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Posts Tagged ‘mini pc’

ECDREAM EC-V26 is a Mini PC with a 8″ Touchscreen Display Powered by an Intel Celeron/Pentium Apollo Lake Processor

March 15th, 2017 3 comments

Mini PCs with a touchscreen display targeting consumer markets, and looking like very thick tablets started with PiPo X8, and later other companies joined the fray with products like GOLE 1, but the form factor appears to have become popular with even more manufacturers, as Shenzhen EC Technology has now launched ECDREAM EC-V26 powered by Intel Celeron or Pentium “Apollo Lake” processor, and equipped with an 8″ touchscreen display.

ECDREAM EC-V26 mini PC specifications:

  • SoC (one of the other)
    • Intel Celeron N3350 dual core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.4 GHz with a 12 EU Intel® HD Graphics 500; 6W TDP
    • Intel Celeron N3450 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz with a 12 EU Intel® HD Graphics 500; 6W TDP
    • Intel Pentium N4200 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.5 GHz with an 18 EU Intel HD Graphics 505; 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 2GB on-board DDR3 + 1x DDR3 SO-DIMM socket up to 8GB
  • Storage – 32, 64 or 128GB eMMC flash + M.2 socket with optional 64 or 128GB SSD
  • Display – 8″ IPS display with a 10-point capacitive panel; 1280×800 resolution
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b port up to 4K @ 30 Hz, VGA
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, stereo speakers 1W/80 Ohm
  • Connectivity
    • Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
    • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (single band) or  dual band Bluetooth 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
    • Bluetooth V4.0 + HS
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports, USB 2.0/3.0 Type C port (not for power)
  • Camera – Optional front panel camera
  • Misc – Power LED, power key, optional RS232 port
  • Power Supply – 12V to 19V up to 3.42A via 5.5/2.5 mm power barrel
  • Battery – Optional 4,000 to 10,000 mAh 3.7/3.8V battery with up to 2A charge current
  • Dimensions – 198 x 144 x 15-26 mm
  • Weight – TBD

The company told me it supports both Windows 10 and “Ubuntu Linux”, but it’s not clear whether there will be an Ubuntu version sold at retail, or the user will have to install the operating system himself/herself.

While the product description above shows a VGA port, it does not look like one (with 3 rows of 5 pins), but instead it should be the optional RS232 port (DB9). Alternatively, it might also be possible that the VGA and RS232 are just mutually exclusive, so you can select the one you want. If your model comes with VGA, it will support dual independent displays configuration. MiniPC DB also reported about the device, and managed to get a somewhat blurry picture of the motherboard, which still clearly shows the SO-DIMM socket.

Click to Enlarge

The company did not provided pricing info, but MiniPC DB’s guys think it will cost around $350 to $450 depending on options. [Update: the company told me pricing would be in the  $599 to $699 range]. You may find some more details on the product page.

Beelink AP42 Apollo Lake Mini PC Comes with a VESA Mount, an M.2 SSD Slot

March 2nd, 2017 9 comments

Beelink has launched an update to their Beelink BT7 Cherry Trail mini PC with Beelink AP42 using a similar mechanical design, but upgrading the processor to an Intel Pentium N4200 coupled with 4GB DDR3 memory, and a 64GB eMMC flash. Like the previous model it can be mounted behind a VESA compatible monitor or TV, and can also be upgraded with your own M.2 SSD.

Beelink AP42 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Pentium N4200 quad core Apollo Lake processor @ 1.10 GHz (baseline) / 2.50 GHz (burst) with Intel Gen9 HD graphics @ 200/750 MHz with 18EU (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC storage, SD card slot, M.2 SSD slot up to 320 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone jack and HDMI
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 3.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, reset pinhole
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A (TBC)
  • Dimensions –  11.90 x 11.90 x 2.00 cm
  • Weight – 337 grams

The current product page mentions that both Windows 10 and Linux are supported. The mini PC will ship with a power adapter, and an user manual in English. Based on the pictures on GearBest, the VESA mount and fixtures should also be included, and looks to be the same as the one coming with Beelink BT7.

I’ve reviewed Beelink BT7 mini PC last year, and found that it would throttle from time to time, and while I found the fan to be quiet, some people commented that it was noisy. Beelink AP42 should also have a fan, but hopefully the company has done some work to improve thermal design, and fan noise.

Beelink AP42 is sold on GearBest for $210.47 including shipping with EU, UK, or US plug, and pre-loaded with Windows 10 [Update: GBAP42 coupon brings the price down to $179.99]. Delivery is scheduled for March 7 to 15, so you’d have to wait a few days to get it shipped. I could not find a Linux version, and maybe there’s none, you may just have to install your preferred distributions yourself.

Via AndroidPC.es

Karl’s Home Automation Project – Part 1: Home Assistant & YAML, MQTT, Sonoff, and Xmas Lights

February 27th, 2017 24 comments

Karl here. I am here to write about my home automation project. First thing I want to say is that I am very cost conscious and I don’t mind putting in extra effort into the setup of things to keep costs down. I did invest a lot of time and had to do a lot of reading to get my project going. It took while and I received a lot of groans from my wife while testing. I am still in the process of tweaking things.

I started watching a series of videos on YouTube from Bruh Automation. He introduced me to Home Assistant. It got me really excited. He uses a Raspberry Pi as a server but I already had a Wintel Pro CX-W8 Smart TV Box which I use as a server. I run 3 Minecraft Servers, Emby Server, iSpyConnect DVR (2 IP Cameras), Unifi wifi controller, and now MQTT Server, and Home Assistant. Below is screenshot of mostly idle.

If it weren’t for iSpy it would be around 5-10% most of the time. Emby transcoding is the only thing that is stressful and it is not used much. The reason I mention this is because after purchasing a Raspberry Pi with power supply and case, you are not far off from getting a z8300 box. Only downfall is dreaded Windows update auto reboot. I finally looked into it and disabled it. If you decide to use a Windows box, I would make sure you are running 64bit windows. One advantage to using a Raspberry Pi is there is an image on Home assistant with the basics pre-configured and just need to write it to an SD card.

Server side Setup

I won’t go into too much detail on server side, as I installed Python, Mosquitto, and Home Assitant (I followed the guide on their site for Windows)

Python was a breeze to install and just ran the executable and went with defaults. I already had it installed for something else and I am running 3.5.2 64-bit. There are newer versions now. Mosquitto was the most difficult. I followed this guide but substituted Win32OpenSSL_Light-1_0_2j.exe approx 2MB. A k version is available now. Home assistant was easy and used pip.

Christmas Lights

It was a little before Christmas when I started researching home automation. I had been reading about these inexpensive Sonoff devices here on CNX and I found a project on Github for some custom firmware by arendst that enabled them to be controlled by MQTT. (While getting the link it looks like a new project has started with some additional features here). My wife really likes decorating for Xmas and we have 3 trees and lots of lights. She mentioned getting some timers and boom I had my opportunity and ordered them the same night. After receiving It took me a couple nights and I had a simple automation turning Xmas lights on and off at specific times and life was good. I got an extra one to play with until Xmas was over. I redeployed the rest  around the house after Xmas.

MQTT

I really had no idea what this was and it took me a while to grasp. You can use a cloud based MQTT if you would like, but I prefer to run my own. MQTT is a service that relays messages between devices. There are 2 main items topics and payloads. To be able to tell a switch to turn on you send payload “on” to a topic, for example, “cmnd/testbench/power”. The light turns on and it replys back to a topic “stat/testbench/POWER” confirming that the light is on and the message is received. Because we are sending “on” to the topic each device using MQTT will need its own topic. Topics are case sensitive. I made a batch file to subscribe to all topics for troubleshooting so I could monitor the messages. The # indicates all sub topics.

Sonoff

I picked the Sonoff basic but there are also different varieties that add additional features which are supported by arendst software.

Arendst  has been very active with this project and adding/tweaking daily. When I first flashed the device, I did find a defect and notified him and he had it fixed and uploaded within the hour. He has very detailed instructions on the Wiki. First step before flashing is soldering headers. (I link to bent headers…which I initially thought I made a mistake but turned out it was good. They are easy to straighten) A USB to TTL adapter is also needed to upload from Arduino IDE. I recommend one like this because it provides both 3.3 and 5V.  After downloading and setting Arduino up, I only set my WiFi password and SSID in the sketch. After it boots the first time, it connects to your wireless network. Find the IP address in your router, and pop the IP address in your browser to finish the configuration. Set the MQTT server credentials and topic and your done. I never setup credentials on the MQTT server so it accepts any login. Finally after everything is programmed you need to connect it to mains. Beware do not connect mains while TTL is connected.  I bought some extension cords locally. Cut them in half and stripped back a ¼ inch of the insulation. Extension cords use stranded wire so I tinned them with solder to avoid any stray strands from shorting out. Then I screwed them down on the terminals making sure polarity was correct.

Click to Enlarge

YAML

YAML is unforgiving. It is the formatting that you configure Home Assistant in. A single space will stop Home Assistant from starting. Luckily on this last update if you restart Home Assistant through the browser it will test the configuration file before actually restarting. I purposefully put an extra space on line 54 to show it is easy to find any mistakes.

Click to Enlarge

I also recommend Notepad++ for editing in windows. You can break your configuration down into different files but I like one. Notepad ++ allows you to collapse the parts you aren’t currently working on.

I recommend adding one thing at a time and restarting to make it easier to find errors. And making a copy of the last working config before adding more. In the config below there are 5 sonoff’s and an automation to turn the lights on and off at specific times. This is extremely basic. I also recommend setting up one new device and be conscious of naming. When you get your config working properly on your first new device I copy the config to a new blank text window and do a find/replace.

Below is the screen capture of collapsed parts, and and full config (minus personal info).

Notice the test bench is on later firmware and the MQTT topic is slightly different

Next Steps

So now I have a smart home, right? Not in my opinion. I can turn lights on and off with a schedule or with my smart phone or at the light by pressing the button on the Sonoff. To me this is not smart. Setting a schedule is OK, but then you have the lights on unnecessarily and wasting electricity. Only real option is to press a button on the Sonoff but what difference is that than flipping a switch. Taking your phone out takes way too long, and I feel like it is going backwards. Below are estimated costs so far. By far the Windows Box will be the most expensive part if you choose to go that way. You can re-purpose just about anything that runs Linux to be a server. One other option is to run Linux on an S905x.

Money Spent

Cost of server not included nor shipping.

Item Qty Price Total
Sonoff Basic 5 $4.85 $24.25
Headers 1 $1.50 $1.50
USB to TTL 1 $2.54 $2.54
Total $28.29

If you find this entertaining or want me to go more in depth on a specific aspect let me know in the comments. I have been finding my time setting it up very satisfying. I am able to do some hardware and software work. I hope this might get your interest in home automation going, and find out it is not hard nor expensive. I would like to state none of the products linked were provided by the sites. I purchased with my own money.

The plan right now is to do a 3 part post. In the next post, we will integrate some inexpensive motion sensors and door sensors using 433mhz, then finally modifying the sensors to include a light intensity sensor.

$140 R-TV BOX K99 Android 6.0 mini PC Comes with Rockchip RK3399 SoC, 4GB RAM, 32GB Storage

February 16th, 2017 6 comments

We will the first hardware platforms shipping with a Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor later this month and in March, with Firefly-RK3399 development board, and various TV boxes / mini PCs such as Vorke Z3, Yundoo Y8, and Remix IO+. Another option is “R-TV BOX K99” with 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.1ac WiFi… that’s currently up for pre-order on GeekBuying for $139.99, and scheduled to ship in 3 days.

R-TV BOX K99 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3399 hexa core processor with 2x ARM Cortex A72 cores @ up to 2.0 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex A53 cores, Mali-T860MP4 GPU @ 800 MHz with support for OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL, DX11, AFBC (frame buffer compression)
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC 5.1 flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
  • Video Codecs – 4K 10-bit H.265, H.264 & VP9 decoding up to 60 fps
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi (867 Mbps) + Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB type C port with OTG mode, and DisplayPort 1.2 video/audio support
  • Misc – Power button, recovery port
  • Power Supply – 5V/2.5A
  • Dimensions & Weight – N/A

K99 runs Android 6.0 operating system, and ship with a power adapter, an IR remote control, a HDMI cable, and a user’s manual.

Please note that Rockchip RK3399 is not a TV box SoC, and lacks the latests features like HDR, and HD audio (TrueHD / DTS HD) pass-through is not guaranteed to work. However, you’ll still be able to watch most videos, and performance will be much better than previous generations leading to smoother games, and faster web browsing and general user experience. From that point of view, Rockchip RK3388 boxes might be seen as Android mini PCs, rather than TV boxes focusing on the best AV experience. We’ll have to see what the first reviews reveal to find out.

$175 Bben MN17A Celeron N3450 Apollo Lake Mini PC Comes with an mSATA SSD Slot

February 16th, 2017 9 comments

The first Apollo Lake mini PC available from China was Voyo V1 VMac Mini with a Celeron N3450 or Pentium N4200 processor, but there’s now a new model with Bben MN17A with Celeron N3450, 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC flash, and the ability to add your own storage via an SSD bay.

Bben MN17A mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz and 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200 MHz / 700 MHz; 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3L (up to 8GB)
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash (Options for 16, 64 or 128 GB) + mSATA SSD bay + micro SD slot up to 128 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b port up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – HDMI + 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Fast Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2 (Intel 3165 wireless card)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) type C port, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – Reset and power buttons, power LED
  • Power Supply – 12V/1.5A via power barrel or USB type C port
  • Dimensions – 145 x 70 x 17.35 cm

The device comes with a fan, so we’ve yet to get an fanless Apollo Lake mini PC coming out of China. The specifications are fairly similar to the ones of Voyo VMac Mini, except for the slower Fast Ethernet port, a full HDMI port replacing a mini HDMI port, and better wireless connectivity with 802.11 ac and BLE 4.2. The SATA bay is a small advantage over Voyo VMac Mini which can also be upgraded but needs a teardown. The product page does not mention whether it’s an mSATA or M.2 interface, but after a chat with Bben, they confirmed it was a mSATA interface.

You can get the computer with 4GB RAM and 32GB for as low as $175 shipped, as long as you select an unlicensed version of Windows 10. If you want an activated version of Windows 10, it will cost you $14.50 extra. You may also consider purchasing from BBen official Aliexpress store instead with pricing starting at $167.50 + shipping. For reference, Voyo V1 Vmac Mini mini PC with Celeron N3450, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC flash, and Windows 10 Home activated sells for $159 including shipping.

Via AndroidPC.es

Janz Tec emPC-A/RPI3 is an Industrial Embedded Controller Based on Raspberry Pi 3 Board

February 15th, 2017 No comments

We see more and more industrial devices making use of Raspberry Pi boards, after Kunbus RevolutionPi RevPi Core industrial computer based on Raspberry Pi Computer Module, and RailPi 2.0 embedded computer equipped with a Raspberry Pi 3 (or ODROID-C2) board, Janz Tec is now offering another option with emPC-A/RPI3 industrial embedded controller featuring Raspberry Pi 3 board, and supporting variable DC power input, 24V digital inputs and outputs, and interfaces such as CAN, RS485…

Janztec emPC-A/RPI3 specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM2837  quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz (but limited to 4x 600 MHz on purpose to avoid overheating) and VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • Storage – externally accessible micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 port
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet port, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth LE (BCM43143)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 ports
  • Debugging – 1x 9-pin D-SUB connector for serial debug console (RS232 only with RxD and TxD)
  • I/O connector with:
    • 1x CAN (ISO/DIS 11989-2, opto-isolated, term. settings via jumper, SocketCAN supported)
    • 1x RS232 (Rx, Tx, RTS, CTS) or switchable to RS485 (half duplex; term. settings via jumper)
    • 4x digital inputs (24V DC)
    • 4x digital outputs (24V DC)
  • Misc – Real-time clock, battery buffered
  • Power Supply – 9 … 32 V DC
  • Dimensions – 99.8 x 96.7 x 30.0 mm
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 °C … 35/40°C; storage: -20 °C … 75 °C
  • Humidity – 5 % ~ 95 %, non-condensing

The enclosure supports desktop, wall or DIN rail mounting. While customers can boot the operating system of their choice from micro SD card, the company offers support for Raspbian JESSIE Lite operating system, and can also provide – at extra cost – CODESYS V3 runtime environment, Oracle Java Embedded, and CANopen protocol stack and tools.


As with all other industrial solutions, the added features come at a costs, as Janz Tec emPC-A/RPI3 pricing starts at 250 Euros without micro SD card, power supply, nor any optional software options. The embedded computer can be purchased on Saelig website, and you may want to visit the product page for more information.

Via LinuxGizmos

Intel Atom Z3735F (Bay Trail) vs Intel Celeron N4200 (Apollo Lake) Benchmarks Comparison

February 14th, 2017 3 comments

Intel introduced new processors every year, but in most cases the performance improvement from new processor with a similar power profile is only incrementally better, as we’ve seen in our Atom X7-Z8700 vs Pentium N4200 benchmarks comparison, which means it’s not really worthwhile to upgrade performance-wise, unless you really a specific feature or interface found in the new processor. But what if we compare to processor from 2 to 3 years ago? Intel Atom Z3735F was a popular choice two years ago, and if you’re looking for a cheap Intel mini PC or TV box, that’s still the cheapest option with prices under $80. So I’ve decided to compare Intel Atom Z3735F (Bay Trail) processor with 2W TDP to the latest Pentium Celeron N4200 (Apollo Lake) with 6W TDP.

To do so, I gathered benchmarks results from MeLE PCG03 mini PC (PCMark 8) and PCG01 TV stick (Passmark + 3Dmark) for the Atom processor, as well as Voyo VMac Mini for the Apollo Lake processor. Please note that I only have PCMark 8 Home Baseline for PCG03, and not the Accelerated benchmark with OpenCL, but based on my results with K3 Wintel Keyboard PC, and reviews from Anandtech and IXBT, there’s no difference between PCMark Home Baseline and Accelerated for Atom Z3735F processor as it seems OpenCL is not supported in Atom Z3735F SoC (at least by PCMark), so I used PCMark 8 Home Baseline results for MeLE PCG03, and PCMark8 Home Accelerated for Voyo Vmac Mini. Unsurprisingly, the Pentium processors is faster in all tasks, and I highlighted the tests where it is at least twice as fast in green.

Benchmark MeLE PCG03 / PCG01
Intel Atom Z3735F @ 1.33 / 1.83 GHz (2W TDP)
Voyo V1 Vmac Mini
Intel Pentium N4200 @ 1.1 / 2.5 GHz (6W TDP)
Ratio
PCMark 8
Overall Score 1,105 1,846 1.67
Web Browsing – JunglePin 0.58064s 0.52267s 1.11
Web Browsing – Amazonia 0.19591s 0.18459s 1.06
Writing 11s 6.89837s 1.59
Casual Gaming 6.7 fps 10.38 fps 1.55
Video Chat playback 30 fps 30.02 fps 1.00
Video Chat encoding 318 ms 196.66667ms 1.62
Photo Editing 2.7s 0.45915s 5.88
Passmark 8
Passmark Rating 466 1,052.1 2.26
3DMark
Ice Storm 1.2 14,069 2,3511 1.67
Cloud Gate 1.1 1,156 2,347 2.03
Sky Diver 1.0 439 1,384 3.15
Fire Strike 0 (Driver failure) 267 N/A

The main surprise here is how little difference there is for PCMark 8 web browsing benchmarks. Video chat is the same because the video was already rendered at 30 fps previously, and Photo editing is much faster, simply because of OpenCL support, and not because the processor is about 6 times  faster. Passmark 8 and 3DMark benchmark show a clear boost of 2 to 3 times between an Atom Z3735F mini PC/Stick and a Pentium N4200 processor for the overall system and 3D gaming. If you own an Atom Z3735F mini PC, you’ll clearly feel a performance difference if you upgrade to an Apollo Lake processor. Beside the system performance, you’ll also benefit from faster interfaces like USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and potentially SATA, as well as better multimedia capabilities with for example H.265 video decoding. You’ll have to pay 2 or 3 times more for an Apollo Lake mini PC, but contrary to most Bay trail mini PCs, it will be usable as an entry-level computer.

MeegoPad T8 TV Stick Supports Dual Displays via HDMI and USB type C Ports

February 1st, 2017 3 comments

MeegoPad T8 was a Windows 10 mini projector in 2015, but time has passed, and the company has now decided to use the same name for a Windows 10 HDMI TV stick  supporting two displays thanks to the usual HDMI 1.4 male port, as well as a USB -C port with DisplayPort capability.

MeegoPad T08 TV stick specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.92 GHz with Intel Gen8 HD graphics (2W SDP)
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3L-1600
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot up to 128 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 male connector + USB type C port
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.1 type C port for power, data, and video output, 1x micro USB port, 1x micro USB port for power only
  • Misc – Power button & LED, fan
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A connected to micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 14.20 x 4.20 x 0.99 cm
  • Weight – 200 grams

The device runs Windows 10 Home 32-bit. If you want to use the extra display, you’ll need a USB-C to HDMI adapter.

MeegoPad T08 is sold for $155 on GeekBuying and GearBest, but you could also find it for as low as $129 on Aliexpress if you decide to buy it without an activated version of Windows 10.

Via AndroidPC.es