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Posts Tagged ‘mini-pc’

Rikomagic MK80, MK12, MK05, V5 Android TV Boxes and Sticks Are Now Available for Purchase

November 27th, 2014 No comments

Rikomagic unveiled their MK80, MK12 and MK05 Android media players a few week ago, and somehow I missed (or ignored) their Rikomagic V5 TV stick, which looks very similar to Jesurun T034 / MK802 V powered with Rockchip RK3288 processor, and features an Ethernet port, but differs as full-sized USB ports are used instead of mix of micro and full-sized USB ports. All four devices, even five with MK80 Plus, are now available on Rikomagic’s Aliexpress store.

Top to Bottom, Left to Right: MK80, MK12, MK05 and V5

Top to Bottom, Left to Right: MK80, MK12, MK05 and V5

MK80 and MK80 Plus are Android mini PCs powered by Allwinner A80 SoC, and are probably using the same Sunchip board as Tronsmart Draco AW80 Meta and Telos, The standard version comes with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, and the “Plus” version with 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC, and can be purchased respectively for $155.90 and $199.99 including shipping.

MK12 is based on the new Amlogic S812 processor which adds HEVC/H.265 hardware video decoding up to 4K UHD resolution, and Gigabit Ethernet support compared to Amlogic S802, and comes with 2GB RAM, and 16GB eMMC. It sells for $101.90 on Aliexpress, again including shipping.

MK05 features Amlogic S805 processor, providing a low cost solution for people wanting to play 1080p videos, and support H.265 hardware video decoding, as well as 1GB RAM, and 8GB internal storage. The company offers it for $68.90.

As aforementioned, Rikomagic V5 is a Rockchip RK3288 TV Stick, with 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, that sells for $107.90.

Via AndroidPC.es and China Gadgets Reviews

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International Deals for Black Friday 2014

November 26th, 2014 8 comments

Every year, right after Thanksgiving comes Black Friday which “officially” opens the shopping season for Christmas, and the next Monday is called Cyber Monday, a much more recent day on the calendar, as it offers Online deals. Both are mostly US centric, but Chinese e-retailers have decided to jump on the Black Friday / Cyber Monday bandwagon, so just like for Black Friday 2013, I’ve decided to list a few offer available online for international buyers. Please make check to check my little shopping guide to avoid pitfalls, such as “fake” discounts, where the original price is inflated to misguide prospective buyers.

Black_Friday_2014DealExtreme

DealExtreme’s Black Friday promotion campaign has not officially started, but they’ve already announced their program:

From November 28th to December 1st, DX Black Friday Shopping Carnival will be grandly open!

This year, DX will bring you with the most beloved brands at affordable prices with amazing discounts up to 90% off!

In addition to the amazing discounts, DX also offers our customers coupons worth a combined total value up to $100,000! You simply need to login to your DX account to get one! (Please note that $5 gift card will be valid on orders of $15 or more, the $10 gift card will be valid on orders of $30 or more)

What’s more, 700 pieces free DX 2015 calendar which includes coupons valued up to $500 inside will send out during the campaign! (All calendars will be shipped out in mid December)

Not only that, 50 orders will be randomly selected to receive extra discount! (10*100% off, 15*50% off, 25*30% off)

BuyInCoins

BuyInCoins’ Black Friday Special Deals alledgedly includes discounts for smartphones, tablets, and accessories, but the few products I checked were not discounted. Hopefully, real discounts will show up on Friday.

GeekBuying

Geekbuying’s Black Friday Shopping  Carnival has already started, where they claim up to 60% discount, and organize $0.01 deals, with limited quantities of course.

GeekBuying_Flash_Sales

That’s one of the flash sales that just ended, and included Tronsmart Vega S89. It’s nearly impossible to get one, but if you do it’s jackpot.

They also have genuine deals for several mini PCs including:

Tinydeals

Tinydeals calls their event Black Friday Tech Deals Week as it lasts 7 days, and discounts up to 65% are allegedly available, and they have 24-hour flash sales. I could not really find deals for “well-known” Chinese gadgets there

GearBest

I think GearBest will have something for Black Friday, but until then, they have a Pre-Black Friday Sale with “massive early bird discounts”. I could not find any mini PCs or TV boxes there, and the smartphone I checked, namely Landvo L200, sells for the usual $90+.

AliExpress

Aliexpress have “activities” for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Promotions include coupons, for example $5 for Draco AW80, and the official sale will start exactly on Friday, included discounted smartphones and tablets, for example Xiaomi Mi3 will sell for $244 which seems to be a discount of about $30 to $40 on normal, as well as electronics accessories, clothing, and more. Since it’s not started yet, you can check discount, add interesting products to your basket, and once the sale begins you should be able to buy cheaper than usual.

Some potentially interesting discount are:

Strangely I cound not find any deals for Android mini PCs.

Banggood

Banggoodhas a Black Friday Sale, but only focused on quadcopter, or I end-up on the wrong page.

FocalPrice

FocalPrice has a Black Friday Mega Sale with alledgedly discount up to 70%. Unfortunately discounts are not that Mega, as for example Landvo L200 smartphone mentions above sells for $88, or about $4-5 cheaper than the normal price.

MCM Electronics

MCM Electronics is an online store for electronics hobbyist based in the US, but they also ship internationally. They launched a Black Friday Sale with boards such as Intel Galileo ($69), and various items including soldering irons, batteries, tablets, tool kits, and so on.

That’s all I found for now. If you find interesting deals available worldwide, feel free to share them with the community by commenting below.

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Zero Devices Z5C Thinko 4K H.265 TV Stick Review

November 26th, 2014 No comments

Zero Devices Z5C Think is one of the rare HDMI TV sitck powered by Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex A12/A17 processor available on the market. I’ve already take a few pictures of the device and internals, so today I’ll focus on testing the firmware, and performance of this thin and nice looking TV stick.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

There was a time when HDMI stick were powered by much slower, but power efficient processor based on Cortex A5 cores. One of these was CX-01 mini PC, and they could be powered by the USB port of the TV without problems. Now the processor are much more powerful, so normally you can’t power the device directly from the TV, but since I’ve seen people claim it was possible to drive RK3288 stick directly from the USB port of some TVs, I gave it a try, connected the stick to my Panasonic TV via the HDMI cable extension, as the two HDMI ports on my TV are too close, connected the micro USB to USB cable to my TV, and the power LED turned on, but the screen would stay black, and the TV display the message “Overcurrent error on USB device occured. Please remove the USB device and switch off the TV by mains power switch”.

Overcurrent_error_panasonic_TVSo that did not work out, but it was expected, and it’s not a problem with the stick, just that the TV can’t handle device with high power requirements.

So instead I used the power supply, and added a RF dongle for the Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse. Boot time is one of the best on the market so far, as it takes just 25 seconds between the time connecting the power supply, and getting to the Android Home Screen.

Android Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

Android Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

But the very first time, you’ll get through a wizard that let you select simplified Chinese, English or Others languages, scale your display for overscan compensation, and configure Wi-Fi. Unfortunately the first time, it did not find any Wi-Fi access point, so I went to Android Settings to check, and there was no MAC address either, probably meaning the Wi-Fi module was not detected. But everything got back to normal after a reboot, and Wi-Fi worked just fine.

Let’s have a look at the e Android settings. The Wireless & Networks sections comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet (for external USB dongle), and Data Usage menus, as well as a “More” section with VPN and Portable Hotspot. The Display settings mainly include font size adjustment, overscan compensation menu, and HDMI resolution selection between 9 modes: 1080p 24/25/30/50/60Hz, 720p 50/60, 720x576p-50 or 720x480p-60. Options for 4K output will be display if you own a 4K UHD TV. You can select the “Sound Output Device” in the “Sound Devices Manager” either “Default Output”, “Spdif Passthough” (which is not available on the stick), and “HDMI Bitstream” (HDMI pass-through).

About_Z5C_ThinkoThe 8GB eMMC is partitioned into two partitions:  a 0.95 GB “Internal Storage” partition for apps with 658 MB free, and a 8 GB (black magic yet again) “NAND FLASH” partition for data, with about 5.20 GB available space.

The “About Z5C Thinko” section reports the model number is Z5C, and it’s running Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux 3.10.0, and the vendor software version is 1.0.3. There’s also a System updates menu, that appears to properly connect to a server, but no new firmware was available at the time of the review.

Google Play works pretty well, and I could install apps such as ES File Explorer, Antutu, Beach Buggy Blitz, CPU-Z, etc…, with the only incompatible apps I’ve noticed being Vidonn Smartband app (as usual), and Real Racing 3. I’ve also installed Riptide GP2 through Amazon AppStore. However, I quickly ran out of space because of the sub 1GB app partition.

There’s no power button, and not proper power handling with this stick. Pressing the power button on the status bar will come up with a power off menu, but all it will do it reboot the device. Pressing the power button on Mele F10 Deluxe will simply blink the screen for one second, but it’s probably a remote key handling issue, which I’ve seen on another device, so after a fix, standby should be supported. But there’s probably nothing to be done to support power off, since it’s probably the way the hardware has been designed.

One of the biggest problems with Z5C Thinko is that it gets really hot, and sometimes hot enough to have the chip reboot itself. After Antutu, I could measure between 55 to 90°C, with the temperature especially hot on top of the Rockchip SoC, and close to the HDMI connector, since that’s where the heatsink spans.  The maximum temperature I got was 118°C. During idle time (i.e. in the home screen), the temperature is between 45 to 55°C, and in Kodi user interface it goes up to about 70°C. I’d like to point out the temperature varies a lot (-/+ 20°C on one given spot), probably because of the ventilation holes. So sometimes my IR thermometer may point to the plastic case, but sometimes I might measure the temperature directly from the heatsink, at least that’s my theory.

As long as you don’t perform demanding tasks, the firmware is mostly stable and smooth, but there are also various bugs, as I had to reboot to get Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work, USB storage connection may not be reliable, and because of the high temperature, it’s basically impossible to play 3D games, and even playing videos for over one hour may cause reboots. The tiny app partition is also annoying, but it’s something that’s easily fixable with a firmware update.

Video Playback

Kodi alpha 14 was pre-installed in the stick,. and it even let me know I should update, but since I don’t know whether the XBMC/Kodi version installed as been customized or not, I’ve tried using that version. Normally I play video from a SAMBA share, but for some reasons Kodi did not manage to find my computer, as it happened frequently in my previous review. So I switched to using my USB hard drive. I tried to connect it via the micro USB OTG port with the OTG adapter, but it was not recognized, and I tried a USB flash drive, but same problem. So instead I attached a USB hub to the single USB host port of the Android dongle, and my hard drive LED went on, but at first I could not see any partition in Kodi or ES File Explorer. I rebooted, and it worked, but since relatively unstable. So instead I installed SPMC from Google Play, and … it did not anything in the Video menu. So I ended playing videos from a SAMBA share using ES File Explorer and MX Player:

I played 1080p videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, and one extra 1080p H.265/HEVC videos:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container – It’s playing, but not very smooth.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – OK

Some higher bitrate videos had troubles to play because I was over Wi-Fi:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK, no problem even in fast moving scenes
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – Playing OK, but buffering often
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – Playing OK, but buffering often
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Playing OK, but buffering often

Please note that most Android media player won’t be able to play these files smoothly over Wi-Fi + SAMBA, so the results are not really surprising.

High definition audio codec could play (downsampled) in MX Player, but since some of these are high bitrate I had buffering and audio cut issues:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK (5.1), audio cuts and buffering (7.1)
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – Black screen only
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR –  Audio cuts and buffering

I tried to play Sintel-Bluray ISO, but it would load forever in MX Player.

4K video playback is about the same as with other RK328 boxes in MX Player, i.e. not that good:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Frequent audio  cut, and video in slow motion. It’s a 60 Mbps video so it can’t be realistically be played over Wi-Fi.
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Severe decoding issues with heavily distorted image
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK (H/W decode)
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK (H/W decode)
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) –  Slow motion
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Slow motion (maybe 1 to 3 fps)

This morning I tried again Kodi with SAMBA, and it worked for some reasons, so I tried the 4K videos in Kodi as well:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – First time black screen only, second try: plays but with many skipped frames, and then buffering.
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Buffering a lot becasue bitrate is too high for Wi-Fi, but when video plays it’s not smooth either with many dropped and skipped frames.
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) –  OK.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Kodi reports it plays at 8 to 10 fps, but it feels even slower than that. All four core at at 100% CPU usage.

I skipped the usual AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB, FLV and MP4 videos testing, but I still did play a 2-hour video (1080p / mkv / h.264) to test stability. The video did not feel very smooth, so I enabled Kodi debug overlay by pressing the ‘o’ key, and I regularly saw dropped and skipped frames, and the frame rate oscillated between 10 to 26 fps for that 24 fps video. Nevertheless, when I play the 2-hour video, I usually go to do something else, coming to check a few times, and after about one hour, I noticed I got back to the Android home screen. I did not connect the stick to my UPS, and I thought I heard a “micro” power failure (1 or 2 seconds), so I tried again, but it did play for one hour or so, and suddenly I saw the black, and shortly after the boot logo. So I rushed to scan the dongle with my infrared thermometer, and I go an amazing maximum temperature of 118 °C!

So proper video playback does not seem possible yet on Rockchip RK3288, and the small form factor even amplifies the issues, as it can’t play a full movie, at least at my room temperature (28 °C).

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi)

I’m transferring a 278 MB between SAMBA and the internal flash, and vice versa, for three times in ES File Explorer to get an idea of the Wi-Fi performance, and at 2.62 MB/s on average, the performance is decent, but not clearly outstanding. The good thing is that there was very little variation between the tests, so performance is not that great, but it’s reliable.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Sixaxis Compatibility Checker indicated the driver in Z5C can handle Sony PS3 controller, but when I used my controller clone, I got the message “Fake controller detected, attempting workaround”, but it just got stuck there.

Right after, sixaxis test, I tried to enable Bluetooth in the Android settings, but it did not work. A reboot fixed that, and I guess is the Sixaxis app may have caused troubles with Bluetooth. I could then pair my phone with Z5c, and transfer pictures.

I install the APK for my Vidonn X5 fitness tracker in order to test Bluetooth Smart (BLE). The smart band could be detected, and the dongle retrieve data from it successfully.

Storage

Both a micro SD card and USB flash drive formatted with FAT32 could be mounted and accessed.
Using my USB 3.0 hard drive was more problematic, as at times, it would just umount itself, or even not be recognized at all. But when it worked, it could detect all four partitions, but only mount the FAT32 and NTFS partition.

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

Due to stability issues, and I believe people are less likely to connect a USB hard drive to their stick than a full box, I skipped USB / NTFS benchmark, but still used A1 SD Bench to check the Samsung eMMC performance.

Read & Write Speed in MB/s

Read & Write Speed in MB/s

The eMMC flash has very good read speed (34.26 MB/s), but the write speed (6..62 MB/s) is not quite as good. Strangely, it’s still faster than the 6MB/s listed in Samsung eMMC product brief.  The fast read speed explained the quick boot time (25s), but I did not notice slowdowns due to the write speed.

Gaming

Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2 were the three games used for testing. No problem with Candy Crush Sag, as expected. I played the two racing games with Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad, which works just fine as usual. Beach Buggy Blitz was ultra-smooth with maxed out graphics settings, but I decided to try to play a few races, and check the temperature with that games. At the second race, the stick rebooted automatically, and I measured up to 105 °C, and I was quite surprised, as it was the first time (I played games, before I played videos) I got a temperature over 100 °C with an Android gadget. I decided to let the stick cool down for about 2 minutes, which I reckon is way too short,  before “playing” Riptide GP2.  As you may gues,s I did not end-up playing very long, as the device rebooted very soon, and I measured a maximum temperature of 110 °C.

Z5C Thinko Benchmarks

I expected the CPU frequency to be lower in a tiny HDMI adapter, compared to the easier to cool down full size TV box, so I ran CPU-Z to check the information, and the maximum CPU frequency is still 1.8 GHz, which at least partially explained the very high temperature I got.Z5C_Thinko_CPU-Z

The CPU is still detected as a Rockchip RK3066 with eight Cortex A12 core clocked between 312 MHz and 1.8 GHz, so it seems CPU-Z developers are not that interested in keeping up to date with Chinese SoCs by Allwinner or Rockchip.The total memory is correctly reported as 2019 MB, and internal storage has 0.95 GB because the app only included the first partition.

Z5C_Thinko_Antutu

Antutu 5.3 score is quite lower than other Rockchip RK3288 devices. Z5C Thinko gets 29,001 points, whereas TV boxes such as Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta get around 37,000 points. If we look into the details of the scores, Z5C takes a hit with UX, RAM, and CPU tests, but the GPU performance is exactly the same. Storage I/O is also weaker probably because of the slower eMMC write speed. So a more aggressive governor must have been implemented, or the 1.8GHz frequency reported by CPU-Z and Antutu is incorrect.

Conclusion

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko is small, looks great, and comes with a powerful Rockchip RK3288 processor. But unfortunately, there are just oo many problem with the firmware right now, include potential unreliable USB hard drive support, poor video playback (mostly common to other RK3288 devices), and most importantly high temperature issues, which makes 3D gaming, continuous video playback, and other tasks that may require a sustained load currently impossible, as the stick will just reboot to “save” itself.

PRO:

  • Fast new processor
  • Gook looking, thin, and small. One of the rare TV sticks based on Rockchip RK3288 processor
  • Fast boot (25 seconds)
  • 4K and H.265/HEVC support (although it needs improvement)
  • Video Output – 1080p support 24, 25 ,30 , 50 and 60 Hz output. 4K @ 60Hz should be supported (not tested).
  • Support for OTA update (server detected, but not tested since no new firmware was available at the time)
  • Bluetooth features seems to all work (File transfer, BLE, and maybe Sixaxis)

CONS:

  • Gets extremely hot (I measured up to 118 °C), leading to reboot, and it might affect the useful life of the device.
  • No power button, or proper power off handling, which can lead to data loss.
  • Many issues with video playback including dropped/skipped frames,  and it failed the 2-hour movie playback, because of issue #1 (temperature).
  • 3D games are unplayable due to temperature issues
  • Potential USB hard drive issue (unreliable)
  • USB OTG adapter does not seem to work, at least with USB mass storage devices.
  • At first boot, Wi-Fi module was not detected. Fixed after reboot, and the problem did not occur again.
  • The internal storage partition is only 0.95 GB, and it can be full after installing a few apps.

So at this stage, Z5C Thinko can probably only be used reliably as a portable mini PC to browse the web, check emails, and interact in social networks. But they’ve got some serious work to do when it comes to video playback, USB support, 3D gaming, and overall bug fixing. The temperature issue may only be fixable by lowering the CPU frequency to 1.2 or 1.4 GHz, and for 3D gaming the GPU may also have to be clocked down, but then you’ll end up with a much less powerful platform than existing RK3288 solutions.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko can be purchased for $94.99 on Asiapads including shipping. The company also offers a USB + Ethernet Hub for an extra $5.

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Unboxing of Jesurun T034 RK3288 TV Dongle with a Gigabit Ethernet Port

November 25th, 2014 8 comments

Jesurun T034 is an Android HDMI Stick that looks just like MK802 V, and with the same specifications. GearBest sent me a sample of this Rockchip RK3288 based HDMI TV dongle that have the particularity to include an Ethernet RJ45 port that most sticks lack. I’ll take a few pictures of the device, and the internal of this product today, before writing a full review.

Jesurun T034 Unboxing

I’ve received the parcel via DHL together with a dreaded piece of paper reading “Inbound Charges Invoice”. The package is a white brand box reading “Smart TV BOX” with RK3288 logo.

Smart_TV_Box

The stick comes with a 5V/2.5 power adapter, a short HDMI cable, a micro USB to USB cable, a IR remote control. and the IR receiver cable. There’s also a user’s manual in English that seems to be for other RK3288 TV boxes (CR12, CR13, and CR16), but I’m sure nobody read these anyway….

Jesurun T034 with Remote, Cables, and Power Supply (Click to Enlarge)

Jesurun T034 with Remote, Cables, and Power Supply (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s have a closer look at the device itself.

Jesurun T034 / MK802 V (Click to Enlarge)

Jesurun T034 / MK802 V (Click to Enlarge)

On one end, we’ve got the Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm jack for the IR extension cable, and on the other end an HDMI male connector. A micro SD slot, and two micro USB ports can be found on the side, with one being an OTG port, and the other being reserved for power. The ports are well marked on the bottom of the device. There are plenty of ventilation holes, as well as an external Wi-Fi antenna, and a recovery pinhole.

Unboxing video:

Jesurun T034 Board Photos

It’s extremely easy to open the dongle. Simply use a flat-headed precision screwdriver to lift and pop-out the bottom plastic cover.

T034 Board (Click to Enlarge)

T034 Board (Click to Enlarge)

There’s a thin heatsink covering the Rockchip SoC and the RAM chips, which I have not tried to removed. Realtek RTL8211E is the Gigabit Ethernet transceiver used to add Ethernet to RK3288. The board is called T034_V1_20140726.

Bottom of T034 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of T034 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s turn the board around to check a few more components. T034 is using the same Samsung KLM8G1WEMB-B031 eMMC flash as in Zero Devices Z5C Thinko (CX-928 board), which, according to Samsung eMMC specs, supports a decent 100 MB/s read speed, but rather slow 6MB/s write speed. AP6330 is the wireless module for 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The PMIC is again Active Semi 8846QM. So the board is different from CX-928, but interestingly the chosen components are almost all the same.

Jesurun T034 is available on GearBest for $79.98 with JT034CN coupon code. I could also find it on DealExtreme, but few others sell the stick under the brand and model name “Jesurun T034″. However, if you look for MK802 V instead, or just T034, both of which should be the same hardware, you’ll also find it on on Aliexpress, and Tinydeals, but for a price quite higher than on GearBest, at least for now.

I’ll probably write a shorter review than usual for this item, since with Zero Devices Z5C Thinko, I’ll already have had tested an Android TV stick based on Rockchip RK3288, so I’ll focus on Ethernet, and Wi-Fi performance, running a quick Antutu benchmark, and try out the IR extension cable and remote.

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MeegoPad T01 Android 4.4 & Windows 8.1 Mini PC Sells For as Low as $100

November 25th, 2014 8 comments

MeegoPad T01, also known as APM-D01, is a low cost Android 4.4 and/or Windows 8.1 HDMI TV dongle powered by Intel Bay-Trail-T Z3735F or G with 1 to 2GB RAM, and 16 to 32GB eMMC. It has become quite popular (for a Chinese product from an unknown board), and one seller managed to sell nearly 400 pieces of the 2GB RAM/16GB eMMC version on Aliexpress for about $130 shipped. But this morning, I discovered this Windows 8.1 HDMI TV stick was listed on DealExtreme for just $93.50 $99.99 including shipping, and if you want the 32GB eMMC version, it would cost you $104.39 $109.99 also including shipping.

MeegoPad-T01

MeegoPad T01 specifications of the devices sold on DealExtreme:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F  “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics Gen 7 (2W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L-1333 (64-bit up to 10.6 GB/s)
  • Storage – 16 or 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot up to 64GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 (Realtek RTL8723BS)
  • USB – 2x micro USB ports, 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Misc – Power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port.
  • Dimensions – 11 x 3.9 x 1 cm
  • Weight – 50 grams

The stick is sold with a 100~220V power adapter  and its micro USB to USB cable (60 cm). However, looking at DX page, it’s not clear at all if it comes pre-loaded with Android 4.4, or Windows 8.1, and whether a license is included (probably not at that price?). DX points to meegopad.cn, but everything is in Chinese, and I could not find T01 model. My guess is none of the nearly 400 persons who order APM-D01 / Meego T01 have received their device yet, as there’s no independent review. However, the manufacturer as posted a three part overview of the dongle on Youku, and Deadhp11 re-uploaded them on YouTube. I’ve included the Android/Windows 8.1 dual boot video demo below, where everything is controlled with a smartphone app.

So that would mean both Android 4.4 and Windows 8.1 are pre-loaded in the device, but I wonder how this could be possible with the 16GB internal storage version. Finally, as said previously with other Intel Bay Trail devices, Ubuntu / Linux distributions may not be fully supported.

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Unboxing of Zero Devices Z5C Thinko TV Stick based on Rockchip RK3288 Processor

November 22nd, 2014 3 comments

It’s been a long long while since I’ve received an Android HDMI TV Stick, probably because many people prefer TV boxes, and the new ARM processors usually dissipate a lot of heat so thermal management may be an issue with small form factors. But I’ll finally get the opportunity to test a powerful HDMI dongle based on Rockchip RK3288 quad core processor, as Zero Devices sent me their Z5C Thinko TV stick. I’ll start by listing the specifications, and taking some pictures of the device and the board, because doing a full review hopefully sometimes next week.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko Specifications

The stick has specifications similar to full sized Android media player minus ports like Ethernet and S/PDIF:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex A12/A17 @ 1.8 GHz + ARM Mali-T764 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0, and OpenCL 1.1
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz) with external Wi-Fi antenna, and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6330)
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 output (male) up to 4k2k @ 60 fps
  • Video Codecs – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4,H.263, H.264, AVS, VC-1, RV, VP6/VP8, Sorenson Spark, MVC
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 2x micro USB ports (1x OTG, 1x for power)
  • Misc – Flash button for firmware update
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 102 x 38.4 x 10 mm excluding antenna
  • Weight – About 30 grams

The device runs Android 4.4.2.

Z5C Thinko Unboxing Pictures and Video

I received the device by DHL in a ZERO Devices “MINI PC STICK” branded package.
Zero_Devices_Z5C_Thinko_Package

The TV stick comes with a small pouch bag, a 5V/2A power supply with its micro USB to USB cable, a short HDMI cable, and a USB OTG adapter.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

There should also be an authenticity card with an unique serial number to access the VIP zone on Zero Devices for firmware download and documentation, and a user’s manual in English, but these were not included with my sample.

Z5C Thinko Mini PC (Click to Enlarge)

Z5C Thinko Mini PC (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve placed the dongle on top of a typical Android media player (MINIX NEO X6) for size comparison. The stick features three USB ports: one micro USB port for power only, one micro USB OTG port and one full size USB 2.0 host port, as well as an HDMI 2.0 male connector, a micro SD slot, an external antenna, and a “flash” button used for firmware updates.

You can also watch Zero Devices Z5C Thinko unboxing video if you please.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko Board Pictures

There aren’t any screws with this type of device, and you normally just need to find a small opening around the connectors, and unclip the two plastic parts with a think objects such as a flat-headed precision screwdriver. I started with the micro USB port (power), and finished with the USB port, and I did not even break any clips in the process!

CX-929 Board found Z5C Thinko (Click to Enlarge)

CX-929 Board found Z5C Thinko (Click to Enlarge)

There’s a wide but thin heatsink on top of the processor and RAM chips. I did not really tried to remove it. The Wi-Fi module is AP6330 as advertised which mean dual band Wi-Fi (2.4/5.0 GHz) and Bluetooth 4.0. The board name is CX-929_V1.2 manufactured (or designed) on 2014-09-27. I believe the CX-xyz devices are made by Sunchip.

Botton of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

Botton of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

On the back of the board, we’ll find a 8GB SAMSUNG KLM8G1WEMB-B031 eMMC flash that in theory supports 100 MB/s read speed, and 6MB/s write speed, as well as Active Semi 8864QM power management IC.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko can be purchased for $94.99 on Asiapads including shipping. The company also offer a USB + Ethernet Hub for $5 extra. I’ll do a full review next week.

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10moons iBox D9i Intel Mini PC with 2GB RAM & 16GB eMMC Flash Sells for $82 in China

November 21st, 2014 12 comments

We’ll already been informed about Intel Bay Trail mini PCs such as NEO MINIX Z64, MeLe PCG03 and Meego Pad P01, but the first two are not available yet (MeLe mini PC will ship by the end of December), and Meego P01 sells for a ridiculous $251 on Aliexpress, and I’m not even sure it’s shipping. There’s now another option with 10moons D9i which goes for 499 CNY ($82) in Tmall, features Intel Atom Z3735D quad-core processor,  2GB DDR3, and 16GB flash, running Android 4.2.2 or Windows 8.1.

10moons_ibox_d9i10moons iBox / D9i specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735D “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16 eMMC + micro SD slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI
  • Video Codec – H.264 up to 4K @ 30 fps, H.265 up to 1080p
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (No Ethernet)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host, 1x USB 3.0 host
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 112 x 112 x 28 mm

10moons_d9i_HDMI_USB3I understand the device ships with Android 4.2.2, but it looks like you can also download the BIOS and, hmmm… Windows 8.1, to install Windows from a 4GB or greater USB flash drive formatted with NTFS. It’s most probably an unauthorized copy of Windows, unless somehow Microsoft has also OK’ed Windows 8.1 with Bing on this type of device. In theory, you could also instal a Linux desktop distributions the device, but there may still be issues with Intel Bay Trail processors. That’s also a shame there’s no Ethernet port on this box.

Nevertheless, that means game is on, and Intel based mini PCs are now coming to market with the same price as equivalent ARM based mini PCs. A $80 device, in China should probably cost a little over $100 on Aliexpress once shipping and other fees are taken into account. More information may be available on 10moons iBox product page (Chinese).

Thanks to milkboy for the tip.

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