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Review of Probox2 EX Quad Core Android TV Box and Remote+ Air Mouse

August 19th, 2014 12 comments

Probox2 EX is an Android TV box powered by Amlogic S802-H processor with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC, an hardware very similar to MINIX NEO X8-H, and an upgrade to the Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite and Shenzhen Tomato EM8 / Enybox M8 TV boxes I’ve reviewed previously, with more storage (16GB vs 8GB), dual band Wi-Fi, and S802-H instead of S802 for hardware DTS and Dolby audio decoding. I’ve already published an unboxing post for Probox2 EX, so today I’m going to test the firmware, including overall performance and stability, video playback, gaming, and most hardware features, as well as Remote+ air mouse with audio and gaming capabilities, which comes with the device.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I’ve found two AAA battery to insert into Remote+ air mouse, connected an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable, the Wi-Fi antenna, the RF dongle for Remote+, and the power adapter to Probox2 EX. After pressing the power button on the box, it will boot within 30 seconds or so, with the user interface shown below that is a little different from other Metro-style user interfaces found in most Amlogic S802 Android media players.

Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

On the top row of the screen, we can see Probox2, the weather forecast (which works properly), the date, time, and network status. There are eight icons in the rest of the UI. The top four are folders for apps which are called Movies (4K MoviePlayer, MXPlayer), TV Shows (Netflix, XBMC), Music (Music, Google Play Music), Games (Frozen Bubble), and the four bottom icons are links to XBMC, a File Browser, and Google Play, as well as an Internet folder with the stock Browser and Chrome. In all folder, there’s a “+” icon that lets you add you own apps. On top of icons, you’ll find text with Home, More and All Apps. More will show more folders (Favorite, Photos, Streaming,. Social), as a task killer, and a link to custom settings. The user interface resolution is 1920×1080 (1080p), and that means videos are also played with true 1080p output. You can click on the screenshot above to check the real size.

The “Setting” menu is bascially the same as found in Tronsmart Vega S89 and M8 with Network, Display, Advanced and Other.

Display Setup (Click for Original Size)

Display Setup (Click for Original Size)

You can select between Wi-Fi and Ethernet in the Network section. By default the Display settings will automatically detect the video output, and it properly select 1080p60 in my case.. I’ve disable auto-detection to check the other and there’s only: 720p50/60, 108050/i60, 1080i50/60. No 24Hz mode, and strangely no 4K mode. I’m not sure if it is an issue with the firmware, or it cleverly detected my TV is not an UHD TV. If I connect the AV cable, disconnect the HDMI cable, and switch to AV input on my TV, the box will properly output to AV using 480cvbs or 576cvbs depending on option in Display menu. I can confirm audio is working OK in this mode. Unfortunately I could not find any way to go back to HDMI, even after a factory reset. It was a little late at night, and based on my extensive experience, if something does not work late at night, better go to bed, as invisible Goblins are probably working on your box, and they will go home at dawn. This works for software bugs too :). And magically, I could connect to HDMI again this morning. Other settings include “Hide Status Bar” (ON by default), Display Position, and Screen Saver timeout (Never, 4, 8, or 12 minutes). I’ve enabled the status bar, as I find it’s easier to navigate between apps and home screen.

ABout_Probox2_EXThe Advanced menu will let you start Miracast, and I could connect with my Android 4.2.1 phone after the second attempt. The first attempt found the display, but it could not connect. The mnue also lets you enable the software Remote control (not tested, but you can download RemoteIME.apk on your smartphone or tablet), adjust CEC controls, set the screen orientation, and select digital audio output (PCM, S/PDIF pass-through, HDMI pass-through). The Other button will give some details about the Android version (4.4.2), kernel version (3.10.33) and provides access to OTA System Update, which unfortunately is not enabled, so any firmware upgrade would have to be done with the SD card at best, and via the USB firmware tools at worst. You can access the standard Android settings by clicking on More Settings. Android Settings are based on the phone interface, not the tablet interface.

The Android Settings are needed for specific network features such as VPN and portable hotspot, and to enable Bluetooth. There’s a nice single 16GB partition with 13.24 GB free, so there’s plenty of space for apps, and some data. The firmware was rooted. Looking into the “About MediaBox” section shows the model number is  “”EX”, and just like the custom settings section, it shows Android 4.4.2 is running on top of Kernel 3.10.33.

I could install all applications I tried on Google Play Store including Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Candy Crush Saga, etc… Paid apps such as Sixaxis Controller also installed properly. I’ve installed Amazon AppStore to download Riptide GP2 that was one of the “Free App of the Day” some time ago.

Remote+ air mouse does most of the job. Yet using the air mouse to input text with the soft keyboard is not the most convenient, and the remote lacks thr play/pause and trick modes keys that are useful in media players such as XBMC. At some point the remote stopped working, so I though the AAA batteries were depleted, and I temporarily used Mele F10 Pro instead, until I released later that Remote+ started to work again. If you like to use voice search, the built-in microphone is great.  Simply start Google Search, press the audio button on the remote say “OK Google” followed by your query. I’ve also successfully performance a Skype Echo test with the remote. I’ve tested the gaming mode in the Gaming section of this review. You can have a look at Probox2 EX user’s interface, as well as demos of the built-in microphone with Google Search and Skype in the video below.

The power button on top of the device is used to power it on and off. A short press will power the device, and if somehow the system hangs (it never happened to me),  a long press (about 10 seconds) will turn it off. The power button on the remote can only to used to suspend or power off the device, you’ll need to press the power button on the media player to start it from power off state.There’s also a soft power button in the status bar, which can be useful if you want to use another remote or a mouse and keyboard. I’ve checked the temperature of the box after playing a 3D game. My infrared temperature checker detected 50 °C for both the top and bottom of the enclosure. My room temperature was around 28 °C.

The box never hung or frozen during my hours of testing, albeit several times, some apps just closed. But it’s difficult to determine if it is a system issue, or a bug in the app. The overall performance is usually good thanks to the 2GHz processor, and a fast eMMC flash.

Video Playback

The videos are played from XBMC browsing a SAMBA share on a USB 2.0 hard drive connected to a computer running Ubuntu 14.04. I’m using the Ethernet connection of the device. I had no problems with SAMBA in XBMC and ES File Explorer.

I first played videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, and as well as H.265/HEVC codec from Elecard also based on Big Buck Bunny video:

  • 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) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK (could be a little more smooth though)
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p and 720p OK, 1080p is watchable most of the time but feels slow at time.(VP8 is software decoded)
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container
    • XBMC – 360p has some audio cuts, 720p frames skipping and frequent audio cuts, 1080p lot of skipped frames and constant audio cuts
    • MXPlayer – 360p OK, 720p OK most of the time, but not so smooth when panning, 1080p will has the same symptoms as 720p but worse, and it exits after a while. No audio cuts heard in 360p/720p

VP8 and H.265 not codec supported by the Amlogic processor, and are done using software decoding, so if you read H.265 on a S802 box that’s a distortion of the truth, as it won’t work properly. You need to wait for S805 or S812 processor for proper HEVC/H.265 support.  To their credit, W2COMP did not mention H.265 support on Probox2 EX package.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps)
    • XBMC – Won’t even start to play
    • MXPlayer – Audio only, but I can switch to software decoded, and it’s playing smoothly most of the time, except in fast moving scene where it feels a little slow.
  • 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
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK (Played from USB drive connected to box)

High definition audio codecs could play fine even from SAMBA (down-sampled to PCM):

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

These could also work in other players such as MXPlayer thanks to hardware DTS and Dolby support provided by S802-H. The latter may also help for smoother video, as it frees CPU power for other tasks.

Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO file could play just fine in XBMC, and I could also navigate between the eight chapters of the video. But for some reasons, I could not change the subtitles easily in XBMC menus, clicking on the up or down icons would jump to next language, only to come back to the default language of the video, and it’s only after many tries that I managed to switch to English.

Amlogic S802(-H) support 4K video playback downscaled to 1080p, most probably even on 4K/UHD televisions, so I tried a few:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Can play smoothly but there are frequent artifacts on the right of the video.
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – Plays but in slideshow style… (Expected since S802 does not support HEVC codec).
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – Same as above
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts – Same as above

Other AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos in my library could all play just fine. Somebody comment about video playback stability issue in EM8/M8 box, where videos stopped after 30 minute or so. So I played a complete 1080p mkv video (1h40) in the box, and it played until the until. Up to now Probox2 EX box is probably the best device I’ve tested when it comes to video playback support. It only fails with HEVC and VP8 videos which are not supported by the S802-H’s VPU, and decoded by software leading to mediocre performance with these two video codecs, and the lack of 24Hz video output may be a problem for some.

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

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

The network test consist in transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash using, and vice versa, repeating the test three times using ES File Explorer. I had a big smile on my face, when a saw transfer speed up to 3.25MB/s using Wi-Fi. When it comes to Wi-Fi performance, Probox2 EX is clearly ahead, and puts the competition to shame, as the transfer times averaged 1:39 (2.8 MB/s).

Probox2_EX_Wi-FiThe only device that’s faster than Probox2 EX is CS868, but the latter as very poor firmware, which is not the case for Probox2 EX. It easily beats the two other S802 boxes I tested, namely Vega S89 Elite and M8. While testing Wi-Fi, I also tried the Miracast function. The first time, even though my phone could see the display, it would not connect. Trying a few hours later, it worked just fine, and you could mirror my phone screen on the TV.

I’ve also tested Ethernet with the same procedure. and the transfer from SAMBA to flash was done @ 6.3 MB/s (44s), and flash to SAMBA @ 5.79 MB/s (48s). Which is much better than Wetek Play and Vidon.me AV200.

Probox2_EX_EthernetThere’s an important remark however. I always use the latest version of ES File Explorer from Google Play, so software may improve overtime, and the changelog for the latest version (3.1.9 – August 6, 2014) lists “-Improve SMB performance”, so even though I’m sure Probox2 EX performance is good, the results above may have been amplified due to software improvements (except for WeTek Play tested on 14th to 16th August). I haven’t investigated the scale of the improvement yet, but it might something worth looking into it.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is built-in the device, and I had no problem pairing it with my Android smartphone (ThL W200), and transfer a picture from my phone to the device.

I’ve tried Sixaxis Compatibility Checker and Sixaxis Controller, and although the drivers seems OK, I could not use my PS3 Bluetooth gamepad clone, as it won’t connect, and Sixaxis will segfault.

For the first time, I’ve also tested Bluetooth 4.0 BLE with Vidonn X5 activity tracker, and it worked flawlessly.

Storage

Both a micro SD card and a USB flash drive formatted to FAT32 could be mounted and accessed successfully.
I’ve also connected my USB 3.0 hard drive with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS partitions. Here are the performance results achieved by copying files between the internal flash and the partitions using File ES Explorer.

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

I used A1 SD Bench for storage testing with the custom locations set to /storage/external_storage_sda1 for the NTFS partition, and the read speed is 29.64MB/s whereas the write speed is 30.97MB/s, which seems very good, and close to the performance It can achieve on my PC when connected to a USB 2.0 port. This compares to respectively 25.63MS/s, and 24.81MB/s for WeTek Play.

If you have ever upgrade your PC from a mechanical hard drive to a SSD, or upgrade from a Class 4 to a Class 10 SD card when running Linux on a development board or device, you should now how important I/O performance is important to the overall system performance, but seldom mentioned. So I’ve also decided to started testing internal storage. The eMMC flash in Probox2 EX can be read at 27.57MB/s, and written at 15.11 MB/s according to A1 SD Bench app.

USB Webcam

A no-brand USB webcam worked with Skype. I could see the video, and tested audio successfully with the Echo service. Since also tried Remote+ as a microphone, and it worked. However I did not manage to make it work with Google Hangouts. The camera icon would just show for one second or less, and disappear.

Gaming

I’ve tested three games: Candy Crush Saga, Riptitde GP2, and Beach Buggy Blitz.  Candy Crush Saga is normally not demanding, and I could play using Remote+ air mouse.

I decided to play Riptide GP2 with Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad, and at first I had no issues, but as with other S802 boxes the frame rate with default settings feels a bit low, probably because of 1080p resolution, so I lower the quality settings to try again, and shortly after the game because unplayable with sometimes one frame every 4 seconds. The box had run smoothly for over 5 hours before this, and I measured 50 °C on top and bottom of the box, so I decided to take a break, and enter suspend mode. Thirty minutes later, the temperature fell to 35 °C, and I started it, and played Riptide GP2 to try to reproduce the issue. Four races and no problem, but at the fifth race, or about 20-25 minutes later, the game became unplayable again. It’s possible my relatively high room temperature (28 to 30 °C) impacts the cooling of the device. The first time I played Riptide GP2, Mele F10 Pro dongle was connected, and Mars G01 gamepad was detected. But when I tried later with Remote+ RF dongle, Mars G01 was not detected, simply because Remote+ is also registered as a gamepad, so I had two gamepads in my system which confused the game/system.

I played Beach Buggy Blitz with Remote+ to test the gaming mode of the air mouse. There are four modes available via a single “Mode switching” key: remote control, air mouse, gaming mode (vertical), and gaming mode (horizontal). Unfortunately, there’s no indication of the mode you are currently in, and at the beginning it’s quite confusing, especially if you are not sure you are in vertical and horizontal mode. The gaming mode is making use of the gyroscope, and in the game you can to select “Tilt mode”. You can then hold and move the remote like a steering wheel to turn left and right, it works, but in this mode none of the keys can be used for breaking, which can be an issue… So instead I switched to “Gamepad mode” in the game, where I could define the keys, and play the games with the D-Pad and X,Y, B and A buttons. In this mode, you’ll obviously lose the gyroscope feature, but it’s much more easier to control, and at least you can break when needed. I played Beach Buggy Blitz for 30 minutes, and I could not reproduce the issue experienced in Riptide GP2.

Probox2 EX Benchmark

Antutu benchmark scores varies widely between Amlogic S802 devices, even with the hardware same. Some people get 22,000, others 30,000 with the same model, so the relevance is limited. Anyway, I’ve tested Probox2 EX with Antutu and Quadrant for reference.
Probox2_Antutu
With 31,747 points, this Android media player gets the highest score I’ve personally seen in such type of device. Please note that Antutu and Quadrant did not run in full screen, but in portrait mode with 607×1008 resolution (taking about a third of the screen), so this may have impacted the GPU score. The Storage I/O score with 1,801 is much higher than in Vega S89 Elite (851) and M8 (751) probably because Probox2 EX features an eMMC flash, where the other two come with a standard NAND flash.

Probox2 EX Quadrant Benchmark (Click to Enlarge)

Probox2 EX Quadrant Benchmark (Click to Enlarge)

The Quadrant score (8728) is also much greater than the scores for Vega S89 Elite (5323) and M8 (6536), but these had older firmware. Since then I have tested Vega S89 Elite with Antutu and firmware 107k4, and found a score of 29,000 points instead of 22603 points with the firmware I used during my review. So firmware version matters!

Conclusion

During the first 5 hours of test I just found Probox2 EX was amazing: stable, fast, and everything seemed to work. Video playback was also flawless, networking performance outstanding, and the remote/airmouse fun to use. Unfortunately I eventually found its Achilles’ heel when I started playing 3D games, especially Riptide GP2, where the system started to slowdown considerably to manage overheating. The good news here is that the device won’t just overheat and hang or reboot, but will just slow down to cool itself down. In most cases, it’s not a problem, as you may not even notice it, but in games, where you need real-time rendering, it can be.

PRO:

  • Stable firmware and excellent system performance thanks to CPU and fast eMMC
  • Provided Remote+ air mouse that can also be used for voice search, and gaming.
  • Best video playback support I’ve seen so far. It plays everything smoothly except H.265 and VP8 which are done by software.
  • DTS & Dolby hardware decoding.
  • Outstanding Wi-Fi and Ethernet performance (However, it may be partially due to improvement in SAMBA performance in ES Fie Explorer)
  • Most features just work (Bluetooth, Miracast, USB webcam, etc…)
  • Android Kitkat with XBMC and true 1080p user interface

CONS:

  • May overheat under load, and performance scaled down dramatically to manage system temperature. Reproduced with a 3D game (Riptide GP2), but not others.
  • Potential HDMI <-> AV switching issues
  • Video Output: No 24Hz support, no 4K option. [Update: Apparently this firmware hides 4K options when connected to FullHD TV (1080p)]
  • Webcam supported in Skype, but not in Google Hangouts
  • OTA firmware update does not work / not implemented
  • Remote+ lacks play/pause, ffwd, ffrd… buttons for media players.

If I had received this STB in winter, it’s quite possible I may not have noticed the overheating issue during 3D games. Probox2 EX is still one of best Android mini PC I’ve ever used, albeit if you like to play 3D games during extended period of times, I cannot recommend it. But for everything else I think the box is great. The lack of 4K support may not matter that much since in Android everything is downscaled to the user interface resolution (1080p), so even if the box outputs to 4K, it would still be shown @ 1080p.

I can’t compare it to MINIX NEO X8-H directly, since I don’t have the latter, but MINIX does have unofficial and official support forums, which W2COMP/PROBOX2 does not have, so you can’t rely on the power of the community for help, and instead you have to go through customer support. There has been several firmware update for their previous Probox2 products, so hopefully there will be too for Probox2 EX (no firmware file has been released so far).

Probox2 EX and Remote+ can be purchased for $149.99 including shipping. As a comparison, other TV Boxes based on S802-H with similar features include MINIX NEO X8-H selling for $149.99 with more basic NEO M1 air mouse, and Vega S89-H for $120 without air mouse. You may also want to check Probox2 EX product page.

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Review of WeTek Play Android DVB-S2 Satellite Receiver

August 16th, 2014 5 comments

I’ve already posted pictures of WeTek Play and its boards, and now it’s time to do a full review of this Android DVB-S2 receiver / media player. I’ll start by giving my first impressions, going through the system settings, testing my library of video test files, as well as DVB-S2 support via WeTek Theater, and check most of hardware features. I’ll also test network and storage performance, before running Antutu benchmark to make sure the device runs at optimal speed.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

Contrary to the vast majority of devices, WeTek Play does not come with a basically useless infrared remote, but instead an RF air mouse with an IR transmitter in order to provide true power ON/OFF capabilities. The remote is very nice with all the control you’d expect from an Android remote control, and you can turn on/off mouse mode easily via a button at the back. The only downside are the lack of a QWERTY keyboard, so you to input text with the soft keyboard in mouse mode, and it does not come with a built-in battery, but you need to insert two AAA batteries (1.5V). Rechargeable batteries (1.2V) might also work, but I have not try. So I’ve connected an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable, my satellite dish cable, and the power supply to get started. It takes a little over 40 seconds to boot. The first time you enter a Welcome Wizard to select your language, network connectivity, check for the latest firmware (OTA update), activate your device, login to  Google Play, and optional configure your satellite reception. Once this is all done you can watch SD and HD TV channels on your TV, record programs to a USB mass storage, access EPG, and more. I’ll go through this in details in the video, and the Live TV / DVB-S2 section of this review, but let’s go to the home screen first.

WeTek Play Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

WeTek Play Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

The home screen is simple, and actually I find it nice for TV, but this is a matter of taste. From top to bottom, and left to right, we’ve got the date, the time, and the weather forecast (Some cities are missing, e.g. Bangkok, Chiang Mai are nowhere to be found) on the top row, then 5 icons for (live) TV, Apps, Web, Local (File manager), and XBMC, and in the last row some user configurable shortcuts. There are also some system shortcuts on the left of the screen with Settings, Power Off, Connected to Internet (Network settings) and Recent Apps, as well as shortcuts to external USB drives, but you’re unlikely to ever use these, since these functions are all accessible via the remote control.

The “Setting” icon or remote key takes you to a “Wetek Settings” page with access to Android Settings, Weather Settings,and WeTek Services. The weather settings let you set your location, but as mentioned above some large cities, even capitals, as well as temperature unit, and update period (default is 30 minutes), WeTek Services are actually part of the Android Settings, and you can activate your device, check services status (iEPG and iChannels), that are not currently running, as well as Backup your setting in the cloud thanks to partnership with Box.com, but it’s also not activated in this pre-release firmware.

About_WeTek_PlayLet’s go through the Android settings. In the Wireless & Networks section, we can find Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, Data usage, and “More” for VPN and portable hotspot support.Wi-Fi and Ethernet works fine, but the Wi-Fi signal is very low for Wi-Fi, however the most probable reasons for the issue is that I cut the Wi-Fi antenna cable, and did not solder it properly, so I won’t test Wi-Fi performance in this review.

There’s no pass-through configuration in the Sound option, only options for volumes, and notification sounds, hopefully this will be implemented in the final firmware. The Display section lets you adjust the overscan and select the display resolution: 480i / 576i, 720p, 72p50, 1080p, 1080p50, 1080i and 1080i50, so no 24Hz support. The user interface resolution is fixed to 720p. Storage in the device used a single partition for apps and data, which is great news. Since there’s only 4GB flash however, the total space is only 1.89GB, and after installing a few apps, there’s just 863MB available, but it should be enough, if you use the box main as a media center. The “About WeTek” section displays the model number “Play”, Android 4.2.2 running on top of Linux kernel 3.0.50.

I could login to Google Play without issue inside the welcome wizard, and I could search for app, but at first for some reasons, it would not react the to Install button, or show a list of app in the main menu, or after a keyword search, so instead I installed Amazon Appstore without issues to download apps such as Candy Crush Saga, Riptide GP2, Antutu, etc… After a while, I went back to Google Play, and it all magically worked, and I could install the apps I needed for testing, so it may have been a temporary (network) issue.

Amlogic AML8726-MX processor have been around for over two years, and although you lose some performance compared to the latest processors, the firmware is likely to be more stable than recent processor, and that’s exactly the case with WeTek Android firmware, which I found to be pretty solid, except for that initial Google Play issue, and various small issues with their services and DVB which should be enabled/fixed once the product is released. I did not experience any hang ups, or random reboots during the several hours I tested the device.

After several hours use, and just after Antutu benchmarks, and playing a 3D game, the temperature at the top of the box was 41°C, and at the bottom 48°C, with an ambient temperature around 28°C.

I’ve shot a rather long video going through the Welcome wizard, showing the Live TV app (WeTek Theater) capabilities such as PVR and EPG, and showing various parts of the user interface including the settings, and XBMC.

Video Playback

I’ve used XBMC to test video playback as it’s pre-installed and even prominent in the device as it’s the main media player. The videos are played from a SAMBA share on a USB 2.0 hard drive in Ubuntu 14.04, and using the Ethernet connection of the device. SAMBA configuration was a breeze both in XBMC and ES File Explorer.

As usual, I start with videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, and even though AML8726-MX does not officially support H.265/HEVC codec, I also tried samples 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) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 all play, but not quite as smooth as on my PC…
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p OK, 720p playing with some audio cuts, 1080p playing in slow motion and frequent audio cuts (Software decoded, VP8 not supported by AML8726-MX)
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 360p OK, 720p frames skipping and audio cuts, 1080p slideshow and frequent audio cuts

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – Won’t even start to play
  • 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’ve also tested common audio codecs below, using PCM in XBMC, and I got the same results as with Vega S89:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – Can decode audio but frequent cuts and video not smooth
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR – Can decode audio but frequent cuts and video not smooth

I’ve also tried these “audio test” videos from a USB hard drive, and they can play fine, so the issue only happens while playing from the LAN.

Sintel-Bluray.iso, a free Blu-ray ISO file, could play just fine in XBMC, and I could also navigate between the eight chapters of the video. I skipped 4K videos since these won’t be supported by this hardware.

I also tested several AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos, and they could all play without any issues. So overall this box is very good at playing videos., It won’t support BP8 and H.265 video files properly because the Amlogic SoC do not support these, and if you plan to play Blu-ray with some lowless high-definition audio, playback may not be super smooth over the network, but should be OK from a USB hard drive.

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

WeTek Theater Live TV / Satellite Receiver App

The dual DVB-S2 tuner is one of the key selling point of this Android media player. The app provided to handle Live TV is called WeTek Theater and has been developed in-house. The first time you enter the app, you’ll be asked to setup your antenna. In the final firmware, there will be a list of satellites (per country?), but in this firmware you need to add satellites manually. I selected Thaicom 5 located at 78.5° East to watch Thai TV channles, as shown in the screenshot below.

Dish Setup (Click for Original Size)

Dish Setup (Click for Original Size)

Then I just selected 1 Scan channels with the default options, butit complained I needed to set the TP (Transponders) manually, i.e. configure the channels manually with frequencies ,V/H, etc… So it did not seem like a good idea. Finally, I’ve been told I had to select “Blindscan” mode to automatically scan for channels. It worked, and I got 795 TV channels, and 72 radio stations. Unfortunately, most TV channels are not Free-to-Air, so I could not see them, and I repeated the search with only FTA channels, I ended up to 63 TV channels and 25 radios. I’m not sure whether it’s possible to watch paid channels with this box.

Thailand_DVB-S2

After that I could just click OK to watch TV. For some reasons, I could not locate the most famous TV channels in Thailand such as TV 3, TV 5, NBT… Maybe there were called by other names in the list, I’m not sure. Nevertheless waiting TV works pretty well. Most channels are in standard definition, but at least one of them is in High Definition, so both DVB-S and DVB-S2 work with WeTek Play. Interesting features include EPG (Electronic Program Guide), but unfortunately most of the time I did not get anything, or sometimes the list of program would appear first, and then just disappear, so it may not work just perfectly at this time. If it worked, you would be able to add programs to a “book list” probably used to alert you when you program is ON, or record it. Talking about recording video (PVR), I managed to do just that with the Record button on the remote. You simply need a USB mass storage device (flash drive or USB hard drive), press the button, set the time in minutes, and click OK. I tried for 1 minute, and I could go to ES File Explorer or XBMC to play the recorded video in TVRecordFiles directory in my flash drive. The aspect ratio seemed a little bit distorted however.  There’s also a TimeShifting function, that let you pause and resume live TV, and worked pretty well for the short time I tried it.

To better get an idea of all these features, check the video embedded above in this post.

 Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

The network test consist in transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash, and vice versa, repeating the test three times. Although it’s not a pure network throughput test, but IMHO a real use case. There’s a problem with Wi-Fi due to my own mistake when I opened the box, and I’m not confident I’ve fixed the problem because I can see an unusually low signal, so I’ll skip the Wi-Fi test, as I’ve already spent an enormous amount of time on this box.

I’ve only tested Ethernet with the same procedure. From SAMBA to the flash, the transfer was done @ 3.75 MB/s (1m14s), and 4.08MB/s (1m08s) This compares to Vidon.me AV200 achieving 3.43 MB/s (1m21s), and 4.27MB/s (1m05s). However the first time I did the transfer, it start a a few KB/s before completely stalled, and eventually timing out. This is extremely unusual for Ethernet, and I wonder if unstable Ethernet could explain the initial issues I had with Ethernet (TBC).

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is built-in the device, and I had no problem pairing it with my Android smartphone. Unfortunately, I could not managed to transfer a picture from my phone to WeTek Play, nothing would happen on the device. I’ve tried Sixaxis compatibility checker, and it says the box support Playstation Wireless Game controller, but my gamepad seems broken (Start key won’t do anything), so I could not confirm it.

External Storage

I could use an SD card formatted to FAT32 successfully.
I’ve also connected my USB 3.0 hard drive with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS partitions. Here are the performance results achieved by copying files between the internal flash and the partitions using File ES Explorer.

File System Read Write
NTFS 4.15 MB/s 11.30 MB/s
EXT-4 Not supported
FAT32 3.82 MB/s 12.5 MB/s
BTRFS Not supported

It’s quite clear this test measures the read and write speedd of the NAND flash, so it’s pretty useless to evaluate USB storage performance… So I’ll drop this test in future reviews, and I’ve looked into other apps for testing storage performance. One  storage benchmark app is AndroBench but the benchmarking paths are fixed, so it could not use it. So I finally opted to use A1 SD Bench for storage testing as it supports custom locations..I set the custom path to /storage/external_storage_sda1 for the NTFS, and the red speed is 25.63MS/s, whereas the write speed is 24.81MB/s, both of which are decent transfer speeds over USB 2.0.

USB Webcam

I could use a low cost no brand USB webcam with Skype. I haven’t tested Google hangout.

Gaming

I’ve tested two games: Candy Crush Saga and Riptitde GP2,  I used WeTek air mouse to play candy crush,  and Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad to play Riptide GP2, and I had no issues. However if you are into games you should clearly buy a set-top box with a more power GPU, but this box is perfectly usable for casual gaming. I’ve also mentioned in my Bluetooth test that Sixaxis should work with this box.

WeTek Play Benchmark

I’ve tested so many devices based in Amlogic AML8726-MX, it’s not really necessary to run many benchmarks. So I’ve just run Antutu to make sure there’s nothing unexpected.

Antutu Benchmark (Click to Enlarge)

Antutu Benchmark (Click to Enlarge)

A score of 12,951 points seems pretty good with a dual core Cortex A9 processor @ 1.6 Ghz, so even though it can’t obviously match the performance of the latest processor, the Antutu is just as expected. For some reasons, most benchmark I used, namely Antutu and AndroBench , switched to portrait mode, so it may also be something that needs to be fixed, as other apps are likely to suffers the same fate.

Conclusion

I have to say I’m pretty please with WeTek Play so far, especially since the final firmware has not been released yet. I found it to be very stable, and virtually no point I felt the system to be sluggish, except for some rare occasions where the mouse pointer seemed to stuck for a short period at times. The team has managed to make full use of the chosen hardware, and most videos are support, I only had problem with VP8 and H.265, as both codecs are not supported by the VPU, and two other video files. It’s not to say everything is perfect, as there are still some bugs, but it looks promising.

PRO:

  • Stable firmware and good performance considering the hardware
  • User friendly remote control with IR for power, and air mouse function, and all buttons you would expect in Android
  • Excellent video playback, including Blu-ray ISO (albeit mitigated by mediocre Ethernet performance, if you play bitrate videos from the network)
  • DVB-S2 tuners with decent app with EPG, PVR, and TimeShifting feature
  • Support for multiple firmware image including Android and Linux, as well as support for CMW  and TWRP recoveries – See list here.
  • OTA updates
  • “True” power off
  • Cloud backup (Although not working yet)
  • External serial console port (for developers)

CONS:

  • Potential instability issues with Ethernet.
  • DVB-S2 app currently requires manual entry of satellite data (name and orientation), and EPG does not seem to work reliably.
  • UI set to 720p, which could be an issue for people requiring “true” 1080p output. But if you mainly want to watch / record DVB-S2 HD channels, this won’t be an issue.
  • No 24Hz support. Issue for people sensitive to small, but regular jitter when frequency is not set right.
  • Pass-through does not seem supported yet.
  • Some apps may wrongly switch to portrait mode.
  • I failed to transfer picture via Bluetooth

The only critical issue for my usage is Ethernet, but otherwise both the hardware and firmware are great. I’ll try Linux on the box, probably next week-end.

WeTek Play is not currently available for purchase, but should be soon, in the meantime, you can check more information on wetek.com.

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More Technical Details & Benchmarks about Nvidia Tegra K1 “Denver” 64-bit ARM SoC

August 12th, 2014 1 comment

The 32-bit version of Nvidia Tegra K1 have generally received good reviews in terms of performance, especially GPU performance, and the company has also provided good developer’s documentation and Linux support, including open source drivers for the Kepler GPU (GK20A) found in the SoC. But as initially announced, Tegra K1 with also get a 64-bit ARM version codenamed “Denver”, and Nvidia provided more details at Hotchips conference.

Nvidia_Tegra_K1_Denver_CPU
The 64-bit Tegra K1 will still feature a 192-core Kepler GPU, but replace the four ARM Cortex A15 cores found in the 32-bit version, by two ARMv8 “Project Denver” cores custom-designed by Nvidia. The multi-core performance of the dual core 64-bit Tegra K1 @ 2.5 GHz may end up being equivalent to the quad core 32-bit Tegra K1 @ 2.1 GHz, but the single core performance will be much better thanks to a  a 7-way superscalar microarchitecture (vs 3-way for Cortex A15), as well as 128KB L1 instruction cache, 64KB  L1 data cache, and a 2MB L2 cache.

To further improve performance, Nvidia implemented a new technique called “Dynamic Code Optimization” that optimized frequently used routines into “tuned microcode-equivalent routine”, and store then in a 128MB dedicated optimization cache in the main memory. The software is done by software the first time, as the optimization overhead is said to be outweighed by the performance gains due to optimized code. Dynamic Code Optimization works with all standard ARM-based applications, requiring no customization from developers, and without added power consumption versus other ARM mobile processors.

Adding new low latency power-state transitions (CC4 Cluster retention), extensive power-gating and dynamic voltage and clock scaling based on workloads, Nvidia claims their dual core 64-bit Tegra K1 processor will outperform existing quad and octa core processor on most mobile workload, and it should even rival mainstream PC-class CPUs with much lower power consumption. You can find some benchmark results below comparing Tegra K1 32-bit performance to Tegra K1 Denver, Celeron N2910 (Bay Trail), Apple A7, Qualcomm Krait-400, and Haswell Celeron 2955U.

Nvidia Tegra K1 64-bit Benchmarks Against Competition (Click to Enklarge)

Nvidia Tegra K1 64-bit Benchmarks Against Competition (Click to Enlarge)

Another good news is that Denver will be pin-to-pin compatible with the original Tegra K1, which should make it pretty easy for OEMs to upgrade their products. Nvidia is currently working on Android “L” the 64-bit Tegra K1, and products should be available by the end of the year. You can find more details on a white paper called “NVIDIA Charts Its Own Path to ARMv8

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Rockchip RK3288 Temperature Testing and Antutu Benchmarks

August 10th, 2014 13 comments

There are many upcoming Rockchip RK3288 based devices, and in the listing the CPU frequency varies from 1.6 GHz to 2.0 Ghz. so it’s difficult to know exactly what to expect. Ugoos has done some testing with their UT3 board measuring temperature after Antutu benchmark for different CPU clock frequencies and fan/fanless combinations.
Ugoos_UT3_HeatsinkThe board comes with a rather tiny heatsink which may explain some of the results below. They also added a small fan on top in about half the tests to compare the temperature against an heatsink only solution.

Without further delays let’s go through the results:

Frequency Antutu Score Temperature (heatsink) Temperature (Back of PCB)
Heatsink only Heatsink + fan Heatsink only Heatsink + fan
1.608 GHz 38655 67 °C N/A 70 °C N/A
1.704 GHz 39853 72 °C 50 °C 75 °C 60 °C
1.800 GHz 41440 83 °C 52 °C 85 °C 62 °C
1.920 GHz 43397 86 °C 53 °C 89 °C 64 °C
2.016 GHz 45226 N/A 55 °C N/A 67 °C

So while it’s correct to say Rockchip RK3288 can reach 45,000+ points in Antutu (resolution: 1920×1080), there likely won’t be any fanless solutions that will be clocked at 2 GHz and achieve that type of performance. From this test, it even looks like the new Rockchip TV boxes are likely to be clocked at 1.6 GHz, unless other companies select larger heatsinks. 38000 points is still a very respectable score in Antutu.

Rockchip RK3288 @ 2.0 GHz (with fan)

Rockchip RK3288 @ 2.0 GHz (with fan)

There are some products is the wild right now, notably with Nagrace HPH RK3288, and one user reports an Antutu score of “only” 31.328 points, but considers the firmware very fast, and with good XBMC support, but it currently lacks Google Play support, and one of the launcher is in Chinese only, so it’s not quite ready for prime time. If you want one, a group buying is organized via Freaktab for $180 including shipping, This is a version with 4GB RAM, 32GB Flash and HDMI In.

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A Quick Look at Antutu 5 Alpha 2 Benchmark

July 9th, 2014 No comments

Antutu Labs has released an alpha version of Antutu 5 on XDA Developers, and although I can’t share it directly,you can request a copy by sending an email to Antutu. I did that, received the apk (antutu-benchmark-v5-alpha2.apk). and decided to try it on Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite TV Box and ThL W200 smartphone

They’ve added three new tests, replacing the 2D and 3D benchmarks in the process:

  • Added CPU single thread benchmark (integer and float)
  • Real Game engines used for graphics benchmarks: Cocos2D, and Havok Vision
  • HTML5 Test
Antutu 5 (Click for Original Size)

Antutu 5 (Click for Original Size)

The user interface is very similar to Antutu 4, but you’ll notice the new HTML5 Web Test before starting a full test.

Antutu_5_2D_Graphics

Antutu 5 2D Graphics Benchmark (Click for Original Size)

You’ll start seeing more changes with the 2D graphics tests which are very similar, but you can still feel it’s different, and the test resolution is now clearly shown during the benchmark.

Antutu 5 3D Graphics Benchmark (Click for Original Size)

Antutu 5 3D Graphics Benchmark (Click for Original Size)

But it’s the 3D graphics benchmarks that’s completely different, and uses Havok Vision gaming engine. Both ThL W200 (Mediatek MT6589T with PowerVR SGX544 GPU @ 720p) and Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite (Amlogic S802 with Mali-450MP6 GPU @ 1080p) really struggled with the benchmark, rendering the demo often below 10 fps. More screenshots here and there.

Antutu 5 Benchmark Results (Click for Original Size)

Antutu 5 Benchmark Results (Click for Original Size)

The result window is about the same apart from the single thread results, and there’s no comparison window, possibly because it’s an alpha version. There’s also an history view that shows the results in a nice condensed form that’s not in Antutu 4, or that I never noticed. ThL W200 could complete the test, and surprisingly the score (16431) is about the as a Antutu 4.x (16412). On Vega S89 Elite, Antutu stopped right after the 3D graphics test, and I could not get a score. Most people seems to have a higher score with Antutu 5.x (e.g. Galaxy Note 3 N9005 gets 45,000+), so scores won’t be comparable directly.

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Categories: Android Tags: Android, antutu, benchmark, thl, tronsmart

VidOn.me AV200 Android TV Box Review

July 7th, 2014 1 comment

After providing some pictures of VidOn.me AV200 media player, and its PCBA, it’s now time for a review. I’ll start by giving my first impressions, and checking out the system settigns and user’s interface, go through my library of video test files, and cover most hardware features. As usual, I’ll also test Wi-Fi performance, but I’ve now added more tests including Ethernet performance, and USB hard drive support and performance with NTFS, FAT32, EXT-4, and BTRFS partitions.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

The device comes with an IR remote control with lots of buttons, including shortcuts, D-Pad control, digit keys and trick modes (play/pause, fast forward and rewind, next and previous), but the two required AAA batteries were not included, and I did not have spare batteries, so I did not use the remote control, which looks pretty OK for XBMC, and just control the device with my Mele F10 air mouse. I’ve connected an Ethernet cable, the provided HDMI cables, the Mele F10 USB RF dongle, and the power adapter to boot the device. It took around 40 seconds to reach the user interface, which looks pretty similar to the one provided with many recent firmware on devices such as Tronsmart Vega S89 or SZTomato M8.

VidOn.me_Android_Home_Screen

At the top left of the screen, clicking on the VidOn.me logo redirect you to their website. The small top right icons are for Download (with download speed shown in real-time), App (Kill, Move to SD card or Remove), Network connection, and date and time. The large icons in the center of the screen are for VidOn XBMC, and “folders” for TV shows, movies, games and music applications. The lower row is composed of icons redirecting to the list of apps, a file manager, and custom system settings. The Add icon allows you to add your preferred app to the row for faster access. The user interface resolution is stuck to 1280×720.

There are quite a few common pre-installed apps including Chrome, the Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, Pinterest, Skype, Fadcebook and Twitter. I had no problem installing other apps with Google Play.

The “Setting” menu gives you access to the settings shown in the same Metro-style with four sub menus: Network Settings, Display Settings, “Volume” Settings and Others Settings. Network settings let you choose between Wi-Fi and Ethernet almost no problem here, except the vey first boot, Ethernet is set by defautl as fixed IP without any IP, so you have to go to the Android Settings menu, via the Other Settings menu to configure Ethernet, not that user’s friendly… The Display Settings provide menus top configure HDMI output to 720p 50/60, 1080i 50/60 and 1080p 24/50/60, as well as slider for overscan adjustment. The  “Volume” settings are actually audio settings, that let you select the Audio output (HDMI or 3.5mm audio jack), whether it’s connected directly to a TV or via a decoder amplifier (pass-through), and adjust the volume. “Other Settings” are not settings at all, but report the model (Android Blu-ray Box), thefirmware version (V3.1.3), the MAC Address, and the n-board storage (1GB app partition, 4.14 GB internal SD card). There are also two buttons” System Upgrade” which allows for OTA or local upgrades, and “Advanced Settings” that are the Android settings you can find on any Android device.  There’s not much to see over there, except the kernel version is 3.3.30, and developer options are enabled. Ethernet configuration must also be done in the Android settings…

The device has been released last year, so I was expecting a super stable firmware, and it’s working pretty well most of the time, but I did get two random reboots, and once XBMC would not start at all, and I had to reboot to recover. There’s a power button on the device and one the remote, I did not test the latter, but pressing the former really shuts down the device properly, which is a plus.

Video Playback

The box comes pre-loaded with a special version of XBMC called VidOn XBMC Pro which I used for testing video playback. The first time you start the app, you have to register with VidOn.me and  login, or you can’t use XBMC, and I found that quite annoying. But I was pleased to be asked if I wanted to receive an automatic upgrade for XBMC, which I downloaded only to be told there was not enough space! That’s a new device where I only install 2 or 3 small apps (Root checker, and screenshot apps). That’s the result of silly partitioning like I had on my Android phone with 1GB for apps, and 4+ GB for data which is never used. So I used the App tool the provided to move some apps to the internal “SD Card”. When I went to XBMC again, they had to re-downloable the fully update yet again, which takes about 5 minutes, before it got successful…

But after a poor user experience due to forced registration and  problems with installating an update, I was pleasantly surprised as the user interface is very smooth and rendered @ 60 fps (1280×720), and I did not experience any slowdown.

Let’s start with video playback. Unless otherwise noted, the videos are played from a SAMBA share on Ubuntu 14.04 using the Ethernet connection of the device. I had no problem for SAMBA configuration in XBMC nor ES File Explorer.

Videos from samplemedia.linaro.org:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p – OK; 1080p – The video can play but there seemed to be some sort of screen/color blinking every few seconds.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – The video can played but lots of frames are skipped.
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p/1080p is – OK.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – Lots of frames skipped and massive audio/video sync issue
  • 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
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120Mpbs) – Some buffering occurs, and the video is not really smooth at anytime. Tested using a USB hard drive (EXT-4)

I’ve also tested common audio codecs below using downsampling:

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

Even there’s no Blu-ray drive to be seen, AV200 is sold as a “Blu-ray” player, as it is supposed to play Blu-ray. I could play Sintel-Bluray.iso in XBMC without issue, and navigate between chapters. 3D Blu-ray are also supported, but I’m not sure how to test it yet.

I’ve also tested several 4K Videos since AllWinner A31 SoC does support 4K decoding, but unfortunately hardware decode does not seem to have been implemented in XBMC:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (60 Mbps) – Audio cuts after 2 seconds, and video is very slow.
  • Sintel.2010.4K.mkv – Very slow playback, frames skipped.

I also tested several AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos, and they could all play. Finally, I also played some “motion bar” videos to check 24Hz, 23.976Hz, 50Hz, 59.940Hz, and 60Hz support, but there seemed to be jitter a bit all the time, so results are not conclusive.

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

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

I used to test only Wi-Fi, since I believed Ethernet performance would be pretty similar in all devices, but I’ve changed my mind, and will now provide both Wi-Fi and Ethernet performance results. The test consist in transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash, and vice versa, repeating the test three times. Transferring the file between flash and SAMBA took 1:49 (2.55Mb/s), and in the reverse direction it’s a bit slower as it took 2:18 (2.01 MB.s). There was very little variability between the test which is nice, and on average the transfer was performed at 2.25MB/s, a pretty decent result.

AV200_Mele_M9_WiFiCS868, Mele X1000, and AV200 (aka Mele M9) all happen to have a metallic casing, and I wonder if it could be related in any way to Wi-Fi performance, albeit T428 also comes with a metallic enclosure but does not fare that well.

The Ethernet test does not really test pure Ethernet speed, but a common use case transferring the same 278 MB between SAMBA and the internal flash. From SAMBA to the flash was done @ 3.43 MB/s (1m21s), and from the internal flash to SAMBA @ 4.27MB/s (1m05s).

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

There’s no Bluetooth support in both the hardware and firmware, so even external USB Bluetooth dongles won’t be supported.

External Storage

I could use an SD card formatted to FAT32 successfully.
I’ve also purchased a USB 3.0 hard drive that I partitioned in 4 with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS. Here are the performance results achieved by copying files between the internal flash and the partitions.

File System Read Write
NTFS 6.17MB/s 5.05MB/s
EXT-4 Not supported
FAT32 6.31MB/s 13.9MB/s
BTRFS Not supported

I used a stopwatch, and did the transfer with ES File Explorer waiting for the transfer window to disappear. I mention this detail because the transfer is reported as finished much earlier, but ES File Explorer appears to flush the file to disk for a few more seconds (around 20) before the transfer window is closed.I used a stopwatch, and did the transfer with ES File Explorer waiting for the transfer window to disappear. I mention this detail because the transfer is reported as finished much earlier, but ES File Explorer appears to flush the file to disk for a few more seconds before the transfer window is closed.

The read transfer speed is unfortunately not representative of the true speed as it must be limited by the internal flash write speed. I also tried to copy from FAT32 to SAMBA but it’s even slower. I’ll need to find another way…

Gaming

I’ve tested two games: Angry Birds Star Wars, and Beach Buggy Blitz. Both are running fine, including Buggy Blitz set to maximum graphics settings.

VidOn.me AV200 Benchmark

I’ve just run one quick benchmark (Antutu) since AllWinner A31 is not exactly new, to check there was not performance issues.

Antutu Benchmark Results (Click to Enlarge)

Antutu Benchmark Results (Click to Enlarge)

A 11399 score for a quad core Cortex A7 @ 1 Ghz seems about right, considering a Rockchip RK3188T (4x Cortex A9 @ 1.4Ghz) now gets around 14,000, so the score is probably helped by the PowerVR GPU.

Conclusion

VidOn.me AV200 is performing quite well, especially when it comes with video playback, but I feel a little worried that I had 2 automatic reboot during my day of testing, especially since the device went through several firmware iterations.

Let’s summarize the PROS and CONS

  • PROS
    • Smooth and fast firmware.
    • Custom version of XBMC with Blu-Ray ISO and 3D support, and HDMI pass-through
    • Very Good video formats/codecs support
    • High quality metallic enclosure
    • Good Wi-Fi performance
    • OTA firmware and XBMC upgrades
  • CONS
    • Stability problems.
    • Their XBMC version requires registration and login to VidOn.me
    • 4K hardware video decoding not supported, at least in XBMC
    • Poor partitioning of the flash, leading to problems to install apps or updates.
    • Device is sold out, and can only be obtained as second hand, or by buying Mele M9.
    • Further firmware updates very unlikely due to above reasons.

VidOn.me AV200 has one of the best, if not the best, audio/video format/codec support I’ve ever seen from the device I tested, baring lack of support for 4K, H.265, and some visual effects in one of my MPEG2 files, but I tend to test recently released device, and the VidOn.me team had more time to iron out issues with this media player, which makes the two reboots I had all the more disappointing, but maybe I was just unlucky, and it did not happen during video playback (One in ES File Explorer, and one in the System Settings).

As mentioned before, you can’t buy VidOn.me AV200 anymore, but it’s the same hardware as Mele M9, and according to reports you can install VidOn.me firmware on Mele M9 or A1000G.

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Onda V989 Tablet Powered by AllWinner A80T Achieves Close to 50,000 Points in Antutu

June 17th, 2014 9 comments

Teclast T97 was one the first tablet based on AllWinner A80, an octa-core CortexA15/A7 big.little processor with PowerVR G6230 GPU. It was announced way too early last December… There’s now another tablet much closer to an actual retail availability called Onda V989 featuring AllWinner A80T with a 9.7″ display and 2 or 4 GB RAM that come close to the top of the Antutu scoreboard with 48102 points.

AllWinner_A80TUnfortunately that’s all we know about this tablet at this stage. I’m not sure what A80T means, AllWinner A80 Tablet version?, or AllWinner A80 Turbo, with higher clock frequencies? There has also been some sort of silly season with benchmark related to AllWinner A80 with scores ranging from 23674 to 48102 points in Antutu as shown below for Onda V989. The low score was achieved when A80′s Cortex A15 cores were allegedly clocked at 1.2GHz , but it should be closer to 2GHz when it ships, unless there are serious overheating issues… We’ll find out the truth once products are available, hopefully in July, but the target release for AllWinner A80 seems to be pushed to the future every month…

Antutu Score for Onda V989 (AllWinner A80T)

Antutu Score for Onda V989 (AllWinner A80T)

Via pbhz

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