ECS LIVA Q Review

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ECS has been beefing up its line up of small form factor PCs hailed as the LIVA line up, and we’ve had fairly a lot of opportunities to play around with some of its entries. We have plenty of praises for the very first LIVA SFF PC – a 15-watt system that does a lot more than it looks, and then came its successor, which brought several improvements into the fold. Fast forward to today and the company now presents its LIVA Q, the World’s Smallest 4K Pocket PC, or as ECS claims it to be.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
PlatformIntel® Apollo Lake Pentium® N4200 SOC Intel® Apollo Lake Celeron® N3350 SOC
MemoryLPDDR4 2GB/4GB
Expansion Slot1 x Micro SD slot (Max:128GB)
StorageeMMC 64GB/32GB
LAN1 x Gigabit LAN
USB1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Port 1 x USB 2.0 Port
Video Output1 x HDMI Port
WirelessIntel® WiFi 802.11ac & Bluetooth 4.1
Dimension70 x 70 x 31.4 mm
Weight260g
VESASupports 75mm / 100mm
AdapterInput: AC 100-240V,Output: DC 12V / 2A
OS SupportWindows 10 64bit Ubuntu 16.04 LTS *Recommends to install Windows, ECS does not provide other OS installation technical support.
Accessory1 x Power adapter 1 x VESA Bracket 6 x VESA Mount Screws Quick Guide & Driver DVD

PACKAGING

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Classy is the word here. The LIVA Q is packed in quite a compact black box, which doesn’t really attest to how small it is despite its already modest size. An image of the LIVA Q is printed across the board, while the specifications sheet is printed on the side and the LIVA Q logos are on the other sides as well.
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Once you open up the packaging, you’ll be met with the LIVA Q itself, all encased in a carton platform and on the top of it is a disc for driver installation. Beneath the carton are the essentials such as a power adapter, as well as a product manual for the LIVA Q. ECS also bundles a VESA bracket together with six VESA screws, which will be optimal if you want to attach the LIVA Q behind your VESA-compatible monitor or TV. We actually wouldn’t want to, as the LIVA Q compliments our TV nicely.

DESIGN

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ECS’s claim as the LIVA Q being the World’s Smallest 4K Pocket PC is easily proven once you open up the packaging and hold it in your hand. It’s truly darn small at 70 x 70 x 31.4 mm, even smaller than your palm, and I don’t even have big hands.
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Moving forward, the LIVA Q comes with a modernistic design approach, yet subtle and elegant at the same time. The LIVA logo is emblazoned up top the device itself, while two USB ports, one USB 3.1 and one USB 2.0 each. The USB 2.0 port will likely be home to your wireless peripherals, which is the case for us.
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There’s a microSD card slot at the left side, while a Kensington lock graces the right side. At the back of the LIVA Q is the microUSB port used for powering it up, while below it are the HDMI and Ethernet ports.
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PERFORMANCE

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 Let’s get straight to the point here – the LIVA Q is armed enough to work as a great digital signage device that can smarten up your telly. What it’s not, however, is a gaming powerhouse or a workhorse that can plow through heavy tasks.
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Going further, the LIVA Q is equipped with an Intel Apollo Lake CPU (Pentium N4200/Celeron N3350) with 2GB/4GB of RAM, and 32GB/64GB of internal storage. We’ll get real here, the SKU we’re using at the moment is limited by its 32GB of internal storage, which really does take most of the fun out of it. Fortunately, it can be expanded by an external hard drive or a microSD card of up to 128GB. The latter option will most likely be your course of action given that most users often store their media library in an external hard drive.  Or if you prefer, you can even take advantage of Netflix that’s readily available on the Microsoft Store. That’s where our primary entertainment source comes from currently, and we’d highlight advice you do the same.
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The LIVA Q works as an excellent streaming device.

The claim for it being the world's smallest 4K Pocket PC does hold true, thankfully. Playback on 4K samples are definitely where it's at through the Windows Movies and TV app. Videos encoded in H264 at 4K resolution plays smoothly that we never had problems with the playback itself, only the internal storage as much to our dismay.
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However, do take note here, the LIVA Q isn’t limited to just media playback or digital signage. It has another trick up its sleeve – Steam In-Home Streaming. Instead of forcing your way through its hardware sheet, it’s a better idea to game on using Steam’s In-Home Streaming feature, and it works really great on the LIVA Q. 
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We’re using an ethernet cable here for best results, and experience offers some sweet streaming quality with pretty much low latency. Latency does spike above the 100ms mark, but nothing too common in our gameplays.
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Don’t try PUBG with a Steam Controller. Just don’t.
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Works well with Dark Souls 3 with a handy Steam Controller on hand.

CONCLUSION

On a personal note, we’ve been a big fan of ECS’ LIVA line up. We’re one for efficiency, and the LIVA Q easily makes a statement out of it with its 24w power adapter. It’s great as a multimedia playback device, provided that you expand its storage for instant HTPC goodness, and it even works well as a simple documentation tool that you can use at home or in SMB operations.

If we were to highlight its main feature, it would be its capability in Steam’s In-Home Streaming. We love couch games from RPGs to fun party titles, and the LIVA Q does pretty much what we’d want it to do.  

When all is said and done, it all boils down to the price. ECS is putting a Php9,695 price tag on the LIVA Q. For that price alone, you'll get a feature-packed HTPC, and so much more, and one that's very efficient, too.

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