Smart TV boxes may not have yet caught the imagination of mainstream consumers the same way smartphones have, but that hasn’t meant that vendors and OEMs are not trying to do something about it. Smart TV boxes are essentially devices that let you access thousands of apps including Netflix, Hulu Plus, XBMC etc. that allow you to stream content over the internet, in essence, turning your old TV into a ‘smart’ one. Now, some enterprising OEMs are finding ways to attract would-be buyers by promising them what Roku or Apple TV won’t, for now at least – the ability to handle desktop apps like Office or LibreOffice! They do it by adding a desktop Operating System to their devices in addition to Android, thereby giving users the flexibility to use the device either as a smart box or as a regular PC.
In the last few years, we have heard of how plans for Android-Windows dual-boot devices from Asus and other manufacturers were scuttled allegedly by Microsoft, but it seems as though some smaller and hitherto unknown OEMs have now been able to do what big brands like Asus have failed to. Two such dual-OS devices are now listed for pre-order on online retail site Geekbuying – the Ugoos UT3S and the Wintel W8. The Ugoos UT3S runs desktop Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) in addition to Android 4.4 KitKat and comes with a Rockchip RK3288 Quad core 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A17 processor with embedded Mali-T764 3D graphics, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB built-in storage and a wireless remote control. Connectivity features include WiFi, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet and it comes with four USB ports, HDMI and SPDIF ports, a microSD card slot and partial support for 4K video playback.
The Wintel W8 meanwhile, comes with Android 4.4 and Microsoft’s free ‘Windows 8.1 with Bing’ pre-installed and features an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, embedded Intel HD Graphics, 2GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB eMMC storage, HDMI, up to 100 Mbps Ethernet, a micro USB port, two USB Type A ports and a microSD card slot. It supports 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, which makes it essentially the same device in hardware terms as the long available Wintel CX-W8, but with the added dual-OS benefits. The Ugoos UT3S is listed at $179 and the Wintel device is up for grabs for just $127.