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Tronfy MXIV Telos TV Box Review with Android 5.1

August 31st, 2015 10 comments

Tronfy MXIV Telos is a TV box powered by Amlogic S812 processor running Android 5.1 Lollipop and costing just above $90 (with coupon), so it will be interesting to find out how it performs compared to Mygica ATV1900AC also based on Amlogic S812 SoC, and Android Lollipop firmware (version 5.0.2), which I reviewed recently, and sells for $169. I’ve already checked the hardware in Tronfy MX4 Telos Unboxing and Teardown, so today I’ll check how the device actually performs.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I started by connecting peripherals: A USB hard drive to one of the USB port, and a USB hub to the other USB port with a webcam, and two RF dongles for an air mouse and a wireless gamepad, as well as HDMI and Ethernet cables, and the power supply. I then had to press the power button on the unit to start it up, and the boot took a long 1 minute 38 seconds to complete with all peripherals, or 48 seconds without any USB devices connected. That’s not the best performance, but almost exactly the same slow boot as experienced with the Mygica box.

MediaBox Launcher (Click for Orignial Size)

MediaBox Launcher (Click for Orignial Size)

LightHome (Click for Orignial Size)

LightHome (Click for Original Size)

You’ll get to  choose between two launchers: MediaBox or LightHome. The user interface resolution is 1920×1080, as you can see from the screenshots. I’ve just picked LightHome for the rest of the review.  The top right icons indicate network connectivity, and the maginifier redirects to Google Now. Weather, date and time information is displayed on the left side, and shortcuts to Kodi, Eshare, Flix Universe, the Browser, Google Play Store, the list of apps, a file browser, and Settings, as well as Favorites are placed in the center of the screen, There’s also a “kill running apps” button and a widget for CPU, memory and storage usage.

Let go to the Settings app.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Again that’s basically the same app as in ATV1900AC, and I’ve found it to be quite unstable: going to Network, changing between 12h/24h time display, adjusting screen rotation, etc… will always crash the app, so instead I went to “More setting” to access Android Lollipop settings and configure WiFi and Ethernet there.

Some useful settings include:

  • Network (crash)
  •  Display
    • Screen resolution: Auto, 480p-60Hz, 576p-50Hz, 720p 50/60Hz, 1080i 50/60Hz, 1080p 24/50/60Hz, 4K2K 24/25/30Hz or SMPTE
    • Screen position
    • Screen orientation (crash)
  • Sound – Digital sound (crash)
  • Preferences – HDMI CEC (crash)

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos(crash) means the settings look interesting, but I could not access it, since it would just crash the Settings app. At least, there isn’t three ways to access settings like in Mygica ATV1900AC, there’s only two, but most options are not accessible.. I could change the resolution to 4K30 and that one worked fine.

The 16GB flash has reportedly a single 16GB partition (which is impossible) with 10.55 GB space (perfectly believable), which means you’ll have plenty of space for both apps and data.

The “About device” section reports the model number is MXIV Telos, the device runs Android 5.1.1 on top of Linux 3.10.33, and the firmware version is 102L1. There’s also a “System Update” section there, and the system appears to connect to a download server, but there wasn’t any new firmware while I tested it, so I cannot confirm whether OTA upgrades are working properly. The firmware is rooted.

I used MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse for most of the review, but I also quickly tested the IR remote control to check whether it was working OK, and the range is not too bad, as I only started to lose a few key presses at around 8 meters from the box.

Google Play Store worked very well, and I could install all apps I needed for review, and most apps I installed on other devices could also be installed, except apps that can’t be installed due to country restrictions. Sadly, after a while, the message “Unfortunately, Google Play Services has stopped” started popping-up every 5 seconds or so, whether I was actively using the Play Store or not, so the system became very difficult to use. I’m not the only one to have had this problem as others reported the issues on Samsung Galaxy phones, and provided a fix. I followed the instructions and could disable Google Play Services, but as I restarted the device, re-enabled the services, and updated it, the problem resumed, so I just disabled the services again to be able to use the device. If Google Play Services is disabled or not updated to the latest, applications such as the Google Play Store or Hangouts won’t work.

I’m pleased to say that Tronfy MVIV power controls work perfectly, as it’s possible to cleanly turn off and on the device, or go into standby using either the remote control or the power button on the device. The device also stays relatively cool, as the maximum temperature reached after Antutu 5.7.1 benchmark were respectively 42°C and 53°C on the top and bottom of the case.

The firmware itself appears to be stable and responsive, and I did not get any hangs up, but the settings is barely usable, and trying to access many settings will simply crash the app, so for example you can’t configure the audio device, meaning pass-through options are not accessible. Just like with Mygica box, the ART runtime used in Lollipop boosts app loading times, especially for games which load much faster than I’m used to.

Video Playback

Kodi 14.2 (customized or not) is installed and configured with Aeon Nox skin, but since there’s recently been a fix for Amlogic on Kodi 15.x that has been backported to Kodi 15.1 found on Google Play, I asked Tinydeal whether I should test the pre-installed Kodi 14.2 or the latest version, and they recommended  I keep using Kodi 14.2, so that’s what I tested.

Kodi_14.2_Aeon_noxBut first, I’ve taken a few screenshot to show what get while running Kodi. Kodi_14.2_Tronfy_system_info I’ve set the output to 1080p60 to check the framerate, and it’s indeed close to 60 fps, before switching back to 4K30 for testing. tronfy_mxiv_kodi_appsThey also have a few apps pre-installed.

kodi_traktShortly after starting Kodi, I was also ask to authorize Trakt, which automatically tracks the TV shows and movies you are watching, but I simply click on “No Thanks”.

All videos were played other Ethernet with the box connected to a SAMBA share. Let’s start with results with video samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, 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 could be smoother (Kodi live log also reports ~20fps instead of the native 25 fps)
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Software decode @ ~20 fps instead of 25 fps
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p OK. 1080p could be a little smoother (18 fps instead of 25 fps)
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – 360p: OK; 720p: 15 fps. 1080p:  plays at ~12fps with audio cuts
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

The results here are very similar to what I got on the Mygica device, and again the results are basically the same for higher bitrate videos, except for one little detail:

  • ED_HD.avi – audio only
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – Plays but at the wrong size (postcard like, zoomed out)
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – 15 fps instead of 29.970 fps and zoomed out
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – Plays OK from network (Gigabit), but again zoomed out.

This is what it looks like when the system plays the video at the wrong size (zoomed out) :

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos_Kodi_PostcardNormally I use my AV receiver to test both PCM output and HDMI / (SPDIF) pass-through with videos using HD audio codec, but since I can’t set HDMI pass-through via the settings, I skipped the pass-through test, and the results with videos down-mixed to PCM are already depressing:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK, but video not very smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – audio only (black screen)
  • TrueHD 5.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
  • TrueHD 7.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – OK! Yeah!
  • DTS HD Master – Audio OK, but black screen
  • DTS HD High Resolution – Audio OK, but video zoomed out

Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO video and 1080i videos could play smoothly and in full screen.

Hi10p videos decoded with some artifacts in like ATV1900AC, but the video were again zoomed out:

  • [Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts (wrong size)
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts. (wrong size)

4K videos also have mixed results with only two videos that are watchable:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Video zoomed out
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Won’t play at all
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Plays @ 3 to 4 fps.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at 3 to 4 fps
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play at all.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Looks OK to be, but Kodi reports ~25 fps for a 30 fps video
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Plays in slow motion, audio/video sync issues, and audio cuts
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – Only shows a still image, frequent audio cuts

I’ve also added a 4K 60fps H.265 video sample to my test procedure since some new processors can now support H.265 at 60 frames per second (in theory).  Software decoding explains why some video play at very low framerate.

LG 42UB820T 4K TV, which I use for all my reviews, does not support 3D, but I check whether the system can decode some stereoscopic 3D videos:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only, black screen.
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Following the catastrophic results with Kodi in this box, I just decided to skip video testing of AVI, MKV, VOB and MP4 movies, as I don’t see why I have to waste my time further with such a poor product. I did start the stability test with a complete 1080p MKV movie (~2 hours), but after seeing the video was only displayed at quarter size on the top left corner, I just laughed and stopped the test.
Video samples can be downloaded from “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet Network Performance

I’ve transferred a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the flash in both directions using ES File Explorer to test WiFi network performance. WiFi performance is pretty both with 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz (2.72 MB/s over a 65 Mbps link) and 802.11ac (4.15 MB/s over a 433 Mbps link).

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

For some reasons the system could only transfer in one direction with iperf, using “iperf -t 60 -c server_ip -d” command line:

  • wifi 802.11n:
    Client connecting to 192.168.0.113, TCP port 5001
    TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    [ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 36811 connected with 192.168.0.113 port 5001
    [ 6] 0.0-60.0 sec 0.00 � ��s 2459466104152450560 Bytes/sec
    [ 5] 0.0-60.1 sec 188 MBytes 26.2 Mbits/sec
  • wifi 802.11 @ 5 GHz n/ac:
    Client connecting to 192.168.0.113, TCP port 5001
    TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    [ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 35608 connected with 192.168.0.113 port 5001
    [ 6] 0.0-60.0 sec 0.00 � ��s 2459281583543020032 Bytes/sec
    [ 4] 0.0-60.1 sec 370 MBytes 51.6 Mbits/sec

Just to make sure there wasn’t any issues with my test setup, I install iperf in my Android tablet, and ran the test, and it could transfer in both directions.

I repeated the file transfer test over Gigabit Ethernet with a 885 MB file, and the results were best I’ve seen so far, just above Mygica ATV1900AC results.

Ethernet Throughput in MB/s

Ethernet Throughput in MB/s

Since with Gigabit Ethernet that test is often bound by the internal storage write and read speed, I also ran iperf, which showed the exact same oddity as with WiFI:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.111, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  187 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 43066 connected with 192.168.0.111 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec  0.00 � ��s  2459433968852288512 Bytes/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.0 sec  5.70 GBytes   816 Mbits/sec
[  5] local 192.168.0.104 port 5001 connected with 192.168.0.111 port 43073

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is built-in, and everything I tried just worked straightaway:

  • File transfer with smartphone
  • PS3 game controller with Sixaxis Controller app following these instructions.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy support with Vidonn X5 fitness tracker
  • A Bluetooth headset

Storage

FAT32 (micro SD card), and the NTFS and exFAT partitions of a USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted, and there was no problem with the SD card, however while the two partitions on the HDD are about 250GB large, but the system would only show 10MB partitions with 10MB free instead, basically meaning my hard drive was mounted as read only. The same bug occurred with Mygica ATV1900AC.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK No
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
exFAT OK No
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK

So once again I could not test USB storage performance, and I simply ran A1 SD Bench app to benchmark the eMMC flash performance, which read at 26.33 MB/s and wrote at 21.83 MB/s on average.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

The combined read+write performance is about the same as Mygica ATV1900AC here, not too bad for a significantly cheaper device…

USB Webcam

Skype worked fine both with the Test /Echo Service audio call, and a video call, however I could not run Google Hangouts since I only tested it after I had to disable Google Play Services.

Gaming

Unsurprisingly, gaming performance on Tronfy MX4 Telos was exactly the same as with ATV1900AC: Candy Crush and Beach Buggy Racing were both very smooth with default graphics settings, but Beach Buggy Racing was not quite enjoyable with maxed out graphics settings, albeit still playable.

Tronfy MXIV Telos Benchmarks

For some reasons, Amlogic S812 processor was limited to 1608 MHz in Mygica ATV1900AC, but it runs at full speed in MXIV Telos (1.99 GHz). The board name is n200.

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos_CPU-ZSo it should be no surprise that Antutu 5.7.1 score is a bit higher at 35,519 points against 34,137 points for ATV1900AC

Tronfy_MXIV_Telos_AntutuHowever, 3DMark score was about the same with 5,897 point for MX4 against 5,834 for Mygica platform.

Trongy_MXIV_Telos_3DMarkConclusion

Tronfy MXIV Telos hardware hold itself pretty well against Mygica ATV1900AC, with similar Gigabit Ethernet and storage performance, and pretty good WiFi performance, although not as perfect as on Mygica TV box, and it also has some extras like Bluetooth support and power control circuitry. I was a bit disappointed by the firmware on Mygica because there were still a bit too many bugs, but somehow MXIV Telos managed to do much worse, and it really feels like they had the hardware ready, and just load Amlogic Android 5.1 SDK onto the device and shipped it without any testing: Kodi is barely usable, many settings are not reachable because the Setting app will crash, my hard drive is read-only, and Google Play Store simply stopped to work after a while. Although to be fair, I’m not sure the latter is 100% related to that particularly firmware since people also had the same issues on Samsung Galaxy phones.

PROS:

  • Android Lollipop firmware
  • Very good Ethernet and good WiFi performance
  • Relatively fast internal storage
  • Video Output – 1080p 24/50/60 Hz, 4K @ 24/25/30Hz, etc…
  • Hardware video decoding for H.265 4K up to 30Hz in “4K MoviePlayer”
  • Bluetooth works for file transfer, Sixaxis gamepad, Bluetooth low energy, and Bluetooth headset.
  • Power handled by MCU with support for proper power off.
  • Skype works fine
  • Two launchers available

CONS:

  • Pre-installed Kodi is a disaster: many videos play at the wrong size (Zoomed out in the top left corner), several videos can’t play at all (black screen), H.265 is not working, audio pass-through is not working
  • Dolby and DTS audio not supported outside of Kodi.
  • Settings app will crash, so several settings are not accessible including audio output selection (PC/pass-through).
  • Incorrect partition size detected on USB hard drive leading to read-only partitions
  • Slow boot time (100 seconds will USB devices attached)

The hardware base is good, so you’d either have to rely on Tronfy to release a new firmware with bug fixes, or find another firmware compatible with n200 board, or try various versions of Kodi (this won’t fix the USD HDD nor Settings app issues though..) for it to be usable.

Tinydeal kindly provided Tronfy MXIV Telos sample for review, and in case you are interested, you can purchase it on their website for $91.85 with coupon tronfy4. As mentioned in the unboxing post, the hardware is based on Beelink MXIII Plus, that can be found on Gearbest, Geekbuying, eBay, Aliexpress, but you need to carefully check the specifications, as memory, storage and network connectivity options may vary.

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Ubuntu 14.04 / 15.04 Tested in Tronsmart Ara X5 Cherry Trail Mini PC

August 28th, 2015 1 comment

After reviewing Tronsmart Ara X5 with Windows 10, I decided to give a try at Ubuntu. Initially I downloaded Ubuntu 15.04 Desktop 64-bit ISO image, and prepare a bootable USB drive with UNetbootin in my computer running Ubuntu 14.04. But after inserting the USB flash drive into Ara X5, and pressing F7, there was no options to select the drive, so I went to UEFI settings, and the drive was clearly detected, but not available as a bootable device.

Tronsmart_Ara_x5_Ubuntu_Linux

Finally, having heard one company booted Ubuntu on MeegoPad T04 using Rufus, and Tronsmart confirming Ubuntu 14.04 could boot on Ara X5 using Pendrive Linux USB installer, I decided to try again with Windows tools, and prepared an Ubuntu 15.04 image with Rufus. Great! Pressing F7 would show the USB flash drive, and I could boot Ubuntu 15.04.

Tronsmart_Ara_X5_USB_Boot

But unfortunately audio output is not working (only Dummy output), nor is WiFi on the platform. These were the exact same problems found on Intel Atom Bay Trail (Z3735F/Z3736F) mini PCs at the beginning, until a fix was made for audio output. Since then there has been several images released for such platforms, but several steps were usually required, until Ian Morrison (Linuxium) released a simple-to-use Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS image, especially with 64-bit UEFI, which is exactly what we’ve got on Tronsmart Ara X5.

Rufus_Ubuntu_14.04.3_LTS_Atom_X5

Bootable USB Flash Drive using Ubuntu 14.04.3 DD Image with Rfus

Once this bootable USB drive was ready, I inserted it into Ara X5, and pressed F7 repeatedly, but even after waiting one minute I only got a black screen. So I booted Windows 10 first, insert the USB drive, clicked on Reboot, and pressed F7, and I could boot with the USB drive… sort of. I could see some kernel log on the HDMI TV, followed by the Ubuntu animation, and eventually it stuck there. I checked the drive for errors, and tried again, but it ended with a black screen.

So I went back to Ubuntu 15.04 AMD64 downloaded from Canonical website, and inserted a USB audio card, as I wanted to play 4K video @ 30 fps in Kodi Linux at 3840×2160 resolution, something that did not work very well in Windows 10.

Ubuntu 15.04 Desktop at 3840x2160 Resolution in Tronsmart Ara X5 (Click to Enlarge)

Ubuntu 15.04 Desktop at 3840×2160 Resolution in Tronsmart Ara X5 (Click to Enlarge)

As you can see on the picture above, the good news is that I could switch to 3840×2160 resolution in Ubuntu, and I could also hear audio via a cheap USB sound card connected to stereo speakers while playing a YouTube video. However, the system really struggled at that resolution, even moving windows around was pretty difficult, and ultimately it hanged. I tried that twice with the same results, so instead of taking a screenshot as originally planned, I took a picture, and needless to say I decided to give up on Kodi too.

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Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta mini PC Unboxing and Teardown

August 27th, 2015 9 comments

I’ve already reviewed one Rockchip RK3368 mini PC with Beelink i68, and found out that although HDMI 2.0 up to 2160p60 was working, there was still some work to do to have 4K 60 fps videos playing smoothly, and compared to Rockchip RK3288 device performance was – as expected – significantly lower. But I now have a new RK3368 device to play with as GeekBuying has now sent me their Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta with higher specifications including Gigabit Ethernet support, 802.11ac support, and 16GB storage (vs just 8GB for Beelink i68 sample I received previously).

Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta Unboxing

GeekBuying sent me the package via DHL, which seems the preferred courier of many resellers who provide samples. Tronsmart Orion R68 is in a retail package with complete specifications at the back. There are two models for Orion R68: Meta (2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, GbE, and AP6335 wileress module) and Pro (1GB RAM, 8GB storage, Fast Ethernet, and AP6212 wireless module). There are two stickers on the side of the box clearly mentioning the exact model, and I received the Meta version.

Tronsmart_Orion_R68_Package

Once I started to open the package and take out the box and accessories, everything looked pretty familiar… although the cables, remote and power supplier were neatly stored in small boxes, instead of being thrown into the box like in Beelink i68.

Orion R68 Meta and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Orion R68 Meta and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The package includes the device, a USB OTG adapter, a 5V/2A power adapter with US and EU plugs, an HDMI cable, an IR remote control that requires two AAA batteries, and a Quick Start Guide in English. The guide is the only part that differs from Beelink accessories, as it has some Tronsamrt branding and is of better quality.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The device itself also looks the same, but with Tronsmart branding. One of the side comes with an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 host ports, a micro USB port, while the rear panel features a power button, the DC power barrel, another USB port, HDMI output, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and optical S/PDIF.

If you are an early adopter, you may have gotten the device with a Fast Ethernet port, so how do I know I have the Gigabit version?
Tronsmart_Orion_R68_Gigabit_StickerYou need to check the serial number on the bottom of the case. If you serial number starts with 3368, your Ethernet port is limited to 10/100M, while it starts with Z368, you’re the lucky owner of the Gigabit Ethernet version. If your boxes is already running, you can also go to “About device”, and if the model number is R68G and the Firmware version 20xx, you have a Gigabit version. I understand all new Orion R68 Meta TV boxes will ship with Gigabit Ethernet from now on, so you should not worry about getting a Fast Ethernet version as long as you order from GeekBuying. Unfortunately, firmware are not compatible, and Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet models different models… That’s quite a messy situation, and hopefully Tronsmart will provide updates for both versions, and not let the few hundreds (thousands) who bought the first models down.

Tronsmart Orion R68 Teardown

I’ve opened the box with some plastic tools, and surprisingly the enclose is a little different. but the sticker on the board indeed shows it’s made by Netxeon with the board name being RK68G V2.0 instead of RK68B V2.0 for the Beelink box. The board connectors layout may be the same, but  the board itself is a little different, as there are two Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 DDR3L chips on the back of the board (1GB RAM)…

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

.. and two more on the top of the board. So they’ve gone with a 4 RAM chips design instead of 2 RAM chips to get 2GB RAM on the board. The WiFi module is also better as AP6335 replaces AP6330 in order to add 802.11ac support on top of WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Foresee NCEFBS98-16G eMMC 4.51 flash provides 16 GB storage, and others chips include GL852G USB 2.0 hub, Pulse Electronics H5007NL 1000Base-T magnetics module, and Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet transceiver.

I’d like to thanks GeekBuying for providing Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta sample. If you are interested, you can consider buying the Meta version for $99.99 [Update: You’ll get $15 discount with coupon TCCUBHVW], and the Pro version for $74.99 on their website. It’s also available on eBay and Aliexpress for various prices, but in the case of R68 Meta, please make sure whether you’ll get the Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet version from these sites.

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Review of Mygica ATV586 Android Set-Top Box with DVB-T2 Tuner

August 27th, 2015 10 comments

I’ve already tested some Android TV boxes with tuners such as HD18T (DVB-T2) and WeTek Play (DVB-S2) , but they were all based on Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core processor. Geniatech recently sent me Mygica ATV586 quad core Android DVB-T2 receiver based on Amlogic S805 processor. I’ve already taken a few pictures, and look at the hardware components,  so today, I’ll write the review, mainly focusing on the live TV program capabilities including PVR and Timeshifting.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I’ve connected a hard drive, a webcam, MeLE F10 Deluxe RF dongle, and a keyboard (for screenshots) to the device’s USB ports, as well as HDMI and Ethernet cables, and a TV antenna cable, before connecting the 5V power adapter to start the device. When everything is connected, the boot takes about 1 minute 35 seconds, but without USB devices, it drops down to 44 seconds. Boot time is not something that Geniatech appears to focus on, as also had slow boot times with Mygica ATV1900AC.

ATV586_Setup_WizardIt all then start with a Welcome screen, leading to a wizard to configure the language (English, Simplified Chinese, or Traditional Chinese) , the Screen resolution and scaling, and networking connectivity (Ethernet or WiFi). What’s missing from the wizard is timezone selection, so you’ll have to configure it in the Android settings, and it’s quite important to do so, if you plan to use EPG to record videos.

Click to Enlarge

Click for Original Size (1920×1080)

Once this done, you’ll get to the user interface with shortcuts to favorites, as well as icons launch Kodi, Mygica and Google Play Stores, access the list opf apps and settings, as well as a black window reading “No Program,  Please click ‘Here’ to scan!”. I did that, and at the beginning all I had was a black screen, but I went back again, and I was able to access the Search menu, set the country to “Thailand”, and start scanning for channels.

Mygica_ATV586_Country_SelectionOther supported countries include France, Myanmar, Taiwan, Canada, Israel, Singapore, Russia, UK, Italy, Australia, and Colombia. The “DTV player” user interface is actually exactly the same as in HD18T, except the list of countries is longer, and all features work as expect. Once scanning was completed, there was 30 TV channels detected in either SD or HD resolutions.

ATV586_DVB_Scan_CompleteYou can now watch the TV channels you wish, but I’ll get back to that later. Going back to the home screen, you’ll see the latest selected TV channel displayed in that black window. I find this rather annoying personally, but it’s probably just a matter of preference.

ATV586_Home_Screen_Live_TVNow let’s check the settings.

ATV586_SettingsIf they look familiar, it’s because it’s the usual Amlogic settings found in MXQ S85, EM6Q-MXQ, MINIX NEO X6, and most other Amlogic TV boxes but with a different background. The settings are mostly the same as in MINIX NEO X6:

  • Network – Enable and configure Wi-Fi or Ethernet
  • Display:
    • Automatic or manual HDMI resolution: 480p @ 60 Hz, 576p @ 50 Hz, 720p @ 50/60 Hz, 1080i @ 50/60 Hz, or 1080p @ 24/50/60 Hz
    • Hide or Show status bar
    • Display Position
    • Screen Save (Never, 4, 8 or 12 minutes)
  • Advanced:
    • Miracast
    • Remote Control (app)
    • Google TV Remote
    • CEC Control
    • Digital audio auto-detection
    • Digital Audio Output (Auto, PCM, SPDIF passthrough, or HDMI passthrough)
  • Other – System Update: Local file or OTA, and “More Settings” for standard Android Settings.

About_ATV586The system set the resolution to 1080p50 automatically, and I used this setting. WiFi and Ethernet could connect without issue, but Bluetooth failed. Bluetooth can only be found in the standard Android settings

ATV586 comes with 8 GB storage with a single 6.95GB partition, and 4.30 GB free. The “About device” section reports model number is “XS″, and the system runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.33, just like other S805 boxes I tested previously. The firmware is rooted.

Google Play Store worked OK, and I could install most app needed for review through the store, except Vidonn Smartband. I also scrolled through the list of apps of I previously installed on other devices, and some other apps were incompatible: Thailand Post & Track, Plants vs Zombies 2, and the usual SMS and GPS apps. For overall Play Store support is good, and better than with the company’s ATV1900AC mini PC.

There’s no power button on the unit, and a short press on the remote will go to standby mode, while a long press will show a menu asking whether you want to go into Standby or Reboot, meaning there’s no clean power off option. Talking about the remote control, the included Mygica KR-21 remote works pretty well with the DTV app (except to input recording time) and Kodi, and the range is very good, as it was still working 10 meters away. You’d still want to use another input device (air mouse, wireless keyboard, smartphone app..) to use a web browser, a play some games… As with other S805 devices, the temperature is pretty cool, as the maximum temperature  of the top and bottom of the case was respectively 45°C and 43°C after running Antutu 5.7.

The firmware is very stable, but at times it feels a bit sluggish, especially while apps are installed or are updating, as well as inside “DTV Player” app used to watch DVB-T2 channels, as it does not always feel as responsive as it should.

Video Playback

Since I’ve already reviewed three Android 4.4 boxes based on Amlogic S805, results were mostly satisfactory, and my time is limited, I’ll refer you to MXQ S85 review for Kodi performance under the platform. I still quickly tested H.264 and H.265 in Kodi 14.2 “Mygica Edition” as well as HDMI pass-through. 1080p H.264 video played perfectly, but a 1080p H.265 video would only play at 10 fps due to software decoding.

Playing audio through my AV receiver using HDMI pass-through would only generate noise for Dolby and DTS audio, even after settings Kodi and the system to use HDMI pass-through.

Finally, I’ve also run the latest Antutu Video Tester 3.0 to get a reference point for Amlogic S805 platforms.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

683 points is quite lower than Amlogic S812 based ATV1900AC’s 1,059 points, but it was probably to be expected since Amlogic S805 does not support 4K videos. It’s still higher than the mere 532 points achieved by Beelink i68 (RK3368). Please note again that Antutu Video Tester 2.2 and Antutu Video Tester 3.0 scores can’t be compared as for example, ATV586 got 490 points in version 2.2.

Tuner App in ATV586

The main selling point of this device is support for digital tuners, DVB-T2 in the device under test, or ATSC in the other version. I’ve already explained about first time setup and autoscan in the first section of this review, so let’s look at overlay data and menu.

ATV586_Overlay_MenuWe’ve got the channel number and name and some EPG info with current program and upcoming program, and as well as icons to adjust the aspect ratio (16:9, 4:3, full), access EPG, select the audio language, configure TeleText and record the current program.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

The EPG data looks great, as the device got data for 7 days for all channels, and for once, the app also supports complex languages such as Thai. You can then select one or more programs from the program guide, and schedule a recording once, daily or weekly.

EPG_Record_ProgramOnce you have scheduled a few recording, you may want to press the red button on the remote control to access the schedule list.

EPG_Schedule_ListOne minute before the program is set to start, a pop-up window will show up asking you to go to the app, or it will go there within one minute. That means background recording is not possible, DTV Player app must be in the foreground in order to record a program, and you can’t do any other tasks during recording. You could also record a program manually, by pressing the record button, and inputting the time in minutes. The app will automatically detect external storage, and partitions available to record program. It will select one automatically, and create a directory called TVRecordFiles, which you can access with Kodi to playback later, or via the PVR Manager in the settings menu of DTV Player app.

The setup menu will let you change the default recording path, set TimeShilting time, enter TimeShitfing mode, and some other settings which you can see in the video where I show Live TV features in ATV586, or in HD18T mini review as the options are the same.

Overall the implementation is much better than in HD18T, as everything works, however I found the responsiveness of the app could be improved, and more importantly, sometimes the video will be choppy, audio cut, and/or audio & video may be out of sync, especially while changing channels, but this should only last a few seconds.

Finally, the user’s manual mentions DTV Viewer app that’s supposed to stream live TV to up to 2 mobile device. The QR code redirects to DTV Viewer on Google Play, but the link is not working at the time of writing, and the company did not reply to my email asking for clarifications.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

I’m using a 278 MB file transferred between a SAMBA share and the internal flash to test network performance, repeating the test three times with ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi transfer speed is a little disappointing @ 2.1 MB/s on average, quite lower than MXQ S85 or EM6Q-MXQ reaching close to 3MB/s.

Throughput in MB/s

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

iperf looks even worse, maybe because I’m using full duplex transfer (iperf -t 60 -c server -d):

Client connecting to 192.168.0.113, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[ 6] local 192.168.0.104 port 53408 connected with 192.168.0.113 port 5001
[ 5] 0.0-61.2 sec 31.6 MBytes 4.34 Mbits/sec
[ 6] 0.0-62.0 sec 26.0 MBytes 3.52 Mbits/sec

Over Ethernet, the file could be transfered at 5.5 MB/s, not a fantastic result, but in line with other Amlogic S805 devices.

Throughput in MB/s

Ethernet Throughput in MB/s

I’ve also included iperf result over Ethernet for reference:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.105, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  153 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 56126 connected with 192.168.0.105 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   594 MBytes  83.0 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.1 sec   440 MBytes  61.4 Mbits/sec

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

There’s no built-in Bluetooth.

Storage

A FAT32 (micro SD) partition, as well as NTFS and exFAT partitions on my USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted and accessed in read/write mode.

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

USB hard drive and internal flash performance were tested with A1 SD Bench app. The read and write speeds were respectively 18.91 MB/s, and  23.27MB/s for the NTFS partition (mounted to /storage/external_storage/sda1), not an exciting results, but again pretty much in line with MXQ S85 performance. exFAT performance was even lower at 13.70MB/s and 2.12 MB/s, or the lower combined (R+W) performance I’ve reported so far. Make sure you use an NTFS drive on this device…

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

The internal storage reads at 22.87Mb/s and writes at 12.18 MB/s, less than average among all devices, but still the fastest storage I found in the four Amlogic S805 devices I tested. It’s right above MINIX NEO X6, and much better than MXQ S85, so I wonder where the sluggishness I experience during testing comes from…

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

Read and Write Speed in MB/s

USB Webcam

The “Test / Echo Service” in Skype worked, as well as a normal call, and the same could be said about Google Hangouts. Both apps used a UVC webcam connected to a USB port of the device.

Gaming

Please refer to previous reviews for gaming performance on Amlogic S805 platforms.

Mygica ATV586 Benchmarks

Again, I’ll keep it short here since S805 is a well known and tested platform by just running CPU-Z and Antutu 5.7.1 in order to make sure the system performs as expected.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The surprise here is that they boosted the CPU frequency to 1.61 GHz instead of 1.49 GHz in the other platforms I tested. It’s not the first time an Amlogic S805 is clocked as that frequency though, as I had read about the higher clock for ODROID-C1(+) board firmware. The rest of the information is pretty much as should be expected. The model name is XS and the board name stvm8b.

ATV586_Antutu_5

Click to Enlarge

The higher frequency shows in Antutu 5 score, as ATV586 gets 18,071 point, while for instance, MXQ S85 got 16,448 points with the firmware I tested in October 2014.

Conclusion

Mygica ATV586 is the first quad core Android box with tuner that I’ve tested, and the implementation of the DTV software, is way better than I experienced in HD18T DVB-T2 receiver, as multiple countries are supported, EPG, PVR and Timeshifting functions are all working. Performance is also on par with other Amlogic S805 TV boxes such as MINIX NEO X6 or MXQ S85. However, I did notice some slowdowns in the system and “DTV player” app from time to time, something I hope can be solved in subsequent firmware upgrades

PRO:

  • Well tested platform (Amlogic S805) and stable firmware.
  • All DTV features advertised work out of the box: Autoscan, EPG, PVR, TimeShifting, complex languages (at least Thai) are handled correctly
  • HEVC/H.265 hardware video decoding support. Working in MX Player, but not with Kodi “Mygica Edition” yet
  • USB webcam worked in Skype and Google Hangouts
  • Future update: Streaming live TV to up to two Android smartphone or tablet using DTV Viewer app

CONS:

  • System and DTV Player app may experience noticeable slowdowns. For the latter, video and audio are often affected for several seconds right after switching channels.
  • Wi-Fi performance is less than average
  • Power not controlled by MCU (only standby or reboot are available)
  • USB exFAT storage performance is very poor (NTFS is OK)
  • Audio pass-though is not working in Kodi
  • No Bluetooth

Mygica ATV586 is available now, and can be purchased either in quantity directly from Geniatech/Mygica with either a DVB-T2 or ATSC tuner, or online for $109 on Mygica Aliexpress store.

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Review of Tronsmart Ara X5 Windows 10 mini PC with Intel Atom X5 Processor

August 24th, 2015 23 comments

Tronsmart Ara X5 is one of the first mini PC featuring a Cherry Trail processor, more exactly Atom x5-8300 quad core processor manufactured with 14nm process. Price and max TDP are similar to Atom Z3735F Bay Trail-T processor found in many mini PCs designed in China, so it will interesting to compare the two platforms. Yesterday, I took some photos of the device, and found out the design was comprised of a baseboard and system-on-module, but today, I’ll focus on testing the device in Windows 10, checking everything works as it should, as well as running some benchmarks, verifying the Windows license status, test H.265 video playback in Kodi, and more.

Tronsmart Ara X5 Setup

I had not much to do the first time I booted the device, as it was already configured to use English, and the system logged in with user “User” without password. I still double checked the screen resolution,as it was set to 1920×1080 (Recommended), but there are also option for 4K resolutions such as 4096×2160 or 3840×2160.

Ara_X5_resolutionI set it to 3840×2160 and 4096×2160, and both resolution worked fine with an LG 4K TV. However, the system does not support HDMI 2.0, so the refresh rates are limited to 23 Hz, 24Hz, 25Hz, 29Hz and 30Hz for 3840×2160 and 23 and 24Hz for 4096×2160 in Intel HD Graphics Control Panel.

Ara_X5_Refresh_RateThis probably explains why 1080p is recommended over 4K, since the refresh rate can be set up to 60 Hz, and if you are using another resolution a warning window will show up.

Windows_10_1080p_warningBut the image quality seem fine once I switch the 4K. Here’s a screenshot of the desktop. Click for full resolution.

Ara_X5_4K_UHD_Windows_10So if you want to watch 4K movies setting the resolution to 3840x2160p @ 24Hz will be appropriate, but for gaming you’ll want to switch back to 1080p60. After changing the resolution, you’d better reboot or some apps won’t display correctly. For example, Kodi 15.1 would only show the top left quarter of its interface.

The system supports both HDMI and stereo audio, so you may need to configure the audio output too. Simply right click on the speaker icon on the bottom right of the screen, and select Playback devices in order to set Speakers or your TV or AV receiver as the default audio playback device.

Windows_10_Sound_Playback

I could use both my TV speakers using the HDMI connection, and external speakers connected to the 3.5mm audio jack of the mini PC. That’s all I had to do for the initial setup of the computer.

Tronsmart Ara X5 System Info

Let’s check the System Info.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Tronsmart Ara X5 indeed features Intel Atom x5-Z8300 quad core processor @ 1.44GHz (base frequency) as well as 2 GB RAM, but contrary to Z3735F systems that ship the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 or 10, Ara X5 runs the 64-bit version of Microsoft operating system, which could indirectly be good news for Linux support. Windows 10 Home is activated and appears to have a proper license.

ara_x5_disk_spaceThe 28.5 GB partition on the eMMC flash had 14.3GB free space after installing Firefox and Adobe Flash.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The Device Manager shows the list of devices, such as ASIX AX88772C USB 2.0 to Fast Ethernet controller, Broadcom 802.11 a/b/g/n/ wireless adapter, or a Realtek audio codec.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

HWiNFO64 detects Atom x5-Z8300 processor and its Gen8 GPU correctly, and you’ll find out that according to this tool, x5-Z8300 has the same list of features as Z3735F processor in Mele PCG03 mini PC. The memory is clocked a little higher at 800 MH instead of 677 MHz in MeLE PCG03, but the Gen8 GPU is clocked at 400 MHz, instead of 620 MHz for the Gen7 GPU found in Z3735F SoC.

Aptio Setup Utility complies with UEFI 2.4, and contrary to most Z3735F device that ships with a 32-bit UEFI binary, that one is loaded with a 64-bit UEFI and Secure Boot is disabled by default, both of which should make installing Linux distributions such as Ubuntu a little easier.

Ara_X5_64-bit_UEFI

Tronsmart Ara X5 Benchmarks

PCMARK 8 is a pretty good benchmark for Windows, as it emulates real task such as video conference, word processing, photo editing and so on. I normally run PCMARK 8 HOME CONVENTIONAL 3.0 test, and in this version claims it does not know that processor yet reports it correctly as x5-Z8300.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Tronsmart Ara X5 gets 1,048 points, while MeLE PCG03 got 1,052 points in Windows 10. So if you were expecting a small boost in performance you’ll be disappointing. I’ve compared the detailed benchmark results in my Z3735F vs x5-Z8300 post, and there are some variations in the scores, with Ara X5 getting a small edge for gaming, while losing out in most other tests.

The internal storage is a Sandisk eMMC flash, and although performance is acceptable, it’s much small than the Samsung eMMC 5.0 flash used in MeLE PCG03.

Ara_X5_CrystalDiskMarkWhile Tronsmart mini PC achieves 92.07 MB/s and 36.50MB/s read and write speeds, MeLE PCG03 delivered respectively 165.5 MB/s and 72.55 MB/s.

I’ve also run some network benchmarks with iperf2 for Windows using “iperf.exe -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” command line

Fast Ethernet:

------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to 192.168.0.110, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  170 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 47902 connected with 192.168.0.110 port 5001
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   471 MBytes  65.9 Mbits/sec
[  5]  0.0-60.0 sec   552 MBytes  77.1 Mbits/sec

Although it’s still very much usable, Ethernet performance is not the best there is, as it’s far from the 90 Mbits/sec achieved with the best devices over a Fast Ethernet connection. Gigabit Ethernet is not supported.

Fast Ethernet Throughput in Mbps

Fast Ethernet Throughput in Mbps

WiFi 802.11n 2.4GHz:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.109, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 55505 connected with 192.168.0.109 port 5001
[  4]  0.0-60.1 sec   132 MBytes  18.3 Mbits/sec
[  6]  0.0-60.1 sec   104 MBytes  14.5 Mbits/sec
[  5] local 192.168.0.104 port 5001 connected with 192.168.0.109 port 50912

I have less data for WiFi performance with iperf, but Ara X5 seems less than average @ 1.8 to 2.2 MB/s.

Throughput in Mbps

Throughput in Mbps

Having said that, it was much better than an Intel NUC running Windows 10 with a 7620N mPCIe wireless card which frequently has lots of packet losses and a ping > 2s in the local network, while Ara X5 worked just as expected.

Tronsmart Ara X5 Usability Testing

I’ve also tested the various programs in the device, that may often be problematic in low end devices, and shot a video with the following:

  • Web Browsing in Firefox
    • Loading CNX Software
    • Playing an Embedded Video
    • Playing a 1080p Video in Full Screen mode
    • Playing a flash game  (Candy Crush Saga)
  • Gaming with Asphalt 8
  • Kodi 15.1 with 1080p & 4K H.265 video playback at 1080p50 and 3840x2160p25.

I had some troubles scrolling the webpages in Firefox with the scrolling wheel of my mouse, as it was jittery going up and down at times, instead of simply going down, but let’s say it’s a minor issues. Both embedded and fullscreen 1080p videos in played very well in YouTube, until I was called for lunch, and came back later to find out the videos were rather choppy. The temperature at the top and bottom of the box was respectively 57 and 52 degrees C, so I paused the video and waited a few minutes, and the video was smooth again. Candy Crush Saga was playable in Firefox, but the animations were rather slow..

Even with the better GPU, I did not find Asphalt 8 that enjoyable to play as I like higher framerates, and although H.265 video decoding for 1080p and 4K videos is OK at 1080p resolution, once you switch to 3840×2160 in Windows 10, 4K videos are not smooth enough for an enjoyable experience. Hopefully, that’s something that Intel, Microsoft, or Kodi developers can improve on.

In theory, the USB 3.0 port is a useful addition to expand storage, since the flash can fill up pretty quickly if you intend to use the system as a desktop computer and install many programs, but unfortunately a Seagate Expansion USB 3.0 drive did not work in the USB 3.0 port with the message “USB device not recognized”, but working just fine in the USB 2.0 port. A USB 3.0 flash drive was properly recognized in the USB 3.0 port, but I could not insert it perfectly perpendicularly to the rear panel since it’s a bit too close to the HDMI cable, and I assume some people will require a USB hub to connect their thumb drives as there may be too little space.

Tronsmart Ara X5 is not a bad device, but apart from H.265 1080p videos, there are not many things you could not do just as well with an Atom Z3735F based device, and there are also quite a few bugs, which may be related to Windows 10, directly or indirectly, as the apps or drivers may not have been fully ported and optimized since the OS and processor are so recent.

I’d like to thanks Geekbuying again for providing the device for review. They sell it for $149.99 including shipping [Update: use UTJOOOWW coupon for $20 discount], with delivery scheduled for August 31, and you may want to play their lottery to win coupons. It can also be purchased on Ebay for $159.99 and soon more online sellers should list the product.

Next Step… Trying Linux, but so far I can’t get UEFI to list my flash drive as a boot device…

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Tronfy MX4 Telos Android 5.1 TV Box Unboxing and Teardown

August 22nd, 2015 10 comments

I’ve recently reviewed Mygica ATV1900AC TV box powered by Amlogic S812 with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC running Android Lollipop, a device with some high quality components, and a RF remote with voice command and search function that sells for $180. Tinydeal, a Hong Kong-based online shopping site specialized in electronic goods, sent me Tronfy MX4 Telos with very similar specifications including support for 802.11ac and Gigabit Ethernet, but selling instead for nearly half price at $98.99 including shipping. The firmware is also based on Lollipop, and runs Android 5.1.1 instead of Android 5.0.2, and it will be interesting to find out how the cheaper product fare against the higher-end one.

Tronfy MX4 (MXIV) Telos Specifications

Since it’s the first time I come across this box, I’ll list the specifications first:

  • SoC – Amlogic S812 quad core cortex A9r4 @ 2 GHz with Mali-450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB  eMMC flash + micro SD card reader up to 32GB
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6335 module)
  • Video Output – HDMI and AV output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codec – H.265 up to 4K2K, H.264, etc…
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Misc – IR receiver, power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 115 x 115 x 26 mm
  • Weight – 196 grams

Compared the Mygica model, it adds a 3.5mm jack for composite and stereo audio and Bluetooth 4.0, but instead of 4 USB ports it gets only 2 USB ports and a micro USB OTG port. It also does not come with a fancy RF remote, but a simpler IR remote.

Tronfy MX4 Unboxing

The company sent me the device via DHL. The retail package shows some of the main features of the device (Gigabit Ethernet, 4K UHD, H.265, etc..), and seems to have been optimized for low transportation cost, as it is quite thin and compact compared to other products I’ve received. The full model number of the box reads “TVB-MXIV Telos”.

Tronfy_MX4_PackageThe box comes with an HDMI cable, an OTG adapter, an IR remote control, a 5V/2A power adapter (EU), and a user’s manual,  an “operating instruction manual”, another user’s manual in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian, as well as some documentation about Eshare software that is used to share all sort of files with your mobile devices (iOS only?), and includes support for DLNA and Airplay.

MX4 Telos and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

MX4 Telos and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The case looks very familiar, as I’ve also seen it been used on some other devices such as Probox2 EX.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The power button is conveniently located at the front top of the device, the micro SD slot, micro USB OTG port, and two USB 2.0 host port are located on the side of the device, while the DC jack, AV jack, Ethernet port, HDMI output, and optical S/PDIF port can be found on the rear panel.

If you are interested, you can also watch the unboxing video.

Tronfy MX4 Telos Teardown

There aren’t any screws to remove to open the device, and you’ll see to use a sharp object to pop-up the cover, such as the green tool shown below, and part of most disassembly kits.

Netxeon_S82_Board

Click to Enlarge

The sticker on the board shows this is one of the many boxes made by Netxeon, and the product name is S82. I had to loosen four screws to complete take out the board, which is also connected to the Power button board.
Tronfy_MX4_Board
Finally, I’ve removed the heatsink to get a better look at the board.

MX4 Board (Click to Enlarge)

MX4 Board (Click to Enlarge)

The board name is M82G_V1.0_20150324 by Netxeon, and looks like a revision of the board used in Probox2 EX with some minor modifications, and different components. A 16GB Foresee NCEFBS98-16G eMMC 4.51 flash is used for storage, while four Mezza Z3P4GF4BLF A521LK-GGN chips are used to get 2GB RAM. Mezza must be a new and cheaper player on the RAM market, as I can’t find any information about this company. The wireless module is the popular AP6335 bringing Bluetooth 4.0 and dual band WiFi connectivity to the device, including 802.11ac. Pulse H5007NL is a 1000base-T magnetics module for Gigabit support, but on Amlogic SoCs, Gigabit Ethernet usually means 200 to 300 Mbps.

I’d like to thanks Tinydeal for providing the device for review, and if you could consider purchasing Tronsfy MX4 Telos for $98.99 on their store (Update: use tronfy4 coupon for a better deal). The box also used to be on Amazon US, but Tronfy does not list it there anymore. Tronsfy MX4 Telos appears to be based on Beelink MXIII Plus, that can be found on Gearbest, Geekbuying, eBay, Aliexpress, and others, but the devil may be in the details as the specs are not the same across the board. Some devices will run Android 5.1, while most are still sold with Android 4.4, and 802.11ac or Gigabit Ethernet may not be supported, while some devices come with 8GB flash instead of 16GB… So make sure you double-check the specs before you buy, and when you receive an MX3 Plus box. Tronsfy also has its own website, where you can find MX4 Telos.

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Tronsmart Ara X5 Cherry Trail mini PC Unboxing and Teardown

August 22nd, 2015 17 comments

Tronsmart Ara X5 is one of the first Intel Atom X5 mini PCs available on the market, and should provide a decent update to the many Intel Atom Z3735F based devices with its Atom x5-Z8300 quad core processor. GeekBuying sent me one sample for review, and today I’ll take a few pictures, and take it apart to find out more about the components used and its thermal design, before doing a review in the next few days.

Tronsmart Ara X5 Unboxing

I received the fanless computer by DHL in the following package together with a EU to US plug adapter.

Tronsmart_Ara_X5_Package

Ara X5 ships with a 5V/3A power adapter, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual in English.

Ara X5, Power Adpater, HDMi Cable, and User's manual (Click to Enlarge)

Ara X5, Power Adpater, HDMi Cable, and User’s manual (Click to Enlarge)

The front panel has two USB 2.0 host ports, a 3.5mm headset jack, and the power button, while the rear panel features the power jack, a Fast Ethernet RJ45 port, HDMI output, a USB 3.0 host port, and a micro SD slot.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The main improvement compared to previous generation boxes based on Atom Z3735F is support for USB 3.0 host port, so it would have been extra nice to have a Gigabit Ethernet port too. Maybe with other models.

Tronsmart Ara X5 Teardown

I’ve struggled a little more than usual to open the box, but the teardown procedure is quite standard: removing four stiky rubber pad on the bottom of the case, loosening four screws, and take out the bottom cover. It’s held with clips so I had to use my dissassembly toolset to pop it out.

Tronsmart_Ara_X5_Board_Bottom

Bottom Side of Ara X5 Board (Click to Enlarge)

There’s a CR2032 battery for the RTC, something you won’t find in most Android TV boxes, as well as AP6330 wilress module for dual band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as COTOP C1602NS chip for Ethernet. One of the serial code is a MAC Address starting with 30:F7:07 prefix that looks up to Shenzhen Thread Technology Co, which could also be VX2 mini PC manufacturer.

Let’s carry on the teardown, by removing two more screws in order to take out the board from the case.

Tronsmart_Ara_X5_Board_Top

There’s a thick metal plate covering all components.Ara_X5_Metal_Plate_Side

It can be easily removed after loosening the three screws holding it with the rest of the board.Ara_X5_Metallic_Shield

Interestingly there seems to be a CPU module covered by a metallic shield. You’ll have notice the name of the baseboard is Ara X3 VERA, so an Atom X3 model may be in the work, or it was canceled, and instead they leveraged the baseboard to fit it with a more powerful Atom X5 processor.Ara_X5_Thermal_Pads

The metal shield shield is very easy to take out, but they must have made sure thermal dissipation was optimal, and we can find two more pink thermal pads on the PMIC and Intel processor.Intel_Atom_x5-Z8300_System_on_ModuleThere are two names on the system-on-module silkscreen: MS-M1E198407 and CI_CTCR_SI Rev 1.2. Beside Intel x5-Z8300 processor in the middle of the module, other main chips are AXP288C PMIC, a 32GB Sandisk SDINBDE4-32G eMMC flash, and four Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 DDR3 chips for 2GB RAM.

I’d like to thanks Geekbuying for providing the device for review. You can buy it for $149.99 including shipping, but possibly less if you are lucky, as they have a lottery for coupons. It can also be purchased on Ebay for $159.99 and more online sellers should soon list it too. These are actually pre-orders as shipping is scheduled for August 31.

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Mygica ATV1900AC Android 5.0 Mini PC Review

August 20th, 2015 6 comments

4K TV boxes based on Amlogic S812 processor have been around for about 9 months, and I already reviewed MINIX NEO X8-H Plus and CX-S806 mini PCs, but Mygica ATV1900AC is one of the first to support Android Lollipop, so I though it would be interesting to see the progress made compared to devices that run Android KitKat. I’ve already taken apart the TV Box, and found some interesting Toshiba eMMC flash and Realtek 802.11ac WiFi chips on the board, but today, I’ll test the firmware including stability, features and performance in this review.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

I’ve connected all ports of the device using the four USB host port with a webcam, hard drive, an RF dongle for a wireless gamepad, the RF dongle for the included remote, as well as inserting an HDMI cable, an optical audio cable S/PDIF, an Ethernet cable to Gigabit switch, and a Class 10 micro SD card. Finally I connected the power cable, and the device started straightaway. The boot took a long 1 minute 40 second to complete, so I disconnected all USB devices, except the one required for the remote, and boot time dropped to a more respectable 50 seconds, but I was still expecting a much faster boot.

"Mygica Android 5.0" Launcher (Click for Original Size)

“Mygica Android 5.0” Launcher (Click for Original Size)

"Home Screen" Launcher (Click for Original Size)

“Home Screen” Launcher (Click for Original Size)

You’ll then be offered to choose your launched between “Mygica Android 5.0” and “Home Screen”, with the latter looking very similar to Google’s Android TV launcher. I still prefer the first one, and that’s the one I used for most of the review, although it misses the Status Bar which makes it a little harder to use with an air mouse, as I had to use the remote control to press the “Home” key.

Kodi 14.2 “Mygica Edition”, YouTube, the Browser, Mygica store, Google Play, Netflix, 4K MoviePlayer and Facebook were all pre-installed and set as the shortcut in the interfaces. Other pre-installed apps include Miracast and Crackle.

Click for Original Size (1920x1080)

Click for Original Size (1920×1080)

There’s also Settings page on the right that will let you configure various aspect of the system:

  • Wi-Fi – Enable/Disable WiFi, Select ESSID, Connect via WPS…
  • Ethernet – Enable/Disable Ethernet, select Fixed IP or DHCP, configure Proxy if needed
  • Display
    • Screen resolution: Auto, 480p-60Hz, 576p-50Hz, 720p 50/60Hz, 1080i 50/60Hz, 1080p 24/50/60Hz, 4K2K 24/25/30Hz or SMPTE
    • Screen position
    • Daydream
  • More Setting – Android Lollipop Settings
  • Manage Apps – Open, stop, uninstall, clear data, cache, or defaults for a given app
  • Date & Time – Automatic Date & Time On/Off. The timezone however must be set via “More Setting”
  • Software Updates – Local or automatic updates
  • Language – List of languages for Android UI (Check walk-through video below for a complete list).

What you won’t find here are options to set audio output like PCM, or HDMI / SPDIF pass-through, and it won’t be in “More Setting” either, and instead, you need to go to the list of app, and access another Settings app (Icon with white background) to have more options, many of which are already accessible from the list above, and go to Device->Sounds->Digital Sounds… I’m not really impressed the way Settings are handled in that box, as you have 3 different places to adjust settings, a complete mess!

OTA firmware update is working, but with some caveats. I had played around one hour with the box, and installed all apps required for testing and taken a few screenshots, when the firmware update pop-up appeared. I clicked “Cancel” as I wanted to complete the current task. But soon the Upgrade app crashed, restarted and asked me again, after a few loop of this, I finally gave up and clicked on “OK” to carry on with the firmware update. It went well, except the procedure wiped out all installed app and my screenshots, meaning I had to restart all over again… I’d expect a firmware update made with Windows tools to wipe out my data, but not an OTA update…

About_Mygica_ATV1900ACOne good thing is that they did not separate app and data partitions (unless that explains why I lost all my data), as a single 12GB partition is used for both, so you won’t quickly fill up the app partition present – usually 2GB large – in some other boxes. WiFi and Ethernet worked OK (more on that later), but there’s no built-in Bluetooth, although there’s an option for it in the Android Lollipop settings. I had no problem selecting HDMI output up to 4K30.

The “About device” section shows the model number is “Mygica ATV1900AC”, and the system runs Android 5.0.2 on top of Linux 3.10.33. Despite having just update the firmware (OTA), the build date is on 17th of July 2015. Root checker exports the firmware is rooted.

The remote control is quite interesting. At first, when I saw the RF dongle, I assumed it was an air mouse, but it can only control the pointer with the arrow keys. The range  is however excellent, and standing in the corridor around 10 meters from the device, I could still control it.  It also supports Voice command and search, so you can start apps by just saying their name, e.g. Firefox, YouTube, K.O.D.I, and if the name if not recognized, it will just start a web search. You’ll need an Internet connection for voice recognition to work.  I have tested this feature in the review video below, where I also play 4K video samples in Kodi and 4K MoviePlayer, and go through the user interface and settings.

I haven’t tried Mygica store, as Google Play worked mostly OK. As usual on TV boxes, SMS and GPS app can’t be installed, but there was a long list of apps that should probably have installed, but did not including: all Bloomberg apps, AtHome Camera, some banking apps, Wiwo, Vidonn Smartband, Plants vs Zombies 2, Torque Lite, PPTV streaming, a Thai dictionary, Antutu Video Tester (OK first time, but not after firmware update) and a few more… The Amazon app installed just fine, and I could download Riptide GP2 racing game with it.

ATV1900AC can’t be powered off, and the only option is go to into standby. It worked with both the provided remote control, and MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse.  Other Amlogic S812 TV boxes ran pretty cool, and the latest Mygica box is no exception, as the maximum temperature was 53°C and 49°C on the top and bottom of the enclosure after running Antutu 5.7, and  52°C & 46°C after playing Riptide GP2 for about 15 minutes.

I could a few hiccups as I started using the device,  including some network connection problems (WiFi and Ethernet), and I found the settings a pain to navigate because options are all over the place, but the firmware is usually quite OK, and Android 5.0 really makes a difference when launching apps, especially games, as the load much faster than to ART runtine replacing Dalvik found in earlier versions.

Video Playback with Kodi

The box ships with Kodi 14.2 “Mygica Edition”, so Geniatech must have made changed to the official Kodi 14.2 release, I’m just not sure what they are. Anyway, I used the provided version, and played video samples and movies stored on SAMBA shares over Ethernet. Initial connections to SAMBA shares in Kodi and ES File Explorer worked fine, but “connection time out” messages started to show up in Kodi a little later (after testing was complete), while ES File Explorer had no such problem.

Video samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, 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 could be smoother (Kodi live log also reports ~21fps instead of the native 25 fps)
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Software decode @ ~20 fps instead of 25 fps
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p OK. 1080p could be a little smoother (18 fps instead of 25 fps)
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – 360p: OK; 720p: OK most of the time, except in some scenes where the frame rate drops.. 1080p:  plays at ~15fps with audio/video sync issues.
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

Moving on to some higher bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – audio only
  • 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) – 15 fps instead of 29.970 fps
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK (played from network)

The next step was to test some videos samples with HD audio tracks using PCM (down-sampling), HDMI pass-through with Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver. I skipped S/PDIF pass-through because as we’ll see audio pass-through is not working, even after enabling AC3 and DTS in Kodi, as well as HDMI audio output in the hard to find part of the system settings.

Video PCM Output
Kodi
PCM Output
“Video Player” app
HDMI Pass-through
Kodi
S/PDIF Pass-through
Kodi
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK, but video not smooth No audio PCM 2.0 (and Noise) Skipped test
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0 (and Noise) Skipped test
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0 Audio Formats Not Supported over S/PDIF
TrueHD 5.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0
TrueHD 7.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0
DTS HD Master OK No audio PCM 2.0 (and Noise)
DTS HD High Resolution OK No audio PCM 2.0 (and Noise)

Beside pass-through not working, any video with Dolby or DTS sound tracks will have to be played in Kodi, as other the system does not support them.

Sintel-Bluray.iso and amay.iso (Ambra – Prism of Life) Blu-ray ISO videos played fine,  as did GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg my two 1080i MPEG2 video samples.

That’s the best Hi10p video decoding I’ve seen so far as the video plays all the way and with less artifacts than usual, but unfortunately the videos are still not watchable:

  • [Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts
  • [1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts.

H.264 4K videos can play, but unfortunately H.265 4K videos won’t play smoothly in Kodi 14.2, as it only supports software decode even after customization by Geniatech:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
  • 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) – Plays @ 3 to 4 fps.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at 3 to 4 fps using software decode as all eight cores are close to 100% CPU usage.
  • 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 – ~40 fps, with audio cuts, and audio/video issues (excepted, as it’s not supported by the hardware…)

I’ve tried the H.265 videos @ 30 fps or less again in 4K MoviePlayer and they could also play smoothly, except 10-bit HEVC video, and BT2020. The ones with AC3 audio did not have audio.

The TV I use for reviews, namely LG 42UB820T, does not support 3D, but I can still try to play stereoscopic 3D videos to find out if the device under test can decode them:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only, black screen.
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Finally, I’ve played movies and videos from my library, including FLV, AVI, MKV VOB/IFO, and MP4 videos, and they could all play fine, except I’ve noticed one or two could not be zoomed / stretched. The option was there, but it simply did not work.

The stability test with a complete 1080p MKV movie ran without interruption, but scenes with panning did not seem as smooth as usual, and Kodi log window reported around 7,000 skipped frame.

Since Antutu Video Tester could not be installed from Google Play, I sideloaded version 2.2, and upgraded to version 3.0, before running the test. Last week, Beelink i68 got 532 points, but Mygica ATV1900AC got a much higher score at 1,059 points.

Antutu Video Tester 3.0 results can be found below, and somehow, AC3 audio is working according to the test results… Go figure.

Mygica_ATV1900AC_Antutu_Video_Tester_3.0

Click to Enlarge

Video samples can be downloaded from “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Wi-Fi and Ethernet Network Performance

In order to test network performance, a 278 MB file is transfered using ES File Explorer between a SAMBA share and the flash. The test is repeated three times, and the average is used. WiFi performance on Mygica ATV1900AC is outstanding, it’s the best device in terms of performance I used both with 802.11 b/g/n (300 Mbps) and 802.11ac (867 Mbps) with transfer averaging respectively 5.08 MB/s and 7.45 MB/s.

Mygica_ATV1900AC_WiFI

Throughput in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

However, there’s potentially a stability issues, as one of the transfer stalled and stopped (802.11n 2.4GHz). I could not easily reproduce the issue, and I could hear a commercial plane fly over when it occurred (Could it affect WiFi?). I also noticed a WiFi re-connection another time while shooting the video review embed above.

I also ran iperf “iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” command line to check the raw performance for

  • WiFi 802.11n (300 Mbps)
Client connecting to 192.168.0.109, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  136 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 53062 connected with 192.168.0.109 port 5001
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   555 MBytes  77.5 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.2 sec   230 MBytes  32.1 Mbits/sec
  • WiFi 802.11ac (867 Mbps)
Client connecting to 192.168.0.109, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 51591 connected with 192.168.0.109 port 5001
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   929 MBytes   130 Mbits/sec
[  5]  0.0-60.3 sec   229 MBytes  31.9 Mbits/sec

A 885 MB file transfer from SAMBA to flash and vice versa took just under one minute using Gigabit Ethernet, again ranking Mygica ATV1900AC at the top of the charts.

Throughput in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Throughput in MB/s

Contrary to transfers with WiFi or Fast Ethernet, transferring a file over Gigabit Ethernet is often bound by storage performance, and it’s the case for Mygica’s TV box, as running iperf shows Amlogic S812 Ethernet limitations as seen in other devices.

Mygica_ATV1900AC_Gigabit_Ethernet_Iperf

Throughput in Mbps

iperf output:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.110, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  170 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 45170 connected with 192.168.0.110 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec  2.38 GBytes   341 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.0 sec  2.61 GBytes   374 Mbits/sec

Since the fastest storage interface is USB 2.0 (480 Mbps max), this limitation is unlikely to matter in practise.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

There’s no Bluetooth capable chip in the device. However, there’s a Bluetooth option in Android settings, and I tried to connect a USB Bluetooth 4.0 dongle, but still failed to enabled it.  So Bluetooth is not supported, even with external hardware, at least with this firmware.

Storage

A FAT32 micro SD card could be access in read/write mode, and the NTFS and exFAT partitions in USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted, however while the partition are about 250GB large, the system only detected 10MB partitions with 10MB free, so reading files worked, but copying files to these partitions failed due to an incorrectly reported lack of space…

File System Read Write
NTFS OK No
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
exFAT OK No
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK

That means I could not run A1 SD Bench app to benchmark USB 2.0 performance, so I only tested the performance of the Toshiba eMMC flash. The results are quite good, but far from the theoretical 270 MB/s and 50MB/s read and write speeds, probably because Amlogic S812 does not support eMMC 5.0 HS400 mode.

Mygica_ATV1900AC_eMMC_Performance

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

USB Webcam

The Echo / Sound Testing Service works in Skype, and I could make a video call, but for some reasons, there was no input from the camera, and I could only see the caller video.

Google Hangouts worked fine with my USB webcam.

Gaming

I installed Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Racing, and Riptide GP2 to test gaming. The main difference compared by my previous versions was how fast the games would load, probably a combination of fast internal storage and ART runtime. Candy Crush Saga had no issue, Beach Buggy Racing was smooth using standard settings, but because a little less smooth with graphics settings maxed out.  Riptide GP2 was not quite as smooth as expected even with default settings, while I was quite happy with all the game on MINIX NEO X8-H Plus. I did the previous test 9 months ago, and as it’s a subjective test, I may have become an old grumpy man that is a little more demanding, or the processor may not run at its full potential…

Mygica ATV1900AC Benchmarks

Even though Amlogic S812 is a mature platform, it’s still interesting to run CPU-Z, and in this case we find out that the processor only runs up to 1608 MHz, while most other devices run it at its full speed (2.0 GHz).

Mygica_ATV1900AC_CPU-ZI doubled-check with Android terminal just in case…:

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_max_freq
1608000

And indeed the maximum frequency is set not too exceed ~1.6GHz. Other information looks good, and the board codename is stvm8.

Mygica_ATV1900AC_AntutuDespite the lower CPU frequency, Antutu 5.x score (34,137) is still higher than the one in MINIX NEO X8-H Plus box running Android 4.4 (31,204).  Somehow (for a metal test), it seems that Android 5.0 has better integer and floating-point performance than Android 4.4, as the scores are about the same despite the lower frequency, unless Antutu changed how their benchmark behaves in their minor releases (5.7.1 vs 5.3). The runtime score is about twice as fast, and that one can easily be explained by the switch from Dalvik to ART, while 2D graphics score is a bit lower, and 3D graphics a bit higher.

Mygica_ATV1900AC_VellamoVellamo 3.x metal score in Mygica (884) is also higher than the one in the MINIX device (792), while multicore is lower (1,472 vs 1808).

Mygica_ATV1900AC_3DMark3DMark Ice Storm Extreme is slightly lower at 5,834 points vs 6,056 points. The Physics score is where the score difference was made, but both scores are pretty close.

Conclusion

There’s certainly an advantage in running Android Lollipop firmware over KitKat as app will noticeably load faster. Mygica ATV1900AC has also by far the fastest WiFi connection I’ve ever seen on TV boxes both using 2.4GHz 802.11n and 5GHz 802.11ac, and Ethernet performance is also pretty good. Video playback in Kodi also pretty good, but their “Mygica Edition” is still based on Kodi 14.2, and H.265 hardware decoding does not work. I also never managed to make audio pass-through work. The firmware is usually stable and responsive, but there are still a few bugs and annoyances to iron out.

PROS:

  • Android Lollipop firmware
  • Very good Ethernet and outstanding WiFi performance (although with a question mark regarding stability)
  • Fast internal storage
  • Video Output – 1080p 24/50/60 Hz, 4K @ 24/25/30Hz, etc…
  • Video Support – Good in Kodi 14.2 for most videos, and very high score in Antutu Video Tester 3.0
  • Hardware video decoding for H.265 4K up to 30Hz in “4K VideoPlayer”
  • RF remote control with long range and voice command and search
  • OTA firmware update (with caveats see below)
  • Two launchers including an Android TV like.

CONS:

  • Kodi 14.2 “Mygica Edition” based on Kodi 14.2 does not support H.265 hardware decoding. (Kodi 15 should won’t work either, see comment)
  • Audio issues:
    • HDMI audio pass-through does not work at all in Kodi
    • Dolby and DTS down-mixing not supported in 4K MoviePlayer and other players (except in Kodi, where it’s handled by software).
  • Incorrect partition size detected on USB hard drive leading to read-only partitions
  • OTA firmware download program may crash, firmware update will wipe out apps and data
  • Lack of power off (only standby supported)
  • User-friendliness of parts of the UI could be improved – Settings are all over the place (in three different locations), the status bar cannot be displayed.
  • Bluetooth not supported (No built-in hardware, and USB Bluetooth dongle not recognized)

Mygica ATV1900AC can be ordered in quantities directly from Mygica/Geniatech, and consumers can purchase the Lollipop box on eBay for $179.99 including shipping, and soon on Mygica Aliexpress store. on Mygica Aliexpress store for $169 including shipping.

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