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Review of UyeSee G1H Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Box

August 27th, 2014 2 comments

UyeSee G1H is one of the first Android TV boxes powered by Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex A17 SoC. I’ve already listed specs, and shown a few pictures of the device and the board in my “UyeSee G1H Unboxing” post, so today I’ll write a full review, checking out the user interface, testing video playback capabilities, network and storage performance, play a few games, check hardware features are working as expected, and runs some benchmarks on the platform.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

There’s an infrared remote control with the device. I’ve inserted a CR2032 battery, and although it works great in the user interface, it becomes useless with Android apps, so instead I’ve opted to use Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse which brings mouse and keyboard support. Before powering up the device, I’ve connected an HDMI cable, the RF dongle for Mele F10 Deluxe, a USB hard drive, and an Ethernet cable. Connecting the power supply will start the device automatically, and the boot is super fast compared to other devices I’ve tested, as it takes about 18 seconds only.

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_Default_640px

UyeSee G1H Android Launcher (Click for Original Size)

There’s a custom launcher as shown above, as well as the stock Android home screen as shown below. The status bar is disabled by default, but I’ve enabled it for easier control with the air mouse, and to take screenshots. It looks pretty, but unfortunately this must have been designed for the Chinese market, and all buttons report “App not installed”, except the Settings button which goes to the Android settings. You can use the arro keys to navigate, and if you go right, you’ll find the all the you’ve installed apps. This menu has some animation that are extremely smooth, probably thanks to the Mali-T764 GPU. However, if you click on the screenshot above you’ll find out the resolution is set to 1280×720. I’d assume most people don’t buy the latest Android mini PC to get a 720p machine, but you can change to 1920×1080 resolution in the settings, and the user interface will also be set to 1080p. I don’t have a 4K TV so 4K options did not show up. The launcher above won’t look very nice at 1080p, because graphics are made for 720p, and a large part of the bottom of the screen will not be used. There’s no such problem when switching to the stock Android home screen.

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_640px

Android Home Screen (Click for Original @ 720p)

Going to the Settings, we’ve got all usually Wireless and Networks options for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet, including VPN, Portable Hotspot and so on. There’s a Home menu to select the launcher, and ScreenshotSetting  menu, both of which I did not notice in most other firmware. The Sound settings like you choose between “Default Output” (PCM / Down-mixing), “Spdif Passthough”, and HDMI Bitstream (HDMI pass-through), but I don’t have an audio receiver yet, so I could not try the pass-though options. The Display settings will allow you to hide or show the status bar, adjust for overscan, select HDMI, YPbPr, and “TV” (Composite) video output, as well as the resolution: “auto”, 1080p 24/25/30/50/60Hz, 720p 50/60, 720×576 or 720×480. If you have a 4K TV, 4K options should show as well. I’ve been informed there’s currently a bug for 4K @ 60Hz, but it will be resolved in the next firmware upgrade. I’ve done most of my testing with HDMI, and I had no problem, but I also tested composite and component (YPbPr) video output.

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

Composite looks fine, but there’s a green line on my TV that could not be removed even after using the “Screen Scale” menu. YMMV. Component output is more problematic as it is only shown in Grey (Y signal), I could not get the Chrominance signal to show which any cable combination I tried.

About_UyeSee_G1HMy device comes with a 8GB NAND flash, and they’ve partitioned it with a 1.91GB “Internal Storage” partition for apps, and a 3.88 GB “NAND FLASH” partition for data. I really prefer a single partition for everything, but even after installing all apps I needed for testing I still had 1.17GB free in the “Internal Storage” partition. It may become a problem if you install many apps, especially games which can be rather large.

Other settings are pretty standard, and the developer option are enabled by default. The “About device” section reports the model number as “rk3288″, Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.0. The firmware is not rooted, and I don’t have male to male USB cable, so I could not root it via the OTG port.

I could install most applications I tried on Google Play Store including Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Beach Buggy Blitz, etc…, but a few would just report my device is not compatible such as Real Racing 3 (but many Android STB have the same issue) and Vidonn activity tracker app. I have had some 941 errors from time to time, failing to install an app, but these were possibly network error unrelated to G1H. Paid apps such as Sixaxis Controller installed properly. In order to play Riptide GP2, I also installed Amazon AppStore without issue.

There’s no power button, so you can’t power off the device gracefully, only put it in standby mode with the IR remote control power button, The soft power button in the status did not work for me. Despite having only a 5V/2A power adapter, connected a USB hard drive, I did not seem to have issues with a lack of power, except possibly at the end of one Antutu test at 1080p where the screen went blank. The box can get pretty hot however. After Antutu, the max temperature on the top and bottom of the box were respectively 53 °C and 60 °C, after after playing Riptide GP2 for 30 minutes at 1080p, it went all the way up to 63 °C and 71 °C, which means the processor even gets hotter, possibly well over 80 °C, I’m not sure this can be good if this happens too often.

The firmware is very smooth most of the time, except when it’s writing to the flash, while installing an app for example, where the mouse pointer may not react for short periods of time. Stability is OK, but I had the screen turn off at the end of Antutu benchmark once, requiring a power cycle, and another time the box rebooted itself, while browsing files in ES File Explorer. I like the fact that you can switch between 720p and 1080p user interface, as you want prefer the former for smoother games, and the former for video playback for example.

You can watch the video below to see what the UI looks like at 1280×720 and 1920×1080 resolution, as well as the difference settings options available.

Video Playback

I normally play videos from a SAMBA share over Ethernet using XBMC. However, the box does not come with XBMC, and currently XBMC does not support hardware decoding for HEVC, so instead I’ve chosen to test videos with MXPlayer. I did try to install XBMC using XBMC Updater, and downloaded both stable and nightly apk, but the system reported the apk were not recognized. So I tried to install SPMC via Google Play instead, but atfirst I got a 941 error, and I could only manage install it after most testing was complete at a later stage. Using Es File Explorer, I connected to my SAMBA share, and unfortunately even 480p video were buffering like crazy, so I ended up using a USB hard drive. The Ethernet issue may not be due to G1H, but my Gigabit switch, as I’ll explain in the networking section. Nevertheless, the takeaway is that videos were played from USB hard drive with MXPlayer, unless otherwise stated.

I start with videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, and as well as videos with H.265/HEVC codec from Elecard:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – Video playing at an estimated 2 to 4 fps, with most frames skipped [SPMC test: OK, but every second or so, there will be a subtle change of color / screen jump]
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK, much smoother than any other device I’ve tried, and according to MXPlayer using HW decode.
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – No video, audio only.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK, no problem even in fast moving scenes
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK. (Audio needs to be decoded by S/W)
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK  (Audio needs to be decoded by S/W)
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK

Most high definition audio codecs (except AC3 and TrueHD) could not play with MXPlayer, but I tried later with SPMC (XBMC fork on Google Play), and all could play:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR – OK

Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO file could play in MX Player but with video only, I could not get audio to work, even switching to software decode.

Rockchip RK3288 is supposed to handle 4K videos, even with HEVC, so let’s try a few in MX Player:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Can play but with some slow downs from time to time. I can get audio by switching to audio S/W decoding.
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK, but some white “fog” appears on the black background
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts – Cannot play.

Several AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos in my library could play fine with SPMC. I also played a complete 1080p video (1h50) in the box, and I had no issues either.

At first, I was not too happy with video playback using MX Player only, but when you put SPMC (XBMC) into the mix, it looks much better. The main thing you lose (confirmed) with XBMC is H.265 / HEVC hardware video decoding.

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 and Ethernet)

The network test consists in transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash using, and vice versa, repeating the test three times using ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi performance appears to be inconsistent, as I had three much different transfer times: 3m20s, 2m43s, and 4m31s, averaging a rather disappointing 1.31 MB/s. I also tested Miracast via Rockchip’s “Wi-Fi display” app included with the firmware, and after a few tries I managed to mirror my Android phone display.

Wi-Fi_UyeSee_G1H

Wi-Fi Performance in MB/s

Now.. Ethernet.. This gets interesting. At first, when I used the device connected to Ethernet, it felt sluggish in the Play Store, and soon found some serious issues while transferring a file from a SAMBA share using ES File Explorer, as throughput was around 300 to 500 KB/s most of the time, and sometimes it would even stall. This looks very similar to the issue I had to Wetek Play. I’ve recently purchased a D-Link DGS-1005A 5-port Gigabit switch for test, and used it in my last five reviews. That means three products had no problem with the switch, and two had issues. Which item is guilty is difficult to prove. So I decided to insert my older (D-Link) 10/100M hub, between the device and the Gigabit switch and it worked. I tried to connect the device to my Gigabit switch with a different cable, and it also worked, but the connection is only 100M. If I used the original cable (the same I used for all other reviews), it will detect a Gigabit connection, but the Ethernet LEDs will “funnily” blink on the device, and the Link LED will turn on and off. So at the end of the day, I did not manage to get a proper Gigabit connection, so I tested Fast Ethernet, and the result is OK.

Ethernet_UyeSee_G1H

Ethernet Performance in MB/s

Like with Probox2 EX, this test used the ES File Explorer version with improved SAMBA performance, which may have helped a bit for Ethernet, but did nothing for Wi-Fi.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Transferring a picture via Bluetooth worked just fine, after pairing G1H with my Android smartphone (ThL W200).

I skipped Sixaxis test for PS3 Bluetooth Gamepad support, as it required root.

After installing Vidonn app for Vidonn X5 activity tracker, it could connected via Bluetooth 4.0 LE to retrieve the data.

Storage

Both a micro SD card and a USB flash drive formatted to FAT32 could be mounted and accessed successfully.
I’ve also connected my USB 3.0 hard drive with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS partitions. and as usual the Linux file systems are not supported, at least not by default.

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

After setting the custom locations set to /mnt/usb_storage/USB_DISK2/USB3_NTFS in A1 SD Bench to benchmark the NTFS partition, I got a read speed of 27.5MB/s and a write speed of 25.98MB/s.

UyeSee_G1H_USB_Drive

USB Hard Drive Performance in MB/s

There’s not that much differences between difference platforms at USB 2.0 speeds.

Last time, the eMMC flash in Probox2 EX could be read at 27.57MB/s, and written at 15.11 MB/s, and the eMMC used in G1H as better read speed at 44.50 MB/s, but much slower write speed at 7.3 MB/s, which may explain some the rare slowdowns I experienced while playing with this mini PC.

USB Webcam

Skype sort of worked with my UVC USB webcam. I tested audio successfully with the Echo service, and I could see the video, but as I tried to leave a video message the app crashed.

Google Hangouts could detect the webcam, but when I did a video call the camera image did not show up.

Gaming

With Mali-T764 GPU, Rockchip RK3288 should be a star when it comes to video games. I’ve tested the three games: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2. Candy Crush Saga unsurprisingly worked fine as with any device. Beach Buggy Blitz is a little more challenging, and based on my experience Riptide GP2 is even more demanding.

Testing games was actually the first thing I did, at first the resolution was set to 720p. I used Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad to control both games. I went to Beach Buggy Blitz settings, and maxed out the graphics settings which normally make devices based on Amlogic S802 struggle to have a decent framerate. But with UyeSee G1H, the game was just extra smooth. I did the same with Riptide GP2, and yet again very smooth most of the time. I could even win races, or battle with the lead driver at all games. That’s not usual at all, as normally I’m always fighting for third place in other Android TV boxes :). Beside the high framerate, one of the reasons gameplay is better is that I don’t have lag with Tronsmart Gamepad in this device.  Switching to 1080p, Beach Buggy Blitz is still super smooth, except sometimes during the first one of two seconds of the game. Riptide GP2 is still very playable, and I’m still fighting for victory!, but it feels like the framerate may drop in the low 20, or even 15 at times. I’ve played Riptide GP2 for 30 consecutive minutes, and albeit the box gets very hot (70 C), everything is stable and smooth.

UyeSee G1H Benchmark

Since it’s my first Rockchip RK3288 device, I’ve run a few more benchmarks than usual, and also checked the CPU details with CPU-Z app.
Rockchip_RK3288_CPU-Z
CPU-Z has apparently not yet heard about Rockchip RK3288, as it reports a Rockchip RK3066 processor. The CPU architecture is 0xc0d, which stands for ARM Cortex A12, whereas Cortex A17 should be 0xc0e, according to this. So finally Rockchip RK3288 might be a Cortex A12, at least for the first versions. If there are other ways to check let me know.  The CPU clock can scale between 126MHz and 1.8 GHz, the GPU is correctly detected as Mali-T764, and there’s indeed 2GB RAM in my device, but CPU-Z only takes the “internal flash” partition reporting 1.91 GB storage for the 8 GB flash.
UyeSee_G1H_Antutu
Antutu 4.x score is excellent with 40,497, one of the top device on the market. That score has been achieved with a resolution of 1280×720, switching to 1920×1080 brings the score down to a still very good 39273 points. I’ve created a table below showing comparing S802 in Probox2 EX, and RK3288 in G1H  to find out where it shine in the tests:

Amlogic S802 Rockchip RK3288
Multitask 5744 10415
Runtime 2018 4698
RAM Operation 2997 2066
RAM Speed 1596 2797
CPU integer 3781 3162
CPU float-point 2815 5218
2D Graphics 1648 (607×1008) 1641 (1280×672)
3D graphics 8717 (607×1008) 8404 (1280×672)
Storage I/O 1801 1461
Database I/O 630 635

Results are quite surprising. According to Antutu 4.x scores, RK3288 shines in multitask, runtime, and CPU floating point testes, but graphics are about equivalent to S802 (at slightly different resolutions), and CPU integer is faster in the S802 @ 2.0 Ghz compared to RK3288 @ 1.8 Ghz. Probox2 EX has slightly better storage performance compared to UyeSee G1H but this part is mostly independent from the processor.

I also tried to run Quadrant, but all I got was a grey screen as I ran the test. Vellamo benchmark is now at version 3.0, so I can’t really compared it to earlier tests I did, but UyeSee G1H performance is also pretty good here.

Vellamo_UyeSee_G1H_Rockchip_RK3288In the new Multicore (beta) benchmark, this Rockchip RK3288 solution even beats all other players.

Rockchip_RK3288_Vellamo_MulticoreIn the browser score, UyeSee G1H is only outperformed by LG G3 smartphone (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801), and in the metal score, its performance is about equivalent to LG Nexus 5 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801).

Despite the clear superior performance in games, the graphics benchmarks in Antutu were somewhat disappointing, so I’ve run Ice Storm Extreme test in 3DMark.

3DMarks_RK3288_UyeSee_G1H

3DMark Benchmark Results (Click to Enlarge)

A score of 7278 points is about equivalent to a phone based on Snapdragon 600 with Adreno 320 GPU. Many recent devices based on Qualcomm 800 and greater get score above 10,000 or simply maxes out the test, so again I was expecting the GPU to perform better in benchmarks.

Conclusion

First, I’d like to thank Shenzhen UyeSee Technology for being the first company to send me a product based on Rockchip RK3288. The product is still new, and although there are positives, there’s still some work that need to be done. Compared to existing products, the main benefits of Rockchip RK3288 are HEVC video decoding and a 3D gaming performance unmatched by other Android TV boxes

PRO:

  • Fast new processor
  • Excellent 3D graphics performance for games, which for some reasons does not really show in benchmarks.
  • Both 720p and 1080p user interfaces are supported
  • Video Output – 1080p support 24, 25 ,30 , 50 and 60 Hz output which may be important for some videos. 4K will eventually support 60Hz thanks to HDMI 2.0.
  • HEVC video decoding support
  • OTA firmware updates appear to be supported (but I cannot confirm).
  • Webcam supported in Skype (although it did not work in Google Hangouts)

CONS:

  • Rare stability issues (1 reboot, one black screen over 8 hours of testing)
  • Lacklustre Wi-Fi performance
  • XBMC not pre-installed
  • Issues with some videos in MX Player (MPEG2, several HEVC/H.265 can’t be played, some audio issues)
  • Somewhat slow eMMC flash write speed potentially leading to slowdowns
  • Potential Gigabit Ethernet issues, at least confirmed with my switch (D-Link DSG-1005A).
  • No proper power off (standby only)
  • The device can get pretty hot (70+ C)
  • A few apps are not compatible in Google Play
  • Video output – Component only output the Luminance signal with my TV, composite has a green bar at the bottom
  • “TV” Launcher is only made for 720p resolution

I had quite a few problem with networking with this hardware. First Wi-Fi is stable, but relatively slow, and then the box did not want to play nice with my Gigabit Ethernet switch, but connection and performance were fine with a Fast Ethernet hub. Video playback is decent, but may still need more work, a version of XBMC with support for H.265 would be nice, but I’d assume at first all Rockchip RK3288 TV boxes will suffer from the same flaw, at least initially. If you’d like to play some 3D games this TV box will give you a much better experience than what you can achieve with the fastest Cortex A9 solution (Rockchip RK3188, Amlogic S802), and after testing the box, this is currently the main selling point of this media player.

You may find more information and/or contact the company via G1H product page. UyeSee G1H is not yet listed on their Aliexpress Store, but some hardware with similar specs, but different enclosure, can be bought for $90 including shipping on Aliexpress, so we might expect a similar price for G1H.

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Using an Android Mini PC as a Desktop PC (Blogging Version)

August 22nd, 2014 17 comments

I use an x86 computer running Ubuntu 14.04 as desktop PC, spending most of my time working on this blog, which mostly involves reading and writing articles in web browsers (Firefox, Chrome), handling emails, communicating via Social networks, manipulating and editing pictures. But for reviews, I also need to take pictures and videos, tranfer these to my PC, and upload videos to YouTube. When I create tables, I normally type them in LibreOffice Calc, and copy/paste the results in WordPress editor. But this post side, I’ve put my noisy PC aside, and I’m writing from an Android 4.4 TV box, namely Probox2 EX, in order to evaluate how convenient, or not, Android may be for simple computing needs.

Blogging in Firefox Android (Click to Enlarge)

Blogging in Firefox Android (Click to Enlarge)

First let’s indentify some applications used in desktop operating systems such as Windows and Linux (Ubuntu 14.04), and their equivalent in Android. I made the comparison table below in AndrOpen Office (AOO), and I could not selecd the cells easily with the mouse so I used Shift + arrow keys instead, using the contextual menu to copy in AOO, and Ctrl+V to paste it in Firefox. Unfortunately, this would just copy the text, not the table, and not wanting to edit the HTML manually, I did a screenshot instead, and resized it with Gimp.

Apps_Windows_Linux_Android

Photo import does not actually require external apps, nor removing the SD card from your camera. I’ve just connected my digital camera via USB, and the Gallery app automatically started listing the pictures in my camera, and I imported the ones I wanted. That part was easy and nice. Too bad it does not work for videos…

So I installed all the Android apps listed above in Probox2 EX, and it worked pretty well, but if you use Ethernet, but may need to make sure you allow large downloads when not connected to Wi-Fi. Since I’m using the device as a PC, I’ve connected a USB mouse and keyboard, and also installed NULL Keyboard to get rid off the annoying soft keyboard.

Gimp mostly works, but feels slow (chroot + vnc?), and in the open file window, I could not use the mouse to selected folders or files, and I had to revert to do so with the keyboard.
I also shot a short video to test video import, conversion, and YouTube upload. The Gallery won’t be able to import videos, so instead I connected a USB card reader, which soon made the box hang. After a hard reset, I could copy the file with ES File Explorer, convert it with VidCon to 3GP (at 4fps instead of the 140fps on my PC…), and upload it via the YouTube app. However I could not copy the embed code, so I sent to link to my email, opened it with Firefox Android, and requested the Desktop version to copy and paste the Youtube embed code.

At first, I started to write in Firefox Android, the arrow keys won’t work, and more importantly I could not create link, expect by switching to the HTML view, and typing the code manually. So instead I installed WordPress app, and everything works much better there. I also recommend setting the font to small in Android Settings->Display, or everything is really too big even when using 1080p resolution.

Finally, I’m about to finish this post, an interesting, but not that pleasant experience. The good parts are that any desktop applications are available for Android, many shortcuts are working (Alt-tab, Ctrl+V/C…), importing pictures from a digital camera works great, and it’s indeed possible to use an Android TV Box as a desktop PC to create content. However, everything looks very big on the screen, almost feeling like you work on a 640×480 or 800×600 display, text selection is not user friendly at all, not everything works as expected (copy/paste of tables, mouse not always working in Gimp, …), and Android may kill your background app. I’m glad to go back to Ubuntu 14.04 for my next post, and I hope fully working, low cost ARM based box with Chrome OS and Linux will soon be available.

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Shuttle DSA2LS Fanless Android Mini PC with Dual Display Support for Digital Signage Applications

August 22nd, 2014 1 comment

Shuttle is a company making small form factor PCs, and I’ve recently mentioned their Intel Celeron J1900 based mini PCs. The company has now launched its first ARM based mini PC, called DSA2LS, powered by Freescale i.MX6 Duallite processor, and running Android 4.2. This computer is mainly destined to be used as a digital signage player with features such as VESA mounts, dual screen support, protective operation, and has been designed for 24/7 operation at 0 to 45 C. Other applications include kiosk, thin clients, and vending machines.

Shuttle_DSA2LS

  • SoC – Freescale i.MX6 DualLite dual core processor @ 1GHz with Vivante GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC + SD card slot up to 64 GB protected by anti-theft (or anti-troll) cover
  • Video Output – HDMI and VGA, supporting dual displays (but maybe not independent displays).
  • Audio – HDMI, Line OUT
  • Connectivity – 10/100/1000M Ethernet (470Mbps max) with Wake-on-LAN support, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi antenna
  • Video Codecs – MPEG2, H.264, MPEG4/ Xvid DivX H.264, AVI/ Xvid H264 MJPEG, MOV/ H.264
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x mini USB 2.0 port (device)
  • Misc – Power button, status LED, RS-232 (DB9) port, Kensington lock
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A (internal), input 100-240V
  • Dimensions – 142(L) x 190(W) x 35(H)mm

Shuttle DS2LS comes with a power cord, VESA mount system with 8 screws, a Wi-Fi antenna, and a Quick Start Guide. The device is pre-loaded with Android 4.2.2. Contrary to most other devices, the power supply is built-in the box, and you simply need to connect the power cord. Other features useful for digital signage include power failure recovery, and auto power on.

DSA2LS Board and Power Supply

DSA2LS Board and Power Supply (Click to Enlarge)

In case you need HDMI and LVDS, DSA2LV motherboard with very similar specifications is available from the company.

Shuttle DSA2LS digital signage player has been announced in Europe, where it sells for 158 Euros including VAT. More information, including links to download the latest firmware and quick start guide, is available on Shuttle EU and Global sites.

Via AndroidPC.es

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$122 MK903V May Be the First Android HDMI TV Dongle Powered by Rockchip RK3288 SoC

August 18th, 2014 8 comments

Most of currently announced Rockchip RK3288 based Android mini PCs comes in box form factor, rather than in HDMI stick form factor, but I’ve been informed that MK903V is one of the first HDMI stick based on the latest Rockchip quad core Cortex A17 SoC.
MK903V

MK903V specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3288 quad core CortexA17 @ 1.8 GHz (likely 1.6 GHz or lower) + Mali-T764 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0, and OpenCL 1.1
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + micro SD card slot (up to 32 GB)
  • 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
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 2x micro USB ports (1x OTG, 1x for power)
  • Misc – Firmware update button (pinhole).
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – N/A

MK903V_AccessoriesThis HDMI dongle runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux Kernel 3.10 as all other RK3288 devices. It is sold with an IR  remote control, a 5V/2A power adapter, an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a Wi-Fi antenna, and a user’s manual. You can find it for $122 on Aliexpress including shipping. But before you rush to buy the device, understand that Rockchip RK3288 devices are still not really ready, more like beta devices, even Android TV boxes which are expected to come before HDMI sticks had to have their PCB re-laid out to fix some hardware bugs, and the firmware needs more work based on various reports.

Thanks to Gabe for the tip.

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How to Upgrade Firmware in Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Boxes

August 12th, 2014 4 comments

For some reasons, Rockchip is extremely fond of Windows based firmware tools, and instead of providing a simple SD card method, they’ve continued to use these awful tools to upgrade firmware for Rockchip RK3288 devices. I don’t mean to say these are useless, but they should not be used by end users, unless their device is bricked. Nevertheless, Rockchip has now release version 2.3 of their Android tools for Windows, and GeekBuying has published a guide showing how to do, which I’ll summarize below. Rockchip will most probably also release an updated version for the Linux Upgrade Tool (upgrade_tool) soon, as part of their SDK, that also supports RK3288.

  1. The first thing to do is to make sure you’ve got the latest Rockchip USB drivers installed, the same as for RK3288 root method.
  2. Download and extract AndroidTool_Release_v2.3.zip which contains both AndroidTool for firmware flashing, and some development tools such as AFPTool.exe and RKImageMaker.exe
  3. Enter AndroidTool_Release_v2.3/AndroidTool_Release_v2.3 directory, and click on AndroidTool.exe to start the program.
  4. Connect the USB OTG port of your RK3288 device to your Windows computer, making USB debug is enabled in Android
  5. AndroidTool now merges the functionalities of RkBatchTool (single file firmware) and RkAndroidTool (flash the NAND flash with an image corresponding to a particular partition such as kernel, system,. boot, etc..), and hence supports the two methods:
    • Single file (firmware.img) – Select Upgrade Firmware, load your device firmware, and click on Upgrade

      Click to Enlarge

      Click to Enlarge

    • If you’ve got several images for the kernel, recovery, boot, parameter, etc.., you need to click on Download Image, and load the images for the partitions would want to flash, before clicking on Run to complete the firmware upgrade.

      Click to Enlarge

      Click to Enlarge

  6. Be patient, and the firmware update should be done after a while.

I haven’t tried it myself since I don’t currently own any products powered by Rockchip RK3288. There’s also an Advanced Function menu, that will extract kernel.img, recovery.img, boot.img, system.img, etc.. from a single “firmware.img” firmware file, read the Flash ID, get Flash info, read the IDB, and so on.

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Rippl-TV Android TV Box Brings XBMC Front and Center

August 6th, 2014 5 comments

Most Android TV boxes come pre-loaded with XBMC, but Rippl-TV goes a step further by replacing the Android home screen, or other common found launchers, by XBMC which is used not only as a media center, but also to launch apps, access the settings, and so on. Everything is done within XBMC. The hardware is very similar to SZTomato / Enybox M8, and Shenzhen Tomato appears to be the company behind this project, or at least promoting it.

Rippl-TV_XBMC_Home_ScreenRippl-TV hardware specifications:

  • SoC – AMLogic S802 quad core Cortex A9r4 processor @ 2GHz with Mali‐450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band Wi‐Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz) & Bluetooth (AP6330)
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b, AV. HDMI supports 1080p, 4K2K 30fps
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs and Containers – MPEG1/2/4, H.264, AVC, VC‐1, RM/RMVB, Xvid, DivX3/4/5/6, RealVideo8/9/10…
  • Audio – MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, OGG, AC3, DDP, TrueHD, DTS, DTS HD, FLAC, APE…
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power LED (ON:blue; Standby:Red), IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
Rippl-TV

Rippl-TV

The box runs Android 4.4.2, and a thread on Freaktab seems to confirm it’s the same hardware as the “squared M8″. During my review of the M8 (aka EM8), I found it to be a bit unstable, but since then, I’ve had several people report they were unable to play complete movies in XBMC, as it would stop about 30 minutes or so, even with the latest firmware. It seems odd to launch a new product based on a platform with stability issues, or maybe I and others were unlucky and received bad samples…

Nevertheless the interesting part is the UI, and you can see how everything is controlled from XBMC in the video below.

It might also be possible to do the same by yourself, by installing add-ons, and automatically starting XBMC at boot time. I’m also not convinced of the usefulness of having XBMC as the main UI, but it’s probably just a matter of taste.

The box is not available for purchase by individuals just yet, and the company is now looking for distributors (MOQ: 500). You can find more information on Rippl-TV website and their Facebook page.

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Ugoos S85 Android HDMI TV Stick Features Amlogic S805 Quad Core SoC, Supports H.265 Video Decoding

August 4th, 2014 5 comments

HDMI TV sticks used to be popular, but as processors became more powerful, it became more and more challenging to put new SoCs in such a small form factor due to thermal issues. For example, there’s no HDMI TV stick powered by Amlogic S802 (4x Cortex A9 @ 2GHz), as even TV boxes may have troubles keeping things cool with two largish heatsinks. But the new Amlogic S805 quad core ARM Cortex A5 is more power-efficient, and Ugoos will soon release S85 model in an HDMI stick form factor. For now, they’ve just published some pictures of the board.
Ugoos_S85_board
Ugoos S85 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S805 Quad-Core Cortex-A5 @ 1.5GHz with Quad Core ARM Mali-450MP GPU @ 600MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND FLASH + micro SD card slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4b with CEC (male connector)
  • Video Codecs -  MPEG1/2/4, H.265, HD AVC/VC-1, RM/RMVB, Xvid/DivX3/4/5/6, RealVideo8/9/10
  • Video Containers – Avi/Rm/Rmvb/Ts/Vob/Mkv/Mov/ISO/wmv/asf/flv/dat/mpg/mpeg
  • Audio Format/Codecs – MP3/WMA/AAC/WAV/OGG/AC3/DDP/TrueHD/DTS/DTS/HD/FLAC/APE
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 2x micro USB ports (1x OTG, 1x for power)
  • Power Supply – DC 5V/2A

Ugoos_S85_board_backUgoos S85 will run Android 4.4, and that’s about all we know at this stage. The latest quad core HDMI sticks on the market where mostly based on Rockchip RK3188, as well as much less popular ones featuring Freescale i.MX6 and AllWinner A31. This upcoming model will have a slower CPU performance, but a faster GPU, and support for H.265 hardware video decoding.

Via Ian on Google+ Mini PCs Community.

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