Q1 Master

I’ve been wanting to get one of these boxes for some months now, but there are so many to chose from that it’s been too difficult to pick the right one. They all seem to have roughly similar specs, do roughly the same thing, and have very similar sounding names. Many of them have the word “latest” in the title, so you don’t really know which is the “latest” and which isn’t. Many have the same name with just a word changed – like Q1 Plus, Q1 Pro, Q1 Master, etc, and when you find a website about them there’s a whole lot more similar looking boxes.

Wading through so many identical-looking boxes left me almost resigned to never actually buying one. In the end, I chose this “Q1 Master” from Leelbox because (i) it was on an Amazon Deal, and (ii) it has Android 6. Having other Android devices and knowing that they rarely ever get updated, having a modern version of Android swung it for me.

My intention for buying this was to replace an old media box that plays files from my USB hard drive and USB sticks. My old device is clunky with a remote that’s falling apart now. The Q1 Master is a small box, much smaller than I’d anticipated, but it doesn’t need to be big for what it does these days.

Many of the glowing reviews for these devices would have you believe that these boxes are easy ways to “watch free movies and TV”. If you’re not familiar with this type of device, you probably won’t find it quite so easy.

On plugging in the Leelbox Q1 Master, my Samsung TV detected it through “AnyNet+” but then constantly said it wasn’t connected and I got nothing. After much head-scratching and trying different cables, it turned out that the HDMI port on the Q1 Master is a bit sticky and wiggling the cable on with more enthusiasm than I was comfortable with eventually enabled the TV to detect it properly.

You’re presented with several big icons on the screen, the most prominent of which is “Kodi” – the app that you’ll likely use the most. It’ll want to update itself when you start, so it’s probably best to connect to the internet. I did this through WiFi and it worked without issue.

Some apps are preloaded and you can load more from “Videos – Addons – Get more…”, at which point you’re presented with over 1,700 add-ons of various names and descriptions. I’ve no idea what most of those add-ons are and, as such, I’m not much interested in spending time investigating them, so I can’t say what works and what doesn’t. A few that I tried didn’t seem to want to show anything, so I took that as my cue to leave such things until I have more time. Ultimately, unless you know what you’re looking for, it amounts to too much choice for things that just look confusing. I settled for the more obvious apps like BBC iPlayer, 4OD, (most of which I use my Amazon Fire Stick for anyway) etc and deleted/uninstalled any I knew nothing about (which was most of the pre-installed ones). I’m sure those who are familiar with Kodi and this method of watching internet streams will know what these add-ons are and so will find what they’re after here but, to me, it’s just a bunch of confusing icons and app titles.

As mentioned, my primary purpose for buying the Q1 Master was to play media files from external sources. This is something that the box does well. I’ve plugged my external Freecom 320GB XXS drive into the rear USB port, go to “Videos – Files” in Kodi, click “Files” from the three options, and there’s a nondescript code which, on clicking, reveals all the folders on my external USB drive. This is much neater and tidier (and more responsive) than my old media box.

Clicking one of my folders lists the titles of my media files, and there’s a total duration shown for all files in that folder combined – which is kind of interesting but not very useful. Clicking the “OK” button on the remote starts the file playing. If you stop it and want to resume later, you can click the menu button (the button with the three horizontal lines) and select “Play from…” with a time code telling you where you stopped. This is a big improvement on my previous media box. A “tick” mark appears next to any files you’ve already watched.

While playing, the main button on the remote lets you skip forward and back either in small increments or on 10 minute chunks.

Just the ease at which I’m able to play media from my external HDD is worth the ~£25 I paid without all of the addons and streaming stuff.

There are lots of settings to fiddle about with, together with options in Kodi to play music and/or display pictures. There are some Android apps you can install also. I probably shan’t use the Q1 Master for those things, though.

Back on the main screen are icons for the browser (which works reasonably well, although you’ll probably want a keyboard for typing in the addresses easier than using the remote), settings, Google Store, etc.

The remote has a “mouse” button which, once clicked, shows a cursor on-screen which you can move around and click with the remote. It’s adequate enough but, if you’re planning on doing a lot of that, you’d be better off with a real mouse.

I have to recommend the Leelbox Q1 Master highly because it suits my purpose as a media player for my external USB devices. That’s what I bought it for, and it’s an admirable replacement for my old box. The remote is nice to use, and the box itself is small and unobtrusive. That it has a whole world of add-ons and other capabilities is additional fluff that I’ll explore as time allows. I’m sure they can only enhance my experience of the Q1 Master. At £25-ish, it’s really a no-brainer if, like me, you want to watch your media on your TV.