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Kimdecent T21 mini PC Unboxing and Review

November 30th, 2012 No comments

Androidpc.es has written a review for the low cost ($49) Kimdecent T21 dual core mini PC in Spanish, and I’ll provide a summary of the review in English below.

Kimdecent T21 Unboxing

Kimdecent T21 is an Android 4.1 HDMI TV Stick powered by Nufront NS115 dual core Cortex A9 processor. Check out my earlier post about Kimdecent T21 for specifications.

Kimdecent T21 mini PC and Accesories

The package comes with T21 mini PC, a power adapter with USB to micro USB cable, and a user manual in English.

You can also watch  T21 Unboxing Video on YouTube.

Kimdecent T21 User Interface & System Overview

The user interface is a standard Android screen, albeit with power and volume buttons in the Status Bar. I don’t really find this interface very suitable for the TV, but you can always install your own launcher such as Android TV Launcher (apk), or other launcher apps available on Google Play. Beside powering the system down, the power button allows you to access recovery mode to make a backup of the system for example.

Beyond using USB or wireless mouse/keyboard, the device supports HDMI-CEC, which means you should be able to use the TV remote to control the device as long as you TV is HDMI-CEC compliant (Not tested by Androidpc.es). Kimdecent also offers as a remote control app (BiggiFiVMG) that can be used in any mobile Android devices. After installation, you need to input the password (default: 1234) to pair with the mini PC and start controlling it with your Android smartphone or tablet. The remote control app can also take advantage of the gyro sensors of your device which can be used for games for instance.

Going into the Android Settings section of the device, we can see the model is GV-21, it’s running Android 4.1.0 on top of the Linux Kernel 3.0.0. The HDMI settings allow you to select between 720p and 1080p video output, as well as adjust to screen position to compensate for overscan.

T21 Benchmarks Results

Androidpc.es tested the network performance. Despite only supporting 802.11 b/g, the signal strength is good (-57dB at about 2m), and a local FTP transfer was performed at 1120KB/s, which is pretty good for a Wi-Fi connection on this type of device. USB Ethernet dongles did not work, but Kimdecent said it was a firmware issue which would be resolved with next firmware update.

They also ran several benchmarks which yielded disappointing results (UG802 results are shown in parenthesis):

  • Antutu v2.9.2 – 4430 (UG802: 6426)
  • Linpack – Single Thread: 26.87 / Multi Thread: 45
  • Nenamark 2 v2.4 – 16.10 fps (UG802: 48.2 fps)
  • Vellamo – HTML5: 732 – Metal: 272 (UG802: 1241/370)

Since Nufront NS115 (in T21) and Rockchip RK3066 (in UG802) are dual core Cortex A9 + Mali-400 GPU SoC, I would have expected better results, even though RK3066 GPU has quad cores versus two cores for NS115. I can only assume the reason behind the huge performance difference is the firmware is not as mature on NS115, unless they had to lower the frequency a lot to avoid overheating.

Video Playback

Androidpc.es also tested video playback with MXPlayer (hardware decode) using what looks like Linaro media files, and reported flawless video playback for all tested videos (Container / Video Codec / Audio codec):

  • MPEG / MPEG2 / MP2 – 720p & 1080p up to 6600 Kbps
  • AVI / MPEG4 / MP3 – 720p & 1080p up to 7600 Kbps
  • MP4 / H264 / AAC – 720p & 1080p up to 7200 Kbps
  • WMV / VC1 / WMA – 720p & 1080p up to 8600 Kbps
  • WebM/ BP8 / Vorbis – 720p & 1080p up to 7800 Kbps
  • RMVB / RV8/9/10 / No Audio – 720p @ 5 Mbps

YouTube and Sopcast applications played SD and HD videos smoothly.

Conclusions

Kimdecent T21 mini PC has a stable firmware, good Wi-Fi signal & performance,  does not overheat, features a soft power button that is lacking on many device, and provides excellent value for money at $49. However, the SoC performance is disappointing, Linux support is not available (not the GPL source code), and Ethernet does not work with the current firmware.

For more details and pictures head over to the review on Androidpc.es.

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How to Root Kimdecent T21 mini PC and other Nufront NS115 Android Devices

November 24th, 2012 2 comments

The guys at androidpc.es have acquired a Kimdecent T21 mini PC (aka GV-21) based on the dual core Nufront NS115 processor, and posted instructions to root Kimdecent T21 in Spanish (and now in English) before writing a full review which should be posted next week.

Here are the English instructions below:

  1. Download Moborobo and install it.
  2. Moborobo need to install unsigned drivers. By default, Windows 8 is not too happy with unsigned drivers, and you’ll have to follow these instructions, if you use that OS.
  3. Download ROOT-T21 and uncompress it.
  4. Make sure USB Debugging is enabled in your mini PC (Settings –> Developer Options)
  5. Install Moborobo Daemon from Google Play.
  6. Start Moborobo in the PC
  7. Execute  ROOT_T21_GV-21_V01.bat inside ROOT-21  folder and follow the  instructions.
  8. Moborobo needs to reconnect with T21 via Wi-Fi when the ROOT programs requires it.
  9. Once the procedure is complete, you can download and install SuperSU, as well as the latest version of Busybox.

Those instructions may also work for the few other Nufront NS115 Android devices, mainly tablets such as Acho C905t, that are currently available. In case something goes wrong, better make sure you have the firmware before trying those instructions on another device or even T21 (Firmware is available on Kimdecent website).

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Kimdecent T21 Android 4.1 HDMI TV Stick Features Nufront NS115 Dual Core Cortex A9 Processor

November 16th, 2012 13 comments

After all the Rockchip RK3066 mini PCs (UG802, MK808, UG007…), and a few AMLogic AML8726-MX mini PCs (announced but yet to be available),  there’s a new dual core HDMI TV stick platform in town: Kimdecent T21 based on Nufront NS115 dual core cortex A9 processor with a dual core Mali-400 GPU.

Nufront NS115 PC-on-a-stick

Kimdecent T21 mini PC

Apart from the new processor, the specifications are pretty standard:

  • SoC – Nufront NS115 Cortex-A9 Dual-core @ 1.2GHz +  Mali400 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR III
  • Storage – 4 GB NAND Flash + microSD card socket (Up to 32 GB)
  • Connectivity – Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
  • USB – 1x USB Host port + 1x micro USB (Host or OTG?) port
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 (Up to 1080p)
  • Video Formats – 3GP, MPEG4, AVI, RMVB, MKV, FLV…
  • Video & Audio Codecs – H.264, MVC, SVC, MPEG-2/4, DivX, VC-1, RealVideo, AVS, VP8(WebM, WebP), Sorenson, MJPEG, MVC, AAC+, WMA, MP3, MPEG
  • Dimensions – 86.2 x 26 x 11 mm
  • Size – 27g

Kimdecent T21 mini PC runs Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) and is shipped with a AC Charger Adapter (5V/2A), a USB Cable and an English user manual. There’s no indication if the micro USB port is OTG or just host. In the later case, it means you must use the power adapter to power the device. The company also claims it supports XBMC, but I would doubt it makes use of hardware decoding.

Nufront NS115 was announced in May 2012 as the third generation processor designed by the company, and appears to be used in a limited number of products (Tablets) starting from August/September 2012. Some benchmarks (done in June…) appear to indicate Nufront NS115 performance is between AMLogic AML8726-MX and Rockchip RK3066. Please note that the benchmarks were performed at 1.5 GHz (Antutu: ~7000), but the processor is just clocked at 1.2 GHz as for the Rockchip RK3066 mini PCs to avoid overheating. Since the processor is not very widely used it might be difficult to get the firmware files, let alone some source code, although Kimdecent usually makes the firmware available on its website.

Kimdecent T21 is available now on Aliexpress for $49 including shipping, which is a very competitive price for a dual core mini PC, even though I have seen UG802 for as low as $46.50 once but they’ve raised their price since.

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Nufront ARM Cortex-A9 Laptop running Ubuntu at CES 2011

January 12th, 2011 2 comments

Nufront (新岸线) showcased their minipc based on Nusmart 2816 at Techcon 2010, they are now back at CES 2011 to show off their laptop reference designs. They provide two laptop designs with 10″ and a 14″ displays. The mother board is the same for both devices, only the casing changes to accommodate the display. The laptops runs Ubuntu and Android 2.2. They will also support some undisclosed operating system(s) later on (It should be Windows 8 and/or Chrome OS).  The processor is a dual core Cortex A9 running at 2GHz, so I suppose this is the Nusmart 2816. The laptop will have 1 or 2 GB RAM depending on the configuration. Nufront said those laptops should be available within 6 months. No indication of price has been given.

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Nufront 2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 for Desktop, Laptop and Netbook – NuSmart 2816

November 17th, 2010 No comments

nufront logoNufront (新岸线) is a high tech company based in Beijing, dedicated to wireless broadband communication and broadcast, IC design, video search and digital imaging technologies.

Nufront showed off their “low-power high performance” mini-PC based on their new NuSmart 2816 chipset at ARM Techcon 2010. NuSmart 2816 is based on a dual-core Cortex-A9 @ 2GHz with Mali-400 GPU. They plan to sell the chip for around 30 USD and expect ARM-based mini-PC to sell for around 200 USD retail. You can download NuSmart 2816 Product Brief for further details.

As you can see from the diagram below, NS2816 can support all features (Ethernet, Wifi, GPS, USB, I2S Audio, SATA II, MMC/SD support, VGA, HDMI or LCD video output) that are now expected in modern desktops or laptops.

Typical Board Architecture around NuSmart 2816

Typical Board Architecture around NuSmart 2816

Video playback currently uses around 2 Watts (chip samples) and they target 1.5 Watt for video playback in the final release of their chipset which should provide a pretty decent battery life on laptops and/or netbooks.

Their mini-PC sample can run Android 2.2 and Ubuntu without or without network support (multi-boot). They also plan to port Chrome OS to their platform.

Android 2.2 interface runs pretty smoothly and they also played Quake III arena with a good FPS.

Going forward, Nufront is currently designing a Quad-core Chip to further improve performance that will be available in Q1/Q2 2011.

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