AMIDuOS Review Editor's Choice

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Fast and smooth performance; Full sensor use; Game controller support ; Keyboard shortcuts; Ability to run in root mode

The Cons

Demands significant resources; Learning curve for advanced features; Not easy to switch or adjust display modes

Verdict

AMIDuOS runs Android apps smoothly on a Windows PC and even supports peripherals like controllers and webcams.

If you've ever wished you could try out Android apps on your Windows laptop or simply want access to your favorite messaging app while you work, AMIDuOS could be the perfect solution. A product of BIOS-maker American Megatrends (AMI), AMIDuOS runs Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) in full screen or a window on your desktop, allowing you to take advantage of your large monitor, keyboard and other peripherals and quickly switch between Windows and Android. However, at $10 for a lifetime license, this software is more expensive than free emulators like BlueStacks and Andy. Is AMIDuOS worth the premium?

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Installation and Setup

Installing AMIDuOS is straightforward for the most part. The installer checks your system configuration to make sure it meets the minimum requirements: an Intel x86 processor; Windows 7, 8, or 8.1; OpenGL 3.0 or higher (which comes with your graphics card driver); hardware virtualization technology (VT) enabled in the BIOS; 2GB of RAM; and 2GB of free hard drive space. On a Surface Pro 3, AMIDuOS installed right away, but on an older ThinkPad (circa 2013), the installation halted and I was prompted to enable VT in the BIOS. Handily, AMIDuOS brought up a knowledgebase article on enabling this feature specifically for Lenovo laptops.

Enable VT

There's another installation step if you want the standard Android experience. Due to licensing issues with Google, AMIDuOS comes with Amazon App Store by default, not Google Play. It's easy, however, to install Google Play by downloading a third-party utility, right-clicking on it, and selecting "Apply to DuOS." Again, AMIDuOS helpfully brought up the support article with the instructions for this step. After installing Google Play, you'll be prompted to sign into or create a Google account, much like you would when setting up a new Android tablet or phone.

AMIDuOS Setup

User Interface

Although the installation isn't as dead simple as installing BlueStacks, once it's done, you can now run Android on Windows. And unlike BlueStacks, you get the full Android interface and experience.

In fact, if you run AMIDuOS in full screen -- especially on a touch-screen Windows tablet or 2-in-1 laptop -- it feels like you've actually turned your laptop into an Android tablet, complete with the satisfying touch sounds when you tap anything or type on the on-screen keyboard. You can add widgets to any of the screens, group apps into folders, customize the home-screen wallpaper, see alerts in the notifications bar, pinch-and-zoom, and otherwise interact with AMIDuOS much like you would any Android device.

AMIDuOS Widgets

Keyboard and Touch-Screen Input

For obvious reasons, AMIDuOS works best with a touch screen, but it's easy enough to use with just a mouse or trackpad and your keyboard. For example, you can long-click and drag-to- swipe through screens or to get to the settings menu. If you want to use the keyboard instead, the DuOS Configuration Tool allows you to map keys on your keyboard to controls like swiping, dragging and tilting.

This input mapper worked well for me, but it took some digging in the knowledgebase to figure out how to set it up -- and later on I found out that AMIDuOS has default keyboard shortcuts for these gestures if you enable them by pressing Alt+Ctrl+T. Though I wasn't able to test it, the input mapper also lets you control games with a PS3 or an Xbox 360 controller. The configuration tool is short on instructions and long on options, but you'll find lots of help in the company's support pages.

MORE: How to Run an Android Emulator on Your PC

Windowed vs. Full-Screen Modes

My biggest complaint about AMIDuOS is that it doesn't always work well in windowed mode. By default, AMIDuOS launches in full-screen mode, but it's possible to run it in a smaller window so you can see your Android apps alongside your Windows programs. It's a bit of a pain to do that, however, because you have to change the setting in the configuration tool and then restart the program -- unlike other emulators that let you switch between full screen and window mode on the fly or resize the window to any size.

The smaller AMIDuOS window also wasn't even usable on the Surface Pro 3 -- missing the back, home and menu buttons -- but you can play around with the DPI settings in the configuration tool to try to make it work. If you're stuck with full-screen mode, however, you can easily Alt-Tab to switch between AMIDuOS and Windows programs.

Features and Performance

AMIDuOS offers stellar support for sensors built into your Windows computer. While other Android emulators claim to support features like multi-touch and your computer's compass and microphone, AMIDuOS was the only one out of a handful that passed my rigorous tests with flying colors.

By rigorous tests, I mean: being able to say "OK Google" with the Google Now app installed and have it actually respond, have Google Earth find my precise location, and pinch-to-zoom in Google Maps. It is immeasurably gratifying to say "OK Google, set an alarm for 20 minutes" or "OK Google, send an email to Fred" to your computer and have it obey you. Windows 10 will bring Cortana to the desktop, but for now, AMIDuOS brings all the Google Now commands you get in Android to Windows.

AMIDuOS also lets you share files between Android and Windows through shared folders, so you can do things like use a photo from your Windows Pictures folder as your home-screen background in Android. In the configuration tool, you can map specific folders for pictures, music, videos and documents. You can even copy and paste text between the AMIDuOS Android window and Windows apps, which I found handy when logging into Dropbox for the first time in AMIDuOS and copying my ridiculously long password from my password manager in Windows.

Perhaps the best feature of AMIDuOS, however, is its smart use of your Windows hardware. It runs Android apps in native x86-mode and only emulates (low-powered, mobile-friendly) ARM processors found in Android devices when needed. The performance benefits are huge. Android benchmark app AnTuTu put AMIDuOS at the top of the benchmark list, even when running on my older laptop with an Ivy Bridge Core i5 Processor and 4GB of RAM. On the Surface Pro 3 (Haswell Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM), performance was even better.

AMIDuOS Performance

The benchmark above was taken on my older ThinkPad laptop, and it puts the DuOS above the OnePlus One, the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, with a score of 45,611. By comparison, other popular Android emulators Andy and BlueStacks scored 31,299 and 28,311 on this benchmark, respectively.

Every app of the dozen or so I tried in AMIDuOS launched quickly and ran smoothly, from WhatsApp Messenger to Batman: Arkham Origins. Thanks to having a touch-screen laptop and AMIDuOS' multi-touch support, I was able to play Android games on my computer much like it was an Android tablet. Swiping to move in Temple Run was the same, for example, on my ThinkPad as on my Nexus 7 Android tablet, as was using multi-touch gestures in Batman: Arkham Origins to perform complex battle moves. Playing games that used the accelerometer went over well, too, but tilting a 12-inch laptop screen isn't as comfortable as tilting a smaller tablet (Andy has a feature that lets you control the Android emulator with your phone -- which is good if you want to put Android on your PC specifically for gaming). Even without a touch screen, basic gameplay in games such as Clash of Clans was easy and intuitive on AMIDuOS, since most games just require you to tap or swipe -- which you can do with mouse clicks and moves or the keyboard shortcuts.

Even the performance-demanding Google Earth worked great, with fast transitions and sharp 3D views. Apps basically ran as fast, if not faster, than on my Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet -- which is surprising, given how slow virtualization software usually is.

Google Earth

All this performance comes at a price, however. Although AMIDuOS requires only 2GB of RAM, I'd recommend at least 4GB, if not more. When running AMIDuOS alongside a few other Windows programs (such as that memory hog, Chrome), memory usage shot up from about 60 percent to 97 percent at times for me, with similar spikes in CPU usage on my ThinkPad with 4GB of RAM. If you have a low-end system, it might struggle to run AMIDuOS well.

Google Earth

Configurability and Sideloading

In the advanced settings in the program's configuration tool, however, you can set the amount of RAM the program uses, as well as free up internal application memory. Other advanced settings include the ability to emulate a rooted Android device and swap between the back and front camera.

Root mode is an awesome feature, because it means you can try all sorts of customizations without going through the trouble of rooting an actual Android device or possibly bricking it. And if you want to try an app that isn't on Google Play yet, you can sideload the APK by right-clicking on it and selecting "Apply to DuOS."

Bugs

AMIDuOS did have a few bugs. While watching HBO Go, the audio was glitchy at times. Sometimes the Wi-Fi connection would get lost and I had to restart AMIDuOS. Also, auto-rotate for apps that run in portrait mode didn't always work (I ended up having to turn off auto-rotate in Windows' display settings to get an icon in AMIDuOS for manually rotating the screen).

The Bottom Line

These complaints aside, AMIDuOS' many configuration options and excellent performance make it one of the best Android emulators available today. And it's soon to get even better: AMI debuted the next version of DuOS at Mobile World Congress in March and, according to the company, an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop is due shortly.

If you don't plan on using an Android emulator very often, however, you might want to go with a free alternative, such as Andy or Genymotion. They both have their drawbacks and don't perform as well as AMIDuOS in benchmarks or hands-on tests, but they also don't cost anything. If you want to regularly run Android alongside Windows, however, AMIDuOS' fast and reliable performance is worth the $10 investment.

Software Type Utilities
Platforms Windows
Required Processor x86 Processor
Software Required OS: Windows 7, 8 or 8.1
Required RAM 2GB (3GB Recommended)
Disk Space 2GB
Company Website http://www.amiduos.com/
Add a comment
9 comments
  • SWenthusiast Says:

    This product is not even worth $ 1. If you want to have a QWERTZ layout with german special chars its not possible. Even if there is that option!!! Internet stops working, apps stops working, settings will not be saved... Or it never worked!!! Its just a waste of time!

  • ANigger Says:

    I installed it on my win 7, doesn't work at all. Can't install google store, it always gave me an error message. I can't fix this bug I will have to uninstall it.

  • Aiden Stein Says:

    I'm using version 2.0.x on Windows 8.1 as a debugging device for Android development. The article and most posts here are discussing version 1.0.x.

    So far, after a few months, I have to say it's a wonderful tool. My perspective is a bit different, because my purpose isn't to run Android applications per se, but to write, test and debug Android applications. As such, I'm not concerned to try all kinds of applications from the Google Play Store, though several I have tried worked well even when they would NOT work well on a device (because the device was under-powered hardware).

    For developers, we have AVD's that come with the development system (AVD stands for Android Virtual Device). They are stripped down versions of Android which are similar in some ways to Andy or Genymotion, in that they're running Android in a window on Windows (or MAC or Linux).

    That said, AVD's are generally not stable. Most crash in some way or another, and have serious limitations. The one single advantage they have is that they are available in every Android version, some before you can purchase a device in such version.

    The V 2.0.x AMIDuOS is 5.11 (the 1.0.x is 4.x). It is, however, quite stable and reliable, for more than AVD's.

    Root and development mode are easily implemented without extra work.

    ADB (the means by which developers connect development tools to a device or emulator for testing and debugging) recognizes AMIDuOS without issue.

    Android Studio 2.2.x has no problem debugging in x86 (x86_64) mode, even native code using the NDK (most applications for Android are Java, but the NDK allows us to use C++ for better performance).

  • Genius Says:

    The review is right on track, but 4.5 stars is too generous. The software is very fast indeed, but it is riddled with bugs such as crashing apps, weird screen resolution problems and they really understated how much of a huge problem the lack of multi-monitor handling introduces. Especially with the recent July update, I can't even force the software to my second monitor any more. I used to be able to set it as the "primary" monitor, launch DuOS, then set the true primary monitor back as the primary. Now when I do that, DuOS throws up an error about the resolution having changed and then bouncing to the primary monitor, rendering it useless unless I ONLY want to use DuOS. it's really a downer. I hope they fix it. Oh and updating is a PITA, as well. It's got some amazing potential and I paid for it but I wish they would have better public communication with their user forums.

  • The_Dunkster44 Says:

    Installation was a breeze. No problems.
    3.2 GHz Intel, 32 GB Ram, SSD, Windows 10
    will add run comments later...

  • Roach Says:

    Emulator runs apps other emulators can't, but it freezes every couple of minutes. Don't waste your money on this, get the trial version first.

  • Russ H. Says:

    I finally got the Virtual BIOS setting changed and the software loaded. On this computer it is very slow and jerky. Not worth using. Google Play said.."No Device". Meaning it did not recognize the OS as a device and would not download Google Translate which is why I wanted to use this software. This is a slow processor, AMD E-450 1,86Ghz with 8gig of RAM and a solid state hard drive. Other computers may work fine.

  • Russ H. Says:

    I have a Lenovo Think Pad with the AMD E-450 processor that I believe is an x64 processor. Do you know if this will run AMIDuOs? If not is there any way around it?

  • mcfly Says:

    works like a charm on my surface pro 3. I wäs thinking of getting a android phone and wanted to check it out. For $10 bucks, big deal, it's worth it. By the way, very nice review.

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