The GS1 is the latest release of Beelink, a brand well-known for making quality TV Boxes and mini PCs. Equipped with an Allwinner H6 SoC., it is also Beelink’s first product that supports 6K video decoding. But how does it really perform in our daily life and how does it fare against the more hyped Beelink A1 and Jide Remix IO? We will try to answer these two questions in this review.
Main Specs of the Beelink GS1
Operating System: Android 7.1
Processor: Allwinner Quad-Core Processor (4*[email protected], Mali-720MP2 GPU)
RAM: 4GB DDR3
Storage: 16GB eMMc Internal Storage, TF Card support (up to 128GB)
HDMI: HDMI 2.0a output up to [email protected] + HDMI 3D video formats
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1
Internet Access: dual-band WiFi 2.4G / 5.8G, 1000M Gigabit Ethernet
Ports: Ethernet port*1, SPDIF Port*1, DC port*1, Micro SD card slot*1, USB 3.0 Port*1, USB 2.0 Port*1, HDMI*1.
Dimension: 96mm*96mm*16mm (L x W x H)
Chassis: Black, ABS Plastic
Retail Package: TV box*1, Remote control*1, HDMI cable*1, Power adapter*1, User manual*1
The GS1 arrives with very beautiful and compact packaging which also feels very high-tech.
Inside the packaging you will find a GS1 TV box, a remote, an HDMI cable, a power adapter and an English user manual.
Measured at 96mm*96mm*16mm, the GS1 isn’t the smallest TV Box we have ever reviewed, that crown still belongs to the Beelink A1 (77mm*77mm*17mm).
However it still has a much smaller footprint than the likes of Jide Remix IO and the Zidoo X9s (187mm*127mm*27mm).
While lacking in size, this device still offers a slew of ports and slots. On the back side of the box you will find a SPDIF audio port, an RJ45 Ethernet jack, an HDMI 2.0 port, a USB 2.0 Port and a DC port.
On the left side of the device, you will find a USB 3.0 port, and a Micro SD card slot which supports cards up to 128GB.
An IR receiver and an LED indicator are hosted on the front side, but they are almost invisible, only when you boot the device you will see the LED light up in blue. The tiny casing is made of white ABS plastic, which gives the device an elegant and premium look. A huge “6” (which indicates 6K video decoding) and a “Beelink logo” sit comfortably on the top side of the device.
There are some vents on the bottom side to keep the box from overheating. The 4 rubber feet are short, but still do a very good job at protecting the box from scratches.
The build quality of the GS1 is extremely good, even though the device is thin and with a plastic shell, it still feels quite sturdy.
The supplied remote is the same as the one that comes with the A1. Although with a predictably lightweight, plastic finish and limited mouse pointer functionality, it feels very well-built, and the box responds quickly to its commands and the infra-red range are acceptably long and broad.
Setting it up
Setting up the Beelink GS1 is extremely easy. Connecting it to a TV set (or projector) via HDMI, plugging in the charger and you are good to go.
System & Apps
The Beelink GS1 ships with Android 7.1 Nougat, with a tailor-made Beelink skin on top. The launcher has everything laid out beautifully and is very easy to navigate. The date and time is located at the top left with the temperature widget below. In the center of the screen you have a link to the media center, internet browser and Google Play Store, There are also shortcuts to “clear memory”, app drawer, and settings laying below. To the right is an area where users can pin their most commonly used apps. Finally at the bottom left you have shortcuts to power, volume, at the bottom right you have shortcuts to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth.
The navigation bar at the very bottom is defaulted to be hidden, but you can bring it up with a mouse. It has many virtual keys, including a back key, a home key, a recent apps key, a screenshot key, a volume- key, a volume+ key, a hide-bar key and a power key.
The GS1 doesn’t come loaded with bloatware, but there are some preinstalled apps. Besides the stock Google Play Store, Android Web Browser, Calculator and Gallery, you can also find Beelink’s very own App Store, Bee Files Explorer, Media Center and Bee Music in the app drawer.
As a TV box, the GS1 is designed mainly for media consumption, and you can find a great number of media playback apps in Google Play, including YouTube, Netflix, Kodi and Hulu. The GS1 has no problem streaming 4K videos smoothly on YouTube, and I rarely notice any hiccups playing local videos with the stock video player.
I complained about Beelink’s stock video player while reviewing the A1, but the one preinstalled on the GS1 works really fine, not only is it loaded with useful features, it is also very responsive to the remote control.
The PiP (Picture in Picture) function allows you to watch a video and do other things at the same time, but it did take me a while to figure out how to return to full-screen mode.
Running on Android 7.1 Nougat means the GS1 can also handle tasks such as E-Mails, Web-browsing, social networking and even gaming.
Like the A1 and other high-end Android-based TV boxes, the GS1 supports OTA (Over-the-Air) firmware upgrades. Beelink is known for its excellent support for its products, the A1 I had reviewed received 5 updates within just 1 month, and I am expecting nothing less from my GS1.
The Beelink GS1 is powered by an Allwinner H6 processor, which contains 4 cores of Cortex-A53 CPU and two cores of Mali-720MP GPU. There’s also 2GB RAM under the hood to handle multi-tasking. You’d probably think that the GS1 is no match for the A1 in terms of performance as the latter comes with 4GB RAM, but the benchmarks tell a different story.
In Antutu V6 benchmark test, the GS1 scored 44,207, putting it in front of the A1 (33,992) and other competitions such as the Jide Remix IO (32,981), the Zidoo X9s (33,990) and Jide Remix Mini (23,919).
In Geekbench 4 CPU test, the GS1 notched 681 in single-core, 1,703 in multi-core, and 1,247 in computing.
In the PCMark 8 Work 2.0 test, the GS1 snatched 3,393, which is on par with the scores of many entry-level smartphones. The GS1 may not be able to compete with flagship Android smartphones and tablets, but it is quite powerful by the TV box standard.
As for the real-world performance, like many other Android-based TV boxes, the GS1 is pretty smooth when we set the HDMI output at 1080P resolution. In fact it handled most tasks faster than the A1. At 4K, the GS1 was still generally smooth and responsive, but there could be stutters every now and then. The slowdown in speed became the most noticeable while opening image-heavy webpages in the stock browser, as my unit failed to finish loading a few webpages in 4K.
The GS1 is also better at decoding videos than RK33X8 powered TV boxes such as the A1 and Jide Remix IO. In the Antutu Video Tester Benchmark, the GS1 scored 952 , compatible with almost all of the video formats included in the test. The GS1 also naturally supports 6K H.265 video decoding. Although it doesn’t make much sense to play 6K videos on a device which only supports 4K output, 6K playback is a useful feature whenever you are faced with 6K clips and no other options.
Limited by the 2GB RAM, multi-tasking was challenging for the GS1. There was normally slightly more than 1GB available RAM after startup. Not many apps could stay in the background simultaneously (the OS will kill apps automatically to free memories for apps running on the screen). Also, the box became slow and less responsive when playing videos in PiP mode. For example, it took a lot longer to launch new applications. I found myself clicking the memory cleanup shortcut on the homescreen quite often, which I never felt that much compelled to do when using the Beelink A1.
Generally speaking, the Beelink GS1 performs quite well as a media playback device. In fact it is faster than the A1 when handling most tasks. The RAM is somewhat a letdown, and prevents the box from reaching its full potential as an HTPC, but it is not really a deal-breaker, as most people wouldn’t need their TV boxes to run too many applications in the background.
The GS1 offers a slew of connectivity options. It supports 2.4GHz/5GHz dual band Wi-Fi. Although without an exposed antenna, the GS1 still has very solid reception, it could pick up more Wi-Fi hotspots than the Remix Mini and Remix IO when the three boxes were placed right next to one another. The RJ-45 Ethernet jack can also come in handy when you want more stable connection via a network cable. There’s also Bluetooth 4.1 on board to take care of local data transfer and connecting with audio and input devices. I connected the GS1 with a pair of Bang & Olufsen Beoplay S3 speakers and they worked fine together. If Bluetooth audio transfer doesn’t offer satisfying sound, the SPDIF port supports direct wired connection with most soundbars and speakers designed for TV.
The HDMI 2.0 port on the GS1 can output videos up to [email protected], and should support most TV sets, monitors and projectors. The 2 USB ports support external USB storages of up to 4TB. The Micro SD card slot had no problem reading my 128GB Transcend card.
I loved my experience with the Beelink GS1, although slightly let down by Beelink’s choice of putting only 2GB RAM inside of the box. Still, it has found itself as a permanent resident of my living room. It’s also great to be able to carry around a cheap and small device that can be plugged into any HDMI monitor and play all of my favorite movies and TV shows. I am certainly looking forward to what Beelink has to offer in its future products.