Saturday, May 2, 2015
Product review: GULEEK i8 Quad-Core Windows 8.1 with Bing Smart Mini PC w/2 GB RAM
I was surprised how small the GULEEK box is. In attached video you can see it next to my smartphone, they are just about the same size: 6"L x 3.5"W x 3/8"H. It weighs 7.8 oz.
The set up was very simple. I attached two dongles for a keyboard and mouse, attached HDMI cable to my TV, and finally the power. I pushed a small on/off button on the front and for a minute or two nothing happened. I began flipping through the small leaflet that came with GULEEK to see what I missed and by the time I looked up my TV was displaying the set up menu. I expected the front of the box to light up (it looks like a glass display) but it remained black. The back of the unit has a small red light to indicate that it is turned on. The set up was straightforward. To install apps from the Windows app store you need to have a Microsoft service account, but if you don't have it right away that's okay. The set up will allow you to continue and create the account later. The Windows account is needed to install Windows app. You can download and install regular Windows applications (like another Browser) by downloading and installing them directly.
Once everything is running you are presented with the Windows 8.1 interface. I thought the performance of the OS was snappy, everything rendered on my TV very well, there were no display or sizing issues. I was able to install Firefox and Chrome and use Google for search from these browser, so even though it comes with Internet Explorer and Bing search you are not limited to using them if you don't want to.
Mini PC comes with 10 GB disk. As soon as I setup the box before downloading any apps I looked at the available disk space: 6.34GB is used by the operating system, 4.27GB is free.
I installed OOKLA speedtest and it showed decent WI FI performance: 37 Mbps download and 15 Mbps upload.
Some of the changes I have made
1) To improve performance I changed the performance setting to "adjust for best performance". This removes animation of icons and the overall response time of the user interface improves noticeably.
2) To improve security I changed "allow remove assistance" from default of yes to no. This closes a port that allows someone to access your computer with administrator privileges.
3) I change power saving mode from the default (which turned off mini PC after 10 minutes of inactivity) to always on.
4) I installed TightVNC server. Which allows me to access the mini PC from my desktop, using my main monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Once this was configured, I removed the keyboard, mouse, and HDMI cables from mini PC. Now the mini PC has just one cable attached to it - the power cable. Performance over TightVNC is good. This also freed up two USB slots to be used for any other purpose I might need.
Any limitations? I found two things so far:
1) I was not able to boot in BIOS. Why did I want to get into BIOS? Ability to run Linux from a USB stick a standard "rescue" technique when something goes wrong with Windows. BIOS is needed to change the boot order.
2) I was not able to use a USB hub to increase the number of USB slots - it did not recognize anything plugged into the USB hub (I tried several USB hubs with and without power supplied to the hub, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0).
Despite the two limitations I found so far this is a pretty impressive little box!
You can find it on Amazon by following this link.
Ali Julia review ★★★★★