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Amlogic S912 Android TV Boxes List So Far

August 15th, 2016 38 comments

Following up on the tradition to create list of TV boxes with popular processor, such as my Amlogic S905 TV boxes and sticks list, I’ve decided to generate a comparison table for the first ten Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes announced so far. There won’t be any S912 TV sticks, as the processor probably dissipate a little too much heat to be useful in that form factor.

Amlogic_S912_TV_Boxes

All TV boxes in the table below share the same Amlogic S912 octa-core Cortex A53 processor @ 2.0 GHz with an ARM Mali-820MP3 GPU, support for HDMI 2.0a output, HDR, 4K video playback for  VP9, H.265 and H.264 codecs, and run Android 6.0, so I only included columns for items that differ between products.

 MemoryStorageVideo OutputAudio OutputEthernetWirelessUSBPrice
MXQ Plus M12N / ENYBOX X22GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF10/100M802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$69.99
Zoomtak Vplus2GB16GB + SD slotHDMI + RCA compositeHDMI, RCA stereo, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.03x USB 2.0$54 (FOB)
Nexbox A12GB16GB + SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$70.99 (Coupon GBNA1)
Rikomagic MK222GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0, 1x USB OTG portTBD
R-Box Pro2 or 3 GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0, 1x micro USB OTG 2GB RAM: $74.99
3GB RAM: $82.99
QINTAIX Q9122GB8 or 16 GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.03x USB 2.0TBD
Beelink GT12GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMIHDMI, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0TBDx USB 2.0$55.99 (coupon GBGT1)
Videostrong KM8 Pro2GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI + AVGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$47 (FOB)
Vontar Z5 Supermax2GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$89.99
Intbox i72GB8GB + SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$118.00

Remarks: AV means 3.5mm AV jack with composite and stereo audio, and prices are usually retail prices with shipping by registered airmail from China, except for the ones followed by “FOB” which are factory prices.

Corrections are welcomed in the comments section, as well as tips about new S912 boxes not mentioned in this post.

GOLE1 mini PC Tablet Review – Part 2: Android 5.1 and Windows 10

August 14th, 2016 6 comments

GOLE1, also called GOLE1 F1, is an interesting device because it’s quite difficult, it’s like the offspring of a mini PC and a tablet with a smallish  phone-like 5″ capacitive touch screen. It also dual boot Windows 10 and Android 5.1. I’ve already discussed about the hardware, and taken picture of the device, accessories, and motherboard, in the first part of the review, so today I’ll report my experiences with Windows 10 and Android 5.1, as well as the potential use cases. Since I’ve already reviewed Intel Atom x5-Z8300 mini PCs, as well as a dual boot Windows and Android Intel mini PC, I’ll focus on what makes GOLE1 different in this review.

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GOLE1 Dual Boot and Use Cases

I normally check my emails on my smartphone while having breakfast in the morning, but one day the charging micro USB cable was not connected properly to my phone, so I decided to try using GOLE1 has a portable device, as I had connected it a few days on my desk without actually booting it.

After pressing the power button a few couple, the device will boot and show GOLE logo with a Setup icon to access Aptio Setup Utility (UEFI / BIOS), and a couple of second later, you’ll be presented with a choice of using Android or Window, which default to the previously selected opertating system if you don’t press any keys after a 10 seconds timeout.

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You’ll notice my pictures are in portrait mode, simply because if GOLE is placed on its back on a flat surface it will boot in portrait mode by default. If you decided to enter Aptio Setup Utility, there’s no way to rotate the display here, and there’s no HDMI output either. If you want to use the more convenient landscape mode, you’d have to boot the device by holding it in the right position….

The very first I played with it, Windows was selected by default, so I decided to go ahead to use it to check my email, however I first found the display hard to read (I have breakfast outdoors), so I had to set brightness to 100%, and it was a little better, but not quite perfect, so I’d say the screen is poor for outdoor use due to the reflections.

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The second and even more frustrating issue that’s using Windows 10 on 5″ display amounts to torture as everything is so small, at least with the default DPI settings, as text is very hard to read, and everything is so small it’s difficult to tap with any accuracy… So after playing with it for 5 minutes, I decided to reboot, and switch to Android 5.1 instead.

GOLE1_Android_Tablet_Mode

That was much more usable. The display has a 1280×720 resolution so don’t expect an amazing experience, and viewing is rather poor even at maximum brightness, but at least I could use it to check my emails with gmail, and read some news. I used it for about 30 minutes, and I have to say it’s a little heavy, so it might not be ideal over longer period of time. If I had my phone sufficiently charged with me, I would never consider using GOLE1 as a portable device.

But maybe it’s better as a mini PC with dual displays support thanks to its extra HDMI port. So I connect a whole bunch of USB devices including two RF dongles for air mouse and gamepad, a USB 3.0 harddrive to the USB 3.0 port, and a USB hub for USB keyboard and mouse, plus the usual cable for TV (HDMI), display, and power. I first placed the mini PC flat on the table, and it will show in portrait mode in both the 5″ display and TV (Please ignore the vertical lines on the television, as it is the TV’s problem).

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That’s just a small issue, as you can move the device around to switch to landscape mode.

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The next problem is that it will automatically enter sleep mode after a few seconds of inactivity. That’s annoying, but there a simple fix, as you can disable sleep mode in the display menu. You can also change video output up to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz or 4096×2160 @ 24 Hz if your TV supports it.

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This won’t change the user interface / frame buffer resolution however, which is set to 1280×720, and with the DPI settings used (fixed in firmware), text looks quite big on the TV. There’s also no option to force landscape mode, so you’d probably have to install Set Orientation app using Googke Play to make sure the screen is in landscape mode. The unusual position of the status bar on the right while in landscape mode, and the fact that both the 5″ display and TV display would be turned on during might be an annoyance while playing videos for example. So GOLE1 can be used as an Android TV box, but I don’t find it to be doing a good job at it. Extended display, i.e. different content on either screen, is not possible in Android.

So let’s boot Windows 10 instead in the same configuration, and by default the system is using mirroring mode.

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Windows 10 works fine, but by default the resolution set to 1280×720 on the TV too in that mode, so it’s not ideal. You can change it to whatever output you want however, and I did manage to change it to 1920×1080 @ 60 Hz. The text becomes completely unreadable on the small display, but it’s pretty good on the large disaply. You may want to force the orientation to landscape in Windows options so the 5″ screen don’t rotate to portrait mode.

I also tested Extended Desktop in Windows with the TV screen used as the primary display, and set to the resolution I want, e.g. 1920×1080 @ 60 Hz (up to 4K @ 30 Hz), while the 5″ display remains at 1280×720 resolution.

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This works, but just like in portable mode, the text on the 5″ display is hardly readable, and when you launch an app from the TV screen, it may launch in the small display, so you may have to drag it to the big screen to use it. I think this setup is most useful in very specific applications, where the 5″ display would be used with a remote app, and the big display showing whatever the user want, something like a digital signage system with the user being able to select options from the built-in touchscreen, and info shown on the large monitor. For most people, the best option might be to select Single Display mode to turn off the 5″ display completely.

I have not tried Ubuntu, but Brad Linder of Liliputing did, and actually successfully loaded both Ubuntu 16.04 and Remix OS operating systems from a USB stick. Built-in WiFi and Audio did not work, as expected since you need to work a little harder to enable Audio and Wifi, so he used a USB audio card and an external USB Wifi dongle… Mirroring did not work, but Extended Desktop was usable.

GOLE1 Android 5.1 Info and Benchmarks

Now that we’ve gone through the different configurations / use cases made possible with GOLE1, I’ll report some more information about the operating systems themselves, starting with Android. Note that while I’m mostly used the device in landscape mode, I took the screenshots in portrait mode, because it is more convenient for the review, as text would often be split over multiple screens in landscape mode.

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The device runs Android 5.1 on top of Linux 3.14.37. I had no trouble using Google Play, and browsing, but as mentioned previously the screen resolution and density use makes it really big on the large screen. Using it as an Android tablet was better, although the screen is small, and device heavy. I have not evaluate the battery life, because I got an early sample with a smaller battery.

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CPU-Z shows an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 quad core CPU up to 1.84 GHz with Intel HD graphics is used by the device called “AOSP on Intel Platform (cht_cr_mrd_w)”. Screen resolution is 720×1280 with 294 dpi, with 3847MB total RAM, and 4.82 GB internal storage.

GOLE1 got a decent 49,457 points in Antutu 6.0 (in landscape mode), but remember that the 1280×720 resolution will have posively affected the 3D graphics results compared to platforms running at a more common 1920×1080 resolution.

GOLE1_Antutu_6.0

The 64GB flash was expected to be faster than most 8/16GB flash used in TV boxes, and the results obtained with A1SD bench are indeed pretty good with 58.82 MB/s sequential read speed, and 46.03 MB/s write speed.

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

Normally, I’d also measure USB hard drive performance here, but none of my USB HDD partitions would show in Android.

I could use the Fast Ethernet connection without issues in Android, but WiFi performance varies much more between device, so that’s what I measured it connected to my 2.4GHz router. The device could also find my 5 GHz access point (802.11n only, no 802.11ac). WiFi throughput is tested by transferring a 278MB file over SAMBA back and forth using ES File Explorer. Download speed was acceptable at around 2.2 MB/s, but I got some stalling issue during one upload, and generally was slower, around 1.5 MB/s when no connection loss. The average was still a rather weak 1.8 MB/s.

WiFi Throughput in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

WiFi Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

GOLE1 Windows Info and Benchmarks

Windows 10 desktop in GOLE1 is completely standard, apart that the resolution is 1280×720 on your monitor or TV by default.

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Click for Original Size

One of the reason of adding an often useless 5″ display to a mini PC is to get it into the “tablet with small screen” category with Microsoft, so that you can install Windows 10 with a free license… So that’s no surprise Windows 10 Home 64-bit is activated in the device, although I though it was not valid for 4GB. If Microsoft was not such an obscure company people could check themselves whether the license is right, but AFAIK the license conditions are not published publicly.

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The system info windows also shows the model is GOLE1 (F1) powered by Intel Atom x5-Z8300 processor @ 1.44 GHz with 4GB RAM.

My USB hard drive connected to the USB 3.0 is still not detected in Windows 10, and I can only see the 49.6 GB partition. There’s 33.8 GB free, but I took the screenshot at the end of the review.
GOLE1_C_DriveWhile storage performance was very good for an Android TV box, Windows based mini PCs often achieve well over 100MB/s (up to 400 MB/s) sequential read and write speeds, and relatively fast random I/Os, which is not really the case here.

GOLE1_CrystalDiskMarkHWiNFO64 reported information is pretty standard.

GOLE1-HWiNFO64At first, I decided to skip Windows 10 benchmarks, because Intel Atom x5 processors performance is well known, so I only ran AIDA64 Extreme System Stability Test for 10 minutes, while monitoring thermal throttling stage, CPU cores frequency and temperature with HWiNFO64.

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The CPU temperature was rather high for all 4 cores at over 80 C, but HWiNFO did not report any throttling. However, when checking the maximum CPU frequencies, it’s obvious something is very wrong, because it never went over 1,200 MHz, while Intel Atom x5-Z8300 processor base frequency is 1.44 GHz, and turbo frequency is 1.84 GHz.

So I changed my mind about benchmark, and after letting the system cool down for a while, I installed and ran PCMark 8 HOME ACCELERATED 3.0 benchmark.

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GOLE1 got 1,254 points, which compares to 1,354 points on Atom x5-Z8300 based Tronsmart Ara X5, so about 7% slower which could be caused by the slower eMMC flash or some throttling, although the processor did not overheat, and frequency got up to 1.84 GHz during the benchmark.

I left GOLE1 connected to the mains all day during Windows 10 testing, and strangely, I could see the system reporting the battery was “Not Charging”.

GOLE1_Charging_IssueHowever, I also checked later, and the battery level went up to 40% still not charging, and latter down to 33%. So it looks like the system will not always charge to battery while Windows 10 is running, and you have to turn the mini PC off to charge it.

Conclusion

In theory, GOLE1 is an awesome little device which can be your Windows or Android tablet, Android TV box, or Windows 10 mini PC, as you see fit. But in practice, Windows 10 is really hard to use on a 5″ screen, Android works better, but the screen is high reflective making it poorly suited to outdoor use,  when you connect the device to your TV with Android, the resolution is limited to 720p, and you have to hack your way out to make it usable. In Windows 10, it’s a little better when using a TV in either Single Display, Mirroring, or Extended Display mode. The 5″ screen is still unreadable in most modes, so Single Display might be the best option. GOLE1 can do many things, but none of them very well. It might be useful in some specific applications, where you may want a touch screen display with a control app, to let the user access info or play videos on the large screen, or simply use it as a control panel for some machines without external display.

PROS

  • Innovative design combining tablet and mini PC
  • Dual boot of Windows 10 Home (activated) and Android 5.1
  • Affordable price

CONS

  • Windows 10 is close to unusable on a 5″ screen with the default resolution 1280×720 and DPI settings.
  • 5″ screen has poor visibility outdoors even with maximum brightness
  • GOLE1 is a rather heavy as a portable device
  • Poor WiFi performance, and unreliable at times
  • My USB 3.0 hard drive was no recognized in either Android or Windows (power supply issue?)
  • The system appears to default to Portrait mode when placed on a flat surface
  • Battery does not appear to be charging continuously in Windows 10
  • Minor – Android set to sleep very fast (a few seconds) by default, which is a real annoyance when connected to TV (Settings changes fix this)
  • GOLE1 is throttling under heavy load after a couple of minutes.

“Jack of all trades, master of none” is probably appropriate for GOLE1 F1. I’d still like to thank GOLE for giving me the opportunity to review GOLE1. You can purchase the device for $99 with 2GB RAM/32GB flash, and $154.99 with 4GB/64GB (as reviewed here) on GearBest (GBGF4 or TENOFF coupons may lower the price further). You’ll also find both models sold as “GOLE F1” on Banggood.

MXQ Plus M12N (Amlogic S912) TV Box Review – Part 1: Specs, Unboxing, and Teardown

August 13th, 2016 11 comments

Shenzhen Shiningworth has just sent me the first Amlogic S912 Android TV box for review with their MXQ Plus M12N model. The first part of the review will focus on specifications, accessories, and hardware design, and in the second part I’ll connect and boot the device to make a thorough review of the firmware.

MXQ Plus M12N Specifications

The specifications are pretty standard and comparable to the ones of yet to launch Amlogic S912 TV boxes:

  • SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 2.0GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 @ up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash and SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60Hz with CEC and HDR support, and AV port (composite)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV (stereo audio), and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Fast Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports including one OTG port
  • Misc – IR receiver, status and network LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 10.8 x 10.8 x 1.9 cm
  • Weight –  210 grams

The TV box runs Android 6.0.1 with Kodi 16.1.

MXQ Plus M12N Unboxing

The package is black with golden text reading “MXQ Plus” and “Bigger than Bigger”, and does not have trademarked text or logo that may cause troubles at customs.

MXQ_Plus_Package
The bottom of the package lists the main specifications, and shows a C44EAC MAC address registered by Shenzhen Shiningworth,

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The TV box ships with an IR remote control taking two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, a 5V/2A power supply, and a user’s manual in English.

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If the box looks familiar, it’s because it’s almost the same casing as ARNU Box Mach 10 64-bit also manufactured by Shenzhen Shiningworth.

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The front panel includes Status and Net LEDs as well as the IR receiver window, one of the side comes with two USB 2.0 ports and micro SD slot, while the rear panel features the WiFi antenna, optical S/PDIF, AV and HDMI video outputs, a Fast Ethernet port, and the DC jack.

Unboxing video.

MXQ Plus M12N Teardown

In order to open the device, you’ll need to take out the four sticker rubber pads on the bottom, and loosen four screws.

MXQ_Plus_Model_M12N

The bottom of the board features two NANYA NT5CB256M16DP-EK DDR3-1866 SDRAM chips (1GB) and not much else.

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The board can easily be pulled from the case, without having to remove extra screws or plastic clip. Just be careful due to the WiFi antenna.

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Thermal design is interesting as it does not include an heatsink at all, but instead two thick thermal pads are sticked to the top of the metal case, and cover Amlogic S912 when the box is closed. I’m not quite sure how well this is supposed to work.

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Beside Amlogic S912 SoC right in the middle, we’ll find two more NANYA RAM chip to bring the total to 2GB, as well as a 16GB Samsung KLMAG2GEND-B031 “high performance” eMMC 5.0 flash capable of achieving 250MB/s read speed and 50 MB/s write speed in theory, as well as 6000 random R/W IOPS. I’m a bit surprised by that, as Shenzhen Shingingworth customer often use slower storage, but the flash chip used here looks pretty good. Network connectivity is achieved using PPT 1608 PM44-11BP transformer for 10/100M Ethernet, and Ampak AP6255 module for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity. DIO1233 audio driver can also be found close to the AV port, which also servers as the “hole” for the recovery button. The serial console (UART) is located between the micro SD card and one of the USB ports and is clearly marked with Tx, Rx, 3.3V and GND. The board’s part number for my sample is M12N_55_V0.95.

I’d like to thank Shenzhen Shiningworth for provide a review sample, and resellers and distributors interested in purchasing in quantities can contact the company via their website, or Alibaba where the device is listed for $52 for samples, and $47 per unit for orders over 1,000 pieces (FOB prices). I’ve not been able to find the box on retail websites yet, and it will probably be found under various names such as M12N, MXQ Plus S912, or ENYBOX X2. [Update: The device is sold as Acemax M12N for $69.99 on GearBest, and $82.99 on Aliexpress]

Hacker H3 Smart Home Multimedia Gateway Combines Amlogic S905 and Mediatek MT7628AN Processors

August 12th, 2016 8 comments

There are plenty of Amlogic S905 TV boxes on the market, but Hacker H3 has some notable features such as an internal 2.5″ SATA bay, as well as MediaTek MT7628AN WiSoC and MT7612E 802.11ac 867Mbps chip to provide router functionality via one WAN port, two LAN ports, and WLAN.Hacker_H3

Hacker H3 media gateway specifications:

  • Media SoC – Amlogic S905 quad core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 2.0GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 @ 1866MHz
  • Storage – 16 or 64GB eMMC flash + 1x SATA bay up to 6TB
  • Network SoCs – Mediatek MT7628AN MIPS 24KEc CPU @ 580MHz + Mediatek MT7612E 867Mbps 802.11ac chipset
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 port up to 4K @ 60 Hz
  • Audio Output – HDMI + 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n up to 300 Mbps, 802.11ac up to 866 Mbps (AC1200 router) with two built-in antennas
    • 2x 10/100M Ethernet LAN ports, 1x 10/100M Ethernet WAN port
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 port
  • Misc – Power button, reset pinhole
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Certifications – FCC, CE, CCC

Hacker H3 runs Android 5.1 on Amlogic S905, and some other firmware on the Mediatek processor, maybe OpenWrt. The company claims the box can be used as a smart home automation hub, as a cloud storage server using the internal hard drive, a smart wireless router, an “Entertainment box”, for smartphone screen mirroring, and so on. Details on how this is all supposed to work are unfortunately missing.

Amlogic_S905_Router_TV_Box

I actually found about the device on ARMdevices.net back in January, but since the specifications were not complete at the time, I contacted the company, but after one email reply, they did not seem interested in talking to me… But today being a slow news day, I decided to check it out again, and found JCG had setup a page with some specs and pictures for their Hacker H3 thing.

Hacker H3 will be sold in China on JD and Tmall for 699 RMB ($105) for the 16GB version,while the 64GB version will go for 899 RMB ($135).

VersaLogic Osprey is an Industrial & Military Grade Intel Bay Trail Single Board Computer

August 11th, 2016 2 comments

Versalogic Osprey “Embedded Processing Unit” (EPU) is a single board computer powered by Intel Bay Trail-I CPU modules with 2 to 4GB RAM, up to 8GB flash, dual Gigabit Ethernet, two mini PCIe slots, working at industrial temperatures (-40 to 85°C),  and compliant with MIL-STD-202G military standard for shocks and vibrations.

Military_grade_boardVersaLogic Osprey VL-EPU-3311 specifications:

  • SoC
    • Intel Atom E3845 quad core processor @ 1.91GHz with Intel HD graphics or
    • Intel Atom E3827 dual core processor @ 1.75GHz with Intel HD graphics or
    • Intel Atom E3815 single core processor @ 1.46GHz with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2GB or 4GB DDR3L (soldered)
  • Storage
    • 8GB eMMC flash with E3845 model; 4GB eMMC flash with E3827 model; no flash for E3815 model
    • MicroSD slot
    • SATA 2.0 port with latching connector
    • mSATA via mini-PCIe slot
  • Display
    • Single-channel 18/24-bit LVDS up to 1024×768 @ 60Hz
    • Dual mini-DisplayPort++ with HDMI and audio support up to 2560×1600
  • Connectivity – 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports with latching connector, network boot option
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, optional USB-to-audio adapter
  • I/O expansion – 2x RS-232/422/485; 8x DIO; 1x I2C; 3x timers/counters
  • Expansion:
    • Full-sized mini-PCIe socket with support Wi-Fi modems, GPS receivers, MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet channels, non-volatile flash data storage, and other plug-in modules (full or half size). USB, SATA, and PCIe signaling. Autodetect mSATA support.
    • Half-sized mini-PCIe socket with support for PCIe and USB
  • Misc – Watchdog, system reset, hardware monitoring, optional passive heatsink, cooling fan, and heat pipe connector plate, connector for RTC battery
  • Power Supply – 8V to 17V (nominal 12V operation)
  • Power Consumption – Idle: 5.3 to 6.1W; typical: 5.9 to 7.3W; max: 6.5 to 8.5W; ACPI S3: 1.2W (depending on model)
  • Dimensions – 95 x 55 x 27.5mm
  • Weight – 140 grams
  • Temperature range – -40 to 85°C
  • Vibration and mechanical shock – MIL-STD-202G methods 204, 214a, and 213b
  • Altitude – Operating: Up to 4,570m; storage: up to 12,000m
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The company provides support for Linux, VxWorks, Windows, Windows Embedded for the board. A wide range of accessories and mPCIe modules are also offered with the board including mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter, industrial temperature micro SD cards, and a choice of mini PCIe modules for networking, serial, analog and digital I/Os, GPS, SSD,  etc…

VersaLogic mini PCIe Module (Click to Enlarge)

VersaLogic mini PCIe Module (Click to Enlarge)

VersaLogic Osprey EPU is designed for niche markets, and industrial and military certifications do come at extra costs, with the SBC starting at $937 for the single core “VL-EPU-3311-EAP” model, up to $1,237 for the quad core “VL-EPU-3311-EDP” model on Digikey. More details can be found on VersaLogic Osprey product page.

Via Hackerboards

NEXBOX A1 Amlogic S912 Android TV Box Presells for $71

August 9th, 2016 12 comments

NEXBOX A1 was one of the first announcements of an Android TV box powered by Amlogic S912 SoC, but there weren’t many details at the time. Since then several other boxes has been announced, but few have prices, and GearBest now informed me that they were taking pre-orders for NEXBOX A1 for $70.99 including shipping with coupon GBNA1.

NEXBOX_A1NEXBOX A1 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S912 octo-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 2.0GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 @ up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash and SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 and AV ports
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions- 9.3 x 9.3 x 1.5 cm
  • Weight –  190 grams

So the specifications don’t differ much from the competition. NEXBOX A1 also runs Android 6.0, and ships with the usual accessories, namely an IR remote control, an HDMI cable, a power adapter, and an English manual.

NEXBOX_A1_PortsConsidering Amlogic S912 processor competes with Rockchip RK3368 octa-core processor, but with both a better GPU, and video codec support, S912 TV box prices will likely converge towards RK3368 ones with similar specs, possibly selling for a few dollars more. Beelink i68 was the first Rockchip RK3368 TV box I reviewed, and like most S912 TV boxes, now comes with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, Gigabit Ethernet, and dual band WiFi. So it’s a good comparison base, and it happens to sell for $66 on both GearBest and Banggood, so around $70 should be a fair price to pay for an Amlogic S912 TV box with equivalent memory and networking features.

However unless you want to make sure you’ll be one of the first to receive the device, there’s no rush to buy right now, since shipping is scheduled for September 17th, 2016.

Star Cloud PCG61 Intel Celeron “Braswell” Ubuntu 16.04 / Windows 10 Pro Mini PC Features Up to 8GB RAM

July 28th, 2016 6 comments

MeLE showcased their PCG61U mini PC powered by an Intel Celeron N3150 processor and running Ubuntu last April at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair. The company has now launched Star Cloud PCG61 on Aliexpress where it sells for $149 and up with either Windows or Ubuntu.

Star_Cloud_PCG61Star Cloud PCG61 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Braswell Celeron N3150 quad core processor @ 1.60/2.08 GHz with 12 EU Gen8 Graphics(6W TDP)
  • System Memory – None, 4 or 8GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 0, 64 or 128 GB mSATA SSD (upgradeable up to 256GB), micro SD card up to 512GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 & VGA
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm microphone and earphone jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n & 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – Power button, Kensington security lock, reset BIOS button,  mini PCIe slot (likely already used by wireless module)
  • Power – 12V DC input
  • Dimensions & weight – N/A (Aluminum case with “patented fanless cooling design”)

That’s the first time I see a “Reset BIOS” button, and considering problems people had with Wintel Pro CX-W8, it might be worthwhile feature to have in case you have “bricked” your computer with wrong BIOS settings.

Ubuntu-16.04_Braswell_mini_PCThe fanless mini PC can be bought pre-loaded with Ubuntu 16.04, Windows 10 Pro, or without any operating systems as it is sold in four configurations:

  • Barebone without memory nor storage – $149
  • Ubuntu 16.04 with 4GB RAM, 64 GB SSD – $199
  • Windows 10 Pro with 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD – $299
  • Windows 10 Pro with 8GB RAM, 128 GB SSD – $349

All prices include shipping by registered air mail. It’s pretty clear Windows 10 Pro is properly licensed considering the price difference with the Ubuntu version for the same hardware.HDMI_VGA_Mini_PCVia AndroidPC.es

Review of GOLE1 mini PC with 5″ Display – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

July 21st, 2016 13 comments

GOLE1 is a portable mini PC running Windows 10 and Android 5.1, featuring a 5″ touchsceen display, and powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” processor. The device was launched on Indiegogo, and the project raised close to $300,000. I’ve now received an early sample with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage for review, with – I was told – a 1,800 mAh battery instead of the 2,600 mAh battey backers will receive. I’ll do a 2 or 3 parts review, starting by checking out the hardware, before testing both Windows 10 and Android 5.1 on the platform.

GOLE1 Unboxing

The device is packed into a simple white box with “GOLE1 Designed by GOLE” string.
GOLE1_Package

The mini PC ships with a 5V/3A power supply which should be powerful enough to connect a USB 3.0 hard drive, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual in English.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The device looks a little like a mini portable TV because of its shape an antenna. The top features the 5″ touchscreen display, as well as volume, Home/Windows, and power buttons. A micro USB port, USB 2.0 & USB 3.0 ports, and a micro SD slot can be found on one of the sides, while the rear panel includes the WiFi antenna, a 3.5mm audio jack, HDMI 1.4 output, two more USB 2.0 ports, a Fast Ethernet port, and the DC jack.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I planned to show a quick boot demo with Windows 10 and Android 5.1 in the unboxing video, but the battery was depleted, so the unboxing / hands-on video is little less interesting than expected.

GOLE1 Teardown

GOLE1 metallic enclosure can be opened by taking out of four rubber pad on the bottom, and loosening four screws. The bottom cover does not come off that easily, so I used a sharp tool and inserted into one of the ventilation holes to gently lift it up.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Cooling is achieved with a large heatsink covering Atom processor, the memory and a Samsung eMMC flash. Finally, I did get a 2,600 mAh battery if the markings are to be believed [Update: the company has now double confirmed I truly got a 1,800 mAh battery, but they applied the mass production sticker on it]. I wanted to completely remove the board from the case, so I removed the battery, and loosened 6 more screws, but I did not come easily, and I did not want to risk damaging the unit at this early stage.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

We can still have a closer look at the board and check out some of the chips. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity is achieved via an Ampak AP6234 module supporting dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and BT 4.0, with an external antenna plugged into a connector (i.e. not soldered). Davicom DM9621ANP USB 2.0 to Fast Ethernet controller is used in conjunction with PHC SMD-16003NL transformer to provide wired network connectivity. Other ICs includes Genesys Logic GL850G USB 2.0 hub controller, and ATMLH602-46D which should an I2C EEPROM to store data like the MAC address.

If you’ve missed the crowdfunding campaign, you can (pre-) purchase GOLE1 mini PC starting at $99 with 2GB RAM / 32GB flash, and up to $144 with 4GB/64GB on GearBest (GBGF4 coupon may lower the price further). I have not found the device for sale on other websites yet.