In this video, I review a new Ai Box for Android Auto car stereo systems from Mgears.
You can buy this M-Stick MG-S01 Android 9 OS dongle for $159.99 from Amazon US → https://amzn.to/3KhVFTU.
Android 9 for Android Auto Systems
I’ve covered a number of Android OS dongles for Apple CarPlay, but in this video, we have something a little different. The M-Stick is an Android 9 OS dongle for use on Android Auto car stereo systems and Android Auto aftermarket receivers. Simply insert the USB on M-Stick into your Android Auto USB port in your car, and up pops up an Android 9 operating system, which will allow you to download and run Android apps from the Google Play store that you wouldn’t be able to run on your Android Auto display.
With the M-Stick you can run apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and much more, directly onto your Android Auto display. Simply connect the dongle and pair your Android or iPhone device to its BT profile to tether your phone’s internet connection.
Easy Online Connection
The M-Stick comes into its own when it’s connecting online. You can use internet-based streaming apps such as YouTube and Netflix, weather apps and many more, on your Android Auto system, offering you the possibility of running certain apps on your Android Auto system that it wouldn’t think was possible.
The M-Stick comes bundled with a pair of USB extension cables. One of them features a splitter USB cable to allow you to also supply the dongle with sufficient power from a nearby 12v USB charger. If your single USB-A port is powered enough though, the single female to male USB-A cable can be used if your centre console doesn’t have the space to plug in what is a rather large USB dongle.
A small GPS module comes bundled separately along with the dongle and it features a cable length of around 1.5m. I found this cable length a little too short to comfortably mount near your windscreen and also discreetly channel the cable around your car’s interior.
It’s unfortunate that the dongle doesn’t have GPS built into it, so you’re forced to use this dongle if you want to use it with any navigation-based apps. However, this GPS module is only really needed if your Android Auto system/aftermarket doesn’t have GPS, which I am sure, if it has a navigation feature, it should do, and therefore this module wouldn’t be needed.
Menu Interface & Features
The menu UI of the M-Stick has been really well thought out, with plenty of features I wish most CarPlay AI Boxes adopted. Its audio lag app (used to alter audio sync) is the one key app/feature that many AI Boxes lack.
The audio volume per app feature is another element to the M-Sticks’s well-thought-out menu/UI that really shows they have been listening and learning about the problems owners face on the variety of AI Boxes that are out there.
Performance & Impressions
Connecting my iPhone for powering the dongle with the internet worked flawlessly too. In true Apple fashion – it just works. One thing that does hinder the M-Stick, though, is how it generally performs. With its disappointing 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM for storage, an A53 4-core CPU and its underwhelming Mali-G31 GPU, this all leaves the M-Stick lagging in button detection, slow loading of map tiles and menus, to jerky and low framerates in games and videos.
This lacklustre performance overshadows the great work Mgears have done with such a smooth install, setup and upgrade experience, as well as key features with its audio syncing in videos and separate volume levels in apps. I am sure we will see hardware revisions and improvements in months to come from Mgears that will help serve up a decent all-round experience for Android Auto users, but with its v1, it’s limited to lightweight use and those desperate to use an Android OS dongle on their Android Auto head unit, whilst there are very few alternatives out there.
0:00 – Brief overview
0:48 – Unboxing
3:43 – Demo
20:52 – My Impressions