Archive

Posts Tagged ‘cpu-z’

Rikomagic MK22 Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Video & Audio in Kodi, Benchmarks…

November 7th, 2016 4 comments

Rikomagic MK22 is one of the many Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S912 octa-core processor with typical hardware specifications such as 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet and dual band WiFi. I’ve already taken the box apart to check out the hardware in the first part of the review, so I’ll focus on the firmware, but I’ll keep it short focusing on typical problem areas, as I’ve already reviewed a bunch of other Amlogic S912 TV boxes such as Qintaix Q912 or Beelink GT1.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

First Boot, Firmware Update, and First Impressions

After having connected all usual cables and  accessories include a 1TB USB hard drive, and RF dongles for my air mouse and wireless gamepad, I booted the device, and after around 45 seconds (typically), I got to the main launcher.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

Since I received the device about a month ago, I decided to go to the UPDATE&BACKUP app to see if there was any OTA firmware update, and unfortunately, as you can see from the screenshot below online update was not enabled in the device with the error: “Check Failed! Check Your OTA Servier Argent” (sic).

update-backup-fail

So I went to Rikomagic download page, and I could find a new firmware, the latest USB burning tool, and instructions. It did not go very smoothly, but I still managed to flash the firmware, and I explained the issues I came across in details in the post entitled USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016. Still that was a disappointment to have to go through this, as the vast majority of TV boxes now support OTA firmware update through the network or SD cards, a much more user-friendly way to upgrade the firmware. The company explained that my early sample did not support OTA firmware update, but it should now. I tried again UPDATE&BACKUP, and got the same error, until I found another firmware update app called WirelessUpdate.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

It won’t detect a new firmware since I have RKM MK22_161031 firmware released a week ago, but it did seem to properly check the status from the OTA server, telling that was not new update.

I won’t go into much details about the settings, as you can check my other S912 reviews for all options, for example M12N review. HDMI CEC, Playback settings (HDMI Adaptation), and Power key definition were all present in MK22 firmware. I had no troubles with settings Ethernet, WiFi, and the system automatically set my TV to 2160p @ 60 Hz and kept it that way throughout. I did not have the typical HDMI CEC issue turning on my AV receiver against my will. So it appears Rikomagic fixed some of the issues I encountered in early S912 TV boxes.

about-mediabox-rkm-mk22

I could also enter Android Marshmallow settings, and access all usual options. A single unified 11.38GB partition is used for both apps and storage from the 16GB eMMC flash, and the system runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux kernel 3.14.29. The firmware is rooted.

The provide remote control worked fine for up to 8 meters, as further away some keys would be missed. I reverted to MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse for most of the review because its mouse mode and QWERTY keyboard make it so much easier in most Android apps.

I could also power on and off (long press) the system with the remote, and make it enter standby (short press), with the following power consumption numbers when all accessories, include a USB hard drive, are connected:

  • Power off – 0 Watt
  • Standby – 5.1 Watts
  • Idle – 6.2 Watts

Temperature wise the box top and bottom temperatures reach 44 and 52 °C max after Antutu 6.x benchmark, and after 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2, they rise to about 47°C and 59°C respectively. I could not notice any performance degradation over time in the game, and performance was the same as on other Amlogic S912 TV boxes.

After my initial frustration with having to upgrade the firmware using Windows based Amlogic USB burning tool, the device actually performance well, just like other entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes, with the advantage of having several bugs fixed (HDMI CEC bug gone, HDMI video setting constant, …). Google Play also worked with any problems and could install all apps I normally use for reviews.

4K Video & Audio playback in Kodi 16.1, DRM Info

While some Amlogic S912 TV boxes are pre-loaded with Kodi 17.0 (alpha / beta), Rikomagic MK22 comes with the stable version of Kodi 16.1, possibly with some tweaks, as well as pre-installed add-ons.

mk22-kodi-16-1
Again, I’ll be quick in this review, as Amlogic S912 video playback performance is well known.  So I’ve only tested 4K videos, and checked whether automatic frame rate switching and HDMI audio pass-through are working. All videos were playing through the Gigabit Ethernet connection from a SAMBA share, unless otherwise noted (HDD = played from USB hard drive).

4K videos are playing reasonably well, although 2 had some unusual issues:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – First time: Video exited early (after 2 to 3 seconds). Second time: 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) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Started well, but after 30 seconds or so the image froze with the audio still playing in the background.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth, and audio delay (hardware does not support this type of video)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK (although video did not seem as sharp as usual)
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) –  OK
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – HDD: Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Plays but could be smoother.

Automatic frame rate switching is not working just like on other Amlogic S912 devices, even after setting it in both Kodi and Android (HDMI Adaptation).

HDMI audio passthrough works for 5.1 channel audio, and I could not detect any audio cuts during testing contrary to what happens on some other devices:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK, but video not smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – OK
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 5.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • DTS HD Master – DTS 5.1
  • DTS HD High Resolution – DTS 5.1
  • DTS:X (not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636) – DTS 5.1

So if all you really is Dolby and DTS 5.1, MK22 should be good enough, but TrueHD and DTS HD audio formats are not supported, at least in Kodi.

MK22 support Widevine Level 3 according to DRM Info, which may be useful for some premium video streaming app. This DRM level is only good enough for SD resolution on Widewine “protected” apps, as Level 1 would be required for HD and UHD resolution.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Networking and Storage

In order to evaluate WiFi performance, I copy a 278 MBfile between the internal storage and a SAMBA server using ES File Explorer in both direction. As with many recent boxes, MK22 also experience an asymmetric performance between download and upload, with the latter about twice as slow. On average Rikomagic MK22 achieves 1.6 MB/s throughput using 802.11n, not a very high performance even for 802.11n, but what’s surprising is that all Amlogic S912 TV boxes are very closely tied for 802.1n WiFi performance, so there may be an issue with Amlogic SDK, or some other limitations.

WiFI throughput in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

WiFi throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Internal performance is also important for fast loading times and overall system performance, and the eMMC used in MK22 has very good performance with 63.65 MB/s read speed, and 20.23 MB/s write speed.

Click to Enlarge

Read and Write Speed in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

That means there should not be visible slowdowns due to I/Os (provided random I/Os are fast too), and indeed during testing I did not experience any slowdowns, and found apps to load rapidly. Somehow boot time could be a bit faster with such performance.

I also tested file systems support and found FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT file systems to be supported by the device.

Rikomagic MK22 System Info and Antutu Benchmark

CPU-Z reports Amlogic S912 clocked at 1.51 GHz, so Kudos to Rikomagic here, as they are the first to report the real CPU frequency of that processor. The board name is q6330, framebuffer resolution is set to 1920 x 1080, and there’s indeed 2GB RAM (1807MB due to hardware buffers), and 11.38 GB storage available to the user.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

RKM-MK22 achieved 40,827 points in Antutu 6.x, a score in line with other Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes I’ve tested so far.

rkm-mk22-antutu-score

Conclusion

I found Rikomagic MK22 to be stable and working mostly as expected, with some bugs corrected compared to earlier S912 TV box models under reviews, but with limitations frequently found in entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes with lack of support for automatic frame rate switching and HD audio (TrueHD, DTS HD) pass-through in Kodi, as well as DRM limited to Widewine Level 3. WiFi 802.11n is reliable, but performance is a bit weak, although similar to what you get with other Amlogic S912 devices. Storage speed is very good which ensure fast loading times and a responsive system. A big let down was lack of OTA firmware update, as I had to run USB burning tool to upgrade the firmware, but the company told me that from now on OTA firmware will be provided.

Rikomagic MK22 TV box can be purchased on the company’s Aliexpress store for $93.90 including shipping, or quite higher than equivalent competitors products. The Android box is also listed on GearBest, but still shown as “out of stock”.

VR SKY CX-V3 Android VR Headset Review – Part 2: GUI, 360° and VR Videos, and Issues

September 25th, 2016 14 comments

VR SKY CX-V3 is an Android virtual reality headset powered by Allwinner H8vr processor and featuring a 1080p display. I had read VR requires 2K or 4K displays to be useful, but since that’s my very first VR headset, if we don’t count the a Google Cardboard clone as one, I did not mind testing one with a 1920×1080 display, and it ended up being an interesting learning experience.

I’ve already shown the hardware with the various buttons, touch interfaces and lenses in the headset, as well as accessories like the charger and headphone in the first part of the review, so today, I’ll go through the interfaces, what works, and mention the issues I had with the device.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

If you’ve never used a virtual reality headset before, you’ll definitely want to read the user manual, which for once is written in proper English, both for entertainment value, and learn how to actually use it. They must have been inspired from other VR headset manuals, as the health and safety warnings have a North American touch to them.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You are even suggested to consult your doctor if you are pregnant, elderly, or suffer from a list of various diseases. Other pages mentions convulsions occurring for one in 4000 persons, and all sort of potential for injuries. It almost makes you regret your purchase, and give second thoughts about actually using the device.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Childern under 13 years old should not use the headset without adult supervision, and avoid prolonged use. I totally agree with the latter though, but it’s not really comfortable to use for extended period of times due to head and eye strains. There are about ten pages about potential hazards and health issues.

The manual also explicitly warns that:

When you are wearing glasses, do not wear VR Sky. Doing so may lead to facial injuries. If you need vision correction lenses, it is recommended, it is recommended that you wear contact lenses using VR Sky.

My myopia is too strong to use the headset without correction, and since I’m not going to wear contact lenses, I called the warning “BS”, and tried using it with my glasses.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I had no particular issues doing so, but obviously it’s tight, and how well it fits will depend on your glasses’ dimensions. The headset does not push the glasses down, so there’s no added pressure on the nose, as long as you set the head straps properly.

After having charge the headset with the provided charger, or any 5V phone charger, it’s time to press the power button to get started. The boot should complete in less than one minute, and you will be in Nibiru 360 degree user interface.

nibiru-virtual-reality-user-interface

Click to Enlarge

Since we have a 1920×1080 display, you’ll have one 960×1080 image in each eye, which explains the look of the screenshot above. You are located in a room with sofa, tables and lights on the back, and large windows with night view on the city, and you can move head left and right and up and down will allow you to navigate in the menu with five icons: Apps, Theater, Pano, Photos, and Tools. Theater app will put you in an actual theater and stream from a list of 2D or 3D videos, and Pano app (shown below) will do something similar but for 360 & VR videos, and requires you to download videos before playing. All preinstalled apps worked well, but content is not really exciting, as those are only demo videos.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Before going a bit more through the user interface and apps, let’s get familiar with the user inputs on the headset.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

On the left side of the headset, we have the switch button (power on/off & standby), and the Nibiru button used to enable/disable the mouse pointer, brightness adjustment, switch to VR mode (aka 3D mode), and close the app.

nibiru-button-options

Nibiru Button Options

On the right side, we’ll find the touchpad, similar to a D-Pad with OK button in the center, and used browsing menu left <-> right, and up <-> down, the back button, as well as the volume buttons.

Nibiru main user interface always have a selection dot, so you don’t need to enable “head mouse” mouse, but in many apps you’ll need to enable the mouse pointer and control it with head movement.

In order to do anything useful with the headset, you’ll need to configure WiFi first. To do so, enter Tools->Settings menu, and select WiFi.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

It should list available access point, and you can input the password using the software keyboard using both head movement, and the center of the touchpad to validate each character.

Click to Enlarge

Software Keyboard used with YouTube – Click to Enlarge

I had no problem connecting to WiFI. The first time it’s quite fun to type text that way, but it’s quite slow, and very soon it will become frustrating. So I connected a USB keyboard instead, and look though the opening around the nose, or lifting the headset, in order to type. That’s where using a smartphone + VR headset kit proves more convenient than all-in-one solutions, as first setup and app installation is much easier that way. In theory voice search would help, but Google Search app could not hear me at all through the provided headset which appears to include a microphone.

I went to the list of app, start Google Play Store, logged in with my credentials, and went to my PC on play.google.com to installs to “Allwinner Eagle” device, which is how SKY VR CX-V3 is recognized.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

It worked quite well as I could install Cardboard, a few other virtual reality apps, Asus File Manager to copy files to/from my computer, Kodi 16.1, CPU-Z, and Antutu, but no Antutu 3D.

CX-V3 kit is also supposed to supported OTA firmware update, and when I click on “Check online”, it’s telling it has add a file to the download queue, but after one day, I still did no get a new firmware. Maybe I missed something here.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

So I used the default firmware for review: Nibiru 2.00.001 apparently released on June 14, 2016. The model number is VR0061.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Let’s play with Google Cardboard app now, which had no problem detecting my VR kitas Nibiru OSVR0061.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

But then I would see two nearly identical mirror images in each eye with a bar in the middle. That’s where you need to press the Nibiru button and enable VR mode in order to enter 3D mode. The only problem is that if I keep my two eyes opened the results will show an overlapped image, and that’s when I discovered a big problem with that headset: fixed IPD (Inter-pupil distance) allegedly set to 64mm, which means it can’t be calibrated. I asked somebody else to try, and they said it worked just fine for them. We measured the distance between the center of each pupil to be 65mm for me, and 60 mm for the other person. So when you purchase a virtual reality headset make sure it supports “adjustable IPD”, or it may not work properly with virtual reality applications. This won’t be a problem to navigate the menus, watch 360 degree videos, or even 2D videos. Some 3D/VR video play just fine, while others will exhibit the same issue.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I tried again with another Virtual Reality app from the Google Play store, namely, VR Roller Coaster, and I had the same issue.

So I can’t use VR applications due the space between my eyes being too bad, but I surely can play 360° Videos in YouTube. Except I could not do that either. The cardboard icon normally shown in  360° Videos in  my smartphone (as shown below) could not be seen in the YouTube app running in the virtual reality headset.

youtube-cardboard

No Cardboard Icon for Nibiru

That means I would see all pixels of the video in a rectangle, so pretty much useless.

I could also install Kodi, and play 2D videos without issues, except they all look like SD resolution to due the display. I tried some 3D videos stereoscopic videos (under/over and side-by-side) and 3D MVC videos, but It did not work even after enabling 3D support in the app. I think this type of device is not suitable for this type of videos. I’m here to learn, if you know do let me know what kind of 3D video I could use…

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Finally, in the name of science, I side-loaded two apps for people old enough to drive without being accompanied, and while the apps could run, and I could navigate through the list of videos, both would crash when starting streaming…

I’ll complete this review by showing some of the information returned by CPU-Z app.

sky-vr-cx-v3-cpu-z-soc

Allwinner octa-core processor up to 1.8 GHz with PowerVR SGX544MP GPU…sky-vr-cx-v3-cpu-z-device

The model is called Eagle (eagle_fvd_p1) as reported in Google Play store, the brand is Nibiru, the resolution 1920×1080, and there’s 1761MB RAM in total, and 12.04GB storage available to the user.sky-vr-cx-v3-cpu-z-systemThe package clearly states CX-V3 is running Android 5.1, but CPU-Z disagrees as it is instead reporting Android 4.4.2 running on top of Linux 3.4.39 kernel. The device is rooted. I have not been able to find the developer settings, and could not enable adb. [Update: adb over WiFi is not working, but it’s enabled over the micro USB port. You can also access Android settings & developer options by clicking several times on “VR Version” row in “About Device” section of Nibiru interface]

While in Nibiru interface you have 960×1080 pixel in each eye, non-VR apps like CPU-Z will be shown using 864×486 per eye.

I’d like to thank GearBest for sending a Android VR headset for review, and in case you are interested in the device, they sell it for 117.74$ with coupon LHSKY. VR SKY CX-V3 Android VR Headset can also be bought on DealExtreme, eBay, Aliexpress, and GeekBuying for various prices.

Zidoo X9S Realtek RTD1295 Android & OpenWrt TV Box System Info & Benchmarks

September 9th, 2016 19 comments

Zidoo X9S is the first Android TV box based on Realtek RTD1295 quad core Cortex A53 processor that I’ve received for review. So in this post, I’ll show some system information with CPU-Z, and Android & OpenWrt Settings, and run typical Android benchmarks such as Antutu 6.x, Vellamo, and 3Dmark.

Zidoo X9S / Realtek RTD1295 Android System Info

CPU-Z detects Realtek RTD1295 is a quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor clocked between 600 MHz and 1.4 GHz with an ARM Mali-T820 GPU, and uses an unknown governor… But in adb shell, tje command “cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor” reports an ondemand governor is used.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The system runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 4.1.17 (I think it’s the first time I see a Linux 4.x kernel used in a TV box…), and with 1920×1080 resolution. Total RAM is shown to be 1672 MB, most probably because some RAM is reserved for the GPU and VPU out of the 2GB RAM. There’s only 8.91 GB internal storage out of the 16GB eMMC flash, which is quite lower than on other TV boxes, but there’s at least one reason for this: OpenWrt is also running in the box. Zidoo however told they plan to optimize this in order to offer more space to the user.

realtek-rtd1295-storage-ntfs-exfat-ext4-sata-usb3Another interesting aspect of Realtek RTD1195 is support for USB 3.0 and SATA storage, and with the 12V/3A power supply that comes with the box, I could connect both a USB 3.0 hard drive to the USB 3.0 port, and a SATA drive (CNXSoft shown above) to the external port.  My USB 3.0 drive has 4 partitions, and with the exception of BTRFS, all other file systems could be mounted: NTFS, exFAT, and EXT-4. NTFS is implemented with Paragon NTFS, a commercial implementation, which usually delivers much better performance than NTFS-3G.

Zidoo X9S / Realtek RTD1295 OpenWrt System Info

So let’s have a look at OpenWrt. First I can see some OpenWrt process within Android using adb shell:

and I also scan Zidoo X9S IP address from my Ubuntu machine to discover a few oen ports:

So there are port SSH and HTTP ports running, but you can’t access SSH just yet, as you need to set the root password first. To do, you can access the configuration page from Zidoo (http://127.0.0.1), or any browser on your LAN (http://[ZIDOO-X9S IP address]). zidoo_openwrt_rtd1295_luciIt should redirect you to LuCI interface, and you can login with no root password. There’s a security issue here, as your personal files may be exposed if you forget to set the root password, or to disable OpenWrt if you don’t need it.

zidoo-openwrt_set_password In order to set the root password, go to System->Administration input your password, and click on Save & Apply.

Now that we have configured the system, we can check the status, and see that it’s running OpenWrt Chaos Calmer 15.04.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You can also enable/disable some OpenWrt services within Android itself by going to Settings->More->Openwrt Settings.

Zidoo X9S / Realtek RTD1295 Benchmarks

Zidoo X9S got 34,973 points in Antutu 6.x, in the expected range for a quad core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.4 GHz. The result is  a little lower than  Antutu 6.x for Amlogic S905 processor @ 1.5 Ghz.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The 3D score is quite faster thanks to the Mali-T820MP GPU, but UX, CPU and RAM scores are lower.

Moving on to Vellamo, Zidoo X9S got 1,457 for Multicore, 831 for Metal, and 2,638 for Browser using Chrome (the stock browser is not an option in X9S firmware). This compares to 1,589 for Multicore and 1,235 for Metal achieved by MINIX NEO U1 TV box based on Amlogic S905 SoC. The browser score for the latter (2,157 points) is not directly comparable since it was done with the stock Browser, not Chrome.
vellamo_zidoo-x9s
Finally, I’ve tested 3D graphics performance again using 3D Ice Storm Extreme 1.2.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The total score (4,574 points) is surprisingly only slightly higher than on Amlogic S905 with Mali-450MP GPU (4,327), and significantly lower than on Amlogic S912 with ARM Mali-T820MP3 (5,752), which is supposed to have the same GPU as Realtek RTD1295, maybe it’s clocked lower on the latter, or RAM performance has an impact on the score. Zidoo X9S does not come with any heatsink on the processor, but instead a metal shield covered with “graphite nano thermo material”, so it might be a cooling issue too.

Review of Vernee Apollo Lite Smartphone with Mediatek Helio X20 SoC – Part1: Unboxing, First Boot and Benchmarks

August 31st, 2016 6 comments

Vernee Apollo Lite is the little brother of Vernee Apollo, both based on Mediatek Helio X20 deca-core Cortex A72/A53 SoC, but with the Lite version having lower hardware specs otherwise, and being one of the few ARM Cortex A72 smartphones selling for less than $200 (at least in China). Tomtop, a Chinese online store, sent me a sample for review, and today, I’ll start by going through the tech specs, then check out the phone design and its accessories, and finally run a few benchmark, before posting a more detailed review in one or two weeks, where I’ll have more experience and feel about the phone.

Vernee Apollo Lite Specifications

I had posted some specs about the phone when it was first released, but they were incomplete at the time, and Vernee now released the full specs for their Apollo Lite:

  • SoC – Meaitek Helio X20 (MT6797) deca-core processor with 2x Cortex A72 cores, 4x Cortex A53 cores, and 4x low power Cortex A53 cores, as well as ARM Mali-T880MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash  + micro SD card slot (up to 128GB) share with one nano SIM card slot
  • Display – 5.5″ full HD (1920×1080) 2.5D display with Gorilla Corning 3 glass; 5-point touch
  • Camera – 16.0MP rear camera with dual LED flash, 5.0MP wide angle front-facing camera. Video up to 4K2K @ 30fps; 1080p @ 60fps
  • Cellular Network
    • 2G – GSM 900/1900/2100MHz
    • 3G – WCDMA 900/2100MHz
    • 4G – FDD-LTE 800/1800/2100/2600MHz
    • Dual SIM dual standby (DSDS): 1. Micro SIM + Nano SIM; 2. Micro SIM + micro SD card
  • Wireless Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS
  • USB – USB Type-C OTG port
  • Misc – Pressure type fingerprint scanner, gyro, compass, hall effect, gravity sensor, ambient light sensor, touch sensor, LED notification light
  • Power Supply – 5V/7V/9V @ 2.0A/12V @ 1.5A power supply compatible with Pump Express 3.0
  • Battery – 3,180 mAh LiPo battery
  • Dimensions – 152 x 76.2 x 9.2 mm
  • Weight – 175 grams

The phone runs Android 6.0.

Vernee Apollo Lite Unboxing

The device comes in a black retail package with “Vernee Apollo Lite” text on the top, and some specifications on the bottom of the package.

Vernee_Apollo_Package

The phone ships with a 5 to 12V fast charger, a USB-C to USB cable, a user manual, a card with a QR code linking to www.vernee.cc, and a “SIM needle”.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Apollo Lite smartphone build quality feels good and sturdy. The screen is slightly curved on the edges (hence the “2.5D display” I suppose), with the front having the usual camera and light sensor, and the back a camera with dual color LED flash, and the finger print sensor right under it.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The bottom of the phone include two speakers and the USB type C port used for charging, and since its a USB OTG port according to the specs, you should also be able to connect other USB devices with the right adapter.

Vernee_Apollo_Lite_Speakers_USB-C

The 3.5mm audio jack is not dead yet after all, and you can find one on the top of the device.

Vernee_Apollo_Lite_Headphone_Jack

One of the side features the power and volume buttons….Vernee_Apollo_Lite_Buttons…while the other side has two slots for your Micro/Nano SIM card(s) and/or micro SD card. This is where you need the “SIM needle” to pull out the two slots where you can place your cards. The top one supports SIM and SD cards, the bottom one only SIM cards.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The enclosure does not seem designed to be easily opened, so I’m unsure whether the battery is replaceable.

You can also watch the unboxing video if you please.

Vernee Apollo Lite First Boot and OTA Update

The phone is little slow to boot, as it typically does so in about one minute, but hopefully, it’s not something you’ll often have to do. The device is using stock Android Launcher, and you have all basic apps (I installed Antutu and CPU-Z myself) you’d expect including Google Play Store.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The About section reports the phone is named “Apollo Lite” and runs Android 6.0 on top of Linux 3.18.22. The source code has not been released yet, but people have been asking in the Forums in the last week or so, as Vernee has done so for some other of their phones.

After I installed a 32GB micro SD card in phone, I was asked whether to use it as Internal storage or Portable storage, and I went for the former. After micro SD card format completed, I had about 54 GB device storage. After connecting to WiFi, I also went to check for firmware update, and one released two days ago (29/08/2016).

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I could download it, but sadly it failed to apply showing the Android logo with Error string. I also noticed many apps, including Firefox and QR Droid, are crashing when I attempt to start them. So that’s not really the best of start. I’ll check out the forums to see if I can get some help, and solve my issues.

Vernee Apollo Lite System Info and Antutu Benchmark

Luckily both CPU-Z and Antutu 6.0 are running just fine. The first properly detect Mediatek Helio X20 deca-core processor, and an ARM Mali-T880MP GPU.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The reported CPU frequencies are likely wrong however, as all cores should not be able to reached 1.85 GHz. Vernee is the new brand of NewBund, so that’s why the company is listed as the manufacturer. The screen resolution is 1080×1920 with 400 dpi, there’s 3842MB RAM in total, and 25.16GB available from the internal eMMC flash.

Antutu 6.x score is the fastest of all devices I own with 81,623 points, helped with Cortex A72 cores, and a fast ARM Mali-T880MP GPU.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

That’s all for today. Tomtop kindly provided the sample for review, and if you’d like to purchase one you can do so on their website for $225.99 including shipping, and even bring that down to $218.99 with APOLLO7 coupon ($7 discount). The phone can also be purchased on a variety of other online shops including GearBest, GeekBuying, eBay, and Aliexpress for $227.99 and up.

M12N Amlogic S912 TV Box Benchmarks

August 17th, 2016 19 comments

Since Shenzhen Shiningworth MXQ Plus M12N is my first TV box powered by Amlogic S912 octa-core processor, I’ve decided to write a separate post to show system information with CPU-Z, and benchmark results with Antutu 6.x, Vellamo 3.x, and 3Dmark Ice Storm Extreme. Please note that it may not be representative of all Amlogic S912 boards, as mentioned in the teardown post, there are some concerns about the thermal design of M12N TV box.

M12N / Amlogic S912 System Info

I’ve merged CPU-Z’ SOC, DEVICE and SYSTEM data into a single table.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The app correctly detects an 8 core Cortex A53 processor @ 100 MHz to 2.02 GHz with an ARM Mali-T820 GPU. The brand for this particurlar device is MXQ, and Model m12n. Frame buffer resolution is 1920×1080, and memory and storage data are both OK for a box with 2GB and 16GB flash. The device runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 3.14.29.

M12N / Amlogic S912 Benchmarks

With 8 cores and a faster GPU, I was expecting a much higher Antutu 6.x score with Amlogic S912.

Antutu_6_Amlogic-S912_M12N
The box however only achieved 41,303 points in Antutu 6.2, which compared to 38,032 points on Amlogic S905 based MINIX NEO U1 running Android 5.1 with the same Android 6.x benchmark. The 3D score is naturally higher because of the fast GPU, and also begin the MaliT-820MP3 GPU also supports OpenGL ES 3.1, which was skipped on Amlogic S905. UX, CPU and RAM scores are about the same, or slightly lower in Amlogic S912. So there’s a problem here either because of thermal design, or Android 6.0 Amlogic SDK still needs some work. I launched the benchmark again another day, and got 38,798 points.. 3D was a little higher (9,353), UX and CPU slightly lower (14,088 + 12,414), but RAM test collapse d to 2,943 points.

Vellamo 3.2 offers some more perspective, and one of the Multicore tests failed (see yellow “warning” triangle) because of a “Sysbench issue with Finepar: Invalid CPU mode”.
Vellamo_AMlogic_S912_M12N
For reference, MINIX NEO U1, one of the fastest and most stable Amlogic S905 TV boxes, got respectively 1,587, 1,235, and 2,157 points for Multicore, Metal, and Browser scores. Again, that’s not a pretty picture for Amlogic S912 or M12N TV box.

3Dmark Ice Storm Extreme provides a slightly more positive picture.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

M12N achieved 5,752 points, against only 4,327 points for MINIX NEO U1. You’ll also note the CPU frequency appears to maxes out at 1.5 or 1.6 GHz instead of the claimed 2.02 GHz. M12N score is quite lower than the 7,512 points achieved in Rockchip RK3288 (ARM Mali-764 GPU) based Tronsmart Orion R28 running Android 4.4, and released in 2014.

Results are quite lower than what I would have expected, so there could be a problem with cooling (despite the rather short Android benchmarks), and/or Android 6.0 Amlogic SDK or M12N firmware might need some more work.

Pine A64 Board Quick Start Guide & Benchmarks with Android 5.1

May 31st, 2016 15 comments

Pine A64 is one of the development boards with the best cost/performance ratio, as it sells as low as $15 + shipping. I received Pine A64+ board with 2GB RAM at the end of last month, and decided to start playing with Android, as Linux distributions such as Longsleep Ubuntu appear to require a little more work. So in this post, I’ll report my experience with installing and running Android 5.1 on the board, and share some Android benchmark results.

Pine A64 Board Pictures

You’ll receive the board in cardboard package with Pine64 branding.

Pine_A64_package

You can check which version of the board you’ve been sent on the side of the package: PA64512 (512 MB RAM), PA641GB (1GB RAM), or PA642GB (2GB RAM).
Pine_A64_Version

The top of the board has been photographed often but here it is again. I’ve been sent the 2GB version without wireless module.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The bottom of the board has two RAM chips, and not much else.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I was quite surprised by the size, as it’s quite bigger than I expected.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

From top left to bottom right: Raspberry Pi 2, Raspberry Pi Zero, Orange Pi One, ODROID-XU3, and Pine A64

Installing and Running Android 5.1 on Pine A64 Board

The list of Android and Linux firmware images can be found on Pine64 Wiki. The latest version of Android 5.1 has been released on May 5 2016 with SD card images for 8, 16, 32, and 64GB capacity, as well as Phoenix Card image with need to be installed with Windows or Linux tools. The only advantage of the Phoenix Card image is that it will not waste any bytes on your micro SD card, but since it should be negligible, I went ahead with the 32GB SD card image version:

I did so in a Ubuntu 16.04 computer, but other Linux distributions will have similar instructions, and in Windows you can either follow the instructions below with Windows for Linux subsystem or instead used Win32DiskImager program.

Once you’ve insert your SD card inside your computer (mine was a Toshiba class 10 32GB micro SD), check the device name with lsblk, which should be /dev/sdX or /dev/mmcblkY, with X some letter, and Y some numbers. I’ll call it <sd_device> below. First unmount partitions.

Normally, I’d use one command to extract, and once command to flash the image to the SD card, but since I was in a TV stick with 18GB free storage, I instead use a one liner to uncompress the 1.1 GB firmware and flash it to the micro SD card:

Now remove the micro SD card from your computer, insert it into the micro SD slot on Pine A64, connect Ethernet, a USB mouse and keyboard, and the power. My first board (and an early Android image) would not boot, so I connected the serial console to the EULER header: GND to pin 34, Tx to pin 30 and Rx to pin 29.

Pine_A64_Serial_Header

I ran minicom configured with /dev/ttyUSB0 115200 8N1 to find out what was going on:

The RAM clearly failed to initialize, so I reported this on the forum, and others had the same issue. I was sent another board, which booted just fine… sort of. The bootloader logo came very quickly, but then nothing happened, so I connect the serial console gain (I think a USB to TTL board is a must with Pine A64 at this stage of development), and I noticed a lot of erase operation on the micro SD card:

After 5 minutes it became quiet, and I though briefly the Android home screen, but it quickly fell back to another boot logo, and got stuck there. So I rebooted the board, and I got to the stock launcher in a little over one minute.

Click to Enlarge

Click for Original Size (1920×1080)

The Android firmware appears to be based on the smartphone version instead of the table version used in most Android TV boxes. A few apps are pre-installed such as the Google Play Store and ES File Explorer.

Pine_A64_Android_Apps

I could login to the Play Store, but soon I found that network connectivity did not seem to work well at all, and although I could browser app, the system was unable to download any, and later one I got an error message about network timeout while checking out apps. Internet connectivity issues do happen, and it’s seldom a problem with the board, so I went to ES File Explorer to install the apk manually through my SAMBA share, but networking was also unreliable on my LAN, which is not normal at all. The symptom was very similar to early Rockchip RK3288 TV boxes with Gigabit Ethernet, the link would show a Gigabit Ethernet connection, but the connection itself was unreliable, So I disconnected the board from my Gigabit switch (D-Link DGS-1005A), and instead connected it a 10/100M switch, and everything started to work as expected, so I installed apps from Google Play. The good news is that a firmware update might be able to fix the Gigabit Ethernet issue, if the root cause is the same as on RK3288.

Pine_A64_Android_Storage

My 32GB SD card has 26.27 GB usable by the user on a single unified partition.

Pine A64 Android Benchmarks

Let’s start with CPU-Z first to find a little more about the system.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Allwiner A64 processor has 4 Cortex A53 cores clocked at 480 MHz to 1.34 GHz with a Mali-400 MP2 GPU. The model is PINE A64 (tulip_chiphd), and the hardware 50iw1p1. The app detected 1987 MB RAM for the system with 26.27 GB for storage, and the resolution is set to 1920×1080.  The system runs Android 5.1.1 on top of a 64-bit Linux 3.10.35 kernel.
Pine_A64_Antutu_6.1.4

We should not expect a Cortex A53 @ ~1.4 Ghz with a weak Mali-400MP2 GPU to get an amazing score, and the board got 24,568 points in Antutu 6.1.4, which is barely above the 21,500 points I got with Rockchip RK3229 quad core Cortex A7 based Zidoo X1 II TV box, and quite below the 35,000+ points in Amlogic S905 or Rockchip RK3368 based hardware platforms.

Pine_A64_Vellamo

Vellamo pretty much confirm the performance with 1,292 points for multicore, 648 for Metal, and 1,610 for browser benchmarks, which compares to respectively 1,572, 763 and 2,002 points in K1 Plus TV box powered by Amlogic S905 quad core Cortex A53 @ 2.0 GHz.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited was used to get a score for the GPU, and 1,701 points is on the low side, but expected.

Finally, I tested the Ethernet connection using iperf for Android performing a full duplex transfer:

The results connected to my Ethernet switch are just fine:

But switching to my Gigabit Ethernet switch confirm the problem I had earlier as the transfer only properly occurred in one direction instead of both:

Overall performance is as expected, expect for Gigabit Ethernet, with only Fast Ethernet working reliably with my setup.

If you are interested in the board, you can purchase it on Pine64 online store for $15 (512MB RAM), $19 (1 GB RAM) or $29 (2GB) + shipping. Please note that the 512 MB version is only suitable for Linux distributions, and Android requires at least 1GB RAM.

Mini Review of Doogee Smart Cube P1 Android Projector

April 22nd, 2016 5 comments

Doogee Smart Cube P1, or just Doogee P1, is an Android projector powered by a quad core Amlogic processor. I’ve already taken some pictures of the device, and gave it a quick try, so today, I’ll write a little more about my experience using it in standalone mode with an air mouse, as well as with an Android phone using both Miracast and DLNA. The device also supports Airplay, but I don’t think I have any compatible device, so I have not tried this mode.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Doogee P1 in Standalone Mode with an Air mouse (or other wireless/USB input device)

After connecting MINIX NEO A2 lite air mouse’s RF dongle to the only USB port on the device, I pressed the power button for 5 seconds to start it up, and boot is pretty fast in around 30 seconds. You’ll need to adjust the focus with the wheel button on the side. It will start with the stock Android launcher, showing “Hotspot mode” on the left in the notification bar, but instead I went to the settings to connect to my WiFi network. My 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz access points were detected, but if you don’t input the password fast enough that “Hotspot mode” notification will come up again, and you have to start again. After a few unsuccessful frustrating attempts, I finally managed to connect to my WiFi network.

So I went to Google Play Store to install YouTube. I could sign-in with any issues, but I got some error message when installing the app.

Doogee_P1_YouTube_Installation_Issue

It also happens with all other apps, and two other reviewers actually contacted me to know if I had the same problem with Google Play. So there’s definitely a problem with the firmware here. However, at the end of the review, I finally found out that Wireless update works, and March 30, 2016 firmware did fix Google Play. So make sure you update when you receive the device.

Since YouTube app was not an easy option at the time, I instead started the pre-installed Chrome Browser, went to youtube.com, and started playing videos, and it worked well with audio coming out of the built-in speakers. I also tried to connect some Bluetooth headset, but the projector would not detect it.

I’m pretty sure some people would have asked me about Kodi, so I installed SPMC 16.2.1, and played a 1080p H.264 video (Big Buck Bunny) from the USB flash drive connected via a USB hub, and no problem here.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The projector resolution is 854×480, but it still feels sharp enough.

Doogee P1 with an Android Smartphone (Miracast + DLNA)

Since Smart Cube P1 does not come with a user’s manual that part may be tricky at first, and I eventually found out that you need to press the power button twice to get to connection instructions, and the first time, download Doogee app for Android 4.0+ or iOS 7.0+. Then each time you start the project, you have to pair it with your smartphone again.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You’ll need to tap on the top right icon, scan the QR code, and the relevant icon will turn green and show “Connected”. You’ll be able to control the projector with the remote.

Doogee Smartphone App - Click to Enlarge

Doogee Smartphone App – Click to Enlarge

However, since it is in Hotspot mode, there’s no Internet connection by default, so you’ll need to tap on the WiFi button, just under DLNA, to seatch for WiFi access point, and connect. Sadly I also have to do this each time, and the WiFi is not saved by the app.

Now that configuration is done, you can play with DLNA or Miracast. Starting with Miracast, the system will show the app has crashed, but you can still go ahead enable Wireless Display in your phone, and connect to the projector. I’ve played YouTube videos, and played Beach Buggy Racing from my phone, which I’ll be able to see in the demo video further below, and it worked reasonably well. Later, I played some music videos in YouTube, and noticed artifacts from time to time. Anyway, Mircast is working reasonably well.

On the other end, my DLNA  experience was pretty poor, with videos and photos super slow to load with BubbleUPnP, and most of the time the video would just end before completion. The projector was only 4 to 5 meters (+ one wall) from the router.

The demo video below shows my experience in standalone mode, and with Miracast & DLNA using a Mediatek smartphone.

Doogee P1 System Info & Antutu Benchmark

Let’s check the system details with CPU-Z first.

Doogee_Smart_Cube_P1_CPU-ZSo we have a quad core Cortex A5 processor @ 24 MHz to 1.54 GHz with a Mali-450 MP GPU. That’s similar to Amlogic S805 processor, but it’s likely Amlogic T826 processor since it also targets “smart projectors” The model is P1, and the screen resolution is confirmed to be 848 x 480 pixels. There’s 799 MB total RAM (part of the 1GB RAM are probably used for the GPU or VPU), and 5.32 GB storage with 5.08 GB free after installing a few apps. The device runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux 3.10.33.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The projector achieves 16,210 points in Antutu 6.0.4, which is about what I expected. I had to run the benchmark three times to get 3D to succeed.

Doogee Smart Cube P1 OTA firmware update

When I went to the About section of the Android settings, I noticed both System update and Wireless update options.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

System update reported that the device was up-to-date, but Wireless update detected a new firmware. I should have done this earlier…, or rather a first time setup app should have made me go through it… Anyway, I clicked on Download to start the process.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The changelog only mentions “System optimizations” and “Fix errors”. The update went through and did not delete any of my apps and settings. I tried to access Google Play, but the app would just exit. So I powered off the device (5 second press on the power button), and powered it on again, and I could access the Google Play Store, input my credential again, and install YouTube! Hooray!

Conclusion

I liked the DLP projector from the start with a bright and sharp image, and that’s straightforward to focus. At first, I had troubles with the Google Play Store, which did not work at all, but luckily the projector supports OTA firmware updates, and after the update I could install apps from the Play Store, which makes Standalone mode a much user-friendly option. Controlling the projector with my Android smartphone worked well, although I would have like a touchpad area to control the mouse pointer. Miracast worked OK most of the time, but DLNA performance was really poor. However, since Doogee has implemented OTA firmware updates, I’m hopefully many of the issues will be fixed overtime. The projector is also small and cute.

I’d like to thank GearBest for providing the sample, and you could consider purchasing it for $168.99 including shipping (+$4 discount with GBP1 coupon). Only a few other shops list the device on Aliexpress.

Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced / Pro (Mediatek MT8693) Benchmarks and System Info

April 12th, 2016 40 comments

Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced is the first TV Box I’ve tested with a processor featuring ARM Cortex A72 cores, so I’m very eager to see how its performs, and I’m expecting it to be quite faster than Rockchip RK3288, but still not quite matching Nvidia Tegra X1 processor found in Nvidia Shield Android TV box. But first let’s check the system information with CPU-Z app.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

First, it looks like CPU-Z does not detect big.LITTLE processor very well, as it detect a six core ARM Cortex-A72, instead of a six core processor with two Cortex A72, and four Cortex A53 cores. The clock speed ranges between 507 MHz and 1.57 GHz, but that’s likely the number for the Cortex A53 core, as the marketing materials report the Cortex A53 cores run at up to 1.6 GHz, and the Cortex A72 cores up to 2.0 GHz. Antutu info reports the frequency ranges between 507 MHz and 1989 MHz.

The GPU is Imagination Technology PowerVR Rogue GX6250 with screen resolution set to 1920×1080, and the system has 1931 MB RAM, and 5.37 GB internal storage. The board, called kungfupanda, is running Android 5.1 on top of Linux 3.10.61+. The product is codenamed MiBOX3_PRO in the firmware.

Let’s run now Antutu 6.0.4.

MiBox3_PRO_Antutu_6.0So that’s 65,007 points, not bad for a $85 device, and as expected much better than the 35,000+ points in Amlogic S905 and Rockchip RK3368 platforms. I could not find results for Rockchip RK3288 processor and Antutu 6.0, but I’ll have a new set of data soon as I’m expecting a new RK3288 board in Raspberry Pi form factor very soon. That’s still about half of the 117,820 points achieved by Nvidia Shield Android TV box, but it’s not quite the same price point.

[Update: While resolution matters, video output usually does not. But it seems to have a significant impact on Mediatek MT8693 processor either because of some bottleneck of a firmware/driver bug. The test above is done with 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 frame buffer resolution, but I’ve repeated the test using 1080p @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 resolution.

MiBox3_PRO_Antutu_6.0_1080p

The newer score is significantly higher (71,562 points) because of a much better 3D score.]

Next is Vellamo 3.2.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_Pro_Vellamo

2,010 points for Multicore, 4,159 points with Chrome Browser, and 2,392 points using the Metal benchmark. Since Vellamo scores are not quite as well known as Antutu, it’s probably a good idea to update my comparison chart. Bear in mind that I normally use the stock Browser with Vellamo, but since it is not available in Mi Box 3 Enhanced, I’ve installed Chrome instead. The downside is that it may skew that particular benchmark, and have added or removed a few hundred points.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_Enhanced_MINIX_NEO_U1_Vellamo

Nevertheless, Mi Box 3 Enhancement is clearly ahead of the competition for all three Vellamo benchmarks, with other devices featuring Amlogic S905, Amlogic S812, Rockchip RK3368, and Hisilicon Hi3798M V100 processors.

[Update: Here are the results with 1080p60 video output, where the Browser score is a little higher.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_Pro_Vellamo_1080p]

The last benchmark I’ll run is 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme. The fastest smartphones and Nvidia TV box all max out that one at 60 fps.

The first result is using 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 frame buffer resolution.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_3DMark_Ice_Storm_Extreme

The device did not max out the benchmark, but still achieved 5,987 points. That compares to 4,327 points for MINIX NEO U1 (Amlogic S905 with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU), and 7,513 points for Tronsmart Orion R28 (Rockchip RK3288 with ARM Mali-T764 GPU).

The second result is using 1920×1080 @ 60 Hz video output and 1920×1080 frame buffer resolution.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_3_3DMark_Ice_Storm_Extreme_1080p

I’ll soon make a detailed side-by-side comparison between Rockchip RK3288 and Mediatek MT8693 processors.

GearBest provided the device for review, and they sell Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced TV box for $79.99 including shipping. Other shops selling the device include GeekBuying, and Aliexpress.