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Posts Tagged ‘set-top box’

Sen5 Dual Tuner Android Set-top Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

April 3rd, 2017 9 comments

There are only a few companies manufacturing Android TV boxes with tuners with names like VideoStrong and WeTek coming to mind. Shenzhen Sen5 Technology is another one, and the company sent me one of their DVB combo Android TV boxes for review without providing that many details. So let’s have a look at what I received.

Sen5 Android Combo STB Unboxing

The product might be not ready for retail just yet, as I received it in an old carton box.

Once I remove all the bubble wraps, I ended up with the device, an IR remote control, and a 12V/1.5A power supply. Once the product is actually launched I’d expect you’d receive a retail package and a user’s manual too.

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The box itself is made of plastic with plenty of randomly arranged (ventilation) holes on the top. The front panel comes with an IR window and a “Standby button”, one of the side includes a “mirco” SD slot, two USB host ports, and the other a Smart Card slot named CA for Conditional Access. The rear panel comes with a coaxial connector where we’ll plug the TV aerial antenna, and a F type connector for the satellite dish, as well as Ethernet, HDMI and the power jack.

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The bottom of the case show it can be wall-mounted, and the recovery pinhole is easily accessible. We can also some information aboit product including the model name: SH6B7FA.

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Sen5 SH6B7FA TV Box Teardown

After removing the four rubber pads, and loosening four screws, I could remove the top cover to have a closer look at the board.

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The processor is covered by an heatsink, so I had to start the box to find out it’s an Amlogic quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor with a Mali-450MP GPU, so probably  Amlogic S905D since we have two demodulators on the board with Availink AVL6211LAX DVB-S2/DVB-S channel receiver IC,  and Availink AVL6762TA DVB-T2/T/C demodulator, which should mean each tuner is independent, and you should be able record live TV on DVB-S2, while watching a channel on DVB-T2.

We have two 4 Gbit Samsung K4B4G1646E-BCMA DDR3 chip (1 GB RAM) on this side of the board, and an 8GB Samsung KLM8G1WEPD-B031 eMMC flash. That’s the lowest Samsung eMMC 5.0 flash available with theorethical 140/8MB/s R/W sequential speed, and 5K/0.6K R/W IOPS. Performance in Android may not always be optimal. Since the box is now only for distributors/resellers, it’s possible some will update to a faster model.

Networking is achieved with Ampak AP6212A module for 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (2.4 GHz only) and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, as well as Realtek RTL8211F transceiver and TNK QT24A03 transformer for Gigabit Ethernet.

The serial console should be accessible via CN7 or CN4 both of which are 4-pin headers. The board name is SMB.150.01 manufactured on February 2017, so it’s pretty new.

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It took out the shield on top of the circuitry for the coaxial connector, and it’s using Rafael Micro R836 digital TV tuner for DVB-T/T2/C, ISDB-T/C, DTMB, ATSC, J.83B. I could not easily remove the other shield so I skipped it.

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I still removed the board completely from the enclosure, and we can see a thermal pad placed right under the processor connects to a thick metal plate for cooling, There’s also tow more RAM chips bringing the total memory to 2GB, a micro SD slot and the recovery button.

So to summarize, Sen5 SH6B7FA set-top box must be powered by Amlogic S905D processor with 2GB RAM, and 8 GB flash + micro SD slot, supports HDMI 2.0a output, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 (likely upgradeable), and comes with three USB ports (but only two exposed by the case, why?), independent DVB-T2/T and DVB-S2/S tuners, and a smart card reader for conditional access/premium content.

I also booted it to check the processor, but I also quickly had a look at the software, and it’s running Android 6.0.1 with Kodi 17 pre-installed, and a separate TV app is used to watch live TV.

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NesTV launcher looks quite prettier than many of the other launcher I’ve used. But we’ll find out more about the software and how the box performs in the second part of the review which I’ll probably publish sometimes in May.

I don’t have pricing, nor availability information yet, and beside their HKTDC page, the company also has its  own website, but it has not been updated for a while…

Allwinner H6 Processor for 4K HDR Set-Top Boxes Supports USB 3.0, PCIe, and Smart Card Interfaces

April 1st, 2017 36 comments

Allwinner H6 is a new quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K set-top boxes. It will support “6K” video decoding for 10-bit HEVC, VP9, and H.264, integrate HDR10 and HLG video processing, support high speed interfaces like USB 3.0 and PCIe, as well as security features like two ISO7816 smart card interfaces and DRM solutions.

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Allwinner H6 specifications:

  • CPU –  Quad-core ARM Cortex A53 with NEON, hardware Java acceleration, and FPU
  • 3D GPU – Dual shader ARM Mali-T720 with support for OpenGL ES3.1/3.0/2.0/1.1, OpenCL 1.1/RenderScript, Microsoft DirectX 11 FL9_3
  • Memory I/F – DDR4/DDR3/DDR3L interface
  • Storage I/F – 1x eMMC 5.0 flash interface, 1x NAND Flash interface for SLC/MLC/TLC flash memory with up to 80-bit error-correcting code (ECC), 1x SPI NOR Flash interface, 1x SD Card 2.0
  • Multimedia via Allwinner Phoenix 3.0 VE Engine
    • Video Decoder
      • H265/HEVC Main/Main10 [email protected] High-tier ;[email protected], up to [email protected]
      • H264/AVC [email protected], MVC, [email protected]
      • VP9,Profile 0/2, [email protected]
      • VP6/VP8, [email protected]
      • MPEG1/MPEG2 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
      • MPEG4 [email protected] 0~3, [email protected] 0~5, GMC, short header format, [email protected]
      • AVS+/AVS JIZHUN [email protected] 6.0, [email protected]
      • VC-1 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] 0~3, [email protected]
      • Supports Frame Buffer Compression(FBC)
      • Output pixel format configurable,YUV420/YV12/NV12
    • JPEG hardware decoder up to 65536 x 65536 resolution
    • Video and Image Encoder
      • H264 [email protected] 4.2 video encoding,up to [email protected]
      • MJPEG video encoding,up to [email protected]
      • JPEG image encoding- maximum resolution up to 8Kx8K
      • Supports [email protected][email protected][email protected] simultaneous encoding
  • Audio Encoding/Decoding
    • MPEG-1,MPEG-2(L1/L2/L3), MP3, AAC-LC, HE AAC V1/V2, APE, FLAC, OGG, AMR-NB, AMR-WB,G.711(u/a) decoding
      • G.711(u/a), AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC-LC encoding
      • Karaoke sound effects, supports automatic gain control, voice enhancement and echo/reverberation.
      • 3~5m far field sound acquisition, supports speech enhancement, acoustic echo cancellation and direction of speaker estimation.
      • Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus decoding (option)
      • Dolby DMA2.0 audio effect (option)
      • DTS-HD decoding(option)
      • Dolby Digital/DTS transparent transmission
  • TS Demultiplexing/PVR
    • 4x TS inputs supporting 32 PID each
    • DVB-CSA/AES/DES descrambling
    • PVR,recording of scrambled and non-scrambled streams
  • Security/ DRM
    • Full Disk Encryption(FDE) with support for AES-ECB/CBC
    • 4K bits Efuse (OTP)
    • Protection for JTAG and other debugging port
    • HDCP 2.2/1.4 protection for HDMI outputs
    • Trusted execution environment(TEE)
    • Digital rights management(DRM)
    • Mainstream advanced CA
    • Secure boot, Secure Storage, Secure upgrade
  • Display Processing ((Smartcolor 3.0 DE Engine)
    • HDR10 and HLG HDR processing
    • HDR conversion between SDR
    • Dual independent display support
    • 16 layers, video and UI input layers to overlay
    • 3D video processing and display
  • Audio/Video Interfaces
    • Video Output
      • 1x HDMI 2.0a TX with HDCP 2.2 output
      • 1x CVBS interface , supports PAL/NTSC mode
      • 1x RGB interface up to1920x1080
    • Video Input – CSI camera (DVP)
    • Audio Interfaces
      • Analog audio input/output
      • Digital MIC interface
      • 2x I2S supporting 7.1 channel
      • S/PDIF audio interface
  • Other Interfaces
    • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 1x USB2.0 OTG port, 1x USB 2.0 host port
    • 1x PCIe 2.0 interface
    • 1x SDIO 3.0
    • Ethernet – 1x 10/100 Mbps Ethernet with PHY, 1x Gigabit Ethernet MAC
    • 5x UART, 5x TWI/I2C, GPIOs
    • 2x ISO7816 Smart Card interfaces
    • IR receiver and keypad control interface
  • Misc
    • USB, SD card and flash boot supported
    • Adaptive voltage scaling (AVS)
    • Dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS)
  • Package – 15 x 15 mm BGA451 package

The CPU is not that important in TV boxes and set-top boxes, so there are no changes here except potentially a higher frequency (TBC). The dual shader Mali-T720 GPU should provide 3D performance in the same range as other competing solutions based on Mali-450MP and Mali-T820MP GPU, and includes OpenCL support for GPU compute applications. AFAIK it’s the first Allwinner processor to support HDR, so the company is mostly catching with competitors on the multimedia front. The video decoder supports 4K H.265 and VP9 at up to 60 fps, and 4K H.264 up to 30 fps, as well as 6K up to 30 fps. The processor can also support HD audio formats (as an option), while the transport stream (TS) interfaces to connect one or more more tuners, and Smart Card interfaces make it ideal for set-top box with free or premium content. The addition of USB 3.0 and PCIe will allow for fast storage options, with external PCIe to SATA chips potentially providing better performance than the SATA IP found in Allwinner R40, especially when it comes to write speed.

I found all this information in Allwinner H6 product brief published on linux-sunxi website. There’s no information anywhere else about H6 processor, even on Alibaba, so it will likely take many more months before products and boards are launched with the new SoC.

Netgem SoundBox is a Speaker with Built-in Set-Top Box Features

February 25th, 2017 1 comment

Netgem, a company specializing in Connected TV & Home, has sent a press release about profit growth, and two new “innovations int its smart home roadmap” with voice control with Amazon, and SoundBox, a connected speaker which embeds set-top box technology.


Netgem does not sell directly to consumers, but instead sell its products and solutions to service providers, and they have not provided a great deal of technical details. But we still know the company has improved Netgem Home Platform, a cloud service allowing the deployment and management of multi-screen features, content discoverability, with support for multi-room, multi-source music service through technology from Voxtok.

SoundBox will then offer both video and audio service, and be controlled by voice using Amazon Alexa. The SoundBox will be customized for each Telco to adapt to the needs of local markets.

A few more details may eventually surfaced on Netgem’s SoundBox product’s page. They’ll also demonstrate their solutions at Mobile World Congress 2017.

Rockchip RK3328 Quad Core 64-bit ARM SoC is Designed for 4K HDR Android 7.1 & Linux TV Boxes

January 11th, 2017 11 comments

Beside RV1108 visual platform for applications, Rockchip also unveiled another processor at CES 2017 with RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor for 4K TV Box with H.265, H.264 and VP9 codecs support, HDR, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet and more.

rk3328-tv-boxRockchip RK3328 STB SoC specifications:

  • Processor – Quad core Cortex A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz
  • GPU – ARM Mali-450MP2
  • Memory I/F – DDR3/DDR3L/DDR4 with “large memory” support (4GB?)
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.x/1.4 up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR10/HLG support, CVBS output
  • Video Processor
    • 4K UHD H.264, 10-bit H.265 and VP9 video decoder
    • 1080p H.265/H.264 video encoder
  • Audio – Embedded audio DAC
  • Peripherals
    • embedded USB 3.0 interface
    • Dual Ethernet interface: RGMII (reduced gigabit media-independent interface) + Fast Ethernet PHY
    • 8 channel I2S interface supporting PDM/TDM
    • TS and smart card interface, with support for CSA 2.0
  • Security – TrustZone, Secure Video Path, Secure Boot, OTP

The new processor with support Android 7.1 and Linux, as well as OP-TEE secure OS and DRM support for Widewine L1 and Microsoft PlayReady. The TS interface will allow for tuner (DVB, ATSC…) support.

The processor is quite similar to Amlogic S905X. However the GPU is a bit weaker, which is not really that important for video applications, but not so good for games, and RK3328 also offer some extra interfaces with USB 3.0, dual Ethernet including one Gigabit Ethernet MAC, and tuner support.

The company did not provide any information about pricing or availability in their press release, and has yet to add RK3328 product page to their website.

$79 HiSilicon Poplar is the First 96Boards TV Platform Compliant Board

August 30th, 2016 35 comments

At the end of last month I wrote about 96Boards TV Platform specifications, and noticed Hisilicon had one such boards, but details were sparse. Linaro has now officially unveiled HiSilicon Poplar board, the first 96Boards TV Platform board, sold for $79 + shipping on Aliexpress.

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Poplar board specifications:

  • SoC – HiSilicon Hi3798C V200 quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 CPU up to 2.0 GHz per core with ARM Mali-T720 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.1/3.0/2.0/1.1/1.0, OpenVG 1.1, OpenCL 1.2/1.1 Full Profile, RenderScript, and Microsoft DirectX 11 FL9_3
  • Memory – 1 or 2 GB DDR3 (Specs are conflicting depending where you look)
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 up to 4K @ 60Hz
  • Video Decoding – H.265/HEVC Main/Main10 and VP9 up to 4K @ 60 fps
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 2xUSB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port for console
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin Low Speed (LS) connector with UART, SPI, I2S, 2x I2C, 12x GPIO
    • 1x PCIe 2.0 interface
    • 12-pin Smart Card connector (unpopulated)
    • 24-pin connector for tuner (unpopulated)
  • Debugging – 1x JTAG port, 1x UART connector
  • Misc – IR receiver, boot selection jumper, LEDs, power button
  • Security – ARM Trustzone, trusted execution environment, secure boot, secure storage, secure video path, DRM, DCAS
  • Power Supply – 12V / 2A
  • Dimensions – 160 x 120 mm (96Boards TV platform specs)
  • Temperature Range – 0°C to +70°C

Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 is quite an interesting processor with many high speed and media interfaces, and while they used most of them, they did not leverage support for SATA. Luckily, there’s still USB 3.0 and PCIe if you need faster storage.

Hi3798C V200 Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

Hi3798C V200 Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The board is sold with Android 5.1.1, but it will be the main development platform of Linaro Digital Home Group which aims “to continue creating optimized, high-performance secure media solutions for ARM on both Linux- and Android-based platforms. Licensees of the RDK (Linux) will be able to create Open Embedded/Yocto RDK builds for Poplar. The Poplar board will also serve as a common development platform for Android TV (AOSP) as well as for TVOS-based STB solutions used in China.”

In the meantime, you may find some information on Tocoding Poplar page, or access directly the hardware user manual. Eventually, 96Boards Poplar page will be a good place to look.

Xtreamer mxV Plus DVB-T2 and mvX Pro DVB-T2/DVB-S2 Combo TV Boxes Support Android and OpenELEC

August 25th, 2016 15 comments

Xtreamer mxV is a family of TV boxes powered by Amlogic S905 processor, and supporting Android 5.1 and OpenELEC firmware provided by the company [Update: It looks like they simply used Vitmos/amlinux.ru image]. There are three models: mxV without tuner, mxV Plus with a DVB-T2 tuner, and mvX Pro with a DVB-T2/DVB-S2 combo tuners.

Xtreamer_mxV_Plus_Pro

The three devices share the same specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905 quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with  penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz with HDCP 2.2 support, and 3.5mm AV jack
  • Audio – HDMI, AV (stereo), optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – 10-bit H.265 up to 4K60, MPEG/VC-1/AVS+/H.265 up to 4K30
  • Tuner
    • mxV – None
    • mxV Plus – DVB-T2 tuner with two connectors
    • mxV Pro – Combo DVB-T/T2 and DVB-S/S2 with two connectors
  • Connectivity – Fast Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, IR receiver
  • Power Supply –  DC 12V/1A
  • Dimensions – mxV: 130 x 110 x 32 mm; mxV Plus / Pro: 130 x 120 x 32 mm

The device ships with IR remote control, a quick instruction guide, an HDMI cable, and a 12V/1A AC/DC power adapter. If the design and specs looks similar, it’s because mxV is based on K1 Plus, and mxV Pro on K1 Plus T2/S2. According to a post on Freaktab, mxV firmware either Android 5.1. called “Xtreamer Android TV OS” and supporting OTA firmware updates, or OpenELEC OS released by the company also work on K1 Plus devices. K1 Plus DVB TV boxes have supported OpenELEC (Vitmos build) for several months already, but the Xtreamer version appears to be officially supported by the company.

mxV_EPG_GuideXtreamer boxes are also reasonably priced with mxV selling for 39 Euros, mxV Plus for 49 Euros, and mxV Pro for 59 Euros. At first prices in Euros made me think it was sold from Europe, avoiding custom issues (e.g. “my” WeTek Play 2 has been stuck in customs for 3 weeks with basically no hope of getting it out) and extra duties, but it’s actually shipped from Hong Kong. You can find more information and/or purchase the devices on Xtreamer mxV product pages.

Thanks to Slowstream for the tip.

WeTek Play 2 4K Android Set-top Box with ATSC, DVB-S2 or DVB-T2 Tuners is up for Pre-order for $120

August 19th, 2016 48 comments

With WeTek Play 2, initially unveiled as WeTek Play+, we now have a successor to WeTek Play with the same ATSC, DVB-S2/S, DVB-T2/T/C tuners, but much better specs thanks to Amlogic S905-H processor, 8GB storage, 2GB memory, and support for HDMI 2.0 and 4K60Hz video decoding allowing you to watch 4K UHD channels via your satellite dish for example. The device can be pre-ordered for $119.90 with the tuner of your choice, and shipping is slated to start on September 6th.

WeTek_Play_2

WeTek Play 2 specifications have changed slightly since January:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905-H rev. C quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with  penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB eMMC 5.0 flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz with HDCP 2.2 support
  • Audio – HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Video codecs – H.265 (10bit) & H.264 AVC up to 4K60Hz, H.264 MVC, MPEG-4 ASP, VC-1, AVS, MPEG-2, MPEG-1 up to 1080p60
  • Audio codecs – MP3, AAC, WMA, RM, FLAC, Ogg, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS
  • Tuners – Modular (replaceable) tuners for DVB-S2 (Satellite), DVB-C/T/T2(Cable/terrestrial), and ATSC (terrestrial for North America and South Korea)
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 (Ampak AP6335 module)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • DRM – Playready and Widewine; Netflix HD supported
  • Misc – IR receiver, IR extender port, 3.5mm jack RS-232 port,
  • Power Supply –  DC 12V
  • Dimensions – 180x125x42 mm

The receiver runs Android 5.1.1 with Kodi 16.1, and ships with a remote control, an update nail, an HDMI cable, an RS232 cable, and a power supply.

Amlogic-S905-digital-tv-tunerI’ve been sent a review sample, which has been stuck in customs for about 2 weeks, but I expect it to be “liberated” sometimes next week. You can find more details on WeTek Play 2 product page.

S204 Android Set-top box with DVB-T2/C & DVB-S2 Tuners is Powered by Allwinner H3 Processor

June 17th, 2016 12 comments

So far, I had only seen Android TV box with digital TV tuner using Amlogic or HiSilicon solutions, but S204 Android set-top box differs, as it is powered by Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 processor, and includes DVB-T2/C (Terrestrial and cable TV) and  DVB-S2 (satellite TV) tuners. AFAIK, Allwinner H3 does not include any TS interfaces, so they must have used USB tuner chip(s) [Update: Allwinner H3 does have a Transport Stream interface as per the datasheet, but it’s not really advertised by Allwinner]

S204_TV_BoxS204 TV box specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.2/1.3 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz + AV (composite)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV (stereo audio), and optical S/PDIF
  • Tuners
    • Support HD DVB-S2, DVB-T2 and DVB-C;
    • Support for BISS,CCCAM, NEWCAM, GSCAM, and MGCAM
    • LNB in with satellite dish antenna, RF input for indoor / outdoor terrestrial antenna or cable
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • USB – 2x USB host ports, including one OTG capable port
  • Misc – Power button, front panel LCD display
  • Power Supply – 12V/1.5A
  • Dimensions – 140 x 120 x 25mm
  • Weight – 326 grams

The device runs Android 4.4.2 and ships with a remote control, a power adaprer, HDMI and AV cables, and a user’s manual. If the screenshots are to be believed, the interface appears to be the same eOn center launcher as used on U4 Quad Hybrid, which offers support for PVR, Time-shifting, EPG, a configuration web interface, and more, and is actually pretty good.

Allwinner_H3_Tuner_TV_BoxS204 is sold for $79.99 on GeekBuying, and considering it’s unclear whether it will get the same level of support as U4 Quad Hybrid, does not feel like such a good deal as K1 Plus T2 S2 is now sold for $60, and supports 4K DVB-S2 @ 60 fps thanks to an Amlogic S905 processor. The manufacturer could be a company called L&Y electric industries Co based on listings for a DVB-T2/C only model on Global Sources and ECPlaza.

Via AndroidPC.es