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Posts Tagged ‘media player’

Ugoos UT3S is an Update to UT3 Android & Ubuntu TV Box with a Fan

January 23rd, 2015 10 comments

Many people like ARM based media player because most of them run Android providing access too many apps available via Google Play Store, a similar experience to what they got used with phones and tablets, and also because they are small, inexpensive, and fanless. However, the latest ARM processors such as Rockchip RK3288, can get really hot, so most of the time CPU frequency needs to be limited to avoid overheating and stability, which reduces performance. Which may be why, Ugoos decided to launch UT3S mini PC, an upgrade to UT3 mini PC with a mini Fan placed on top of a larger heatsink.
Ugoos_UT3SUgoos UT3S specifications and look remain very similar to the original model:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3288 quad core CortexA17 @ 1.80 GHz + Mali-T764 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0, and OpenCL 1.1
  • System Memory – 2GB to 4GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB or 32GB eMMC Flash + micro SD card slot (up to 32 GB)
  • Connectivity – 100M/1000M Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz) and 802.11 a/c using external Wi-Fi antenna?, and Bluetooth
  • Video I/F – HDMI 2.0 output (female) up to 4k2k @ 60 fps, and AV output (3.5mm jack)
  • Audio I/F – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs
    • Decoding – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4,H.263, H.264, H.265,AVS, VC-1, RV, VP6/VP8, Sorenson Spark, MVC up to 4K2K @ 60fps
    • Encoding – H.264, H.265, VP8, MVC (1080p)
    • H.264, H.265 Data Rate – Up to 60Mbps
  • Audio Codecs/Formats – MP1, MP2, MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, OGA, APE, FLAC, AAC, M4A, 3GPP
  • USB – 4x USB Host port, 1x micro USB OTG
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions – 115 x 115 x 20 mm
  • Temperature Range – Operating: -10~40℃, Storage: -20~50℃
  • Humidity – 5%-90%, No condensation
  • Certification – CCC,CE,EMC,FCC,Wi-Fi

The company also decided to remove the HDMI input, and replace it with a USB host port. It’s probably not a big loss since I’ve yet to see a Rockchip box with HDMI input support PVR or PiP. The base frequency is listed as 1.8GHz in the specs, but with the fan it should be possible safely (TBC) to overclock RK3288 to 2.2 GHz, The box comes with an HDMI cable, a power adapter, an IR remote control, and a user’s manual by default, and optionally an air mouse, or a wireless mouse or keyboard combo may be provided.
Ugoos_UT3S_fan
The device runs the dual boot Android 4.4 + Ubuntu 14.10 image I tried with Ugoos UM3. The user experience should be the same as any other boxes in Android, and Ubuntu is very usable as long as you don’t try to play full screen 480p or greater online videos smoothly in a web browser, and also don’t expect Adobe flash to run nice and smooth.

Two version of Ugoos UTS3 are available:

  • Ugoos UT3S Black with 2GB RAM and 16GB flash
  • Ugoos UT3S Red with 4GB RAM and 32GB flash

Both models are available for pre-order on GearBest for  $129 and $169 with “UT3S” coupon. I could not find it on other sites, except on DealsMachine, but while the title refers to UT3S, the description is fully about UM3…

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Popcorn Hour VTEN Media Player Powered by Sigma Designs SMP8757 STB SoC Supports 4K, H.265 Codec

January 20th, 2015 11 comments

Cloud Media must have noticed the shortcomings of Rockchip SDK and RK3288 processor found in their Open Hour Chameleon box with pseudo 4K video playback and only partial audio pass-through capability, and the company have not given up on more traditional Linux based media players with a proven track record, as they’ve just announced Popcorn Hour VTEN featuring the latest Sigma Designs SMP8757 SoC with 4K video output.
Popcorn_Hour_VTEN
Popcorn Hour VTEN specifications:

  • SoC – Sigma Designs SMP8757 ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 1.2 GHz with ARM Mali-400 GPU
  • System Memory – 1024MB DDR3
  • Storage – 512MB SLC NAND Flash, 1x eSATA port, 1x SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, and coaxial S/PDIF
  • Video Containers – MPEG 1/2/4 Elementary, MPEG 1/2 PS, MPEG-2 TS, AVI, ASF, WMV, MKV, MOV (H.264), MP4, 3DMKV, BD-ISO, BDMV, 3D-BD
  • Video Codecs – XViD SD/HD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 MP@HL, MPEG-4.2, MPEG-4 10, WMV9, VC-1, H.265/HEVC
  • Audio
    • Formats – AAC, M4A, MPEG audio, WAV, WMA, FLAC, OGG, APE, TTA, DSD
    • Decoders – DTS, WMA, WMA Pro, MPEG-1 (Layer 1,2,3), MPEG-4 AAC-LC, MPEG-4 HE-AAC, LPCM, FLAC, Vorbix
    • Pass-through – DTS, DTS-HD HR, DTS-HD MA
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, optional WN-160P USB Wi-Fi dongle (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Misc – IR receiver, power and network LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions – 144 x 110 x 30 mm (Aluminum enclosure)
  • Weight – 1 kg

The system runs the company’s NMJ Media Jukebox application. Sigma Designs is a company strongly believing in the benefits of closed source software, so don’t expect much from them in terms of complying with open source licenses, except possibly the Linux kernel.

NMJ_MediaJukeboxVTEN is up for pre-order for $169, with shipping scheduled for February 6, 2015.

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Mini Review of VidOn Box Android Media Player

January 16th, 2015 4 comments

Vidon Box is an Allwinner A31s based TV box made by Vidon.me, a Diamond sponsor for Kodi entertainment center. I’ve already listed specs, subscriber services, and uploaded pictures in the unboxing post, so it’s time for a review. Since Allwinner A31s has been around for a while, I’ve decided to write a shorter review.

First Boot, Setup, and First Impressions

Since the box provides some services with a subscription, with a free 1-year top-up card included, you’ll probably want to register an account on Vidon.me first, as it’s needed to activate all services in the box as shown on the back of the top-up card. After the optional Subscription is $14.99 per year, and it’s only needed if you need features like Blu-ray navigation, or audio pass-through.

Vidon_Box_Top_Up_Card_InstructionsThe simple remote included does the job if you only use the box for settings and XBMC, but otherwise you’ll need an air mouse, or wireless keyboard. Just make sure you remove the plastic under the battery to make it work. I’ve connected all required cables, and a bunch if USB devices, and for the very first boot you go through a wizard to set the language, configure the display  (720/1080p/i video output and screen scale), the network (Wi-Fi or Ethernet), the time, audio output (HDMI or S/PDIF, and disable/enable pass-through), check for firmware update, and login with you Vidon.me username and password7vagywbpojka. There was a new firmware for the device, and although the download for the 322MB firmware (SDK 1.2)  took over 2 hours, the process went smoothly, but at next start-up, it went through the wizard again, and  it detected yet another update, smaller (50.96MB) and called VMC (maybe standing for Vidon.me XBMC?). Subsequent boots take about 45 seconds.

Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

They’ve revamped the user interface they had in Vidon.me AV200, and black/white/grey home screen shows the list of app directly. There’s also an option to autostart XBMC. The apps with a grey down arrow are not installed yet, you need to click on them, and they will be downloaded and installed.

If you want to check all settings available, I’ve recorded the Android screen with all options in the video below.

Power handling is all good, as you can enter/exit standby, and power on/off cleanly with the remote control. Temperature after Anautu was 38 C on both side of the device, but the shiny metallic enclosure may have interfered with my IR thermometer, as the temperature felt higher with my hand.

The system performs nicely most of the time, but if you are installing apps, you’d better wait, as it becomes hardly usable. Google Play works fine for me. Stability is good, but I had one system freeze in XBMC once while playing a 3D video.

Video Playback

XBMC 13.2 is pre-installed, and there;s are actually two versions of Vidon XBMC installed which is really confusing. I just tried a few videos over Ethernet + USB or SAMBA:

  • 1080p H.264 – OK
  • 1080p MPEG-2 – OK
  • 2160p H.264 – Slow motion
  • 1080p Bluray (Sintel) – OK
  • 1080p Over/Under 3D Video – First time: system hang, power cycle required. Second try: Plays like in slow motion.

I’ve also run Antutu Video Tester, and Vidon Box got an average score with 490 points. Not quite as good as devices with more recent Allwinner processor (e.g. A80/A83T).

Antutu_Video_Tester_Vidon_Box

Click to Enlarge

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

Network performance over Wi-Fi is tested by transferring a 278 MB file using ES File Explorer to a SAMBA server, and vice versa. Results: 3.09 MB/s average transfer speed, which places it in the top of the 802.11n device in terms of Wi-Fi performance.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

I did the same with Ethernet, and the speed is a bit slow, but as well see below, this tests is affected by the internal flash read speed.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

Raw Ethernet performance with iperf show good performance in one direction, but problem to handle full duplex at full speed.

Throughput in Mbps

Throughput in Mbps

iperf output:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.102, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  136 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 34423 connected with 192.168.0.102 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   299 MBytes  41.8 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.1 sec   665 MBytes  92.9 Mbits/sec

Storage

Following comments from a reader, I’ve replaced the FAT32 partition in my USB 3.0 hard drive by exFAT, especially since I’ve already testing FAT32 with a (micro) SD card and/or USB flash drive. So now I have 4 partitions with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS in the drive.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK OK
EXT-4 Not supported
exFAT OK  OK
BTRFS Not supported
FAT32 OK OK

I tested read and write performance for USB NTFS and the internal storage using A1 SD Bench app.

Read and Write Speed (MB/s)

Read and Write Speed (MB/s)

Despite a decent read performance via USB (32.92 MB/s), Vidon Box is the wort performing device with USB device because of a dismissal write performance (2.59 MB/s). I also ran the test with the exFAT partition in case the culprit was the NTFS partition, but it’s not much better: 26.57 MB/s and 3.38 MB/s, so something is very wrong here.

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

The internal storage performance also places it with other low end device, and the poor write performance also explains why the device is not really usable while installed apps.

Gaming

I’ve tested one game (Beach Buggy Racing) and graphics performance is OK, but it’s very unpleasant to play because Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad can connect, but it’s unusable (no reaction, and it’s the first time it happens), so I had to use the Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse to play.

VidOn.me AV200 Benchmark

I’ve only run Antutu 5.6 benchmark, and with a score of 15,591 points is roughly where a quad cortex Cortex A7 device should be.

vidon_box_antutuConclusion

VidOn Box is a good looking device that runs OK, with excellent Wi-Fi, and only quickly tested video playback, and H.265, MPEG-2 and Bluray are Ok in XBMC, but 3D videos and 4K videos somehow do not work, even though Allwinner A31(s) is supposed to support the latter at least. Wi-Fi is one of the best, Ethernet average, but storage is really poor when it comes to write speed both for internal storage, and especially USB storage.

Let’s summarize the PROS and CONS

  • PROS
    • Stable firmware (although I got one freeze in XBMC once)
    • Eye pleasing elliptic design with metallic enclosure
    • Excellent Wi-Fi performance
    • Proper power handling with standby and power on/off from the remote control
    • OTA firmware and XBMC upgrades
    • Future firmware upgrades promise Mobile Transfer, Photo Backup, Mobile Access, and more.
  • CONS
    • Their XBMC version requires registration and login to VidOn.me
    • 4K hardware video decoding, and 3D stereoscopic videos are not supported, at least in XBMC
    • The flash is partitioned with a 1GB app partition, and a ~4GB data partition, which may lead to issues install many apps.
    • The processor is somewhat slow by today’s standard, but it’s not really an issue if all you do is video playback
    • Very poor write speed to USB mass storage (~3 to 4 MB/s)
    • Relatively slow internal storage
    • 1280×720 user interface
    • Wireless gamepad (like Mars G01) are not supported
    • Standard features like audio pass-through and Blu-ray navigation require a $14.99 annual subscription fee.

Vidon Box can either be purchased directly on Vidon.me for $69.99 including shipping and one free year of membership, or via other websites such as GeekBuying and Aliexpress. After one year, membership costs $14.99 per year, or $1.99 per month, and is optional for most features.

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Mediatek based Xiaomi Mi Box mini Android TV Box Sells for $32

January 15th, 2015 16 comments

Today (2015/01/15), Xiaomi has launched four new products: Mi Note and Mi Note Pro 5.5″ Android smartphones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 and 810, Mi Headphones (audiophile-grade), as well as Mi Box mini. The latter is a tiny Android TV box powered by a quad core ARM Cortex-A7 processor, with 1GB RAM and 4GB Flash, and selling for just 199 RMB in China (~$32 US).

Mi_Box_MiniMi Box mini specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT8685A quad core ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.3Ghz with Mali-450MP4 GPU (4 fragment + 2 vertex cores)
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC 4.5 flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI up to 1080p with Dolby and DTS pass-through
  • Video Codecs – Support H.265
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.0
  • Power Supply – Integrated into device. 100-240V input
  • Dimensions – 38 x 38 x 38? mm
  • Weight – 73 grams

The device will run MUIU TV (based on Android 4.4.2), and sell with a 1.5 meter HDMI cable, and a Bluetooth remote control.

Mi_box_mini_HDMI_remote_controlThe box is also said to offer 140,000 hours of video content with Galaxy Internet TV (GiTV), but this is likely to work reliably in China only.

You can find more details on Xiaomi’s Mi Box mini product’s page (in Chinese).

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Actions Semi Introduces Quad Core 64-bit ATM9009 Processor for Tablets and TV Boxes

January 13th, 2015 5 comments

2015 will clearly be the year of 64-bit ARM processors, and one more company has now announced yet another ARMv8 SoC. Action Semi ATM9009 features four Cortex A53 cores coupled with an Imagination Technologies PowerVR GPU and targets entry-level and mid-range tablets and TV boxes, and certainly not high-end products as per the press release.

ATM9009The key features of ATM9009 include:

  • Processor – Quad core Cortex A53 processor to 1.8 GHz
  • GPU – PowerVR G6230 up to 600 MHz with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.0, OpenCL 1.1, and DirectX 10
  • Memory I/F – eMMC 4.5, NAND flash controller, 4x SD/SDIO controller, DDR3/DDR3L and  LPDDR2/LPDDR1 (Up to 8GB RAM)
  • Video – HEVC/H.265 video decoding up to 30 fps, H.265 encoder up to 1080p60
  • Display / Video Ouptut – LCD controller up to 4K, HDMI 1.4, MHL 2.1, dual channel LVDS , MIPI DSI, eDP up to 2560×1600
  • Camera I/F – MIPI CSI up to 13MP
  • Other Interfaces:
    • 10/100M Ethernet MAC
    • 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 OTG
    • 4x SPI, 7x UART, 6x TWI, 1x PWM
    • 2x I2S, 2x PCM, SPDIF
  • Security – ARM TrustZone, AES-128 encryption,Secure Boot, etc…
  • Process – 28nm
  • Package – TFBGA642 (19x19mm)

The processor will run Android 5.0 at first. It’s unclear when products based on ATM9009 will become available, except it’s sometimes in 2015.

Via Liliputing and PadNews

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Allwinner H3 Android TV Boxes Are Now Selling

January 13th, 2015 1 comment

Allwinner H3 SoC was announced last month, promoted as a quad core processor for low cost ($35 to $50) media players with HEC/H.265 codec support up to 2160p. At least one box – model TVPP0030 - has shown up on Aliexpress for $83.79 including shipping, so either the price initially announced was the BoM cost, or the first sellers offer the box at a premium.

Allwinner_H3_TV_Box

TVPP0030 specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.5GHz with quad core Mali-400MP2
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB NAND flash + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.3? up to 4K2K, AV output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR sensor, recovery pinhole
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – N/A
  • Weight – N/A
The Android 4.4 box comes with an IR remote control, power adapter, and user’s manual.

Allwinner_H3_media_player

The specifications and features are quite similar to BFS 4KH I’ve just reviewed, with an Hisilicon quad core Cortex A7 processor, 4K & H.265 support, a faster GPU, and a USB 3.0 port,  but selling for just over $50 including shipping. So if the price does not come down, Allwinner H3 Android media players won’t sell so well…

Via AndroidPC.es

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Rockchip RK3036 Android 4.4 TV Boxes with H.265 Codec Support To Sell for $10

January 8th, 2015 9 comments

Rockchip announced RK3368 64-bit processor yesterday for mid-range tablets and 4K media player, but the company also have some new ultra low cost TV box and HDMI TV stick solution with Rockchip RK3036 dual core Cortex A7 processor that will go into $9.9 TV boxes running Android 4.4. The price is most probably factory price, but that means $20 H.265/HEC capable Android media players are probably around the corner. You can already get an RK3066 TV dongle (MK808 and similar) for less than $30 in Aliexpress, so the new solution will likely decrease the price by $5 to $10.

RK3036_TV_Box

Technical specifications of RK3036 reference design:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3036 dual core Cortex A7 processor @ up to 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP GPU
  • System Memory – 256MB DDR3 or DDR3L
  • Storage – 2GB flash. RK3036 supports MLC NAND, eMMC 4.5.
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4a. The chip also supports CVBS, and optical S/PDIF.
  • (Main) Video Codecs – 1080p multi format decoder including H.265 / H.264 codecs. H.264 encoding.
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (possibly using Expressif ESP8089). The chip also supports 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port. (Two USB interfaces are provided by the SoC)

The RAM is really on the low side, but Rockchip has said they further optimized Android 4.4 to run on 256 MB RAM. Lots of apps will probably fail to run properly on this platform, and such device should be mostly reserved to video playback. I’m not even quite sure Kodi would run with that little RAM.

A few more details may eventually be added to RK3036 product page.
[Update: Just to get a better grasp to what might be the actual online retail price. Rockchip announced $10 RK2928 miracast dongles in 2013, which are now selling for $16 to $20 shipped, so something around $20 to $25 on Aliexpress should be feasible on RK3036 devices become available]

Via Liliputing

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Rockchip Introduces RK3368 Octa Core Cortex A53 SoC for Tablets and 4K TV Box

January 7th, 2015 7 comments

Rockchip is also at CES 2015, and they’ve announced and are showcasing a new octa-core processor called RK3368 with eight 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 cores that will go into tablets and 4K UHD media players in the coming year. Most news outlet and blogs at CES only cover big brand, so all I got are a few tweets from Rockchip twitter account.

Rockchip_RK3368The eight cores will be clocked up to 1.5 GHz, and the SoC includes an unnamed GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.1, OpneCL 1.2 and DirectX 9.3. 4Kx2K H.265 and H.264 video decoding will be handled by the chip too, as will out HDMI 2.0 for up to 2160p @ 60 Hz video output.

RK3368_Reference_Platform

RK3368 tablets and media players will run Android 5.0 Lollipop. RK3368 is probably the official name for MayBach processor.

I’m now fully relying on Charbax to get more details about Rockchip new processor… :)

[Update: Liliputing shot a video with RK3368 Reference Tablet.

]

Via AndroidPC.es

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