Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Android’

Tronfy MXIV Telos TV Box Review with Android 5.1

August 31st, 2015 6 comments

Tronfy MXIV Telos is a TV box powered by Amlogic S812 processor running Android 5.1 Lollipop and costing just above $90 (with coupon), so it will be interesting to find out how it performs compared to Mygica ATV1900AC also based on Amlogic S812 SoC, and Android Lollipop firmware (version 5.0.2), which I reviewed recently, and sells for $169. I’ve already checked the hardware in Tronfy MX4 Telos Unboxing and Teardown, so today I’ll check how the device actually performs.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I started by connecting peripherals: A USB hard drive to one of the USB port, and a USB hub to the other USB port with a webcam, and two RF dongles for an air mouse and a wireless gamepad, as well as HDMI and Ethernet cables, and the power supply. I then had to press the power button on the unit to start it up, and the boot took a long 1 minute 38 seconds to complete with all peripherals, or 48 seconds without any USB devices connected. That’s not the best performance, but almost exactly the same slow boot as experienced with the Mygica box.

MediaBox Launcher (Click for Orignial Size)

MediaBox Launcher (Click for Orignial Size)

LightHome (Click for Orignial Size)

LightHome (Click for Original Size)

You’ll get to  choose between two launchers: MediaBox or LightHome. The user interface resolution is 1920×1080, as you can see from the screenshots. I’ve just picked LightHome for the rest of the review.  The top right icons indicate network connectivity, and the maginifier redirects to Google Now. Weather, date and time information is displayed on the left side, and shortcuts to Kodi, Eshare, Flix Universe, the Browser, Google Play Store, the list of apps, a file browser, and Settings, as well as Favorites are placed in the center of the screen, There’s also a “kill running apps” button and a widget for CPU, memory and storage usage.

Let go to the Settings app.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Again that’s basically the same app as in ATV1900AC, and I’ve found it to be quite unstable: going to Network, changing between 12h/24h time display, adjusting screen rotation, etc… will always crash the app, so instead I went to “More setting” to access Android Lollipop settings and configure WiFi and Ethernet there.

Some useful settings include:

  • Network (crash)
  •  Display
    • Screen resolution: Auto, 480p-60Hz, 576p-50Hz, 720p 50/60Hz, 1080i 50/60Hz, 1080p 24/50/60Hz, 4K2K 24/25/30Hz or SMPTE
    • Screen position
    • Screen orientation (crash)
  • Sound – Digital sound (crash)
  • Preferences – HDMI CEC (crash)

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos(crash) means the settings look interesting, but I could not access it, since it would just crash the Settings app. At least, there isn’t three ways to access settings like in Mygica ATV1900AC, there’s only two, but most options are not accessible.. I could change the resolution to 4K30 and that one worked fine.

The 16GB flash has reportedly a single 16GB partition (which is impossible) with 10.55 GB space (perfectly believable), which means you’ll have plenty of space for both apps and data.

The “About device” section reports the model number is MXIV Telos, the device runs Android 5.1.1 on top of Linux 3.10.33, and the firmware version is 102L1. There’s also a “System Update” section there, and the system appears to connect to a download server, but there wasn’t any new firmware while I tested it, so I cannot confirm whether OTA upgrades are working properly. The firmware is rooted.

I used MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse for most of the review, but I also quickly tested the IR remote control to check whether it was working OK, and the range is not too bad, as I only started to lose a few key presses at around 8 meters from the box.

Google Play Store worked very well, and I could install all apps I needed for review, and most apps I installed on other devices could also be installed, except apps that can’t be installed due to country restrictions. Sadly, after a while, the message “Unfortunately, Google Play Services has stopped” started popping-up every 5 seconds or so, whether I was actively using the Play Store or not, so the system became very difficult to use. I’m not the only one to have had this problem as others reported the issues on Samsung Galaxy phones, and provided a fix. I followed the instructions and could disable Google Play Services, but as I restarted the device, re-enabled the services, and updated it, the problem resumed, so I just disabled the services again to be able to use the device. If Google Play Services is disabled or not updated to the latest, applications such as the Google Play Store or Hangouts won’t work.

I’m pleased to say that Tronfy MVIV power controls work perfectly, as it’s possible to cleanly turn off and on the device, or go into standby using either the remote control or the power button on the device. The device also stays relatively cool, as the maximum temperature reached after Antutu 5.7.1 benchmark were respectively 42°C and 53°C on the top and bottom of the case.

The firmware itself appears to be stable and responsive, and I did not get any hangs up, but the settings is barely usable, and trying to access many settings will simply crash the app, so for example you can’t configure the audio device, meaning pass-through options are not accessible. Just like with Mygica box, the ART runtime used in Lollipop boosts app loading times, especially for games which load much faster than I’m used to.

Video Playback

Kodi 14.2 (customized or not) is installed and configured with Aeon Nox skin, but since there’s recently been a fix for Amlogic on Kodi 15.x that has been backported to Kodi 15.1 found on Google Play, I asked Tinydeal whether I should test the pre-installed Kodi 14.2 or the latest version, and they recommended  I keep using Kodi 14.2, so that’s what I tested.

Kodi_14.2_Aeon_noxBut first, I’ve taken a few screenshot to show what get while running Kodi. Kodi_14.2_Tronfy_system_info I’ve set the output to 1080p60 to check the framerate, and it’s indeed close to 60 fps, before switching back to 4K30 for testing. tronfy_mxiv_kodi_appsThey also have a few apps pre-installed.

kodi_traktShortly after starting Kodi, I was also ask to authorize Trakt, which automatically tracks the TV shows and movies you are watching, but I simply click on “No Thanks”.

All videos were played other Ethernet with the box connected to a SAMBA share. Let’s start with results with video samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, Elecard H.265/HEVC samples, and a low resolution VP9 video:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  480p/720p/1080p – OK could be smoother (Kodi live log also reports ~20fps instead of the native 25 fps)
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Software decode @ ~20 fps instead of 25 fps
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p OK. 1080p could be a little smoother (18 fps instead of 25 fps)
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – 360p: OK; 720p: 15 fps. 1080p:  plays at ~12fps with audio cuts
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

The results here are very similar to what I got on the Mygica device, and again the results are basically the same for higher bitrate videos, except for one little detail:

  • ED_HD.avi – audio only
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – Plays but at the wrong size (postcard like, zoomed out)
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – 15 fps instead of 29.970 fps and zoomed out
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – Plays OK from network (Gigabit), but again zoomed out.

This is what it looks like when the system plays the video at the wrong size (zoomed out) :

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos_Kodi_PostcardNormally I use my AV receiver to test both PCM output and HDMI / (SPDIF) pass-through with videos using HD audio codec, but since I can’t set HDMI pass-through via the settings, I skipped the pass-through test, and the results with videos down-mixed to PCM are already depressing:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK, but video not very smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – audio only (black screen)
  • TrueHD 5.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
  • TrueHD 7.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – OK! Yeah!
  • DTS HD Master – Audio OK, but black screen
  • DTS HD High Resolution – Audio OK, but video zoomed out

Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO video and 1080i videos could play smoothly and in full screen.

Hi10p videos decoded with some artifacts in like ATV1900AC, but the video were again zoomed out:

  • [Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts (wrong size)
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts. (wrong size)

4K videos also have mixed results with only two videos that are watchable:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Video zoomed out
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Won’t play at all
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Plays @ 3 to 4 fps.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at 3 to 4 fps
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play at all.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Looks OK to be, but Kodi reports ~25 fps for a 30 fps video
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Plays in slow motion, audio/video sync issues, and audio cuts
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – Only shows a still image, frequent audio cuts

I’ve also added a 4K 60fps H.265 video sample to my test procedure since some new processors can now support H.265 at 60 frames per second (in theory).  Software decoding explains why some video play at very low framerate.

LG 42UB820T 4K TV, which I use for all my reviews, does not support 3D, but I check whether the system can decode some stereoscopic 3D videos:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only, black screen.
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Following the catastrophic results with Kodi in this box, I just decided to skip video testing of AVI, MKV, VOB and MP4 movies, as I don’t see why I have to waste my time further with such a poor product. I did start the stability test with a complete 1080p MKV movie (~2 hours), but after seeing the video was only displayed at quarter size on the top left corner, I just laughed and stopped the test.
Video samples can be downloaded from “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet Network Performance

I’ve transferred a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the flash in both directions using ES File Explorer to test WiFi network performance. WiFi performance is pretty both with 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz (2.72 MB/s over a 65 Mbps link) and 802.11ac (4.15 MB/s over a 433 Mbps link).

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

For some reasons the system could only transfer in one direction with iperf, using “iperf -t 60 -c server_ip -d” command line:

  • wifi 802.11n:
    Client connecting to 192.168.0.113, TCP port 5001
    TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    [ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 36811 connected with 192.168.0.113 port 5001
    [ 6] 0.0-60.0 sec 0.00 � ��s 2459466104152450560 Bytes/sec
    [ 5] 0.0-60.1 sec 188 MBytes 26.2 Mbits/sec
  • wifi 802.11 @ 5 GHz n/ac:
    Client connecting to 192.168.0.113, TCP port 5001
    TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    [ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 35608 connected with 192.168.0.113 port 5001
    [ 6] 0.0-60.0 sec 0.00 � ��s 2459281583543020032 Bytes/sec
    [ 4] 0.0-60.1 sec 370 MBytes 51.6 Mbits/sec

Just to make sure there wasn’t any issues with my test setup, I install iperf in my Android tablet, and ran the test, and it could transfer in both directions.

I repeated the file transfer test over Gigabit Ethernet with a 885 MB file, and the results were best I’ve seen so far, just above Mygica ATV1900AC results.

Ethernet Throughput in MB/s

Ethernet Throughput in MB/s

Since with Gigabit Ethernet that test is often bound by the internal storage write and read speed, I also ran iperf, which showed the exact same oddity as with WiFI:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.111, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  187 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 43066 connected with 192.168.0.111 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec  0.00 � ��s  2459433968852288512 Bytes/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.0 sec  5.70 GBytes   816 Mbits/sec
[  5] local 192.168.0.104 port 5001 connected with 192.168.0.111 port 43073

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is built-in, and everything I tried just worked straightaway:

  • File transfer with smartphone
  • PS3 game controller with Sixaxis Controller app following these instructions.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy support with Vidonn X5 fitness tracker
  • A Bluetooth headset

Storage

FAT32 (micro SD card), and the NTFS and exFAT partitions of a USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted, and there was no problem with the SD card, however while the two partitions on the HDD are about 250GB large, but the system would only show 10MB partitions with 10MB free instead, basically meaning my hard drive was mounted as read only. The same bug occurred with Mygica ATV1900AC.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK No
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
exFAT OK No
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK

So once again I could not test USB storage performance, and I simply ran A1 SD Bench app to benchmark the eMMC flash performance, which read at 26.33 MB/s and wrote at 21.83 MB/s on average.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

The combined read+write performance is about the same as Mygica ATV1900AC here, not too bad for a significantly cheaper device…

USB Webcam

Skype worked fine both with the Test /Echo Service audio call, and a video call, however I could not run Google Hangouts since I only tested it after I had to disable Google Play Services.

Gaming

Unsurprisingly, gaming performance on Tronfy MX4 Telos was exactly the same as with ATV1900AC: Candy Crush and Beach Buggy Racing were both very smooth with default graphics settings, but Beach Buggy Racing was not quite enjoyable with maxed out graphics settings, albeit still playable.

Tronfy MXIV Telos Benchmarks

For some reasons, Amlogic S812 processor was limited to 1608 MHz in Mygica ATV1900AC, but it runs at full speed in MXIV Telos (1.99 GHz). The board name is n200.

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos_CPU-ZSo it should be no surprise that Antutu 5.7.1 score is a bit higher at 35,519 points against 34,137 points for ATV1900AC

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos_AntutuHowever, 3DMark score was about the same with 5,897 point for MX4 against 5,834 for Mygica platform.

Trongy_MXIV_Telos_3DMarkConclusion

Tronfy MXIV Telos hardware hold itself pretty well against Mygica ATV1900AC, with similar Gigabit Ethernet and storage performance, and pretty good WiFi performance, although not as perfect as on Mygica TV box, and it also has some extras like Bluetooth support and power control circuitry. I was a bit disappointed by the firmware on Mygica because there were still a bit too many bugs, but somehow MXIV Telos managed to do much worse, and it really feels like they had the hardware ready, and just load Amlogic Android 5.1 SDK onto the device and shipped it without any testing: Kodi is barely usable, many settings are not reachable because the Setting app will crash, my hard drive is read-only, and Google Play Store simply stopped to work after a while. Although to be fair, I’m not sure the latter is 100% related to that particularly firmware since people also had the same issues on Samsung Galaxy phones.

PROS:

  • Android Lollipop firmware
  • Very good Ethernet and good WiFi performance
  • Relatively fast internal storage
  • Video Output – 1080p 24/50/60 Hz, 4K @ 24/25/30Hz, etc…
  • Hardware video decoding for H.265 4K up to 30Hz in “4K MoviePlayer”
  • Bluetooth works for file transfer, Sixaxis gamepad, Bluetooth low energy, and Bluetooth headset.
  • Power handled by MCU with support for proper power off.
  • Skype works fine
  • Two launchers available

CONS:

  • Pre-installed Kodi is a disaster: many videos play at the wrong size (Zoomed out in the top left corner), several videos can’t play at all (black screen), H.265 is not working, audio pass-through is not working
  • Dolby and DTS audio not supported outside of Kodi.
  • Settings app will crash, so several settings are not accessible including audio output selection (PC/pass-through).
  • Incorrect partition size detected on USB hard drive leading to read-only partitions
  • Slow boot time (100 seconds will USB devices attached)

The hardware base is good, so you’d either have to rely on Tronfy to release a new firmware with bug fixes, or find another firmware compatible with n200 board, or try various versions of Kodi (this won’t fix the USD HDD nor Settings app issues though..) for it to be usable.

Tinydeal kindly provided Tronfy MXIV Telos sample for review, and in case you are interested, you can purchase it on their website for $91.85 with coupon tronfy4. As mentioned in the unboxing post, the hardware is based on Beelink MXIII Plus, that can be found on Gearbest, Geekbuying, eBay, Aliexpress, but you need to carefully check the specifications, as memory, storage and network connectivity options may vary.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Connect an Android Smartphone or Tablet to a Monitor, USB Keyboard and Mouse Easily with a DisplayLink Docking Station

August 29th, 2015 4 comments

Following my post featuring Zenfone 2 Deluxe Special Edition smartphone with 256GB internal storage and 4GB RAM, I had an interesting discussion about mobile and desktop convergence, and we had different views on how this may pan out and what the consumers want, but we all basically agreed this was still work in progress.

DisplayLink_Android

Another reader pointed me to his various attempts to conveniently connect his Android smartphone and tablet to a large monitor together with keyboard and mouse. He basically considered – and in most cases tested – four choices:

  • Wireless Display solution (Miracast, Chromecast, EZcast…) together with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
  • Micro USB port with MHL using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
  • Slimport adapter based on MHL but with USB port for keyboard and mouse. Here’s on example of Slimport to HDMI adapter ($10).
  • Displaylink docking station with HDMI and VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0

Wireless display was not satisfactory because of lag, and Bluetooth also introduced some lag, so the first two solutions are feasible, but not with the best user experience. Slimport would have worked, but it’s a solution for mobile platforms only, and some models are only compatible with Samsung devices Samsung-only (5P vs 11P), so finally the best and most versatile solution was to go with a Displaylink docking station such as StarTech.com Universal USB 3.0 laptop mini docking station with model USB3SMDOCKHV including HDMI and VGA ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a USB 3.0 port, and a USB 3.0 cable to connect to a laptop or mobile device.

Displaylink_Docking_StationAfter the first time setup where you need to connect a VGA or HDMI TV/monitor, the USB keyboard and mouse via a USB hub, you just need to connect the docking station to your USB OTG capable Android 5.0+ smartphone and tablet using a USB OTG adapter, and all signaling for video and input devices go through the USB cable. The bonus is that, just like with MHL, it will also charge your device as you use it.

The provided CDROM includes a user’s manual and drivers for Windows and Mac, which you can also download via the product page. However, fi you’re going to use an Android device this won’t help, and instead you need to download DisplayLink Desktop (Beta) via Google Play Store. Apps reviews are quite positive and the app has been confirmed to work with Nexus 6, Asus Fonepad 7, Galaxy S6 Edge, and One Plus One with CM12. It has also been tested successfully with StartTech docking station with Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Note 4.

Samsung Galaxy S Tab 8.4 Connected to StarTech DisplayLink Dock

Samsung Galaxy S Tab 8.4 Connected to StarTech DisplayLink Dock

Thanks to JoyTest for sharing his experience.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Asus Zenphone 2 Deluxe Edition Smartphone Comes with 256 GB Storage, 4GB RAM

August 28th, 2015 10 comments

As far as I’m concerned the talk about a “Post-PC” area is just that: talk. As long as the hardware specifications of smartphones don’t match the ones of entry-level computers, and mobile operating systems don’t support a desktop mode, desktop PCs will still be popular, and I can see it everyday as 60 to 70% of visits of this very blog are made with Windows, Linux and Mac OS computers. However, that’s not to say mobile and desktop converge is not getting closer, as on the software side, Canonical is working on bring Ubuntu to different form factors and support desktop mode for mobile desktop, and Microsoft is also working on Continuum, and on the hardware side, Asus announced a smartphone with 256 GB storage and 4GB RAM, which is pretty close to the specifications of an entry-level computer these days.

Zenfone_2_Deluxe_Edition
Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe Edition specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3580 quad core processor @ up to 2.5 GHz with PowerVR G6430 GPU
  • System Memory – 4 GB RAM
  • Storage – 256 GB internal storage + micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Display – 5.5″ IPS display (Full HD)
  • Camera – 13MP and 5MP PixelMaster cameras
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS, FM radio
  • Cellular Connectivity – LTE cat 6, dual SIM, dual active (DSDA).
  • USB – Micro USB OTG port
  • Sensors – G-Sensor/E-Compass/Gyroscope/Proximity/Ambient Light Sensor
  • Battery – 3,000 mAh
  • Dimensions – 152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm
  • Weight – 170 grams

The specs are impressive and based on Zenfone 2 Deluxe, just with more storage. However, the phone runs Android Lollipop, and appears to lack HDMI and/or MHL support, so it’s probably not something you’d run as a desktop replacement just yet.

Zenfone 2 Deluxe will sell for 1,999 Brazilian Reals ($560) with 128GB storage, but price for the “Special Edition” with 256 MB storage is not known at this stage.

Via XDA Developers and Asus Fanaticos

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta mini PC Unboxing and Teardown

August 27th, 2015 9 comments

I’ve already reviewed one Rockchip RK3368 mini PC with Beelink i68, and found out that although HDMI 2.0 up to 2160p60 was working, there was still some work to do to have 4K 60 fps videos playing smoothly, and compared to Rockchip RK3288 device performance was – as expected – significantly lower. But I now have a new RK3368 device to play with as GeekBuying has now sent me their Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta with higher specifications including Gigabit Ethernet support, 802.11ac support, and 16GB storage (vs just 8GB for Beelink i68 sample I received previously).

Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta Unboxing

GeekBuying sent me the package via DHL, which seems the preferred courier of many resellers who provide samples. Tronsmart Orion R68 is in a retail package with complete specifications at the back. There are two models for Orion R68: Meta (2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, GbE, and AP6335 wileress module) and Pro (1GB RAM, 8GB storage, Fast Ethernet, and AP6212 wireless module). There are two stickers on the side of the box clearly mentioning the exact model, and I received the Meta version.

Tronsmart_Orion_R68_Package

Once I started to open the package and take out the box and accessories, everything looked pretty familiar… although the cables, remote and power supplier were neatly stored in small boxes, instead of being thrown into the box like in Beelink i68.

Orion R68 Meta and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Orion R68 Meta and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The package includes the device, a USB OTG adapter, a 5V/2A power adapter with US and EU plugs, an HDMI cable, an IR remote control that requires two AAA batteries, and a Quick Start Guide in English. The guide is the only part that differs from Beelink accessories, as it has some Tronsamrt branding and is of better quality.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The device itself also looks the same, but with Tronsmart branding. One of the side comes with an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 host ports, a micro USB port, while the rear panel features a power button, the DC power barrel, another USB port, HDMI output, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and optical S/PDIF.

If you are an early adopter, you may have gotten the device with a Fast Ethernet port, so how do I know I have the Gigabit version?
Tronsmart_Orion_R68_Gigabit_StickerYou need to check the serial number on the bottom of the case. If you serial number starts with 3368, your Ethernet port is limited to 10/100M, while it starts with Z368, you’re the lucky owner of the Gigabit Ethernet version. If your boxes is already running, you can also go to “About device”, and if the model number is R68G and the Firmware version 20xx, you have a Gigabit version. I understand all new Orion R68 Meta TV boxes will ship with Gigabit Ethernet from now on, so you should not worry about getting a Fast Ethernet version as long as you order from GeekBuying. Unfortunately, firmware are not compatible, and Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet models different models… That’s quite a messy situation, and hopefully Tronsmart will provide updates for both versions, and not let the few hundreds (thousands) who bought the first models down.

Tronsmart Orion R68 Teardown

I’ve opened the box with some plastic tools, and surprisingly the enclose is a little different. but the sticker on the board indeed shows it’s made by Netxeon with the board name being RK68G V2.0 instead of RK68B V2.0 for the Beelink box. The board connectors layout may be the same, but  the board itself is a little different, as there are two Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 DDR3L chips on the back of the board (1GB RAM)…

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

.. and two more on the top of the board. So they’ve gone with a 4 RAM chips design instead of 2 RAM chips to get 2GB RAM on the board. The WiFi module is also better as AP6335 replaces AP6330 in order to add 802.11ac support on top of WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Foresee NCEFBS98-16G eMMC 4.51 flash provides 16 GB storage, and others chips include GL852G USB 2.0 hub, Pulse Electronics H5007NL 1000Base-T magnetics module, and Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet transceiver.

I’d like to thanks GeekBuying for providing Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta sample. If you are interested, you can consider buying the Meta version for $99.99 [Update: You’ll get $15 discount with coupon TCCUBHVW], and the Pro version for $74.99 on their website. It’s also available on eBay and Aliexpress for various prices, but in the case of R68 Meta, please make sure whether you’ll get the Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet version from these sites.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Review of Mygica ATV586 Android Set-Top Box with DVB-T2 Tuner

August 27th, 2015 10 comments

I’ve already tested some Android TV boxes with tuners such as HD18T (DVB-T2) and WeTek Play (DVB-S2) , but they were all based on Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core processor. Geniatech recently sent me Mygica ATV586 quad core Android DVB-T2 receiver based on Amlogic S805 processor. I’ve already taken a few pictures, and look at the hardware components,  so today, I’ll write the review, mainly focusing on the live TV program capabilities including PVR and Timeshifting.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I’ve connected a hard drive, a webcam, MeLE F10 Deluxe RF dongle, and a keyboard (for screenshots) to the device’s USB ports, as well as HDMI and Ethernet cables, and a TV antenna cable, before connecting the 5V power adapter to start the device. When everything is connected, the boot takes about 1 minute 35 seconds, but without USB devices, it drops down to 44 seconds. Boot time is not something that Geniatech appears to focus on, as also had slow boot times with Mygica ATV1900AC.

ATV586_Setup_WizardIt all then start with a Welcome screen, leading to a wizard to configure the language (English, Simplified Chinese, or Traditional Chinese) , the Screen resolution and scaling, and networking connectivity (Ethernet or WiFi). What’s missing from the wizard is timezone selection, so you’ll have to configure it in the Android settings, and it’s quite important to do so, if you plan to use EPG to record videos.

Click to Enlarge

Click for Original Size (1920×1080)

Once this done, you’ll get to the user interface with shortcuts to favorites, as well as icons launch Kodi, Mygica and Google Play Stores, access the list opf apps and settings, as well as a black window reading “No Program,  Please click ‘Here’ to scan!”. I did that, and at the beginning all I had was a black screen, but I went back again, and I was able to access the Search menu, set the country to “Thailand”, and start scanning for channels.

Mygica_ATV586_Country_SelectionOther supported countries include France, Myanmar, Taiwan, Canada, Israel, Singapore, Russia, UK, Italy, Australia, and Colombia. The “DTV player” user interface is actually exactly the same as in HD18T, except the list of countries is longer, and all features work as expect. Once scanning was completed, there was 30 TV channels detected in either SD or HD resolutions.

ATV586_DVB_Scan_CompleteYou can now watch the TV channels you wish, but I’ll get back to that later. Going back to the home screen, you’ll see the latest selected TV channel displayed in that black window. I find this rather annoying personally, but it’s probably just a matter of preference.

ATV586_Home_Screen_Live_TVNow let’s check the settings.

ATV586_SettingsIf they look familiar, it’s because it’s the usual Amlogic settings found in MXQ S85, EM6Q-MXQ, MINIX NEO X6, and most other Amlogic TV boxes but with a different background. The settings are mostly the same as in MINIX NEO X6:

  • Network – Enable and configure Wi-Fi or Ethernet
  • Display:
    • Automatic or manual HDMI resolution: 480p @ 60 Hz, 576p @ 50 Hz, 720p @ 50/60 Hz, 1080i @ 50/60 Hz, or 1080p @ 24/50/60 Hz
    • Hide or Show status bar
    • Display Position
    • Screen Save (Never, 4, 8 or 12 minutes)
  • Advanced:
    • Miracast
    • Remote Control (app)
    • Google TV Remote
    • CEC Control
    • Digital audio auto-detection
    • Digital Audio Output (Auto, PCM, SPDIF passthrough, or HDMI passthrough)
  • Other – System Update: Local file or OTA, and “More Settings” for standard Android Settings.

About_ATV586The system set the resolution to 1080p50 automatically, and I used this setting. WiFi and Ethernet could connect without issue, but Bluetooth failed. Bluetooth can only be found in the standard Android settings

ATV586 comes with 8 GB storage with a single 6.95GB partition, and 4.30 GB free. The “About device” section reports model number is “XS″, and the system runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.33, just like other S805 boxes I tested previously. The firmware is rooted.

Google Play Store worked OK, and I could install most app needed for review through the store, except Vidonn Smartband. I also scrolled through the list of apps of I previously installed on other devices, and some other apps were incompatible: Thailand Post & Track, Plants vs Zombies 2, and the usual SMS and GPS apps. For overall Play Store support is good, and better than with the company’s ATV1900AC mini PC.

There’s no power button on the unit, and a short press on the remote will go to standby mode, while a long press will show a menu asking whether you want to go into Standby or Reboot, meaning there’s no clean power off option. Talking about the remote control, the included Mygica KR-21 remote works pretty well with the DTV app (except to input recording time) and Kodi, and the range is very good, as it was still working 10 meters away. You’d still want to use another input device (air mouse, wireless keyboard, smartphone app..) to use a web browser, a play some games… As with other S805 devices, the temperature is pretty cool, as the maximum temperature  of the top and bottom of the case was respectively 45°C and 43°C after running Antutu 5.7.

The firmware is very stable, but at times it feels a bit sluggish, especially while apps are installed or are updating, as well as inside “DTV Player” app used to watch DVB-T2 channels, as it does not always feel as responsive as it should.

Video Playback

Since I’ve already reviewed three Android 4.4 boxes based on Amlogic S805, results were mostly satisfactory, and my time is limited, I’ll refer you to MXQ S85 review for Kodi performance under the platform. I still quickly tested H.264 and H.265 in Kodi 14.2 “Mygica Edition” as well as HDMI pass-through. 1080p H.264 video played perfectly, but a 1080p H.265 video would only play at 10 fps due to software decoding.

Playing audio through my AV receiver using HDMI pass-through would only generate noise for Dolby and DTS audio, even after settings Kodi and the system to use HDMI pass-through.

Finally, I’ve also run the latest Antutu Video Tester 3.0 to get a reference point for Amlogic S805 platforms.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

683 points is quite lower than Amlogic S812 based ATV1900AC’s 1,059 points, but it was probably to be expected since Amlogic S805 does not support 4K videos. It’s still higher than the mere 532 points achieved by Beelink i68 (RK3368). Please note again that Antutu Video Tester 2.2 and Antutu Video Tester 3.0 scores can’t be compared as for example, ATV586 got 490 points in version 2.2.

Tuner App in ATV586

The main selling point of this device is support for digital tuners, DVB-T2 in the device under test, or ATSC in the other version. I’ve already explained about first time setup and autoscan in the first section of this review, so let’s look at overlay data and menu.

ATV586_Overlay_MenuWe’ve got the channel number and name and some EPG info with current program and upcoming program, and as well as icons to adjust the aspect ratio (16:9, 4:3, full), access EPG, select the audio language, configure TeleText and record the current program.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

The EPG data looks great, as the device got data for 7 days for all channels, and for once, the app also supports complex languages such as Thai. You can then select one or more programs from the program guide, and schedule a recording once, daily or weekly.

EPG_Record_ProgramOnce you have scheduled a few recording, you may want to press the red button on the remote control to access the schedule list.

EPG_Schedule_ListOne minute before the program is set to start, a pop-up window will show up asking you to go to the app, or it will go there within one minute. That means background recording is not possible, DTV Player app must be in the foreground in order to record a program, and you can’t do any other tasks during recording. You could also record a program manually, by pressing the record button, and inputting the time in minutes. The app will automatically detect external storage, and partitions available to record program. It will select one automatically, and create a directory called TVRecordFiles, which you can access with Kodi to playback later, or via the PVR Manager in the settings menu of DTV Player app.

The setup menu will let you change the default recording path, set TimeShilting time, enter TimeShitfing mode, and some other settings which you can see in the video where I show Live TV features in ATV586, or in HD18T mini review as the options are the same.

Overall the implementation is much better than in HD18T, as everything works, however I found the responsiveness of the app could be improved, and more importantly, sometimes the video will be choppy, audio cut, and/or audio & video may be out of sync, especially while changing channels, but this should only last a few seconds.

Finally, the user’s manual mentions DTV Viewer app that’s supposed to stream live TV to up to 2 mobile device. The QR code redirects to DTV Viewer on Google Play, but the link is not working at the time of writing, and the company did not reply to my email asking for clarifications.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

I’m using a 278 MB file transferred between a SAMBA share and the internal flash to test network performance, repeating the test three times with ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi transfer speed is a little disappointing @ 2.1 MB/s on average, quite lower than MXQ S85 or EM6Q-MXQ reaching close to 3MB/s.

Throughput in MB/s

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

iperf looks even worse, maybe because I’m using full duplex transfer (iperf -t 60 -c server -d):

Client connecting to 192.168.0.113, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 53408 connected with 192.168.0.113 port 5001
[ 5] 0.0-61.2 sec 31.6 MBytes 4.34 Mbits/sec
[ 6] 0.0-62.0 sec 26.0 MBytes 3.52 Mbits/sec

Over Ethernet, the file could be transfered at 5.5 MB/s, not a fantastic result, but in line with other Amlogic S805 devices.

Throughput in MB/s

Ethernet Throughput in MB/s

I’ve also included iperf result over Ethernet for reference:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.105, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  153 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 56126 connected with 192.168.0.105 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   594 MBytes  83.0 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.1 sec   440 MBytes  61.4 Mbits/sec

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

There’s no built-in Bluetooth.

Storage

A FAT32 (micro SD) partition, as well as NTFS and exFAT partitions on my USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted and accessed in read/write mode.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK OK
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
exFAT OK OK
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK

USB hard drive and internal flash performance were tested with A1 SD Bench app. The read and write speeds were respectively 18.91 MB/s, and  23.27MB/s for the NTFS partition (mounted to /storage/external_storage/sda1), not an exciting results, but again pretty much in line with MXQ S85 performance. exFAT performance was even lower at 13.70MB/s and 2.12 MB/s, or the lower combined (R+W) performance I’ve reported so far. Make sure you use an NTFS drive on this device…

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

The internal storage reads at 22.87Mb/s and writes at 12.18 MB/s, less than average among all devices, but still the fastest storage I found in the four Amlogic S805 devices I tested. It’s right above MINIX NEO X6, and much better than MXQ S85, so I wonder where the sluggishness I experience during testing comes from…

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

USB Webcam

The “Test / Echo Service” in Skype worked, as well as a normal call, and the same could be said about Google Hangouts. Both apps used a UVC webcam connected to a USB port of the device.

Gaming

Please refer to previous reviews for gaming performance on Amlogic S805 platforms.

Mygica ATV586 Benchmarks

Again, I’ll keep it short here since S805 is a well known and tested platform by just running CPU-Z and Antutu 5.7.1 in order to make sure the system performs as expected.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The surprise here is that they boosted the CPU frequency to 1.61 GHz instead of 1.49 GHz in the other platforms I tested. It’s not the first time an Amlogic S805 is clocked as that frequency though, as I had read about the higher clock for ODROID-C1(+) board firmware. The rest of the information is pretty much as should be expected. The model name is XS and the board name stvm8b.

ATV586_Antutu_5

Click to Enlarge

The higher frequency shows in Antutu 5 score, as ATV586 gets 18,071 point, while for instance, MXQ S85 got 16,448 points with the firmware I tested in October 2014.

Conclusion

Mygica ATV586 is the first quad core Android box with tuner that I’ve tested, and the implementation of the DTV software, is way better than I experienced in HD18T DVB-T2 receiver, as multiple countries are supported, EPG, PVR and Timeshifting functions are all working. Performance is also on par with other Amlogic S805 TV boxes such as MINIX NEO X6 or MXQ S85. However, I did notice some slowdowns in the system and “DTV player” app from time to time, something I hope can be solved in subsequent firmware upgrades

PRO:

  • Well tested platform (Amlogic S805) and stable firmware.
  • All DTV features advertised work out of the box: Autoscan, EPG, PVR, TimeShifting, complex languages (at least Thai) are handled correctly
  • HEVC/H.265 hardware video decoding support. Working in MX Player, but not with Kodi “Mygica Edition” yet
  • USB webcam worked in Skype and Google Hangouts
  • Future update: Streaming live TV to up to two Android smartphone or tablet using DTV Viewer app

CONS:

  • System and DTV Player app may experience noticeable slowdowns. For the latter, video and audio are often affected for several seconds right after switching channels.
  • Wi-Fi performance is less than average
  • Power not controlled by MCU (only standby or reboot are available)
  • USB exFAT storage performance is very poor (NTFS is OK)
  • Audio pass-though is not working in Kodi
  • No Bluetooth

Mygica ATV586 is available now, and can be purchased either in quantity directly from Geniatech/Mygica with either a DVB-T2 or ATSC tuner, or online for $109 on Mygica Aliexpress store.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Rockchip’s Light Work OS Makes Android Look Like Windows

August 27th, 2015 3 comments

Android is not exactly great to use as a desktop PC, so there’s been various attempts to improve this for Android boxes, tablets, and laptops for example with Remix OS, bringing a more desktop-like user experience. Rockchip showcased multi-window supports in some tablets a while ago, and now they have “Light Work OS”,  an operating system based on Android 5.1 that feature a start menu and multiple windows support. PiPo even decided to use a background image with Windows logo in their PiPo X9 tablet powered by Rockchip RK3288.

Light_Work_OS
The problem with Android used as a mini PC goes much further than the lack start menu or window mode, but copy/paste can be a pain, and things you take for granted on desktop, simply may not be available in Android apps: some graphics elements may not be clickable, some website features may not work properly (I’m thinking WordPress editing here..), mobile apps may lack features, and so on. So I’m not sure Rockchip will get many people who considered a Windows device to go for a Rockchip tablet with Light Work OS instead.
Multi-windowIf you don’t care about desktop mode in your tablet, the good news is that it can be disabled.

Rockchip is not the only company working on Android for desktop, as Allwinner is also working on Double OS optimized for office applications.

Via Liliputing, Mike Cane, and imp3.net

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Orange Pi PC Allwinner H3 Board Is Now Available for $15

August 26th, 2015 40 comments

Orange Pi 2 is a board powered by Allwinner H3 quad core processor that sells for $25. Shenzhen Xunlong Software has now launched a lower cost version with Orange Pi PC, still based on Allwinner H3 SoC, but getting ridiculously cheap at $15 + shipping ($3.43 in my case).

Orange_Pi_PC
Orange Pi PC specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.6 GHz (likely 1.2 GHz instead) with an ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU up to 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot (up to 64GB)
  • Video Output – HDMI with CEC and HDCP support, AV port
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, AV port, on-board microphone
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – CSI Interface
  • Expansions – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with 28 GPIOs, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, CAN, I2S, SPDIF, LRADC, ADC, LINE-IN, FM-IN, and HP-IN
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header for serial console
  • Misc – IR receiver; Power button; Power and status LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via barrel jack (micro USB OTG cannot be used to power the board).
  • Dimensions – 85 x 55 mm (vs 93 x 60 mm for Orange Pi 2)
  • Weight – 38 grams

Compared to Orange Pi 2, Orange Pi PC is smaller, and it loses one USB port, reset and u-boot keys, and the WiFi module.

Orange_Pi_PC_Micro_SD

The new Orange Pi board should be fully software compatible with the previous H3 versions, and you can find firmware images for Lubuntu, Android 4.4, Raspbian, Debian server, as well as the Linux and Android SDK on the Download page. Bear in mind that the company is good a launching ultra low cost hardware, but seems under staffed, so if you expect support and regularly updated images, this board won’t be for you, and instead you need to be prepared to rely on others in the forums, and most likely do the job yourself. Good luck! There’s also a product page, but not with much more information.

Thank to Brian for the tip.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

WeTek Core Android 5.1 TV Box to Support Netflix in HD, OpenELEC, Lubuntu and More

August 25th, 2015 13 comments

Last year, WeTek launched WeTek Play Android TV receiver with DVB-T2, DVB-S2 or ATSC tuners, and in my review of the DVB-S2 version I found out it was a rather capable device despite the low hardware specifications. The company is about to launch WeTek Core, a media player powered by Amlogic S812-H processor, running Android 5.1.1, as well as supporting Netflix up to 1080p. something most other Android media players can’t handle.

WeTek_Core

WeTek Core preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S812-H quad core processor @ 2.0GHz with an Octa-core Mali-450MP gpu
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash, micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30Hz + AV
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n & 802.11ac (TBC), and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED
  • Power Supply – N/A
  • Dimensions – N/A

WeTek_Core_Remote_Control_Power_AdapterThe box will ship with a power adapter suitable for UK, USA and EU, and a remote control featuring RF and IR technology, and a microphone to support Google Voice. Android 5.1.1 will be pre-loaded to the media player, but users will also be able to run OpenELEC, various custom Android ROMs (CyanogenMod, AOKP, AOSP, Omega..) as well as Lubuntu.

The company claim that WeTek Core is the first Amlogic device that support Netflix in High Definition is backed up by a demo video showing Netflix up to 1920×1080 @ 5800 Kbps.

There’s also a demo with Kodi 15.0-RC1 showing playback of H.264 4K videos, and various H.265 videos up to 1080p.

The box should launch in September, but the price is “rumored” to be 109 Euros (inc. VAT) in Europe.

Via AndroidPC.es

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter