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Posts Tagged ‘dlna’

VoltaStream ZERO NXP i.MX6ULL Linux Audio Board Follows Raspberry Pi Zero Form Factor

August 10th, 2017 20 comments

Back in 2013. Philip came with the idea of designing a development board for audio application, and after various experiments with off-the shelf Raspberry Pi boards and audio DACs,  he founded PolyVection company, and started designing the board. Forwarding to today, he has completed his work and introduced VoltaStream ZERO to the world, a board based on NXP i.MX6ULL processor with 512MB or 1GB RAM, and a choice of Texas Instruments DAC. It also follows Raspberry Pi Zero form factor, like the upcoming Banana Pi BPI-M2 Zero board.

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VoltaStream ZERO specifications:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX6ULL ARM Cortex-A7 processor @ 996 MHz
  • System Memory – 512 MB or 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot
  • Audio
    • 1x I2S for integrated DAC, 1x I2S for GPIO access, 1x S/PDIF header / TOSLINK jack
    • Analog DAC – Texas Instruments PCM5121 (106 dB) or PCM5142 (112 dB)
  • USB – 1x micro USB slave port (USB gadget mode supported), 1x USB type A host port
  • Expansion Headers – 40-pin GPIO header with 5V, 3V3, GND, 2x UART, flexCAN, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 3x PWM, S/PDIF input
  • Misc – On/Off switch integrated button handler / accessible from header, RTC integrated into SoC
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or GPIO header;
  • Power consumption
    • 0.10 Watt – Linux suspend
    • 0.25 Watt – Linux idle
    • 1.10 Watt – USB WiFi busy
  • Dimensions – 65 mm x 30 mm (Raspberry Pi Zero form factor)

Note there’s no network connectivity, but that’s what the USB host port cam be used for by connecting a USB WiFi dongle or USB Ethernet dongle.

 

VoltaStream Zero with Case

The board has been designed with KiCAD 4.0.5, and the schematics and PCB layout files have been released in Github under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. The company has developed a Linux distribution called PolyOS, built with the Yocto Project, and that includes shairport-sync, librespot, DLNA renderer and a special atomic updater. A generic Debian distribution (PolyBian) is also available, and work is being done to support Volumio. Documentation with a getting started guide, and a system reference manual has also been published.

You’ll find all those resources on the product page, where you can also purchase the board starting at 41.93 Euros excluding VAT and shipping, for the 512 MB RAM / PCM5121 version.

Review of Allo Vana Player Linux HiFi Audio System with Max2Play, SqueezeBox and Kodi

October 2nd, 2016 10 comments

Last month I showcased what I called “Allo Sparky Audio Kit” with a DAC board (Piano), an amplifier board (Volt), and usually hard to find  reclocker and capacitance multiplier boards (Kali & CM), all connected to Allo Sparky ARM Linux development board powered by Actions Semi S500 quad core Cortex A9 processor, and running Ubuntu 12.04. In the first post, I just described the boards, and showed how to assemble the kit, but now that I have received the user’s manual, it turns out the kit is actually called “Vana Player” and the provided Ubuntu firmware image runs Max2Play Browser based system that’s also available for Raspberry Pi and ODROID boards.

Before starting the kit, you’ll need to connect speakers to Piano DAC board and/or Kali board, as well as a 19.5V power source such as a laptop power supply to connect to the CM board. I connected some USB powered speakers to the headphone jack of Piano board, and one 5 ohm speaker to Volt amplifier board which I had left from a speaker set. You’d normally want to use two speakers for the Volt board, but that will do for testing. I tried four different laptop power supplies, but none of the jack would fit, so finally I change the plug from a Sony Laptop power power supply. Finally I connected an Ethernet cable, and a USB hard drive.

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The user manual recommends to connect the 5V power supply provided with the kit, before turning on the 19V power source, and do the reverse while powering it off (turn 19V off first, then 5V). If your kit includes Kali reclocker board, it’s also very important not to connect 5V to Sparky board, but only to Kali board.

Now that the board is started you can find the IP address with an IP scanner software or your router DHCP list. In my router, the kit is detected as pcm5122:

pcm5122 00-17-F7-01-00-FD 192.168.0.111 00:57:43

While running arp-scan in my Ubuntu computer looks up the manufacturer (CEM Solutions Pvt) from the MAC address suffix (00:17:f7):

Now that we have the IP address, let’s open a web browser and access Max2Play web interface.

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It’s telling me an update is available, so I went to Settings / Reboot tab, and successfully upgraded it from version 1.0 to version 2.36.

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Two players are installed: Squeezelite working with Logitech Media Server (now Squeezebox Server) and Shairport for Airplay support, with both players set to auto start. You can access the settings for each in Audioplayer tab in the web interface.

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I have not changed anything but you can disable autostart, set advanced options, and enable/disable the Graphics Equalizer.

SqueezeLite will communicate with SqueezeBox Server, which can be configure in the tab of the same name.

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You can also install plugins in that menu such as ShairTunes / ShairTunes2 (Airplay), and Google Music. But again, I have not changed anything in that section.

Vana Player is also powerful enough to act as a video player when connected to a TV via its HDMI port, so you can enjoy both high quality audio and video. That’s what the Kodi/XBMC tab is for, as it will allow you to configure Kodi, for example to decide whether you want to start it automatically.

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This can also work as a headless Kodi installation using Kore Android app, but I’ll get into more details a little later.

The most important part of the interface at first is the Filesystem Mount tab, where you’ll be able to mount network shares (NFS/SAMBA) on other devices, or your USB storage partitions, as well as use Vana Player as a SAMBA server. If you copied your file on the SD card, you don’t need to do anything here.

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Three out of four partitions of my USB hard drive are detected, the only exception being the BTRFS partition, however none of them would mount from the web interface. I could however mount them manually using ssh (username/password: pi/pi):

So I set “Set fixed Mountpoint to prevent directory switching on reboot” and clicked “Save”, but the  “resolve host pcm5122” error still caused  the web interface to believe mounting did not work:

sudo: unable to resolve host pcm5122 [mntent]: line 3 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 5 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 7 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 9 in /etc/fstab is bad [mntent]: line 11 in /etc/fstab is bad; rest of file ignored
Mountpoint NOT added! Please refer to the description below!

So restarted the board, and the NTFS partition was mounted automatically. Restarting the board is not straightforward however, as the Reboot option in “Settings / Reboot” never worked for me. It does restart the board, but never fully boots it. So I turned off 19V power, turned off 5V power, and then back on 5V, and 19V to be able to boot successfully. Maybe some programmable power strip would be useful here.

vana-player-usb-drive-samba-shareI also created “vanaplayer” SAMBA share, and could access from my Ubuntu computer after settings a password for the SAMBA share for user “root” (fixed username).

vana-player-samba-share

Finally, you can configure networking for Ethernet or WiFi in WiFi / LAN tab. However, the first time you’ll need to connect Ethernet even if you want to use WiFi through an USB WiFi dongle.

So now we should be ready to play some audio files. To do so, go to SqueezeBox Server tab, and click on “Open Squeezebox Server Webadministration” button, which should open a new video with “Logitech Media Server” (LMS).

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If you are using external USB or network storage for your music, you’ll want to click on Settings on the bottom right corner in order to add your Media Folders, in my case /media/usb1/Music/music, and optionally edit the playlist folder.

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Click on Apply and Close, and then you’ll be able to able play your music, add files to the playlist, and adjust the volume and other settings such as repeat and shuffle from the web interface.

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Audio plays via speakers connected to both Piano DAC board and VOLT amplifier, and the audio quality seemed pretty good considering the speakers I used. I also set the volume in LMS to the maximum, but it was not that loud. Maybe there’s another way to increase the volume, but I did not find it. I also played a FLAC audio file (24-bit/192 KHz) successfully.

Another source of audio can be found in the Radio part of LMS, I managed to do so easily, although one of the radio stations would not start at all. Probably a network issue, as others worked just fine.

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Vana player manual also mention the use of Qobuz plugin, but I did not try since it requires subscription.

The final way to play music using LMS is DLNA/UPnP, and I could confirm the UPnP/DLNA plugin was installed and running on port 5000:

However, for whatever reason, BubbleUPnP nor AirWire apps were able to locate PCM5122 as the media renderer.

bubbleupnp_airwire_renderer

I’ll update the post if I manage to make it work.

An another way to use Vana Player is via Kodi Media Center. You’ll need to connect an HDMI display to Sparky board, login using pi / pi credentials, and start Kodi via Max2Play interface. SqueezeLite and Shairport will be stopped, and only restart (if set to autostart) once Kodi is stopped.

If you want to control the player remotely, you’ll need to install Kore app on your smartphone. I started Kodi by going to Max2Ply Interface, selecting Kodi/XBMC tab, and clicking on Start Kodi(video), which will start Kodi 15.0 Isengard on the device.

Now to enable smartphone remote control support, enable Settings → Services → Remote control → Allow programs on other systems to control Kodi and Settings → Services → Webserver → Allow control of Kodi via HTTP to ON to allow you smartphone to send data such as images and summaries to Kodi. Both options were actually already enabled in my system, but I got the error message “remote communication server failed to start” in Kodi, until I manually stopped SqueezeBox Server in Max2Play web interface.The rest of the instructions should work with any other system running Kodi.

Now we can start Kore app, click Next, auto detection will fail, click Next again to setup manual configuration with the IP address and default Kodi settings as shown below.

kodi-kore-remote-controlThen we can go to Files to access the video inside Vana Player and start playing them. Once the video is started it does not rely on the smartphone, except if you want to use Kore remote control to stop the video, fast forward, adjust the volume and so on.

Another way to use Kodi Media Server capabilities is to use a UPnP app such as AirWire or BubbleUPnP, and contrary to my experience with SqueezeBox Server, Kodi(pcm5122) media renderer was probably detected, and I could play a video located on my phone.

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A final way to use the system as explained in the user’s manual is to stream a YouTube video from your smartphone to Vana Player again using UPnP. To do so, start YouTube app, start playing a video, and share it to BubbleUPnP (AirWaire does not support this feature), which will ask to install additional files the first time.

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Once it is complete, you’ll be able to stream and control YouTube videos from your smartphone.

I suddenly had a problem while using UPnP apps however, as I lost all audio. I tried to reboot the system, and use SqueezeBox server, but I still did not have any audio. The screenshoot below shows I can run AlsaMixer and atm7059_link audio card is detected.

alsamixerHowever, if I go to Sound Settings in Ubuntu 12.04, there’s no Output device at all, and Kodi complains /dev/mixer is missing. All boards seem to be OK based on the LEDs, so it must be a software issue, but I have not found a solution yet.

So overall Vana Player is an interesting audio device, but software can be confusing at time, and not always work as expected. I’ve also noted that the network interface may take a long time to be brought up, and sometimes I have restart the device manually to make it work. Some explanation about the many LEDs on the board could be useful to debug potential issue without having to connect the device to a monitor or TV.

Allo website has been updated, and you can now buy all boards on Sparky page. My kit includes Sparky board ($37), Piano DAC board ($27), Piano 2.1 DAC board ($49), VOLT amplifier board ($27), Kali reclocker board ($69),  CM board ($15), and some accessories, but you can also directly buy Vana Player kit for $169, as well as other bundles. If you own a Raspberry Pi 2/3 board, the audio add-on boards should also be compatible.

How-to Setup a DLNA/UPnP Server in Linux for Smoother Video Streaming with Kodi and Other Media Players

August 16th, 2016 9 comments

I’m normally playing videos from a SAMBA share installed in a Ubuntu PC to play files from Kodi in Android TV box reviews, but sometimes when I use 10/100 Ethernet, or worse WiFi local “streaming” may not be as smooth as possible. SAMBA is convenient because of access control and read write operations, but if you want to get a bit more performance, you may switch to NFS instead, or like I’ve going to show you here to a DLNA / UPnP server to stream videos locally from Kodi 16.1.

There are several options, but MiniDLNA is lightweight compared to MediaTomb, so it will also run on lower end hardware like cheap ARM Linux development boards like Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi, or NanoPi NEO without taking too many resources.

Installation is very easy in Debian / Ubuntu distributions, and I supposed this should also work with Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 10:

MiniDLNA can be configured with the same settings for all users, or different settings for specific users. In both case you’ll need to edit /etc/minidlna.conf configuration file. In my case, I only changed or uncommented the following lines for global settings:

You can add as many media_dir lines as you want, and also add A, V or P letter to separate Audio, Video, and Photo media type. For example:

Please note that minidlna daemon (minidlnad) will automatically scan subdirectories, so they don’t need to be specified.

Now that we have modifed the configuration, let’s restart it:

The Wiki on Ubuntu linked in the introduction also mentions to run the following command to rebuild the database:

However, while I could find my new UPnP server in Kodi, there were no files at all, and the log shows the same error message over and over:

eventually the command:

fixed the issue. But that’s not exactly the right way to fix it as it assumes root is running the daemon.

A better way if you’re going to have a decidated server is probably to set the ownership of media files to minidlna with a command like:

So how do you play videos from your DLNA/UPnP server in Kodi 16.1? Go to Videos->Files, and select Add videos…

Kodi_UPnP_devicesNow select UPnP devices

Kodi_miniDLNA_serverKodi should like your UPnP / DLNA servers. In my case FX8350:root, which correspond to the hostname or friendly_name in the hostname, and to the user, normally minidlna. Select the server, than Browser Folder, or Videos, and click OK.

I’ve shot a short video showing how to setup UPnP devices in Kodi, and compare SAMBA and DLNA performance by playing the same video file in Kodi 16.1 Android through SAMBA and UPnP/DLNA.

You’ll notice the video played from the SAMBA server starts much faster, but buffers several time during playback, while the video played from MiniDLNA server on the same PC will buffer data longer at start, and always fill the buffer fast enough to avoid bufferring.

I took Conky screenshots for another video showing the traffic shape for both SAMBA with relatively constant speed (6600 KB/s to 7400 KB/s) and DLNA which shows very high bitrate (>10000 KB/s) to fill the buffer the first time, and then play consistently around 6400 to 6800 KB/s.

SAMBA_vs_DLNA-UPNP

Of course switching from SAMBA to DLNA won’t do miracles, but if you notice a few buffering while playing videos in SAMBA, switching to DLNA/UPnP may resolve the issue. You can also keep the best of both world, for example using SAMBA to download/copy files, and DLNA to play them back.

Mini Review of Doogee Smart Cube P1 Android Projector

April 22nd, 2016 7 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

200 EZCast LAN & Music Free Samples Up for Grab

July 30th, 2015 2 comments

EZCast is a technology that allows screen mirroring and expansion over WiFi or Ethernet, and based on Action Micro SoCs. The products also usually include Miracast, AirPlay, and DLNA support, and work with Android and iOS devices, as well as Windows and Mac OS computers.

Tronsmart_T3000

EZCast LAN

The company behind the products has now launched a giveaway campaign where it plans to giveaway 100 EZCast LAN (aka Tronsmart T3000) and 100 EZCast music devices until August 20th. You’ll need a Facebook or Google+ account to participate:

  • Facebook entry:
    1. Like EZCast page
    2. Share the giveaway announcement from EZCast page on your Facebook timeline (publicly)
  • Google+ entry:
    1. Join EZCast Google+ Community
    2. Share the giveaway announced from the EZCast Google+ community (currently pinned at the top of the community)

EZCast_MusicWinners will be selected randomly each day, with their name posted on G+ or Facebook. Good luck.

Thanks to VMG for the tip.

Tronsmart Introduces EZCast / Miracast Adapters with 802.11ac, Ethernet

May 18th, 2015 5 comments

EZcast adapters are HDMI sticks supporting Miracast, DLNA, and EZcast protocol that were launched in 2013. I tested a few with Tronsmart T1000 and Widicast EC-E2, and they did the job mostly as advertised, but suffered from lag in Android, mostly affecting games, as well as poor performance with Windows, at least with the firmware I used. Tronsmart has now launched new models including Tronsmart T1000 Plus with 802.11ac WiFi, and Tronsmart T3000 with Ethernet that should fix most of these issues.

Tronsmart T1000 Plus

Tronsmart_T1000_PlusT1000 Plus adapter specifications:

  • SoC- Action Semi AM8251 @ 600MHz (MIPS)
  • System memory – 128 MB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 128 MB NAND Flash
  • Video output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with WEP, WPA and WPA2 support
  • Standards – Miracast, Airplay, DLNA, and EZCast
  • USB – USB port for power and connect the external USB cable with Wi-Fi module
  • Misc – LED indicators for power and WiFi status
  • Power – 5V/1A
  • Dimensions – 6.75 x 2.69 x 1 cm
  • Weight – 15 grams

The dongle comes with a cable including 802.11ac module & USB power, as well as a quick start guide. It uses the same EZCast app for Android and iOS as previous models, and sells for $26.99. To enjoy the 802.11ac benefit you’ll obviously need a phone supporting the latest WiFi standard.

Tronsmart T3000

Tronsmart_T3000

Tronsmart T3000 adapter specifications:

  • SoC- Action Semi AM8251 @ 600MHz (MIPS)
  • System memory – 128 MB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 128 MB NAND Flash
  • Video output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi 2T2R up to300Mbps
  • Standards – Miracast, Airplay, DLNA, and EZCast
  • USB – micro USB port for power
  • Misc – LED indicators for power and WiFi status
  • Power – 5V/1A (micro USB)
  • Dimensions – 10.39 x 8 x 1.93 cm
  • Weight – 64 grams

The adapter ships with an HDMI cable, a 5V/1A adapter, a USB cable, and a quick start guide. The Ethernet connection will be most useful when using EZCast with your Windows PC, while the WiFi connection will be for mobile devices. Tronsmart T3000 can be purchased for $34.99.

Giveaway Week – SoundMate WM201 Wireless Audio Streamer

March 15th, 2015 113 comments

All good things must come to an end, and this is the last day of Giveaway Week on CNX Software with Uyesee SoundMate WM201 wireless audio streamer that adds Wi-Fi connectivity to your speakers or old AV receiver, so that you can stream audio via EZMusic or a DLNA app in Android, iOS or, desktop computers.

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SoundMate WM201 (Click to Enlarge)

If you’ve ever used an EZCast dongle, the app looks just the same except it’s limited to audio streaming. I’ve tried it with an optical audio cable connected to the S/PDIF input of the device and Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver. It worked pretty well, as long as your device is in the same room, but if you move to another room, the connection become unreliable, and audio may cut from time to time.

WM201 and Accessories

WM201 and Accessories

You can read SoundMate WM201 review for details.

imply leave a comment below to enter the draw, with other rules as follows:

  • Only one entry per contest. I will filter out entries with the same IP and/or email address.
  • Contests are open for 48 hours starting at 10am (Bangkok time) every day. Comments will be closed after 48 hours.
  • Winners will be selected with random.org
  • I’ll contact the winner by email, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another winner.
  • Shipping
    • Free EMS for winners with a shipping address in Thailand
    • $10 Registered Airmail Small packet for the rest of the world payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest is complete.
    • If Paypal is not available in your country, you can still play, and I’ll cover the cost of sending the parcel by Sea and Land (SAL) if you win.
  • I’ll post all 7 prizes at the same time, around the 18th of March
  • I’ll make sure we have 7 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this week giveaway, I’ll draw another person.
  • Winners are announced in comments under each giveaway, and I’ll also write a separate post for all winners.

Good luck!

SoundMate WM201 can be purchased for  $37.99 on Aliexpress including shipping, and it’s also available on Amazon US for $39.99. At one point, it could be bought for $7.49 on Newegg, and some people got it for that price, but the seller must have realized he was losing money on each sale, and the product is now “out of stock”.

SoundMate WM201 Wi-Fi Music Streamer (EZMusic) Review

February 20th, 2015 12 comments

Last year I reviewed SoundMate M2 Wi-Fi audio streamer, and Uyesee has sent me a sample of their new SoundMate WM201 powered by Actions Semi AM8253, and based on EZCast app for audio calld EZMusic (EZCast Music).

SoundMate WM201 Unboxing Pictures

That’s the package for the device.

SoundMate_WM201_Package
The device comes with two audio cables, a micro USB to USB cable for power, and “SoundMate WiFi Music Streamer” user manual.

WM201 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

WM201 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s have a closer look at the tiny box.

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Two LEDs are located on the front for power and connection, a micro SD slot can be found on the side, and the rear panel has most of the connection: micro USB port for power, reset pinhole, optical SPDIF, 3.5mm stereo jack, and USB 2.0 host for mass storage.

SoundMate WM210 Teardown

Take out of four sticky rubber pad on the bottom of the case, and loosen four screws to remove the bottom cover.

Bottom of WM201 Board

Bottom of WM201 Board

Not much to see here, except the MAC address that starts with 54E4BD and belongs to FN-Link Technology, which must be the company provided the Wi-Fi module for WM201.

Top of WM201 PCBA (Click to Enlarge)

Top of WM201 PCBA (Click to Enlarge)

Actions Semi AM8253 processorv@ 600 MHz is in the center of the board, and connects to Axeme H2A35121656BB6C 64MB DDR2 RAM, and Samsung K9F1G08U0E NAND flash (128MB).  The Wi-Fi module is based on Realtek RTL8188ETV chip.

SoundMate WM201 Review

I’ve connected WM201 to Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver with any SPDIF optcial audio cable. It does not make much sense to do so because TX-NR636 already support Wi-Fi conenctivity and DLNA, and can already do much of the added featues provided by WM201, but if you have an older amplifier / AV receiver without connectivity, WM201 can be a neat way to smarten your older AV receiver.

SoundMate_WM201_Onkyo_Receiver_SPDIF_EZCast

SoundMate WM201 Connected to an Onkyo AV Receiver, and EZCast App in Android.

Once of the thing you’ll want to do is to install EZcast app for Android, iOS or Windows/Mac. I’ve only installed EZCast android app on my Android smartphone for this review. The first time the app will look with an EZCast dongle, and detect a SoundMate-XXXXXX device to which you can connect to. The first time the connection can take a while, like over one minute. You can then access the Home screen with Music, Web, Cloud Storage, Comment, Update, AirDisk, and Radio options, as well as DLNA, AirSetup (for micro SD card / USB flash drive connected to WM201), and 3G/4G connectivity.

Home Page and Settings (Click to Enlarge)

Home Page and Settings (Click to Enlarge)

AirSetup will let you choose the audio output (Stereo, SPDIF 5.1, …), set the equalizer, configure the connection, check for firmware upgrade and so on.

Music, Video and Cloud Storage (Click to Enlarge)

Music, Video and Cloud Storage (Click to Enlarge)

The “Music” app will let you browse audio files on your smartphone and stream them to your speaker or AV receiver. It works OK, but there’s no volume option here. In theory, the Web option can let you stream audio from YouTube and other online service, but I could not make this work at all. Cloud Storage will detect some cloud apps installed on your device (in my case Dropbox), and allow you to stream audio files from the cloud.

EZCast / EZMusic Radio (Click to Enlarge)

EZCast / EZMusic Radio (Click to Enlarge)

The “Radio” app will list various online radio station from over the world. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to radio, and the last time I did that was in France, but I could not find any famous radio on the list, except maybe “Oui FM”.

DLNA, Firmware Update and AirDisk (Click to Enlarge)

DLNA, Firmware Update and AirDisk (Click to Enlarge)

“AirDisk” function should allow you to play music from a micro SD card or USB flash drive formatted to FAT32 connected to the device, but in my case it did not recognize my USB drive at all. It’s a LiveCD (with Ubuntu), so maybe that’s why. DLNA will simply redirect to launch one of your installed DLNA apps such as BubbleUPnP, and in my case it could also play m4a audio files, something that’s not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636 internal software. I did get a firmware update (13395), and the procedure worked fine. You’ll hear a female voice telling you to wait during the update, followed but some audio signal.

Within the room, WM201 works fairly well, but I did have one or two short audio cuts during the dozen music files I played. If you go a bit further than 6-7 meters with a wall then the system becomes unreliable, but it’s quite common with this kind of solution. Once you lose the connection, you may have to reboot the device to make it work again.

SoundMate WM201 can be bought for  $37.99 on Aliexpress for $37.99 including shipping. You may also want to check the product page on UyeSee website if you intend to purchase in larger quantities.