Last week I provides specs, took some pictures, and run Antutu benchmark on Iocean M6752, a 64-bit ARM smartphone powered by Mediatek MT6752 octa-core Cortex A53 processor with 3GB RAM, 16 GB eMMC, and a 5.5″ FullHD display. I’ve been using the device as my main smartphone for over a week, and I’m now ready to write a full review for the phone.
At first the material and color used on the back cover feels a little strange, but I quickly got used it, and the build quality seems pretty good, and the phone is very light. I must have made one or two calls during the week, and I mainly use my smartphone to check emails, run social network apps, browse the web, play some casual games like Candy Crush Saga, watch YouTube videos, and make Skype calls, and for these tasks I could not really fault the tablet for any of these applications. I was not a believer in Full HD display for smaller phablet screen, but now that I have tried, I can say the 1920×1080 display looks significantly sharper than the 720p display on my older ThL W200 smaprthone.
Battery life is decent, although it might be a challenge to get a day of battery life at time. I also noticed the charge drop from 100% to 85% overnight with cellular and Wi-Fi enabled at night, which still seems a little more than I would have expected. The phone boot in about 20 seconds, and I have to say overall I could not fault the phone during my week of testing, except for GPS.
Benchmarks: Antutu, Vellamo, and 3DMark
I’ve alread shared the Antutu results last week, but here’s it is again today. With 37,008 points in Antutu 5.6.2, Iocean M6752’s score is not quite as high as the latest flagship models Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Meizyu MX4 or OnePlus One, but it’s still pretty good, as it places it between Google Nexus 5 and Samsung Galaxy S5 both based on Qualcomm Snapdragon 800.
Antutu 5.6.2 Results (Click to Enlarge)
It’s always better to run a few other benchmarks, as Antutu score is easily cheated, so I also ran Vellamo 3.1 and 3DMark’s Ice Storm Extreme benchmarks.
Vellamo 3.1 and Ice Storm Extreme Benchmark Results
I used A1 SD Benchmark to test the performance of the internal storage. The results are pretty amazing, with 114.17 MB/s read speed and 77.79 MB/s write. However the utility reported “cache reads”, and this should obviously overstates the performance of the flash, but this is probably due to the 3GB RAM available in the system allowing for lots of caching.
Read and Write Speed in MB/s
Despite the probably inaccurate results, the flash is certainly fast, as the phone boots in 20 seconds. For reference, Infocus CS1 A83 tablet, second on the chart, boots in 15 seconds, and HPH NT-V6 (Rockchip RK3288) in 20 seconds, so the flash performance should still be at near the top.
Wi-Fi performance was tested by transferring a 278 MB file over SAMBA using ES File Explorer three times, and I placed the smartphone were I normally place TV boxes and development boards for a fair comparison.
Wi-Fi Performance in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)
Wi-Fi performance is excellent, as M6752 phone managed to transfer the file @ 4.1 MB/s on average (32.8 Mbps) only outperformed by two other devices, including one with 802.11ac Wi-Fi that’s not available with the phone.
It would have been nice to test 3G and LTE download/upload speed, but I don’t even have a 3G SIM card, and LTE is not supported yet where I live.
Rear and Front Facing Cameras
The 14MP camera does an excellent job, just as good if not better than my Canon point and shoot camera, and better a very clear during day time, but as usual still pictures and videos in low light conditions are not very good. The auto-focus works well, and close shots including small text are clear. The flash also does it job at night for close subjects. Video records only at 1280×720 by default, and I have not found a way to change the resolution in the camera app. Still picture default resolution is 4096×2304.
You can check photos samples, as well as video samples shot during day time, at dusk, and a night below that should be watch at 720p resolution. The original day and dusk videos are recording in 3GP format with H.264 video coded at 30 fps amd AAC stereo audio, but the night video drops to 17 fps.
The 5MP front-facing camera is OK, as long as the subject is not moving too much, and I’ve also used it in a Skype call without issues. Here are a few samples. Resolution is 2560×1440.
I installed Antutu Video Tester to test video playback on the smartphone, and results are mediocre with only 382 points against 700+ for the best device out there.
Antutu Video Tester Results
Many audio formats are not supported including wmav2, dts, ac-3, and flac. The processor also does not support 4K videos at all. It might be possible to improve video playback by installing thrird party media player apps like MX Player or Kodi.
I probably used the phone 3 to 5 hours a day browsing the web, checking email, watching YouTube video and playing some games, and a full charge in the morning would take me to the evening for sure, but maybe not up to late at night.
I used LAB501 Battery Life app to test battery life for web browsing, video playback (720p), and gaming. I started from a full charge until the battery level reached about 15%, with Wi-Fi and Cellular on, and brightness set to 50%:
Browsing (100% to 14%) – 303 minutes (5h05).
Video (100% to 12%) – 255 minutes (4h15). So good for about 2 full movies on a charge.
Gaming (100% to 15%) – 166 minutes (2h46)
So this confirms the 2,300 mAh battery will be depleted pretty quickly, at least compared to the results I got with Infocus CS1 A83 tablet with a bigger 3,550 mAh battery, but also a larger 7″ screen.
It took the phone 3h30 to fully charge from 0% to 100%. You can however get a 90% charge is about 10 hours, so the last 10% may take a lot of time.
I could pair with my other mobile devices without issues, and transfer pictures in either direction. Bluetooth Smart (BLE) also work, as I could retrieve fitness data from Vidonn X5 smartband.
When I ram Google Maps, and GPS test app at home (with Wi-Fi on), GPS seems to worked pretty well. But then I went for a short run, and checked GPS “performance” with Nike+ Running. This is a road around a stadium, so the tracking should look like an ellipse. Just for yourself…
I did wait for a GPS fix before running, and the phone was placed on my left arm, so it should have had line of sight to GPS satellites during the run. GPS is the weakest point of this smartphone. I just used the default settings, and I have not tried some Mediatek GPS hacks yet.
Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Bleach, and Riptide GP2 all played very smoothly, even with high graphics details thanks to the Mali-760MP2 GPU.
The touchscreen supports 5 touch points according to Multitouch app.
The smartphone has stereo speakers on the back, but they sound quite poor, and are nowhere near the good quality I get with Infocus C2107 tablet, so if you plan to use that smartphone to listen music with other people, you’ll definitely want to use external speakers.
If you want to get more details about the phone, I’ve filmed a video going through the user’s interface (mostly settings), showing some benchmark results, tryout a largish PDF in acrobat reader, playing Candy Crush Saga and Beach Buggy Racing, and more. The fisheye effect in the video is due to my using an action camera (SJ1000).
Iocean M6752 is really a great smartphone for the price, with a large and sharp screen @ 1920×1080 resolution, excellent Wi-Fi performance, a fast processor, lots of RAM, provides performance close to flagship models from better known brand, and most features works very well. Unfortunately, GPS does not seem reliable, video recording seems to be limited to 720p30, video playback is not so good (according to Antutu Video Tester), and it would be nice to have a couple extra hours out of the battery.
Relatively fast 64-bit ARM processor
Lots of memory (3GB RAM)
Clear and crisp 1920×1080 display
Outstanding performance for internal storage and Wi-Fi.
Pictures looks good in good lighting conditions, both for close ups and landscape shots.
Good gaming performance
OTA update (first time ever I get an OTA update on one of my Android phones…)
GPS is a disaster. It will lock relatively fast, but may not be very reliable.
Antutu Video Tester score is a little low (<400) mostly because of audio codec failures, and 2160p videos are not supported.
A slightly longer battery life would be nice, although it should be good enough from morning till evening.
Video recording might be limited to 720p, and quality is pretty poor at night.
Rear speakers do not sound very good
GearBest provided the Iocean M6752 smartphone for review, and if you think this might be a phone you’d like to get, the company offers the phone for $219.99 including shipping with Coupon “Iocean”. Other sellers include Tinydeal, Geekbuying, and Coolicool with price starting at $222.99.
So just as today I wrote about XBAND BLE Sensor board, the makers of Firefly-RK3288 also announced their own Bluetooth Low Energy board aptly named FireBLE, and also integrating a 6-axis gyroscope and accelerometer, but instead of being based on Nordic or Cypress, the company went with an NXP BLE chip.
FireBLE board specifications:
SoC – NXP QN9021 ARM Cortex M0 MCU @ 32MHz with 94KB ROM (protocol stack), 64 KB SRAM, 128KB flash
Bluetooth – BT 4.0 single mode. Central and peripheral mode with up to 8 simultaneous connections.
MPU-6050 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis accelerometer with an on-board Digital Motion Processor (DMP) capable of processing 9-axis motion fusion algorithms.
Battery and temperature sensor
USB – micro USB port for power and programming
Expansion – 3 expansion headers with access to SPI, UART, I2C, GPIO, and PWM, as well as OLED display interface.
Debugging – JTAG, support SWD online simulation on-board USB to serial.
Misc – Joystick, reset button, battery connector, 3x programmable LED
Power – 5V via micro USB port
Power Consumption – NXP MCU: Tx: 8.8 mA Rx: 9.25 mA; deep sleep: 1.8 uA
Dimensions – 80 x 45.5 mm
It’s much bigger compared to XBAND, but at least it should be easier to power and program thanks to its micro USB connector. The board will support OTA firmware update via a smartphone, and targets various applications such as sport & health, smart home, PC device, smart TV, smart watch, automotive applications, and more. FireBLE SDK, schematics (PDF), CAD files, firmware, drivers, and tools are available in the Download section, and there’s also a Wiki (in construction) with some extra documentation and tutorials.
FireBLE is not available just yet, and price has not been disclosed. The board seems to be the first member of FireSmart family, which could be composed some boards targeting Internet of Things applications. Further details may be found on FireBLE product page.
ZX Tek‘s XBAND is a board about half the size of a micro SD that comes with a Bluetooth LE radio and a 6-axis MPU6500 motion sensor that can be integrated into wearables and IoT applications such as a remote controlled robot with a camera., a wireless smart light-bulb, and iBeacon device and so on.
There seems to be two versions of the module XBAND 061-N51822 and XBAND 1018-CY8C4247 with the following specifications:
SoC (one or the other)
Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 ARM Cortex M0 MCU @ 16 MHz with 256KB Flash, 16KB RAM, and Bluetooth Low Energy support
Cypress PSoC4 BLE core ARM Cortex M0 MCU @ 48 MHz with 128KB flash, 16KB RAM, and Bleutooth Low Energy support
Bluetooth – 4.0/4.1 with high gain ceramic chip antenna
Sensors – On-board 6-axis MPU6500 motion sensor + an extra configurable sensor (not idea what that is…).
Connectors – Board-to-board connectors with access to UART, I2C, SPI and GPIO.
Power Supply – 1.8V to 3.6V
Dimensions – 18 x 6 mm (height is reported to be 1.5mm but it seems doubtful…)
Development for the Nordic version can be done with XBAND nRF51822 library for Arduino IDE, mbed online IDE, and Nordic BLE SDK for Keil and GCC, while you’d need to use PSoC Creator 3.1 for the Cypress version.
XBAND Arduino Library (Click to Enlarge)
The company is now looking to raise $5,000 or more via a flexible funding Indiegogo campaign (that seriously lacks details). A $10 “early bird” pledge will get you a XBAND (probably with Nordic, but it could be Cypress too.. just try your luck…), but it might be an issue to power it. I actually don’t know since no details have been provided about that. A better reward might be the $15 XBAND maker edition with an XBAND mounted on an Arduino shield, so that you can simply connect it to an Arduino board. Other rewards are available with different quantities. Shipping appears to be included and delivery is scheduled for June 2015.
The company also uploaded a video with a TRON like wearable band using the Nordic module.
The original Pebble Watch launched on Kickstarter about 3 years ago, and after selling over 1 million watches, the company is back on Kickstarter with Pebble Time, a thinner version of the watch with an always-on color e-Paper display, a new “timeline” user interface, a microphone for voice recognition, and 7 days of battery life.
The complete Pebble Time specifications are not available, but the company still listed some key features:
MCU – Cortex M4
Always-on, daylight readable 64 colors e-Paper display with backlight (no touchscreen)
Microphone for dictation
3x tactile buttons
Bluetooth for connectivity with mobile devices
Up to 7 day battery life
Compatible with any standard 22mm watch band
Water resistant and durable
Silent vibrating alarms
Language and international character support (Chinese coming soon)
The new Timeline interface focuses on past, present and future events such as basketball score, current steps, and weather forecast, and the three buttons are used for this purpose. The watch can pair via Bluetooth to devices running iOS 8 or greater and Android 4.0+ phones and tablets.
SDK and tools will also be available for the Pebble Time, built on the work done forthe original Pebble watch with some new and upcoming features:
C SDK for apps and watchfaces running natively on the watch,
New emulator that can be used on CloudPebble or locally
APIs for accelerometer, compass, bluetooth messaging, background tasks, GPS and HTTP request, etc
(NEW) Color APIs to support the 64 colors of the new Pebble Time screen
(NEW) Support for PNG and APNG
(NEW) Timeline APIs to push information from the web into the user’s timeline (no watch or phone apps required)
(NEW) UI framework to create beautiful applications that take advantage of color and animations
(Later in 2015) Voice to text APIs: add voice recognition to your apps
(Later in 2015) Smart accessory port for hardware hackers.
(Later in 2015) Bluetooth Low Energy API. Use Pebble to control BLE-enabled objects.
The new Pebble Time has already beaten a few Kickstarter records raising $500,000 in 17 minutes, $1 million in 49 minutes, and the pledges now amount to over 7.3 million dollars with 30 days to go. The company went for a massive 30,000 early bird rewards for the watch, and it’s still available for $179 since “only” around 20,000 watches went so far, after which you’d have to pledge $199. Price includes shipping worldwide, and delivery is scheduled for May 2015.
Zidoo X9 is quite a unique product on the market, as it’s the only low cost Android platform that I know of that features an HDMI input port with recording capabilities. The hardware is actually based on Kaiboer F5, with some modifications, but the latter focuses on the Chinese market, while Zidoo X9 targets oversea markets with an English firmware by default. I took pictures of Zidoo X9 and its board about a month ago, but a busy schedule and some initial issues with Google Play Store delayed the review. Finally, I’ve completed testing of the device, and ready to share my findings about performance, stability, and features in this review.
OTA Firmware Update
I’ve had to go through two firmware updates before carrying on with the review, and this part is working great, and they even include a detailed changelog with each release, which they also publish on their blog. Normally a window will pop-up once the firmware is available, but you can also go to App Manager->OTA Update to perform an online update, a local update, and/or check the update log.
Once the download is complete, it will reboot to complete the update.
Firmware 1.0.26 was used for this review.
First Boot, Settings and First Impressions
The package include a IR remote control which works fine with their user interface, and you’ll need the “Menu” key in the HDMI IN app, so even though I used Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse in many case, I still had to revert to used Zidoo X9 remote from time to time. I’ve connected my USB hard drive to the USB 3.0 port of the device, a USB keyboard, a USB hub with two RF dongles, a USB flash drive, and a webcam, HDMI and Ethernet cables, as well as a DVB-T2 set-top box to the HDMI input port. Boot time takes about 35 seconds. The LCD display ion the front panel shows “Boot”m “Hello”, and finally the current time.
Click for Original Size
The user interface is quite different from other Android media players, and I find it quite eye-pleasing, but I also noticed I need more key presses than usual to navigate the menus. There are mostly folders (Browser, Media Center, Video, Music, Game, Other Apps) with relevant apps, as well as direct shortcuts to Google Play, the App Manager (list of apps), and HDMI IN app that handle HDMI input and video recording function.
The Settings menu has fix sub-sections:
System – Standard Android Settings
Weather – To display the weather for your city on the top left of the home screen.
Clean Up – Task Killer, Cache Cleaner, APK File, and APP Manager (to uninstall apps)
Base Settings – Screen Saver Delay, Themes (Background image), Key Sound, and Use Featured Data (Probably for weather on home screen)
About – Provides info about the system
So most configuration options are done in the Android settings.
Wireless & Networks section includes Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Data use, and More… sub menus, the latter only listing Portable hotspot options. Sound options only provide S/PDIF option between PCM or RAW (for pass-through), but this also is also used to for HDMI audio pass-through. The Display sections let you adjust the screen scale, and select the resolutions: 4K2KP_30, 4K2KP_25, 1080P_60, 1080P_50, 720P_60, 720P_50, 576P_60 and 480P_60. I could set 4K @ 30Hz on an LG 42UB820T UHD television without issues.
Two partitions are available in the 8GB eMMC flash: “Internal Storage” with 1.97 GB total space for apps, and “SD CARD” with 3.49GB space for data. The “About Box” section confirms the model number is “ZIDOO_X9″, and that the system runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux 3.1.10, so not such a recent kernel. The firmware is rooted
Google Play Store caused me some troubles… Although I could login, each time I would enter the app the message “Check your connection and try again” would be displayed despite having no internet connection issue with the web browser for example. So I was unable to use the Play Store, even after clearing the cache, removing and re-adding my account, and even after factory reset… I was advise to wait for the new firmware (1.0.26), but even after an update the problem subsisted. But Zidoo had written a blog post about the issue saying to try between Wi-Fi and Ethernet. So I switched to Wi-Fi, but no luck, Finally I did a factory reset, configured Wi-Fi, and finally I could access the Play Store. Once the connection is up, it works just fine. Only a few applications could not be installed such as CNBC and Real Racing 3, but these can seldom be installed on Android mini PCs, maybe because of my location? I also installed Amazon AppStore to get Riptide GP2 game.
You can check the user interface, Kodi, and HDMI IN application in the video below.
There’s no standby mode with this device, it’s only power on and off, and you can do with with the remote control. I measured the temperature after Antutu 5.6 benchmark and 15 minutes of play in Riptide GP2, and the max. measured temperatures on top and bottom of the enclosure were respectively 37°C/43°C, and 37°C/50°C. But it did not seem quite right, and since I used a IR thermometer and the enclosure of Zidoo X9 is bright, the reading might be incorrect, so after adding some black stick tape, and a few hours of use, I check the top temperature again, and instead of 37°C, I got 45°C, which seems more like it. So the system gets a little hot, but it’s not out of control.
The system works well most of the time, but I’ve experienced several crashes for their internal apps, as well as Kodi. You can also one hang up in the video above, so system stability does need some improvement.
The box comes with Kodi 14.0-RC3 Zidoo edition (built on December 2014). The system info reports 1920×1080@60Hz screen resolution rendered at about 30 fps. I had some problems to connect to my SAMBA shares at first, but somehow it eventually worked. Videos have normally been tested via Ethernet using Kodi, unless otherwise stated.
Some results with samplemedia.linaro.org video samples, plus some H.265/HEVC videos (Elecard), and a low resolution VP9 video:
H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p/1080p60 – OK, but the 1080p60 video only renders at 30 fps according to Kodi
MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK, but framerate oscillates between 22 and 25 fps (video is 25 fps)
MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – Won’t play
WebM / VP8 – OK
H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – 360p OK, Audio only for the other two videos.
WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK
I also played some higher bitrate videos:
ED_HD.avi – OK
big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – Could be smoother
hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK
Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – Not really smooth. (18 to 24 fps for a 23.976 video). Played from NTFS partition on USDB hard drive.
High definition audio codecs have been tested downmixed to PCM using XBMC and MXPlayer, and audio pass-through has been tested with Onkyo TX-NR636 using HDMI pass-through to BD/DVD input, and S/PDIF pass-through using TV/CD input on the receiver. Pass-through is enabled in Android Settings (Sound->S/PDIF->RAW) for both HDMI and optical S/PDIF, as well as the proper settings in Kodi, as done here.
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio OK, but I could see tearing on the bottom of the video
Dolby Digital detected, but frequent audio cuts
Dolby Digital detected, but frequent audio cuts
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1
Dolby Digital detected, but frequent audio cuts
Dolby Digital detected, but frequent audio cuts
Dolby Digital+ 7.1
Makes Kodi crash
Video Stuck at 00:00, eventually leading to “MX Player is not responding”
Makes Kodi crash
Makes Kodi crash
Video plays in slow motion
No audio (PCM shown on receiver)
Audio formats not supported via S/PDIF
No audio (PCM shown on receiver)
DTS HD Master
“This audio format (DTS) is not supported”
No audio (PCM shown on receiver)
DTS HD High Resolution
“This audio format (DTS) is not supported”
No audio (PCM shown on receiver)
Using “Explorer” app, AC3 and E-AC3 pass-through works, and TrueHD and DTS-HD can also be heard but down-mixed to Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1. I’ve been informed that stock Android does not support HD pass-through (TrueHD and DTS-HD), so it would require customization from the manufacturers. If you need this feature, you should go with Linux or Windows HTPC, bearing in mind that the hardware also needs to support it.
I’ve successfully tested Blu-Ray ISO with Sintel-Bluray.iso. 1080i MPEG2 videos (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) could also play
Previously I reported that Zidoo X9 was the only platform that could support both photo and video playback at true 4K resolution among 5 others ARM devices running Android, and this is still true, but unfortunately it can’t play any of my 4K videos samples smoothly in Kodi:
HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Not smooth. ~15 fps instead of 29.976 fps
sintel-2010-4k.mkv – No smooth. 15 to 20 fps instead of 24 fps
Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Does not even start (stays in Kodi UI)
Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Does not even start (stays in Kodi UI)
Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Does not even start (stays in Kodi UI)
MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Does not even start (stays in Kodi UI)
phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Extremely slow. Kodi reports 9 to 10 fps, but it feels closer to 3 fps.
BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Does not even start (stays in Kodi UI)
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Not smooth
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Audio only, shows last frame of previous video.
Playing 4K videos in Kodi is not really an option, so I tried in the sample in “Explorer” app that comes with the firmware:
HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Plays OK, but could be smoother.
phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – “media server died”
BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Shows one image and plays crappy audio
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Audio only + message “video media error unsupport format”
Although you can’t really play 4K videos in Kodi, Explorer app does a decent job.
I also tested some 3D video, despite my 4K TV not supporting 3D, to check 3D video decoding:
bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – Plays at 20 fps instead of 60 fps
bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only
Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK
No device so far has been able to support 2160p 3D video, probably as it would need to support 3840×4320 video decoding.
One the other hand, Kodi managed to play all my AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB, and MP4 videos without A/V sync issues, and at a decent framerate. One annoying bug is that sometimes when you start a video, all you get is a black screen, you have to go back and try agin, and the video will play.
I perform stability testing on my USB hard drive (since SAMBA did not work at the time) with a 1080p movie (1h50 / MKV / 3GB). Kodi played the most at the right framerate, and only reported 20 dropped frames, instead of the often-reported 14,000 skipped frames on some other Android media players.
Zidoo X9 gets 698 points on Antutu Video Tester, a very good score (Maximum so far is 704). Audio failed to play only once, and quality is good based on that benchmark.
HDMI Input / PVR Function
HDMI input is the main selling point of the device, and it can be used with HDMI IN app only, which brings the following user interface.
HDMI IN App Screenshot (Click for Original Size)
You can see the recording path to the internal flash or external USB storage. If a USB hard drive or flash drive is connected it will create HdmiRecorder directory in the first partition by default, so this is what I used. You can send select the resolution (VGA, 720p or 1080p), the video container (MP4 or TS), and optionally the start time (called Bespoke here), and the length of the recording. You can click on Start Record to record immediately, or Add record to schedule a recording. For some reasons, I was unable to schedule multiple recordings, but the one I set started right on time. You can access the List of recorded video with the List tab on the left of the menu.
The user interface will quickly disappear (within 5 seconds) if there’s no user activity, but you can press the Menu button on the remote control to bring it back. Once you start recording, a red record button will be overlaid on the top right of the TV. You can stop recording anytime, by pressing the “Stop Record” button in the menu.
I’ve tested different use cases, and you can download the samples below to check yourself too:
Please bear in mind the videos won’t play in Totem or VideoLAN. I could play them in my PC with Kodi 14 and KMPlayer. The first three videos look pretty good to me, although some lines appear when panning in the first video (“Hello Kitty” Funerals), but it could be the original video. When I play the PC video in full screen, it almost feels the same as the original, so I’m rather impressed by the the quality. The text may not be quite as sharp as the original, but still pretty good to me. However, when scrolling in Firefox we can clearly notice it’s a video, as the text becomes blurry.
I started to experience some issues with OpenELEC. By default it seems the resolution was set to 1280×1024, and Zidoo X9 did not like that, reporting an error, so I switched to 1920×1080, and everything worked again. Another bad news is that audio pass-through does not work. If I play n AC3 video using this flow: OpenELEC on my PC->HDMI port of Zidoo->Onkyo TX-NR636 AV Receiver->TV, the receiver will probably detect Dolby Dolby 5.1, and I can hear the audio just fine, but the recorder won’t handle AC3, and just record AAC (for all videos), so audio is just silent here. Another problem is the quality of the video itself, and it’s quite choppy at time, and I can see obvious horizontal lines in some scenes too. The original video is 60 fps, my PC plays it at 51 to 52 fps, and output 1080p50, while the recorded video is 29.976 fps.
I did try TrueHD audio pass-through but this made OpenELEC lose video output, but it’s the same when I connect my PC to a Sharp TV, so OpenELEC must not like try to pass TrueHD to an HDMI input that does not support it…
Some people have asked about HDCP, but I don’t have devices, and checking in AMD Catalyst Control Center did not report anything about HDCP when I connected my PC to Zidoo X9. I’ve been told that you should be able to record PS3 output by entering the game first, then inserting the HDMI cable to the HDMI Input of the recorder. maybe something similar is feasible with a Cable STB, and some other devices.
Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)
I transfer a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share (Ubuntu 14.04) and the internal flash of the device in order to test network performance. This is done with ES File Explorer three times, and I average the results. My testbed has now changed since I got a 4K TV and AV receiver, and the device under test is now a little closer to the Wi-Fi router, around 5 meter + wall, instead of around 6 meters + wall. I’ve made the assumption that it should not much change the results, but maybe this is something to look into. With that warning out of the way, Zidoo X9 is the best 802.11n platform tested so far with an average transfer rate of 4.43 MB/s over Wi-Fi.
Throughput in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)
One the other hand, Ethernet could be better.
Throughput in MB/s
The below average Ethernet performance can also be confirmed with iPerf using “iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” command line:
TCP window size: 85.3 KByte (default)
[ 4] local 192.168.0.104 port 5001 connected with 192.168.0.105 port 59341
Client connecting to 192.168.0.105, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 136 KByte (default)
[ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 48609 connected with 192.168.0.105 port 5001
[ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth
[ 4] 0.0-60.0 sec 567 MBytes 79.2 Mbits/sec
[ 6] 0.0-60.0 sec 290 MBytes 40.5 Mbits/sec
File transfer worked without issue using ThL W200 smartphone.
Sony PS3 game controllers can’t be used because Sixaxis Compability Checker “could not load Bluetooth library”.
I could connect Vidonn X5 activity tracker over Bluetooth Low Energy to retrieve my fitness data.
Both a micro SD card and a USB flash drive formatted with FAT32 could be mounted and access. NTFS, EXT-4 and exFAT partitions on my USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted and accessed, and only BTRFS failed.
I ran A1 SD Bench to measure I/O performance of both internal and USB storage. My hard drive is connected to the USB 3.0 port for the device, and it did show for the read/write of the three partitions:
NTFS – Read: 44.33 MB/s; Write: 48.95 MB/s
EXT-4 – Read: 52.41 MB/s; Write: 62.00 MB/s
exFAT – Read: 52.51 MB/s; Write: 43.31 MB/s
So for this device, EXT-4 appears to be the best choice, at least for sequential read/write.
Read and Write Speed in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)
We’ve got one of the best Android media player on the market when it comes to USB mass storage performance, but unfortunately just like BFS 4KH it can’t really be leverage as both devices are limited by their Fast Ethernet port.
The 8GB eMMC flash in the device achieves 29.95 MB/s (read) and 15.30 MB/s (write), a good performance overall, with nice balance between read and write speeds.
Read and Write Speeds in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)
I installed Skype and Google Hangout. I managed to make the “Echo Service” call in Skype, but most of the time video calls failed, and I could only see the actual webcam image once, while most of the time a black screen was shown. The webcam icon showed in Google Hangout, and I could click to start a call, but I got no image at all. So neither Skype nor Hangouts worked at all for me, except for voice calls on Skype.
Three usual games: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Racing, and Riptide GP2. I played Candy Crush Sage with MeLe F10 air mouse, and the game was as smooth as on other recent devices. However, I did notice some delays with Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad in Beach Buggy Racing, and the game was not that smooth even with graphics options set to “highest framerate”. No delays in Riptide GP2, but again, although it’s playable, it’s certainly not as enjoyable as on more powerful platforms. On the plus side, none of the games froze at anytime, even after over 20 minutes of play.
Zidoo Z9 (Mstar MSO9810) Benchmarks
I had never used a product based on Mstar MSO9810 so I went through all benchmarks I normally run for my reviews. But before that, I checked out CPU-Z information.
Mstar 9810 CPU-Z (Click to Enlarge)
An Mstar Semiconductor quad core ARM Cortex A9 r4p1 processor @ 1.45 GHz is detected, together with a Mali-450MP GPU. The model number is Zidoo_Z9 (full_lemon) with the board simply called “lemon”, and the hardware “napoli”. Not quite sure what the difference is between “board” and “hardware”. 1579 MB RAM is available in total, the rest most probably being reserved for the GPU and VPU, with 1.97GB internal storage (CPU-Z only report the first partition).
X9 got 15,851 points in Antutu 5.6.
Antutu 5.6 Score (Click to Enlarge)
Quite surprising for a quad core Cortex A9 processor (in a bad way), because that’s lower than score I got (16,500+) with Amlogic S805 Cortex A5 platforms such as MXQ S85. It’s always possible one is cheating more than the other, and looking at the detailed scores, integer and floating point performance is better with Mstar as it should be, but RAM speed is rather poor (853 vs 1590), while graphics performance is slightly better, and I/O too. So memory bandwidth seems to be the issue here.
Vellamo 3.1 score for Metal Benchmark (534), Browser benchmark (1151), and Multicore benchmark (718) are mixed against Amlogic S805 with respectively 551, 1319, and 816 (but some test were skipped). So it more or less confirms Mstar 9810 performance is quite close to Amlogic S802.
Mali-450MP GPU found in Mstar 9810 might be clocked at a higher speed (and/or use a different amount of cores MP2 vs MP4), as it gets a little over 3,000 points vs 2,325 points in EM6Q-MXQ.
3DMark ICE Storm Extreme (Click to Enlarge)
Zidoo X9 is a unique product on the market thanks to its HDMI input, and video recording function, which works pretty well with some caveats. Wi-Fi is excellent, and storage performance (eMMC and USB 3.0) is also very good. The firmware works well most of the time, but a few internal apps tend to crash a bit too often to my liking, and Kodi really needs some work. The good news is that the development team seems dedicated to regular firmware updates, and is looking into users’ issues.
HDMI Input with PVR function works relatively well.
Ingenic introduced Newton2 platform for wearables a few months ago, and the kit with an AMOLED display, camera board and other accessories should go on sale in March for $80. In the meantime, the company has also been working on a lower cost internet of things (IoT) module and development kit powered by Ingenic M150 with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 targeting smart appliances, Wi-Fi speakers, smart toys, industrial control applications, and other smart devices.
Halley IoT Module (Click to Enlarge)
Halley IoT module specifications:
SoC – Ingenic M150 XBurst (MIPS) single-core processor up to 1.0GHz with 128MB LPDDR on-chip, 2D graphics GPU, VPU supporintg 720p30 H.264 video decoding.
Storage – 8MP SPI NOR flash (GIGA GD25LQ64)
Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.1 via Broadcom 43438 chip.
Expansion headers (2mm pitch)
8-bit parallel LCD interface,
Audio – MIC, Line-In and headphone, 2x I2S,
SD card (MMC interface)
USB device 2.0, and USB host 1.1
3x UART (2 with hardware flow control), 2x I2C, 1x SPI up to 50Mbps,
2x 12-bit ADC,
Power Supply – 3.3V
Power Consumption – 2mW (Standby, no radio); 10 mW (Standby, Wi-Fi)
Dimensions – 24 x 40 x 2.4 mm
Halley Module Block Diagram and Pinout
The module is running Linux 3.10 with TCP/IP stack, and the company claims Android OS could also run on external storage. This would have to be a lightweight version of Android as only 128MB RAM is available. The development kit is comprised of the module, a baseboard, and a debug board.
Ingenic Halley Devkit (Click to Enlarge)
The baseboard includes power circuitry to power the board with a micro USB port, reset and boot keys, some LEDs, a 14-pin male header, and UART connection to the debug board. It would have been good to have a micro SD slot on the back of the board, but none seems to have been included.
Even the board has not been formally launched, some documentation is already available for download including a product brief, a datasheet, and a developer’s guide. A Linux demo image and the SDK have also been released. The SDK includes a toolchain, source code for Linux and U-boot, drivers & tools, and a demo Android app (Airkiss).
M150 Block Diagram
It’s the first time I see details about Ingenic M150, so it might interesting to go through the specs:
News about Texas Instruments Sitara AM437x processors first surfaced in 2012, before being officially announced last summer. Beside TI’s own development kits, I had not seen any hardware based on the company’s Cortex A9 industrial processor, but Variscite has now unveiled their VAR-SOM-AM43 systems-on-module (SoM) powered by AM4376 , AM4378, or AM4379 SoCs.
SoC – Texas Instruments AM437x single core ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 1.0GHz:
AM4376 – No GPU, 4x PRU @ 200 MHz
AM4378 – PowerVR SGX530 GPU, 4x PRU @ 200 MHz
AM4379 – PowerVR SGX530 GPU, 4x PRU @ 200 MHz, and EtherCAT slave support
System Memory – 256MB to 1GB DDR3
Storage – 0 to 512MB SLC NAND flash, and 4GB to 32GB eMMC flash b module. 3x SD/MMC via edge connector
Display Interfaces – 24-bit RGB interface up to 1400×1050 resolution; 4/5-wire resistive touch support
Connectivity – 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet PHY + 10/100/1000 Mbps RGMII, 802.11a/b/g/n with optional MIMO, and Bluetooth 4.0 (TI Wilink 8 WL183xMOD module)
Other I/Os and interfaces available via the 204-pin SO-DIMM connector:
Audio – Analog / digital microphone, S/PDIF, and Line In/Out
USB – 1x USB 2.0 host, 1x USB OTG
5x UART up to 3.6 Mbps
3x I2C, 4x SPI, 1x One Wire/HDP, 2x CAN bus
RTC (on carrier board)
Camera – 1x CPI
Power Supply – 3.3V DC; Digital I/IO: 3.3V / 1.8V
Dimensions – 67.8 x 38.6 x 3 mm
Temperature Range – Commercial 0 to 70°C; Extended: -20 to 70°C, or Industrial: -40 to 85°C
VAR-SOM-AM43 Block Diagram
VAR-SOM-AM43 modules support Linux 3.14 and Yocto 1.6 (Daisy) with Qt 5, and Android 4.4 support is coming soon. Software documentation is available on the module’s Wiki, and support on Variscite’s forums. The company also provides mechanical and hardware documentation including a product brief, a datasheet, and mechanical design files (DXF) for the module, as well as schematics and a datasheet for VAR-AM43CustomBoard, the baseboard used for development and/or evaluation. TI AM437x TRM can also be downloaded directly from TI website.
VAR-AM43CustomBoard Carrier Board
The baseboard has the following key features:
SODIMM-200 socket to support VAT-SOM-AM43 system-on-module
External Storage – micro SD socket
Connectivity – 2x Gigabit Ethernet
Display – 18-bit 3 pair LVDS interface; 4-wire touch panel and capacitive touch panel support
Audio – 3.5mm jacks for heaphone and line INl; digital microphone on-board
Camera – Parallel CMOS sensor interface
USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports (including on OTG?), 1x micro USB port for debugging
Serial – 2x RS232 header (UART1 / UART3), micro USB debug port, RS485 header, 2x CAN buses
Expansion Headers – Several headers with access to 8-channel ADC, SD/MMC interface, SPI, I2C, McASP, and GPIOs
Misc – RTC + CR1225 battery socket, 4x buttons.
Power Supply – 5V DC input, 2.5mm DC jack
Dimensions – 11.1 x 8.6 x 2.4 cm
A complete evaluation kit (VAR-DVK-AM43) is also available with VAR-SOM-AM43 SoM, VAR-AM43CustomBoard baseboard, a 7″ WVGA LCD with resistive/capacitive touch, a power supply, an Ethernet cable, an RS232 debug cable, boot/rescue SD cards, and a DVD with documentation and source code.
Variscite Sitara AM437x modules and development kits are available now, with pricing starting at $42 in 1K order. Further information, including hardware documentation, may be found on Variscite’s VAR-SOM-AM43, VAR-AM43CustomBoard, and VAR-DVK-AM43 product pages.
Atmel has recently announced two SoCs supporting Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 that target M2M and IoT applications, namely WILC3000 wireless link controller and WINC3400 network controller which both integrate a power amplifier, LNA, switch and power management unit.
WILC3000 Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)
WILC3000 and WINC3400 should share the following specifications:
MCU – Cortus APS3 32-bit processor
ROM/Flash – 256KB instruction/boot ROM (160KB for 802.11 and 96KB for Bluetooth) along with a 768 bits of non-volatile eFuse memory
RAM – 420KB instruction RAM (128KB for 802.11 and 292KB for Bluetooth), and a 128KB data RAM (64KB for 802.11 and 64KB for Bluetooth), as well as 160KB shared/exchange RAM (128KB for 802.11 and 32 KB for Bluetooth)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n RF/PHY/MAC SOC (2.4 GHz)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n (1×1) for up to 72 Mbps
Wi-Fi Direct and Soft-AP support
Supports IEEE 802.11 WEP, WPA, WPA2 Security, China WAPI security
Version 4.0 Low Energy
Class 1 & 2 transmission
HCI (Host Control Interface) via high speed UART
PCM audio interface
On-chip memory management engine to reduce host load
Package – 6x6mm QFN; 48 pins. WLCSP (Wafer Level Chip Scale Package) is also available.
According to the information available on Atmel website WILC3400 adds the following:
Fast boot options:
On-Chip Boot ROM (firmware instant boot)
SPI flash boot (firmware patches and state variables)
Low-leakage on-chip memory for state variables
Fast AP re-association (150ms)
On-Chip Network Stack to offload MCU:
Integrated Network IP stack to minimize host CPU requirements
Network features: TCP, UDP, DHCP, ARP, HTTP, SSL, and DNS
So as I understand it the main difference between WILC3000 and WINC3400 is that the former provides low level Bluetooth / Wi-Fi connectivity, but the IP stack must be handled on a separate MCU / processor, while the latter also embeds the IP stack and Bluetooth Smart profiles.
WILC3000 chip is available now, and a fully certified module of this chip will be available in April 2015, and WINC3400 SiP and its module will be also be available at the same time. Pricing information has not be disclosed. A WINC3400 integrated module on an Xplained Starter Kit platform is also planned for Q2 2015. A few more details can be found on WILC3000 and WINC3400 product pages, including WILC3000 datasheet.