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