Home > Broadcom BCMxxxx, Freescale i.MX, Hardware, Linux, Video > Raspberry Pi Based Slice, and EzeeCube Quad Media Players Support Internal Hard Drives (Crowdfunding)

Raspberry Pi Based Slice, and EzeeCube Quad Media Players Support Internal Hard Drives (Crowdfunding)

Slice is a media player based on Raspberry Pi Compute Module, and EzeeCube Quad is media hub powered by Freescale i.MX6 Quad, and an upgrade to EzeeCube based on i.MX6 dual, which was successfully funded. The underlying hardware between Slice and EzeeCube is much different, but both devices have a lot in common. They are both media players currently being crowd-funded respectively in Kickstarter and Indiegogo, both comes with an internal hard drive, run XBMC, targets typical end-users (rather than tinkerers) and are somewhat pricey.

Slice Media Player

When I first saw Slice, all I could see was an Raspberry Pi module, put in a case with an internal hard drive bay, and lots of pretty RGB LEDs, and with an air mouse sold for an inflated price of 114 GBP ($190 US) without hard drive or 179 GBP ($300 US) with a 1TB drive, with admittedly some cheaper early bird pledges, and I did not think many people would be ready to pay a premium price for a device powered by a low-end processor, and decided to skip it. But I was wrong to underestimate to power of the Raspberry Pi brand (R-Pi and Pimoroni members are part of the team), and they’ve already fully funded, after raising over 104,000 GBP (~$173,000 US), and the first stretch goal (Free Wi-Fi!) has been reached.

Slice_Media_Player

Slice technical specifications:

  • SoC- Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 CPU @ 700MHz + VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC Flash for the OS,  2.5″ SATA hard disk for media files
  • Video Output – HDMI port with 5.1 audio pass through and CEC support
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm jack for stereo audio (up to 192KHz 24-bit) or optical output
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet port + Wi-Fi via included USB dongle
  • USB – 2x USB2 ports , 1x micro USB device port to use Slice as mass storage device from your PC or program the flash.
  • Misc –  IR Sensor,  Real time clock with backup battery, 25 programmable RGB LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A (barrel type)
  • Enclosure – Aluminum case with REG LED string (Knight Rider style but multi-color, and customizable)

Slide_Raspberry_Pi_Compute_Module_Baseboard_LEDThe box runs XBMC with a skin that simplifies user experience, and with different color themes and backgrounds. Video files and other media can be loaded to the Slice simply by connecting it your computer via USB and copy/paste files as if it was a simple USB flash drive. You can have a better grasp about the user interface in the video embedded below.

The company, FiveNinjas Ltd, launched a Kickstarter campaign for the project. As mentioned in the introduction, it is already successful with 36 days to go and close to 800 backers, and you can now pledge for one for as “low” as 114 GBP (~$190) without hard drive, and 169 GBP (~$280) with a 1TB hard drive. The perks include the media player, a remote control with a USB RF dongle, a power supply with multiple connectors, an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a n instruction manual, a protective carry bag, and depending on the perk, a 2.5″ 1TB  hard drive. Shipping is free worldwide with delivery scheduled for November 2014 to December 2015 depending on the chosen option.

 EzeeCube Quad

EzeeCube is a much more powerful quad core device, and features stackable layers (EzeeStacks) allowing for a Blu-Ray player, and a total of 10 TB storage.

Rear Panel of EzeeCube Media Hub

Rear Panel of EzeeCube Media Hub

EzeeCube Quad specifications:

  • SoC – Freescale i.MX6 Quad with four ARM Cortex A9 cores @ 1 GHz and Vivante GC2000 3D GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB 64-bit DDR3 @ 1066MHz
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC,  2TB 2.5″ hard drive @ 5400rpm, and SD/SDXC card slot
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (limited to 470Mbps), 802.11n Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), and Bluetooth 3.0
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 with CEC support
  • Audio Output – HDMI and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Containers – AVI, MPEG, WMV, ASF, FLV, MKV/MKA, QuickTime, MP4, M4A, AAC, NUT, OGG, RealMedia RAM/RM/RV/RA/RMV8, OGM, 3gp, VIVO, PVA, NUV, NSV, NSA, FLI, FLC, DVR-MS and WTV
  • Video Codecs – H.264 (AVC BP/MP/HP), MPEG4 (AP/ASP), H.263, VC1, MPEG-2 (MP/HP), DivX/Xvid, and VP8
  • Audio Formats – MIDI, AIFF, WAV/WAVE, AIFF, MP2, MP3, AAC, AAC+, Vorbis, AC3, DTS, ALAC, AMR, FLAC, Monkey’s Audio (APE), RealAudio, SHN, WavePack, MPC, Speex, WMA, ADPCM, CDDA and more
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG
  • Misc – Reset Button, EzeeStack connector for add-ons
  • Power – 5V power adapter
  • Dimensions – 14 x 14 x 4.5 cm
  • Weight – ~700 grams

The device runs embedded Linux built with Yocto, and a custom version of XBMC.

Since the company has already raised close to $150,000 from their previous campaign for the dual core version, they already have the funds for production, which explains why the new Indiegogo campaign only has a $500 funding target… EzeeCube Quad is available for $349 including a 2TB internal hard drive. Shipping is $15 outside of Hong Kong, and delivery is expected for March 2015. There’s also a $49 “EzeeTuner” a USB tuner to watch and record TV on the internal storage (but no mention if it is DVB, ASTC,… or analog TV [Update: I asked and: “Right now only off the air all standard, after we finish testing, we will also support dvb c“]), a $49 Retrogame EzeeStack for Nintendo and Sega game cartridges, and Blu-Ray and 2TB hard drive EzeeStack expansions for respectively $99 and $149. If you had pledge for a dual core version in the previous campaign, and wish to upgrade to a quad core version with 2GB RAM, 2TB HDD, you can do so for $99.

If you had to chose, what would you prefer? The Raspberry Pi powered Slice, the quad core EzeeCube, or none of the above?

Thanks to Harley (again) for the tip.

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  1. memeka
    August 20th, 2014 at 18:47 | #1

    A rpi with pretty lights to $190… madness…

  2. Xan
    August 20th, 2014 at 18:48 | #2

    Costly case for Pi. The idea is nice but they could have used something more powerfull than Pi. The second one.. looks way better in terms of power and expandability.

  3. memeka
    August 20th, 2014 at 18:49 | #3

    but to answer… none :) I am fond of my ambilight which is plugged straight into my devboard/media player, together with security camera and a couple more sensors…

  4. Dan
    August 20th, 2014 at 23:05 | #4

    As nice as it is the R-Pi is pretty old at this point, the Freescale iMX6 would have been so much better for the Slice as features/performance wise it’s very close to PC x86 XBMC.

    With all the iMX6 devices in the pipeline and already available like the Cubox-i/Hummingbird, the Slice is a hard sell especially to AV snobs who want match frame rate 24hz, BD decoding and HD audio bit-streaming, the R-Pi can only do those partially whereas the iMX6 can do it all.

  5. dhead666
    August 20th, 2014 at 23:54 | #5

    As mentioned, this is the second hardware solution (after EzeeCube) designed especially for XBMC (not counting Pivos as I guess gets their latest device from Geniatech).

    Unlike EzeeCube, I don’t see anything special that this device brings to OSS solution that it’s using.
    EzeeCube brings to the table personal photos, videos and contacts syncing (added to XBMC DB) and supposedly will improve the ease of the intial PVR backend setup ( http://stephan-rafin.net/blog/2014/06/05/ezeecube-an-exciting-mediacenter-and-photo-organizer/#comment-2727 )/

  6. kucho
    August 21st, 2014 at 15:11 | #6

    @memeka

    pretty, annoying lights… nonsense…

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