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.
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.
Rockchip 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
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.
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
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
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.”
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.
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
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.
Xtreamer 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.
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 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
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]
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.
S204 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.
TVheadend is a streaming server and recorder for Linux, FreeBSD and Android supporting DVB-S, DVB-S2, DVB-C, DVB-T, ATSC, ISDB-T, IPTV, SAT>IP and HDHomeRun as input sources, and while in theory it should be possible to configure any recent Android TV set-top box with digital TV tuners, configuration is complex, and there’s no guarantee the tuner will be recognized. However, the manufacturer of U4 Quad Hybrid has already configured their box to support HTSP clients, so I’ve installed the latest firmware, and given it a try with my Android smartphone running Kodi 15.2 with TVheadend HTSP client, and I could successfully stream live TV (DVB-T2 free-to-air channels) to my smartphone.
Once you’ve scanned the channels using DVB-T2 and/or DVB-S2, there’s no other configuration in U4 Quad Hybrid TV box, but you’ll still need to find out your IP address by going to Setup->Network, and WiFi, Ethernet or 3G depending on your chosen Internet connectivity option. My device is connected to Ethernet, and my IP is 192.168.0.108.
I’m using a smartphone, but you could as well go with any device or computer that support Kodi. Currently the firmware in U4 Quad Hybrid is not compatible with Kodi 16.0, so you’ll need an earlier version, and I installed Kodi 15.2 on my phone. You can download Kodi 15.2 for Windows or Android here.
Once Kodi is installed, you can start it, and go to Settings->Add-ons->My add-ons->PVR clients, and scroll down to select TVheadend HTSP client.
Click on Configure to enter U4 Quad Hybrid IP address in “Tvheadend hostname or IP address” field, and click OK. By default,the add-on is disabled, so you make sure you select “Enable” too. Now go back, and enter Settings->TV to tick Enabled.Configuration is now complete, and when you go back to Kodi home screen, you could see a new TV menu with five sub-section: Channels, Guide, Recordings, Timer, and Search.
I’ve just tapped on TV, and got the list of apps from U4 Quad Hybrid set-top box on my smartphone. The channel information (in Thai language) was not displayed properly for some reasons.
Now select any channels from the left, and will it start playing in the preview windows, and tap the preview and it will switch to full screen.
Click for Original Size
Once the video is playing you can also tap the screen to have access to options, change channels, change audio tracks and so on.
You can watch the video below to see all configuration steps, and a demo starting at 3:15.
Telechips processors were often found in consumer devices such as Android tablets, mini PCs and TV Sticks a few years ago, but it’s been a while since I have seen a devices based on Telechips. So after seeing an automotive SoC from the company, I decided to visit the company website to check if they were still designing processors for the consumer market, and found TCC898x quad core Cortex A53 processor for “Smart Stick, IP-Client and STB with 4K 60fps decoding” with some interesting features.
Telechips TCC898x SoC specifications:
CPU- Quad core Cortex A53 processor with NEON, TrustZone, 32KB/32KB L1 cache and 512KB L2 cache
MCU – Cortex-M4 micro-controller
2D – Vivante GC420 composition processing core for 4K user interfaces
3D – ARM Mali-400MP2
VPU – Multi-format VPU and 4K VPU with HEVC and VP9 support
Telechips TCC898x supports Linux (with HTML5 interface) and Android operating systems, and contrary to most other Android TV boxes and set-top boxes, devices based on the new processor will support 4K user interfaces too thanks to Vivante GC420 2D GPU. The chip also support hardware cyphers and conditional access (CAS) for “full compliance with 4K contents security guideline for variable STB applications”. I could not find much more information, and Googling for TCC8980 processor (and others up to TCC8989) did not return anything interesting so far. The last update to Telechips open source page shows the company released Linux 3.4.45 source code in February 2015.