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Posts Tagged ‘set-top box’

HiMedia Q5 Quad Core is an Android TV Box based on HiSilicon Hi3798C SoC with SATA, USB 3.0, 4K Support

July 8th, 2014 21 comments

HiMedia has been releasing and manufacturing Android TV boxes with SATA interfaces based on Hilison processors including Q5 (single core) and Q5II (dual core) for a couple of years. The company is about to release another one with the same enclosure, based on a new Hilicon Hi3798C quad core SoC, that they’ve aptly named “Q5 Quad Core”.

HiMedia_Q5_Quad_CoreHiMedia Q5 Quad Core specifications:

  • SoC – HiSilicon Hi3798C quad core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.5GHz + ARM Mali-450MP6 Octa core GPU.
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC Flash, SATA connector, and MMC/SD 2-in1 card reader
  • Connectivity – 10/100/1000M Ethernet, and 802.11 b/g/n/ Wi-Fi with external antenna
  • Video Out – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K30 and composite
  • Audio Output – HDMI, L/R stereo (RCA), and optical & coaxial S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – MPEG1/2/4 up to 4K30, H.264/AVC up to 4K30, H.265 up to 4K30, VC-1, REALVIDEO 8/9/10 up to 4K30, and more
  • Audio Format – MP3, WMA, AAC, APE, FLAC, WAV, DTS, Dolby Digital, AC3 up to 7.1.
  • Video modes – PAL, NTSC, 720p, 1080i (50/60Hz), 1080p (24/30/50/60Hz), 4K (24/30Hz)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – LED display on front panel, recovery button.
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions – 170 x 115 x 24.5 mm

Himedia_Q5-3D4K_Hard_DriveBlu-ray ISO 3D are said to be supported, and Blu-ray BDMV too, but without 3D support, and they claim support for XBMC and 240Mbps videos from the network (SAMBA/NFS) or USB. The hard drive has to be connected externally which may feel a bit awkward, and supports EXT-3, NTFS and FAT32 file systems. Q5 Quad Core (aka Q5 III or Q5 3D4K) runs Android 4.4.2, and comes with a power adapter, an IR remote control, a SATA cable, an HDMI cable, and a quick start guide in Chinese. You may find more pictures, screenshots, and detailed features on ka8.hk (Note: may not be safe for work).

The box appears to be available for sale on JD.com for 699 RMB (~$113). I can see that Linaro is doing some work regularly on Hisilicon STB SoCs (Hi37xx), so there might be a way to get a decent and recent kernel for the box, and an easier ability to run Linux, if that’s something you’d like to do.

Via AndroidPC.es and Eddy Lab on Google+

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Zoomtak T8 Android TV Box Powered by Amlogic S802 Features a 2.5″ SATA Bay, an Aluminum Enclosure

June 26th, 2014 4 comments

There are now several Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S802 such as Tronsmart Vega S89, SZTomato/Eny M8, and Minix Neo X8, and Zoomtak T8 hardware specifications are quite similar to these three devices, except it happens to feature an internal 2.5″ SATA bay placed under the board, and the body is made of aluminum.

Zoomtak_T8Zoomtak T8 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S802 quad core cortex A9r4 @ 2 GHz with Mali-450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + SD/MMC/MS card reader + 2.5″ SATA bay
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna.
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4a, composite output, and component output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, stereo RCA, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Container Formats – DAT, MPEG, MPE, MPG, TS/TP, VOB, ISO, AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP, FLV, MKV, M2TS, MTS, M4V, WMV, ASF, RM/RMVB, etc…
  • Audio Formats – MP2, MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, OGA, FLAC, ALAC, APE, AAC etc…
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, LED display on front panel, and power button.
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A

S802_SATA_BayThe box is strangely said to run Android 4.2, instead of Android 4.4 for all other S802 devices, and comes with an HDMI cable, a user’s manual and an IR remote control. The case is made of aluminum available in black, gold, or silver. The downsides are that there’s only 1GB RAM, and Bluetooth is only supported with an external USB Bluetooth dongle. The specs only list PAL/NTSC to 1080p60 resolutions to be supported, no 4K, which seems odd as well. Having said that, the manufacturer’s product page as different hardware specs with 2GB RAM, built-in Bluetooth 4.0, 4K output, and Android 4.4 with XBMC pre-installed. For people who care about proper power handling, power on/off can be handled both by the remote control and the power button on the box, which should be mean an MCU is controlling the power.

Zoomtak T8 can be purchased for $79 + shipping (about $20) on Zoomtak Aliexpress store. With an Aluminum casing and a SATA bay it seems pretty inexpensive, so I’d assume the specs on Zoomtak Aliexpress might be correct, rather than the ones on their own website. AFAIK, S802 SoC does not features SATA, so it is most likely implemented via a USB 2.0 to SATA chip limiting throughput to 60MB/s in theory, but in practice it should be even lower. I’m also a little concerned about power dissipation seeing where the SATA is placed in the enclosure.

[Update: חן קסל left comments on Google+ saying he has received the box, it comes with 2GB RAM, built-in Bluetooth, Android 4.4, and the hard drive he has inserted is working fine. Not bought from Aliexpress however.]

Via AndroidPC.es

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Giveaway Week – Tronsmart Prometheus Android STB

June 22nd, 2014 102 comments

The last product for this giveaway week will be Tronsmart Prometheus, and Android TV Box with hardware specifications very similar to Gbox Midnight MX2, namely an Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core processor, 1GB RAM, 4GB flash, HDMI and AV output, optical S/PDIF output, Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity and 3 USB ports.

Tronsmart_Promotheus_Package_ContentMy first review had Prometheus run Android 4.1 firmware, but since a firmware update meant it was one of the first Android media player that could run Android 4.2 and XBMC, I also decided to write an updated review, in which I found the firmware to be responsive and stable, XBMC to work as expected except for a few videos (RMVB, MPEG-2)  and more critically audio/video sync issues, but these have been fixed in a subsequent firmware update.

To enter the draw simply leave a comment below. I can’t find the HDMI cable, so it won’t be included in the giveaway.

Other rules are as follows:

  • Only one entry per contest. I will filter out entries with the same IP and/or email address.
  • Contests are open for 48 hours starting at 10am (Bangkok time) every day. Comments will be closed after 48 hours.
  • Winners will be selected with random.org
  • I’ll contact the winners by email or Facebook, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another one.
  • Shipping
    • Free for winners with a shipping address in Thailand
    • Flat fee of $20 for the rest of the world payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest is complete, or I’ll pick another winner.
  • I’ll post all 8 prizes at the same time, so around the 25th of June, using Airmail (Small Packet) with tracking.
  • I’ll make sure we have 8 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this week giveaway, I’ll draw another person.

Good luck!

In case it’s not your lucky day, or hasn’t been your lucky week, you could always buy Tronsmart Prometheus for $94.99 on GeekBuying or $89.99 on DealExtreme.

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Giveaway Week – Beelink A9 Quad Core Android TV Box

June 20th, 2014 117 comments

Beelink A9, the same hardware as Tronsmart A928, will be the fifth box given away this week, and the only quad core device. This Android media player is powered by Rockchip RK3188-T Cortex A9 processor, and comes with 2GB RAM, 8GB eMMC Flash, HDMI video output, optical S/PDIF output, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and three USB ports.

Beelink A9 and Accessories

Beelink A9 and Accessories

What got me interested in this device was the released of Android 4.4 SDK, which turned out not to be that useful based on feedback from the community. Nevertheless I got the device and reviewed it last December. I found two critical issues with the firmware: Bluetooth not working, and mediocre Ethernet performance. Apart from that, the firmware was very stable, Wi-Fi performance decent, and features I tested worked as expected. Firmware updates are infrequent. The latest official version dates from January, and there’s a finless one with a 1080p kernel and 1.6GHz overclock in March.

To enter the draw simply leave a comment below.

Other rules are as follows:

  • Only one entry per contest. I will filter out entries with the same IP and/or email address.
  • Contests are open for 48 hours starting at 10am (Bangkok time) every day. Comments will be closed after 48 hours.
  • Winners will be selected with random.org
  • I’ll contact the winners by email or Facebook, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another one.
  • Shipping
    • Free for winners with a shipping address in Thailand
    • Flat fee of $17 for the rest of the world payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest is complete, or I’ll pick another winner.
  • I’ll post all 8 prizes at the same time, so around the 25th of June, using Airmail (Small Packet) with tracking.
  • I’ll make sure we have 8 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this week giveaway, I’ll draw another person.

Good luck!

It’s possible to purchase Beelink A9 on Aliexpress for $84 and up or DealExtreme for $99.99, otherwise you can purchase Tronsmart A928 with an Air mouse for $94.99 on GeekBuying.

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MyGica ATV582 Enjoy TV Box Powered by Amlogic S802 Is Now Available for $139

June 12th, 2014 No comments

Geniatech has historically been the company which first delivered set-top box and media player solutions based on Amlogic processors. I’m not sure it’s still the case with Amlogic S802 and other S80x SoCs, as other companies appear to have released their products first such as Tronsmart Vega S89 and M8 Android TV boxes, but Geniatech ATV582 based on Amlogic S802 quad core processor has been available since April under the company’s retail brand Mygica.

Mygica_ATV582Mygica ATV582 specifications:

  • SoC – AMLogic S802 quad core Cortex A9r4 processor @ 2GHz with Mali‐450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Wi‐Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI, AV. HDMI supports 1080p, 4K2K 30fps
  • Video Codecs and Containers – MPEG1/2/4, H.264, AVC, VC‐1, RM/RMVB, Xvid, DivX3/4/5/6, RealVideo8/9/10…
  • Audio – MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, OGG, AC3, DDP, TrueHD, DTS, DTS HD, FLAC, APE…
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Net and two status LEDs, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 100 x 100 x 15 mm
  • Weight – 160 grams

The device runs Android 4.4, and comes with an HDMI cable, a user’s manual, a power adapter, and an IR remote control. You’ll notice does not quite have all the feature of most other S802 boxes, as BlueTooth and optical S/PDIF are missing, and there’s only 1GB RAM. Based on that video, the device also comes pre-installed with XBMC, and the same Metro-like user’s interface.

MyGica_Remote_ControlThe infrared remote has a mouse function (probably frustrating to use), as well as Netflix, XBMC, Google Play buttons that I’ve never seen on remotes. It looks like it can be used as a universal remote for your TV as some buttons (Power, Vol +/-, AT/AV) are reserved for that.

MyGica ATV582 can be purchased on Mygica Aliexpress store for $139 including shipping. That’s about $40 more than other entry level media players based on Amlogic S802. More information may also be available on Mygica ATV582 page.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

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Jynxbox M1V2 Pure Linux XBMC Media Player Review

June 3rd, 2014 25 comments

Theaterinabox.tv has sent me Jynxbox M1V2 TV box running XBMC Linux Gotham 13.0, and powered by Amlogic AML8726-M3 processor @ 1 GHz with 2GB Flash and 1 GB RAM. This is an upgrade of the first version featuring AML872-M1 and 512 MB RAM. I’ll go through the specs first, then show some unboxing pictures and video, and complete this post by reviewing the device by playing videos from the network and a USB flash drive, as well as going through the available add-ons in a video review.

Jynxbox M1V2/M1+ Specifications

Here are the specifications listed for Jynxbox M1V2 Pure Linux, aka Jynxbox M1+:

  • SoC – Amlogic AML8726-M3 @ 1GHz with Mali-400 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Storage – 2GB NAND flash + micro SD card reader (up to 32GB)
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI up to 1080p (default: 720p)
  • Video Codecs & Containers- MPEG 1/2/4, H.264, X264, VC-1, WMV, M2TS, TS, RMVB, AVI, MKV, MOV, TS, MPEG, FLV, DivX, Xvid
  • Audio Codecs – MP2/ 3, OGG Vorbis, WMA, WAV, WMA PRO, PCM LPCM, MS-ADPCM, LC-AAC, HE-AAC, COOK, RA   Lossless,etc…
  • Connectivity - WiFi 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 ports
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 108 x 105.5 x 19.5 mm

Jynbox M1V2 Unboxing

I’ve actually received two boxes by Fedex: one for review, one for giveaway. But since I’ll have to drive to the post office anyway, I’ll probably give away both next week or the week after.

Jynxbox_M1V2_Package

In the box, we’ve got the device, an HDMI cable, a remote with 2 AAA battery (included), a 5V/2A power supply, a warranty card and a Quick Start Guide.

Jynxbox M1+ and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Jynxbox M1+ and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s have a closer look at this XBMC Linux box.

Jynxbox M1V2 (Click to Enlarge)

Jynxbox M1V2 (Click to Enlarge)

We’ve got network and status LEDs as wel as the IR receiver at the front, on one side two USB host ports and a micro SD slot, and at the back an Ethernet port, another USB port, an HDMI output, the DC jack and a power button.

You can watch the unboxing video below.

Jynxbox M1V2 XBMC Pure Linux Review

With this type of device, there’s mainly only one thing to test: multimedia playback, and especially video playback. Despite hte low end hardware, the user interface still feel smooth (~30fps), as long as no video is playing in the background. Once a video is playing, you can feel the limitation of the hardware. For example pressing the back key, to display the menu while playing video usually takes 2 to 3 seconds. It may be a “feature”, and I don’t really feel much delays, if at all, while browsing files with a video playing in the background. Another annoyance is that I got the message “Add-on is incompatible due to unmet dependencies. Would you like to disable it on your system? ” several times as lots of add-ons are pre-installed in the device (YouTube, Vevo, Navi-X, SportsDevils, and more).

I’ve played the usual videos from SAMBA shares using Ethernet, as well as a USB flash drive.  Later, I’ve also used Wi-Fi, configured with the Network Manager in Programs menu, to test video playback and estimate Wi-Fi performance.

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 – It can play, but there’s some sort of barely noticeable visual effects every few seconds, that makes like the pixels are jumping / colors are slightly changing. You may not notice it at first, but once you do, it’s obvious.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p – Video stopped with audio cuts sometimes. ;720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – Can play @ 2 to 3 fps.
  • WebM / VP8 – 480p is sluggish, but sort of watchable,. it’s getting worse for 720p with audio cuts as well,. and 1080p is unwatchable. It looks like software decoding is on for this codec.

High bitrate videos could play, except Elephant dream which is always a challenge:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – Black screen audio only.
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK

Another good news is that the box can decode all high-ends audio codec, but unfortunately, the box does not quite have the grunt to decode these video smoothly either from USB or Ethernet:

  • AC3 – Audio OK, but sluggish video
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – Audio cuts during playback
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – Audio cuts during playback
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR – Buffering and audio cuts during playback

I’ve also played several videos with AVI, MKV, MP4, FLV… container formats. Most of the time they could play, but sometimes while browsing the video, the menu would crash, and XBMC restart automatically, and within 5 seconds I would get back the home screen. It happened for at least two videos. You don’t need to click OK, you move the highlights on these videos.

A nice surprise was that I was able to Sintel Blu-ray ISO smoothly, including ISO navigation, and I could switch between chapters using Pg+ / Pg- keys on the remote.

Overall video playback is quite of a mixed bag, and the low-end hardware does show in higher bitrate videos.

I haven’t checked use a file manager to test Wi-Fi performance (is there one in XBMC?), but just played some of the high bitrate videos that worked with Ethernet:

  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK
  • Sintel-Bluray.iso (~14.5 Mbps) – Buffering only one or twice during the 10 minutes I watched the movie.

The 40 Mbps “Bird” video could only play because Jynbox M1V2 must have a large buffer, at least bigger than the movie size (104 MB), as I’ve never been able to reach over over 25 Mbps over Wi-Fi from my office with any type of hardware. Nevertheless, the other video clearly show Wi-Fi is above average, as must ARM based devices I’ve tried won’t manage these videos over Wi-Fi very well.

The remote control is actually quite nice with XBMC, but it would still have been nice to have Play/Pause and Stop buttons. I was also unable to change audio tracks on video with multiple audio tracks, same thing with subtitles in Sintel Bluray ISO.

Among the adds-ons, I’ve tried YouTube which you work OK, as well as SportsDevil, VEVO, and TED, which for some reasons could not find any streams, but my network is not always reliable.

If you want to get a better feel about the device performance, the high bitrate video issues, and see which add-ons are pre-installed, you can watch the video review below.

Inside Jynxbox M1V2

I’ve also opened the device to have a look inside.

Jynxbox M1+ Board (Click to Enlarge)

Jynxbox M1+ Board (Click to Enlarge)

One interesting bit is the internal Wi-Fi antenna which may explain the excellent wireless performance of the device. U-boot and system images are dated 20130912, but XBMC 13 Gotham and the Linux kernel have been compiled in May 2014, so I’m not sure what “system” means here. I was unable to completed removed the board from the casing as it felt “glued”.

Conclusion

Despite a single core processor, the Jynxbox M1V2 is perfectly usable, but this may not be the device for you if you are playing high bitrate videos with DTS / Dolby 5.1 /7.1 audio codec, as it won’t handle these in a smooth way. Codecs support is also one the weak side. Let’s go through the PROS and CONS:

PROS

  • Relatively smooth user interface (considering the hardware) and stable firmware
  • Excellent Wi-Fi performance, and decent Ethernet performance
  • Blu-ray ISO support
  • Many add-ons are pre-installed

CONS

  • Some video codecs are poorly supported: visual effects in some MPEG2 files, performance issues with some VC1 files, and all Real Media and VP8 videos.
  • XBMC may restart while browsing videos
  • Some apparently sluggishness in some parts of the menu while playing videos
  • Lack of play/pause and stop buttons on the remote control.

Jynxbox M1V2 Pure Linux is available from Theaterinabox.tv for $80, their Amazon store for $89.99, and I’ve also found it for $99.99 including shipping by Hong Kong Post on Aliexpress. Considering the performance you get out of this XBMC media player, the price is a bit on the high side, and you could get quad core player for this price with better performance and video support, except maybe when it comes to Wi-Fi where this box appears to shine, at least in my environment.

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Kaiboer announces F5, Q6 and Q9 UHD Android TV Boxes Powered by Mstar MSO9180D1R SoC

May 23rd, 2014 4 comments

Kaiboer (开博尔) has hosted an event in Shenzhen on May 21 to unveil three new 4K Android media player powered by Mstar MSO9180D1R SoC namely Kaiboer F5, Kaiboer Q6 and Kaiboer Q9. Mstar MSO9180D1R processor appears to be similar but less powerful than Amlogic S802 with four ARM Cortex A9 cores @ 1.5 GHz and a quad core Mali-450 GPU. However, details about this SoC are not available, and Mstar Semi did not reply to my information request.

Kaiboer_F5

Kaiboer F5

Here are the specifications for the new Kaiboer Android media players:

Kaiboer Q6

Kaiboer Q6

  • SoC – Mstar MSO9180D1R Quad core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.5GHz with a quad-core ARM Mali-450 MP2 GPU.
  • System Memory
    • F5 – 1GB to 2GB DDR3
    • Q6 & Q9 – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage
    • F5 – 8GB or 16GB eMMC + microSD card slot
    • Q6 – 16 GB eMMC + microSD card slot
    • Q9 – 16 GB eMMC + microSD card slot + internal SATA bay for 3.5″ drives
  • Video I/O
    • HDMI in, HDMI out (All models)
    • Q9 – CVBS and YPbPr
  • Audio I/O
    • HDMI in/out
    • optical S/PDIF
    • Q9 – Stereo RCA connectors + coaxial S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs -  Up to 4K. MPEG-1/2, MPEG-4, DivX, H.264, VC-1, H.263, Real Media, MVC, WMV, H.265, RM, RMVB, FLV
  • Audio Formats – MPEG, WMA, WAV, APE, OGG, FLAC, ACC
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band Wi-Fi 802 b/g/n with external antenna(s) (Two for F5 and Q9, one for Q6)
  • USB
    • F5 – 3x USB2.0 host ports
    • Q6 & Q9 – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB3.0 port
  • Front panel (F5 and Q9) – LCD display + power button. Q9 also have a control pad (OK + arrows).
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions
    • F5 – 180 x 160 x 15mm
    • Q6 – 100 x 160mm (cylinder)
    • Q9 – 363 x 235 x 65 mm

Kaiboer Mstar TV boxes run a custom version of Android 4.3 called KIUI 7, but an Android 4.4 KitKat update is being worked on.

Kaiboer Q9

Kaiboer Q9

cngadget got an early sample, and did an unboxing video. He also mentioned the box is supposed to support hardware video decoding in XBMC.

Neither devices are available on Aliexpress, and they can also be purchased from Tmall. Kaiboer Q9 sells for 1299 RMB (~$208), and Q6 for 699 RMB (~$112). Kaiboer F5 is nowhere to be seem, except on Alibaba.

Via AndroidPC.es and Cngadget.info

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