Monday, December 21, 2015

Ho Ho Horrible: The Android Stick That Stole Christmas

A reader was curious about how well that Android stick worked for me. Put simply, it DIDN'T, but let's go into exhaustive, cathartic detail, shall we?

It came from eBay fairly quickly, and it wasn't tough to install. You just connect a writhing octopus of cables to the CX-919 II, pop in a fresh SD card, and connect it to the back of your television set. Blammo! Instant Smart TV.

The CX-919 II exists solely to
extinguish all joy from the
universe. Like Dave Coulier.
(image from eBay)
So far, so good, right? Wait, wait, here comes the fun part. Games designed especially for Android aren't a great idea, because even older titles like Shadowgun are too much for the candy bar-sized console to handle. It runs pretty well for about fifteen minutes, then overheats and crashes. Other games refuse to recognize your controllers, and others still don't work well with a horizontal aspect ratio. You didn't need to see the entire playfield, right?

But hey, you can always switch to emulators! After all, that's why I bought the stick in the first place. So I downloaded a few of those from the Google Play store, and noticed that their performance seemed a teensy bit... off. You know, you get occasional split-second hiccups that the average person probably wouldn't notice, but drives an obsessed nerd like myself bananas.

A remarkably accurate
depiction of what it's like
to use the CX-919 II.
(picture from
So, an obsessed nerd like myself started looking online for solutions; better firmware or maybe even a way to root the system, which would open the door to Dual Shock controllers and lessen the tangle of wires hanging from the back of the system. "It's so easy!," web sites like Freaktab claimed. "Just run the Rockchip Assistant and your computer will recognize the stick when you plug it in!" These web sites are filthy liars. The program, actually titled Rockchip Assitant because who the hell cares about proper spelling, takes two minutes to install and gives you NOTHING in return. Plug in the stick and your computer just goes about its business, completely ignoring the dongle dangling from its side.

Oh, there are solutions for this failure to communicate, according to the same filthy lying Android sites. But of course, none of THOSE work either. You'll edit configuration files, download program after program, and connect the stick from every possible USB port with every micro SD cable you've got, only to get the same fat load of nothin' you had before. So you're left to wonder what the CX-919 II could have done with that "really freaking fast KitKat ROM" capable of 1080p output which serves you breakfast every morning and cleans up afterward.

What I'M wondering right now is how many whacks of a hammer it would take to reduce this idiotic thing to a black and orange powder and put it out of MY misery. Yes, Virginia, it really does get worse than the Playstation TV. If you want to use an Android to get your classic gaming fix, pony up the extra dough and get something better than this.


  1. Part One of your saga with this thing sounds like fun :). I take it from your twitter posts that you haven't completely given up on it.
    Ultimately, you wanted a PSP player, yes? It would be neat if it could be made to work for that somehow.

    As for it overheating, I have been skeptical about small USB-powered sticks ever since one of my wi-fi receivers went out (also got hot). Maybe gaming devices just need a little more room.

    If it's one thing I like, it's re-purposing a device to serve a better (or at least useful) purpose.
    Myself, I just got a broken Wii and threw the homebrew channel on the thing (that mod can be really fickle about the SD card; had to reformat and do several chants and rituals to coax it to work, but all is well now). I plan to use it, not only for emulators, but for dedicated Gamecube disc images.

    1. I won't know for sure until the USB A to A cables arrive. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find that specific cable? (Hint: stupidly hard) I'll keep you posted though.