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Tron­gle X4

Computer Shopper - - CONTENTS - David Lud­low

The Se­guro Tron­gle X4 largely over­comes setup woes to be­come a flex­i­ble 4K me­dia streamer

VERDICT

A cheap 4K An­droid me­dia player, but it can be a bit fid­dly to use

WHEN WE TRY out me­dia stream­ers in Com­puter Shop­per, they typ­i­cally come from the big com­pa­nies, such as Ama­zon and Ap­ple. How­ever, de­vi­ate from these gi­ants and you can find some me­dia stream­ers with rather im­pres­sive-sound­ing specs for a frac­tion of the price.

Take the Se­guro Tron­gle X4. For about the same price as the lat­est Ama­zon Fire TV Stick, you get a set-top box run­ning An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low that’s ca­pa­ble of out­putting a 4K pic­ture, com­plete with HDR. On the face of it, that’s stag­ger­ing value.

Cheap prod­ucts of­ten have a bud­get look and feel to them, but the Tron­gle X4 is re­fresh­ingly clear of these usual hangups. It’s neatly made from plas­tic, with a nice tex­tured top. Over­all, the Tron­gle X4 has a sim­i­lar foot­print to an Ap­ple TV, but it’s only about one quar­ter of the thick­ness.

PORTS RE­PORT

At the back, there’s the HDMI 2.0 out­put, and a 10/100MBit/s Eth­er­net port. We rec­om­mend us­ing this port, as the Tron­gle X4 only sup­ports 2.4GHz 802.11n net­works, which may not be fast enough for 4K stream­ing.

Round­ing the con­nec­tions off are two USB ports and a mi­croSD card slot. The lat­ter could be very use­ful, expanding on the X4’s rather mod­est 8GB of stor­age.

Se­guro has taken An­droid 6.0 and skinned it to give a ba­sic but func­tional home page. Se­guro cer­tainly won’t be win­ning any in­ter­face de­sign awards, but nor will your ex­pe­ri­ence be ham­pered by an overblown and un­re­spon­sive GUI. From the home page, the large icons let you quickly launch the browser, view in­stalled apps or play lo­cal videos, mu­sic or pho­tos. You can also add short­cut icons to your favourite ap­pli­ca­tions across the bot­tom of the screen.

A ba­sic IR re­mote is in­cluded in the box. Nav­i­gat­ing the main screen is easy us­ing the cur­sor keys and se­lect but­ton, but in-app ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fers hugely de­pend­ing on the app. Jump into the of­fi­cial Google Play Store, for ex­am­ple, and it’s ex­cep­tion­ally hard to se­lect the Search bar.

The way around this prob­lem is to hit the mouse but­ton on the re­mote, which pops up an on­screen pointer. Us­ing the re­mote’s cur­sor keys, we could jerk­ily move the cur­sor up to the search box to find what we wanted.

For­tu­nately, the Tron­gle X4 is cur­rently ship­ping with a wire­less key­board that has a built-in touch­pad. This makes nav­i­gat­ing apps and en­ter­ing data a lot eas­ier.

Al­ter­na­tively, you can by­pass the Google Play Store en­tirely here, us­ing the web in­ter­face to send the in­stal­la­tion over the in­ter­net to the X4. It’s the method that we re­sorted to and found it much eas­ier than mess­ing around with the re­mote.

Still, hav­ing the Play Store avail­able means that you largely get to choose from a huge range of apps to in­stall on the Tron­gle X4. This in­cludes BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub and My5 for catch-up TV, as well as Sky’s Now TV ser­vice. That’s a bet­ter se­lec­tion than on some big-brand me­dia stream­ers.

NOT FLIX

How­ever, not all apps sup­port the Tron­gle X4, and some big ti­tles are miss­ing. Google Play doesn’t have the Ama­zon Prime In­stant Video app, but the big­gest ex­cep­tion of all is Net­flix, which cur­rently will not in­stall on the X4.

As you ef­fec­tively get the smart­phone ver­sions of apps, the in­ter­faces can be tricky to nav­i­gate. Us­ing BBC iPlayer, for ex­am­ple,

the X4’s re­mote doesn’t work in nor­mal mode, so we had to use it in Mouse mode, which takes quite a while to se­lect a show to watch. Us­ing the wire­less key­board’s touch­pad is eas­ier.

How­ever, it’s an­noy­ing that nei­ther con­troller has a pause but­ton. For iPlayer, we had to hit the se­lect but­ton, nav­i­gate the mouse pointer down to the on­screen but­ton and then hit the se­lect but­ton again. It’s not ex­actly a quick ac­tion.

This is where An­droid TV de­vices, such as the ex­cel­lent Nvidia Shield (Shop­per 351), have the ad­van­tage. For these de­vices, An­droid and any in­stalled apps are re­for­mat­ted and de­signed to be used with a re­mote; the down­side is that you have to pay a lot more money for the priv­i­lege.

That said, get­ting all the con­tent that you do on the X4 is still im­pres­sive, and you may be will­ing to put up with the slightly an­noy­ing in­ter­face in ex­change.

A sep­a­rate rea­son to buy the Tron­gle X4 is that it sup­ports other me­dia stream­ers, such as Plex and Kodi. Both ap­pli­ca­tions let you stream con­tent over your home net­work, with Kodi also ex­pand­able to other ser­vices. With Kodi, we urge you to avoid the il­le­gal plug-ins that give you pi­rated con­tent, stick­ing with the of­fi­cial add-ons and lo­cal stream­ing.

KODI FAN TUTTI

In­side Kodi, the Tron­gle X4’s re­mote and key­board work beau­ti­fully and the me­dia player’s in­ter­face was very smooth. We tested by play­ing our sam­ple files over the net­work. Us­ing a Wi-Fi net­work, the X4 strug­gled to keep up with and buf­fer a 4K video, so us­ing Eth­er­net be­came a must. Once the wired

You get to choose from a huge range of apps, in­clud­ing BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, My5 and Sky’s Now TV ser­vice

con­nec­tion was in, the X4 proved it­self to be a pow­er­ful and ca­pa­ble me­dia player. Cer­tainly, if you want a cheap and pow­er­ful me­dia player for le­gal Kodi or Plex use, it’s hard to find any­thing else at this kind of price.

Over­all, how good the Tron­gle X4 is de­pends on ex­actly what you want to use it for. If your main pri­or­ity is a me­dia player that sup­ports catch-up TV and the main stream­ing ser­vices, this re­ally isn’t the box for you. We rec­om­mend that you buy the Ama­zon Fire TV Stick or, if you want Ul­tra HD con­tent, the Ama­zon Fire TV.

If, on the other hand, you’re after a cheap, high-res­o­lu­tion client for Plex or Kodi to stream your own con­tent, then the X4 is a great choice. In this lat­ter sit­u­a­tion, hav­ing the main catch-up ser­vices avail­able is a handy bonus, and the oc­ca­sion­ally clunky in­ter­face can be for­given.

⬆ The Tron­gle X4’s wire­less key­board makes nav­i­gat­ing apps and en­ter­ing data easy

⬆ Se­guro has taken An­droid 6.0 and skinned it to give a ba­sic but func­tional home page

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