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Posts Tagged ‘set-top box’

HD18T Android DVB-T2 Receiver Mini Review

February 16th, 2015 6 comments

I’ve had HD18T Android TV box with a DVB-T2 tuner for several months, but I’ve only installed a roof antenna recently, so I’ve decided to give it another try since my indoor antenna did not pick-up any signal with that box. The set-top box is also known as EM6-T2 or HD18T2, and features Amlogic AML8726-MX dual Cortex A9 processor which has been used in numerous boxes in the past, so I will only focus on my experience with the DVB app in this mini review.

Android Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

Android Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

If you want to use DVB-T2 go straight to the right and click on DVB app. Where you’ll then be greeted with a pop-up windowsasking if if you want to scan channels.

hd18t_dvb_settings_scanYou can do autoscan, manual scan (for one frequency), select the area (France/Taiwan/UK/Italy/Australia only), and enable/disable LCN (Logical Channel Numbering). At first I selected “Australia”, and the system did not find any channels, but after switching back to “UK”, the device found most, if not all, digital TV channels available in Thailand, including HD channels, meaning DVB-T2 is clearly working just fine. However, several people in Singapore complained that DVB-T2 does not work at all, and only DVB-T channels could be viewed. So your mileage may vary.

hd18t_dvb_settingsIn the program section you can delete or rename channels in the Program Edit menu, check the EPG and schedule recording, configure the PVR function (recording path and timeshitfing duration), access the PVR manager (password: 0000) to view or delete recordings, and TimeShifting to be able to pause live TV.

Using the box to watch TV works relatively well, although some of the channels marked with “$$” in the info overlay produced background noise (with the proper image), meaning I could only really watch about 25 channels, while it’s working just fine on a cheap Linux based DVB-T2 set-top box such as Samart Strong Black. I’ve also noticed some stability issues, as I may lose either picture or audio from time to time, requiring a reboot.

PVR function can be started with the “Rec” button on the remote, and you just need to input the duration. You can watch another channel at the same DVB-T2 frequency while recording. When I tried a single DVB-T2 stream could handle 6 TV channels. If you go over the boundaries, the system will ask if you want to cancel recording.

Once recording is complete, you can go to PVR manager to view the videos, but I did not manage to play any recording from there, so instead I went back to the main menu, and clicked on Movie app to access TVRecordFiles folder on my hard drive, and watch the recordings. Unfortunately all videos were recorded without audio, and I got some artifacts from time to time.

Time-shifting is working OK, but I could not find a way to manually hide the “record” button and the controls overlaid on top of the video, which can be annoying, although they’ll hide after a while (maybe one minute or so).

Other available settings are shown in the screenshot below. Picture size can be set to auto, 4:3 or 16:9, while the selectable languages for subtitle and audio are only English and Chinese. I don’t understand what “Blackout Policy” means.

hd18t_dvb_settings_avoption

The system menu has some options to enable subtitles, reset data, set password, and set the TTX region (a few more languages are available here).hd18t_dvb_settings_systemThe firmware version installed was built on May 14, 2014, with building number JDQ39.20140514. I could not find any other firmware updates.

You may want to watch the review video below for more details about DVB app.

The sample was sent to me by Shenzhen Tomato, and if you want to purchase this type of box in quantities you may contact them. I don’t recommend buying such device based on my experience, but at least it’s relatively cheap as it can be found on DealExtreme for $73.99, or Aliexpress for just under $70.

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Egreat A9 Quad Core Android Media Player Comes with HDMI Input, a 3.5″ SATA Bay

February 13th, 2015 13 comments

Egreat A9 was first shown in spring last year with a Realtek RTD1195 processor, but it’s only now that I could see it for sale. But just like Zidoo X9, the device is now powered by Mstar MSO9810 quad core processor, and features an HDMI input port with PVR capabilities, but adds an internal 3.5″ SATA bay, double the internal storage (16GB eMMC), as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port.

Egreat_A9Egreat A9 specifications:

  • SoC – Mstar MSO9180-DB2 quad core Cortex A9 processor up to 1.5GHz with an ARM Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC flash + 3.5″ internal SATA bay
  • Video Output / Input –  HDMI 1.4b output up to 4K30, HDMI input (1080p) with PVR support
  • Audio I/O – HDMI Out and In, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Containers & Codecs
    • DAT, MPEG, MPE, MPG, TS, TP, VOB, ISO, AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP, FLV, MKV, M2TS, MTS, M4V, WMV, ASF
    • 3D Video – FramePackaging 3D, Left / Right Side-by-Side 3D, Up / Down Side-by-Side 3D, Checkerboard
    • 4K/2K H.265/HEVC hardware decoding
  • Audio Support
    • DD/DD+/Dolby True-HD/DTS/DTS-HD MA/MP2/MP3/WMA/WAV/OGG/OGA/FLAC/ALAC/APE/AAC
    • Audio Pass-Through – Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD MA
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, Dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (MT7632 module), Bluetooth 4.0. Dual external antennas.
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0 host ports.
  • Misc – IR receiver, power button, (firmware) update pinhole, LCD display and buttons on front panel, fan
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions – 198 x 199 x 60 mm (Aluminum enclosure)
  • Weight – 1.19 kg
Egreat_A9_USB3_GigabitThe device runs Android 4.4. It ships with an IR remote control, an HDMI cable, a power adapter, a user’s manual, and a warranty card.

With USB 3.0, SATA, and Gigabit Ethermet, it could be used as a NAS too, although the firmware might not support it, and you may have to use third-party apps. The Mstar processor is about equivalent to Amlogic S805 in terms of CPU and GPU processing power.

In my review of Zidoo X9, XBMC/Kodi experience was not really optimal, and audio-pass-through was limited to Dolby / DTS 5.1 in Kodi, and in the company’s “Explorer” app DTS-HD 7.1 and TrueHD 7.1 audio was output as Dolby / DTS 5.1. I reviewed Egreat H5 previously (2013), and I never saw any firmware update for the device, but hopefully the company has improved since then, and they claim to have Vidon.me XBMC, so Kodi / audio pass-through might be better implemented than in Zidoo X9, but it’s something that would need to be tested. [Update: Based on comments below, MSO9180-DB2 processor found in Egreat A9 should support 7.1 pass-through contrary to MSO9180D1R found in Zidoo X9]

GeekBuying sells the media player & recorder for $179.79, but since the device is pretty heavy, shipping is not included, and only DHL, EMS or TNT shipping is available bringing the price to over $200. Despite the extra features, it’s still quite a gap compared to the ~$120 you would pay for Zidoo X9. I could not find other e-retailers selling the device yet, but it’s also listed on Alibaba.

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Zidoo X9 Android Media Player and Recorder Sells for $100 (Promo)

February 5th, 2015 25 comments

Zidoo X9 is an Android TV box powered by Mstar MSO9810 quad core processor, with an HDMI input port that allows video recording up to 1080p, and that’s the only device that could properly display pictures and play videos at 4K resolution (Up to 30Hz) in a recent test. You can buy on GearBest for $120 with coupon, but GeekBuying has launched a promotion where the first 100 orders can get the device for just $99.99.

Zidoo X9 (Click to Enlarge)

Zidoo X9 (Click to Enlarge)

Here are the specifications as a reminder:

  • SoC – Mstar MSO9180D1R quad core Cortex A9 processor up to 1.5GHz with octa-core ARM Mali-450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output / Input –  HDMI output up to 4K, HDMI input with PVR and Time Shifting support, and AV port (Composite + stereo audio)
  • Audio I/O – HDMI Out and In, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • (Main) Video Codecs – H265, VC-1, WMV-HD, MPEG1/2/4 up to 4Kx2K, etc..
  • Audio Codec – MP3, AAC, AC3, DTS-HD Master, TrueHD 7.1 pass-through, etc…
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (MT7632 module), Bluetooth 4.0. Dual external antennas.
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 host ports.
  • Misc – ON/OFF switch, reset pinhole, LCD display on front panel
  • Power Supply – N/A
  • Dimensions – 187 x 127 x 27 mm (aluminum enclosure)

The device is running Android 4.4, and video recording can be done either their HDMI In app or Kodi.

Zidoo_X9_HDMI_Video_Recording

I’ve actually received the device about a month ago (See unboxing post), but so far I have not fully reviewed it, simply because Google Play Store does not work properly, but I’ve been promised a firmware update, or installing the latest version of the Play Store, would fix this.
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Videostrong K1 is a Quad Core Android TV Box with a DVB-T2 Tuner

January 30th, 2015 15 comments

There are several Android media player with a digital TV tuner on the market, such as WeTek Play, but most, if not all, are based on Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core Cortex A9 processor, and so far, I have not seen quad core Android TV boxes with a built-in tuner. This is about to change thanks to Videostrong K1 an Android 4.4 media player powered by Amlogic S805 quad core processor, and an optional DVB-T2 tuner.
K1_OTT_TV_BoxK1 OTT TV Box specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S805 quad core Cortex A5 processor @ 1.5GHz with a quad core Mali-450MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 (512MB, 2GB as option)
  • Storage – 4 or 8 GB NAND flash (Options: 16 or 32GB), micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4, AV (Composite and YPbPr supported)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Tuners – DVB-T2 Tuner with RF In and Out
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (dual band optional), and optional Bluetooth
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, power LED
  • Power – 12V/1A

The device runs Android 4.4 with XBMC pre-installed, and comes with an IR remote control, a power adapter, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual. I could not find any details about the included software for DVB. Compared to devices with AML8726-MX, you should probably expect similar CPU performance, but the GPU will be much faster, and the system will also support H.265 /1080p hardware video decode.

Amlogic_S805_DVB-T2I found the information on Shenzhen Videostrong’s Alibaba page, and based on the board name “VS_S805_…” they should really be the designer and manufacturer of the board, and not only a reseller. The factory price listed on Alibaba is $25 to $35, but usually a tuner may add about $10, and since Amlogic S805 based boxes like MXQ-S85 go for $50, I’d expect the tuner version to cost around $60 retail.

[Update: Another model with similar specs, Venz T2, is already listed on Aliexpress for $60].

Via AndroidPC.es

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Popcorn Hour VTEN Media Player Powered by Sigma Designs SMP8757 STB SoC Supports 4K, H.265 Codec

January 20th, 2015 13 comments

Cloud Media must have noticed the shortcomings of Rockchip SDK and RK3288 processor found in their Open Hour Chameleon box with pseudo 4K video playback and only partial audio pass-through capability, and the company have not given up on more traditional Linux based media players with a proven track record, as they’ve just announced Popcorn Hour VTEN featuring the latest Sigma Designs SMP8757 SoC with 4K video output.
Popcorn_Hour_VTEN
Popcorn Hour VTEN specifications:

  • SoC – Sigma Designs SMP8757 ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 1.2 GHz with ARM Mali-400 GPU
  • System Memory – 1024MB DDR3
  • Storage – 512MB SLC NAND Flash, 1x eSATA port, 1x SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, and coaxial S/PDIF
  • Video Containers – MPEG 1/2/4 Elementary, MPEG 1/2 PS, MPEG-2 TS, AVI, ASF, WMV, MKV, MOV (H.264), MP4, 3DMKV, BD-ISO, BDMV, 3D-BD
  • Video Codecs – XViD SD/HD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 MP@HL, MPEG-4.2, MPEG-4 10, WMV9, VC-1, H.265/HEVC
  • Audio
    • Formats – AAC, M4A, MPEG audio, WAV, WMA, FLAC, OGG, APE, TTA, DSD
    • Decoders – DTS, WMA, WMA Pro, MPEG-1 (Layer 1,2,3), MPEG-4 AAC-LC, MPEG-4 HE-AAC, LPCM, FLAC, Vorbix
    • Pass-through – DTS, DTS-HD HR, DTS-HD MA
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, optional WN-160P USB Wi-Fi dongle (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Misc – IR receiver, power and network LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions – 144 x 110 x 30 mm (Aluminum enclosure)
  • Weight – 1 kg

The system runs the company’s NMJ Media Jukebox application. Sigma Designs is a company strongly believing in the benefits of closed source software, so don’t expect much from them in terms of complying with open source licenses, except possibly the Linux kernel.

NMJ_MediaJukeboxVTEN is up for pre-order for $169, with shipping scheduled for February 6, 2015.

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Linux based Vu+ DVB Set-top Boxes Now Support XBMC/Kodi

January 17th, 2015 14 comments

Vu+ Duo2, Solo2 and Solo SE are high-end Linux based DVB receivers powered by Broadcom processors made by Ceru, and with a relatively active community of users and developers. All three models have recently received support for XBMC in their “Black Hole” firmware. Solo SE is the most recent model having been released in 2014, against Duo2 and Solo2 that have been selling since 2012 according to Wikipedia. Since I’ve never heard about these, I’ll check out Duo2, as it comes with the most features out of the three.

Vu+_Duo2.jpgVu+ Duo2 specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM7424 dual core MIPS processor @ 1.3 GHz with VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 1 GB NAND flash + SATA III interface for 2.5″ and 3.5″ HDD (internal) + eSATA +
  • Video Output – HDMI, SCART, Composite, and Component (YPbPr)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, stereo audio, and optical S/PDIF
  • Tuners – 2x S2/C/T2 (Up to 4 tuners supported)
  • Front Panel Displays – 3.2″ TFT LCD (262,000 color / 16-bit) + VFD display
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi up to 300 Mbps
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, 2x Smart card slots, RS232 port,
  • Power – 12V/1.5A

The box also supports 3DTV, PiP, on-the-fly video transcoding for mobile devices, up to 16 channels recording via four tuners, and is compliant with HbbTV providing access to TV guides, catch-up services, web video, VOD, or portable services. The Linux distributions used in Vu+ products is based on Enigma2, and it also supports OpenPLI, an open source software for set-top boxes based on Enigma2.

Rear Panel (Click to Enlarge)

Rear Panel (Click to Enlarge)

The tuner cards can also be purchased separately, and you can add satellite, cable, or terrestrial tuners as needed. Only two tuner slots are available, the last slot show on the panel can’t be used (Ultimo model support 3 tuner cards). Since the device has been around for a while, there are already reviews, and the one written by Linux TV, also includes lots of internal pictures.

Vu+ Duo2 sells for 349 Euros on Satshop.TV or 399.99 GBP on Amazon UK. The other two Vu+ set-top boxes supporting XBMC/Kodi cost a bit less, as Vu+ Solo2 goes for 299 Euros, and the new Vu+ Solo SE (Second Edition) for 220 Euros. More details can be found on VuPlus website.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

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Broadcom Unveils BCM725x SoCs for STBs and TV Sticks

January 14th, 2015 10 comments

Broadcom has recently announced two new SoCs, namely BCM7250 and BCM72502, respectively targeted at OTT streaming media player form factor and  HDMI stick or dongle applications.  Both feature Broadcom’s Brahma-B15 ARMv7-A cores, support 10-bit H.265, HDMI 2.0, MHL 2.0, and up to to 4×4 5G WiFi via BCM4366 WiSoC.

Broadcom_BCM72502_TV_StickKey features listed by Broadcom for both SoCs:

  • High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)/H.265 compression
  • 6000 DMIPS B15 ARMv7-A CPU
  • 1.0 Gpix/s OpenGL ES 3.0 3D GPU
  • Supports HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 or MHL 2.0 digital video output
  • PCIe connectivity to Broadcom BCM4366 4×4 carrier-grade 5G WiFi
  • 480/576p30 transcode
  • 1080p60 10-Bit HD HEVC decode and 4Kp60 upscale
  • High Performance DDR3/DDR4 system memory interface
  • Supports Android, Chromium, DIAL, DLNA CVP2, Miracast protocols
  • Supports Broadcom Trellis Multi-Application Framework and DTVKit software stack

The company can also provide reference platforms with 2×2 and 4×4 5G WiFi connectivity options via a high-speed PCIe interface, and announced that BCM7250, BCM72502 and BCM4366 are currently sampling.

SML-482 HEVC Hybrid Based on BCM7250

SML-482 HEVC Hybrid Based on BCM7250

Smart Labs is one of the first companies to have designed a products based on the latest Broadcom processors with SML-482 HEVC Hybrid box pictured above featuring BCM7250 processor, and with the following specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM7250 with 3D GPU supporting OpenGL ES 2.0
  • System Memory – Options: 512MB DDR3, 1GB DDR3 for Dual HEVC Decode, 1GB DDR3 for Android
  • Storage – 256 MB flash  (Up to 16GB as option for Android)
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4 with HDCP 1.4 and 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 (upscale 1080p60 content to 4k2kp60), CVBS + stereo audio
  • Video Codecs – HEVC / H.265, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, VC-1
  • Audio Codecs – MPEG1/2, MP3, AAC, AC3, WMA, FLAC, OGG vorbis
  • Tuner – DVB-C (QAM, ITU-T J.83 Annex A, B, C)
  • Connectivity – 10/100Mbit Base-T Ethernet + optional internal 802.11n Wi-Fi or USB WiFi dongle
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 port,  1x USB 2.0 with internal Wi-Fi (whatever that means)
  • Misc – IR Receiver
  • Dimensions – 100x100x32 mm
  • Weight – 140 grams

The device runs either Linux or Android as option, with Webkit as the browser, and Verimatrix and Securemedia for security / DRM. Smartlabs does not sell to individual, so you may end-up with one, possibly re-branded, via your IPTV provider. More details can be found on Smartlabs SML-482 product page.

I could not find a TV stick with BCM72502, but the one in the top picture might be Broadcom’s reference design.

Via AndroidPC.es

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Allwinner H3 Android TV Boxes Are Now Selling

January 13th, 2015 1 comment

Allwinner H3 SoC was announced last month, promoted as a quad core processor for low cost ($35 to $50) media players with HEC/H.265 codec support up to 2160p. At least one box – model TVPP0030 - has shown up on Aliexpress for $83.79 including shipping, so either the price initially announced was the BoM cost, or the first sellers offer the box at a premium.

Allwinner_H3_TV_Box

TVPP0030 specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.5GHz with quad core Mali-400MP2
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB NAND flash + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.3? up to 4K2K, AV output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR sensor, recovery pinhole
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – N/A
  • Weight – N/A
The Android 4.4 box comes with an IR remote control, power adapter, and user’s manual.

Allwinner_H3_media_player

The specifications and features are quite similar to BFS 4KH I’ve just reviewed, with an Hisilicon quad core Cortex A7 processor, 4K & H.265 support, a faster GPU, and a USB 3.0 port,  but selling for just over $50 including shipping. So if the price does not come down, Allwinner H3 Android media players won’t sell so well…

Via AndroidPC.es

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