CarlinKit CPC200-Tbox Mini Android 11 Edition AI Box Adapter Review

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In this video, I check out the CarlinKit CPC200-Tbox Mini Android 11 Edition. You can buy this dongle for $140 from Amazon US 👉🏻 https://amzn.to/3qflRG9, for £160 from Amazon UK 👉🏻 https://amzn.to/3TPaSRl, and for €170 from Amazon DE 👉🏻 https://amzn.to/3ATimtU.

We’ve seen two generations of the CarLinkit TBox on this channel and this is their upgraded version of the Mini or V3 model, which brings a different 4-core Qualcomm chipset with a different GPU inside and it now runs Android 11 instead of Android 10 on the earlier TBox Mini.

In the box you get a paper instruction manual, there is the AI Box itself, and there are two USB cables, one USB-A to C and the other a USB-C to C for more modern CarPlay cars.

Looking at the dongle casing, nothing has changed since their last TBox Mini. It has exactly the same slimmer case shell, with the usual USB-C charging port, SIM card slot and TF card slots. There are two LED status lights on top and the casing has a relief texture design on top and perforated cooling holes on the bottom.

Boot up & Menu UI

Booting up this dongle took around 40 seconds to get into its main menu interface from connecting its USB power cable. So add your own system time on top of this for a total boot time from your own car’s ignition.

Sadly, they didn’t use this update as a means to improve its main menu. Its features the same floating home button, which you can now turn it off in the settings menu and there is also a cursor control method option for cars without touch screen input. But overall I don’t find this UI as clean as some others, and it’s beginning to look a bit dated in its design.

All the usual preinstalled apps are there ready to launch, but like all AI Boxes, you’ll have to give it an internet connection first. You can choose either to use a personal hotspot or local WiFi or use its SIM card slot for local mobile data internet. The latter is required if you want to use both wireless CarPlay or Android auto alongside the Android OS apps on the dongle. Otherwise, both will be fighting for the dongle’s WiFi connection.

Specs & Performance

This update now runs under the Android 11 operating system, which is an upgrade from Android 10. So any apps limited to Android 11 will now run on this dongle. Looking at the CPU and GPU tabs of the Device Info app, the original 8-Core Qualcomm 450 has been neutered to a slower 4-Core A53 Qualcomm 2290 CPU running at a slightly higher 2GHz clock speed. With the CPU change, there is also an upgrade to the GPU with an Adreno 702 GPU, so we might see a slight boost in video performance here too. The RAM and storage have also been cut to 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage from 4GB and 64GB.

I ran a Geekbench 5 test to get some comparison benchmark values against the previous version and its competition and I noticed that the change in the chipset didn’t bring it that much of a boost over its earlier versions. However, this upgrade might offer a cooler and more efficient chipset over the more commonly used QualComm 450 chipset. So if you want the fastest AI Box, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Apps

Firing up apps like YouTube and Netflix the dongle seemed to operate just fine with its audio in sync with the video – streaming video isn’t that taxing on the CPU so it does the job in this regard. With 3GB RAM, the dongle will not multitask between as many running apps as dongles with more RAM, whilst its reduced 32GB of storage is really around 15GB after the installed Android 11 operating system and its pre-installed apps, which leaves you less space for adding additional apps and media downloads.

Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto use the pre-installed AutoKit android app, with its config menu consisting of a handful of lightweight options. Boot up into wireless Apple CarPlay from BT pairing took around 12 seconds, whilst on Android, it was a little faster at 11 seconds. Once on either platform, they each behaved ok and were fairly responsive considering the specs were lower than the older TBox Mini with a drop in max channel width, Wi-Fi band and data rate. So performance might take a hit here yet the dongle might run cooler with these less demanding specs.

This dongle has dual Bluetooth, so I was able to pair up my Xbox Bluetooth controller with the dongle and try out some games. You can control the menu this way also, and in games that support a controller input. My controller paired fine with the TBox Mini and it handled it well, however, the performance of games with this chipset is going to suffer, as you can see with the Android version of Sonic 2 running pretty slowly.

My Impressions

This upgraded CarlinKit TBox Mini currently retails for $140 from Amazon US, £160 from Amazon UK, and €170 from Amazon DE. And if you’re after this particular model you have to look for the mention of it having Android 11, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, and the status LED light is white instead of green on the older model.

Personally, I find this AI Box to be another new entry-level AI Box that we might see more of. There has been some cost saving for this entry model, which might be to help upsell buyers to their new and much faster QC665 chipset Plus version of the TBox, which I have yet to test myself on this channel. 

Compared to the earlier Mini model you get less RAM and Storage, and poorer overall performance, yet the dongle does seem to run less as hot, so it is likely more efficient with the newer chipset, but with less RAM and a lacklustre GPU you can’t run as high intense apps as comfortably as some other dongles will do. At its price, I think you can do much better by either investing a little more and upgrade to its new Plus version or similar models that are out there or sticking with its older model with more RAM and storage if video streaming is what you’re only looking to do with it.

TIMESTAMPS:

0:00 – Brief overview
0:30 – Unboxing
0:42 – Features
1:01 – Bootup & Menu UI
2:09 – Specs
3:07 – YouTube & Netflix apps
3:40 – CarPlay & Android Auto
4:14 – BT Xbox Controller Support
4:37 – My Impressions

You can view this video and many more on my YouTube channel. If you like what you see, please do Like and Subscribe to our channel so you can be alerted when our next video goes live.

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