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Rikomagic MK22 Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Video & Audio in Kodi, Benchmarks…

November 7th, 2016 4 comments

Rikomagic MK22 is one of the many Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S912 octa-core processor with typical hardware specifications such as 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet and dual band WiFi. I’ve already taken the box apart to check out the hardware in the first part of the review, so I’ll focus on the firmware, but I’ll keep it short focusing on typical problem areas, as I’ve already reviewed a bunch of other Amlogic S912 TV boxes such as Qintaix Q912 or Beelink GT1.

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First Boot, Firmware Update, and First Impressions

After having connected all usual cables and  accessories include a 1TB USB hard drive, and RF dongles for my air mouse and wireless gamepad, I booted the device, and after around 45 seconds (typically), I got to the main launcher.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

Since I received the device about a month ago, I decided to go to the UPDATE&BACKUP app to see if there was any OTA firmware update, and unfortunately, as you can see from the screenshot below online update was not enabled in the device with the error: “Check Failed! Check Your OTA Servier Argent” (sic).

update-backup-fail

So I went to Rikomagic download page, and I could find a new firmware, the latest USB burning tool, and instructions. It did not go very smoothly, but I still managed to flash the firmware, and I explained the issues I came across in details in the post entitled USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016. Still that was a disappointment to have to go through this, as the vast majority of TV boxes now support OTA firmware update through the network or SD cards, a much more user-friendly way to upgrade the firmware. The company explained that my early sample did not support OTA firmware update, but it should now. I tried again UPDATE&BACKUP, and got the same error, until I found another firmware update app called WirelessUpdate.

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Click to Enlarge

It won’t detect a new firmware since I have RKM MK22_161031 firmware released a week ago, but it did seem to properly check the status from the OTA server, telling that was not new update.

I won’t go into much details about the settings, as you can check my other S912 reviews for all options, for example M12N review. HDMI CEC, Playback settings (HDMI Adaptation), and Power key definition were all present in MK22 firmware. I had no troubles with settings Ethernet, WiFi, and the system automatically set my TV to 2160p @ 60 Hz and kept it that way throughout. I did not have the typical HDMI CEC issue turning on my AV receiver against my will. So it appears Rikomagic fixed some of the issues I encountered in early S912 TV boxes.

about-mediabox-rkm-mk22

I could also enter Android Marshmallow settings, and access all usual options. A single unified 11.38GB partition is used for both apps and storage from the 16GB eMMC flash, and the system runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux kernel 3.14.29. The firmware is rooted.

The provide remote control worked fine for up to 8 meters, as further away some keys would be missed. I reverted to MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse for most of the review because its mouse mode and QWERTY keyboard make it so much easier in most Android apps.

I could also power on and off (long press) the system with the remote, and make it enter standby (short press), with the following power consumption numbers when all accessories, include a USB hard drive, are connected:

  • Power off – 0 Watt
  • Standby – 5.1 Watts
  • Idle – 6.2 Watts

Temperature wise the box top and bottom temperatures reach 44 and 52 °C max after Antutu 6.x benchmark, and after 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2, they rise to about 47°C and 59°C respectively. I could not notice any performance degradation over time in the game, and performance was the same as on other Amlogic S912 TV boxes.

After my initial frustration with having to upgrade the firmware using Windows based Amlogic USB burning tool, the device actually performance well, just like other entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes, with the advantage of having several bugs fixed (HDMI CEC bug gone, HDMI video setting constant, …). Google Play also worked with any problems and could install all apps I normally use for reviews.

4K Video & Audio playback in Kodi 16.1, DRM Info

While some Amlogic S912 TV boxes are pre-loaded with Kodi 17.0 (alpha / beta), Rikomagic MK22 comes with the stable version of Kodi 16.1, possibly with some tweaks, as well as pre-installed add-ons.

mk22-kodi-16-1
Again, I’ll be quick in this review, as Amlogic S912 video playback performance is well known.  So I’ve only tested 4K videos, and checked whether automatic frame rate switching and HDMI audio pass-through are working. All videos were playing through the Gigabit Ethernet connection from a SAMBA share, unless otherwise noted (HDD = played from USB hard drive).

4K videos are playing reasonably well, although 2 had some unusual issues:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – First time: Video exited early (after 2 to 3 seconds). Second time: OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Started well, but after 30 seconds or so the image froze with the audio still playing in the background.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth, and audio delay (hardware does not support this type of video)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK (although video did not seem as sharp as usual)
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) –  OK
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – HDD: Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Plays but could be smoother.

Automatic frame rate switching is not working just like on other Amlogic S912 devices, even after setting it in both Kodi and Android (HDMI Adaptation).

HDMI audio passthrough works for 5.1 channel audio, and I could not detect any audio cuts during testing contrary to what happens on some other devices:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK, but video not smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – OK
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 5.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • DTS HD Master – DTS 5.1
  • DTS HD High Resolution – DTS 5.1
  • DTS:X (not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636) – DTS 5.1

So if all you really is Dolby and DTS 5.1, MK22 should be good enough, but TrueHD and DTS HD audio formats are not supported, at least in Kodi.

MK22 support Widevine Level 3 according to DRM Info, which may be useful for some premium video streaming app. This DRM level is only good enough for SD resolution on Widewine “protected” apps, as Level 1 would be required for HD and UHD resolution.

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Networking and Storage

In order to evaluate WiFi performance, I copy a 278 MBfile between the internal storage and a SAMBA server using ES File Explorer in both direction. As with many recent boxes, MK22 also experience an asymmetric performance between download and upload, with the latter about twice as slow. On average Rikomagic MK22 achieves 1.6 MB/s throughput using 802.11n, not a very high performance even for 802.11n, but what’s surprising is that all Amlogic S912 TV boxes are very closely tied for 802.1n WiFi performance, so there may be an issue with Amlogic SDK, or some other limitations.

WiFI throughput in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

WiFi throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Internal performance is also important for fast loading times and overall system performance, and the eMMC used in MK22 has very good performance with 63.65 MB/s read speed, and 20.23 MB/s write speed.

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Read and Write Speed in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

That means there should not be visible slowdowns due to I/Os (provided random I/Os are fast too), and indeed during testing I did not experience any slowdowns, and found apps to load rapidly. Somehow boot time could be a bit faster with such performance.

I also tested file systems support and found FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT file systems to be supported by the device.

Rikomagic MK22 System Info and Antutu Benchmark

CPU-Z reports Amlogic S912 clocked at 1.51 GHz, so Kudos to Rikomagic here, as they are the first to report the real CPU frequency of that processor. The board name is q6330, framebuffer resolution is set to 1920 x 1080, and there’s indeed 2GB RAM (1807MB due to hardware buffers), and 11.38 GB storage available to the user.

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RKM-MK22 achieved 40,827 points in Antutu 6.x, a score in line with other Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes I’ve tested so far.

rkm-mk22-antutu-score

Conclusion

I found Rikomagic MK22 to be stable and working mostly as expected, with some bugs corrected compared to earlier S912 TV box models under reviews, but with limitations frequently found in entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes with lack of support for automatic frame rate switching and HD audio (TrueHD, DTS HD) pass-through in Kodi, as well as DRM limited to Widewine Level 3. WiFi 802.11n is reliable, but performance is a bit weak, although similar to what you get with other Amlogic S912 devices. Storage speed is very good which ensure fast loading times and a responsive system. A big let down was lack of OTA firmware update, as I had to run USB burning tool to upgrade the firmware, but the company told me that from now on OTA firmware will be provided.

Rikomagic MK22 TV box can be purchased on the company’s Aliexpress store for $93.90 including shipping, or quite higher than equivalent competitors products. The Android box is also listed on GearBest, but still shown as “out of stock”.

Amlogic USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016

November 6th, 2016 18 comments

[Update November 2016: If you don’t like USB Burning Tool or don’t have the necessary USB cable, you can flash Amlogic IMG firmware to a micro SD card instead]

In the first few years when Android TV Boxes/mini PCs started to hit the markets, in the 2012-2014 period, online firmware update was inexistent for the vast majority of the boxes, and if you wanted to update your firmware you had to use some windows tools like USB Burning Tool for Amlogic, AndroidTool for Rockchip, or PhoenixUSBPro / PhonixSuite for Allwinner platforms. All those tools have poor design, for example the window is not resizable, so it’s impossible to your an old netbook (1024×600 resolution), and then you have to install drivers which is easy, for after detection of the box may be hit and miss, and you have to follow a procedure with the right power sequence with a USB cable connected to a USB OTG port (not always properly marked) and the recovery pin hole or button. It’s taken me close to 4 hours in the past to update firmware through that method switching between USB ports and computers to find out what may be wrong… Luckily in recent years, many devices are now supporting OTA firmware updates, or an easy offline update procedure using a micro SD card or USB flash drive. That means most people should not need to torture themselves using such terrible tools and procedure, unless your TV box is somehow bricked, in which case Windows tools, or their Linux equivalent, are required.

I’ve writing about this because Rikomagic must have been nostalgic and decided not to provide OTA firmware update, and only distribute MK22 TV box firmware as an IMG file for Amlogic USB Burning Tool, both of which can be downloaded on Rikomagic download page. Even though I must have had to use such tools for nearly two years, I was naively expecting it update the firmware in a few minutes, since I used such tools extensively in the past. I was wrong, and I did managed to flash the firmware after two hours, most of it due my own mistakes, as I forgot some of the caveat, and did not read the complete instructions. So I’ll report my experience in case it can help somebody.

The first challenge was to find which one of the USB ports is the OTG one, as there are three, and no specific markings. At first, none of the ports would be detected due the wrong recovery sequence as explained, but I eventually found out it was the lonely USB port on the side, on the left of the micro SD slot and recovery pinhole.

mk22-otg-port-recovery-button

I know that normally you need to insert a toothpick in the recovery button and apply power, before releasing the recovery button, and I did just that and could not get into recovery mode at anytime. My mistake was that I had also inserted the USB cable, and it took me a while to realize it would also power the power through USB, not enough to show anything on the TV, but enough to boot the processor, and prevent me from accessing recovery mode. So the correct procedure, is to enter recovery mode by pressing the recovery button, applying power, and a few second later release the recovery button, and only then you can insert the USB cable.

After that I fired up a Windows 7 virtual image through VirtualBox, and installed USB Burning Tool and drivers by clicking on setup_v2.0.5.15_build7.exe downloaded from Rikomagic website. The installation went smoothly, but after enabling “Amlogic” device in Virtual Box, it would report the device is not supported, so I removed the drivers and reinstalled them, and I could get “Worldcup Device” in the Device Manager.

Good, now I can start USB Burning Tool, change the language to English in the program, and the TV box is detected, so I loaded the firmware file (File->Import Image… RKM MK22_161031.img), hoping to get ready to flash the firmware, but I got another error message “Get key failed” with the mac = 0 on the right window when click on Start button… Very odd.

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But I’m not the only one with the issue, and for some reasons, Amlogic decided to add a license to their factory software… Hard to understand why, but I should definitely have read the provided “MK22.MK06 Software installation intructions-161013.doc” manual, as it explicitly states to

copy the folderlicense to the path when you set by this step. For example: I set C:\Program Files (x86)\Amlogic\USB_Burning_Tool

And there’s indeed a license folder in the downloaded file from Rikomagic, so I copied the directory to C:\Program Files (x86)\Amlogic\USB_Burning_Tool, overwriting the current license directory, and started USB burning tool again. Hmm… same “get key failed” error… Should I reboot? Let’s do it, but same error again after reboot.

So I decided to uninstall everything, and start from start with the drivers and USB Burning Tool, and made sure I copied the license directory before starting USB burning tool. After which I started the program, loaded the firmware file, click on Start button, and after just under 7 minutes I had managed to flash the firmware! Woohoo!

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That was a painful experience. So while there’s a case (firmware recovery) for such tools and images, end users should not be asked to install the firmware through that method. It’s complicated, and the default settings wipe out your data and apps.

Rikomagic MK22 Octa-core Android TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

October 3rd, 2016 8 comments

Rikomagic became a much better known company when they launched MK802 TV stick in 2012, and over the years they’ve kept introducing new products, and I’ve just received a review sample of their latest Rikomagic MK22 octa-core Android TV box powered by Amlogic S912 processor. I’ve posted photos of the device and its accessories, and check out the hardware design in the first part of the review, before testing Android 6.0 firmware in the second part in a few weeks.

Rikomagic MK22 Unboxing

I received MK22 in its black and white retail package.

rikomagic-mk22-package
The back of the package details the main features, and the hardware specifications.

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Instead of printing a user’s manual that anybody will hardly read, the company instead printed a QR Core to MK22 user’s manual download link.

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The TV box ships with a 5V/2.5A power supply, an HDMI cable, and an IR remote control that looks the same as used with Ugoos TV boxes and GeekBox board.

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The case is made of plastic with the top having a speaker like design. We’ll find a USB port, a micro SD slot, and the firmware recovery pinhole on one of the sides, and an external WiFi antenna, two more USB 2.0 ports, optical S/PDIF output, AV and HDMI 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 connector, and the power jack on the rear panel.

Rikomagic MK22 Teardown

In order to open the device, I had to remove the four rubber pads on the bottom of the case, and loosen four screws.

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One of them was really hard to remove, but I eventually managed, and could have a closer look at CZ-S29-V2 board, which has a naming scheme very similar to CZ-S32-V2.1 board found in R-Box Pro TV box.

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Click to Enlarge

A now common black and relatively thin heatsink is placed on top of Amlogic S912 processor, which is connected to a 16GB Samsung KLMAG2WEMB-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash (Seq. R/W: 170/11 MB/s; IOPS R/W: 4000/500), and two SKHynix H5TQ45G3CFR DDR3 chips (1GB RAM) on this side of the board. The board also features AP6330 wirelress module for dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as Pulse H5007NL and Realtek RTL8211F for Gigabit Ethernet. The serial console should be the unpopulated 4-pin on the right side, right one top of two unused USB 2.0 PCB footprints. The 24-pin unpopulated header on the bottom right are probably reserved for a front panel LCD display.

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The bottom of the board comes with two more SKHynix DDR3 chip to bring the total to 2GB RAM, as well as a sticker with a MAC address starting with 78:C2:C0, corresponding to any unregistered MAC address range, but again the same range as found in R-Box Pro.

I’d like to thank Rikomagic for sending the box for review, and if you are interested in the device, the company sells MK22 TV box on their Aliexpress store for $90.90 including shipping. I could also find it listed on GearBest, but it’s currently “out of stock”.

[Update: Part 2 is up @ Rikomagic MK22 Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Video & Audio in Kodi, Benchmarks…]

Amlogic S912 Android TV Boxes List So Far

August 15th, 2016 52 comments

Following up on the tradition to create list of TV boxes with popular processor, such as my Amlogic S905 TV boxes and sticks list, I’ve decided to generate a comparison table for the first ten Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes announced so far. There won’t be any S912 TV sticks, as the processor probably dissipate a little too much heat to be useful in that form factor.

Amlogic_S912_TV_Boxes

All TV boxes in the table below share the same Amlogic S912 octa-core Cortex A53 processor @ 2.0 GHz with an ARM Mali-820MP3 GPU, support for HDMI 2.0a output, HDR, 4K video playback for  VP9, H.265 and H.264 codecs, and run Android 6.0, so I only included columns for items that differ between products.

 MemoryStorageVideo OutputAudio OutputEthernetWirelessUSBPrice
MXQ Plus M12N / ENYBOX X22GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF10/100M802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$69.99
Zoomtak Vplus2GB16GB + SD slotHDMI + RCA compositeHDMI, RCA stereo, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.03x USB 2.0$54 (FOB)
Nexbox A12GB16GB + SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$70.99 (Coupon GBNA1)
Rikomagic MK222GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0, 1x USB OTG portTBD
R-Box Pro2 or 3 GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0, 1x micro USB OTG 2GB RAM: $74.99
3GB RAM: $82.99
QINTAIX Q9122GB8 or 16 GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.03x USB 2.0TBD
Beelink GT12GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMIHDMI, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0TBDx USB 2.0$55.99 (coupon GBGT1)
Videostrong KM8 Pro2GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI + AVGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$47 (FOB)
Vontar Z5 Supermax2GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$89.99
Intbox i72GB8GB + SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$118.00

Remarks: AV means 3.5mm AV jack with composite and stereo audio, and prices are usually retail prices with shipping by registered airmail from China, except for the ones followed by “FOB” which are factory prices.

Corrections are welcomed in the comments section, as well as tips about new S912 boxes not mentioned in this post.

Rikomagic MK22 Amlogic S912 TV Box is Coming Soon

August 8th, 2016 4 comments

We already know Amlogic S912 TV boxes are coming, after several Amlogic S912 TV box boards surfaced, and products such as Qintaix Q912, and Beelink GT1 were announced. So it’s no surprise that Rikomagic has announced their own Amlogic S912 TV box with MK22.

Rikomagic_MK22

Rikomagic MK22 Specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 2.0GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 @ up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash and micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 and AV ports
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video codecs – VP9-10/ and H.265 up to [email protected], H.264, WMV, MPEG-1/2/4, VC-1, AVS, and RealVideo up to [email protected]
  • Audio codecs – MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, FLAC, Ogg, and programmable with 7.1/5.1 down-mixing
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB OTG port
  • Misc – IR receiver, power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions & weight –  TBD

The box will run Android 6.0 with Google, and either custom launcher or Android home screen (user selectable), and come pre-loaded with Kodi with support for hardware decoding. MK22 will ship with HDMI and AV cables, an USB cable, the power supply, a remote control, and a user’s manual.

The company did not provide any availability, nor price information. MK22 does not have a product page on their website either, but should eventually be listed on Rikomagic Android PC page.

Rikomagic MK36SLE (Linux Edition) Based on Intel Atom x5-Z8300 Processor Runs Ubuntu 15.04

December 11th, 2015 10 comments

When people think about Linux on Intel platform, they often believe it’s just as easy as flashing an Ubuntu ISO on a USB stick and install it on their computer. While that’s true for desktop or laptop processors, the low power Intel Atom processors for tablets such as Bay Trail-T or Cherry Trail are not well supported in Linux with various issues ranging from an incompatible UEFI binary to a complete lack of audio support. So far, most companies have not provided a decent version of Atom Z3735F or Atom x5-Z8x00 mini PCs with Linux, and all the work has been done by the community such as this Ubuntu 14.04 image for Atom Z3735F. But Rikomagic must have worked on a Cherry Trail Linux port, more exactly Ubuntu 15.04, for their MK36S Cherry Trail mini PC, and has now launched MK36SLE (Linux Edition). [Update: While most features are currently workings, HDMI audio is still not OK, but you can use speakers via the 3.5mm audio jack. See comment]

MK36SLE

MK36SLE specifications are exactly the same as the Windows 10 version:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.84 GHz with Intel Gen8 HD graphics.
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot up to 64 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm speaker/microphone jack
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – Power button, LED on top of device
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions & Weight – N/A

Intel_Atom_x5_Ubuntu_LInux

The mini PC runs Ubuntu 15.04 64-bit with a 64-bit UEFI “BIOS”, and ships with an HDMI cable, a 12V power adapter, and a user’s manual.

Rikomagic Cherry Trail Ubuntu computer is available for pre-order for 114.99 GBP ($174) on Cloudsto.com with worldwide shipping included, and scheduled in one week from now. It’s 5 GBP ($7.5) more than MK36S with Windows on the same site. MK36S is also currently available for $136.90 on Aliexpress, so hopefully the Ubuntu version will also soon be listed for the same price or a few dollars higher. The only other option to have Linux on Intel Atom x5 (that I know of) is UP Board, but it’s not on the market just yet.

Rikomagic MK36S mini PC is Powered by Intel Atom x5-Z8300 Processor

October 23rd, 2015 8 comments

Rikomagic MK36S is one of the latest mini PCs featuring Intel Atom x5-Z8300 processor combined with 2GB RAM and 32GB eMMC flash, and is basically a processor upgrade to the company’s MK36 mini PC based on Intel Atom Z3736F processor.

Rikomagic_MK36SMK36S specifications with highlights in bold showing improvements over MK36:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz (Burst/Turbo frequency: 1.84 GHz) with Intel Gen8 HD graphics @ 500 MHz
  • System Memory – 2 GB RAM
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm microphone jack
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – Power button, LED on top of device
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions & Weight – N/A

The device will come pre-installed with  Windows 10, and the specifications a very similar to Tronsmart Ara X5 mini PC. A review showed that although the CPU would bring limited performance improvement, the GPU could be about twice as fast as a “Bay Trail-T” processor. All these Intel based mini PCs are pretty similar, and since nobody is going to change the closed source firmware (Windows 10), the most important differences are the thermal design, and internal storage performance.

Rikomagic MK36S should become available in November, with pricing undisclosed so far, and in due time, the mini PC should show up on Rikomagic Aliexpress store.

Via AndroidPC.es

List of Rockchip RK3368 Android mini PCs

August 9th, 2015 59 comments

Last year, Rockchip RK3288 was always going to be popular, since it offered a massive performance upgrade compared to its predecessor (Rockchip RK3188) with Cortex A17 cores replacing Cortex A9 cores, and a Mali-T764 GPU replacing an aging Mali-400MP4 GPU, plus the addition of 4K video output and decoding, as well as H.265 video codec support. So many manufacturers got involved that I decided to write a list of RK3288 TV boxes and sticks. Rockchip RK3368, the company’s new “flagship” processor for 2015, is a bit less exciting despite providing eight 64-bit ARM cores, since Cortex A53 cores are significantly less powerful than the Cortex A17 cores found in RK3288, and the performance of the PowerVR G6110 GPU used in the processor is a bit of an unknown for now. RK3368 might still rank pretty well in benchmark since it comes with eight cores instead of four cores, but I’m not convinced it will really show during normal use, although the upgrade to Android 5.1 on the newer processor may also help. The main improvement is probably support for 4K @ 60Hz video decoding and output (HDMI 2.0), which was not possible with RK3288 and lower end 4K UHD televisions.

Rockchip_RK3368_mini_PCNevertheless, it’s still interesting to look at new platforms, and I’ve compiled a list of RK3368 mini PCs announced so far, some of which already ship:

  • Eny EKB368 – TV box with 1 or 2GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: TBD
  • Beelink i68 – TV box with 1 or 2 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $71 on GearBest (1GB RAM/8GB flash version)
  • Tronsmart Orion R68 – TV box based on Beelink i68 platform with two models:
    • Pro – 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $75 on GeekBuying.
    • Meta – 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $99.99 on GeekBuying.
  • CSA90 – TV box with two models:
    • Model 1 – 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) output. Price: $70 on Aliexpress.
    • Model 2 – 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) output. Price: $96 on Aliexpress.
  • Rikomagic MK68 – TV box with 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $111.90 on Aliexpress
  • Zero Devices Z64 – TV box apparently based on CSA90 “Model 2” but with Gigabit Ethernet. Price: $125 on Asiapads.
  • Measy B4T – TV box with 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0. Price: $72.95 on Aliexpress
  • CloudnetGo CR13 Plus – TV box with 2 GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0. Price: TBD.
  • CloudnetGo CR18 – TV box with 2 GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) outputs. Price: TBD.
  • X6 – TV box with 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth (Maybe), 2x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) outputs. Price: $57 on Aliexpress. Note: X6 model was supposed to be for the Chinese market, but the few who bought appear satisfied.
  • Himedia H7 III – TV box with 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) outputs. Price: $89.89 on Aliexpress. The firmware is likely in Chinese only (TBC).
  • Ugoos UT4 – Upcoming RK3368 TV Box with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi. Listing found on Android Warehouse. Price: TDB

All boxes run Android 5.1, and prices when available including shipping. The cheapest and lower end model is X6 selling for $57, with other 1GB RAM/8GB flash boxes selling for around $70. The best devices in terms of features appear to be Rikomagic MK68 and Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta both with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC flash, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi, and selling respectively for $100 and $112. For reference, their Rockchip RK3288 equivalent, namely Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta and Rikomagic MK902 II sell respectively for $115 and $113. So far, nobody appears to have come up with a Rockchip RK3368 HDMI TV stick. Not sure whether the cause is fading demand for sticks, the CPU gets a little too hot, or we just need to be patient.

Corrections and additions to the list are more than welcome.