This review is for fulfillment of the terms of the giveaway Banana Pi BPI-M2+ Sample Giveaway.
I have received a free sample (paid only $19 for shipping) of this board (Banana Pi M2+ H3) on mid July 2016.
I was supposed to post a review after receiving it and I started reviewing it at that time. However, I got busy with some other stuff and forget to post my review.
When I initially started working with the board, I was impressed. It has a Gigabit Ethernet port and an 8GB eMMC. The best part that I loved was that it can run Android, which means I can install Kodi and make it as a TV box having support for IR is a bonus, as I could use a remote control to control the TV box. Thus, I grabbed the Android image and installed it. After working with the board for sometime, I had some concerns.
I tried the Android image in the eMMC, but the performance was not what I expect from a quad core CPU. It was really slow. Even my Fire TV Stick was way faster than it in running Kodi. I tested also the latest raspbian image in a fast sdcard and the same performance issue existed. This may have some relation with the CPU throttling, as I noticed that the CPU got really hot when I touched it. It nearly burnt my finger.
Actually, there was a heat sink included with the package, but it was too big too fit on top of the CPU and also there was no thermal paste included or at least a thermal pad. Thus, I did not attach it at the beginning. After some search about the heating issue, I noticed that many people were facing the same problem. I then ordered a fan and installed the heatsink with fan in top of it to cool the CPU. The result were better after doing this step. It worked more flawlessly and I was able to enjoy video playback from Kodi on my TV.
The things I suggest for the development team is that I wish that Banana Pi M2+ could have is a newer version of Android, instead of sticking with the very old 4.4 version. Actually, there is no updated OS images were posted from a long time. Also, connecting the Banana Pi M2+ to a normal PC monitor gives real headache. The same screen that work with the RapberryPi 3, could not work with the Banana Pi M2+. When connecting through an HDMI cable to a TV, there is no problem. I hope that there is a fix or a work around for that.
My overall impression is that it is a very good board that have a lot of capabilities, but needs to be cooled with a heatsink and fan. It can do most of the things that the Raspberry Pi do and more, however the Raspberry Pi has more support materials and fan base.