The Remix Mini: “Between A Touchscreen And A Hard Disc”

A few months ago I supported a Kickstarter campaign for a small, underpowered computer based around the Android OS. The computer, the Remix Mini, is currently plugged into my TV and running… and, in fact, I’ve written the majority of this review ON my Remix Mini. Writing there, it seems like a good enough test while I have a YouTube video playing in a secondary window.

So what do I think so far, after about an hour and a half with the tiny titan? Let’s talk first impressions.

The OS of the Remix Mini (which I think is just called the “Remix OS”) is a modified version Android 5.0, and it allows for multiple windows to be shown onscreen at one time (unlike my phone using near-stock Android 5.1, which can run and switch to multiple apps at once, but only one on screen at a time). Furthermore, those apps are displayed in their own unique windows, a factor from the Remix facelift to the stock OS. Each window includes a minimize, maximize, and close function in the top-right corner, just like computers past, so it’s easy to figure out how to use from the word “go”.

It’s still built on a currently-mobile platform, so the working of each element is still functionally a mobile app. As I’m typing this within Google Docs I’m not using Chrome and Docs with all the fixings, I’m using what I’ve typed out on my tablet or phone, which is a limited version of the online suite’s functionality. The specific functions of a full browser, like the ability to view hover-text or right-click, are simply not possible. Even more notable than that, as I’m typing this, I’ve made the window thinner to show both the document and the YouTube video, but moving up or down using the keyboard, my document sends me not directly above what I can SEE but what the app recognizes as immediately above where I’m typing. So, unfortunately, this is not an ideal situation for a writer or anyone trying to produce more complex text content. The text didn’t scale according to the adjustment of the window either.

Regarding YouTube – one of my favorite things in the history of ever – doesn’t seem to support streaming video, but it could have been the one test I made. I was notified one of the channels I follow was streaming, so I turned to it on my phone, and it’s going right now; on the Remix Mini, not so much. Pre-recorded videos play pretty well, though. Minimizing the video to the bottom-right corner is still used, again just like the mobile platform, which is kind of nice to be able to browse and still watch/listen to whatever I have going.

First boot after the updates. Please ignore the mess… and Yorick to the right there.

There is a “start” button featuring the Jide Tech logo, which opens the display for apps currently installed on the device. The one thing this has that not every Android OS user has is the “File Manager”, which functions very much like Windows file systems past. All-in-all it’s easy to understand and use just as you imagine a computer – high or low-end – should be used. So on that… hooray!

There is a sidebar function for background elements, like downloading and installing a new app or accessing GMail with any recently-received messages. There is even the ability to take a screenshot by clicking on one icon and repositioning a box to select where to screenshot. It’s a nice feature, especially for me since I always have to look up how to take a screenshot on my Mac. Saves me time when I decide to try that.

The Remix Mini is not about to replace my current, nearly-six-year-old Macbook, nor will it replace my Chromebook (which allows for full Google Doc editing, as it’s powerful enough and designed for “full” browser use), but it’s an interesting additional device. It’ll do the trick I’m sure for the occasional YouTube video or Hulu stream (hopefully Hulu will stop buffering long enough to show a video), or a makeshift writing/editing machine, though for now I think I prefer my Galaxy Tab 4 with my Bluetooth keyboard for those or too much more. It shows some interesting ideas, and I’m sure this is a good device for somebody doing some limited functions, but this is far from a desktop replacement.

And for added context to this, while I’ve written up to this point in my entry with the Remix, I’m going to finish it up and publish from my Macbook. It’s a bit more… full-computer-y than my new, limited-use toy.

If you’ve heard about this device, hopefully this “review” can help determine if purchasing is right for you. If you already have one, what do you think? Let everybody know in comments.

Stand Tall and computer on, friends!