UDOO Neo was unveiled last February as the first hobbyist board features Freecale i.MX6 Solox Cortex A9 + Cortex M4 processor. I was expecting UDOO to design support board since their earlier UDOO board combined Freescale i.MX6 processor with an Atmel MCU, and the new processor allowed for integrating the same functionality into a single chip. The board is now on Kickstarter where you can pick UDOO Neo Basic for $49 (Early bird is $35), or UDOO Neo for $59 (Early bird was $45) adding an Ethernet port, some sensors, and 1GB RAM, instead of 512 MB for the Basic version.
But both versions of the board basically share the same specifications:
SoC – Freescale i.MX 6SoloX ARM Cortex-A9 core @ 1GHz with 2D/3D GPU and ARM Cortex-M4 Core @ 166 MHz
Misc – Coin Cell RTC Battery Connector, Green Power Status LED, Configurable Red LED
Power Supply – 5V DC Micro USB; 12V DC power jack
Dimensions – 85mm x 59.3 mm
The board features Arduino compatible headers, and can be programmed with an Arduino IDE running on a separate PC or in the board itself. It has similar functionalities as the Raspberry Pi as it runs Linux (and Android), and offers similar interfaces, but adds Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Smart, and 9-axis motion sensors. So if you have a project that requires the power of Linux, and the I/O flexibility of Arduino, UDOO Neo boards should cost a little bit less than competing solutions, be easier to configure, and provide a more compact solution.
The ARM Cortex A9 core will run Android 4.4.3 + Linux 3.10, with UDOObuntu distribution to become available before the board ships, and the ARM Cortex M4 should run MXQ RTOS. Android and Linux source code will be provided. They also claim UDOO Neo will be open source hardware like the original UDOO. However, a Google search for the older board only shows UDOO schematics in PDF format, but after checking a bit more, I found the documentation page where the Gerber files, BoM, and mechanical files are also freely downloadable. Since the original schematics are not available, it’s not 100% open source hardware, but it’s still better than what is provided for the Raspberry Pi boards.
Since it’s UDOO project team have been around for a while, there’s already an active community, and several example projects for the older boards, but many should be adaptable to the Neo boards, and since it’s Arduino compatible, you can also leverage existing Arduino libraries and sketches.
The Kickstarter campaign started yesterday, and they already raised over $40,000 out of their $15,000 goals. Beside the pledges for UDOO Neo boards, they also have various kits including one with a 7″ LCD touchscreen display, a power supply, and cables, and bundles with up to 5 boards. Delivery is scheduled for September 2015.
After LinkIt ONE, Mediatek Labs has introduced a new IoT development kit based on their Aster M2502 ARM7 processor with LinkIt Assist 2502 comprised of AcSiP MT2502A IoT SiP Core module, a 802.11b/g/n module, a GNSS module, and an exchangeable 240×240 16-bit color capacitive touch LCM Board. The AcSiP module can also be purchased separately, so you could use LinkIt Assist 2502 board for early development, because moving to your custom hardware based on AcSiP MT2502A module.
Display – 240×240 LCD module; 16-bit color depth; transflective; based on ST7789S driver IC.
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n via AcSiP CW01S module based on MT5931 SoC
Bluetooth 2.1 SPP and 4.0 GATT dual mode (part of MT2502A)
GPS via AcSiP CW03S module based on MT3332 chip supporting GPS, GLONASS, and BeiDou.
GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz / GPRS class 12 (part of MT2502A) with micro SIM slot
14x digital I/O (Voltage 2.8V)
4x analog input (0~2.8V)
2x external interrupt pins
1x I2C (master only) @ 100Kbps, 400Kbps, 3.4Mbps
1x SPI (master only) @ 104Kbps to 26Mbps
1x UART (Rx, Tx), 1x UART on USB
Xadow (Seeed Studio) connector
Audio – Speaker, headphone jack
USB – micro USB port for charging and development
Misc – Power button, 2x user buttons, vibrator
Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; 3.7~4.2V Li-ion battery (Battery is required to boot)
Dimensions – Board: 53x53x16 mm (with display); Module: 17x15x1.8 mm
Click to Enlarge
The kit includes LinkIt Assist 2502 Board, the 240×240 Touch LCM Board, a 240mAh Lithium-ion battery, and a user’s manual. The company provides the hardware design files including Eagle schematics and PCB layout for the main board and LCD module, as well as datasheets for the main ICs and modules.
Beside the hardware platform, Mediatek Labs also released MediaTek LinkIt Assist 2502 SDK providing a plug-in for Eclipse IDE (with CDT) and tools to update development board firmware and upload software. Key feature of the software development kit:
Compiles LinkIt Assist 2502 execution file format (.vxp)
LinkIt Assist 2502 API libraries used to create apps for the HDK
Communication functions for TCP sockets, HTTPS, Bluetooth 4.0 GATT and more
User interface through LCM display module with support for vector fonts (powered by Etrump), graphics, JPEG decompression, and more.
Compatible with Eclipse IDE (Indigo) with CDT plug-in (8.0.2 or later)
Supports Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 (So Linux users are out of luck)
LinkIt Assist 2502 Software and Hardware Architecture
I’ve read many people praise Logitech K400 Bluetooth keyboard for use with Android mini PCs, as it’s functional and costs just $25 on Amazon. I’ve just come across another similar keyboard with iPazzPort KP-810-35BTT that adds backlit keys and the touchpad zone can be switched to numpad by the touch of a button.
Click to Enlarge
Key features listed for the keyboard:
Backlit QWERTY keyboard with touchpad supporting multi-touch and scrolling bar.
Connectivity – Bluetooth 3.0; max distance: 10m
Power Supply – 3x AAA Batteries
Dimensions – 314 x 112.5 x 17mm
Weight – 218g
Material – ABS
It’s a standard Bluetooh HID keyboard so it should work with any OS including Windows, Linux, Android, Mac OS, iOS… One possible downside is the lack of left / right mouse buttons. I have such touchpad without separate physical mouse buttons on Acer Aspire E5 laptop, and while a left click is easy to do, a right click might be more complicated, and click and slide – for example to move a window – is a real challenge. The specs mentions multi-touch support, but I’m not sure that mean gesture like pinch and zoom are supported in Android.
Products leveraging Bluetooth Location technology have been around for a couple of years with tags like SticknFind, that you can stick to any devices and locate them with your Bluetooth enabled smartphone. A Texan inventor decided to integrate this technology into a rechargeable battery to easily let people find their remote controls or other battery operated device.
The Bluetooth transmitter is part of an AA battery, but they also provide a AA sleeve if your device requires larger batteries.
Once you’ve installed the battery, you need download and install EasyFinder app on your Android or iOS smartpphone, tablet, or smartwatch. It will let you register the battery, and estimate your device position, and once you are close enough, you can make the battery ring to find it more easily.
In case you perfectly know where your remote control is, but you just lost your phone somewhere, you can touch the logo on EasyFinder battery to make your phone ring.
The inventor is looking to raise $30,000 via an flexible funding campaign on Indiegogo. A $25 pledge should get you an EasyFinder battery (Early Bird), but a $35 pledge will also include a charger, and other rewards include multiple quantities or an early beta sample. Shipping is $8 to North America, and $12 to the rest of the world, with delivery scheduled for November 2015, except for the Beta which should be sent in October.
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.