There are times when you are happy to have spend a little extra for a device to get better software support, and while most Rockchip RK3288 TV boxes are still running Android 4.4, a few companies have been porting Android 5.1 Lollipop to their products, including Ugoos and CloudNetgo.
Android 5.1 based Light Biz OS in Ugoos UT3 (Click for Original Size)
Ugoos has been working on Android 5.1 for RK3288 for while, releasing several beta firmware in the process, and the latest beta firmware (3.0.2b) includes Light Biz OS (aka Multiwindow) support to provide a better Android desktop experience, OTA firmware updates, and several bug fixes. One new small-yet-neat option is to customize the use of the power LED on the devices (WiFi, Ethernet, IR, CPU usage….), or if you don’t like it turn it off. The Android 5.1.1 firmware (still beta) is available for three devices:
The company has also uploaded a video demo on YouTube.
Separately CloudNetgo has also released an Android 5.1 firmware (no mention of beta or release status) for their CR12, CR13 and CR16 TV boxes. A single link is provided for download: CR12-13_5.1_cloudnetgo_ap6330_20151123.rar. There’s no changelog and specific information about this firmware, except it’s definitely based on Android 5.1, and the version 5.0.00.
While Black Friday is very much a US tradition, Chinese online retailers have made an habit to launch Black Friday, and to a lesser extend Cyber Monday, promotions discount on their sites bringing the event to an international audience. This year is no different, and have gathered some promotions that may be of interest to CNX Software readers.
I have not found specific deals on DealExtreme, but the company launched a Black Friday 2015 Lucky Draw event where you can get partial or full refunds of existing orders, as well as coupons for future order. Here are the rules:
This campaign is for all DX customers.
Please log in first.
One play per valid order number.
Valid Orders must meet the following three conditions:
Orders made on or after 10:00:00(AM) Oct. 28th and before 9:59:59(AM) Nov. 26th, 2015 (UTC+8).
Order should include one or more MVP product(s) and the order value must be more than $20.
Orders have been shipped or partially shipped.
Present winners will be notified by email.
The Coupon prizes can be used on Bidding Sales (Nov.11), Black Friday (Nov.27) and Cyber Monday (Nov.30) for MVP product only.
The Order Refund prizes will be processed within seven workdays in the form of store-credit.
The Surprise Gift will be shipped within seven workdays.
Tinydeal launched discounts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday mostly for smartphones, tablets, and accessories. There are also some flash sales, where for example you could get a LEAGOO ELITE 4 smartphone for just $9.99.
You can find more discount on the whole Aliexpress website, by checking out their Black Friday Page.
Cloud Media promises up to 82% discount, and buy 1 get 2 free offers for selected products.
But I’m not quite sure how to work, as adding 3 product to the cart still show the price for 3 devices. They do offer some small discount for their VTEN media player ($149), and you can add a WiFi dongle for just $1.9 extra (maybe that’s where the 82% discount is coming from…). Their Open Hour Gecko is still $89, but you can add an air mouse for just $5.
OpenELEC also has a Black Friday campaign for their OpenELEC Box based on WeTek Play, wit hthe price as low as 53.99 Euros if you buy 12 or more units. If you don’t need that many, there’s still a 10% discount bringing the price to about 80 Euros for one.
This week-end, I quickly mentioned MeegoPad T08 projector while announced MeegoPad T07 TV Stick Indiegogo campaign, so today, I’ll have a closer as the Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” based Windows 10 projector. MeegoPad T08 projector preliminary specifications:
SoC – Intel Atom qual core “Cherry Trail” x5-z8300 or z5-8500 processor with Intel HD Gen8 graphics
Projector – 1280 x 800 resolution, up to 110″ screen projection, 400 lumens, and optional touchscreen support
Video – HDMI input or output? port
Audio – HDMI, headphone jack, JBL speakers
Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 port
Misc – Power button
Battery – 10,400 or 12,000 mAh battery
Power Supply – 5V
Dimensions – 139 x 79 x 16 mm
The project will run Windows 10, and I’m not sure whether Linux would work with the projector due to the drivers involved. Some parts of the specs imply both HDMI input and HDMI output are available, but pictures of the device tell a different story, and it’s unclear whether HDMI input or output is used here.
Pricing and availability are not available yet, but for what’s it’s worth, the product page of Alibaba reports it will be less than $300, while the page on MeegoPad.cn suggests it might cost 2,999 CNY ($469). The company also uploaded a teaser video on YouTube showing touchscreen and hand-writing capabilities of the projector.
I received my first Amlogic S905 TV box last week with K1 Plus, and although I have not reviewed it yet due to some issues with Google Play, I’ve run some benchmarks on the Amlogic S905 platform, which some people mentioning that results could have been impacted by the small heatsink leading to CPU throttling. The good news is that I know have a new Amlogic SD905 TV Box to play with as GearBest sent me Beelink MINI MX TV box. Today, I’ll take a few photos of the device and the board, before hopefully publishing the full review early next week.
Beelink MINI MX Unboxing
I received the package via DHL, and thanks to its low price I did not have to pay custom duties or VAT.
The package does not show any specific brand, only Mini MX 4K Movies products, as well as the specifications on the back.
Beelink MINI MX and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)
The box ships with a 5V/2A power adapter, a simple IR remote control requiring two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, and a quick start guide in English.
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The device is quite thinner than some of the other TV boxes I’ve reviewed recently. The front panel has a small circular window for the power LED, while one of the side comes with a micro SD slot, and a USB port. The main ports can be found in the rear panel with an optical S/PDIF port, Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 connector, HDMI 2.0 output, , another USB 2.0 host port, and the power jack.
Beelink MINI MX Teardown
There aren’t any screws holding the two parts of the case together, so you need some rigi and sharp plastic tool to pop up the parts.
The WiFi antenna is on the board itself, so I had nothing to break this time.., and there’s no heatsink on the processor, but instead heat dissipation is done via a themal pad glued to a metallic plate fastened to the top of the case, which should provide better cooling than the tiny heatsink found in VideoStrong K1 Plus.
Click to Enlarge
The back of the board has nothing much, expect the recovery/firmware update button on the top right of the picture, and a 4-pin header for the serial console, on the right side.
Click to Enlarge
Since they own Beelink brand, it’s no surprise to reading the board was made by Netxeon, with the board name reading S95_V2.0_20150909. Two Samsung K4B4G1646D-BCMA DDR3 chips bring 1GB RAM to the device, while FORESEE NCEFAT28-08G NAND? flash takes care of the 8GB internal storage. Ampak AP6212 wireless module adds Bluetooth 4.0 and 2.4GHz WiFi 802.11 b/g/n to the device, and Pulse H5007NL magnetics and Reatek RTL8211F Ethernet transceiver confirm Gigabit Ethernet support. Beside the 4-pin serial console header, there are also 6 solder points to connect a JTAG debugger.
I’d like to thank GearBest for sending a review sample. If you are interested, you could purchase Beelink MINI MX from their website for just $40.79 including shipping with BEELL coupon. Alternative shopping options include GeekBuying ($44.99), eBay, Amazon US ($55), and a few others.
There was some confused when MeegoPad T05, T06 and T07 Cherry Trail TV dongles details surfaced with specifications changing from sites to sites. One forum post on x86pad.com, clarified MeegoPad products line up, including a new MeegoPad T08 Cherry Trail projector with battery. MeegoPad T07 was confirmed to be actively cooled with a small fan, and come with 2GB as seen on GeekBuying and GearBest, but the company also just launched a flexible funding Indiegogo campaign for the 4GB RAM version.
MeegoPad T07 specifications:
SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz (Turbo frequency: 1.84 GHz) with Intel Gen8 HD graphics (2W SDP)
System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3-1600
Storage – 32GB eMMC 5.0 flash + micro SD slot up to 128GB
Video Output – HDMI 1.4 male connector
Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack
Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
USB – 2x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB port (power only)
Misc – Power button
Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port
Dimensions – 106 x 53 x 13.5 mm
Weight – 50 grams
MeegoPad T07 is pre-loaded with an activated version of Windows 10. But note that the company do not have a stellar track record when it comes to license as they apparently shipped a MeegoPad T04 with an unlicensed Windows 10 to Lon Seidman, a YouTube reviewer, and then provided a link to some cracking software to fix the issue…
They ask for $109 for the “early supporter” reward, which includes T07 with Windows 10 Home, an HDMI extension cable, a micro USB to USB cable, a power cable, and a carrying case. The company has also included MeegoPad T05 in the crowdfunding campaign featuring 2GB RAM only, and available barebone for $79, or with Windows 10 Home for $94. Shipping is not included, but is free to North America, and the few European countries I tried, and $10 to the rest of the world. Delivery is scheduled for January 2016.
After publishing a benchmark comparison between Amlogic S905 and Rockchip RK3368 yesterday, I was asked to do the same with Amlogic S805 and Amlogic S905. Since I already had the data, I just went ahead to write this post. Bear in mind that Amlogic S805 TV boxes run Android 4.4, while Amlogic S905 devices all feature Android 5.1. So while the table below should give a good estimate of the actual performance improvement between the two generation devices, Amlogic S905 performance will be amplified thanks to optimizations in Android 5.1, for instance the use of ART runtime instead of Dalvik.
With that in mind here are the results comparing the results I got with Videostrong K1 Plus (Amlogic S905) and MXQ S85 (Amlogic S805) TV boxes.
Quad core Cortex A53 @ 2.02 GHz
Quad core Cortex A5 @ 1.488 GHz
CPU Integer (multi-thread)
CPU float-point (multi-thread)
CPU Integer (single thread)
CPU float-point (single thread)
3D Graphics (1920×1080)
3DMark – Ice Storm Extreme v1.2
*Vellamo 3.x browser benchmark had an issue that underreported Amlogic S805 performance.
A ratio greater than 1 means S905 is faster than S805, and the new processor outperforms in all categories. This is especially true for the runtime test that combines a faster processor with a better ART runtime. So If you plan to upgrade your Amlogic S805 mini PC to a Amlogic S905 mini PC you’ll notice an obviously performance boost with the new processor.
That for the performance. Price-wise the most cost effective Amlogic S805 TV boxes sell for about $30 (even lower with discounts or promotions), while equivalent Amlogic S905 devices go for around $42, so the price difference is only about $12. Having said that, S805 is a mature platform, and as I found out with Videostrong K1 Plus, the firmware may not be polished yet in S905 devices currently shipping with for instance, the Google Play Store not working very well, and no DRM at all.
That means Amlogic S905 definitely offers a better better than Amlogic S805, but at this point (November 2015), there’s probably no rush to buy an Amlogic S905 TV box, unless you are ready to go through some bugs at first, and the lack of DRM – which might not be fixable by firmware updates – is no issue to you.
There are many Android TV boxes on the market based on Rockchip RK3368 processor, while I’m not aware of any development board based on the latest Rockchip octa-core processor, and Linux support is basically inexistent. One device may fill both gaps: GeekBox. This TV box can run both Android and Ubuntu Linux, while it’s easily disassembled to access expansion headers.
The hardware specifications are a little higher-end than most Rockchip RK3368 TV boxes we’ve seen so far:
Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n + 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO @ 867 Mbps (AP6354 module), Bluetooth 4.1
USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
Debugging – 3-pin header for serial console
Security – HW security system, support popular DRM (no details though), and HDCP 1.4/2.x
Misc – Power, reboot and update buttons, IR receiver, fan header, RTC battery header, 2x LEDs
Power Supply – 5V/2A
Dimensions – N/A
Once you open the case, you’ll find GeekBox is also a Rockchip RK3368 system-on-module (SoM) with a 314-pin MXM3 edge connector. The system will be pre-installed with Android & Ubuntu Dual boot firmware, and you’ll also be able to switch to Android–based Light Biz OS. The kit will including GeekBox SoM, the enclosure, an IR Remote control, an HDMI cable, two external antennas, a charging cable, an heatsink, a power adapter and a user’s manual.If you want to do some real work, you could also get Landigship baseboard (sold separately) to insert the Rockchip RK3368 module into the MXM3 socket and get some extra features and ports including:
Storage – 2.5″ SATA drive support on the back of the board
Audio – optical S/PDIF, 3.5mm headphone jack, two microphones
USB – One extra USB port
Misc – RTC battery slot (CR1220), 2×2 user buttons, buzzer
Power Supply – 5V
Baseboard dimensions – 116x86x13 mm
GeekBox SoM and Landingship Board
The company can also provide various accessories such as a 7.9″ “retina” display, a cooling fan, an RTC battery to connect directly to the SoM, high gain WiFi antennas (5dB), and so on.
A development platform without source code, documentation and community would rather be useless, so GeekBox.tv community has been launched for the board, where you can get support via the forums, and while firmware and source code are “comming soon”, you can already download the schematics (PDF) for GeekBox SoM and LandingShip carrier board.
GeekBox is available for pre-order for $109.99 on GeekBuying, with a $20 discount if you leave a comment on their promotion page. You also find accessories on such as the $29.90 Landingship baseboard, and others, and you could also get a complete kit for about $249. Shipping is planned for November 30.
When Android TV boxes started to take off around 2013, a few model would include a camera and sit on top of the TV such as MK818. However I’ve seen less model in that form factor since then, until I came across MX HD23 Android TV Box powered by Allwinner H3 quad core processor and featuring a HD webcam for videoconferencing.
Beside the camera, MX HD23 specifications are pretty standard:
SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.2 GHz with quad core Mali-400MP2 @ 600 MHz
System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
Storage – 8 GB eMMC + micro SD slot up to 32GB
Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
Video Output – HDMI up to 4K2K @ 30Hz, 3.5mm AV jack
Audio Output – HDMI, and 3.5mm stereo audio jack
Camera – 5MP front-facing camera with two microphones (up to 5 meter range) and swivel arm
USB – 1x mini USB, 1x USB 2.0 host port
Misc – Power key, IR receiver, upgrade key
Power Supply – 5V/2A via power barrel
Dimensions – 93.5×53.5×19.5mm (without stand)
Weight – 131 grams
The Android 4.4 TV box ships with an IR Remote control, an HDMI cable, an OTG adapter, a power supply, and its TV stands, and an English user’s manual.
While you can always use a USB webcam with other Android TV box, it does not always work very well, and in theory, a device with a built-in webcam should work out of the box with Skype and/or Google Hangouts. Since the device has been out for a few months, I could find some demo videos, but sadly none of the ones I watched actually used the webcam…