Posts Tagged ‘review’

Zidoo X6 Pro Android TV Box Review

October 9th, 2015 No comments

Zidoo X6 Pro is a 64-bit ARM Android TV Boxes  based on Rockchip RK3368 processor, promising support for HDMI 2.0 and video decoding up to 4K2K @ 60Hz. While the others I’ve tried so far, such as Beelink i68,  are pre-loaded with some version of Kodi 14.2, X6 Pro comes with a modified version of Kodi 15.1. I published pictures of the Zidoo X6 Pro TV box and board a few days ago, and today I’ll review the box’ features, performance, and capabilities.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I’ve connected a USB hard drive to one of the two USB ports, as well as a USB hub with two RF dongles for Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad and MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse, a USB keyboard, and a USB webcam. I’ve also inserted an Ethernet cable, an HDMI cable, an optical audio cable, a Class 10 micro SD card, as well as the power adapter. The boot time takes just above one minute with all those peripherals attached.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

The launcher is another version of the company’s ZIUI user interface and includes widgets for date & time, and weather, as well as shortcuts to Kodi, the company’s “Explorer” file browser, Browser (Chrome), Setting, Clean up, App Lock, and About sections. There’s also a list a customizable shorting on the bottom of the interface. App lock is some sort of parental control, where you can define a password, and lock some apps, so that only persons who know the password can launch password protected apps. There are also some icons on the bottom right to indicate Bluetooth, WiFi, USB storage, and Ethernet status. The status bar is hidden by default, but you can pull it up with the mouse pointer to show software volumes button, Home, Back & Menu buttons, as well as a screenshooting icon, and power button. The user interface resolution is 1920×1080, however video output was set to 720p50, and I had to go to the settings to change video output to  3840x2160p60 (YCbCr420) as supported by LG 42UB820T 4K UHD TV used for testing.

The settings are the same as on Android Lollipop devices, but with options specific to TV boxes. Sections, sub-section and main options include:

  • Wireless & Networks – Wi-FiBluetooth, Ehernet (sic.), and a “More” section with three sections: Tethering & portable hotspot, PPPoE and VPN
  • Device
    • USB – Connect to PC
    • Sound & Notifications – Volume for media/alarm/notifications, and a Sound Device Manager to select Default Output, Spdif Passthrough, or HDMI Bitstream
    • Display
      • Screen Scale
      • Output Interface – HDMI or TV
      • HDMI Mode:
        • Auto
        • 4096x2160p @ 60Hz (YCbCr420), 50Hz (YCbCr420), 30Hz, 25Hz, or 24Hz
        • 3840x2160p @ 60Hz (YCbCr420), 50Hz (YCbCr420), 30Hz, 25Hz, or 24Hz
        • 1920x1080p @ 60 Hz, 50Hz, 30Hz, 25Hz, 24Hz
        • 1280x720p @ 60 or 50 Hz
        • 720x576p @ 50 Hz
        • 720x480p @ 60 Hz
      • Daydream
      • Cast Screen
    • Storage – Unified 12.91GB internal storage partition with 12.32 GB free for app and data

About_Zidoo_X6_ProOthers sections such as Security, Language & Input, Users… are also there, but Printing is missing. If you want the full details, watch the walk-through video embedded below.

Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth all worked reliably, however, I’ve found that HDMI output may vary if you really on the automatic detection feature, or enable automatic frame rate switching in Kodi. Once I forced it to 2160p60, it worked just fine. I also had to adjust the “Screen Scale” to 100% to make sure the user interface was not zoomed in, with some black zones on the edges.

Going into  “About device” shows “Zidoo_X6 ProI68” is the model number, and Android 5.1.1 is running on top of Linux 3.10.0. A ZDrepo Identify Code is also shown, just like in Zidoo X1. OTA firmware updated is enabled, but I already had the latest firmware, so I could not test it out. This firmware is rooted, and superuser pre-installed.

I’ve shot a walk-through video to show ZIUI user interface, and settings details.

The provided IR remote control works as advertised, including the IR learning function which I tried with power and volume keys of my TV. The range is a little shorter than usual, and it only worked reliably within 5 meters. As long as you just use Kodi or ZIUI, the remote control is fine, but I had to switch to an air mouse to navigate and use Android app more easily, and for text input. One nice detail is that the system detected my “hardware keyboard” and did not popup the software keyboard needlessly.

Google Play Store works just fine, expect for SMS / phone apps, and apps that can’t be installed due to country limitations. I also side-loaded Amazon Underground to install Riptide GP2 racing game.

There’s no power button on the unit itself, but it’s not needed, and Zidoo did a good job at handling power. A short press on the remote’s power key will show a menu with Power off, Standby, Reboot, and Auto power off.  The first three option work as expected, and auto power off let you set a timer from 30 minutes to 48 hours, in thirty minutes increment, to either power off the device, or go into standby. A long press (~3 seconds) on the power key will also turn off the device cleanly.

For those interested in power consumption these are the results with either no USB devices, or one USB hard drive:

  • Power off – 0 Watt
  • Standby – 1.3 Watt
  • Idle – 3.4 ~ 4.2 Watts
  • Power off + HDD – 0 Watt
  • Standby + HDD – 2.1 Watt (HDD light does turn off)
  • Idle + HDD – 6.0 ~ 6.4 Watts

Zidoo X6 Pro appears to get a little hotter than Beelink i68 RK3368 TV box, although still in the same range, as I measured 39°C and 58°C on the top and bottom of the enclosure after running Antutu 5.7, and after 15 to 20 minutes playing Riptide GP2 the temperature went up to 40°C and 66°C. Once I noticed Kodi started to feel sluggish, and noticed the bottom temperature reached 75°C max, and a reboot did not fix the sluggishness. So I powered off the box for a few minutes, and everything worked fine again. So there might be cases where the CPU throttles due to high temperature.

Apart from the only time Kodi felt sluggish, Zidoo X6 Pro performs pretty well, and the firmware is stable. I also appreciated some details like proper power handling, a single internal storage partition, software keyboard hidden when a hardware keyboard is detected, and so on.

Video Playback with Kodi 15

As mentioned in the introduction, Zidoo X6 Pro is the first RK3368 that comes with Kodi 15.1. Not the version from Google Play, but a version modified by Zidoo, with source code modifications available for everyone to see. Videos have been played from SAMBA shares located in an Ubuntu 14.04 computer and accessed over Ethernet.

Kodi 15.1 in Zidoo X6 Pro (Click for Original Size)

Kodi 15.1 in Zidoo X6 Pro (Click for Original Size)

The refresh rate shown in Kodi’s System Info varied a lot from 11Hz to 246Hz as shown on the screenshot above, so it’s probably misreported. Before starting video playback, I went to the settings in Video->Playback, and set “Adjust display refresh rate” to “Always” to make sure I had the best playback experience. The refresh rate did change, but the output resolution changed too between 720p and 1080p, which is fine depending on the video, but the problem is that it would never go back to 2160p automatically on the video complete, and then even 4K videos were played at 1080p. So if you may want to disable automatic frame rate switching if you have a 4K TV, and plan on watching 4K videos, at least with this firmware (v1.0.15).

While I had a bad time in Kodi with Zidoo X1, Zidoo X6 Pro managed to play all video samples I tried, as well as Elecard H.265/HEVC samples, and a low resolution VP9 video:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – OK
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

Bear in mind that Zidoo disabled “drop” and “skip” fields in Kodi’s live log window, so I had to purely rely on my eyes. OK does not mean perfect, as I still feel videos are a bit smoother on Amlogic devices, but these were all watchable. One small issue was the lack of Zoom option during playback, as the only option I got was for 3D videos.

However with some higher bitrate videos I started to see some issues:

  • ED_HD.avi – Video plays for about 2 seconds before the image freezes. Audio is OK, and continues. I noticed one CPU core was stuck at 100%.
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Could be smoother
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – I experience a long buffering before playback, and when it did play, it was not very smooth, and the next buffering occurred. I also got a message reading “cache full”.

One of the key differentiating features of Zidoo’s Kodi implementation is support for 7.1 audio pass-through. So I’ve played some HD audio videos both down-mixed to PCM using Kodi and the internal player “Video” app, and audio pass-through with Onkyo TX-NR636 using HDMI pass-through with BD/DVD input, and optical S/PDIF with TV/CD input.

Zidoo_X6_Pro_Kodi_15.1_Audio_pass-throughYou’ll notice two new options for Audio output in Kodi: TrueHD capable receiver and DTS-HD capable receiver. You’ll also need to change PCM audio output in Android’s Sound settings to Spdif passthrough or HDMI bitstream as needed.

Video PCM Output
PCM Output
“Video” app
HDMI Pass-through
S/PDIF Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK, but video aspect ratio is 1:1 OK OK (Dolby D 5.1) OK (Dolby D 5.1)
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK OK (Dolby D 5.1) OK (Dolby D 5.1)
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK OK OK (Dolby D+ 7.1) Audio Formats Not Supported over S/PDIF
TrueHD 5.1 OK OK OK (TrueHD 5.1)
TrueHD 7.1 OK OK Unreliable. Sometimes OK (TrueHD 7.1), sometimes no audio.
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK Plays 3 seconds and output a regular “beep” and stops. Unreliable. Sometimes OK (TrueHD 7.1), sometimes no audio.
DTS HD High Resolution OK OK OK (DTS-HD HR) DTS 5.1

These were the results I got during testing, but later I noticed the unreliable audio pass-through affected all TrueHD and DTS-HD audio streams. A reboot may fix the issue, but not always. Zidoo tested their boxes with an Onkyo AV receiver too, but a different model, so I wonder if there are some timing issues involved here which may cause the unreliable HD audio pass-through. You can see the problem first hand in the demo video I embedded below.

4K videos still played better on Zidoo X6 Pro than other boxes running Kodi 14.x, but there’s still some work to do:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK at the beginning, but then audio stops and video becomes slow
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK.
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Mostly OK, but the video seemed to stop for a very short time (<0.5s) at one point
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Won’t play, the system stays in user interface.
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Stays in UI
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Image quickly freezes.
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play, the system stays in the user interface
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Audio/video synchronization issues, and the video could be a little smoother
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – Looks perfect until after around 20 seconds, the audio and picture stops for a very short time, some artifacts are then displayed for 2 or 3 seconds, because normal playback resumes, and 20 to 30 seconds later the issue happens again.

As a side note, one document from Rockchip in Chinese appears to imply that while 4K H.265 @ 60 fps is supposed to work, 4K H.264 is limited to 30 fps in Kodi 15.x. You can watch a demo videos showing 4K playback and HD audio pass-through capabilities and issues I found on Kodi 15.1 on Zidoo X6 Pro.

Sintel-Bluray.iso and amay.iso (Ambra – Prism of Life) Blu-ray ISO files could play, but not very smoothly especially amat.iso (3 to 4 fps), and I noticed some buffering after a while. But with knowledge that the box may overheat, I retried one morning, and both video played very smoothly.

Both 1080i MPEG2 video samples (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) played fine, but as all boxes I tested so far, Hi10p failed:

  • [Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – Audio OK, video with artifacts, and picture will freeze after a while
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Audio OK, video gets stuck after 3 to 4 seconds.

Bearing in my mind that my TV does not support 3D, I’ve still played some stereoscopic 3D videos to see if the system could decode them :

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – Plays somewhat smoothly, audio/video sync issues or delay
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Several H.264, DViX/XVid, VOB/IFO, MKV, and MP4 movies could play without issues, while most FLV videos worked, but a few could not play staying in the UI, with only audio playing.

I could play a full 1080p MKV movie (exactly 1920×800, H.264, about 2 hours long) without interruption, and the overheating issue I saw sometimes did not occur with that movie. Dropped and skipped frames were all reported to be zero, but I suspect Zidoo disabled it for some reasons.

Antutu Video Tester was installed from Google Play (Version 2.2), and upgraded to version 3.0 before running the test. Zidoo X6 Pro got only 328 points, strangely lower than Beelink i68.
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge


Most video samples used in this review can be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and its comments section.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

A file (278MB for WiFi and Fast Ethernet, 885MB for Gigabit Ethernet) is transferred between a SAMBA share and the internal storage three times using ES File Explorer, and I average the results to report Wi-Fi and Ethernet performance. WiFi 802.11n @ 2.4GHz performance is average @ 2.73 MB/s, while 802.11ac (433 Mbps) @ 5.4 MB/s is one of the best I’ve seen so far.

WiFi Performance in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

WiFi Performance in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

I tested full duplex performance over WiFi for 60 seconds using “iperf -t 60 -c -d” and the results are not quite good, as I don’t think WiFi is good at transferring data in both directions.

  • WiFi 802.11n @ 2.4 GHz (65 Mbps – Good signal)

  • Wifi 802.11ac (433Mbps, sometimes 6 to 12 Mbps – Excellent signal) – Test 2:

  • Wifi 802.11ac – Test 3:

The image below is a screenshot of Conky on my Ubuntu 14.04 computer used as iperf server. I shows three tests I did with 802.11ac, and while all 3 start very fast in both direction, the transfer rate collapses after several seconds. You can see that at the end of test 3 transfer rates were 688.5 Kbit/s and 16.0 Kbit/s.Zidoo_X6_Pro_iperf_wifi_ac

Gigabit Ethernet performance is not outstanding, but still much better than for devices with Fast Ethernet, as I could transfer a file at 11.88 MB/s on average.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

iperf shows Zidoo X6 Pro is actually pretty good, and the fourth best device with Gigabit Ethernet I’ve tested, when we add the transfer rate in both directions.

Throughput in Mbps

Throughput in Mbps

iperf output:

Miscellaneous Tests


I could transfer several pictures, after pairing X6 Pro with Iocean M6572 smartphone. I did notice that the option to make Zidoo X6 Pro (Bluetooth ID: rk3368) discoverable was missing, so you can find your phone, or other Bluetooth device with the TV box, but not the way around.

A Bluetooth PS3 controller clone could work just fine using Sixaxis Compatibility check using the instructions posted on How to Play Games in Android mini PCs / STBs With a PS3 Bluetooth Controller.

I had to skip Bluetooth LE tested, as my Vidonn X5 fitness band “passed away”. A Bluetooth headset pair and worked without issues.


FAT32 (micro SD card), NTFS, EXT-4 & exFAT (USB hard drive) partitions could all be mounted in read/write mode, with the only unsupported file system being BTRFS.

File System Read Write
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted

A1 SD Bench results for the 3 partitions on the USB hard drive:

  • NTFS (/mnt/usb_storage/USB_DISK4/USB3_NTFS) – Read: 24.83 MB/s , Write: 24.86 MB/s
  • EXT-4 (/mnt/usb_storage/USB_DISK4/udisk1) – Read: 27.26 MB/s, Write: 24.26 MB/s
  • exFAT (/mnt/usb_storage/USB_DISK4/udisk2) – Read: 25.83 MB/s, Write: 5.70 MB/s
Read and Write Speeds in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Performance is acceptable for a USB 2.0 connection, but if write speed is important to you, better stick with NTFS or EXT-4, and avoid exFAT.

The Toshiba eMMC flash in X6 Pro makes it the fastest TV box I’ve tested so far with a read speed of 79.50 MB/s, and write speed of 24.02 MB/s.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

USB Webcam

A UVC USB webcam was tested successfully with both Skype and Google Hangouts.


Candy Crush Saga was just fine with the air mouse. But when I switched to  a wireless gamepad with two 3D racing games, namely Beach Buggy Racing, and Riptide GP2, I could definitely confirm this is not a gaming platform, possibly because of the overheating issues I experienced before. Beach Buggy Racing was playable, but not as smooth a I like, and if I set the graphics settings to “high resolution” the gaming would still be playable, but not enjoyable… Riptide GP2 did not have a high framerate either, maybe 10 to 15 fps, and after about 10 minutes of play I got a window telling me the game was not responding: wait or close?

Zidoo X6 Pro Benchmarks

CPU-Z has still not added Rockchip RK3368 to its database, so it’s recognized as an 8 core RK3066 processor @ 1.20 GHz.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

But the rest of the information appears to be mostly correct with eight Cortex A53 cores clocked between 312 MHz and 1.20 GHz, a G6110 GPU, 2GB, and 12.91 GB storage. The model is ZIDOO_X6 Pro (rk3368_box) with 1920×1080 screen resolution, and an aarch64 Linux kernel.

For some reasons the Antutu 5.7.3 score is quite low, i.e. 24,768, against a much higher 34,171 score with Beelink i68. But that score is probably more representative of the performance, as in RK3368 vs RK3288 performance comparison, I noticed some unusual results, and Antutu looked much better than some other benchmarks for RK3368.

Still that’s quite a difference. Only storage I/O looks better for Zidoo X6 Pro.

That’s why it’s important to run some other benchmark too, such as Vellamo.
I normally run the Browser test using the Android stock browser, but in this firmware I only had Chrome Brower and WebView. The latter ended with warnings as shown by the yellow “sticker” on the right side. The Metal and multicore tests should be comparable however, and while Zidoo X6 Pro got respectively 582 and 1,012 points, Beelink i68 had significantly higher scores: 773 points, and 1288 points.

Zidoo_X6_Pro_Ice_Storm_Extreme3D Mark’s Ice Storm Extreme confirmed the lower performance of Zidoo X6 Pro in benchmarks, as Beelink i68 hot 4,248 points in that particular  benchmark. Both system are running RK3368 at 1.2 GHz maximum with an interactive governor, so I’m not sure what may explain the differences in benchmark results.


Zidoo selected high quality components when making their hardware, and for example, the Toshiba eMMC is the fastest I’ve tested so far in any Android TV boxes, and Wi-Fi and Ethernet performance is either average (802.11n and Gigabit Ethernet) or excellent (802.11ac), but the main worry is that X6 Pro may overheat, and RK3368 processor may throttle at times, greatly reducing the performance of the system. Hopefully, this can be solved with some tweaks in the kernel governor. Kodi 15.x Zidoo edition works much better than Kodi 14.2 in Beelink i68 (also based on RK3368), with TrueHD and DTS-HD audio pass-through over HDMI, and 4K video playback (H.265 @ 60fps, H.264 @ 30 fps). However it’s still far from perfect, as 7.1 channel pass-through only works intermittently using my Onkyo receiver, and a 4K H.265 video sample @ 60 fps suffered from artifacts every half minute. Hopefully, these issues will be fixed with upcoming firmware updates, as overall I find Zidoo Z6 Pro to be a promising platform with a decent firmware base and good hardware.


  • Recent Android 5.1 OS firmware is both responsive (most of the time) and stable
  • Kodi 15.1 with 3D MVC, 7 channel audio pass-through, and H.265 / 4K hardware decoding
  • HDMI 2.0 video output works up to 2160p60 Hz
  • Good Ethernet and WiFi performance
  • Best eMMC performance of Android TV boxes I’ve tested, and with a unified 12.9GB flash partition for data and apps.
  • Support for FAT32, NTFS, EXT-4, and exFAT file systems
  • Proper power handling, also including timer to power off/go into standby
  • USB webcam is working in Skype and Hangouts
  • OTA firmware update
  • GPL compliance for Kodi (but not the Linux kernel)


  • The box may overheat, leading the CPU to throttle, and bringing user experience which reminded me of single core Cortex A8 processor. Solution: et the box cool down for a little while. It happened while using Kodi, and playing Riptide GP2. I could still watch a full 2-hour 1080p movie without the heat issue occurring however.
  • Kodi 15.1 works better than on other boxes but there are still some issues
    • 7.1 channel audio pass-through is unreliable, at least with Onkyo TX636-NR AV receiver. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not (with the same video).
    • Automatic frame rate switching will also change output resolution. For example if HDMI output is set to 2160p60, and you play a 1080p24 video, it will switch to 1080p24 video output (OK), but once it is finished, the video output will stay at 1080p resolution, even for 4K videos
    • 4K H.265 @ 60 fps plays, but in the video sample I used I had artifacts for about 2 seconds, every 20 to 30 seconds.
    • I could not access zoom options in most videos (minor issue)
    • Auto-repeat is ON by default (minor issue)
    • In some instances, Kodi may be quite slow to exit
  • Benchmark results significantly lower than in Beelink i68 (also based on RK3368), even with Antutu Video Tester 3.0.
  • 3D games like Beach Buggy Racing and Riptide GP2 suffer from relatively low frame rate

Both Zidoo and Geekbuying provided a sample for this review. Distributors may consider contacting Zidoo via the product page to order in quantities, while individuals may purchase Zidoo X6 Pro on Geekbuying for $99. Few sellers currently sell the box, as Geekbuying might have the exclusivity, but I also found the products listed on on eBay ($120) and Aliexpress ($109).


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Xiaomi Mi Smart Remote Center Review

October 7th, 2015 2 comments

Xiaomi Mi Smart Remote Center is a tiny box with WiFi connectivity and IR transmitters that is used to control infrared enabled devices such as TVs, medai players, air conditioners and more with your Android smartphone. The good thing is that it only costs $20, so I asked GearBest to send a sample to check it out, which they did. I’ll start this review by checking out the hardware, before running MiHome app to control a television and air conditioner.

Xiaomi Mi Smart Remote Center Unboxing and Teardown

The package is just a cardboard box with Mi logo.
Xiaomi_Mi_Smart_Remote_Center_PackageOnce you open the page there’s a sticker with the QR core redirecting to MiHome app.
You can peel it off, and take the box out of the package, where you’ll also find a USB to micro USB cable for power, and a user’s manual in Chinese only.

To open the device (and void your warranty), turn it around…
Xiaomi_Mi_Smart_Remote_Case_Bottom… remove the ring-like rubber pad, and loosen the four screws that hold the case together.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

We’ll find 6 (or 7?) IR transmitters in the center of the board, as well as an IR receiver from the side (bottom of the pic) which might be used for IR learning. The solution is based on two Marvell processors: 88MC200-NAP2 ARM Cortex M3 micro-controller with 512KB SRAM, and 88W8801 Wi-Fi SoC supporting 802.11n (1×1) single-band (2.4GHz) WiFi.

Xiaomi Mi Smart Remote Center Tested with MiHome app

The first thing to do is to install MiHome app on your Android smartphone or tablet. iOS is not currently supported. Bear in mind that for some reasons, it requires a lot of permissions, including the permission to make direct phone calls…

Once you power the device, you’ll see a notification indicating a new device is detected (green icon on the screenshot below), and I was pleased to find out the setup part was in English.

Setup and Main Menu

Setup and Main Menu (Click to Enlarge)

You’ll need to click next, setup a WLAN connection to your router, and press next to complete the installation. You’ll then be redirected to the interface in Chinese as shown in the right above, which allows to search and add (+ icon) infrared devices. When I did this a pop-up also showed up, asking for the user action in Chinese. Here’s a tip, the left icon is usually for “Cancel/No” and the right icon for “OK/Yes”.

Firmware Update and Types of Devices

Firmware Update and Types of Devices (Click to Enlarge)

So I clicked on the right icon, and it informed me in English that a new firmware is available, and I proceeded with the installation which was completed successfully in about 1 minute. You’ll then go back to the Chinese only part of the interface, where you can press the ‘+’ icon to get to a list of device type as shown on the right screenshot above. Even if you can’t read Chinese, it’s pretty much self explanatory. For example the second icon on the top row is for TVs, and the first icon on the second row is for aircons.

List of TV Brands, Keys Testing, and TV Remote

List of TV Brands, Keys Testing, and TV Remote (Click to Enlarge)

After clicking on the TV icon, you are offered a list of TV brands, with the most common (in China) listed first.  I own a Sharp TV so I selected Sharp, and I got shown a power button at first. I tapped on it, and the TV turned off. I was then offered to select between the left (Not working) and right (Working) button to confirm, and was then presented with a volume+ button a shown in the second screenshot above. You repeat this for a few more buttons until you find the one that works, and are finally presented with the remote control on the right with more options. It works pretty well, but there’s some delays, and if you press the volume keys too fast, the delay issue is amplified, and all keys pressed are suddenly send a few seconds later, so you may have to readjusted the volume up or down again.

Let’s switch to aircon configuration…

Aircon Brand Selection, Keys Testing, and Aircon Remote

Aircon Brand Selection, Keys Testing, and Aircon Remote

Again, you can presented with a list of aircon brands, and mine is made by Haier. Configuration is a little different compared to what needs to be done for TVs, as you are presented with four buttons (middle screenshot above), which you need to try, and if it does not work, tap on > to switch buttons, until you are satisfied, and you can press the button on the bottom.  Once this is done, you’ll get an aircon remote on the device. Temperature, mode selection, and fan strength buttons work, but not blade direction, so it did not match exactly my remote control. For some reason the sleep / timer button is grayed out.

You can watch a short demo with both the TV and air conditioner controlled with an Android smartphone and MiHome app below.

So overall it works, but I was expecting to use some more featuring, such as a single key press sending multiple IR code, for example to turn on the aircon, configure blade position and set the timer. Unfortunately, my Chinese skills are not good enough, so I could not check this in details, and people would can’t read Chinese should better wait for a multilingual version of the app.

I’d like to thanks GearBest for sending a sample. They sell it for $19.90 shipped, but you can also purchased the device from other resellers for around $25 including Banggood, Tinydeal, or Aliexpress.

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Zidoo X6 Pro Unboxing and Teardown

October 5th, 2015 7 comments

There are so many Rockchip RK3368 TV boxes on the market that it’s difficult for products to stand out. But Zidoo X6 Pro might be one of these products bringing a little more, as beside frequent firmware updates, Zidoo’s RK3368 TV box may be the first to officially run Kodi 15.x, while most others manufacturers have decided to stick with Kodi 14.2 in their latest firmware, and the company also released Kodi source code modifications for 7.1 audio pass-through, 3D MVC support, and hardware video decoding in compliance with Kodi’s GPL license. As usual, I’ll start by taking some pictures of the device and board, before writing a full review in the next few days.

Zidoo X6 Pro Unboxing

I got the following package via DHL, which somehow decided to take my picture as I received the parcel… The package includes some of the key features of the device include 4K, 3D, and HEVC supports, Android 5.1 and Kodi Isengard, 2GB DDR3, 16GB eMMC, 802.11ac and Gigabit Ethernet.


The package includes an IR remote control with IR learning function, an HDMI cable, a 5V/2A US power adapter, a guarantee card, a “qualified certificate” and Zidoo X6 “simple manual” in English.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The case is made of plastic and is pretty light. A small window on the front is used for the IR receiver and power LED, while two USB ports and a micro SD slot can be found on the side, with all other ports on the rear panel: 5V DC jack, 3.5 mm CBVS (composite + stereo) jack, Ethernet RJ45 port, HDMI 2.0 port, and optical S/PDIF port. There’s also a small pin hole between Ethernet and HDMI for firmware recovery.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

You can also watch the unboxing video below.

Zidoo X6 Pro Teardown

The bottom cover comes very easily after taking out four rubber pads and loosening four screws.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The MAC address suffix is 80:0A:80 which belongs to… Shenzhen Zidoo Technology Co., Ltd. In the past the company used existing hardware platform, and MAC addresses from the manufacturer, but they’ve now bought their own MAC address range. Two Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0  DDR3L bring 1GB memory to the system on the bottom of the board, and…

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

.. two more can be found on the top for a total of 2 GB RAM. A Toshiba THGBMBG7D2KBAIL eMMC is for storage (16GB), Ampak AP6335 wireless module brings 802.11 b/g/n, 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet is implemented with PSF-2447 and Realtek RTL8211E Ethernet transceiver, while Rockchip RK1000-S adds TV out and an audio codec.

The board name is Z_X6_V1.0, so this likely confirms the board has been designed specifically for this product. Other interesting details include a 3-pin (GNX, Tx, Rx) header for serial console, a 9-pin header (not sure what it is for though), and on the bottom left corner reference to GPS, so they may have plan to add GPS for automotive computers or digital signage using a module such as Ampak AP6476 which integrates WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, FM and GPS.

Zidoo sent me the sample for review, and distributors can contact the company via Zidoo X6 Pro page. Individuals can purchase the product on Geekbuying for $99, and I could also find it on eBay ($120) and Aliexpress ($99).

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Review of Voyo V2 Intel Atom Z3735F mini PC with Battery and SSD

October 3rd, 2015 12 comments

Voyo V2 is another Intel Atom Z3735F mini PC pre-installed with Windows 10 Home, but it has some interesting features such as a 64GB SSD connected via a USB to SATA bridge on top of the regular 32GB eMMC, and a 5,000 mAh battery acting as a UPS. Since I have already received several of such platforms including MeLE PCG01, Wintel W8, and MeLE PCG03 and that there are usually few differences in regular benchmarks, I’ll focus on what varies between platforms: Windows activation status, storage and network performance, as well as power consumption.

System Info and Windows Activation

One of the shortcoming of this mini PC is that it only comes with a full sized USB port, and a micro USB port. So if you plan to use it as a PC with USB keyboard and mouse, you’ll need to use a USB hub, or at least a USB OTG adapter. I use a USB hub to connect a keyboard, mouse, and external hard drive. I also use Ethernet by default, and when you boot in this configuration it takes about 45 seconds to boot, a bit longer than other Z3735F systems I tried before. You’ll need to press the power button for about 4 seconds to boot. If the system hangs, you can’t disconnect the power to restart, and the battery will take, but you can press the button for 10 seconds to turn it off.

I first went to System->About section to double check the system, and an Intel Atom Z3735F processor and 2GB RAM are indeed installed, with Windows 10 Home 32-bit pre-installed. Voyo_V2_System_About

Since Voyo V2 only sells for $120 for a system with a 64GB SSD and a 5,000 mAh, I was convinced Windows would not be activated, but based on the info I got in Update & Security->Activation, Windows 10 Home installed in that machine appears to be legit.


Finally, I went to check out the two storage devices, and the C: drive (32GB eMMC) has 22.3 GB free out of 28.6 GB, while the D: drive (64GB SSD) has 58.1 GB free out of 58.2 GB. The system also mounted NTFS and EXFAT partition from my USB hard drive.


For more details about the others chips used in the system, you may want to read Voyo V2 unboxing and teardown post.

Storage and Network Performance

Since the mini PC has two storage option: eMMC and SSD, it’s important to find out which one is faster, as you’ll want to install and run programs and caches from the fastest possible storage to get optimal performance out of your system, while your data may not need to the fastest speed.

I was expecting around 100 MB/s sequential read speed for the eMMC and 30 MB/s for the SSD, since it’s connected via USB, but results ended up being a significantly slower.


eMMC Results

The sequential read speed was 77.19 MB/s, and write speed 30.41 MB/s. If you compare this to MeLE PCG03 results in Windows 10, i.e. 165 MB/s read speed, and 72.55 MB/s, it’s clear the Biwin eMMC in Voyo V2 is not quite as fast, even over half as slow, as the Samsung eMMC in MeLe PCG03. The eMMC is one of the area where Voyo decided to cut costs.


SSD Results

The SSD is even much slower @ 21.39 MB/s read and 24.75 MB/s write speed, so it’s only advantage is that it’s hidden inside the case. You’d get similar performance with a 64GB USB flash drive attached to a device with more USB ports.

[Update: I’ve added DiskMarkResults for a 64GB flash drive connected to Voyo V2 as reference.


64GB USB Flash Drive Results (Kingston)

Also the sequential read is faster @ 35.28 MB/s, the sequential write speed is lower, and more importantly sequential write speed is much much lower. So a SSD connected via USB is still likely to offer better performance than a USB flash drive]

That means you’ll definitely want to install programs on the C: drive, and possibly move the Document, Download, Pictures, and Movies directory to the D: drive to make sure you’ve got enough space for your programs and cache.

Let’s look at wired and wireless network performance.

Voyo V2 features a Fast Ethernet port, and the performance is OK, but not outstanding, when tested with iperf -t 60 -c server_ip -d:


Throughput in Mbps

I’ve also tested WiFi. Bear in my that during the teardown I broke the Wifi antenna cable, but I did re-solder it, and Windows reported a good signal (3 bars out of 4) for the WiFi connection,  connected at 65 Mbps. So everything appears to be in order, but Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz only) was still very slow in that test:

Battery and Power Consumption

The very first time I connected the computer, and pressed the power button, I could see the Windows boot logo for a few seconds, and then nothing, with my power meter reporting 0.2 Watts consumption. So I double checked the connection, and eventually saw 10.2 Watts on my power meter when the device was still off, simply because the battery was charging. So the first time, you need to charge the battery, just like you’d do on a tablet. So I let the charge run until I could see a low and constant wattage which turned out to be 0.2 Watts, and it took less than two hours of to fully charge the battery.

I could then start and use the machine normally, and measure power consumption. The issue is that when the battery is full, it’s still being discharged even when the box is connected to the mains, so the only reliable power consumption measurement I could make were in power off mode:

  • Charging – 10.2 Watts at the start then slowly going down as the battery is fully charged
  • Power Off – 0.2 Watts
  • Power Off + HDD – 0.2 Watts

I also tried to measure power when the battery is fully charged, and I got about 4.0 Watts in idle mode, and 3.4 to 4.0 Watts in sleep mode, which does not make much sense. When I added a USB hard drive in idle mode, the power consumption would then fall between 3.4 to 4.0 Watt, right after a spike to 5.3W when the HDD partition were mounted. As soon as the battery level falls to 99% and below, charging will start, with reported power consumption around 7 to 8 at first, and going down as the battery is being charged. It takes 20 minutes to charge the battery from 99% to 100%. So overall, if what you are after is a system that consumes as little power as possible, Voyo V2 might not be for you, as the battery often gets charged.

However, the battery does its job as UPS, or if you want to carry it around with you a few hours without shutting it down. [Update: If the battery level drops below 89 ~ 90%, the system suddenly shuts down. It could be a hardware problem with my specific sample however]

I’ve tried to generate a battery report as explained on How to Geek, but it failed as follows:

Since I’ve broken the top cover dramatically improved ventilation, I was not going to measure the box temperature, but as it felt a little hot, I changed my mind. The casing is bright and shiny, so I added some black tape on the side and bottom of the enclosure for temperature measurement with an IR thermometer. I installed Kodi 15.1, and playing a 1080p60 video for 10 minutes, and measured 48 C on the side, and 52 C on the bottom. But maybe the thermometer understates the temp, as it felt really hot with hands, and high temperatures are typical on Atom Z3735F devices. The video played smoothly during the whole ten minutes, and somehow the power meter reported 17 Watts power consumption, or over the capacity (5V/3A) of the power adapter, so maybe 2+ watts are dissipated during the 220V to 5V conversion.

GearBest provided a Voyo V2 sample for this review, so if you are interested in this product, you could consider purchasing the device for $120.99 including shipping on their website. Please note that there are two versions: one with a 64GB SSD and a 5,000 mAh battery, as shown in this review, and a cheaper one with a 8,000 mAh battery, but no SSD. Voyo V2 mini PC can also be found on GeekBuying, eBay, Aliexpress, and probably other online retailers.

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ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux Review

October 2nd, 2015 24 comments

Most TV boxes on the market are running Android, but if all you’d want to do is watching online or local videos in Kodi, a Linux box may offer a more streamlined experience, and that’s exactly what ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux is offering as an Amlogic S812 TV Box running Kodi 15 Linux. In my “Arnu Box Mach 10 specs, unboxing and teardown” post, we’ve already seen the box bascially uses the same PCB used in Eny M8S, but with some different memory and storage chips. But that’s the software that’s mostly interested in this box, and today, I’ll go through the first time setup and Cloudword, before testing video playback capabilities.

ARNU_Box_Mach_10_LCD_DisplaySetting Up ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux

So I’ve just connected an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable, and the power adapter to get started, and the very first time you’ll go through a detailed setup wizard, that doubles as a tutorial in some cases, as it explains where to change some settings.

ARNU_Box_Setup_WizardIf you have an issues setting up the box, you can visit to get help. Having said that, the setup is pretty easy, and most of the time you just need to press Next.


The second step is network configuration. If you plan to use Ethernet and DHCP, just press next, but if you want to use a WiFi connection instead enter the WiFi manager. The system detected both my 2.4 and 5 GHz access point, but I finally just pressed next to use Ethernet. If later on, you change your mind, the network settings can be modified in Programs->ARNU Box System Settings-> Network.

ARNU_Box_OTA_UpdateOnce the network is properly configured, the system can install the latest OTA firmware. I click on Update Now, and the system told me I already had the latest version. Next…

ARNU_Box_Restore_and_BackupIf you had a previous ARNU Box, or Armada Box as the previous versions used to be called, you may have a backup of your configuration settings and add-ons. This step allows you to restore them. I did not have any, so I clicked Next, and learned that I can create a backup by going to Programs -> ARNU Box System Settings -> System.


The next step if for screen calibration in order to compensate for overscan. My TV HDMI input is already set to fit to underscan, so I selected Next.ARNU_Box_Skin_SelectionThen you’ll be able to select your Kodi skin. Three skins are already installed: ARNU Box KODI (Selected by default), Confluence, and EmbERMod, but you can also get more from the net directly from the setup wizard. I was happy using the default settings, so I just clicked Next.

ARNU_Box_Library_ScanThe two next steps are “Video Library” and “Music Library” which are used to scan the files on your local and networked storage and create a library. I skipped both these steps. Next.


The next step is Cloudword installer, one of the key selling point of the box, which allows you to install add-ons by inputting a single word. I had read somewhere, that you could install add-ons for your country easily, so I just click on Install a Cloudword and typed “thailand”, but it did not work.. So for once, I consulted the user’s manual, these can be useful at times, and found out they listed several keywords including:

  • onion for videos
  • tedtalks for TED talks videos
  • tmz for TMZ entertainment news
  • mojo for Watch Mojo channel
  • espn for clips and videos from ESPN network
  • cnet for CNET podcasts
  • world to install world add-ons package
  • usa to install US add-ons package
  • ca to install Canada add-ons package
  • uk to install United Kingdom add-ons package
  • uae to install United Arab Emirates add-ons package
  • nl to install Netherland add-ons package

So I gave a try at “uk”, and the system downloaded and installed about 11MB of data.

Once installation is complete, you need to restart the box, and the system greets you with a Setup Completed window.

You can click Finished.

The setup wizard may be complete, but you may want to add at least two or three more steps:

  • Time zone selection – Go to System->Settings->Appearance->International, and select your Timezone country, and if needed Timezone.
  • Automatic frame rate switching – Go to Settings->Video, and change Level to Advanced. Go to Playback, and change Adjust display refresh rate to Always. If you don’t follow this step, there may be some old frames showing up every X seconds. It was especially visible on Big Buck Bunny MPEG4 videos in my case.
  • UI resolution – The first time I think I got a 1080p UI, but later after going from standby it suddenly switched to 480i. You can change the default by going to Settings->System, and change the Resolution and Frame Rate as needed in Video Output section.

The setup is now complete, unless you plan to use an AV receiver (tip: it does not work anyway, at least not for me).

I’d like to complete this section, but addressing piracy and add-ons, as  some commenters mentioned that ARNU Box devices would be filled with piracy add-ons. So I went to Add-ons->My add-ons->All, and 81 add-ons were installed, including 36 video add-ons, but I could not see any add-ons like Navi-X or 1Channel which are often used to access pirated content, but instead add-ons names include ARNU Box add-ons,,, DIY network, Engadget, Filmon, Khan Academy, NASA, etc.. none of which are part of Kodi’s forum banned add-ons. So based on my experience, you don’t need to worry the box may come pre-loaded with piracy add-ons. That does not mean Cloudword may not be used for this purpose, but AFAICS the box and user’s manual don’t point to any pirated content. I tried a few add-ons, and most of them would work properly, either reporting an error (check the log), or letting me browse the list of video, but failed to stream the video. The exception was YouTube which worked as expected.

ARNU Box Mach 10 Video Playback

The box running Kodi 15.2-RC1 (Compiled September 15, 2015), and the operating system is called EmbER 3.0.0~beta2, and runs on top of Linux 3.10.87.



So I went in the Videos menu to browse and add my network shares, and this worked fine, until I was asked to input my password. Inputting password with an IR remote control is a pain, so I connect a USB keyboard, but it was not recognized. Small problem, so I continued with the remote, but after four attempts to login it failed. So I decided to revert to playing video from my hard drive, as I could not access my Ubuntu 14.04 SAMBA share. I played from the NTFS partition. The EXT-4 partition is also mounted, but exFAT is not supported.

Results with video samples from, Elecard H.265/HEVC samples up to 1080p, and a low resolution VP9 video:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  480p/720p/1080p – Audio only, the system stays in Kodi’s user interface
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK (after enabling automatic frame rate switching in the settings. See first section of the review)
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – OK.
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

Overall very good, except MPEG-2 videos are not supported

Time for some higher bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – Won’t start, stays in UI
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Plays but could be smoother (few boxes can handle this video perfectly)
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK

Then I configured audio pass-through in Kodi, and turned off  my Onkyo TX-NR636 receveir to test HD audio. I normally start with HDMI pass-through using BD/DVD input, and if that works well, I also test optical S/PDIF using TV/CD input of the receiver. As reference, I also tested audio down-mixing to PCM.

Video PCM Output HDMI Pass-through S/PDIF Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK, but no video (MPEG-2 bug) Short noise (> 1s), then PCM 2.0, and no video Dolby D 5.1 (no video)
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK Short noise, then PCM 2.0 Dolby D 5.1
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK PCM 2.0 Audio Formats Not Supported over S/PDIF
TrueHD 5.1 OK PCM 2.0
TrueHD 7.1 OK PCM 2.0
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK PCM 2.0
DTS HD Master OK Short noise (> 1second), then PCM 2.0
DTS HD High Resolution OK Short noise (> 1second), then PCM 2.0

Let’s carry on with some audio videos, and pass-through disabled.  Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO video could play, but two 1080i video samples did not play properly because they are encoded with MPEG-2.

Hi10p videos are almost watchable, and the keyword here is almost :

  • [Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – Audio OK, subtitles OK, but the video has some artifacts from time to time.
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Audio OK, subtitles OK, but the video has much more noticeable artifacts.

Contrary to other boxes I tested recently, 4K videos play reasonably well in ARNU Box Mach 10, but with one important caveat:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK.
  • 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) – Won’t play, the system stays in user interface.
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Outputs a different garbled image every 2 seconds.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Probably plays at 3 to 4 fps.
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play, the system stays in the user interface
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Somewhat slow motion, and audio/video synchronization issues (Actually better expected as Amlogic S812 does not support 4K video at 60fps)

It’s quite good, so what’s that caveat? Video output is set to 1080p60 or 1080p50 depending on video, but I have not found any way to make the system output to 2160p, whether in the user’s manual, or in ARNU Box forums. I’m using LG 42UB820T television for testing, and the only time I could get 2160p output was when the video signal went through my AV receiver which upscaled the signal from 1080p to 2160p, but it’s obviously not the ideal solution as clarity is lost in the process.

Even though my television does not support 3D, it’s still worth checking out if the system can decode 3D stereoscopic videos:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – Not smooth, and audio/video sync delay
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only (None of my hardware can decode this though, as it requires two 4K decoders for 4K 3D videos…)
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

FLV videos, othe videos from my library (H.264, DViX/XVid, and MP4) could play fine and smoothly, except VOB and mpg videos using MPEG-2 codec. I also played a full length 1080p MKV movie without interruption. The box was also pretty stable, but I managed to make it hang once when I played an empty (0 byte) mpg video.

Most of the video samples used for testing can be found in the comment section of the post “Where to get video, audio and images samples”.

Other Remarks and Conclusion

Most of the time I’m using a MeLE air mouse during my Android TV box review, but with ARNU Box, the IR remote was quite pleasant to use, except when I had to input text, as Kodi is well suited to IR input, play/pause & stop keys are included (strangely a rarity in TV boxes…), and some keys like Zoom and Subtitle make Kodi’s user experience better than on most Android TV boxes. The range is pretty good, as the remote works fine about 10 meters away. I did noticed some missed pressed however, when I use the remote at a sharp angle.

The system supports standby and reboot, but not power off, so you’ll need to go into standby before unplugging the device if you want to complete turn off the power. I measured power consumption in four use cases:

  • Standby – 1.3 Watt
  • Idle (On in main interface) – 4.1 Watts
  • Standby with USB HDD – 3.0 Watts
  • Idle with USB HDD – 6.2 Watts

Standby power consumption is about halved compared to 5 other TV boxes I tested, but sadly the USB ports won’t be turned off in standby mode. Idle is a little higher though at 4.1 Watts, against 3.0 to 3.4 Watts to other ARM based TV boxes in my power consumption test.

ARNU Box Mach 10 offered a much better playback experience than the other boxes I reviewed recently, but it’s not perfect, and features like MPEG-2 video decoding, 4K video output, and HDMI audio pass-through are not working.


  • Good video playback experience with Kodi 15.2 including 4K and H.265 video decoding, and automatic frame rate switching support
  • Setup Wizard makes initial setup easy, even for people not familiar with Kodi
  • Cloudword makes installed of add-ons easy
  • optical S/PDIF pass-through
  • Case with LCD display feels higher quality of most other devices I tested
  • OTA firmware update (not tested)


  • Could not login to password protected SAMBA share
  • HDMI pass-through did not work
  • USB keyboard did not work
  • 4K video playback works, but video output is limited to 1080p60 max (unless I missed an option somewhere)
  • Many add-ons did not work properly (might be be specific to my location / Internet connection).

Hopefully most of the bugs listed above will be fixed in upcoming OTA firmware updates.

ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux sample was provided by Theater in a Box, which sells the device for $149.99, which is significantly more expensive than some other Amlogic S812 TV boxes like Tronfy MXIV Telos, but I found that it performs better, yet with some regrettable bugs, but combined with support and firmware updates, it may warrant the price difference. Your choice…

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R8 Android 5.1 TV Box Specs, Unboxing and Teardown

October 1st, 2015 No comments

There are lots of Rockchip RK3368 TV boxes on the market, and Kingnovel sent me their latest R8 TV Box for review. I’ll start by listing the specs, then take a few pictures of the device, before taking it apart to checkout the board.

R8  specifications

Since Kingnovel is a manufacturer – or maybe just a reseller ? -, the specifications are flexible in order to match the requirements of their clients:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3368 octa core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz (1.2GHz?) with PowerVR G6110 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3 (2GB optional)
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (16 or 32GB optional) + micro SD card slot or SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 (RTL8723 module)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Camera – Optional 2.0 or 5.0MP camera
  • Misc – Power button, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 15 x 10 x 2.1 cm
  • Weight – 302 grams

The package includes a power adapter, a remote control, a giftbox, a user’s manual, an HDMI cable by default with an optional air mouse or wireless mouse also provided on request. Like others RK3368 TV boxes, R8 runs Android 5.1.

R8 Unboxing

I’ve received the box in a brandless OEM package, and a retail package can certainly be ordered if needed.
As listed on the product page, the package includes R8 box, a 5V/A power supply, and HDMI, a small IR remote control, and a user’s manual in English and Chinese.

R8 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

R8 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The box is nothing fancy, with 2 USB ports and a micro SD card slot on the side, and another USB port, HDMI output, Ethernet (RJ45), optical S/PDIF, and the power jack on the rear panel.


Click to Enlarge

R8 TV Box Teardown

The procedure to open the box is pretty standard: remove 4 sticky rubber pads on the bottom of the case, loosen 4 screws, before popping out the bottom cover. And today, I almost did not break anything.. only two clips were broken…

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The WiFi antenna seems to have been dislodged during transport,  but I placed it back in place after taking the picture. The bottom of the board features RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver, as well as solder “points” for two extra RAM chips (on the left) and one extra eMMC chip on the right.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

After removing for more screws, the board was easy to completely take out. There’s a hard thermal pad on top of the Rockchip processor. The WiFi module is indeed RTL8723BS, the memory and storage use chips from SKHynix, respectively two 4Gb H5TQ4G63AFR DDR3 chips (1GB RAM) and one 8GB H27UCQ8T2ETR NAND flash. GL850G USB hub to use to provide 3 USB ports, and the board name is HTC-T052-V3. I’m not exactly sure how they are supposed to connect the optional camera to that board, as I can only see a 4-pin header that’s likely the serial console interface.

That’s all for today. If you are a distributor, or reseller and would like to order in quantities, you can contact Kingnovel via R8 product page. Individual can purchase R8 TV box on various websites including GeekBuing, Ebay, Banggood, or Aliexpress with prices starting at around $75. However there may be some differences with the product shown above, for example, the IR remote control is different.

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Voyo V2 mini PC Unboxing and Teardown

September 30th, 2015 9 comments

Voyo V2 would be yet another Intel Atom Z3735F based mini PC if it did not have a battery, and 96GB internal storage with 32GB eMMC flash, and a 64GB SSD. Most Atom mini PCs only comes with 32GB, and based on my experience, internal storage fills pretty quickly with Windows 10 or 8.1, especially if you intend to use the device as a desktop PC, and that even may be an issue with Linux distributions, albeit to a lesser extend. However, a lot of questions were asked about that “64GB SSD”, with even some readers suggesting it might be an internal SD card instead of SSD :). Today, we’re going to find out the truth as GearBest kindly sent me a sample for review.

Voyo V2 Unboxing

The mini PC package has a sticker in Chinese showing the brand (VOYO), model (MiniPC-Box_V2), and listing memory ans storage as “2GB+32GB eMMC+64GB SSD”. A EU to US adapter was also included in the DHL parcel.

The box comes with a 5V/3A power adapter, an HDMI cable, “QC passed” and warranty cards, as well as a user’s manual in English and Chinese called “MiniPC-Box_V2 Specifications”.

Voyo V2 mini PC and its Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Voyo V2 mini PC and its Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The case is made of metal on the bottom and side, with some of of plastic / glass on top.


Click to Enlarge

The power button is on the front, a USB port can be found on the rear panel, while most ports are on one side with a micro USB port, the power jack, an RJ45 Ethernet connector, HDMI output, and 3.5 mm audio jack.

Voyo V2 Teardown

The side of the case also has two screws which I loosened first to open the device. As the board did not come, I delicately inserted a tool under the glass, and… whoops I broke it…
It turns out the top is attached with some strong tape, and the first part of the teardown was messy…, and beside having broken the glass, and the WiFi antenna cable also got cut…
There are two clips holding the internal plastic case to the external metallic case.
Let’s turn the box around, and we can see the battery, and the board with one white thermal pad.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Under that thermal pad, there’s another black sticky layer to cover all major components. Beside Intel Atom Z3735F processor, the main  components include four SKhynix H5TC4G63AFR DDR3L chips (2GB RAM), Biwin BWAMDIC21C32G (32GB eMMC flash), X-Powers AXP288 PMIC, GL830 USB to SATA bridge, and AP6212 WiFi and Bluetooth module.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Let’s take out four more screws to remove the board, and have a closer look at the battery which according to its marking has a capacity of 74Wh @ 3.8V, or 20,000 mAh… That’s highly unlikely to say the least, and even Voyo lists the battery capacity to be 5,000 mAh. This side of the board also has a Kingshare SSD connected to a mini PCIe port half slim (MO-297) connector.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I could take it out, and it’s definitely not an SD card ;), but KingShare KH200064SSD, a 1.8″ SATA II SSD with 64GB capacity, a read speed of 150MB/s, and a write speed of 80MB/s according to specs I found on eBay and Unfortunetaly, the USB 2.0 to SATA bridge means performance will be likely limited to read and write speeds to around 30 MB/s, but it’s something I’ll check out in the review.

I’d like to thanks GearBest again for providing Voyo V2 mini PC sample, and you may consider purchasing the device from their website for $120.99 including shipping. Please note that there are two versions: one with a 64GB SSD and a 5,000 mAh battery, as shown in this post, and a cheaper one with a 8,000 mAh battery, but not SSD. Voyo V2 can also be bought from other sites including GeekBuying, eBay, and Aliexpress.

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ARNU Box Mach Q Kodi 15 Linux TV Box Specs, Unboxing and Teardown

September 29th, 2015 9 comments

After having a look at ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux earlier today, I’ll move on to its little brother ARNU Box Mach Q featuring an Amlogic S805 processor with support for H.265 video playback at Full HD. I’ll start by listing the specs, then I’ll take a few pictures, and finally check the board.

ARNU Box Mach Q (Pure Linux) specifications

Again, the hardware specifications are pretty standard:

  • SoC – Amlogic S805 quad core ARM Cortex A5 @ 1.5GHz with quad core Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB storage + SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p60, AV output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR sensor, Status and Net LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 107.5 x 107.5 x 19.5 mm
  • Weight – ~220 grams

The box runs Linux and Kodi 15 Isengard with the company’s Cloudword installer that will fetch and install add-ons specific to your country.

ARNU Box Mach Q Unboxing

ARNU Box Mach Q is sent in the usual black package from the company.


The media player comes with an IR remote control requiring two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, a 5V/2A power adapter, and a user’s manual in English for both Linux and Android versions of the box.

Mach Q TV Box and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Mach Q TV Box and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The box is made of the same material as Mach 10, and appears to be of good quality. The front panel features status and network LEDs, and a window for the IR receiver, the side has a micro SD slot, and two USB 2.0 host port, and the front panel comes with the WiFi antenna, AV and HDMI video ouputs, Ethernet, optical S/PDIF, and the power jack.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

ARNU Box Mach Q Teardown

The model is actually refered to as S805a on the back of the case. Please note the MAC Address prefix (04:E6:76) looks up to AMPAK Technology, the company that provides the WiFi module…
ARNU_Box_Mach_Q_BottomI had to take off the sticky rubber pads, and loosen four screws, before inserting a tool in one of the ventilation and pull firmly to open the box.
The board is named M6, which I have not seen in other hardware platform I have tested. However, you may have noticed that the MAC Address sticker refers to a different MAC Address with prefix C4:4E:AC (for Ethernet), looking up to the usual Shenzhen Shiningworth Technology. The small chip “IC+ IP101GR” is a Fast Ethernet transceiver.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

There aren’t any screws holding up the board to the case so it’s easy to just take it out for further inspection. A gray “sponge” attached to the top of the case is used to dissipate heat from the Amlogic processor. Ampak AP6210 is a 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth WiFi module, two Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 DDR3L chips are used to get 1GB RAM, and a Micron 29F64G08CBABA NAND flash provides 8GB storage.

I’d like to thanks Theater in a Box for providing ARNU Box Mach 10 and Mach Q samples for review. ARNU Box Mach Q Pure Linux can be purchased for $99.99 on their site, or $109.99 + shipping on Amazon US.

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