Aigo MID. Browsing and Video Experience.

Posted on 18 November 2008 by

As you might have seen from the initial hands-on review, the Aigo MID brings a new level of Internet browsing to the pocket.

The results beat a previously tested set smartphones and other pocketable ‘Internet’ devices by an average 9 seconds per page. In terms of Internet browsing performance, it blows the N800/N810 out of the water and even the iPhone only averages 20 seconds per page over WiFi. [Aigo averages 12 seconds] The only pocketable device that gets close is the new Archos 5 with an average, over a similar set of tests, of 15 seconds.

It does pretty well on video playback too with higher-bitrate files really taking advantage of the high-quality screen. Its just a shame that the media software is so basic. In my opinion, Video, Search and Browsing are the most important elements of a MID’s capabilities so lets see how the Aigo P8860 performs. Videos and notes below…

First the Browser. It’s Firefox 3.0 being demonstrated here, not the default Coolfox (a stripped-down Firefox) application that is supplied with the Aigo MID so bear in mind that although Coolfox is just as quick and supports full flash and javascript as well as Firefox, it’s not as full-featured. On the other hand, Aigo have integrated media playback into the browser with Coolfox and if you upgrade to Firefox, you appear to lose that feature.

Here’s a three minute video showing Firefox 3.0 with a few javascript-heavy sites. Google Reader and Meebo, the web-based instant messenger.

See our channel for the full-size and higher quality WMV and H.264 versions.

The video playback performance, is not quite the Archos 5-beating media player that I hoped it would be but its a great improvement from anything you’ll find on a smartphone. It even beats some mid-range PMPs. It appears that the Aigo MID only has the low-end Poulsbo UL11L chipset in it and not the HD-capable US15 version but despite that, the performance is good and from the results, I can only assume that there’s at least some level of hardware decoding going on because I wouldn’t normally expect to see an H.264 video at 2.5Mbps being decoded perfectly on an 800Mhz PC! In addition to H.264, the video player supports DIVX, WMV, MPEG2 and M-JPEG out of the box with DIVX pushing up into the 4mbps range giving that same impressive quality and smoothness as you’ll see from the H.264 at 2.5Mbps. Playing a high-bitrate film on the Wide-VGA, high brightness and high-contrast screen is a joy. I haven’t been able to side-by-side the Aigo with an iPod Touch yet but from previous dealings with the iPod Touch and IPhone 3G, it’s clearly a more immersive experience. At seat-back table distance of about 60cm (2 feet) this beats the pants off holding a 3″ PMP for 2 hours.

As for flash video, its the same old story. The CPU is burdened with the un-optimised software of the flash player. Standard quality YouTube performs well and even works in full-screen mode but try watching anything in ‘high quality’ and the framerate drops right down to unuseable levels. The Flash player is able to handle H.264 formats but don’t expect anything above 300kbps to work smoothly. Hulu, Vimeo and other flash based FLV and H.264 transports are out of bounds. Archos do exactly the right thing on their players by intercepting the flash content and offering a download and local playback facility so I’ve been trying to do the same via plugins but haven’t had any success yet. (Here’s one way to get the HQ videos downloaded from YouTube.)

The one important thing to point out with the video player though is that the software is very basic. No playlist support. No tagging. No rating. Not even a loop function. While the basic player and hardware do a good job, this is not a full PMP experience. Maybe it has something to do with the sparse 2GB of user storage and lack of TV-out capability. We can only hope that the software functions improve and that larger Micro-SDHC cards get cheaper in the short term. [Note: I’ve just checked for software updates and a series of software updates, including one for the media player, are downloading right now. Keep an eye on this forum thread for my latest updates once everything has been downloaded and installed.]

Video playback battery life, although not fully tested, looks to be in the 2 – 2.5hr range.

See our channel for the full-size and higher quality WMV and H.264 versions.

Update: Summary of video tests:

  • 1mbps WMV – Good. A small amount of stutter (Update: Stutter in compatibility mode. Perfect in optimisation mode.)
  • 600kbps H.264 – Perfect
  • 2 mbps DIVX – Perfect
  • 2.5Mbps H.264 – Perfect
  • 15 (Fifteen) Mbps M-JPEG – Perfect
  • 1.5Mbps H.264 VGA – Perfect
  • 6.5Mbps 1920×720 WMV – Fail
  • 7.5 Mbps 1920x DIVX – Fail
  • 4Mbps MPEG-2 (PAL) – Perfect
  • 5Mbps DIVX 1280×532 – Low framerate (compatibility mode *1)
  • Youtube Flash, windowed and fullscreen normal quality – Good
  • Youtube Flash, windows and fullscreen high quality – Low framerate
  • Inline Flash H.264 600kbps – Good
  • Inline Flash H.264 800kbps – Low framerate

Other video tests: (Not shown in video)

  • 2.5Mbps WMV 640×480 – Perfect
  • 2.5Mps H.264 720×480 – Compatibility Mode – Good, some frame drops. Optimisation Mode – Green bars overlayed on video. Performance appears to be good apart from this.
  • 5Mbps Divx 1280×532 (As *1 above but using optimisation mode) – Green bars overlayed on video. Performance good apart from this.
  • 5Mbps H.264 1280×696 Frame drops in both modes. Colour problems in optimisation mode.
  • 2.5Mbps Divx 720×322. Compatibility mode – Perfect. Optimisation Mode – Gree bars.

Some results lead me to believe that only certain formats and resolutions work at high bitrates in optimisation mode.

The Aigo obviously excels at Internet browsing but its good to see that the video playback support is there too. It far exceeds the capabilities of current smartphones, the Nokia Internet Tablets and even some mid-range PMPs and low-end UMPCs that I’ve seen. There’s no worrying about downloading or paying for codecs, no worrying about aching arms on a long journey and when given the right file, you’re rewarded with very impressive playback quality. The software is lacking badly though. So much so that you don’t really feel you’re dealing with a capable media player and that’s a significant shortfall for a device with designs on the consumer market. There’s hope that over-the-air software updates and even third-party hacks can fix that soon.

If you’re interested in the Aigo MID, don’t forget the 5% discount offer from Mobilx, who kindly loaned us the review model shown here.

More information on the Aigo MID including full specs and a long list of links to external Aigo-related resources, see the Aigo MID page in our product database.

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  • Marc G

    Damn you Chippy! I can feel my credit card heating up…

  • Vit

    Can it do Skype video call, can it edit Google doc’s, (Spreadsheets)?

  • Chippy

    Skype video is probably as ‘no’
    Google Docs is a ‘yes’


  • Lars

    Does it have a SIM card slot, GSM functionality? I just don’t see the point in carrying what amounts to a slightly fat phone, in _addition_ to a phone – why not just add a card slot and some sort of Linux application for GSM, rip it from Android or something, my SIM can be used in any unlocked phone so why can’t these things work like unlocked phones?

    • Chippy

      The point here is that its focused on internet browsing and media for people that want a dedicated device that performs these functions in a far superior way to mobile phones. This is not something for people like yourself looking for an all-in-one.

      There are version of this device panned with 3G and SIM card slot but not voice. Later in 2009 and in 2010 you’ll see MIDs with voice included.


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  • Chippy, I saw on that they are doing a giveaway of a AIGO MID with all these cool accessories. However, they show a Jawbone with it too. How much does a US carrier charge to hook up something like that?

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