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Amazon Launches $99 Fire TV Android Media Player Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Quad Core SoC

April 3rd, 2014 18 comments

After few months ago, news broke that Amazon was working on an Android STB. The company has now launched Amazon Fire TV media player featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 quad core Krait processor with 2GB RAM, and supporting Amazon Prime Video, as well as a host of other popular online video and audio streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, Pandora, and more.

Amazon_Fire_TVLet’s go through the specifications first:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 quad core Krait 300 processor @ 1.7 GHz with Adreno 320 GPU. (Part of Snapdragon 600 family)
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR2 @ 533 MHZ
  • Storage – 8 GB internal
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDCP. Resolution: 720p and 1080p up to 60fps
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical SPDIF
  • Video Codecs -  H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1
  • Audio Codecs – AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3, Dolby Digital Plus, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch Stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual-band/dual-antenna 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (MIMO),  Bluetooth 4.0 (profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP),
  • USB -  1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Dimensions  – 115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm
  • Weight – 281 grams

Amazon also included specs for the “Fire TV Remote” provided with their box:

  • Communication Protocol – Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP
  • Buttons – Voice, 5-way Directional, Back, Home, Menu, Rewind, Play/Pause, Fast Forward
  • Dimensions – 38.3 mm x 139.9 mm x 16.1 mm
  • Weight 68 grams with batteries (45.5 grams without batteries)
  • Power – 2x AAA Batteries  (included)

The remote supports voice search thanks to two digital microphones.

Fire TV and Remote Description (Click to Enlarge)

Fire TV and Remote Description (Click to Enlarge)

Amazon Fire TV will come with the aforementioned remote, 2x AAA batteries, a power adapter, and a Quick Start Guide. An optional Game Controller is also available. The device runs FireOS, an highly customized Android firmware based on Android 4.2.

Amazon has also provided a comparison table including Fire TV STB, as well as what the company considers as its main competitors, namely Roku 3, Apple TV and Google ChromeCast.

Amazon Fire TV vs Roku 3 vs Apple TV vs ChomeCast (Click to Enlarge)

Amazon Fire TV vs Roku 3 vs Apple TV vs ChomeCast (Click to Enlarge)

When it comes to hardware, Fire TV is clearly ahead, so if the firmware is right you should have a very smooth experience. Fire TV appears to have support for  most of popular online U.S. video and audio services, lacking only HBO GO, and support for a greater amount of games, but it’s quite likely they put aside some others strong points of the Roku, Apple TV, and ChromeCast. I can’t really comment here, as I have never really looked into Roku or Apple TV in details.

Together with Fire TV launch, Amazon also announced FireTV SDK to let developer brings apps to their new device. All information you need should be available on  Amazon Developer’s Fire TV page.

Fire TV is available and shipping now for just $99 on Amazon (US only), and the Game Controller can also be pre-ordered for $39.99 with shipping scheduled for the 7th of April. You may also get a free 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime when you purchase Fire TV.

Thanks to CSilie for the tip

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Here Comes Android Wear, Android for Wearables

March 19th, 2014 2 comments

Google has just unveiled Android Wear, a project that extends Android to wearables, as well as the developer preview. At first, Google will start with watches, but the project may eventually support other wearables. The smartwatch will be smartphone companion with easy access to voice and contextual data.
Google_WearGoogle explains Android Wear will provide timely and useful information such as important social updates, or news. You’ll be able to use the familiar “Ok Google”  to ask questions or complete tasks (call, SMS, alerts…) with your watch, Android Wear devices will be able to act as health and fitness bandsand they’ll also be used a smart remote to voice-control your phone, TV or Hi-Fi. Some of the first devices to use Android Wear will be Motorola Moto 360 and LG G Watch.But Google plans to work with Asus, HTC, and Samsung as well, chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm, and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring watches powered by Android Wear to market later this year.
Android_Wear

Google also released Android Wear Developer Preview to let developers experiment with new APIs, and bring new apps to wearables. Development can be done just like with Android in Eclipse or Android Studio, and there’s a specific emulator to try out apps in small squared or rounded display. Since this is a preview only,  this SDK is for development and testing purposes only, not for production apps, as Google may change this Developer Preview significantly prior to the official release of the Android Wear SDK.


You can visit Android Developer’s Wear page for more details.

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Categories: Android Tags: Android, google, sdk, smart watch

Tizen Software Development Kit for Wearables is Now Available for Download

March 18th, 2014 No comments

Samsung Electronics has just announced today that Tizen Software Development Kit (SDK) for Wearables 1.0.0 Beta1 is now available for download on Tizen Developer website. The SDK can be used to develop application for the Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo smartwatches announced by Samsung at Mobile World Congress 2014.

Samsung_Gear_2The Tizen SDK for Wearable is comprised of tools to develop Tizen wearable applications, including the Tizen wearable IDE, an Emulator, a toolchain, sample applications, and documentation. This SDK is compatible with Ubuntu 12.04 or 12.10 (32- or 64-bit), Microsoft Windows XP (32-bit) Service Pack 2 or later, Microsoft Windows 7 (32- or 64-bit), Apple Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (64-bit), Apple Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (64-bit), and Apple Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks (64-bit).

Samsung claims to have over 100 partnerships that will bring apps to their Tizen smartwatches. Existing apps including Atooma (tasks automation), Banjo (social networks), Dacadoo (health and fitness), Feedly (RSS), Focus TRAINR, iHeartRadio, Runtastic, and many more.

The SDK can be downloaded either via an install manager (~5MB), or as a full SDK image (~550MB). Alongside the common web framework (HTML5), there’s also a wearable framework that includes the “context manager” to control various sensors and context data via Motion Web API, and Samsung Accessory Protocol (SAP) communication stack to interact with various smart devices.

More information can be found on Tizen SDK for Wearables’ release notes.

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Categories: Samsung Exynos, Tizen Tags: sdk, tizen

$60 MarsBoard RK3066 (Partially) Open Source Hardware Development Board Supports Android & PicUntu

March 3rd, 2014 9 comments

Until now if you wanted a low cost Rockchip development board you’d have to go with Radxa Rock (Quad core RK3188) or WaxBerry Pi2 (Dual core RK3066). Thanks to Haoyu Electronics , the company who made MarsBoard A10, there’s now another option with MarsBoard RK3066 powered by Rockchip RK3066 dual core Cortex A9 SoC with 1 to 2 GB RAM, 4 to 8 GB Flash and lots of ports and expansion connectors.

MarsBoard RK3066 (Click to Enlarge)

MarsBoard RK3066 (Click to Enlarge)

MarsBoard RK3066 is composed of a baseboard (SOM-RK3066) and a computer on module (CM-RK3066) with the following specifications:

  • CM-RK3066 Computer-on-Module:
    • SoC – Rockchip RK3066 dual core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.6Ghz + Mali-400MP4 GPU
    • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 SDRAM up to 2GB
    • Storage – 4GB Nand Flash & eMMC FLASH
    • Power Management Unit – TPS659102
    • Misc – TX indicator LED use for debug, Power Indicator LED
    • 10/100M Ethernet PHY – LAN8720A
  • SOM-RK3066 Baseboard:
    • Storage – micro SD card socket up to 128 GB
    • Video Output – HDMI A Type socket, LCD interface
    • Audio – Headphone and speaker output, microphone (not soldered), Audio Codec IC ALC5631Q
    • Connectivity – RJ45 10/100M Ethernet
    • USB – 4 x USB 2.0 Host port, Micro USB DEBUG port (vai CP2102), Micro USB OTG port
    • Misc – IR Receiver (not soldered), CR1220 battery holder for RTC, VOL + (Recover Key), VOL -, ESC, and Power Keys
    • Expansion Port – 2x 20 pin headers (including Camera CIF signals),
    • Power Supply – 5V/2A
MarsBoard Rk3066 - CoM and Baseboard (Click to Enlarge)

MarsBoard Rk3066 – CoM and Baseboard (Click to Enlarge)

A 7″ TFT LCD display with capacitive touch panel (Model HY07CTP-A) with 800×480 resolution,  is also available for purchase and supported by the firmware. The company provides firmware for Linux (PicUntu) and Android 4.2.2, and if you go over the download page, you’ll find links to hardware schematics (PDF only), software tools for Windows and Linux, and firmware files to boot from flash or micro SD card. There’s also a link to their FTP server, where you’ll find Android 4.1.1 and 4.2.2 SDK, Orcad schematics, PCB layout and gerber files for the baseboard, datasheets for the main components, and some more documentation. As usual, there does not seem to be any license attached to the hardware files. The company has also setup a wiki and a forum for the board, albeit there’s not much to see there for now.

MarsBoard RK3066 and the touchscreen display can be purchased for respectively $60 and $35 including shipping via Haoyu Electronics e-Store (hotmcu). You can visit MarsBoard.com for more information.

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Telechips TCC892X/TCC893X Android 4.2.2 SDK Leaked

February 12th, 2014 10 comments

I’ve been informed that an Android 4.2.2 SDK for Telechips TCC892x and the newer TCC893x (TCC8930, TCC8933, TCC8935) dual core SoCs has been leaked on the Internet. The file (v13.03_r1-tcc-android-4.2.2.tar.bz2) is a 2.7GB tarball, and appears to be a full SDK. You can download the file here if you are interested.

Telechips_TCC8935_make_menuconfigAfter extraction, there’s 6.7 GB of data in the following directories:

40M ./libcore 5.8M ./docs 31M ./ndk
5.0M ./gdk 1.2G ./frameworks 324K ./pdk
95M ./development 18M ./bionic 544M ./kernel
228M ./device 106M ./hardware 24M ./bootable
295M ./packages 55M ./sdk 151M ./cts
2.4G ./prebuilts 1.7G ./external 40M ./dalvik
9.1M ./system 108K ./libnativehelper 6.9M ./build
104K ./abi 47M ./vendor

The linux kernel is based on Linux 3.1.10, and there are a few config files to choose from with configs forh HDMI TV dongles, micro PCs, STBs, and evaluation boards for TCC8930, TCC8935, TCC8920 and TCC8925.

kernel/arch/arm/configs$ ls tcc*
tcc8920st_defconfig          tcc8935st_dongle_single_defconfig
tcc8925st_dongle_defconfig   tcc8935st_upc_defconfig
tcc8925st_upc_defconfig      tcc8935st_upc_single_defconfig
tcc8925st_yj8925t_defconfig  tcc8935st_yj8935t_defconfig
tcc892x_defconfig            tcc8935st_yj8935t_single_defconfig
tcc8930st_defconfig          tcc893x_defconfig
tcc8930st_single_defconfig   tcc893x_single_defconfig
tcc8935st_dongle_defconfig

YJ8925T boards supports HDMI and CVBS video output, UPC support HDMI only, and others support HDMI, CVBS, and component outputs.

You’ll also find a few details about the platforms in the bootloader (bootable/bootloader/lk/target/tcc8930st_evm/rules.mk):

#------------------------------------------------------------------
# Define board revision
# 0x6230 : STBM   /TCC8930 /DDR3 1024MB(32BIT) /None
# 0x7300 : YAOJIN /TCC8935 /DDR3 512MB (16BIT) /None
# 0x7310 : YAOJIN /TCC8935 /DDR3 1024MB (16BIT) /None
# 0x8310 : UPC    /TCC8935 /DDR3 1024MB(16BIT) /None
# 0x9300 : DONGLE /TCC8935 /DDR3 512MB (16BIT) /None

There are also several build options for Android:

source build/envsetup.sh

You can run lunch to find out which Telechips builds are available, and start the build.

lunch
...
16. full_m805_892x-eng
17. full_m805_893x-eng
18. full_tcc8920st-eng
19. full_tcc8920-eng
20. full_tcc8930st-eng
21. full_tcc893x-eng

Run make -j10 to start the build.

full_tcc893x-eng fails to buid, and full_m805_893x-eng as well with the error:

frameworks/base/core/java/com/android/internal/widget/LockPatternUtils.java:1280: error 114: @deprecated tag with no explanatory comment
DroidDoc took 137 sec. to write docs to out/target/common/docs/doc-comment-check
make: *** [out/target/common/docs/doc-comment-check-timestamp] Error 45

Following instructions found @ https://community.freescale.com/thread/303944, you can just  edit frameworks/base/core/java/com/android/internal/widget/LockPatternUtils.java, and remove line 1280 “* @deprecated”.

The build will go further, but stops with:

Checking API: checkapi-last
frameworks/base/api/17.txt:21088: error 9: Removed public constructor SmsMessage()
frameworks/base/api/17.txt:21089: error 9: Removed public method android.telephony.gsm.SmsMessage.calculateLength
frameworks/base/api/17.txt:21090: error 9: Removed public method android.telephony.gsm.SmsMessage.calculateLength
frameworks/base/api/17.txt:21091: error 9: Removed public method android.telephony.gsm.SmsMessage.createFromPdu

You can remove the complete “SmsMessage” class in 17.txt, and run make update-api, before carrying on with, and hopefully completing, the build.

Documentation related to Telechips TCC893x SoCs is available in ./vendor/telechips/documents/common/pdf/ directory:
Telechips_TCC893X_DocumentationYou’ll also find tools and binaries in ./vendor/telechips/ directory.

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Review of Beelink A9 RK3188 Android Media Player

January 20th, 2014 20 comments

Beelink A9 is an Android TV Box powered by Rockchip RK3188 SoC with 2GB RAM, and 8GB RAM (See full specs). The hardware is pretty standard, but the company released Android 4.4 SDK for the device, so when Beelink / Nexteon told me they wanted to send me one for review, I accepted. I won’t test the Android SDK today, but I’ll just show the pictures of the device, and run my usual series of tests for review. The shipped sample is not running Android 4.4 (beta), but Android 4.2.2.

Unboxing Pictures

I’ve received this Android media player in the no brand package below. I’m not sure if Beelink will sell directly to individuals, so you’ll likely to received some different if you order Tronsmart A928 or Zero Devices Z6C which are based on the same platform.
Beelink_A9_Package
There are quite a few accessories in the package: The box itself, a small IR remote, 2x USB OTG to USB adapters, 2x micro USB to USB cables, a long HDMI cable, a 5V/2A power supply, and a user’s manual in English and Chinese.

Beelink A9 and Accessories

Beelink A9 and Accessories

There’s no much to see from the front of the device except the power button, and the glossy cover which acts like a dust magnet…
Beelink_A9
The back and sides of the device are more interesting as this is where all the ports are.
Beelink_A9_ConnectorsFrom left to right, we’ve got the power jack, an audio jack, S/PDIF optical output, Ethernet, HDMI, one USB port, and a USB OTG port at the back, and two more USB port and a micro SD slot on the side.

You can watch the unboxing video below if you please.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

Let’s connect an HDMI cable, an Ethernet cable, some input device (RF dongle for Mele F10 air mouse), and the power supply to get started. I haven’t use the IR remote during testing. It works OK, but as usual is not very practical with Android. Unlike most Android STB it won’t start automatically, and you need to press on the power button for at least one second to boot the device. A  dim blue light will lit the button, and you’ll almost immediately see Google TV logo on your TV, followed by the Android animation, and within just over 30 seconds, you’ll see the Android launcher.

Beelink A9 Android Home Screen / Launcher (Click for Original Size)

Beelink A9 Android Home Screen / Launcher (Click for Original Size)

I really link this launcher as it look nice, you can see a slideshow of your pictures at the top left, and music controls are easily accessible.  The only problem is that you won’t be able to add your own App to the home screen, and will have to click on Apps to find them.

Within seconds, another screen popped up, as the device supports automatic OTA update.

Beelink_A9_OTAI’m not sure there are many changes (same date), but I accept the upgrade anyway, and after two reboot it was complete.

Lets’ go through the settings menu. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Ethernet options are available for connectivity. I had no problem with Wi-Fi and Ethernet, but although Bluetooth is built-in, I was unable to enable Bluetooth at all. You can only use Wi-Fi or Ethernet at a time, not both.  There’s also the section for Data usage, as well as options to configure VPN, portable hotspot, and PPPoE, but I haven’t tried any of these.

The Display menu will let you select the wall paper, sleep time, and font size, and if you want to adjust your screen video output, you’ll need to go top the Screen section. There’s a menu to adjust overscan (Screen Scale),  an Output Interface selection with only HDMI, and HDMI mode to select 720×480@60, 720×576@50, 720p50, 720p60, 1080p50, or 1080p60. The UI itself is fixed to 1280×720 as usual.The “Sound Devices Manage” in the Sound section will be you select the following audio output: RK29_RT5631 (downsampling via HDMI), ROCKCHIP-SPDIF, RK29_RT5631 & ROCKCHIP-SPDIF, ROcKCHIP-SPDIF PASSTHROUGH, or RK29_RT5631 PASSTHROUGH. I still don’t have an home theather system so I did not test S/PDIF pass-through, but I’ve got a new HDTV that comes with its own SW media player, so I though HDMI pass-through might just work, but I had no audio at all after selecting RK29_RT5631 PASSTHROUGH. Not sure if this is the TV limitations, or Beelink A9 issue.

The device has 8GB of NAND flash, and the storage is partitioned so that apps get 1.97GB (1.37GB available), and there’s 3.95 GB for user’s data, the rest being used by the system. Developer options are visible and enabled by default, with lots of different options, and the firmware is already rooted. Looking into the “About device” section shows the device model number is  “A9″, and it’s running Android 4.2.2 with Linux kernel 3.0.36+.

I could install all applications I tried via Google Play including ES File Explorer, Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Candy Crush, Raging thunder 2,  etc… All Apps I tried could run just fine. The power buttons on the IR remote and the device itself, do not completely turn the unit off, but just put it into suspend mode.

Like with RK3188 based device, the firmware appears to be very stable, and  I did not experience a single crash or hand, and it’s run very smoothly.

Video Playback

XBMC Custom XAF is pre-installed with several add-ons (See pic) and the UI is rendered @ 60fps, but since this version of XBMC just calls MX Player, I’ve just used MX Player and ES File Explorer for video playback tests, since I find it more convenient. The videos used below were played from  a SAMBA share in Ubuntu 13.10 via the Ethernet port of the device.

I started with the videos from samplemedia.linaro.org:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – Do not play (like it’s loading forever)
  • WebM / VP8,  480p, 720p, 1080p – OK

High bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – OK most of the time, but in some fast moving scene the video is choppy, and the audio cuts. There was also a massive audio/video sync issue.
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – Mostly OK, but I did notice it buffered for a short while once in the middle of the video.
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK

The device could decode all high-end audio codecs, but Ethernet appears to be weak on the device, and some buffering and audio cuts happened:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – Decoding OK, but very long buffering during playback (2s playback, 10s buffering repeatedly)
  • DTS-MA – Decoding OK, but some short (<1s) buffering occurred during video playback.
  • DTS-HR – OK

I used the default RK29_RT5631 mode (audio downmixing) to playback those files. SPDIF and HDMI pass-through are also supposed to  work in theory, but I don’t have the equipment to test it.

I also played some other videos in different containers AVI, MKV, VOB, FLV and they could all play just fine.  I could not notice any issues such as frame skipping. There was however one annoying issue when seeking while playing with MX Player just exiting.

So video and audio decoding performance is quite good, but it is limited by the mediocre performance of the Ethernet connection. Video @ 30Mbps will have trouble to play smoothly. Even ED_HD.avi @ 10Mbps could not play smoothly, but video are using VBR (Variable Bit Rate), and I don’t know how to check the real-time bitrate with Android players.

Wi-Fi Performance

I’ve then connected the device via Wi-Fi router to test Wi-Fi performance. I transferred a 278 MB video files between SAMBA and the internal flash and repeated the test three times. On average, the transfer took 2:33 (1.81 MB/s), which is one of the fastest Android device I’ve tested, and is close to what you’d get with MK908, but still far from CS868. Beelink A9 features AP6330 module, but is significantly faster than T428 with the same module.

Beelink_A9_Wi-Fi_performanceThese are the results for my setup, and yours may vary considerably.

Rochchip WiFiDisplay app (Miracast) is also installed, but also it detected my phone (ThL W200 / MT6589T) correctly, I was unable to use Miracast a my phone kept trying to connect.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Built-in Bluetooth can not be enabled. External BT USB dongle us not recognized either.

External Storage

My USB flash drive was automatically recognized and mount, so I’d expect external USB hard drives to work too. I also inserted a microSD card in the device and it works fine.

USB Webcam

I tested two webcams. An old Logitech webcam was no recognized, but a noname webcam could be detected by the system.

Gaming

I’ve tested 3 games: Angry Birds Star Wars II Free, Candy Crush Saga, and Racing Thunder 2. They could all run fine, and be control with Mele F10 remote.  As usual, the IR remote control can not be used for games. Bluetooth is not working at all, so no luck with getting sixaxis to work either. If you like to play with DroidMote, /dev/uinput is present so it should work.

Beelink A9 Benchmarks

Beelink A9 being yet another RK3188 box, I was not expecting much from the benchmarks, but I was wrong, as I learned something new.

Beelink_A9_AntutuAndroid media players and mini PCs based on Rockchip RK3188 now get at least 17,000, and often 18,000 @ 1.6GHz without overclocking, but Beelink A9 only gets 15,356 points. A closer look show “CPU 1416Mhz (4x)”, so for some reasons the CPU clock has been set to 1.4 GHz instead 1.6 GHz.
Beelink_A9_QuadrantQuandrant results are also disappointing, and system information indicates the same 1.4 GHz frequency. What is going on? It tuns out, AndroidPC.es reported about RK3188-T this week-end, a low cost version of RK3188 that can be clocked at 1.4GHz, and you can get more information on Freaktab. Some manufacturers will just change RK3188 to  RK3188-T in their devices to save a few bucks, but the device will still be promoted as RK3188. To be honest, the performance difference is not really noticeable, but it’s a lie if they do so. That’s perfectly OK if the manufacturer clearly announces it’s using RK3188-T instead of RK3188. Radxa Rock is based on RK3188, but Radxa Rock Lite will probably feature RK3188-T instead. Anyway, it’s likely Beelink A9 uses RK3188-T, at least the sample I used, let’s open the box to find out.

Inside Beelink A9

Opening the device is very easy, as you just have to remove two screws, no plastic clips get in the way.
Beelink_A9_Board_with_Shield
There a large shield on top of the board, so I had to remove 5 more screw to disassemble the board from the bottom of the enclosure, and lift some pads to remove the shield.

Top of Beelink A9 Board

Top of Beelink A9 Board

On the top of the board, we’ll have all the connectors, four RAM chips, AP6330 Wi-Fi module, ITE IT66121FN HDMI transmitter, COTOP C1602NS for Ethernet, and a few others components. The Rockchip SoC is also there, but markings are not visible, so I can’t confirm it’s using RK3188-T, although benchmarks imply it does. The board name/version is Nexteon H86_V20_20131116.

Bottom of Beelink A9 Board

Bottom of Beelink A9 Board

On the other side, we’ve got 8 GB flash, and space for another 8GB chip, as well as serial pins (GND, Tx, RX)  at the top right close to the flat cable for the power button board.

Conclusion

The hardware and/or firmware still have some issues such as Bluetooth not working, and mediocre Ethernet performance, but apart from these two important issues, the firmware appears to be working nicely. Wi-Fi performance was very good for me, and most other features worked fine. It is currently unclear whether devices like Tronsmart A928 and Zero Devices Z6C will ship with Rockchip RK3188 or the slower RK3188-T at this stage, since both SoCs are pin-to-pin compatible.

Beelink A9 could be used as a development machine since the Android 4.4 SDK (beta) has been released, and UART pins and a USB OTG port are available, but I haven’t tried the SDK yet, and people who tried the MK908 version reported it could not boot. So for development, I’d probably prefer Radxa Rock development board, even though Android 4.4 is not available yet, as the source code is available in a git repo, and not only a tarball, and you can get developer’s support via Radxa google groups and IRC.

Tronsmart A928 running Android 4.2.2 is already available for $99.99 with a 2.4GHz air mouse, and Zero Devices Z6C will become available with a wireless game controller once Android 4.4 is stable enough.

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Beelink A9 Android TV Box Features Rockchip RK3188 SoC

January 2nd, 2014 28 comments

Beelink A9, soon to be sold as Tronsmart A928 or Zero Devices Z6C, is a yet another RK3188 box with 2GB RAM, and 8GB Flash running Android 4.2, upgradeable to Android 4.4.2, and if it was not one of the four devices with Android 4.4.2 SDK I may not have decided to write about it. But since it should be more easily hackable with the SDK release, although with caveats, it becomes much more interesting. Beelink_A9

A9 Specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3188 quad core Cortex A9 @ 1.6Ghz with Mali-400MP4 GPU @ 533MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 to 16 GB eMMC flash + microSD slot (up to 32GB)
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, S/PDIF, 3.5mm audio out jack, built-in MIC.
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Misc – IR sensor, power LED, power and update button, 2x (internal, optional?) RS232 ports.
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Weight – 225g
  • Dimensions – 140mm x 65mm x 59.5mm

BL-P7_gamepadThe eMMC flash is said to allow for 17MB/s write speed, and 300MB/s read speed, the firmware supports 720p webcam, and OTA updates (I’d assume if the reseller enables it ). The company can also provide BL-P7 gamepad (pictured on the right) with the box, compatible with over 400 games, but the look is quite different from Z6C game controller.

Standard accessories provided with the device include an HDMI cable, an AV cable, a power supply, and an IR remote.

The device is not available right now for retail, and price has not been disclosed, although for reference only, Tronsmart A928 showed up shortly for $92.99 before being removed from GeekBuying website. There’s no product page on Shenzhen AW Technology / Beelink website, but you can download A9 user’s manual.

There’s one caveat to the SDK release. As pointed out by one reader, the firmware is still using Linux 3.0.36 which means some of the new features introduced in Android 4.3 and 4.4 such as Bluetooth LE, and printing may not work. I’ve just read on MINIX Facebook page, that MINIX does not intend to release Android 4.4.2 with Linux 3.0.x, and instead is waiting for a proper SDK for Android boxes with an upgraded kernel that will better support Android 4.4, and be available at the end of February, so Android 4.4 firmware should be available in March or April.

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