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Unboxing of Eny EM6Q-MXQ Android TV Box Powered by Amlogic S805 Processor

September 20th, 2014 No comments

EM6Q-MXQ is an Android TV box based on Amlogic S805 quad core Cortex A5 processor, with a quad core Mali-450MP GPU, 1GB RAM, and 8GB eMMC. The company sent me a sample for review, so today I’ll start with some pictures, and follow up with a full review in a few days.

EM6Q-MXQ Unboxing Pictures

The box comes with a brand-less “OTT TV BOX” package.
EM6Q-MXQ_Package

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

EM6Q-MXQ and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

EM6Q-MXQ and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The box features an LED and an IR receiver at the front, 3 USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot on the side, with most ports on the rear panel: another full size USB port (OTG), coaxial S/PDIF, AV output, HDMI output, 10/100M Ethernet, and DC in.

EM6Q-MXQ (Click to Enlarge)

EM6Q-MXQ (Click to Enlarge)

There’s also MAC address on the bottom of the casing starting with C44EAC that looks up to Shenzhen Shiningworth Technology Co., Ltd found in some other Amlogic products.

Unboxing Video:

EM6Q-MXQ Board / PCBA

Opening the device is fairly easy. You first need to stick out the four rubber pad on the bottom of the enclosure, then untighten the four screws, before pulling out the bottom of the case with a flat screw driver:

Bottom of EM6Q-MXQ Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of EM6Q-MXQ Board (Click to Enlarge)

Nothing much to see on the bottom of the board, except the serial console pins close to the USB ports.

EM6Q-MXQ Board and Stainless Plate (Click to Enlarge)

EM6Q-MXQ Board and Stainless Plate (Click to Enlarge)

There are no other screws to remove, simply pull out the board from the enclosure to take it out. There’s a stainless plate attached to the top of the enclosure, but I’m not sure what its purpose exactly is, because it does not touch anything in the case. I’ve also remove the heatsink to get a real look at the board with marking HD18Q_V0.95.

HD18Q Board (Click to Enlarge)

HD18Q Board (Click to Enlarge)

We can get confirmation that USB-4 is indeed a USB OTG port, the recovery button is located right behind the AV output port, and the USB Wi-Fi module is based on Realtek RTL8188ETV. The 8GB eMMC flash is FORESEE NCFSES76-08G, and two RAM chips (NANYA NT5CB256M16CP-01) are used to get 1GB RAM.

Despite the name and enclosure being similar to MXQ S85, both devices are different as one feature optical S/PDIF output, and the other coaxial S/PDIF, and the number of USB ports are different (2x USB + 1x micro USB vs 4x USB). Eny Technology EM6Q-MXQ  can be purchased on Aliexpress for about $70 including shipping (You’ll need to sort between EM6Q-MXQ and MXQ S85 manually by checking the USB port, and/or the Red MX stripe in S85 version). If you are interested in buying in quantities, you can visit EM6Q-MXQ product page to contact the company.

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Getting Started with WRTnode OpenWRT Development Board

September 18th, 2014 No comments

Seeed Studio sent me two nice little boards that can be used for IoT development: WRTNode and LinkIt ONE. Today, I’ll show pictures of WRTNode and accessories, and go through the “starting guide“, and will test LinkIt ONE board a few days later.

WRTnode Unboxing

I’ve received WRTnode by Fedex, and the board is stored in a plastic box.
WRTnode_Package
Inside the box, you’ll find the board, a “special” USB used to power the board and as an OTG adapter, a piece of paper with useful links (Wiki), and some WRTnode stickers.

WRTnode, "special" USB cable, and Quick Start Card (Click to Enlarge)

WRTnode, “special” USB cable, and Quick Start Card (Click to Enlarge)

Any micro USB to USB cable can be used to power the board, but this cable is useless to connect USB devices such as flash drives, webcams (OpenCV is supported), Bluetooth dongles, and so on. You could even connect a USB hub to connect multiple USB devices as shown below.

WRTnode_Webcam_Flash_Drive_USB_Hub

I’ve also taken a picture of both sides of the board shown the antenna on-board antennas, Mediatek MT7620n WiSoC, Elixir N2TU51216DG-AC DDR2 chip (64MB @ 400 MHz), the 16 MB SPI flash, as well as the headers for connecting various peripherals via I2C, SPI, UART, USB, etc…

WRTnode Board (Click to Enlarge)

WRTnode Board (Click to Enlarge)

You can also add Ethernet easily by making your own Ethernet cable using T568B wiring standard. I’m not 100% sure it’s safe though, as there are usually some extra components for Ethernet. I’ve included the board pinout chart for your reference.

WRTnode_pinout

WRTnode Quick Start Guide

To start the board simply connect the USB cable to a power adapter or a USB port on your computer. After about 10 seconds, you should see a blue LED lit up, and shortly after, you should see WRTnodeXXXX ESSID, where XXXX are the last 4 digit of the board MAC address. Connect it with your computer, and input the password: 12345678.
WRTNode_Access_PointNormally the board will resolve as several URL, but at first none of them worked.

$ ping i.wrtno.de
ping: unknown host i.wrtno.de
$ ping openwrt.lan
ping: unknown host openwrt.lan
$ ping wrtnode.lan
ping: unknown host wrtnode.lan

But you can check the route to see which subnet is used by your Wi-Fi connection:

$ route
Kernel IP routing table
Destination Gateway Genmask Flags Metric Ref Use Iface
default 192.168.0.1 0.0.0.0 UG 0 0 0 eth0
192.168.0.0 * 255.255.255.0 U 1 0 0 eth0
192.168.8.0 * 255.255.255.0 U 9 0 0 wlan0

I could finally ping the board with:

$ ping 192.168.8.1
PING 192.168.8.1 (192.168.8.1) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from 192.168.8.1: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=12.4 ms
64 bytes from 192.168.8.1: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=2.37 ms
64 bytes from 192.168.8.1: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=12.1 ms

Interestingly, ping openwrt.lan, and the other two URL also work afterwards, so maybe I was a little to impatient during my testing…

The first time you need to connect to the board via telnet in order to set the root password:

$ telnet 192.168.8.1

WRTNode_Telnet

Now change the root password using passwd as you would do in any other Linux machine, and exit the connection, in order to connect via SSH instead:

$ ssh [email protected]
The authenticity of host '192.168.8.1 (192.168.8.1)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is bc:00:71:ac:b1:56:e7:7b:c7:7a:9b:6a:59:8e:da:82.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added '192.168.8.1' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
[email protected]'s password:
BusyBox v1.22.1 (2014-08-13 19:31:12 UTC) built-in shell (ash)
.....
root@OpenWrt:~#

At this point, you’ve got another Wi-Fi access point on your network, but it’s not connected to Internet, so let’s start by locating the Wi-Fi routers with aps command:

root@OpenWrt:~# aps
WRTnode AP scaner.
Begin scaning APs, pls wait...
Finished.
APs available are...
ra0 get_site_survey:
Ch SSID BSSID Security Siganl(%)W-Mode ExtCH NT WPS DPID
1 CNX-TRANSLATION 94:0c:6d:e6:5b:10 WPA1PSKWPA2PSK/TKIPAES 100 11b/g/n ABOVE In YES

I only have one ESSID here, but this will list all ESSID in your environment. With that data, you can configure WRTnode to connect to your Wi-Fi router using vw command (vi wireless?):

root@OpenWrt:~# vw
config wifi-device 'ra0'
 option type 'ralink'
 option mode '9'
 option channel '1'
 option txpower '100'
 option ht '20+40'
 option country 'US'
 option disabled '0'
config wifi-iface
 option device 'ra0'
 option network 'lan'
 option mode 'ap'
 option encryption 'psk2'
 option key '12345678'
 option ApCliEnable '1'
 option ApCliSsid 'CNX-TRANSLATION'
 option ApCliAuthMode 'WPA2PSK'
 option ApCliEncrypType 'AES'
 option ApCliPassWord 'router_password'
 option ssid 'WRTnode9A60'

You need to change the lines in bold above using the data from aps. The first line is the Channel (Ch) , and the four lines in the wifi-iface section are pretty much self-explanatory. Save the file with Esc + “:wq”.

aps and vw do not report security features in the same way. Here’s the conversion table in case you don’t use WPA2PSK/AES:

aps:Security           vw:ApCliAuthMode/ApCliEncrypType
=========================================================
WPA1PSKWPA2PSK/TKIPAES	WPA2PSK/AES
WPA2PSK/AES		WPA2PSK/AES
WPA2PSK/TKIP		WPA2PSK/TKIP
WPAPSK/TKIPAES		WPAPSK/TKIP
WPAPSK/AES		WPAPSK/AES
WPAPSK/TKIP		WPAPSK/TKIP
WEP			WEP/WEP

Finally, restart the network:

root@OpenWrt:~# nr

and verify WRTnode got an IP address from the Wi-Fi router using DHCP:

root@OpenWrt:~# ia
apcli0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 66:51:7E:32:9A:60
inet addr:192.168.0.105 Bcast:192.168.0.255 Mask:255.255.255.0
inet6 addr: fe80::6451:7eff:fe32:9a60/64 Scope:Link
UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:0 (0.0 B) TX bytes:0 (0.0 B)

Good 192.168.0.105 is an IP adress from local network. Let’s also check we can ping a site on the Internet:

root@OpenWrt:~# ping cnx-software.com
PING cnx-software.com (104.28.18.95): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 104.28.18.95: seq=0 ttl=53 time=81.999 ms
64 bytes from 104.28.18.95: seq=1 ttl=53 time=87.759 ms
64 bytes from 104.28.18.95: seq=2 ttl=53 time=81.381 ms
^C
--- cnx-software.com ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max = 81.381/83.713/87.759 ms

All good!

Once I had a problem connecting to my Wi-Fi router, and it turned out my router was configured to automatically select the channel, and it had switched to Channel 4. Running vw again to change the configuration withoption channel ’4′” made the connection work again. There’s probably an option in OpenWRT to automatically detect the channel, but I haven’t investigated.

You can also install packages for okpg. I tried to install luci, but it was pre-installed, so I added openvpn support instead:

root@OpenWrt:~# opkg update
Downloading http://d.wrtnode.com/packages/Packages.gz.
Updated list of available packages in /var/opkg-lists/barrier_breaker.
root@OpenWrt:~# opkg install luci
Package luci (svn-r10457-1) installed in root is up to date.
root@OpenWrt:~# opkg install openvpn-easy-rsa
Installing openvpn-easy-rsa (2013-01-30-2) to root...
Downloading http://d.wrtnode.com/packages/openvpn-easy-rsa_2013-01-30-2_ramips_24kec.ipk.
Installing openssl-util (1.0.1h-1) to root...
Downloading http://d.wrtnode.com/packages/openssl-util_1.0.1h-1_ramips_24kec.ipk.
Configuring openssl-util.
Configuring openvpn-easy-rsa.
root@OpenWrt:~#

That’s it the quick start guide is completed.

I’ve also run some command to show memory and storage usage:

root@OpenWrt:~# df -h
Filesystem Size Used Available Use% Mounted on
rootfs 7.3M 348.0K 7.0M 5% /
/dev/root 7.5M 7.5M 0 100% /rom
tmpfs 30.2M 80.0K 30.1M 0% /tmp
/dev/mtdblock5 7.3M 348.0K 7.0M 5% /overlay
overlayfs:/overlay 7.3M 348.0K 7.0M 5% /
tmpfs 512.0K 0 512.0K 0% /dev

root@OpenWrt:~# free -m
total used free shared buffers
Mem: 61852 29084 32768 0 3536
-/+ buffers: 25548 36304
Swap: 0 0 0

Out of the 16Mb SPI flash, only 7.3M available are available for OpenWRT, the  rest is probably used by the bootloader. There’s nearly 64MB RAM available, and 29MB free.

If you are interested in the board, you can purchase it from Seeed Studio ($25), which provided the board for this review, but it’s also available on other shops such as DFRobot or Eleduino for the same price, although shipping fees may vary. To go beyond this Quick Start Guide, visit WRTnode WiKi to access the source code, schematics, and various documentation including tutorials.

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Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta RK3288 TV Box Unboxing

September 13th, 2014 13 comments

GeekBuying sent me one of their Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta (Beta) Android TV boxes powered by Rockchip RK3288 SoC. This model comes with 2GB DDR3, 16 eMMC, and 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi. R28 Mega is the mid-range model, and there are two others models R28 Pro (entre-level) and R28 Telos (premium). I’ve already listed specifications for the three Tronsmart Orion R28 models. Today, I’ll show some picture of the device, and the board to find out more about the design of the product. Before reviewing the product in another post, I’ll probably build the image using the provided Android 4.4 SDK (provided I can download it), and perform the full review next week with the resulting firmware.

Tronsmart Orion Meta R28 Unboxing

I’ve received the parcel via DHL within 2 days. The same package will be used for all three models, but you’ll have a sticker on the side for Pro, Meta or Telos, as well as specifications at the back with options for 2 or 4 GB RAM, 8, 16 or 32 GB eMMC, and 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac or 802.11 b/g/n.
Tronsmart_Orion_R28_Meta_PackageThe box comes with an external Wi-Fi antenna, a IR remote control requiring 2x AAA batteries (not included) a micro USB to USB cable, an HDMI cable, and a 5V/3A power adapter. There’s also a user’s manual in English that I forgot to include in the picture below.

Tronsmart_Orion_R28_Accessories

Orion R28 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

There’s a new good trend for power buttons which are now located on the top of the boxes that I recently received, and it’s the same for Orion R28. On the front panel, there’s just the window for the IR receiver, two USB 2.0 ports and a micro SD slot can be found on the side, and the rear panel has most of the ports: DC in barrel, AV output, optical S/PDIF, Gigabit Ethernet, antenna connector, HDMI 2.0 output, another USB 2.0 host port, and a micro USB OTG port. A micro SD card with the SDK was supposed to be included, but they forgot to include it in my package, so instead I’ll have to download it (link provided at the end of this post).

Tronsmart Orion R28 (Click to Enlarge)

Tronsmart Orion R28 (Click to Enlarge)

Markings for FCC and CE are written on the package, but on the bottom of the enclosure I can only see a CE marking.

Unboxing video:

Tronsmart Orion Meta R28 Board

Now let’s open the enclosure. Removing the two rubbers pads on the bottom reveals three screws. After I had untightned them I expected the box to open easily, but it would not come off despite all my efforts… That’s because there’s another screw, under the “Tronsmart Orion R28″ sticked. After you remove that one, it becomes much easier…

Orion R28 Meta Board (Click to Enlarge)

Orion R28 Meta Board (Click to Enlarge)

The wireless module is indeed AP6335 which supports 802.11 b/g/n, 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 4.0. Sandisk SDIN7DP4-16G is a 16GB eMMC, and RK1000 chip is used for composite output. Access to the serial console should be very easy since there are the four through holes for Tx, Rx, GND and 5V on the top right. Other accessible I/Os are I2C and UART3 (bottom right), and 4 more pins for USB. The board name is not readable as they’ve stuck a “Tronsmart Orion R28″ sticker on top.

Bottom of Orion R28 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of Orion R28 Board (Click to Enlarge)

The only noticeable chip on the back of the board is Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet transceiver.

Rockchip RK3288 Soc and RAM (Click to Enlarge)

Rockchip RK3288 Soc and RAM (Click to Enlarge)

Removing the heatsink is easy as there’s just two small bits with springs holding it. Instead of using thermal pad like in Kingnovel K-R68, there’s some thermal paste between the heatsink and Rockchip RK3288. Four DDR3 memory chips (MIRA P3P4GF4BLF) are used to get 2GB RAM.

That’s all for today,. The next step is to download the Android SDK (if somebody can re-upload it to mega.co.nz, it would be help Link to mega.co.nz mirror. Thanks Kostas!), build the Android image, and flash it to the box. You can pre-order the final version of Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta for $119.99 on GeekBuying, but if you don’t need 802.11ac, and can do with 8GB eMMC instead of 16GB, the Orion R28 Pro goes for $99.99.

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Review of Kingnovel K-R68 Android Mini PC

September 9th, 2014 8 comments

I’ve already listed specs, and shown a few pictures of Kingnovel K-R68 Android media player based on the latest Rockchip RK3288 quad core processor. I’ve now gone through all my usual tests, so today, I’ll write the review, going through the user interface, testing video playback, reporting one various performance benchmarks including network and storage performance, tested most hardware features, and played a few games.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

Albeit there’s an infrared remote control with the device. I’ve not used it all, especially, as we’ll see below the default user interface is the stock Android home screen. As usual, I’ve connected an RF dongle to use Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse. Before powering up the device, I’ve also connected an HDMI cable, a USB hard drive, and an Ethernet cable. Albeit there’s a power button, the device will boot automatically as you connect the power adapter, and the boot completes in just over 20 seconds.

Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

The status bar is shown by default with a power (Standby or Reboot) button, volume buttons, the back, home, and app list icons, as well as an icon to hide the status bar. I’ve enabled the screenshot button in the settings. The user interface defaults to Chinese as shown in the screenshot above, so I had to go to the settings to change the language. The resolution was set to 1920×1080.

The Settings are basically the same as Uyesee G1H, but with some colorful icons on the left, instead of the usual black and white icons, and there’s no “Home” to select between launchers. The Wireless and Networks section features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and Data Usage sections, as well as a “More” section with VPN, Portable Hotspot and so on. You can choose between “Default Output” (PCM / Down-mixing), “Spdif Passthough”, and “HDMI Bitstream” (HDMI pass-through) in the sound settings, (Not tested, as I don’t have audio receiver). The Display settings include options to adjust for overscan, select HDMI, YPbPr, and “TV” (Composite) video output, as well as the resolution: “auto”, 1080p 24/25/30/50/60Hz, 720p 50/60, 720×576 or 720×480. Again it’s exactly as the previous RK3288 sample I tested (G1H). 4K options should also show if the box is connected to  4K TV, Most of the tests have been done using HDMI output, but I also tested composite and component (YPbPr) video outputs.

Composite (NTSC) - Click to Enlarge

Composite (NTSC) – Click to Enlarge

Composite (PAL) - Click to Enlarge

Composite (PAL) – Click to Enlarge

Component (720p) - Click to Enlarge
Component (720p) – Click to Enlarge

Composite works, but in NTSC mode I had a green line on the bottom, which I could not hide with the “Screen Scale” menu. I had no such problem in PAL mode.  I had the same problem with Component (YPbpr) output as with my other RK3288 device, as only the Chrominance signal would apparently be displayed. Resolutions selectable with YPbPr are only 720p, 720×576 (PAL) and 720×470 (NTSC), and there’s no option for 1080p.

About_K-R68K-R68 features a 8GB eMMC flash partitioned with a 1.91GB “Internal Storage” partition for apps with 1.53 GB free, and a 4.27 GB “NAND FLASH” partition for data. A single partition for apps and data would be ideal, but this partitioning should work fine for most people. The “About device” section reports the model number as “rk3288″, Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.0. The firmware is not rooted, and I don’t have male to male USB cable, so I could not root it via the OTG port. In this review, I won’t show a video of the settings and user interface, because it’s just the same as Uyesee G1H, apart from a different home screen (pictured above), and colorful icons in the settings menus.

Google Play Store works as expected, and I could install most apps such as ES File Explorer, MX Player, Antutu, Quadrant, Beach Buggy Blitz, etc…  and even paid apps such as Sixaxis Controller installed properly. Vidonn activity tracker app was reported as “incompatible with your device”. I also installed Amazon AppStore after downloading it via the stock browser, and loaded Riptide GP2 on the device.

I haven’t used the remote control, but the power button on the status bar only lets you reboot and put the device into standby. Press the Power button on Mele F10 deluxe also brings the same menu. The power button on top of the device can only be used to power off the device completely, and to do so, you’ll need to press it for 10 seconds. The enclosure also gets pretty hot. The maximum temperatures measured with an infrared thermometer on the top and bottom of the box were respectively 46 °C and 56 °C after running Android 5 benchmark, and after playing Riptide GP2 for 30 minutes at 1080p (right after playing a 1080p movie for 2 hours), the measured max. temperatures reached 58 °C and 77 °C…

The firmware is stable and fast. I had no reboot and hang ups during my testing. Thanks to fast eMMC, apps loading times can be impressive, for example XBMC loads in less than 2 seconds, and I never had slowdowns as experience in Uyesee G1H while installing apps. The user interface resolution is 1080p by default, but if you want some extra performance for some games for example, you can switch to 720p if you wish.

Video Playback

Contrary to Uyesee G1H, Kingnovel K-R68 comes pre-loaded with XBMC. So I played videos from a SAMBA share over Ethernet using XBMC, only switching to MX Player in case of issues. I had problems with Gigabit Ethernet again (instability), so I used a 10/100M hub between the device and my Gigabit switch (D-Link DSG-1005A), and the connection was perfectly stable. So all results are based on XBMC playback unless otherwise stated.

I started by playing videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, and H.265/HEVC video by Elecard:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p
    • XBMC – OK, but smoothness could be better.
    • MX Player – Video playing at an estimated 2 to 4 fps, with most frames skipped
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p
    • XBMC – Audio only
    • MX Player – OK (H/W decode)
  • Real Media (RMVB) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK and relatively smooth, also not perfect like on PC (VideoLAN)
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container
    • XBMC – Audio only
    • MX Player – OK (H/W decode)

So XBMC can’t play H.265, no VC1 videos, and MPEG-2 play, but are not super smooth.

Next are some higher bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK, no problem even in fast moving scenes
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – Audio only (That’s the VC1 codec issue in XBMC).
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK

All high definition audio codec could play (downsampled) in XBMC:

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

Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO file could play just fine in XBMC.

None of the 4K videos could play without issues in XBMC. The HEVC/H.265 video were all played in MX Player:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4

    • XBMC – OK most of the time, but skips about 60 frames at the end of the video (The image will freeze before the end of the video).
    • MX Player – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv
    • XBMC – Played in slow motion, unwatchable.
    • MX Player – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK (H/W decode), but some white “fog” appears on the black background
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK (H/W decode)
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts – Plays with S/W decode (MX Player reports codec not supported by H/W).

Finally, I played some Several AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB and MP4 videos in my library. Most could play, but several had audio/video sync issues, a number of FLV videos could not play at all, and one XVID video had lot of frames skipped during playback. A complete 1080p video (1h50) could be played in XBMC without issues. Once XBMC refused to exit, as clicking on the exit button did not work at all, but I could not reproduce the issue. Overall, the XBMC experience is disappointing, but if you combine MX Player and XBMC capabilities most videos can be played.

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

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

The network test consists in transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash, and vice versa, repeating the test three times using ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi performance is excellent and very consistent, as transfer times were all between 1m42s and 1m44s, averaging a cool 2.69 MB/s.

Wi-Fi Performance in MB/s

Wi-Fi Performance in MB/s

While I’m with Wi-Fi testing, I also ran Rockchip’s “Wi-Fi display” app, but even though the display was detected by my phone and “successfully” connected, mirroring did not work at all. I tried several times, but my subsequent attempt all failed to connect at all.

As mentioned previously, I had stability problems (again) with Gigabit Ethernet, so I could only properly test Fast Ethernet performance. Using the same test procedure as Wi-Fi, K-R68 shows very good performance compared to other solutions I’ve tested.

Kingnovel_K-R68_EthernetThis test is not a pure network performance test, as it may be affected by storage write performance. Having said that, I’ve experience similar results writing to flash or USB hard drive for all devices under test.

Under Linux, you can test network performance with iPerf, and it turns out iPerf app is also available for Android. So I gave it a try using “iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” command line. This runs a “dualtest” (a bidirectional test simultaneously) for one minute, and based on the test results, there’s definitely an issue with Gigabit Ethernet, but only in one direction (872 Mbps vs 314 Kbps), but Fast Ethernet is running great:

Client connecting to 192.168.0.107, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  425 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 37734 connected with 192.168.0.107 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec  6.09 GBytes   872 Mbits/sec
[  4]  0.0-63.4 sec  2.38 MBytes   314 Kbits/sec
[  5] local 192.168.0.104 port 5001 connected with 192.168.0.107 port 51937
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to 192.168.0.107, TCP port 5001
TCP window size:  136 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  6] local 192.168.0.104 port 37843 connected with 192.168.0.107 port 5001
[  6]  0.0-60.0 sec   654 MBytes  91.4 Mbits/sec
[  5]  0.0-60.1 sec   658 MBytes  91.8 Mbits/sec

I’ve tried different Cat5e Ethernet cable with it did not solve the issue.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

I could easily pair K-R68 to my Android smartphone (ThL W200) over Bluetooth, and transfer a picture.

Since the firmware is not rooted, and I’m not sure how to root it, I had to skip Sixaxis test for PS3 Bluetooth Gamepad support

Vidonn X5 activity tracker suppoert Bluetooth 4.0 LE, so I installed the Android app, and successfully connected to my wristband to get the data.

Storage

FAT32 formatted micro SD card and USB flash drive could be recognized and properly mounted by the system
I’ve also connected my USB 3.0 hard drive with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS partitions, and as usual only NTFS and FAT32 could be mounted automatically.

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

A1 SD Bench was run to benchmark the NTFS partition (/mnt/usb_storage/USB_DISK2/USB3_NTFS). The read speed was 29.47MB/s, and the write speed of 24.63MB/s, both of which are pretty consistent with the results achieved with other devices, albeit the write speed was the weakest of the products tested by a small margin.

K-R68_USB_Write_SpeedThe internal storage read and write speeds are very important to apps loading time, and overall system performance, and K-R68 excels in this benchmark, at least compared to Uyesee G1H, and Probox2 EX.

K-R68_eMMC_PerformanceThe fast eMMC write speed explains why I never felt slowdowns during my testing, contrary to what happened with G1H.

USB Webcam

Using a white brand UVC USB webcam with built-in microphone. I could test audio successfully with the Echo service in Skype, and I could see the video, but as I tried to leave a video message, the app exited.

Google Hangouts could detect the webcam (Video icon at the top right of the screen), and I could start a video call, but the webcam image was not shown.

Gaming

I’ve tested three games: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2.

I played Candy Crush Saga with my air mouse, and used Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad in the two other games.  Beach Buggy Blitz was super smooth even with graphics settings maxed out and 1080p resolution, and Riptide GP2 was very smooth most of the time, and albeit not perfect, RK3288 devices are a massive jump in terms of playability compared to earlier generation of chip, and even Amlogic S802. I’ve also tested stability by playing Riptide GP2 for 30 consecutive minutes, and everything runs fine, but the bottom of the device can get pretty hot (Over 75 °C). Thanks to the rubber pads, it does not touch the table though. The top is much cooler at around 55 °C.

Kingnovel K-R68 Benchmark

CPU-Z app returns the exact same data as for G1H TV box, that is a Rockchip processor with four Cortex A12 cores @ 126 MHz to 1.80 GHz with a Mali-T764 processor. Only the firmware version differs.

G1H got 39,273 in Antutu 4.x @ 1080p resolution. Since them Android 5 has been released, and K-R68 got 37,428 points between Redmi Note (MediaTek MT6592) and Xiaomi Mi3 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 800). Results between Antutu 4.x and Antutu 5.x are not directly comparable.

Antutu 5 Results for Kingnovel K-R68 (Click to Enlarge)

Antutu 5 Results for Kingnovel K-R68 (Click to Enlarge)

I had no luck with Quadrant, as I was greeted with gray screen when I wanted to start the test.

I’ve run Ice Storm Extreme test in 3DMark to see if there was any improvement compared to G1H score.

3DMark Ice Storm Extreme Results (Click to Enlarge)

3DMark Ice Storm Extreme Results (Click to Enlarge)

A score of 7,531 points, is only slightly higher than than 7,278 points achieved by G1H, and is about the same as the one achieved on a smartphone based on Qualcomm Snapdragon 801. However many recent devices based on Qualcomm 800 and greater get a score above 10,000 or simply maxes out the test.

Conclusion

Kingnovel K-R68 hardware has massive potential with a fast processor, outstanding 3D performance, and excellent Wi-Fi and eMMC storage performance. The firmware is stable and provides a smooth experience, but if you are looking for a device well supported by XBMC, it’s not there yet. Having said that, I’ve only tested the XBMC version provided with the sample (Gotham 13.2), and there are some version that may have better support include HEVC hardware decoding such as Beyond XBMC 3.4 (beta) and an XBMC version released for Firefly-RK3288 development board.

PRO:

  • Fast new processor
  • Excellent 3D graphics performance for games
  • Stable and fast firmware.
  • Excellent Wi-Fi performance
  • Fast eMMC, both for reading and writing speeds.
  • Both 720p and 1080p user interfaces are supported
  • Video Output – 1080p support 24, 25 ,30 , 50 and 60 Hz output which may be important for some videos. 4K @ 60Hz should be supported thanks to HDMI 2.0 (not tested).
  • HEVC video decoding support
  • Webcam supported in Skype (although it did not seem to work with Google Hangouts)

CONS:

  • XBMC has too many issues: VC1, H.265 not supported, audio/video sync issue, some MPEG-2 and XVID videos are skipping frames, none of the 4K videos I used could play properly, etc…
  • Some MPEG-2 file won’t play smooth in either XBMC or MX Player
  • Potential Gigabit Ethernet issues, at least confirmed with my switch (D-Link DSG-1005A).
  • No proper power off (standby only)
  • The enclosure (bottom) can get pretty hot, with temperatures over 75+ C after long periods of 3D gaming.
  • Video output – Component only output the Luminance signal with my TV, composite (NTSC) has a green bar at the bottom, no problem for PAL.

If you are a distributor, you may want to visit Kingnovel K-R68 page for some details, and possibly contact the company. The box does not seem to be selling on e-retailer sites yet, or it’s sold under another model name. The box  appears to be sold on Geekbuying under the model name R6 for $107.99.

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Kingnovel K-R68 4K Android STB Unboxing

September 6th, 2014 8 comments

Kingnovel has sent me a sample of their K-R68 Android media player powered by Rockchip RK3288 quad core processor with 2GB RAM, 8GB flash. Today I’ll start by listing the product specifications, before showing pictures of the device and PCBA. A full review will follow in the next few days.

Kingnovel K-R68 specifications

The box technical specifications as shown in the product manual are pretty standard:

  • SoC -  Rockchip RK3288 quad core ARM Cortex A12/A17 processor @ 2.0 GHz (TBC) with ARM Mali-T764 quad-core 3D GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL 1.1, and DirectX11
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 (Optional 4GB DDR3)
  • Storage – 8GB flash (16G/32G optional) + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60fps, 3.5mm AV jack
  • Audio Output – HDMI,  AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, H.265, RV,.. @ 4K resolution
  • Video Containers – AVI, VOB, MKV, TS, MP4, M2TS, MPEG, WMV, RM/RMVB, etc…
  • Audio Format – MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, OGG, AC3, DTS
  • Connectivity – Ethernet (No speed mentioned), dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna, and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6330 module)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power LED, IR receiver.
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions –  185 x 143 x 30 mm (excluding Wi-Fi antenna)
  • Weight – 190 grams

The device runs Android 4.4.

Kingnovel K-R68 Pictures

The company send me the device by DHL in the package below marked with “4K Ultra HD 4k2K OTT TV BOX”.

Kingnove_K-R68_4K_Package
Inside the package, we’ll get a the relatively large TV box, a 5V/3A power adapter, an HDMI cable, an IR remote control that requires two AAA batteries, and a user’s manual in English describing the remote control, explaining how to use the user interface, and troubleshoot the system.

K-R68 4K and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

K-R68 4K and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

A closer look shows the device is made of two plastic parts with the top made of ABS (I think), and the bottom of lower quality plastic. The power button is located on the top of the device which is the location I find most convenient, and all ports can be found on the rear panel: Ethernet, optical S/PDIF, HDMI, AV, micro SD card, two USB ports, and DC jack.

Kingnovel K-R68 4K (Click to Enlarge)

Kingnovel K-R68 4K (Click to Enlarge)

You can watch the unboxing video below if you please.

K-R68 Internals

Opening the device is relatively straightforward. Remove four sticky rubber pads on the bottom of the enclosure to reveal the screws and remove them. The two parts of the casing then come apart quite easily.

Top of K-R68 4K Board (Click to Enlarge)

Top of K-R68 4K Board (Click to Enlarge)

There are two boards in the device: CYX_R6_IO with the power button, the IR receiver, and the power LED, and CYX_R6 V1_1 the main board with RK3288. The heatsink is larger than on Uyesee G1H, so hopefully it will do a better job at keeping the temperature lower. The Wi-Fi module is AP6330 providing dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (no ac) and Bluetooth 4.0.

Bottom of K-R68 4K Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of K-R68 4K Board (Click to Enlarge)

You need to remove three more screws to completely detach the board from the enclosure. The back of the board features the micro SD slot, RK1000 (for TV out), and another IC (can’t read). There does not seem to be an issue way to access the serial console.

Zoom on Rocchip RK3288 SoC (Click to Enlarge)

Zoom on Rocchip RK3288 SoC (Click to Enlarge)

Removing the heatsink is easy with just two “bits” that hold it, and that can be popped out. There’s also a thermal pad (shown on the top of the picture) between the heatsink and RK3288.

The box does not seem to be available on Aliexpress for now, if you are a distributor, you may want to visit Kingnovel K-R68 page for some details, and contacting the company.

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Review of UyeSee G1H Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Box

August 27th, 2014 4 comments

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

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

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

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_Default_640px

UyeSee G1H Android Launcher (Click for Original Size)

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

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_640px

Android Home Screen (Click for Original @ 720p)

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

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Playback

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

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

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

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

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

Wi-Fi_UyeSee_G1H

Wi-Fi Performance in MB/s

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

Ethernet_UyeSee_G1H

Ethernet Performance in MB/s

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

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

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

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

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

Storage

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

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

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

UyeSee_G1H_USB_Drive

USB Hard Drive Performance in MB/s

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

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

USB Webcam

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

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

Gaming

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

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

UyeSee G1H Benchmark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3DMarks_RK3288_UyeSee_G1H

3DMark Benchmark Results (Click to Enlarge)

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

Conclusion

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

PRO:

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

CONS:

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

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

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

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UyeSee SoundMate M2 Wi-Fi Audio Streamer Review

August 25th, 2014 9 comments

UyeSee SoundMate M2 Wi-Fi music streaming receiver allows you to wirelessly play audio files from your smartphone or computer to speakers connected to a 3.5mm jack or an audio receiver connected to the optical S/PDIF output of the device. The company sent me a sample for review. I’ll first list the key features of the system, show pictures of the device, and test it with an Android smartphone using my TV speakers.

SoundMate M2 Features & Specifications

Listed hardware specifications and features:

  • Processor – Unnamed router chipset and Audio DAC
  • Memory & Storage – N/A
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi up to 150Mbps with antenna. Open (default), WPA, WPA2, WPA2 Mixed Security.
  • Audio Output – 3.5mm audio jack, optical S/PDIF
  • Streaming Standards – AirPlay, DLNA, and QPlay
  • Audio Formats – aac, mp3, wav, flac, and ape
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port for mass storage and/or 3G dongle, 1x micro USB for power
  • Misc – Wi-Fi and power LEDs, reset pin hole
  • Supported hardware – iOS, Android, Windows and Mac
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 85 x 85 x 24.7 mm
  • Weight – 250 grams
  • Enclosure – Aluminum

SoundMate M2 Pictures and Unboxing Video

I’ve received the device together with their G1H TV Box via Fedex, and it came in the retail package shown below.
Soundmate_M2_PackageWe’ll find the device, a Wi-Fi antenna, a micro USB to USB cable for power, an RCA audio cable, and a user’s manual in English and Chinese.

SoundMate M2 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

SoundMate M2 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

At the front of the device, there’s a Wi-Fi logo, a red power LED, and green Wi-Fi LED. All other connector are at the back: Wi-Fi antenna connector, micro USB for power, reset pinhole, optical S/PDIF, audio jack, and a USB host port.

SoundMate M2 (Click to Enlarge)

SoundMate M2 (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve also tried to open the device, and there are 4 screws under rubber pads on the bottom of the enclosure, but these are firmly tightened and slightly damaged, and I did not manage to remove them.

Unboxing video just below…

SoundMate M2 Review with Android

You can control this wireless audio streamer with iOS devices using Airplay or DLNA, Android deices with DLNA with apps such as BubbleUPnP, AllCast, UPnPlay, etc…, and computers using iTunes, Windows Media Player and other programs with DLNA functions. I’ve only tested it with an Android smartphone. Normally you’ll want to connect the device to speakers or an audio system, but I have neither, so I’ve just connected the audio cable to my TV for testing, and connected the power to start it.

You’ll need the IP address for your device which can be found on the bottom of the enclosure. The MAC address is not needed for configuration, but it starts with 845DD7

SoundMate_IP_AddressIn you Android phone, go to the Wi-Fi settings to locate soundmate_XXXX ESSID and connect to it. It’s using an open network by default, so there’s no password. Then go to your favorite web browser in your phone, and go to http://192.168.222.254, or whatever address there may be at the back of the device.

SoundMate_M2_WiFi_Web_Interface

The web interface provides access to 6 submenus:

  • File manager for USB storage which successfully found FAT32 and NTFS partition in my hard drive
  • Basic settings where you can change the “device name” (ESSID), and configure network security
  • Music service to change the streamer name (DLNA, Airplay..)
  • Internet Connection to configure the connection to your Wi-Fi router or 3G USB dongle.
  • Advanced settings to configure SAMBA and DMS (What’s that?) access. I have not tried either.
  • Upgrade Firmware to upgrade via USB.
File Manager, Internet connection and Advanced Settings (Click to Enlarge)

File Manager, Internet connection and Advanced Settings (Click to Enlarge)

The important part is to configure the Internet Connection to get access to your router while connected to SoundMate.

When you browse the file manager, and try to open a music file it will simply download it and ask you which app you want to open. There’s no way to tell the device to automatically play the audio files via the web interface, so that’s not too useful… I’m not really sure how to play files from the USB drive, maybe using SAMBA can help…

The Quick Start Guide lists several DLNA apps: Air buddy, All CVast, BubbleUPnP, ShareOn, UPnPlay, iMediaShare, N7 Player, and Air Music, but they also mention any app with DLNA function should work. At first I decided to install BubbleUPnP as it’s one of the most popular DLNA app. It worked at first, but after I tried to play an unsupported file, it stop working, refusing to play any audio files. So I decided to reboot the device, but it was not the culprit, as BubbleUPnP refused to play any files, even after exiting and restarting it. So instead I installed UPnPlay, and I could play most audio files from my phone, expect the first MP4 (.m4a) audio files I have as it’s not supported by SoundMate M2.

SoundMate Renderer in BubbleUPnP and UPnPlay Apps

SoundMate Renderer in BubbleUPnP and UPnPlay Apps

Previously, I tried to play music from my phone using EZCast dongles such as Tronsmart T1000 and WiDiCast EC-E2, and when outside, I started to have problems with a range of 6 meters or so, but SoundMate M2 is much better, as the audio plays fine as far as about 10 meters, and beyond that audio cuts are starting to show up. You can also control the volume from the phone, as with the other solutions.

UyeSee SoundMate M2 is available on Aliexpress for $55 including shipping via DHL. You may also want to check the product page on UyeSee website.

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Categories: Android, Audio, Hardware, Video Tags: airplay, dlna, review, uyesee