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Unboxing of Zero Devices Z5C Thinko TV Stick based on Rockchip RK3288 Processor

November 22nd, 2014 2 comments

It’s been a long long while since I’ve received an Android HDMI TV Stick, probably because many people prefer TV boxes, and the new ARM processors usually dissipate a lot of heat so thermal management may be an issue with small form factors. But I’ll finally get the opportunity to test a powerful HDMI dongle based on Rockchip RK3288 quad core processor, as Zero Devices sent me their Z5C Thinko TV stick. I’ll start by listing the specifications, and taking some pictures of the device and the board, because doing a full review hopefully sometimes next week.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko Specifications

The stick has specifications similar to full sized Android media player minus ports like Ethernet and S/PDIF:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex A12/A17 @ 1.8 GHz + ARM Mali-T764 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0, and OpenCL 1.1
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz) with external Wi-Fi antenna, and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6330)
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 output (male) up to 4k2k @ 60 fps
  • Video Codecs – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4,H.263, H.264, AVS, VC-1, RV, VP6/VP8, Sorenson Spark, MVC
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 2x micro USB ports (1x OTG, 1x for power)
  • Misc – Flash button for firmware update
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 102 x 38.4 x 10 mm excluding antenna
  • Weight – About 30 grams

The device runs Android 4.4.2.

Z5C Thinko Unboxing Pictures and Video

I received the device by DHL in a ZERO Devices “MINI PC STICK” branded package.
Zero_Devices_Z5C_Thinko_Package

The TV stick comes with a small pouch bag, a 5V/2A power supply with its micro USB to USB cable, a short HDMI cable, and a USB OTG adapter.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

There should also be an authenticity card with an unique serial number to access the VIP zone on Zero Devices for firmware download and documentation, and a user’s manual in English, but these were not included with my sample.

Z5C Thinko Mini PC (Click to Enlarge)

Z5C Thinko Mini PC (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve placed the dongle on top of a typical Android media player (MINIX NEO X6) for size comparison. The stick features three USB ports: one micro USB port for power only, one micro USB OTG port and one full size USB 2.0 host port, as well as an HDMI 2.0 male connector, a micro SD slot, an external antenna, and a “flash” button used for firmware updates.

You can also watch Zero Devices Z5C Thinko unboxing video if you please.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko Board Pictures

There aren’t any screws with this type of device, and you normally just need to find a small opening around the connectors, and unclip the two plastic parts with a think objects such as a flat-headed precision screwdriver. I started with the micro USB port (power), and finished with the USB port, and I did not even break any clips in the process!

CX-929 Board found Z5C Thinko (Click to Enlarge)

CX-929 Board found Z5C Thinko (Click to Enlarge)

There’s a wide but thin heatsink on top of the processor and RAM chips. I did not really tried to remove it. The Wi-Fi module is AP6330 as advertised which mean dual band Wi-Fi (2.4/5.0 GHz) and Bluetooth 4.0. The board name is CX-929_V1.2 manufactured (or designed) on 2014-09-27. I believe the CX-xyz devices are made by Sunchip.

Botton of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

Botton of the Board (Click to Enlarge)

On the back of the board, we’ll find a 8GB SAMSUNG KLM8G1WEMB-B031 eMMC flash that in theory supports 100 MB/s read speed, and 6MB/s write speed, as well as Active Semi 8864QM power management IC.

Zero Devices Z5C Thinko can be purchased for $94.99 on Asiapads including shipping. The company also offer a USB + Ethernet Hub for $5 extra. I’ll do a full review next week.

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ODROID-XU3 Lite Development Board – Android Setup and Benchmarks

November 21st, 2014 14 comments

It’s been nearly ten days since I make ODROID-XU3 Lite unboxing, and my plans to first test Linux on the board were thwarted due a problem with HDMI. Luckily, after several attempts I managed to boot the board with Android. So today, I’ll show how to install or update Android on the board, and run a few benchmarks. But since there’s always a silver lining, I’ll start buy writing a bit about the HDMI issue, as I learned a few things on the way.

HDMI Output Tribulations

ODROID-XU3 Lite looks like a nice and powerful kit, and it may be one of the most cost effective ARM board on the market since it comes to performance to price ratio, so I was excited to try it, but as you know if you’ve read my unboxing post I did not work quite as planned, as all I got was a black screen on my HDMI TV.

Here are some of the steps I followed to try to find out the cause or a workaround.

I usually connect the HDMI cable to an HDMI switcher as it’s more convenient to me. I got the connection light on the switcher but no image. Some devices won’t work with the switcher, so I decided to connect it directly to my Panasonic television instead, trying HDMI1 (DVI) and HDMI2 ports, but the result remained the same. I also connected the UART Debug board I got with ODROID-X board, and I could only see three lines related to HDMI in the log:

root@odroid:~# dmesg | grep -i hdmi                                             
[    0.417692] [c6] hdmi-en: no parameters                                      
[    2.753215] [c7] exynos-drm exynos-drm: bound 14530000.hdmi (ops hdmi_component_ops)                                                                         
[    4.787478] [c6] hdmi-en: disabling

So I tried with a Philips monitor, a slowly dying Samsung TV. Same results. So I decided to try with another micro HDMI cable, which I got with the older ODROID-X board. Still no luck. I was also instructed to try this Ubuntu image on a fast micro SD card, and after changing the boot switch position, the board booted from the micro SD “successfully”, but I still had a black screen. I also play around with boot.ini in the micro SD card to force various HDMI modes, but It did not work either.

Hardkernel decided to send me another ODROID-XU3 Lite board, and a few days later I tried again, and unfortunately I got the same issue. The company told me they sold several thousand ODROID-XU3 boards, and they did not get the same report before, so we even considered shipping my TV to Hardkernel office in South Korea. But, since I had troubles with three monitors/TVs, I thought it must have been another issue, and I wanted to try a few other things.

In the meantime, one reader informed me he had a similar issue with his ODROID board, the reason being the ground was not connected in the HDMI cable,and he fixed it by connecting one of the USB host port of the board to his TV. So I tried with both my ODROID-XU3 Lite board, but the problem persistently remained. Out of desperation I also tried a different power supply (SMPS), but it did not work.

Finally, I flashed Android 4.4.4 instead to the eMMC module, and using the “new” micro HDMI cable I got the same black screen, but switching to the “old” ODROID-X micro HDMI cable, I could finally get video output at 720p60, and see the Android home screen. Yeah!!! So finally, it looked like an HDMI cable issue, but there may also be a software issue, as Android works, but Ubuntu does not work (yet). It’s something I’ll have to check again.

I talked with one of Hardkernel’s developer on #odroid IRC channel, and they told me some HDMI cables lack a ground connection, and/or lines are mixed. They’ll check with their supplier(s) to make sure the problem does not occur again. There’s actually an interesting thread on odroid forum that explains various issues related to HDMI (cables).

Installing and Setting Up Android on ODROID-XU3 (Lite) Board

There are three images to install Android 4.4.4 Alpha on ODROID-XU3 (Lite), which can currently be downloaded @ http://dn.odroid.com/5422/ODROID-XU3/Android/:

  • android-4.4.4-alpha-1.3-emmc_installer-odroidxu3-20141105.img.zip – Zipped image to install Android from eMMC to eMMC
  • android-4.4.4-alpha-1.3-sd2emmc_installer-odroidxu3-20141105.img.zip – Zipped image to install Android from micro SD card to eMMC
  • android-4.4.4-alpha-1.3-sd_installer-odroidxu3-20141105.img.zip – Zipped image to install Android from micro SD card to micro SD card.

Since I have an eMMC pre-installed with Linux, and the microSD eMMC reader, eMMC I used the first image. I connected the eMMC reader to my PC using my USB card reader’s micro SD slot, and unzipped the image, and flashed it as follows:

unzip android-4.4.4-alpha-1.3-emmc_installer-odroidxu3-20141105.img.zip
dd if=android-4.4.4-alpha-1.3-emmc_installer-odroidxu3-20141105.img | pv | sudo of=/dev/sdX bs=1M
sync

where X is the letter for the eMMC drive. Check with lsblk command before you run dd, to make sure of the letter, or you may wipe out the data on your hard drive. Some system with built-in micro SD slot may show as /dev/mmcblk01 instead of /dev/sdX. If you want to boot from micro SD card, the procedure is the same, but use the “sd_installer” image instead. You can also do that in Windows using Win32DiskImager.

Now connect the eMMC to the board, and other item you may need. I’ve connected most ports with a USB 3.0 hard drive, a USB 2.0 webcam to the USB 3.0 OTG port via the blue adapter, HDMI to my TV, Ethernet, two USB RF dongle, a Bluetooth dongle, a USB flash drive, and the serial debug board to access the console.

ODROID-XU3_Lite_USB3_HarddriveFinally I connected the 5V/4A power supply to boot the board. In the console, it takes about 12 seconds to boot to the command line, but I had to wait a total of 1 minute 20 seconds for Android user interface to be displayed on my TV screen. I noticed in the console that between 12 and 65 seconds I did not get any message, and the first subsequent message was related to USB audio… My USB webcam comes with a built-in microphone, so I disconnected it, and boot time dropped to a more normal 29 seconds.

Android Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

Android Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

The default resolution is 1280×720, and my TV output resolution was also set to 720p60. So I went to Android Settings->Display, and… wait… nothing there to change the video output. You actually have to go to the list of apps.

odroid-utlityand start ODROID Utility app.

ODROID_Utility

There should can change the (framebuffer) resolution to 1280×800 (for ODROID-VU only?), 1280×720, or 1920×1080, and the HDMI phy, i.e. the actual video output mode. to 720p 50/60, 800p/59, 1080i 50/60, or 1080p 30/50/60. You can also select the orientation (portrait / landscape) which is very useful for digital signage applications. So I selected 1920×1080, and 1080p60, clicked on Save, and Apply and Reboot. The framebuffer resolution was properly changed, but for some unknown reasons, my TV will always fall back to 720p60. The Android image is currently in Alpha stage, so it still have a few bugs that will be fixed by Hardkernel and/or the community.

You may have noticed Google Play Store is not part of the pre-installed apps. That’s because in theory you need to have a certified device to install Google Mobile Services, and contrary to most Chinese vendors, Hardkernel rightly followed Google’s T&C. However, apparently nothing legally prevents the user from installing GMS by himself/herself. You could do so by downloading Gapps from goo.im, but there’s also GAppsInstaller_kitkat.apk that will easily and automatically do that for you. For full details read universal 1 click gapps installer for ODROID post.

ODROID-XU3_Apps_GappsAfter installation, we’ve got the Play Store, Hangout, Voice Search, Google, and so on.

So that’s all for the setup. Next time Hardkernel announces a new Android firmware update on their forums, you should not need to use an installer image, instead you can simply start ODROID Update app, which will automatically download and update the firmware.

ODROID_Updater

ODROID-XU3 Lite System, Storage, and Network Benchmarks

Before running actual benchmarks, I’ve started CPU-Z. The first surprised that is it can detect big.LITTLE configuration with four Cortex A7 cores @ 1.6 GHz, and four Cortex A15 cores @ 2.2 GHz. ODROID-XU3 Lite is supposed to have Exynos 5422 processor but clocked at a lower frequency (1.8 GHz) compared to ODROID-XU3 board (2.2 GHz). So maybe my processor is overclocked, or I got lucky. The GPU is also detected correcly as being an ARM Mali-T628. Internal storage is only shown to be 1.94 GB out of the 16GB eMMC, because there are two partitions with the other one having a 11GB+ capacity. ODROID-XU3_Lite_CPU-ZSo let’s get to the actual benchmark results, starting with Antutu 5.3.

Antutu 5.2 Score (Click to Enlarge)

Antutu 5.2 Score (Click to Enlarge)

As expected ODROID-XU3 Lite is a real beast with 45,815 points in Antutu, being one of the most powerful ARM Android platform currently available. It’s the highest verified score I’ve ever got on all the devices I tested. The only higher score was achieved by Tronsmart Draco AW80 mini PC with Allwinner A80 SoC (49,657 points), but it’s an unverified score.

Quadrant Score (Click to Enlarge)

Quadrant Score (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-XU3 Lite got 9,256 points in Quadrant way ahead of last generation devices. It looks like Quadrant us not really up-to date so that’s probably the last time I use this benchmark.
ODROID-XU3_Lite_VellamoVellamo 3.1 scores are also very good. Metal score is 1,519 against 1,138 points for Allwinner A80 and 1,457 points for Rockchip RK3288, Multicore score is 1,449 against 1,352 points for Allwinner A80, and 2,003 points for RK3288, and the ODROID-XU3 Lite gets 2,868 points in the browser score against 2,109 points for Allwinner A80, and 2,549 points for RK3288. It does not make much sense for the quad core Cortex A12/A17 RK3288 to outperform the octa core Cortex A15 + A7 processor in the multi-core benchmark, and I’m not sure why that is. You can get comparison with other platform with the screenshots for Metal, Multicore, and Browser tests.

3Dmarks Ice Storm Unlimited (Click to Enlarge)

3Dmarks Ice Storm Unlimited (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve also tried to run 3DMarks Ice Storm Extreme to compare with A80 and RK3288, but unfortunately none of my three attempts could complete, either because of a kernel panic, or a problem with Mali driver (See log). So I switched to Ice Storm Unlimited test which runs at 720p, and could complete with a score of 15,184 points. That puts it close to flagship devices like  like the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S5, which score between 16,000 and 18,000 points.

Beside standard benchmarks, I’ve also tested storage and network performance.

I used A1 SD benchmark to test the eMMC module, my class 10 SD card, and USB 3.0 + NTFS performance. The app also made the system unstable with kernel panic ensuing, but after a few tries I could complete all benchmarks.

USB NTFS Transfer rate in MB/S

USB NTFS Transfer rate in MB/S

ODROID-XU3 Lite is clearly ahead of the competition with its USB 3.0 port when it comes to NTFS read speed which reaches 47.90 MB/s. and that’s the only device that supports USB 3.0 type of performance, although not quite as good as as on my PC (100+ MB/s), but it was with another benchmark tool (Bonnie++) in Linux.

Transfer Rate in MB/s

Transfer Rate in MB/s

I’ve included both eMMC and a class 10 micro SD card used with ODROID-XU3 Lite in the chart above (ODROID results on right side), and for some reasons the eMMC 5.0 module only got 47.02MB/s read speed, which is very good but still far from the 180+MB/s advertised with another benchmark. Write speed (32.42 MB/s) however is much faster than any other platforms tested so far. The class 10 micro SD used as comparison reads at 34.26 MB/s and writes at 10.81 MB/s which is not too bad compared to most other solutions.

ODROID-XU3 is capable of great I/O performance as we’ve seen above, so it would be nice if we had a fast network interface to leverage fast I/Os. Hardfkernel does provide a USB 3.0 to Gigabit dongle, but it was not included in my kit, so I’m limited to the 10/100Mbit interface which is shown to provide a good transfer rate with iperf (Command line: iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d).

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in Mbps

iperf log:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.106, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  212 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 54914 connected with 192.168.0.106 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   656 MBytes  91.7 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.0 sec   631 MBytes  88.2 Mbits/sec

So overall, ODROID-XU3 Lite has outstanding performance in almost all aspects, but Android 4.4.4, which is still considered Alpha, required some more work to make it stable. There’s also an Android 4.4.2 image which may be more stable (TBC).

Android SDK for ODROID-XU3 (Lite)

I haven’t tried the SDK this time, but with each firmware release, Hardkernel provides a BSP.

To get and build the latest source code, you simply need to type these four commands, provided you’ll already setup your build machine for Android development:

repo init -u https://github.com/hardkernel/android.git -b 5422_4.4.4_master
repo sync
repo start 5422_4.4.4_master --all
./build.sh odroidxu3

If you want the code for a specific release, for example November 5 release (Android 4.4.4 Alpha 1.3), the repo init command line would become:

repo init -u https://github.com/hardkernel/android.git -b 5422_4.4.4_master -m manifeset-5422_4.4.4_v1.3

With the other three commands remaining the same.

That’s all for today, and Android. The next step will be to check out Ubuntu / Linux. If you are interested in this board, you can purchase it directly from Hardkernel, or through distributors like Ameridroid (USA) or Pollin Electronics (Germany).

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CubieTruck Metal Case Unboxing and Disassembly

November 19th, 2014 15 comments

CubieTruck Metal Case is a kit comprised of CubieTruck (aka CubieBoard 3), a 128GB SSD, a 5,300 mAh battery, a power adapter, and various cables. In case you are not familiar with CubieTruck, it’s a development board by CubieTech, based on Allwinner A20 dual core ARM Cortex A7 processor with 2GB RAM, 8GB NAND flash, a SATA connector, HDMI & VGA outputs, Gigabit Ethernet, 2 USB host ports, and a mini USB OTG port. CubieTech decided to sent me a kit, as it was featured on CNX Software, and today, I’ll show what’s exactly is inside the kit since the product description is not 100% clear. I’ve been told it’s pre-installed with Lubuntu, so in a separate post next week, I’ll try Linux, report on the SSD performance, and check the battery UPS function, and possibly life on a charge.

CubieTruck Metal Case Unboxing

I’ve received the kit in a cardboard box by Fedex. It’s mostly a blank box so I skipped the picture. Contrary to what I believed, the kit comes mostly pre-assembled.

CubieTruck Metal Case Kit (Click to Enlarge)

CubieTruck Metal Case Kit (Click to Enlarge)

CubieTruck board, the 128GB SSD, and the battery are already fitted into the metallic enclosure. Extra accessories include a Wi-Fi antenna, a mini USB to USB cable, an OTG adapter, a 5V/2.5A power supply with its corresponding USB cable, front and rear panels with ports’ description, and 3M stickers to tape then against the case.
Metal_Plate_with_Sticker
So you just need to peel the 3M sticker, tape it on the back of the metallic plate, and remove the bits hiding the connector by pushing with a thin object. I simply used my cutter. Then remove the second layer, and stick it on the front or rear panel. If you plan to open the box first, to access the headers, you should delay this step since you’ll have to take out the plates to open the device.

Front Metal Plate with Ports Description Installed (Click to Enlarge)

Front Metal Plate with Ports Description Installed (Click to Enlarge)

So on the front you’ve got the IR receiver, the power button, four LEDs (for volume?), a micro SD card slot, an headphone jack, a mini USB OTG port, and two USB 2.0 host ports.

CubieTruck_Metal_Case_Kit_Rear_PanelThe VGA port, optical S/PDIF, HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet port, power barrel, and Wi-FI antenna connector can be found on the rear panel.

CubieTruck_Metal_Case_ButtonsThere are also two button on the side of the device for Reset (small), and FEL mode (big) that allows you to update the firmware.

CubieTruck Metal Case Kit Internals

I’ve also disassembled the kit to see what’s inside. You have to remove 10 screws in total on the front and rear panels to be able to take out the board.

Metal Case for CubieTruck (Click to Enlarge)

Metal Case for CubieTruck (Click to Enlarge)

The Board/SSD/Battery then slide easily out of the metallic enclosure.

CubieTruck Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

CubieTruck Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

Untighten four more screws to remove the board and reveal the SSD.

128GB Chiang Jiu SDD (Click toEnlarge)

128GB Chiang Jiu SDD (Click to Enlarge)

Contrary to the KingSpec C3000.6-M128 SSD found in the installation instructions, I got a 128GB CHUANG JIU SSD. There’s no model number, just a serial number. I could not find this SSD anywhere on the net, albeit Chuang Jiu S300-J8-128GB appears to have similar specs (128GB / MLC), but it does not look the same at all. Anyway that means the brand of SSD found in the kit may vary. The SSD also makes some noise when I move it around, which I find a little odd and worrying.

Back of 5,300 mAh Battery

Back of 5,300 mAh Battery

If I remove three more screws use to attach the SSD to the enclosure, I can see the battery, but the top side is pure black. Some markings are located on the bottom of the battery bu nothing indicates capacity.

You can also watch the video below where I unbox the kit, and disassemble it live.

Availability and Price

CubieTruck Metal Case kit can be purchased for $169 on Seeedstudio (In Stock next week, e.g. Nov 24), or 149 Euros exc. VAT on EmbeddedComputer.nl. I found the price very good, but just to make sure, I’ve decided to check the price it would cost to get a similar kit by buying individual components:

The total would be $216.32 + some shipping, and if you take out CubieBoard3 from the kit, it would be $127.37 + possibly some shipping. So with this kit, you save about $50 compared to doing it on your own,and this confirms it’s good value provided you need a rugged metal enclosure, a battery, and a SSD for storage.

Next step is to boot it up, check current support in Linux including 2D/3D acceleration, video playback, flash support, and SSD performance, as well as battery behaviour and life.

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MINIX NEO X6 Media Hub Review

November 18th, 2014 5 comments

Last week-end, I took a few pictures of MINIX NEO X6 media hub, and had a look at the company’s firmware and forum support which indeed seems to be good. Today, I’ve completed the full review of MINIX NEO X6, and I will compare it to two of its lower priced competitors: MXQ S85 and EM6Q-MXQ.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

The IR remote control works fine, including continuous up ad down pressing, but I switched to using Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse for convenience. I’ve connected an Ethernet cable, an HDMI cable, a micro SD card, a USB hard drive, and a USB hub with two RF dongles for my air mouse and gamepad, a USB flash drive, and a UVC webcam. I’ve connected the power, pressed the power button on the side of the box, but nothing happened at first… You have to press the button one second or more to start the box, then the blue LED turns off, a MINIX logo show ups, a few seconds later a short MINIX animation, and the first screen greets you asking to choose between “Launcher” and “MINIX METRO”, respectively the default Android home screen, or MINIX customized user interface. The boot takes about 1 minutes and 30 seconds. By comparison MXQ S85 takes a little over 40 seconds, and EM6Q-MXQ about 1m 50s.

MINIX Metro Interface (Click for Original)

MINIX Metro Interface (Click for Original)

The status bar is hidden by default, and I simply pulled it up with the mouse pointer to take a screenshot. But before carrying on with the review, I noticed the company released Firmware 002 for MINIX NEO X6, so I decided to check the Update app in Android (on Monday), but the new firmware was not on the update server.  I even asked if they had a schedule to push the OTA update, but I did not receive an answer in time for the review. So instead, I used the standard firmware update method which involves USB Burning Tool for Windows, and pressing the recovery button. I was a pain, I did it in VirtualBox, but after one error, it finally successfully updated the firmware.

Back to the review. For some reasons, my TV resolution was automatically detected to be at 720p60, so i changed the settings to 1080p60 manually. I’ve noticed that switching to 720p still keep the user interface to 1920×1080 resolution, so there’s no performance gain doing so.

The Settingd menu is based on the same Metro-style interface found in most Amlogic boxes, but with MINIX green and grey skin with four sub-sections: Network, Display, Advanced and Other. I’ve highlighted the differences with MXQ-S85 in bold, and crossed the deleted options.

  • Network – Enable and configure Wi-Fi or Ethernet
  • Display:
    • Automatic or manual HDMI resolution: 480p/i @ 60 Hz, 576p/i @ 50 Hz, 720p @ 50/60 Hz, 1080i @ 50/60 Hz, or 1080p @ 24/50/60 Hz
    • CVBS Mode Setting: 480 CVBS or 576 CVBS (if Composite output selected on TV).
    • Hide or Show status bar
    • Display Position
    • Screen Save (Never, 4, 8 or 12 minutes)
  • Advanced:
    • Miracast
    • Remote Control
    • Google TV Remote
    • CEC Control
    • Location for weather (Chinese cities only)
    • Screen Orientation settings
    • Digital Audio Output (Auto, PCM, S/PDIF pass-through, or HDMI pass-through)
    • No Output to USB Audio
  • Other – System Update: Local file or OTA (connects to server OK), Backup, and “More Settings” for standard Android Settings.

CVBS and S/PDIF options have been removed since those two ports are not available in MINIX NEO X6, and they rightly removed the “Location for weather” because the services only works for Chinese cities. “No Output to USB Audio” is enabled by default, and it’s probably there to avoid audio capable air mouse, such as Mele F10 Pro, to takeover HDMI audio output automatically.

I’ve made a video to show MINIX NEO X6 user interface, system settings, as well as H.265 video playback and automatic refresh rate switching which both work in XBMC 13.3.3 MINIX Edition.

About_MINIX_NEO_X6MXQ-S85 comes with an 8GB eMMC flash with a single 5.32GB partition, with a little under 4GB free by the end of my review. The model number is reported as being “NEO-X86″ in “About MediaBox” section, and the system runs Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.33. The firmware is not rooted, and I have not rooted it, but since a USB cable is provided for the OTG port, and the firmware upgrade procedure worked, it should be able to root the device.

I had no problem installing apps with Google Play Store including the something problematic Vidonn Smartband app, a paid app, and messenger apps (Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp) which would not install in MXQ S85 TV Box. I’ve also installed Amazon AppStore, in order to test Riptide GP2.

MXQ S85 could not be powered off cleanly, but MINIX NEO X6 has no such problem. The power button on the side of the box is used to power it on (need to press 1 second or more), and the remote control or the soft power button in the status bar are used to pop-up a menu to let your “Sleep”, “Restart”, or “Power Off”. The only downside is that you can turn on the media player with the remote control, and you have to get up to press the power button on the device. It must be the coolest device I ever tested (no pun intended), the maximum temperature measured after Antutu 5.2 was 37°C and 45°C respectively on the top and bottom of the box.  After playing Riptide GP2 for nearly 30 minutes, the maximum temperature on top and bottom reached 40°C and 46°C.

MINIX NEO X6 firmware is rock solid, as during my testing I did not experience any noticeable slowdown, crash, or freeze. One game did fail to load once, but at the second attempt it worked just fine. For some reasons, I also had problems to connect the SAMBA shared in XBMC at first, but finally I could connect. I never had the message “app not responding” pops up like in MXQ S85 and EM6Q-MXQ.

Video Playback

Firmware 002 comes with XBMC 13.3 MINIX Edition pre-installed, but I saw they have XBMC 13.3.3 Beta MINIX Edition recently released with automatic refresh rate switching, something I only heard was possible in Linux so far (with ARM hardware), and better support for .ts files. So I installed it to give it a try. The 1080p XBMC user interface is rendered at about 30 fps with this hardware. Normally, I’d play video from a SAMBA share in Ubuntu 14.04, but for some reasons I got the message “Connection Refused”, albeit I got it working just fine with ES File Explorer. So most of the video test were made from a USB hard drive.

I started with videos from samplemedia.linaro.org, plus some H.265/HEVC videos (Elecard), 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) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK but not that smooth (S/W decode)
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p OK, 1080p plays in slow motion all the time, and audio is cut.
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – OK, but it’s not possible to seek in the file.
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

I also successfully tested automatic refresh rate switching with the HEVC / 1080p video @ 24 fps, where my TV output 1080p24 automatically, and reverts to 1080p60 after I interrupt video playback.

I also played 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) – OK, but could be smoother, and XBMC reports skipped and dropped frames regularly.
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK (Played from USB hard drive)

Next are some videos with high definition audio codec:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / 7.1 – OK, but I got some noticeable skipped/dropped frame in the 7.1 video.
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
  • DTS-MA – OK
  • DTS-HR – Audio is OK, I got some noticeable skipped/dropped frame in the video.

Sintel-Bluray.iso played OK in XBMC, so Blu–Ray ISO files are supported.

As with other Amlogic S805 based Android TV boxes, AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB/IFO, and MP4 videos could all play fine, without A/V sync issues, or noticeable frame dropped. I also watched a complete 1080p video (1h50 / MKV / 3GB) to test stability, and no issue here either. So overall, video playback capabilities of NEO X6 are quite impressive.

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

A 278 MB file is transferred between a SAMBA share (Ubuntu 14.04) and the internal flash, and vice versa, to test the network performance, repeating the test three times with ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi transfer speed is very good @ 3.01 MB/s on average, about the same as MXQ-S85, but not not quite as fast as the outstanding Wi-Fi performance of EM6Q-MXQ media player.

Throughput in MB/s

Throughput in MB/s

Ethernet worked fine at 100 Mbps connected to my Gigabit Ethernet switch, with performance a little better than other Amlogic S805 players.

MINIX_NEO_X6_SAMBA_Flash_Copy

Throughput in MB/s

I ran iPerf app using “iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” command line, to get a raw Ethernet performance number, and it confirms NEO X6 is still the best in its category (S805 boxes have green dots):

MINIX_NEO_X6_iPerf

Throughput in Mbps

iperf output:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.105, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  136 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 48372 connected with 192.168.0.105 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   625 MBytes  87.4 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-60.1 sec   564 MBytes  78.7 Mbits/sec

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Bluetooth file transfer works as expected. MINIX NEO X6 is advertized as “m201″, and I did not experience any issues while transferring pictures from my Android phone to the box.

I skipped Sixaxis Compatibility Checker test, as the device is not rooted, and I did not try to root it.

I used Vidonn X5 fitness band to test Bluetooth Smart (BLE), but the app could locate the smartband.

Storage

USB flash drive and a micro SD card formatted with FAT21 could be accessed by the system. NTFS and FAT32 partitions on my USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted and accessed, but the EXT-4 and BTRFS partitions were completely ignored as usual.

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

USB hard drive and internal flash performance were tested with A1 SD Bench app. The read speed was 18.87 MB/s, and the write speed 22.37MB/s for NTFS partition in my USB hard drive (mounted in /storage/external_storage/sdb1). Both results are not very good, but equivalent to what I got with MXQ S85, yet much slower than EM6Q-MXQ.

Transfer Rate in MB/s

Transfer Rate in MB/s

MINIX claims to have use an eMMC flash with NEO X6, and the benchmark results indeed shows its the fastest S805 device when its comes to internal storage read and write speeds, achieving respectively 23.23 MB/s (read) and 9.95 MB/s (write), which makes sure the apps load a bit faster. Boot should also be faster, but for some reasons it’s not the case, at least against MXQ S85.

Read / Write Speed in MB/s

Read / Write Speed in MB/s

USB Webcam

I could make an audio call with Skype using the “Echo Service”, and the webcam was recognized and working, but although I could record a video message, it would never show up, and I could not share it with my contact. Google Hangouts also recognizes the USB webcam, but the image freezes a lot, so it’s currently unusable.

Gaming

I played the three usual suspects: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2. Candy Crush Saga was responsive enough, and I crushed candy with my air mouse. I used Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad for Beach Buggy Blitz and Riptide GP2. Beach Buggy Blitz exited while loading the first time, but after that it worked. The quad core Mali-450 GPU is powerful enough to handle this game at a decent frame rate with the default settings (low graphics settings), even at 1080p. The system struggles a bit more with Riptide GP2, but changing the graphics quality to “Smoother Framerate” improve the user experience. I played several races waiting for the usual freeze in Riptide GP2 on Amlogic devices, but I decided to give after the 7th races (about 30 minutes), as the game was still running good. I’m not sure if Amlogic or MINIX did something to the firmware, or Vector Unit changed something in their game.

3D games are working and, NEO X6 appears to be more stable than other Amlogic devices, but if gaming is important to you, you should still consider a faster devices based on Rockchip RK3288 processor for instance.

MINIX NEO X6 CPU-Z & Antutu Benchmark

I failed to have a look at the board in MINIX NEO X6 unboxing post, but CPU-Z provides some interesting insights, which could explain some of the close results with MXQ S85 in several benchmarks above. The model number is reported as NEO X6 (m201), whereas MXQ-S85 was reported as S85 (m201). At first I thought the board could be virtually the same, except MINIX took out S/PDIF, and replaced a standard NAND flash, by an eMMC flash, but the connectors placement are quite different, so they must really be different, and I’m not sure what m201 means in this case.

MINIX_NEO_X6_CPU-Z

The media hub gets 1716,448 points in Antutu 5.2, which is a bit faster than the scores achieved by EM6Q-MXQ (16,647), and MXQ S85 (16,448), mostly because the CPU is clocked at 1,536 MHz instead of 1,488 MHz, and faster I/Os.

MINIX_NEO_X6_Antutu

Conclusion

There’s no doubt MINIX NEO X6 is a good device. Firmware is very stable, I did not experience slowdowns, video playback is excellent, with rare features like H.265 support in XBMC, and automatic refresh rate switching, Ethernet and Wi-Fi both offer good throughput, 3D games won’t hang like in most Amlogic boxes, and the main downside is probably the rather poor USB / NTFS read and write performance, which becomes an issue in case you have very high bit rate videos (120 Mbps+) stored on a USB hard drive.

PRO:

  • Firmware is stable, and relatively fast (considering the processor involved)
  • Excellent XBMC support including H.265/HEVC support, and automatic refresh rate switching.
  • Good Wi-Fi, and Ethernet performance
  • Video Output – Supports 1080p24/50/60 (but not 25/30 Hz)
  • 3D games play without issues. (Performance is not optimal however due to the GPU/CPU)
  • Good power handling, although the device can’t be turned on with the remote control.
  • OTA firmware update
  • Webcam works with Skype
  • Support forum and community

CONS:

  • USB / NTFS storage performance is disappointing.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy / Smart is not currently supported.
  • OTA firmware upgrade connects to server, but firmware files may not be uploaded to the update server in a timely manner. (TBC)
  • USB webcam did not work reliably in Google Hangouts.
  • The remote control can’t power on the device.
  • Lacks optical S/PDIF output
  • Relatively slow boot time (1m30s) despite eMMC flash

MINIX NEO X6 media hub is clearly a better device compared to the low cost MXQ S85 and EMQ6-MXQ media players, albeit its outperformed in some individuals tests. Overall, there are less issues, XBMC runs better, and if support and regular firmware updates, probably for a year based on experience with previous MINIX devices, are important to you, it could be worth paying double price to buy MINIX NEO X6 instead of MXQ S85. For $100, you could also buy one of the many Rockchip RK3288 media player, and if video playback is not your focus, web browsing and gaming will be much faster, but if your main usage will be to play 1080p videos, including with the latest HEVC/H.265, NEO X6 capabilities are greater than on any of the RK3288 TV boxes I’ve tested so far. Devices based on Amlogic S812 will also be an option, in theory providing both the same excellent video playback (up to 4K), and much faster CPU/GPU performance, but it’s something I’ll test soon.

Tinydeal provided the sample for this review, and if are interested in the device, you could buy  MINIX NEO X6 for $99.99 including shipping on Tinydeal.  It is quite popular. so it can be found on many online resellers including DealExtreme, Amazon, Pandawill, GeekBuying, etc…

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Unboxing of Eny M8S H.265 / 4K Android Media Player Powered by Amlogic S812 Processor

November 17th, 2014 11 comments

M8S and M8C Android TV boxes are updates of M8 / TM8 box, replacing Amlogic S802 quad core processor with Amlogic S812 processor which has about the same feature except it bring HEVC/H.265 hardware video decoding. M8S comes with 2GB RAM, whereas M8C features only 1GB RAM. Eny Technology decided to send me M8S for review. As usual, I’ll start with some pictures of the package, box, and board, and will do the full review in the next few days.

M8S Unboxing Pictures

The company send me the parcel via DHL which I promptly received with the product in the package below marked “4K OTT TV BOX” and a predominant “HEVC”.

4K_OTT_TV_BOX

The back of the package list the main specifications: quad core processor, octo core Mali 450 GPU, Android Kitkat. and so on. There’s also a sticker showing the MAC address, which starts with C4:4E:AC for those interested.

Eny M8S and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Eny M8S and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The box comes with an IR remote control (requiring 2x AAA batteries), an HDMI cable (1.2m), a 5V/2A power supply, and a user’s manual in English and Chinese.

m8sAs expected the box looks exactly the same as M8 / TM8 media player with the same front LED, and SD card slot on the side.

M8S_4K_OTT_TV_Box_PortsOn the rear panel, the exact same connectors and placement can be seen with two USB host ports, an HDMI output, an Ethernet RJ45 port, AV output jack, optical SPDIF (that still feels low quality because of the plastic), and a power barrel.

If you fancy watch an unboxing video instead, I’ve made one for you.

M8S Board Photos

We’ve already seen some pictures released by Eny Technology, but for the sake of it, and to have slightly sharper pictures, I’ve opened the box, and take a few more. To open the box it’s the same old same old method: remove sticky rubber pads on the bottom of the case, take out four screws, and pop the lid.

M8S_Board_and_Metal_Plate

M8S Board and Enclosure (Click to Enclosure)

The similarity with M8 are normally external, but components and connectors placement is exactly the same. Let’s remove four more screen to take the board out completely.

Bottom of M8S Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of M8S Board (Click to Enlarge)

The Wi-Fi module is AP6330 which supports dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. I’ve also removed the heatsink, and taken a closer picture of the top of the board.

M8&M9 Board (Click to Enlarge)

M8&M9 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Oh surprise, it’s exactly the same PCB as Rippl-TV, namely M9&M8_V1.0 (2014/07/07), which is based on M8 hardware, but an updated version of the board compared to my earlier sample. Four Samsung K4B4G1646D DDR3L SDRAM chips are used to 2Gb RAM, MT 29F64G08CBABA NAND flash provides 8GB internal storage (so no eMMC in that device), and Ricoh RT618M PMIC handles the power. The recovery button is located right behind the AV port as usual.  So basically, they’ve simply take the last M8 PCB, and replaces Amlogic S802 by Amlogic S812.

Eny Technology sent the M8S sample for review, and you could consider purchasing M8S or M8C from them if you are a resellers buying in quantities. Individuals can buy M8S for $87 and up on Aliexpress, and M8C (1GB RAM only) is starts at $75 including shipping.

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Unboxing of MINIX NEO X6 Android Media Hub

November 15th, 2014 No comments

MINIX is a Hong Kong company known for its NEO series Android media players, which are a bit more expensive that the company, but the hardware and especially support is supposed to be better, justifying the higher price. I had never tried it a MINIX device, but thanks to Tinydeal I now have MINIX NEO X6 powered by Amlogic S805 quad core processor, with 1GB RAM, and 8GB eMMC, so I’ll soon be able to find out if the praises for the company are justified, or simply hyped. Today, I’ll take some pictures of the devices, and try to open it to check out the hardware, before writing a full review in a few days, and compare it a much cheaper device like MXQ S85.

MINIX NEO X6 Unboxing Photos

The parcel was sent by Singapore Posts so it took a couple of weeks to be delivered.

MINIX_NEO_X6_package
The device is stored in a MINIX branded black, grey, and green pakage, listed the key features of the bo (H.265 1080p video playback, XBMC, Android 4.4…), and the full list of specifications.

Minix_NEO_X6_Accessories
The box comws with a simple IR remote control (2x AAA batteries required), an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a 5V/2 power adapter (US) with EU plug adapter, a product brochure, and a setup guide in English, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian.

MINIX NEO X6 (Click to Enlarge)

MINIX NEO X6 (Click to Enlarge)

MINIX NEO XEO features an external high gain Wi-Fi antenna. An IR receiver window and power LED can be found on the front panel, a power button, micro SD card slot, and two USB 2.0 host ports on one side of the enclosure, and the rear panel features a headphone jack, an HDMI video output, a 10/100M Ethernet (RJ45) port, and the power jack (5V). So compared to MXQ S85, MINIX NEO X6 adds an external antenna, but replace the AV port with a stereo audio port, and lacks optical S/PDIF output, and a micro USB OTG port.

Unboxing video:

MINIX NEO X6 Board Pictures

In order to open the box, you need to remove four rubber pads, and untighen four screws… Unfortunately, the screws are tightened extremely firmly, and I had to use a precision screwdriver together with a pliers, and managed to remove two screws, but destroyed the two others in the process. So I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to show pictures of the board for this device…

MINIX Support

To compensate for the lack of internal pictures, I’ve decided to have a look at MINIX support when it comes to firmware, software and support forums. MINIX NEO X6 is pretty new, so instead I’ve check the number of firmware updates they’ve made for their older MINIX NEO X5, but checking directly on their Download page.

MINIX_NEO_X5_FirmwareNEO X5 was released in March 2013, and the company provided a total of eight firmware updates for the device, over a period of one year, with the latest update being released on March 2014, so it’s pretty safe to assume there won’t be any more updates now, but they’ve provided updates for a year, which is better than most other devices on the market. Now, I’m expecting manufacturers to provide OTA updates, but that’s something we’ll find out in the review.

You’ll also notice XBMC MINIX Edition is in the list of downloads.  It’s an optimized version of XBMC, and the latest beta iteration XBMC 13.3.3 Beta MINIX Edition even supports automatic refresh rate switching, e.g. if a video is encoded @ 25 fps, video output will switch to 1080p25, at 60 fps to 1080p60 and so on, something that was only possible in Linux until recently. However, MINIX may not comply with the GPL license with this version, as I could not find any source code (TBC).

Finally, I had a look at MINIX NEO X6 support forum, and people reports issues like HDMI-CEC not working, H.265 not supported in XBMC, etc… which is sort of normal for new devices, but MINIX team and the community at large appear to be respond to most requests, and committed to fix users’ issues.

So based on this quick analysis, I find reasonable to pay a little more for this support, but to justify the $50 extra you have to pay for the MINIX NEO X6, the hardware and firmware needs to be better than the competition, we’ll see soon.

I’d like to thanks Tinydeal for providing the sample, and you could consider buying MINIX NEO X6 for $99.99 including shipping from them, if you want the device. Since MINIX NEO X6 is quite popular it can be found on many online resellers such as DealExtreme, Amazon, Pandawill, GeekBuying, and so on.

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Zsun SD111 Wireless USB Flash Drive Review

November 13th, 2014 11 comments

Zsun SD111, SD112 and SD113 are Wi-Fi / USB flash drives with respectively 8GB, 16 GB and 32GB storage. GearBest sent me the 8GB version (SD111) for review, as it could be an interesting platform to hack. I’ve take picture of the device, take it apart to check the board, review quickly the standard features with Android and Ubuntu, and try to access the board from the network.

Zsun SD111 Unboxing

I received the device in the following package.

ZSun_Package
The flash drive comes with a micro USB to USB cable for charging and accessing the device from a computer, and a user’s manual in Chinese.
ZSun_SD111
You’ll probably prefer using a soft copy user manual in English

Zsun SD111 Board and Battery

To open the stick, insert a sharp and thin object in the hole for the neck strap, and push upwards to lift the top cover a little, and finish popping up the cover with another sharp object. I used some tools from a dissasemble toolset I recently bought.

Top of ZSun SD111 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Top of ZSun SD111 Board (Click to Enlarge)

The Wi-Fi SoC is Atheros AR9331, AXP192 is used for charging, and on the top of the Qualcomm SoC you’ll also find UART pins probably allowing access to the serial console (Not tried yet). There’s also SMSC USB2240 USB bridge to handle the USB flash drive part of the device.

ZSun_SD111_Board_Bottom

Bottom of ZSun SD111 Board (Click to Enlarge)

On the back you’ve got the flash and RAM, with the board being named SD111_HW_V2_0.

700 mAh Battery

700 mAh Battery

The battery is apparently 700 mAh as claimed in the specifications.

In my first Zsun SD111 blog post, the specifications were not fully complete, so here’s an update:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Atheros AR9331 Wi-Fi SoC @ 400 MHz
  • System Memory – 32MB DDR SDRAM (Winbond W9425G6JH-5)
  • Storage – 8 MB SPI flash (Winbond 25Q64FS1G) for firmware, and 8 GB eMMC (Toshiba THGBM2G6D2FBAI9 ?) for storage
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g/n up to 150Mbps with open, WEP, and WPA/WPA2 security.
  • USB – micro USB 2.0 port to transfer files and charge the battery
  • Battery – 700 mAh Li-Po battery. Good for 3h30 of continuous use. Includes automatic power off after 5 minutes of inactivity.
  • Misc – Power button, abd LED
  • Dimensions – 8 x 3 x 1.2 cm
  • Weight – About 30 grams

Zsun SD111 Mini Review

I’ve put the device back together, to try it out. First I connected it to my Ubuntu PC with the provided USB cable, and charging LED went on, but the drive was not recognized as a standard USB flash drive, and nothing was shown in the kernel log. That’s because it needs to be switched the USB storage mode in the app as we’ll see later.

First you need to press the power button on the top of the stick for two seconds to turn it on, and install Apple Extender (previously known as SuperDisk) app in Android or iOS.
Zsun_Google_Play_Wi-Fi_ESSID
Then you can either connect to zsun-sdXXYYZZAA ESSID via the Android setting, or simply start the app and select the device ESSID. From there you’ll then be able to access the files and drive on the flash drive, and copy files and directory from/to your phone and it works quite well.
Zsun_SD111_Apple_Extender_App
When you select files or folders, icons to share, copy, cut, and delete appear at the top. Further options are available with the setting button, such as changing the ESSID, checking the firmware (via Device state menu), backup the data and so on. You may to select “Connect network” if you rely on your Wi-Fi router for internet connectivity.

If you want to use the device as a standard USB flash drive, you need to slide the blue button on the bottom right in order to enter “PC” mode.

Zsun_SD111_USB_mode

In theory, It’s also possible to access the flash drive with Wi-Fi from a PC, but you need to install ZSunCloud.exe program (Windows only) from http://www.zsuncloud.com/. Unfortunately, I;’ve been unable to find the program, maybe because I can only read a few Chinese characters… [Update: ZSunCloud.exe is actually inside the stick, as we’ll see below]

TCP Services Opened on Zsun SD111

I’ve also checked whether it could be possible to access the device from the network, So I enabled Wi-Fi on my computer, and connected to zsun-sdXXYYZZAA access point.

Let’s find the subnet used:

 jaufranc@FX8350:~$ ifconfig wlan0
 wlan0     Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:0f:53:b1:01:21
 inet addr:10.168.168.101  Bcast:10.168.168.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
 inet6 addr: fe80::20f:53ff:feb1:121/64 Scope:Link
 UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
 RX packets:21 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
 TX packets:93 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
 collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
 RX bytes:4389 (4.3 KB)  TX bytes:17762 (17.7 KB)

and scan for open TCP ports:

sudo nmap -sS 10.168.168.1

Starting Nmap 6.40 ( http://nmap.org ) at 2014-11-14 09:06 ICT
Nmap scan report for 10.168.168.1
Host is up (0.046s latency).
Not shown: 996 closed ports
PORT     STATE SERVICE
23/tcp   open  telnet
80/tcp   open  http
139/tcp  open  netbios-ssn
8080/tcp open  http-proxy
MAC Address: 00:03:7F:11:56:48 (Atheros Communications)

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 21.91 seconds

So Telnet is open, but unfortunately I could not find the login credential, trying the usual root/root or admin/admin. I also tried to load the webpage in my web browser with http://10.168.168.1, but I got was an empty page with the title “Success”. Looking into the code it will provide a download link if it detects Android, iOS mobile device or a Windows computer, and this is the link to use to download the windows application: http://10.168.168.1/cgi-bin/Submit.cgi?name=windows.

Trying http://10.168.168.1 simply generate a “Access Error: Site or Page Not Found” page.

So unless we can find the right username / password for telnet, it seems impossible to access the device without soldering the UART pins, and I may try to do just that this week-end if some of you are interested.

GearBest, which kindly provided the sample for the review, sells Zsun SD111 (8GB) for $22.74, but if you want more storage can purchase 16 or 32GB versions on DealExtremeAmazonGeekBuying, and others.

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