now?
The MECOOL Now Android TV box with video calling capabilities is best suited for:
- Grandparents and family members who want easy video calls on their TV
- Businesses and conference rooms needing Android TV appliances with conferencing
- Android power users who primarily use Play Store apps
- Casual gamers looking for big screen gaming
- Anyone wanting an integrated camera for their TV
The lack of sideloading will severely limit the experience for cordcutters and Android tinkerers. But for purely Android TV streaming and video calls, it‘s a very capable device.
Overall, the MECOOL NOW does deliver on its main promise – seamless video calling from your TV. It just needs better support for power users.
Where to Buy the MECOOL Now
The MECOOL Now retails for $129 on average. Here are some recommended purchase options:
- MECOOL Official Website – Use promo code TROYPOINT for 10% off
- Amazon – Free shipping for Prime members
- Banggood – Low international shipping costs
Be sure to shop around for the best deal. And don‘t forget to use the exclusive TROYPOINT coupon codes on MECOOL‘s website to save 10%!
The MECOOL Now Android TV box offers a unique way to video chat on your TV with its built-in camera and far-field mics. It delivers excellent video call quality in my experience.
Performance for streaming, gaming, speed, and expandable storage is also solid. The Android TV OS provides a great smart TV experience.
However, the lack of sideloading support severely limits what you can do and apps you can install. This is a glaring omission on an otherwise capable streaming box.
If MECOOL can re-enable sideloading via an update, it would resolve the main pain point. Until then, I cannot fully recommend the MECOOL Now to power users. But for simple video calls and Android TV streaming, it achieves what it sets out to do.
I hope this MECOOL Now Android TV box review has provided the details you need to determine if it‘s the right streaming media player for your needs and budget. Let me know if you have any other questions!