Beside RV1108 visual platform for applications, Rockchip also unveiled another processor at CES 2017 with RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor for 4K TV Box with H.265, H.264 and VP9 codecs support, HDR, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet and more.
Rockchip RK3328 STB SoC specifications:
Processor – Quad core Cortex A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz
GPU – ARM Mali-450MP2
Memory I/F – DDR3/DDR3L/DDR4 with “large memory” support (4GB?)
Video Output – HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.x/1.4 up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR10/HLG support, CVBS output
TS and smart card interface, with support for CSA 2.0
Security – TrustZone, Secure Video Path, Secure Boot, OTP
The new processor with support Android 7.1 and Linux, as well as OP-TEE secure OS and DRM support for Widewine L1 and Microsoft PlayReady. The TS interface will allow for tuner (DVB, ATSC…) support.
The processor is quite similar to Amlogic S905X. However the GPU is a bit weaker, which is not really that important for video applications, but not so good for games, and RK3328 also offer some extra interfaces with USB 3.0, dual Ethernet including one Gigabit Ethernet MAC, and tuner support.
The company did not provide any information about pricing or availability in their press release, and has yet to add RK3328 product page to their website.
There are already several Amlogic Android TV boxes with dual tuner on the market, but so far you could not use both tuner at the same time, for example using one to watch live TV, and another to record TV [Update: WeTek Play 1st generation based on Amlogic AML87426-MX can do that]. Amlogic S905D is supposed to change that, and Datamax DM145S is the first device I’ve seen featuring the new processor.
Datamax DM145S specifications:
SoC – Amlogic S905D Quad Core Cortex A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-450MP GPU
System Memory – 1GB RAM
Storage – 8 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
Video Output – HDMI 2.0a + AV
Audio Output – HDMI, AV and optical S/PDIF
Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wifi, optional Bluetooth 4.0
USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
Tuner – Combination of DVB-C/T2, DVB-S2, ATSC or ISDB-T
SmartHomy Homy Player is a TV box running Android TV that includes an ATSC, DVB-T2/C,DVB-S2, or ISDB-T tuner, is said to be powerful enough to be used as a 3D gaming platform, and serves as a security system and home automation gateway using Z-Wave, Bluetooth, WiFi and IR blaster to control your things.
Homy player specifications [Updated on January 19th, 2017]:
SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core Cortex A53 processor with Mali T820MP3 GPU
System Memory – 3 GB DDR3
Storage – 32 GB eMMC flash
Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz with HDCP 2.2, HDR, CEC
Audio Output – HDMI and optical S/PDIF
Video / Audio Capabilities – 10-bit 4K H.265 @ 60 fps, HD audio pass-through, Dolby Digital & DTS licenses
DRM – Widevine Level 1, Microsoft PlayReader, Netflix license
Digital TV Tuner – DVB-S2 (satellite), DVB-C/T/T2 (Cable/Terrestrial), ATSC, and ISDB-T
Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Z-Wave (Plus 500 series)
USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
Dimensions – 200 x 143 x 40 mm
Weight – 530 grams
The device ships with Homy Remote, a backlit Bluetooth 4.0 LE remote control that includes gyroscope, and allows to control the player with voice commands. Smart Homy appears to mostly targets the US markets as seen in the comparison table with some home automation solution, media players. and game console.
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It would have been a little more fair to include the non-pro version of NVIDIA Shield Android TV since the price without hard drive is also $199, and it still lacks home automation support and the tuners. While you can play games with Amlogic S912 SoC, the performance will be much lower than the NVIDIA box.
In order to maximize Z-Wave interoperability, Homy Player supports more than 50 command classes for Z-Wave devices, and the player/gateway also supports more than 70 Security Devices, including common security cameras. Configuration of home automation is allegedly simplified thanks to a “patent pending” Scene Recording System where you can easily record trigger and action using your physical devices.
SmartHomy has launched Homy Player on Indiegogo (flexible funding), where the company targets to raise $59,000 or more. A $199 pledge should get you Homy Player with the remote and an extra 64GB storage. Shipping adds $30, and delivery is scheduled for July 2017. You may also get more details on SmartHomy website.
We now have so many Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes on the market, it becomes hard for companies to differentiate, but Geniatech is offering something different with their Geniatech/Mygica ATV1960 model thanks to a dual TV tuner support either ATSC or DVB-T2 and allowing you to watch a program, while recording another.
Geniatech/Mygica ATV1960 specifications:
SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 GPU
System Memory – 2GB DDR3
Storage – 16GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot + 2.5″ SATA bay (cover on the bottom of the case)
Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
Audio Output – HDMI, and optical S/PDIF
Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
Tuner – Dual Digital TV Tuner (ATSC/T2); one for live watching, another for recording; EPG and PVR supported.
Misc – IR receiver, reset pinhole
Power Supply – 5V/2A
Dimensions – 160 x 110 x 33 mm
Weight – 237 grams
The exact specifications are of the device are hard to find since the people who updated the company’s website did not do such a good job. While all other Amlogic S912 TV boxes are running Android 6.0, ATV1960 is said to run Android 5.1, something that’s unlikely but possible in case the drivers for the tuners could not be re-built for Android 6.0.
We also could not see any demo of the device yet, and price and availability are not available yet. ATV1960 will likely be sold under the Mygica brand, possibly with some specifications tweaks, as the company has done in the past with other models. You can find more – but not-so-accurate – information on Geniatech ATV1960 product page.
V-Bridge Muses-α and Muses-β boards can be used to respectively broadcast video to DTV standard from your PC, and as a turnkey solution taking any HDMI, CVBS, or USB inputs. The VATek SoC used in those board support various DTV standards including DVB-T, DVB-C, ATSC/QAM, DTMB, ISDB-T/TB up to full HD resolution. I’ve received an early prototype for each, and I’ve already taken pictures and show how to assemble both Muses-α and Muses-β kits in the first part of the review. Today, I’ll show a demo with Muses-β turnkey solution taking HDMI input from an Android TV box (R-Box Pro), encoding and modulating the video to DVB-T, before broadcast it to an Android STB with a DVB-T/T2 tuner (U4 Quad Hybrid). This tool could be useful to test STB featuring ATSC or ISDB-T too, as those two standards are not supported in my country, and I could instead generate signals within my office.
U4 Quad Hybrid (Left), Muses-Beta Kit (Center) and R-Box Pro TV box (left)
You could also connect it directly to your TV, but for this review it was easier to show with an external device, and my TV is using a coaxial input instead of a female F-connector, so that made it easier. If you connect it to your TV, you could still combine your local TV station signal with Muses-Beta signal by using a 2-way splitter as shown below.
The company provided a cable to connect the RF board to tuner directly, but you could also use the type of antenna shown above instead. The power level is -12dBm, which means it won’t affect others, and should not break any laws in your country. If you need longer range you’d need to use an amplifier, and check with your local authorities if you need any specific licenses.
Now that the connection is done, let’s have a look at the LCD display, since it;s used to configure the DTV standard, frequency, and many more options. I did not have to change much for this demo. First I select DVB-T and QPSK modulation.
Then set the frequency to 628 MHz as it’s one of the listed frequencies in U4 Quad Hybrid.
And kept HDMI to 720i-60, as the prototype can only handle HD resolution (720p) smoothly, and while Full HD (1080p) is possible it won’t be that smooth yet, but should be in the final hardware.
There are many options as shown in the UI chart below.
LCD User Interface Options (Click to Enlarge)
If HDMI input is detected, the LCD should then soon show three full squares on the top left indicating video is being broadcast with whatever standard you’ve chosen. In order to get the signal I had to configure U4 Quad Hybrid set-top box with the frequency, bandwidth, and delivery system I selected for the modulator.
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And it worked pretty much out of the box, as you can see from the photo below showing U4 Quad Hybrid menu overlaid over the DVB-T signal showing R-Box Pro user interface. Please ignore the vertical lines, as it’s just a problem with LG 4K TV.
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I’ve also shot a video showing the setup, and how well it works. Sadly, the video I selected does not play optimally in R-Box Pro (the video source), but I found it only after the review, and other videos are being broadcast normally without smoothness issues nor audio cuts. But the important in the video is to show how easy it is to configure the system and that it works reasonably well. Quality will obviously suffer a bit compare to the source since its re-encoded and HDMI output is set to 720p.
Latency & video quality can be adjusted using three profiles: High Quality (500ms), Average (300ms) and Low latency (200ms). You’ll find some more details in the preliminary? Muses Turnkey Product user’s manual.
The kickstarter campaign is still on-going with 21 days to go. Muses-β kit with the LCD control board – as reviewed in this post – requires a $559 pledge, but if you prefer to replace the STM32 Board and LCD display by your own control board (API will be provided), you can get Muses-β board with AV input board and RF board for $399. I’ll test the cheaper $200 Muses-α board connected to a computer in the next few days in part 3 of the review.
When I first reviewed K1 Plus T2 S2 in February of this year, I found the Android part still needed some work, but the DTV app to watch live TV through my aerial antenna or satellite dish worked reasonably well despite some bugs here and there. Since then the company must have fixed some of the issues through various firmware updated, but some people are running Vitmos OpenELEC image instead since it may be more familiar, and other interfaces like Enigma may also be supported.
All accessories shown above will be included in the package sent to the winner.
To enter the draw simply leave a comment below. Other rules are 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, and announced in the comments section of each giveaway.
I’ll contact the winner by email, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another winner.
$17 for registered airmail small packet for oversea shipping payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest (for a given product) 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 10th of November
I’ll make sure we have 7 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this giveaway week, I’ll draw another person.
If you’re not lucky, Videostrong K1 Plus T2 S2 can be purchased for around $60 on GeekBuying, eBay, Aliexpress, and other websites.
Outernet goal is to bring knowledge and/or emergency info to places without Internet either to remote places, or where Internet has been temporary shutdown due to natural disasters or political reasons through a satellite feed. In some ways, it works like a typical FM radio, but instead of receiving audio, you’ll get data. The first hardware was based on WeTek Play TV box, and called Lighthouse, but they now have a DIY kit that will work with Next Thing C.H.I.P, Raspberry Pi, or Laptops running Windows 7/10 or Linux, as well as a standalone Outernet Satellite kit including C.H.I.P Allwinner R8 development board.
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Let’s first check out “Basic Outernet DIY Kit” comprised of three items:
The kit costs $69, but it’s not usable standalone, and you’ll need to connect the USB dongle your own C.H.I.P or Raspberry Pi 3 board running rxOS operating system, or laptop and configure them as explained in the documentation to configure and run the system in order to access Outernet Library through your satellite (DVB-S). It should be possible to use other boards too, but you’d have to handle the software part yourself. It should not be too complicated since the only hardware interface is a USB port.
However, if you want something that mostly works out of the box, you should consider “Deluxe Outnert DIY receiver kit” with included all items from the basic kit, plus a pre-configured C.H.I.P board, and a battery pack for $99.
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Once you’ve assembled the kit, pointed the L-band antenna to the right satellite, and completed the configuration through the web browser of a WiFi enabled device such as a smartphone. Outernet kit will freely download data (textbooks, health guides, courseware, weekly news, emergency info, disaster alerts, crop prices…) depending on your selected satellite, and anybody with a smartphone or computer will be able to access the data updated weekly/daily.
V-Bridge Muses digital TV modulator boards launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, with the cheaper $200 MUSES-α board modulating video from a PC, and $600 MUSES-β turnkey solution capable of broadcasting HDMI or AV + stereo input to various digital TV standards including DVB-T/C, ATSC/QAM, DTMB, and ISDB-T/TB without the help of a computer. The company sent me the two hardware kits for evaluation and review on CNX Software, and today I’ll start by showing off the hardware I received.
I got 3 packages and a F-female to F-female cable, which means you can connect the board directly to your TV tuner without having to rely on actual RF signals, and potential legal issues that goes with it.
The first package I open if for the PC modulator kit that include MUSES-α board, an “RF” board, as a USB cable to connect to your computer.
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MUSES-α board features Vatek A1 chip, a USB port, an Ethernet port, a power jack, and headers for UART, I2C, TS, JTAG, RF board and GPIOs.
To get started you’d have to connect the USB cable, the coax cable to your TV’s tuner, as well as a 5V power supply.
The next package is the STM32 + LCD control board allowing to use MUSES-β board without PC.
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It’s made of off-the-shelf parts including DF Robots LCD keypad shield for Arduino, connected to an STM32 based board via jumper cables + some glue.
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The “STM32F4xx” board is also an off-the-shelf STM32F407ZET6 ARM Cortex-M4 board found on Aliexpress for $15.50. So what you are paying for here, is not really hardware, but all the development work required for a niche product.
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The third package includes the rest of the turnkey solution with an RF board, MUSES-β board based on Vatek B2 modulator and video encoding chip, and a video & audio input board with HDMI input, and 3 RCA connector for video composite and stereo audio input. All boards are already attached to an acrylic base, and the kit adds the top acrylic cover, some spacers and screws, and a 5V/2A power supply.
MUSES-β board comes with a USB port, a power jack, headers for the RF and AV input boards, I2C, MCU connect, and a TS port. I must have a received a prototype board, so there’s also some rework that should be gone once the kit ships to backers.
MUSES-β Kit Fully Assembled – Click to Enlarge
Assembly is quite straightforward:
Connect the STM32 board to the “MCU connect” header
Optionally add the top acrylic cover
Connect the 5V/2A power supply
Connect the coax cable to your TV, and add video and audio input(s) to the HDMI port or CVBS + stereo audio RCA jacks
Scan the channel on your TV, and enjoy
That’s exactly what I’ll try in the second part of the review, once I receive some documentation from the company.