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Review of Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite Amlogic S802 TV Box

April 12th, 2014 8 comments

Tronsmart Vega S89 is an Android TV Box based on Amlogic quad core Cortex A9 processor. You can refer to Tronsmart Vega S89 specs for more technical details, and checkout my Tronsmart Vega S89 Unboxing post for pictures of the device and the board. As a reminder there are two models of the device: Tronsmart Vega S89 with 16GB flash and dual band Wi-Fi (AP6330 module), and Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite with 8GB flash and 2.4 WiFi (AP6220 module). I’ve been sent the Elite version, but both version should have similar performance. I’ll start by giving my first impressions, going through the user interface and settings, then I’ll switch to video and audio tests, Wi-Fi performance, and perform some other tests for Bluetooth, gaming, external storage, USB webcam, etc.. trying to cover most of the hardware features available on this device.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

Vega S89 (Elite) comes with an IR remote, but the two required AAA batteries are not included, so you’ll need to purchase some separately. As we’ll soon see the user interface has been designed to be used easily with an IR remote, but once you start using Android apps, you’ll probably want to use another input device. So I’ve also used the Mele F10 air mouse during testing. I’ve connected an Ethernet cable, the HDMI and AV cables, and Mele F10 USB RF dongle, and the power supply, before pressing the power button which is oddly located at the back of the device. The complete boot took 38 seconds, and loaded the Metro style user’s interface shown below.

Tronsmart Vega S89 Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

Tronsmart Vega S89 Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

On the top of the screen, we can see the network status, the weather in your locale (only Chinese cities are available in the settings), and the date and time. There are also six main menus: Online Video (YouTube, Netflix, and XBMC), My recommend (favorite apps), Setting, My Apps (all installed apps), Music, and Local. The last two are some apps to access/play local files with a not-so-slick interface that you are unlikely to use. There are smaller icons at the bottom, some shortcuts with the Browser, File manager, Gallery, 4K player, Google Play Store and XBMC by default. You can add and remove the ones you want as you wish. You can navigate this user interface with the remote arrow keys. For those of you who are not fond of 720p UIs, I’ve got good news, as both video output and UI are 1080p, and you can click the screenshot above to see it the real size.

The “Setting” menu gives you access to the settings shown in the same Metro-style with four sub menus: Network, Display, Advanced and Other.

Display Settings (Click for Original Size)

Display Settings (Click for Original Size)

When you first boot the device, there’s no network at all, so you need to go to the Network settings, and select whether Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and both are working just fine. In the display settings, it will detect the maximum resolution for your TV, 1080p60 in my case, and it’s supposed to support UHD / 4K output, but I don’t own a 4K TV to check this out. Other options allow you to hide or show the status bar, adjust the display position/size, and whether you want to use a screensaver. I’ve enabled the status bar, as I find it’s easier to navigate between apps and home screen with the Mele F10. The Advanced menu will let you start Miracast (Source only, not a display), enable the software Remote control (not tested, but you can download RemoteIME.apk on your smartphone or tablet), adjust CEC controls, set your location (unfortunately only Chinese cities are available),  set the screen orientation, and select digital audio output (PCM, SPDIF pass-through, HDMI pass-through). The Other button will give some details about the Android version (4.4.2), kernel version (3.1.10) and provides access to OTA System Update, which is not enabled. You can also access standard Android settings by going through Setting->Other->More Settings. The Android settings in this box are based on the phone interface, not the tablet one, which requires a few more clicks.

You can check the user’s interface and settings in the video below.

I’ve used HDMI output with 1080p during my testing, which was automatically detected as I started the device. If I switch to manual mode, I can also see 4K video output at 24, 25 and 30 Hz, and as well as 4K SMPTE. SMPTE stands for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, but I’m not quite sure what it means in this context. There’s also an AV output, but there’s no option in the menu. If HDMI is not connected, it will simply switch to composite output, which worked as expected, including audio output. You can then choose between 480cvbs and 576cvbs. To switch back to HDMI, insert the HDMI cable. and restart the device.

TVega_S89_About_Mediaboxhe product comes with a 8 GB flash, and there’s well over 5GB free storage on the only partition found in the internal storage which should be plenty enough to install as many apps as you wish. The firmware is not rooted, and developer options are disabled in the firmware. I’ve written an Amlogic S802 root how-to that will root your device and enable dev options. Looking into the “About MediaBox” section shows the device name is  “VEGA S89″, and just like the custom settings section, it shows Android 4.2.2 is running on top of Kernel 3.10.10.

I could install most applications from Google Play Store including Facebook, ES File Explorer, Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Vellamo, Candy Crush Saga, etc… The only one that failed to show up in the list is Real Racing 3, but this one appears to have disappeared from most Android TV Boxes. Sixaxis Controller also failed to install returning an error in Google Play.

The power button on the device is used to power on and off the device. A short press is needed to start the device, but a long press (about 10 seconds) is required to turn it off. You can use the IR remote to enter and exit standby mode, but not powering off the device. There’s no soft power button, so these two are the only options to turn off the box. You can’t do that with a mouse, unless maybe you install some thrid party apps. I haven’t tried. I’ve also been asked to check power consumption, but I did not have the right connectors with me to use a multimeter or check with Charger Doctor. I’ve checked the temperature of the box after running Antutu benchmark. The top was 40 °C, the bottom 53 °C, with my room temperature around 28 °C.

The firmware is extremely stable, I’ve never experienced a crash and the system never hung. With a quad core Cortex A9 processor at 1.99 GHz, it’s also very smooth, and slowdowns are very rare. At one point, my brother entered my room, and I could hear a “wow” when he realized how fast switching between menus was in Angry Birds Star Wars.

Video Playback

XBMC 14 alpha is pre-installed in the device, so I’ve decided to test videos with XBMC, reverting to MX Player to check issues, and double check some features. As always, I’ve played videos from a SAMBA share. I had no problem for SAMBA configuration in XBMC nor ES File Explorer.

I started with the videos from samplemedia.linaro.org, and I added some Big Buck Bunny videos with H.265/HEVC codec from another source (Elecard):

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – Failed. Only shows “Click OK when playback has ended”.
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p OK, 1080p is very choppy. Most probably software decode.
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container, 360p/720p/1080p
    • XBMC – Audio only
    • MX Player – Can play and audio works, but everything is in slow motion with many frames skipped. The number of frame skips does not seem to be related to the resolution.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – No video, audio only.
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – Video appears to be fine, but after a while I’ve noticed a massive 4 to 5 seconds audio sync issue
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Video is supported but some frames are skipped.

I still don’t own an audio system with HDMI or S/PDIF input, and if anybody have recommendation for a low cost system or way (around $100), that would allow me to test SPDIF and/or HDMI pass-through in future reviews, please please let me know. Anyway, I’ve still tested the audio codecs below, downsampled to PCM, in XBMC, and most worked perfectly:

  • AC3 – Can decode audio, but video was very slow
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR – OK

There’s HDMI and S/PDIF pass-through in the menu, and I’ve already reported Geekbuying tested HDMI pass-through with success (apparently) with most codecs. However, when I switched to MX Player to play these files, none of them had audio. That probably means DTS, Dolby and AC3 are not supported by the hardware, but XBMC can use software decoding.

I was not confident about this one, but I threw a Blu-ray ISO into the test, Sintel-Bluray.iso, a free Blu-ray ISO file, and it worked perfectly, it was also possible to switch between the eight chapters of the video. I did not have audio/video sync issues.

Amlogic S802 can support 4K video in theory. I tried with HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4, a 60 Mbps UHD video, and it failed in XBMC (audio only), but could play perfectly with MX Player from a SAMBA share over Ethernet. I also tried some HEVC / 4K videos, but they had the same frame skipped problems as  lower resolution videos.

Finally, I played some random AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos. They could all play, but some AVI still had that massive audio/video sync issues, the audio being late by a few seconds.

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Wi-Fi Performance

The Wi-Fi test consists in transferring a 278 MB files between a SAMBA share and the internal flash, and vice versa. I repeat the test three times. The first time I tried the transfer speed was catastrophic, sometimes running at up to 2MB/s, but most of the time hovering around 50KB/s, and in some cases even stalling, with the transfer taking 11 minutes and 30 seconds. I went outside, and came back 2 hours later, to repeat the test, and I was unable to reproduce the problem I had during the first test, so I discarded it, but this may be something to keep in mind. The transfer times averaged a decent 2:35 (1.79 MB/s), which bring Vega S89 in the upper middle of the field, with performance similar to MK908.

Tronsmart_Vega_S89_WiFIPlease bear in mind there are many factors when it comes to Wi-Fi performance, and the results you’ve got with your setup may be completely different than the ones I’ve gotten here.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Bluetooh is built-in in this Android TV Box, There’s no option in the custom setup, but you can enable Bluetooth in the Android setting. Vega S89 can detect my PC, but can’t find my phone (ThL W200). However, my phone could find and pair with Vega S89. The first time I transfered a file it got stuck at 29% and the transfer failed, but the second time was successful.

I’ve also installed Sixaxis Compatibility Checker to check if Sony PS3 Bluetooth Controllers, or clones, can work following these instructions. The drivers appear to be there, and I can pair my gamepad with the device, but the program segfaults when listening for controllers. I was unable to install the paid version “Sixaxis Controller” due to the error “Couldn’t install on USB storage or SD card” in Google Play.

External Storage

I could use both a micro SD and a USB flash drive formatted to FAT32 successfully.

USB Webcam

I could use a low cost no brand USB webcam with Skype. Video was OK, the “Echo Test” in Skype could record my voice using the webcam mic, and repeat my voice. I could not access the Video in Google Hangouts however.

Gaming

I’ve tested 3 games: Angry Birds Star Wars,  Candy Crush Saga, and Beach Buggy Blitz. The first two are rather easy games on the GPU, and run just fine on most hardware. I’ve configured Beach Buggy Blitz to maximum graphics settings, and it could still run smoothly. As with other Android TV boxes and sticks, there are caveats because of the input devices, and the first two games can be played with an Air mouse, but not the IR remote, and racing games are very difficult to play because you have to move the cursor from on side of the screen to the other to turn left and right. If Sixaxis controller works you can use a Bluetooth controller to play games, but it failed to install on this device. Another solution might be to use remote apps like such as Droidmote.

Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite (and Amlogic S802) Benchmarks

Before running the benchmark, I’ve gathered some details about this new processor and board with CPU-Z. It’s a quad core Cortex A9 r4p1 clocked between 24 MHz to 1.99 GHz, although I’ve never seen it at 24 MHz even at idle. Maybe this frequency is used in standby mode only. The GPU is also reported correctly as an ARM Mali-450.

CPU-Z_Amlogic_S802_Vega_S89

CPU-Z – Amlogic S802 in Tronsmart Vega S89 (Click to Enlarge)

The model is referred to as VEGA S89 (k200), with k200 possibly a reference design code from Amlogic. Pixel resolution is reported to be 1920 x 1008, and there’s mention of 1280 x 672 “dp” resolution, but I’m not sure what it means here. The device comes with 2GB RAM, but only 1578 MB is available to Android, the rest probably being used by, or reserved for the GPU, VPU, and some other hardware sub-systems. As mentioned previously there’s 5.75 GB flash available to the user from the 8GB NAND Flash.

Antutu 4.3.3 Score

Antutu 4.3.3 Score

I’ve installed Antutu from Google Play (Version 4.3.3) and the score I got was 22,603, which will be disappointing if you’ve read GeekBuying blog post showing a score of 30,000. I’ve been told I’m not the only one to get this score with this firmware, and the previous firmware was different. The factory tried with Antutu 4.4.1 and got 28,000 to 30,000. I’m not sure whether it’s a problem with Antutu (CPU in test is reported as 4x core @ 1104 MHz, instead of 1992 MHz on GeekBuying blog), or if it is an issue with the firmware itself. In any case, I’m pretty sure it will be fix in future firmware. You’ll also notice the GPU benchmark has not been run in full screen (607×1080), testing in portrait mode in the middle of my TV. It’s still much faster than the Antutu  score with Rockchip RK3188T @ 1.4 GHz in Beelink A9, especially with the 3D graphics test which is over 3 times faster (S802/Mali-450: 6800 @ 607×1080, RK3188T/Mali-400: 1960 @ 1280×672).

Vega S89 Quadrant Score (Click to Enlarge)

Vega S89 Quadrant Score (Click to Enlarge)

In Quadrant, Tronsmart Vega S89 is faster than HTC ONE X (Nvidia Tegra 3 @ 1.5 GHz), especially because of much better I/O performance.

The device gets 617 points with Vellamo Metal, and 1602 points in Vellamo HTML5, which is lower than the 859 / 1864 points found in GeekBuying review, so there might indeed be a performance issue with this firmware.

Nenamark2 is rendered at 60.2 fps which is the maximum framerate possible.

Conclusion

Tronsmart Vega S89 (Elite) has good performance, a stable firmware, but there are still quite a few issues that needs to be addressed to make it a better product.

Let’s summarize the PROS and CONS

  • PROS
    • Fast and stable firmware
    • Android 4.4 Kitkat
    • XBMC pre-installed
    • Blu-Ray ISO and 4K video playback
    • 1080p user interface
    • 4K video output up to 30 fps supported
    • Good Ethernet and decent Wi-Fi performance (N.B: Potential stability caveat with regards to Wi-Fi, TBC)
    • USB webcam works with Skype
    • HDMI CEC support
  • CONS
    • Sometimes non-optimal user’s experience:
      1. Need to switch between XBMC and MX Player depending on video files
      2. Multiple input devices required, e.g. if you use an air mouse, you still need to access the IR remote to turn the device off (Standby), and get up to press the power button.
      3. Bluetooth not available from default settings menu
      4. Only Chinese cities available for weather
    • Some video issues: Audio/video sync with some AVI and FLV files, H.265 not working smoothly (frames skipped), and
    • DTS, Dolby, AC3 not supported by hardware, but software decoded in XBMC (minor)
    • Current firmware does not seem to be fully optimized for performance based on Antutu, Quadrant, Vellamo benchmark results
    • USB webcam could not be used with Google Hangouts

The firmware clearly still needs some work, but I believe this is a good base, as it is very stable, and most issues can be fixed by updating the firmware. Tronsmart usually tries to fix major issues, and GeekBuying will most probably send samples to some members of Freaktab to make custom ROMs that many are fans of, so in time, firmware is likely to improve. One of the most annoying issue is the audio/video sync issue with some AVI files, so if you have many in your media library, these may not be watchable. The need to try a video in XBMC, and then switch to MX Player if it does not work is also annoying, but hopefully they’ll improve XBMC overtime.

You can purchase Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite for $105 and Tronsmart Vega S89 for $120 from Geekbuying, and Aliexpress. There’s a $6 coupon (YYTKMFIX) for Vega S89 Elite, and a $10 coupon (GSFJMTQF) can be used on GeekBuying until April 18.

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Review of Mele X1000 Blu-Ray Android TV Box (Telechips TCC8935)

March 27th, 2014 7 comments

Mele X1000 is an Android media player based on Telechips TCC8935 dual core Cortex A9 that is said to support Blu-ray video playback. You can refer to Mele X1000 specs for more technical details, as well as my previous Mele X1000 Unboxing post for pictures of the device, as well as the PCB.  Today I’ll review Mele X1000, by showing off the user interface, and going through the different settings, test video playback including a Blu-ray ISO, wi-fi performance, and report whether all other features such as Bluetooth, USB mass storage, USB webcam, etc… work as expected.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

This media player comes with an infrared remote and corresponding AAA batteries, but during most the tests I’ve actually switched to Mele F10 RF remote (not included) as it’s just more convenient to navigate menus, and I’ve also test an Android Remote app compatible with the device, but more on that later. After connected an Ethernet cable, the HDMI and AV cable, Mele F10 USB RF dongle, and the power supply, I’ve pressed to power button on the front panel to get started. Boot feels a little slow, and it might take close to one minute to reach the user’s interface shown below.

Multimedia Launcher (Click for Original Size)

Multimedia Launcher (Click for Original Size)

On the top right corner, you’ll get the time, day of the week, and the options to add some system information such as network status with IP address. At the bottom of the screen you’ve got a navigation bar with access to “File”, “Photo”, “Music”, “Movie”, Apps, Settings, and Internet (Android Browser). The first four menu give access to storage devices including SATA hard drive or SSD (not tested), USB flash driver, SD card, and NFS & SAMBA network shares. The app section redirect to the list of Android Apps, which only a few pre-installed, including Google Play. Media applications are IPDTV (not working for me), and XBMC plugins, but XBMC is not installed in this firmware, something I’ve been told would be corrected during mass production. The settings menu gives access to a custom setup menu, and the Android menu.

Movie Menu with Blu-Ray Region Code and Playback Options (Click for Original Size)

Movie Menu with Blu-Ray Region Code and Playback Mode Options (Click for Original Size)

If you do not like the default launcher named “Multimedia Launcher”, you can switch the default Android home screen, or even select a “Pop Up” that will ask you each time. The navigation bar shown above will still be there in the Android Home screen, but you’ll have access to the 5 screens to add apps or widgets, just like in stock Android. I’ve kept the Multimedia Launcher for testing.

I have to admit I’m impressive with the level of options found in the setup menu. There are options about the configure the System. Audio & Video Output, network, movie, music, photo, and access to Android settings. It’s the level of details inside the menu that I found particularly compelling. Since there are so many options, I won’t go through them all in the article, but I’ve shot a video instead.

Some of the goodies include:

  • Language options for system and subtitles
  • Screensaver mode and options
  • Auto power off time
  • HDMI, DVI and Composite output options (640×480 to 1080p60)
  • HDMI, SPDIF, and AV audio output options. Pass-through options with HDMI and SPDIF allows you to select which audio codec (eg . DTS, Dolby) to downsample, and which one to pass-through.
  • YouTube Cache Size configuratin
  • Blu-ray settings (shown in the screenshot above)
  • Power button can be set to suspend or power off the device
  • And many more

I had no problem setting up Wi-Fi and Ethernet, the only thing is that both can’t be enabled at the same time, or Wi-Fi won’t work.

I’ve used HDMI output with 1080p during my testing with the user interface always set to 720p. Component (YPbPr) is not supported, but I tested composite output with success. the only problem is that I’ve been unable to revert to HDMI without doing a factory reset in the menu… A video input button on the IR remote could have been nice.

Mele_X1000_About_DeviceMele X1000 has a 4GB flash, and there’s only one partition on the flash providing 2.29GB of storage, which means it may take a while before apps take all storage. All your medi files woudl have to be in external device with as USB drives, SATA hard drives, and network shares, whch I think is just fine for this type of device. Developer Options are enabled with lots of different options. Looking into the “About device” section shows the device name is  “MeLE″, and it’s running Android 4.2.2 with Kernel 3.1.10

The firmware is not rooted, and I have not tried to find a root method yet. I could install all applications I tried including ES File Explorer, Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Vellamo, Candy Crush Saga, Racing thunder 2, Sixaxis Controller, YouTube, Facebook etc…, except for one: Netflix, which did not show up in the search results. The apps I tried could run fine, except Quadrant with refused to start the tests.

As explained above, the power button on the front panel and the remote control can be used to put the device in suspend mode, or turn it off depending on the settings. This is possible thanks to an MCU that control power, IR, and the small LCD display, which appears to be more or less useless, as all I have seen is the power icon.

The firmware is relatively stable, but since the processor is only a dual core clocked at up to 1GHz, you may not want to do anything else while installing apps, as there’s a noticeable slowdown. For the rest of the time, it’s pretty smooth. There’s an animation between the main menu, which looks nice at first, but last about 3 seconds and becomes annoying overtime. During my testing, the Multimedia Launcher crashed three times, requiring a reboot.

TizzRemote App

In the Quick Start Guide, there’s mention of AirlinkMedia, an Android app to transform your smartphone or tablet into a remote control. They explain to look for it in Google Play, but there’s nothing there. The company finally then me a link to AirLinkRemote which failed to find my Mele. But previously, I found a QR code in the setup menu directing to TizzRemote, which immediately found my device, and allowed me to access control the files on the devices, and play YouTube videos. This also probably means the firmware and software has been developed by TizzBird, a Korean company specialized in Telechips products.

TizzMote App Screenshots (Click to Enlarge)

TizzMote App Screenshots (Click to Enlarge)

This remote app works pretty well, and you have access to files from your device or your phone. The files from the phone will only play in the phone however, where the files in the Mele will play on your TV. There are also remote and mouse modes, that allow you to use the touchscreen of your phone as a touchpad, and with buttons providing video playback trick modes. When I tried to input text using the soft keyboard on the phone, it would just show the previous letter twice on the TV. For example, test would show up as ttss, so basically unusable. The YouTube app is very similar to ChromeCast or EZCast, as you can search and play YouTube videos streaming directly to your box, but controlled by your phone. The YouTube videos I tried seemed to skip frames however.

Video Playback

As there’s an XBMC logo on the package, and at the bottom of the device itself, I expect to find XBMC, but all I could access was XBMC Plugin app. I’ve been told they will ship boxes to customer with XBMC Frodo V12, and I could just install this version. since XBMC Android is currently a mess, with different version depending on the device, I was not hopeful, and I tried to install the latest Frodo V12.3 apk, it could run and play videos, but it’s obvious it was just using software decode. I’ve asked the actual apk, and still waiting… So the only solution was to use the default user interface. I usually play from a SAMBA share, and configuration went smoothly, as the device automatically found the share, and entered the username and password, and success! Or so I was told because I never managed to see any files from my SAMBA share. I also tried with NFS, but same results. I tried to use ES File Explorer, which could connect to my SAMBA share, but it was clearly not using the internal player (required for Blu-Ray), and only the Android video player.  At this point I was quite frustrated. I was given a device promising XBMC, but without XBMC, and  it could not even be used as a networked media player. End of story, I used an 8GB Class 4 SD card to do video playback testing.

I started with the videos from samplemedia.linaro.org:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – Failed. “Unsupported video codec”
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – Failed. Black screen only
  • WebM / VP8 – Skip test. “File” and “Movie” menus can’t find .webm video files.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – Failed. “Could not play video”
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK

I don’t own an audio system with HDMI or S/PDIF input, but the box could play all high-end audio codec below (downsampled to PCM) without any issues:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR – OK

HDMI and S/PDIF pass-through should work as well, since there’s an option in the menu, but this has to be tested.

Since the product is being advertised as a Blu-ray Navigation Android TV Box, I could play Sintel-Bluray.iso, a free Blu-ray ISO file, without issue. I could also change the subtitles. I’m not sure how to test “Blu-ray Navigation”. I’ve asked the company at the beginning of the week, but I still have to receive an answer.

Finally, I played some random AVI, MKV, and MP4 videos without any problems. I also tried some FLV videos but many could not play well, either complaining about “unsupported codec”, or producing noise (audio).

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Wi-Fi Performance

I’ve transferred a 278 MB video files between SAMBA and the internal flash, and vice versa. I repeated the test three times, and on average it took a cool 1:48 (2.57 MB/s), which makes Mele X1000′s Wi-Fi performance one of the best in the field, at least with my setup. This time the transfer rate in the direction Flash to SAMBA was faster (1:32) compared to the one from SAMBA to Flash (1:56). The SD card writing speed may have affected the result negatively.

Mele_X1000_WiFi_PerformancePlease bear in mind there are many factors when it comes to Wi-Fi performance, and the results you’ve got with your setup may be completely different than the ones I’ve gotten here.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

There’s no built-in Bluetooth, but Bluetooth menu is enabled in the Android settings, so I connected a USB Bluetotoh dongle, which the device failed to recognize.

External Storage

I’ve used an SD card formatted with FAT32 to play videos that hat part works. I’ve also done the same successfully with a USB flash drive. At one point I used an SD card for the Raspberry Pi, and it could only see the FAT32 partition, so either the device can’t handle more than 2 partitions on a device, or it can’t handle ext-2 file systems.

There’s also an external SATA port, but I don’t have a spare 2.5″ drive to test it.

USB Webcam

I could use a low cost no brand USB webcam with both Skype and Google Hangouts. Video is working in both apps, and the “Echo Test” in Skype could record my voice using the webcam mic, and repeat the recording.

Gaming

I’ve tested 4 games: Angry Birds, Angry Birds Go,  Candy Crush Saga, and Racing Thunder 2. They could all run fine. You can play these with the included remote control,. but with Mele F10, this is playable, except the racing games which are more challenging. You could always Candy Crush Saga with TizzRemote, but this requires some practice (and maybe luck), using two fingers on your screen. However, with this rather low end processor, this is obviously not the best gaming platform.

Mele X1000 (and Telechips TCC8935) Benchmarks

Since this is a complete new processor to me, I’ve started by running CPU-Z to get some data.

Mele_X1000_TCC8935_CPU-ZBeside the CPU details, interesting part of the model name (full_tcc8930st) which could be used to build the kernel, there’s only 741MB RAM available, which mens the GPU and other part of the hardware take about 280 MB, and the manufacturer is said to be DigitalZone Co.Ltd & ChipAlive Co Ltd. instead of MeLE. This could be a mistake, as Mele does have their own factory.

I ran Antutu 4.x, Quadrant and Vellamo to test the system performance. Quadrant failed to start the full benchmark, but other two completed successfully.

Mele_X1000_Antutu

Mele X1000 scores 9,002 in Antutu whichseems reasonable as RK3188 devices with four Cortex A9 @ 1.6 GHz, and a Mali-400MP4 now get aroud 18,000. However, please note that the 2D/3D GPU testsAntutu were performed in portrait mode using only the center of te screen (526×672 resolution) which could have inflated the graphics results. MeLE X1000 is listed just under Samsung Galaxy S2 (Exynos 4210), which about 1,000 less points.

In Vellamo, the media player got 1118 points in the HTML5 test, and 285 in the metal test, placing Mele X1000 at about the same level as the Galaxy Nexus powered by Texas Instruments OMAP4460, another dual core Cortex A9 processor.

There’s nothing unusual about the performance of the device for a dual core processor. This won’t give you an optimal performance for Android, but for what the device specializes in, i.e. video playback, it should be just good enough.

Conclusion

There’s no need to hide than I’m disappointed by the device, not because of performance, but simply because the current firmware has so many shortcomings that it real feels beta. Having said that Mele X1000 feels like a solid device thanks to its metallic casing, SATA support, Blu-ray ISO playback, and excellent Wi-Fi performance.

Let’s summarize the PRO and CONS

  • PROS
    • Metallic enclosure
    • SATA port
    • Outstanding Wi-Fi performance
    • Blu-Ray ISO support
    • High level of details and configuration options in the setup menu
    • Decent Android Remote App
    • USB Webcam support
  • CONS
    • Multimedia launcher somewhat unstable
    • SAMBA and NFS currently not working
    • Some videos can’t play. Potential skipped frame in YouTube
    • External Bluetooth does not work
    • XBMC not pre-installed in this firmware (Mass production unit will come with XBMC)

Mele X1000 is currently sold for $179 including shipping, which is quite expensive considering the firmware status, but if everything works, it may be worth it if you plan to play Blu-Ray videos, and have a surround audio sub system. I can see good potential as a media player, but in the first few months, Mele’s customer may spend some time working out the bug, and will rely on Mele to provide firmware update to fix issues. If you don’t plan to play Blu-Ray ISO or rips, and will spend more time playing around wih other Android apps, you’d be better off with some cheaper and more powerful TV BOX, in terms of CPU and GPU performance, such as the many based on Rockchip RK3188.

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Huawei Kirin 920 Octa-core big.LITTLE ARM SoC Benchmarked

March 11th, 2014 2 comments

Huawei / Hisilicon Kirin 920 application processor has yet to be formally announced, but in the last few days, more details have surfaced. Huawei SoC will feature an octa-core processor with four ARM Cortex A7 and four Cortex A15 cores in big.LITTLE configuration, together with a Mali-628MP4 GPU and a 4G LTE modem. There’s also Kirin 910 with 4 cores @ 1.6 to 1.8 GHz and Mali-450MP5 GPU.

Kirin920The big.LITTLE processor will support DDR3 memory up to 800 MHz, cameras up to 32MP, screens up to WQXGA resolution (2560×1600), and be manufactured using 28nm process technology. According to AndroidPC.es it should be found in Huawei Ascend D3 smartphone to be released this September.

A device called HUAWEI H300 has shown up in Antutu showing a score 37,363 with Kirin 920 SoC, just a few points shy of the score for hardware powered by Snapdragon 805 (37,780) with four Krait 450 cores running at 2.5 GHz and Adreno 420 GPU. The hardware powered by Kirin 920 features a 1920×1080 display, a 13MP and 5MP cameras, 2GB RAM, 16 GB Flash, and runs Android 4.4.2. The CPU clock frequency is reported to be 1305 MHz.
Kirin_920_Antutu
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Nvidia Tegra K1 32-bit and 64-bit Benchmarked with Antutu

March 6th, 2014 3 comments

Nvidia announced their latest Tegra applications processors at CES 2014 with the Tegra K1 32-bit and 64-bit ARM SoCs, as well as Tegra K1 MVC for automotive application. The 32-bit version comes with four Cortex A15 cores up to 2.3 GHz plus a companion core, and the 64-bit version with 2 ARMv8 cores (Cortex A53?) clocked up to 3 GHz. Both SoC features a 192-core Kepler GPU, and we’ve been shown some high-end graphics demo (OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL…) with in the reference tablet. Some charts has surface showing both 32- and 64-bit Tegra K1 scoring well over 40,000 and with an excellent 3D graphics score.

Tegra_K1_AntutuThe benchmark was run in reference platform with 32-bit or 64-bit Tegra K1, as well as the Tegra Note P1761 tablet with a 32-bit quad core Tegra K1 processor apparently clocked at a lower frequency, and with a not-that-good flash. The dual core, 64-bit version of the Tegra K1 scored 43,617 points (@ 3 GHz), whereas the quad core, 32-bit version achieved 43,851 points in Antutu 4.0. The tablet however just got 38,323, which is still a pretty good, and possibly more relevant to what we’ve see in retail devices. The 64-bit reference platform runs Android 4.4.2 with Nvidia Tegra K1 ARMv8 dual core processor clocked between 510 MHz and 3,000 MHz, a display with 1920×1080 resolution, 2GB RAM and 32 GB RAM (Source screenshot). Tegra_K1_vs_Snapgradon_805

The chart above shows Tegra K1 clearly outperforming Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, which is the best processor available (almost) right now, as it is part of the Samsung Galaxy S5.  Please note, I could not trace the origin of the different charts, and I just know it was posted on some Chinese website, and I do not know exactly which hardware was used to test each processors. This is important because benchmark results may be smaller in a smartphone or tablet, compared to a development board as you can’t just put a huge heatsink in a mobile device. But the results are interesting nonetheless to get a rough idea of the likely performance.

I usually prefer more detailed comparisons, and Sam Mobile posted the benchmark for both the Qualcomm 801 (SM-G900R4) and Exynos 5422 (SM-G900H) version of the Galaxy S5. We only have the benchmark details for Exynos 5422 version which is compared to the Galaxy Note 3 in the chart below.

Qualcomm 801 vs Exynos 5422

Qualcomm 801 vs Exynos 5422

The summarize all this in a table.

Total DB  I/O Storage I/O 3D Graph. 2D Graph. RAM Speed RAM Op. CPU Float CPU Integer Dalvik Multitask
Tegra K1 (2x ARMv8) 43617 645 2534 10997 1585 5078 3059 2291 4207 3875 9349
Tegra K1 (4x A15) 43851 645 2402 10939 1594 2229 2285 5461 4929 3775 9592
Exynos 5422 (4x A15, 4x A7) 35445 540 780 10401 1642 459 2680 4839 5339 1065 7700

According to these results. A dual core ARMv8 processor will perform just as well as a quad core Cortex A15, except with tests relying on more cores (CPU tests). RAM performance is way better with a 64-bit processor as expected. The biggest surprise is that the ARM Mali-T628 in Exynos 5422 appears to be just as good as the Kepler GPU found in Tegra K1.  The things that kill the Galaxy S5 is poor database I/O, RAM speed, and dalvik performance. For some reasons it does not score very well with multitasking despite having 8 cores. maybe the current big.LITTLE implementation and/or Antutu do not leverage the eight cores yet.

As mentioned above, the Tegra K1 scores have been done on a reference platform, and such scores may not be achieve on mobile devices due to heat dissipation issues. SemiAccurate has published several articles about Nvidia Tegra K1 saying the numbers released by the company were deceitful, and their latest article claims a 12V/5A (60 Watt) was used by Nvidia for their Tegra K1 demo at CES 2014, the only problem, if the picture is correct, is that it was for Tegra K1 MVC for automotive applications which certainly does not have the same power requirements as mobile devices. Even though, for now, the numbers looks promising, albeit not amazing, we’ll have to wait and see actual retail hardware to get a proper idea of the performance and power consumption of Tegra K1.

Via PadHZ

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Intel Unveils Atom Z3460 & Z3480 (Merrifield) and Z3560 & Z3580 (Moorefield) Mobile SoCs

February 24th, 2014 1 comment

Intel has introduced four new SoCs part of Z34xx series (Merrifield) and Z35xx series (Moorefield) with Intel XMM LTE modems to be used in smartphones and tablets at Mobile World Congress 2014.

Atom_Merrifield_Moorefield_Block_DiagramThe SoCs share the following specifications:

  • Processor
    • Z34xx series (Merrifield) – 2 cores/2 threads with out-of-order execution, maximum core frequency up to 2.13 GHz
    • Z35xx series (Moorefield)- 4 cores/4 threads with out-of-order execution, maximum core frequency up to 2.33 GHz
  • Graphics – Imagination PowerVR G6400 (Merrifield) or GC6430 (Moorefield) with OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL and RenderScript support
  • Image Signal Processor (ISP) – 13 MP support hardware-capable; 8 MP enabled on Form Factor Device (FFD)
  • Memory – LPDDR3 (COPoP); 2×32 bit, up to 4 GB; Merrifield: 533MHz max, Moorefield: 800 MHz max.
  • Multi-Band, Multi-Mode LTE Modem – Intel XMM 7160 with support for up to 15 LTE bands, up to 150 Mbps download/50 Mbps upload speed. Z35xx series can also support XMM 6360 HSPA+ modem or XMM 7260 LTE cat 6 modem.
  • Display – Up to 1920×1200 internal (LCD?), 1080p external (HDMI?)
  • I/O and Storage – USB 3.0; eMMC 4.5. 256 GB max.
  • Support for Third-Party Wireless Solutions – Bluetooth 4.0 low energy; Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Package – 12 mm x 12 mm

The only apparent difference between SoC of the same family are the maximum turbo clock. Z3460 maxes out at 1.60 GHz, Z3480 at 2.13 GHZ, whereas Z3560 goes up to 1.80 GHz, and Z3580 up to 2.33 GHz.

The processors are part of Intel’s Silvermont microarchitecture, and are manufactured using 22 nm process technology. Z34xx series have up to 1.7 time more single thread CPU performance, 2 times more Graphics performance, and 4 times more GPU compute performance compared to Intel Atom Z2580. The SoCs currently support Android 4.4.2.

Intel Atom Z2580 vs Intel Atom Z3480

Intel Atom Z2580 vs Intel Atom Z3480

Intel also showed some benchmark comparing Z3580 to the current top ARM mobile SoCs, namely Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and Apple A7. Surprisingly not, the benchmarks show the Intel SoC outperforming both Apple and Qualcomm SoC in several tests, as the company has probably cherry picked the benchmark suiting their SoC, but they all do.

Intel_Atom_Z3480_Snapdragon_800_Apple_A7

Battery life tests also show Intel Z3480 reference design getting ahead of Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 in Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z1F.

Atom_Z3480_Battery_LifeThis looks promising, but we’ll have to wait for independent tests to get a proper appraisal of Intel Z34xx and Z35xx series SoC both in terms of performance and power consumption. In the past, many Android games were not optimized for x86, so even though Intel Z2580 was competitive in theory and in benchmarks, some real-life test were disappointing.

You can find more slides on Engadget and Anandtech.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

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Intel Bay Trail Z3700 Series Overview, Benchmarks, Hardware, Documentation and Linux Support

February 14th, 2014 5 comments

After seeing the discussion about ARM vs x86 (Bay trail) for the future Dragon Pyra open source game console, I’ve realized many people, including myself, do not know about the different resources available to develop hardware and software for Intel Bay Trail SoCs for tablets such as Atom Z3740 and Z3770, so I decided to have a look.

Intel Atom Bay Trail Z3700 Series Overview

Intel Z3600 series and Z3700 series are respectively dual core and quad core Bay Trail-T SoCs for Android and Windows 8 tablets.

Intel_Z3600_Z3700_ModelsThere are 4 quad core models: Z3740, Z3740D, Z3770, and Z3770D, and 2 dual core processors: Z3680 and Z3680D. The dual core versions are reserved for Android only, and there’s no product page on Intel for now, so I’ll focus this post on Z3700 series only. I have no idea what the “D” in Z3740D is for, except it;’s not related to Desktop, but D versions support only up to 2GB RAM, have less memory bandwidth, run at lower CPU frequency, and support lower resolution, up to 1900×1200 only, against 2500×1600 for Z3740 and Z3770. All SoC are manufactured using 22nm process technology which certainly helps with achieving 2 or 2.2 W TDP, and apparently rivaling with the latest ARM Cortex A15 based SoCs in terms of power consumption. Please note the frequency listed in the table above, are burst frequencies, and “normal” operating frequencies are around 1.5 GHz for Z3770, and 1.33 GHz for Z3740. The price listed on Z3740 and Z3770 pages on Intel website is respectively $32, and $37. This compares pretty well to the upcoming Rockchip RK3288 which should sell for $40, before dropping to $35 in the second quarter (TBC).

As you can see from the block diagram below, contrary to older processors which required an external GPU and I/O chipset, Intel Bay Trail are fully integrated SoCs with x86 processor cores, Intel HD graphics (2D and 3D + video) and I/O chipset.

Z3700_Series_Block_Diagram

Intel Atom Z3700 Series Benchmark and Power Consumption

In September last year, Anandtech got a reference platform based on Z3770, and run some benchmarks and made some power consumption measurements in Windows 8 and Android.

Z3770_Benchmark_CPUIn most CPU intensive Android benchmarks, the Intel platform had a clear lead against the most recent ARM based hardware, beating Nvidia Tegra 4, and Qualcomm MSM8974 MDP (Snapdragon 800) which is not shown in test above. The Intel processor was however relatively slow for Java tests, but it may have been due to the lack of software optimization at the time (TBC).

Intle_Z3770_3DMarksGPU tests however were disappointing, as although performance was decent, it was still significantly slower than Nvidia Tegra 4, and the Adreno GPU found in Smapdragon 800. It only came on top once with 3DMark’s Graphics Score (Extreme) test.

So the CPU performance looks excellent, and the GPU 3D performance is decent, but inferior to the fastest ARM SoCs, and roughly equivalent to the PowerVR SGX 554MP4 found in the iPad 4.

Anandtech did not do extensive power measurement tests, but still had some comments during Windows 8 testing:

I had Intel measure SoC power at the board level while running a single threaded Cinebench 11.5 run on the Atom Z3770 and saw a range of 800mW – 1.2W. AMD on the other hand lists the A4-5000′s SoC/APU idle power as 770mW. I don’t have equivalent data for AMD, but with the A4-5000 idling at 770mW, it’s safe to say that SoC level power consumption is lower on Bay Trail.

For what its worth, Bay Trail SoC power during the multithreaded 7-Zip benchmark was between 1.9W – 2.5W. At this point there’s no question in my mind that Silvermont and Bay Trail are truly tablet-class power consumers.

The big unknowns are things like video decode power efficiency, perf and quality of their ISP and idle power efficiency vs. Qualcomm.

More recently, Engadget reviewed ASUS Transformer Book T100, a Windows 8 tablet powered by Intel Atom Z3740 processor, and compared the battery to several other products including ARM based Android tablets. It’s extremely unscientific to compare SoC power consumption with different OS, hardware components, screen size, but I’ve converted the power consumption into Wh per hour of battery life against some competing products to show Intel Atom Bay Trail-T SoCs can be put into products with similar power efficiency compared to products based on ARM SoCs.

Model SoC Battery Capacity (Wh) Time Wh / Hour
ASUS Transformer Book T100 Intel Atom Z3740 31.0 10:40:00 2.91
ASUS Transformer Prime Nvidia Tegra 3 25.0 10:17:00 2.43
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 TI OMAP 4430 25.9 08:56:00 2.90
Nexus 10 Samsung Exynos 5250 33.3 07:26:00 4.48
Nexus 7 (2013) Qualcomm Snapdragon S4Pro 14.6 07:15:00 2.02

Hardware Development Platforms for Intel Atom Z3700 Series SoCs

Intel have what they call Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD) for their SoC, and the tablet platform used by Anandtech last year, and Intel Z3770 FFRM. I’ve been looking for links and details to the platform, and failed to find anything, so I’d assume it’s pretty difficult to get hold of this platform for development purpose, and it may require contacting Intel FAE and maybe sign an NDA to get hold of the hardware. Intel has a list of evaluation platforms but there’s nothing for Z37xxx.

The next step was to look for other development boards based on Z3740 and Z3770, and I could not find anything.  There a company called Eurotech that provides Intel Atom development kits, but it’s more for the industrial side, and they don’t have any boards with Bay Trail SoC, including the embedded versions (E3800 series) for now.

So if you want to play around with Z3740 or Z3770 hardware, and can’t get hold of the FFRM, you’ll need to work with a consumer product first. There are a few now all running Windows 8.1 for example ASUS Transformer Book T100, Cube iWork10 U100GT or Dell Venue 11 Pro.

Asus_Transformer_Book_T100For reference, I’ll list the specifications for ASUS Transformer Book T100TA-C1-GR, as it can also run Linux as we’ll find out below:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3740 Quad core processor with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2GB
  • Storage – 32G/64G eMMC with ASUS WebStorage
  • Display – 10.1″ HD (1366*768) IPS with multi-touch
  • Camera – 1.2Mp camera
  • Battery – 31Whr (11 hrs)
  • Dimensions – Tablet: 26.41 x 17.02 x 1.04 cm, Dock: 26.41 x 17.02 x 1.30 cm
  • Weight – Tablet: 544 grams, Dock: 544 grams

This hybrid tablet / laptop has been infected pre-loaded with  Window 8.1 operating system and MS Office Home & Student 2013.

Intel Atom Z3740 / 3770 Documentation and Software Tools

There is general documentation for software developers, and support forum on http://software.intel.com/ mainly for Android and Windows 8, but there are also tools suites for Linux including:

  • Compilers – Intel Parallel Studio XE 2013, Intel Composer XE 2013, Intel Fortran Composer XE 2013, Intel® Fortran Studio XE 2013.
  • Embedded and Mobile System Development – Intel System Studio for Linux with or without JTAG Debugger,
  • Cluster Tool Suites – Intel Cluster Studio XE 2013, Intel Cluster Studio

These are generic tools, and I’m not exactly sure if there’s anything specific to Z3700 series.

If you are mostly interested in Android support, you can read “What Bay Trail means for developers” article which points to tutorials, a list of Android devices, and tools, including Android x86 system images and source code for Android 2.3.7 to Android 4.4 to run in the emulator provided with the Android SDK.

On the hardware front, there are two datasheets for Z3600 / Z3700 series:

There’s apparently no reference platform (FFRM) documentation available publicly. So documentation for low level software development might to be OK, but hardware design might be more problematic: no reference schematics, application notes and so on, that is unless you get hold of the FFRM kit.

Ubuntu (Linux) on Atom Z3700 Series

ASUS Transformer Book T100 is particularly interesting platform, because some guys at XDA developers forum have already installed Android / Ubuntu on the device, so you can already evaluate these two operating systems on the platform. Android does not really worked at the time, but at least Intel is working on it so it should eventually run just as well as Windows 8.1 does.

They basically explain the steps to safely boot to Ubuntu (and other OSes) that can be summarized as below

  • Configure UEFI (disable Secure Boot)
  • Format a USB flash drive to make it bootable with Rufus (GPT for UEFI + FAT + 64 kb+ raring x64 as bootable disk using ISO Image). You’ll also need to copy bootia32 to /efi/boot/ since the bootloader does not support 64-bit.
  • Backup the recovery partition with tool such as ASUS Backtracker
  • Use one of the two Ubuntu images:
    • 13.04 x64 desktop – Status: boots to GUI using fbdev
    • 13.10 x64 desktop – Status: boots to GUI using fbdev

They’ve also provided the instructions to build grub2-efi-ia32. You’ll notice they had to use the framebuffer, as there’s a bug in VESA. Not everything is working yet. The touchscreen works fine, but Wi-Fi is broken, at least in Ubuntu 13.10.

There’s also a bit more information in Anandtech forums.

I’d assume you can just take the latest Linux kernel, and successful boot it on Bay Trail devices (TBC), contrary to most ARM platforms.

Brad Linder (Liliputing) tried it out (before the touchscreen was fixed). Check it out below.

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Review of Huawei MediaQ M310 Android TV Box

February 12th, 2014 5 comments

Huawei MediaQ M310 is an Android set-top box powered by HiSilicon K3V2 quad core SoC. AndroidPC.es have just written a review of the device in Spanish, and since it’s one of the only media player based on this processor, which also include a Vivante GC4000 GPU, I’ll translate some of the most interesting bits, but you can find many more pictures and screenshots on the original article.

MediaQ M310 Unboxing

Huawei_MediaQ_M310_with_RemoteLet’s remind us of the specifications first:

  • SoC – Hisilicon K3V2 Quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor with Vivante GC4000 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Storage – 4GB Flash + microSD card slot
  • Video I/O – 1x HDMI In,1x HDMI Out
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, SPDIF, 3.5mm stereo jack, Mic mono
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 (1 extension from Y cable) + 1x micro USB
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n 2.4G/5G 2×2MIMO, Bluetooth 4.0

Beside the device and the Bluetooth remote control shown above, the package also comes with a 5V/2A power adapter, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual written in Chinese. You can watch the unboxing video below for details.

System Setup

There are two versions of the firmware: Chinese, and international with several languages supported. The international version is much smaller than the Chinese versions (363.14 MB vs 510.80 MB), probably because they’ve remove some online TV app only working in China, and not quite as up-to date (21/11/2013 vs 27/1/2014). The international version however comes with Google Play, which is not present in the Chinese version. AndroidPC.es tested the international version.

With this firmware, the Bluetooth remote does not work although it does with the Chinese firmware. So they’ve connected a mouse and keyboard, setup Wi-Fi and download an app on their phone thanks to a QR code showed on the user interface.

Huawei_MediaQ_User_InterfaceThe device runs Android 4.1.2 with Linux kernel 3.0.8, and the interface has completed be customize so you won’t be able to access the Android settings, and go to the device settings which still give access to most setup options:  System Information, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Display, Audio, USB, Storage, and more. Developer options are not available, and it does not look like the reviewer tried to enable them by clicking 7 times on the build version.

Audio & Video

You can either select 720p60 or 1080p60 for HDMI, and it support audio downsampling (PCM), and pass-through. They’ve tested DTS and AC3 5.1 with S/PDIF output and it worked fine, but 7.1 audio failed. It could be because the AV receiver they used, Pioneer VSX-527-K, simply does not support 7.1, or MediaQ M310 does not support it.

Video playback appears to be decent as all video samples from Linaro (H.264, MPEG2, MPEG4, VC1, VP8, RealVideo) could play from a USB flash drive or Wi-Fi. Some higher bitrate videos (1080p @ 40 Mbps, 4K2K @ 60Mbps) could not play smoothly from their USB stick. With their setup, file transfer performance was 11 MB/s for the USB flash drive, and 0.5MB/s for Wi-Fi. The later should actually not be enough to play 1080p video samples from Linaro. I notice the video test have been done via 802.11g, and the transfer with 802.11n, which could explain the oddity.

They have also tested XBMC, but there’s no hardware acceleration for now. XBMC Custom XAF version which is using an external player, e.g. MX Player, should work just fine however. Skype could work fine, except they had to install it from an apk, as Google Play store said the device was incompatible.

There’s also an HDMI input, but they do not appear to have tested it.

Huawei MediaQ M310 Benchmarks

Let’s see what HiSilicon K3V2 and Vivante GC4000 are capable of.

Hisilicon_K3V2_AntutuCompared to Rockchip RK3188-T score of 15,356 in Beelink A9, an Antutu score of 10974 is rather disappointing. Unfortunatly, AndroidPC screenshot does not show GPU score, but we can still compare some of the tests. I would have liked to add Antutu 4.x results for devices based on Freescale i.MX6 and AllWinner A31, but I don’t have detailed scores for these.

Test Rockchip RK3188-T
Beelink A9
HiSilicon K3V2
MediaQ M310
Multitask 3227 2657
Dalvik 1165 932
CPU integer 2130 1901
CPU float-point 1361 1049
RAM Operation 1625 1437
RAM Speed 872 699?

With regards to CPU performance, the scores are actually as expected because K3V2 is clocked at 1.2 GHz against 1.4GHz for RK3188-T.

The device gets 1063 points in Passmark Android, which places it between HTC Desire HD (Qualcomm 8255 dual core) and Samsung Galaxy S (Samsung Exynos 3110) performance which is pretty pathetic, and appears to be due to poor results in memory mark, and 2D graphics mark tests. These results appear to be really too low, and the device should be closer to Nvidia Tegra 3 used in Asus Transformer Prime in the charts below.

Huawei_MediaQ_M310_PassMarkMediaQ M310 gets 3446 points in 3Dmark Ice Storm benchmark. If we compare this to the list of best Android mobile devices in Futuremark’s website it’s very close to Pipo S1 tablet (3448 pts, Rockchip RK3188 w Mali-400MP4), and not that far from Transformer Prime (3935 pts, Nvidia Tegra 3). It’s still somewhat disappointing, as I was expecting Vivante GC4000 to outperform these older GPUs.

Conclusion

The guys at AndroidPC.es concludes with the pros and cons of the device:

  • Pros – Good finish of the product, the firmware works well, native 1080p resolution, HDMI input, easy firmware upgrade, and good video playback.
  • Cons – Poor Wi-Fi, Google Play incompatibilities, and firmware with too many customizations compared to stock Android. It would also add disappointing SoC performance.

If you are interested in purchasing Huawei MediaQ M310, you can do so for $129 on Aliexpress.

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