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Posts Tagged ‘allwinner’

Snappy Ubuntu Core is an IoT Linux Distribution for ARM and x86

January 21st, 2015 12 comments

Canonical has announced a version of Ubuntu specifically designed for IoT devices running Linux, with a low hardware requirements, and a new package manager called snappy, replacing apt-get for this version of Ubuntu, which provides simpler, faster, and more reliable updates, stronger security, and allows roll-backs in case something goes wrong. Easy firmware updates are something missing in most connected device, which means they are more vulnerable to potential hackers, but with snappy security updates should be able to make it regularly, so that if something like heartbleed occurs again, you know your router, home automation gateway, connected washing machine, or robot will be soon patched automatically.

Snappy Ubuntu Core Logo

Snappy Ubuntu Core Logo

Let’s go through the hardware requirements first:

  • Processor – 600 MHz processor (ARMv7 or greater, or x86)
  • System Memory – 128 MB RAM or greater (The system itself uses 40 MB RAM)
  • Storage – 4GB flash / storage for factory reset and system rollback

So the hardware requirements are not quite as low as something as OpenWRT, but still lower than what you’d expect from Ubuntu, so you could use an old laptop or PC as a development platform, and Canonical also recommends BeagleBone Black or ODROID-C1 ARM based development boards. The Raspberry Pi board won’t work with Snappy, because Broadcom BCM2835 processor is using an older architecture (ARMv6) not supported by Ubuntu.

Snappy Architecture

Snappy Architecture

Twenty one companies and organization have partnered with Canonical on Snappy Ubuntu Core:

  • Home automation – Ninjablocks (Ninjasphere), Openhab (smarthub framework), Trasibot
  • Robotic – OSRF – ROS robots, , Erle Robotics with Erle-Copter
  • Development Boards – Hardkernel ODROID-C1, Beagleboarg community’s Beaglebone Black, Lemaker (Banana Pro), Udoo, LinkSprite (PCDuino), and Parallella
  • Silicon Vendors – Allwinner
  • IoT frameworks – Kaa, DeviceHive, IoTSys, Resin.io, OpenSensors.io
  • Misc- Riot-OS, Nwave, Fairwaves,  Docker with Weave

As mentioned in the introduction, apt-get is no where to be found in Snappy, as the distribution is using snappy instead, but the command line options remain familiar in some aspects:

$ sudo snappy install docker
docker      4 MB    [=====================================================]   OK
Part          Tag         Installed        Available        Fingerprint       Active
docker        edge        1.3.2.004        -                788b0787b18b1c    *

with various new/different options like info, search, versions and more:

$ snappy versions -a
PART               TAG      INSTALLED           AVAILABLE   FINGERPRINT   ACTIVE
ubuntu-core        edge     14.11.1-20141130    -           4e8c32456ab10
ubuntu-core        edge     14.12.1-20141201    -           7611de9a73923 *
docker             edge     1.1.21              -           34b32c359a08e *
hello-world        edge     1.0                 -           27e98ab23492c *

You can see in the list above two version of ubuntu-core, with one ACTIVE and the previous available for roll-back with the command:

$ sudo snappy rollback ubuntu-core
rolling back ubuntu-core -> (edge 14.11.1-20141130 8337ce7b64821)
Reboot to use the new ubuntu-core.

You can find more example in Ubuntu Developer’s snappy page, and find out snappy can also be used to build software packages from source.

There’s also a work-in-progress web interface called WebDM (Web Device Manager) used to configure the device and install packages. It can be installed with sudo snappy install webdm, but Canonical warns it should not be enabled in production devices for now, as access control is not implemented yet.

WebDM

WebDM

If you want to try it, you don’t even need extra hardware, as a Snappy Ubuntu Core instances can be launched from Azure, GCE or Amazon EC2  cloud services, or run in a Virtual Machine with KVM, OVA (VMWare, VirtualBox,…) or Vagrant. All you have to do is follow the instructions provided here. Complete instructions and a preview image are also available for the BeagleBone Black. There does not seem to be pre-built images yet for the other ARM boards mentioned in this article.

Via LinuxGizmos

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So This is How Allwinner A80 Cheats at Antutu Benchmark…

January 11th, 2015 9 comments

Ever since Allwinner A80 was released, the Antutu scores did not add up with some devices getting around 30,000 points, while other devices scoring close to 50,000 or even higher. But what about 143,430 points? Now that would be impressive, and that’s exactly what Byron got in his Tronsmart Draco AW80 box, after changing a single parameter.

Draco_AW80_Antutu_Score

Draco AW80 Antutu Score (Click to Enlarge)

The screenshot above reports a Nexus 10 because he must be using one of Freatab ROM, where they often change the device name for better Google Play compatibility. Nevertheless what kind of sorcery is that? How could he achieve this?

It turns out build.prop, as a key called ro.sys.hiritsu. It’s set to 30 in the stock firmware, but if you change this to 95, some magic happens, and you get the very high score above. Byron reported his box got pretty hot with this setting, so it’s probably better not to try a high value… Hiritsu (ひりつ) is a Japanese word meaning “ratio, proportion, percentage”, and in this case It looks like it just set the Antutu cheating ratio… Manufacturers may decide to adjust it just a bit to show a very good score, but not too high or it’d look suspicious.

What happens if you remove ro.sys.hiritsu from build.prop? Freaktab member fess tried it, and the score falls down to 36,185, which should be closer to reality, and similar to the score (36,903) I got using Antutu X. Another member try to adjust the setting to 30 and 35 and run both Antutu and GFXBench. Antutu score goes up from one setting to the other, but GFXBench stays put at 476. GFXBench is a graphics intensive score, and maybe a CPU intensive benchmark, might have a slightly higher score, but certainly in the order of magnitude shown in Antutu.

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AllWinner A64 is a $5 Quad Core 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 SoC for Tablets

January 8th, 2015 7 comments

Allwinner already announced H64 octa-core Cortex A53 processor for OTT boxes together with Nobel64 development board in the last quarter of last year, and the Chinese silicon manufacturer has now introduced Allwinner A64 quad core Cortex A53 processor for entry-level tablets, as the processor will only cost $5 per unit in large quantities.

Allwinner_A64As usual, Allwinner only provided a subset of information for their first announcement, and some technical details like the GPU are unknown.

Key features listed for Allwinner A64:

  • 64-bit Cortex-A53 architecture
  • Supports H.265/H.264 video decoding in hardware, and supports HDMI 4K display
  • Supports various DDR memory types, making the BOM cost more competitive
  • Supports eMMC 5.0 for better IO performance and enhanced data throughput capacity
  • Allwinner SmartColor display technology for more vivid and eye-pleasing visual experience
  • Supports Trusted Firmware security architecture from ARM

The company is finally moving to a device tree enabled kernel with Linux 3.10, and Allwinner 64-bit ARM tablets will also run Android 5.0 Lollipop. Hopefully, this processor implements proper H.265 hardware decoding, not GPU accelerated decoding as in Allwinner A80 processor. Interestingly neither Allwinner A64, nor Rockchip RK3368 announced recently, support VP9, despite it being the codec of choice for YouTube 2160p content.

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Easily Create an Android Bootable SD Card for Allwinner A80 Devices with PhoenixCard Tool

January 6th, 2015 1 comment

We’ve already seen how it was possible to boot Linux or Android on Rockchip RK3288 devices from an SD card, which involved getting the stock firmware and running some scripts in Linux. Today, Freaktab member no_spam_for_me found out how to create a bootable SD card for Tronsmart Draco AW80 Meta, and other Allwinner A80 devices using PhoenixCard 3.09 tools for Windows (The latest version should be available @ http://dl.cubieboard.org/model/cc-a80/Tools/Flash-firmware-tools/). There may also be a way to use LiveSuit tools for Linux, but this have not been tested.

PhoenixCard_3.09_SD_Card

Once you have installed the tools, start it, and  load the firmware by clicking on “Img File” button (Here Draco AW80 Finless 1.1 firmware was used). Then press DiskCheck to scan for storage devices, and select your SD card in the drop-down menu “disk” (not sure why it’s blank in the screenshot above), select “Startup !” write mode, and click on the “Burn” button.

Once it’s done, just insert the SD card into your Allwinner A80 device, power it your device and it should boot from SD card. The first boot is quite slow, allegedly because the system converts the FAT32 file system to EXT-3, but subsequent boots are relatively fast (one minute or so) depending on the SD card.

Draco_AW80_Meta_32_GB_SD_CardThe screenshot above have been taken in Draco AW80 Meta (with 16GB eMMC) booted from a 32GB SD card.  So booting from SD card is nice to get more storage, and trying out firmware before flashing a new one as it does not affect your current installation. Just make sure you use a fast SD card (Class 10 or greater) or the system may feel very slow.

This method should also work for other Allwinner processors (A31, A20, etc…). It looks like it might only work for Android firmware, and not Linux based distributions like Ubuntu/Lubuntu (TBC).

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3D Graphics Acceleration in Linux on Allwinner A80 based Cubieboard4

January 2nd, 2015 11 comments

Allwinner A80 is a powerful octa-core processor found in development boards and TV boxes such as Cubieboard4 or Tronsmart Draco AW80. Some early Ubuntu images and instructions had already been released for A80 Optimusboard and Draco AW80, but none of these featured GPU drivers for 3D acceleration, which to be honest, has limited advantages in Linux desktop distributions since desktop environments and most apps require full OpenGL support, i.e. not only OpenGL ES, and the only ARM SoC that can provide OpenGL support without external graphics card is Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC. Having said that GPU drivers would pave the way for smooth OpenELEC / Kodi user interface support in Allwinner A80 Linux distributions. That’s only one part of the puzzle, since the GPU normally handles the user interface, while the VPU takes care of video decoding.

Cubieboar4_Linux_GPU_DriversThe good news is that CubieTech release updates images for their Cubieboard4 (CC-A80) development with PowerVR GC6200 GPU support, which you can download on Baidu:

  • linaro-cb4-emmc-vga-v0.3.img.7z is the eMMC flash image with VGA output
  • linaro-cb4-emmc-hdmi-v0.3.img.7z.md5 is the eMMC flash image with HDMI output

The company also provided instructions they followed to create the image, using two files they got from Allwinner rogue_km.tar.gz , and discimage-release-1.4-fix_buffer_ideas_20141216_no_gl.tar.gz, available on Cubieboard server.

The steps below have been completed in an Ubuntu 14.04 computer’s terminal window, and may need some corrections, since I’ve mostly edited them from an email but not tried myself:

  1. Build drivers
    tar -zxpf rogue_km.tar.gz
    cp -rf rogue_km linux-3.4/modules
    cd rogue_km/build/linux/sunxi_linux && make -j4

    The two drivers files dc_drmfbdev.ko and pvrsrvkm.ko can be found in linux-3.4/modules/rogue_km/binary_sunxi_linux_xorg_release/target_armhf directory

  2. Copy drivers to SD card
    You’ll need to download and extract Linaro Ubuntu 14.04 rootfs, and copy the drivers to a bootable sdcard in the rootfs partition

    mkdir -p <path_to_rootfs>/lib/modules/3.4.3/extra
    cp dc_drmfbdev.ko pvrsrvkm.ko <path_to_rootfs>/lib/modules/3.4.39/extra/
    sync 
  3. Copy libraries to rootfs
    sudo tar -zxpf discimage-release-1.4-fix_buffer_ideas_20141216_no_gl.tar.gz
    cd <path_to_rootfs>/usr/local/pvr
    cp -rf etc/ <path_to_rootfs>/
    cp -rfd include share <path_to_rootfs>/usr
    cp -rfd lib/xorg <path_to_rootfs>/usr/lib
    cp -rfd lib/* <path_to_rootfs>/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
    cp -rf ssl <path_to_rootfs>/etc
    cp -rf ssl/misc/ <path_to_rootfs>/usr/lib/ssl
    cd discimage/usr/
    cp -rfd lib/* <path_to_rootfs>/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
    cp -rf local/bin <path_to_rootfs>/usr/local
    sync
  4. Insert the SD card into Cubieboard4 board, boot, and complete the steps as follows:
    mkdir -pv /usr/local/pvr/lib/dri/
     cd /usr/local/pvr/lib/dri/
    ln -s /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/dri/pvr_dri.so
    ln -s /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihcdf/dri/swrast_dri.so
    rm /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/mesa-egl -rf
    cd /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf
    ln -s libGLESv2.so.1.4.3064661 libGLESv2.so.2
    

    Edit  /etc/modules to add the two lines:

    dc_drmfbdev
    pvrsrvkm

    Insert the modules, run depmod, and reboot to complete the installation:

    insmod /lib/modules/3.4.39/extra/dc_drmfbdev.ko
    insmod /lib/modules/3.4.39/extra/
    depmod
    reboot

    Done!

Now you can test 3D graphics acceleration works with glmark2-es2 or es2gears:

sudo apt-get install glmark2-es2
sudo glmark2-es2 

Thanks to Ovidiu for the info.

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Top 10 Posts of 2014 and Stats on CNX Software

December 31st, 2014 15 comments

Wow! After a slow start of the year, 2014 has been a busy year as new devices based on newer processor from Amlogic started to flood the market in Q2, soon followed by even more Rockchip RK3288 based media players, and then some more Amlogic S805 and Allwinner A80 boards and devices. It’s now the last day of the year, so just like in 2013, it’s time to look back on the main trends of the year, and based on the list of the top 10 most visited posts below, the new generation of ARM Android media players were the most important story of the year on CNX Software, but we also saw more IoT devices and board like Vidonn X5 or LinkIT One, lots of new Wi-Fi modules, and by the end of the year ESP8266 seemed to have won that fight, but being found in $3 Wi-Fi modules. Low cost Intel based mini PCs generated a lot of buzz in the last quarter, although they’ve just started shipping in the last few days.

I’ve compiled the list using data from Google Analytics, filtered posts from 2014, and sorted them by decreasing number of page views. Here are the top 10 posts of 2014:

    1. Review of M8 Android Kitkat TV Box Powered by Amlogic S802 SoC (April 2014) – Shenzhen Tomato M8 was one of the first new generation Android TV boxes available on the market, featuring the new Amlogic S802 quad core Cortex A9 processor with a Mali-450MP6 GPU. Despite stability issues, and poor Wi-Fi performance at with earlier firmware, the device became popular, and is by far the most popular post of 2014, getting three times more pageviews than the post in second position.
    2. Rockchip RK3288 vs RK3188 Performance Comparison (January 2014) – Rockchip RK3188 was the king of 2013 in TV boxes and HDMI TV sticks, so it was natural people were eager to find out more about the performance of its more powerful successor, Rockchip RK3288.
    3. Review of Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite Amlogic S802 TV Box (April 2014) – Tronsmart Vega S89 was another Amlogic S802 Android media player released in April, and my very first review for an Amlogic S802 device, so people certainly wanted to find out more about the performance and video capabilities of the latest Amlogic processor.
    4. How to Upgrade Firmware in Amlogic S802 Devices (April 2014) – With all these Amlogic S802 mini PCs in the market requiring firmware updates, and user friendly working OTA firmware updates a rarity rather than the norm, people had to find out how they could upgrade their device with the latest firmware.
    5. MEEGO-T01 HDMI TV Stick Supports Android, Windows 8.1, and Ubuntu/Linux (October 2014) – By Q4 2014, several low cost Intel Atom Z3735 mini PC started to be announced, and Meego-T01, now better known as MeegoPad T01, got popular as a Windows 8.1 / Android HDMI TV Stick.
    6. ARM Cortex A15/A17 SoCs Comparison – Nvidia Tegra K1 vs Samsung Exynos 5422 vs Rockchip RK3288 vs AllWinner A80 (May 2014) – Several Cortex A15 and A17 based processors have hit the market this year, so I’ve drawn a comparison table with features, interfaces, and interfaces of the most popular ones by Nvidia, Samsung, Rockchip, and Allwinner.
    7. List of Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Boxes So Far (May 2014) – Chinese manufacturers were announcing Rockchip RK3288 devices at a tremendous pace, and many months before Rockchip RK3288 became available, at times announcing their products by showing early PCBA while the enclosure was not finalized. This was all confusing, so I started to make a non-exhaustive list to try to navigate the flood of devices.
    8. M8 Android TV Box Powered by AMLogic S802 (Unboxing) (April 2014) – As people checkout M8 review, the top post of 2014, they also clicked on the unboxing post to checkout pictures and specs of the device.
    9. Raspberry Pi Model A+ Board Features a 40-pin GPIO Connector, a micro SD slot, and Improved Power Management (November 2014) – What happens when you are the first to post a leak of a widely anticipated product? It goes viral. It’s what happens with Raspberry Pi Model A+, as I found a page on Element14 a couple of days before the official release. Posted on November 8, this is the most recent post of this list.
    10. SolidRun HummingBoard is a Raspberry Pi Compatible Board Powered by Freescale i.MX6 (April 2014) – You often read people asking for a more powerful Raspberry Pi, but although the Foundation only released variations of their Broadcom BCM2835 based boards this year with A+ and B+, some R-Pi inspired dual and quad board got released this year with Banana Pi, Orange Pi, and SolidRun HummingBoard.

Several posts from 2013, and even 2012 would have made it to the top 10 list, including my now-somewhat-outdated comparison table of GPU in ARM SoCs, a simplified method to install Rockchip drivers in Windows, a rooting method for WM8800 tablets, or the 84 MB minimal image for the Raspberry Pi.

Let’s now check out some traffic stats for CNX Software blog in 2014.

CNX_Software_Pageviews_2014The year started just like the end of 2013 with traffic around 350,000 pageviews per month, with a slow growth for the first 9 months, but then around mid-October, Google pushed a new search algorithm update, and traffic nearly doubled to 600,000 pageviews in November and December. Google Analytics reports a total of 2,999,462 sessions, 1,757,172 users, and 4,834,676 pageviews for the year, or about a 35% increase in traffic mostly thanks to the last three months.

Nearly 70% of traffic comes from search engines, mainly Google, with the remaining coming from nearly 5,000 other websites. The top 10 search terms clicked (excluding “cnxsoft”, “cnx software” and similar keywords) for the last 3 months listed in Google Webmasters, and referrals for the full year listed in Google Analytics (GA) are shown in the table below. Keywords for the year are listed in GA too, but for the vast majority of request the keywords are “not provided”, which is why I use Google Webmasters data instead.

Top 10 Keywords Top 10 Referrals
m8 android tv box plus.url.google.com
esp8266 scoop.it
meegopad t01 freaktab.com
xtreamer wonder facebook.com
tronsmart draco aw80 reddit.com
rk3288 t.co
meego-t01 raspbian.org
amlogic s812 forum.xbmc.org
amlogic s805 liliputing.com
odroid-c1 4pda.ru

Google Plus, that some “pundits” refers as the “ghost town”, went to the top of referral traffic for the year, barely overtaking scoop.it website curating service. Freaktab and Reddit are new entrants to the referral list. Most keywords are related to Android mini PC articles found the top 10 post, but ESP8266, the ultra low cost Wi-Fi SoC, and ODROID-C1 development board are also part of the list.

Let’s find a bit more about you, my readers / visitors.

CNX_Software_Traffic_2014_Country_CityThe top four countries are still the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France, with the USA and the UK totalling about 22%, just like last year. London still has the top city, with Seoul moving to second position, and moving Moscow down to third.

CNX_Software_Traffic_2014_OS_BrowserWindows is still the most widely use operating systems of CNX visitors, but its market share has gone down from 61.9% to 57.39%. Linux is still in second position, but has gone down from 17.30% to 15.30%, and the rising OS are the mobile OS such as Android and iOS, so we should expect Android to overtake Linux distributions next year, unless something drastic happens. If we add up all Linux based OS (Linux + Android + Chrome OS), Linux market share goes up to 28.55% vs 25.5% last year. Chrome Browser has extended its lead from 43.94% to 48.05%, while Firefox went down to 27.20% from 30.61%, and the others did not change that much. That means despite the rise of Android OS, people are not using the Android Browser that much and prefer to use alternative browsers such as Chromium, Opera, or Firefox.

I’ll conclude this post and 2014 by joining some of this year’s media player, boards, and tools (pictured below) to wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year 2015, which should see the rise of 64-bit ARM platform, an interesting ARM vs Intel mini PCs war, more products finally getting out with alternative OS such as Tizen, Firefos OS, and Ubuntu, as well as low cost IoT products and wearables featuring ESP8266 or Mediatek Aster SoCs.

Happy_New_Year_2015_CNX

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Infocus CS1 A83 (C2107) Android Tablet Review

December 16th, 2014 4 comments

I’ve already shown some picture, listed specs and reported Antutu benchmark results for Infocus CS1 A83 Android tablet powered by Allwinner A83T octa core processor. I’ve been using this tablet as my main mobile device for about a week, and for about 3 to 5 hours a day, and I’m now ready to write a full review reporting my experience with this Full HD tablet.

General Impressions

I mainly use a tablet to browse the web, check emails, play some casual games like Candy Crush Saga, watch some YouTube videos, and Skype calls, and I could not really fault the tablet for any of these applications. Having said that, my reference device is only ThL W200 smartphone powered by Mediatek MT6589T processor with a 5″ display @ 1280×720, and for all the tasks listed Infocus tablet is much better because it’s more responsive, the 1920×1200 is crisp, and the cameras are working (for now). I could get a GPS fix quickly too, but GPS is something I tested thoroughly on the tablet.

Battery life is also good for my needs as a charge of the 3,550 mAh battery lasts for well over 24 hours, and takes 2 hours to complete (8% to 98%). They say the first impression is what count, and CS1 A83 (aka C2107) does a good job at that since it boots in about 15 seconds. I’ve only experienced two major annoyances with the volume down button, which requires a strong press to work, and Wi-Fi connectivity does not always work after getting out of standby, requiring a reboot. I worked around the latter issue, but setting Wi-Fi always on in the settings.

Benchmarks: Antutu, Vellamo, and 3DMark

Benchmarks are useful as a quick way to evaluate a device’s performance, but they should not be the only reason for your to buy a particular tablet, smaprthone, or any other device.

I’ve already run Antutu last week, but I’ll include it again today, which shows a score (26,000) a little  lower that what you’d get with an Amlogic S802 device (4x Cortex A9 @ 2 GHz + Mali-450MP6 GPU).

Infocus CS1 A83 Antutu Score (Click to Enlarge)

Infocus CS1 A83 Antutu Score (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve also run two more benchmark to evaluate browser, and multicore performance with Vellamo 3.1 , and 3D graphics with 3DMarks Ice Storm Extreme.

Vellamo 3.1 and Ice Storm Extreme Scores (Click to Enlarge)

Vellamo 3.1 and Ice Storm Extreme Scores (Click to Enlarge)

Vellamo Score browser score is about the same as LG Nexus 4 smartphone (Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro – APQ8064), and at 3,448 points for 3Dmark Ice Storm Extreme, InFocus C2107 is certainly not a gaming beast, but as we’ll see below it’s still very much usable.

Internal Storage and Wi-Fi Performance

Internal storage performance is important for overall system responsiveness, as for example while installing apps some system slow down considerably due to I/O activity, and for boot and app loading time. So far, InFocus CS1 A83 is the best device I’ve ever tested with regards to eMMC performance thanks to 58.87 MB/s read speed, and 29.36 MB/s write speed. Benchmark app used: A1 SD Benchmark. Please note that InFocus CS1 A83 us the only tablet in the chart below.

Infocus_C2107_Internal_Storage_Performance

Read & Write Speed in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve also tested the tablet Wi-Fi performance by transferring a 278 MB file over SAMBA using ES File Explorer. I obviously placed the tablet in the same location I normally place TV boxes and development boards.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

The tablet transferred the file at 2.72 MB/s (21.76 Mbps) on average which puts it in the middle of the pack. It’s quite possible I should not really compare Wi-Fi performance of a tablet with the one of media player, since these are different form factors. Your environment, including your router firmware, may also greatly impact the relative Wi-Fi performance between devices.

Performance is average, but I never lost Wi-Fi connectivity during active use. The first couple of dauys everything worked fine, but then I started to be unable to connect to my Wi-Fi router when getting out of stack. First I rebooted the tablet to work around the issue, but finally I went to Wi-Fi Settings-> Advanced (Via … green icon on top right),, and set “Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep” to always. This may affect battery life a little bit, but at least this annoying Wi-Fi issue went away.

Rear and Front Facing Cameras

Rear Camera

The 8MB rear camera does the job, and it clearly delivers better pictures than ThL W200 smartphone, but it struggles in low light conditions for for still pictures and videos, I suppose like most devices. I was also impressed by its ability to take close pictures such as text on books or PCBAs thanks to its autofocus, which at times takes about 1 or 2 seconds to focus. Beside slow focus, and poor quality in low light conditions, the lack of flash may be one of the main downside.

Since photos speak more than words, I’ve include photos samples, as well as video samples at night and day time which I’ve uploaded to YouTube, such make sure you watch them at the max (native resolution).

Video Samples


Other video samples:

Font-facing camera

The 2MP front facing camera is mostly used for selfies, and video conference, so I’ve taken a few close shots of pets and statues.

I’ve also use Skype with the device, and it worked as expected, although the picture is quite dark, and I have not found a way to adjust the front-facing camera brightness, so you’d have to make sure you call in a well lit environment for an optimal visual experience.

Video Playback

In order to test video playback, I simply installed Antutu Video Tester, and run to test to find out Allwinner A83T gets a very good score of 631 points which makes it close to the top of the rankings. This app uses the stock video player test audio/video codecs, and video quality.
Allwinner_A83T_AntutuVideo_Tester_1

Allwinner_A83T_Antutu_Video_Tester_2The device fails to play a realVideo 4 video, and can’t decode ac3 (Dolby Digital 5.1) and DTS audio.

As a comparison a device such as Open Hour Chameleon (Rockchip RK3288) can play all video files, but also fails to decode AC3 and DTS (with the stock player), and only gets 263 points due to the poor video quality of Rockchip RK3288 processor (so far, and hopefully firmware upgrades can fix this). To work around the audio issue, you could also install XBMC / Kodi which (most probably illegally) decodes AC3 and DTS by software.

Battery Life

Battery life is an important feature of mobile devices. For my usage, i.e. 3 to 5 hours per day watching YouTube videos, browsing the web, checking emails, some games, and Skype video calls, a full charge is good for over 24 hours.

In order to get a more standardized evaluation of the battery life, I’ve been recommended to use LAB501 Battery Life app which provides ways to test battery life for web browsing, video playback (720p), and gaming use cases. I planned to fully charge the tablet, and stop the test when the battery level reached 15%, however for some reasons the browser test stopped at around 50% twice. A full charge sometimes stops at 98%, and won’t go to 100% even after one hour or more. Wi-Fi was on, and brightness set to 50% for all tests.

Here are the results:

  • Browsing (98% to 53%) – 229 minutes (3h50). Extrapolating a linear discharge, it would have last around 7 hours
  • Video (100% to 12%) – 397 minutes (6h37). It should be good enough for 3 to 4 full movies on a charge.
  • Gaming (99% to 15%) – 276 (4h36)

Allwinner_A83T_Dashboard_Power_SavingThe tablet also comes with a Dashboard app showing CPU, memory & Storage usage, as well as battery charge, and option to clean junk, boost memory (by killing apps), and as shown above, set some power savings parameters. I’ve only used the tablet in Normal mode, but if you need extra battery life, or a boost in performance for game, these may be options to consider.

Miscellaneous

Bluetooth

Both file transfer  and Bluetooth Smart (BLE) worked just fine. The latter was tested with Vidonn X5 smartband.

GPS

I haven’t done much testing with GPS, and at first I thought the tablet may not have GPS, because there are not options for GPS in the Settings. Eventually, Google Maps, Nike running+, and GPS test confirmed the tablet supports GPS, and can get a GPS fix relatively fast, at least when I have an internet connection. I have not tried to roam outside.

Infocus_CS1_A83_GPS_testGaming

I’ve played Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Bleach, and Riptide GP2 on the device, and all three games played rather nicely, albeit I noticed a little of sluggishness in Candy Crush Saga. The two racing games played quite well, but it’s probably because they adapt the level of details to the device used.

Others

Multitouch app showed the touchscreen supports five touch points max.

The auto brightness works, but is not really well suited to my eyes / preferences, so most of the time, I set the brightness manually. The good thing is that in the dark, I can set the brightness low enough, so that I don’t need third party apps like Lux Lite. I wish it would be possible to teach the device the level of brightness depending on lighting conditions.

The stereo speakers at the back of the tablet are clear and loud, much louder than my smartphone speakers, but this is probably to be expected.

Video Review

I’ve also shot a video review to show a bit more of different options, benchmark results, gaming (Candy Crush Saga, and Riptide GP2), GPS, PDF reader (Acrobat) performance with a large PDF file (ODROID mazagine), and more. The video has been shot with a sports camera, explaining the lens distortion (fisheye effect).

Conclusion

I really like this tablet, as the screen is sharp, performance is good enough for my need, as well as battery life. The main annoyances for me are the Volume down button not working well, and auto-brightness not configurable.

Here are the list of cons and pros based on my experience.

PROS

  • Clear and crisp 1920×1200 display
  • Fastest internal storage I’ve tested so far
  • Good video playback (based on Antutu Video Tester results)
  • Decent Battery Life – > 24 hours on a charge for my usage
  • Auto focus allows for clear pictures even at close distance (in good light conditions).

CONS

  • Volume down only working when pressing hard (Probably only with my early sample)
  • Wi-Fi may fail to reconnect after getting out of standby (Work around -> Set Wi-Fi always on).
  • Video / still picture quality poor in low light conditions, and lack of flash
  • Some games may feel a little sluggish (Candy Crush Saga)
  • Front-facing camera image is darker than usual in Skype, but this may be a Skype issue, rather than a problem with the tablet’s camera (TBC)
  • Auto-brightness can’t be customized (but it should be fixable via a paid app)

Allwinner and Foxconn sent me an early sample of the tablet, and it’s not available for sale just yet. I’m not even sure of the exact name, maybe it will be sold as InFocus C2107, or maybe InFocus CS1 A83. Price on the invoice was $170. As reference, I’ve checked the price for Amlogic M802 / Mediatek MT6592 tablets with a 7″ display using 1080p or 1920×1200 resolution, 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, and other similar specifications which should provide similar performance than the Infocus tablet.  On such model is Chuwi-VX3, which sells for about $180 to $190 but also includes 3G support, so Infocus CS1 A83 should be cheaper than this model, and $150 to $170 including shipping would be a competitive price (IMHO).

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Inphic i8 Android Media Player Supports VP9 and H.265 Video Codecs, Features Allwinner H8 Processor

December 15th, 2014 1 comment

Allwinner H8 a new octa-core Cortex A7 processor for low cost Full HD media players with H.265 & VP9 codec support, and one the first product using the new Allwinner H-Series processor is Inphic i8, which sells for as low as 349 CNY (~$57) on JD.com and it’s also available on Taobao for 499 CNY (~$80). Some Inphic i8 boxes are available on Aliexpress, but so far all models are based on Allwinner A31s, promoted as quad core processor eight core GPU boxes, so don’t be fooled.

Inphic_i8Inphic i8 (Allwinner H8) specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H8 octa-core Cortex-A7 processor @ 2.0GHz with PowerVR SGX544 GPU up to 720MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB or 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8, 16, or 32GB internal storage
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p, Composite output (RCA)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, and Left / Right RCA connectors
  • Video Codecs
    • Multi-format 1080p@60fps video playback, including H.264 BP/MP/HP, VP8, MPEG1/2, MPEG4 SP/ASP GMC, H.263 including Sorenson Spark, WMV9/VC-1, JPEG/MJPEG, etc
    • H.265/VP9 1080p@30fps video playback
    • H.264 1080p@60fps or 720p@120fps video encoding
  • Audio Format/Codecs – AAC-LC/HEAAC/HE-AAC v2, AC3 (Dolby Digital), AMR-NB, DTS, MP3, OGG, RA_COOK, WMA, WMA, LPCM/PCM/ADPCM, FLAC
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • USB – 2x USB host ports
  • Power Supply – 5V/1.5A
  • Dimensions – 175 x 116 x 32 mm
  • Weight – 192 grams

Inphic_i8_ports

The package should also include HDMI and AV cables, a power adapter, a remote control, and a power supply. The box is said to be running Android KitKat 4.4.2, with support for Google Play, XBMC / Kodi , and  Skype, as well as Airplay, DLNA, and Miracast. The Chinese websites instead report the OS is YunOS, so it’s possible there will be a Chinese version, and an international version.

“H.265 Hardware Decoder” is explicitly listed on the product page, but Allwinner also claimed support for H.265 and VP9 codec in Allwinner A80 processor,  but after testing actual products such as Draco AW80, it turns out it’s probably only software decode, or maybe GPU accelerated (GPGPU with OpenCL) instead of being actually supported by the VPU. Products will have to be tested to make sure these two codecs are properly supported. I’m currently testing Infocus CS1 A83 tablet, based on Allwinner A83T processor with the same CPU and GPU as Allwinner H8, and Antutu Video Tester reports a score of well over 600 points, which shows the tablet has good video playback capabilities and quality, so this looks promising if both A83T and H8 share the same video engine.

Since the box sells for $57 in China, I’d expect it to be available for $70 to $80 on Aliexpress sooner than later. More details can be found on Inphic i9 product page, where they mention 4K support, but I believe these claims can be discarded since H8 only supports 1080p decoding and output.

Via Home Theater Life on Google+ MINI PC Community.

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