Many Amlogic S905 TV boxes have been announced, and thanks to Videostrong, I’ve received my first Amlogic S905 device for review with their K1 Plus media player (aka KI Plus). Today, I’ll start by listing the specifications, before taking a few pictures of the device and its board. with the full review following up in a few days.
Videostrong K1 Plus Specifications
K1 Plus is one of the entry level models with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage by default:
SoC – Amlogic S905 quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
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
Connectivity – Fast Ethernet (Gigabit optional), 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth 4.0
USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
Power button and LED, IR receiver
Optional DRM: Playready, Verimatrix, Widewine (Probably not available right now)
Power Supply – DC 12V/1A
Dimensions – 109.5 x 130.7 x 30 mm
Weight – 180 grams
The device runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.
Videostrong K1 Plus Unboxing
I received the device by DHL in a retail package with the markings “KI Plus” and “Quad-core Android DVB” on the top, as well as specifications on the bottom.
The device looks exactly the same as Videostrong’a previous models, such as K1 with S805, and comes with an IR remote control with IR learning function, a 12V/1A power adapter, an HDMI cable, and a user’s manual in English.
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There’s again mention of “Android DVB” simply because there are optional DVB-T/T2, ATSC, and ISDB-T tuners for the device according to the user’s manual. The company also plans to send me a DVB-S2 version in a few weeks.
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A closer look at the TV box shows the four USB ports and micro SD slot on the side, and all other connectors on the rear panel: CVBS/ LR audio jack, Ethernet (RJ45), HDMI 2.0 output, optical S/PDIF and the power jack.
You could also watch the unboxing video below.
Videostrong K1 Plus Teardown
On the back of the case, we’ll notice the device can be wall-mounted, and I’ve marked the location of the two screws you need to loosen in order to open the case. The MAC address suffix D0:76:58 show on the sticker does not appear to look up to anything.
Once you have removed the screws, it’s relatively easy to pop up the top part of the case with a sharp and strong plastic tool. We’ll need to loosen two more screws to completely take out the board.
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Amlogic S905 processor is quite tiny, and is covered by a small heatsink. SKHynix H27UCG8T2ETR NAND flash provides 8GB storage, while two Nanya NT5CB256M16DP-EK DDR3 chips are used for the memory (1GB). GL852G USB 2.0 hub controller gives the board its 4 USB ports, and a module based on Realtek RTL8189ETV provides 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connectivity. Pulse H1102NL transform confirms I’ve received a model with Fast Ethernet.
The board name is K1_S905_REV2.0. Three connectors are soldered in the side of the board. The 26-pin black header is most likely for digital tuners, and the two other 3-pin and 4-pin headers have Tx & Rx markings on the back of the board, so one of them is likely to be used for the serial console.
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The recovery / firmware update button (K1) can also be seen on the back of the board.
I’d like to thanks Videostrong for sending a sample. If you are interested in purchasing the board in quantities, you may want to contact the company via their Alibaba product page. K1 Plus, also named Ki Plus on some websites, is available on retail sites starting at just $42.99 shipped on GearBest, GeekBuying, eBay, Amazon US, Aliexpress and others.
After having a look at ARNU Box Mach 10 Pure Linux earlier today, I’ll move on to its little brother ARNU Box Mach Q featuring an Amlogic S805 processor with support for H.265 video playback at Full HD. I’ll start by listing the specs, then I’ll take a few pictures, and finally check the board.
ARNU Box Mach Q (Pure Linux) specifications
Again, the hardware specifications are pretty standard:
SoC – Amlogic S805 quad core ARM Cortex A5 @ 1.5GHz with quad core Mali-450MP GPU
System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
Storage – 8 GB storage + SD card slot
Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p60, AV output
Audio Output – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
Misc – IR sensor, Status and Net LEDs
Power Supply – 5V/2A
Dimensions – 107.5 x 107.5 x 19.5 mm
Weight – ~220 grams
The box runs Linux and Kodi 15 Isengard with the company’s Cloudword installer that will fetch and install add-ons specific to your country.
ARNU Box Mach Q Unboxing
ARNU Box Mach Q is sent in the usual black package from the company.
The media player comes with an IR remote control requiring two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, a 5V/2A power adapter, and a user’s manual in English for both Linux and Android versions of the box.
Mach Q TV Box and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)
The box is made of the same material as Mach 10, and appears to be of good quality. The front panel features status and network LEDs, and a window for the IR receiver, the side has a micro SD slot, and two USB 2.0 host port, and the front panel comes with the WiFi antenna, AV and HDMI video ouputs, Ethernet, optical S/PDIF, and the power jack.
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ARNU Box Mach Q Teardown
The model is actually refered to as S805a on the back of the case. Please note the MAC Address prefix (04:E6:76) looks up to AMPAK Technology, the company that provides the WiFi module… I had to take off the sticky rubber pads, and loosen four screws, before inserting a tool in one of the ventilation and pull firmly to open the box.
The board is named M6, which I have not seen in other hardware platform I have tested. However, you may have noticed that the MAC Address sticker refers to a different MAC Address with prefix C4:4E:AC (for Ethernet), looking up to the usual Shenzhen Shiningworth Technology. The small chip “IC+ IP101GR” is a Fast Ethernet transceiver.
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There aren’t any screws holding up the board to the case so it’s easy to just take it out for further inspection. A gray “sponge” attached to the top of the case is used to dissipate heat from the Amlogic processor. Ampak AP6210 is a 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth WiFi module, two Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 DDR3L chips are used to get 1GB RAM, and a Micron 29F64G08CBABA NAND flash provides 8GB storage.
Infomir is a group of companies that specializes on the development, design, production and maintenance of equipment and client support for IPTV, OTT and VoD services, with offices in Ukraine and the US. They’ve been selling their Linux based MAG set-top-boxes based on STMicro STB SoC for a little while, and their upcoming model include either STMicro or Broadcom processor, and have support for “Stalker” open source IPTV middleware that allow their customers to setup their own IPTV services for thousands of clients.
Their upcoming MAG products fit into three categories:
Basic IPTV set-top boxes (no tuner)
MAG257 – STMicro STiH301 single core Cortex A9 processor @ 1.5GHz with 512 MB RAM, 512MB storage, USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI 1.4. The box runs Linux, and supports HEVC decoding up to 1080p.
Hybrid set-top boxes
MAG277 – STMicro STiH301 single core Cortex A9 processor @ 1.6GHz with 1 GB RAM, 512MB storage, USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI 1.4. The box runs Linux, supports HEVC decoding up to 1080p, and includes DVB-T2 or DVB-C tuners
Premium set-top boxes (without tuner either)
MAG350 – Broadcom BCM7250 single core Cortex A15 processor with 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, HDMI 1.4 output, USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, optional WiFi 802.11ac & Bluetooth, , and a micro SD slot. The device runs Linux 3.3 or Android L, and also support H.265 video decoding up to 1080p
MAG352 – Broadcom BCM7252s dual core Cortex A15 processor with 2GB RAM, 8GB storage, HDMI 1.4 output, USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, optional WiFi 802.11ac & Bluetooth, , and a micro SD slot. The box runs Linux 3.3 or Android TV, and support HEVC / H.265 up to 4K resolutions.
On the software side, all those STBs support the company’s Stalker “Middleware” that is both free as in beer, and free as in open source, based on the company statement that “numerous new functions can be set up through the open source code”.
Stalker TV User Interface – Click to Enlarge
But when you go to the download and installation instructions, Stalker looks like an IPTV server, rather than middleware. They explains how to configure the recommended server configuration to support 5,000 simultaneous users: two dual Intel XEON-E5620 servers with 16GB RAM, faster storage, and one server used to run Stalker portal, and one for storage. The servers run Linux with apache2, nginx, php5, and mysql packages, and Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS 64-bit operating system is recommended.
I could not access the source code from the instructions, so maybe they only distribute it to their customers (which is fine), and you can still give a try using a VirtualBox image. Stalker allows you to setup your IPTV channels (own streams, or services like YouTube, Megogo, Oll.tv, etc…) change the interface with your branding, monitor usage, setup your own tariff plans if needed, etc… The servers can also be controlled with REST and/or SOAP APIs.
Tronfy MXIV Telos is a TV box powered by Amlogic S812 processor running Android 5.1 Lollipop and costing just above $90 (with coupon), so it will be interesting to find out how it performs compared to Mygica ATV1900AC also based on Amlogic S812 SoC, and Android Lollipop firmware (version 5.0.2), which I reviewed recently, and sells for $169. I’ve already checked the hardware in Tronfy MX4 Telos Unboxing and Teardown, so today I’ll check how the device actually performs.
First Boot, Settings and First Impressions
I started by connecting peripherals: A USB hard drive to one of the USB port, and a USB hub to the other USB port with a webcam, and two RF dongles for an air mouse and a wireless gamepad, as well as HDMI and Ethernet cables, and the power supply. I then had to press the power button on the unit to start it up, and the boot took a long 1 minute 38 seconds to complete with all peripherals, or 48 seconds without any USB devices connected. That’s not the best performance, but almost exactly the same slow boot as experienced with the Mygica box.
MediaBox Launcher (Click for Orignial Size)
LightHome (Click for Original Size)
You’ll get to choose between two launchers: MediaBox or LightHome. The user interface resolution is 1920×1080, as you can see from the screenshots. I’ve just picked LightHome for the rest of the review. The top right icons indicate network connectivity, and the maginifier redirects to Google Now. Weather, date and time information is displayed on the left side, and shortcuts to Kodi, Eshare, Flix Universe, the Browser, Google Play Store, the list of apps, a file browser, and Settings, as well as Favorites are placed in the center of the screen, There’s also a “kill running apps” button and a widget for CPU, memory and storage usage.
Let go to the Settings app.
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Again that’s basically the same app as in ATV1900AC, and I’ve found it to be quite unstable: going to Network, changing between 12h/24h time display, adjusting screen rotation, etc… will always crash the app, so instead I went to “More setting” to access Android Lollipop settings and configure WiFi and Ethernet there.
(crash) means the settings look interesting, but I could not access it, since it would just crash the Settings app. At least, there isn’t three ways to access settings like in Mygica ATV1900AC, there’s only two, but most options are not accessible.. I could change the resolution to 4K30 and that one worked fine.
The 16GB flash has reportedly a single 16GB partition (which is impossible) with 10.55 GB space (perfectly believable), which means you’ll have plenty of space for both apps and data.
The “About device” section reports the model number is MXIV Telos, the device runs Android 5.1.1 on top of Linux 3.10.33, and the firmware version is 102L1. There’s also a “System Update” section there, and the system appears to connect to a download server, but there wasn’t any new firmware while I tested it, so I cannot confirm whether OTA upgrades are working properly. The firmware is rooted.
I used MeLE F10 Deluxe air mouse for most of the review, but I also quickly tested the IR remote control to check whether it was working OK, and the range is not too bad, as I only started to lose a few key presses at around 8 meters from the box.
Google Play Store worked very well, and I could install all apps I needed for review, and most apps I installed on other devices could also be installed, except apps that can’t be installed due to country restrictions. Sadly, after a while, the message “Unfortunately, Google Play Services has stopped” started popping-up every 5 seconds or so, whether I was actively using the Play Store or not, so the system became very difficult to use. I’m not the only one to have had this problem as others reported the issues on Samsung Galaxy phones, and provided a fix. I followed the instructions and could disable Google Play Services, but as I restarted the device, re-enabled the services, and updated it, the problem resumed, so I just disabled the services again to be able to use the device. If Google Play Services is disabled or not updated to the latest, applications such as the Google Play Store or Hangouts won’t work.
I’m pleased to say that Tronfy MVIV power controls work perfectly, as it’s possible to cleanly turn off and on the device, or go into standby using either the remote control or the power button on the device. The device also stays relatively cool, as the maximum temperature reached after Antutu 5.7.1 benchmark were respectively 42°C and 53°C on the top and bottom of the case.
The firmware itself appears to be stable and responsive, and I did not get any hangs up, but the settings is barely usable, and trying to access many settings will simply crash the app, so for example you can’t configure the audio device, meaning pass-through options are not accessible. Just like with Mygica box, the ART runtime used in Lollipop boosts app loading times, especially for games which load much faster than I’m used to.
Kodi 14.2 (customized or not) is installed and configured with Aeon Nox skin, but since there’s recently been a fix for Amlogic on Kodi 15.x that has been backported to Kodi 15.1 found on Google Play, I asked Tinydeal whether I should test the pre-installed Kodi 14.2 or the latest version, and they recommended I keep using Kodi 14.2, so that’s what I tested.
But first, I’ve taken a few screenshot to show what get while running Kodi. I’ve set the output to 1080p60 to check the framerate, and it’s indeed close to 60 fps, before switching back to 4K30 for testing. They also have a few apps pre-installed.
Shortly after starting Kodi, I was also ask to authorize Trakt, which automatically tracks the TV shows and movies you are watching, but I simply click on “No Thanks”.
All videos were played other Ethernet with the box connected to a SAMBA share. Let’s start with results with video samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, Elecard H.265/HEVC samples, and a low resolution VP9 video:
MPEG2 codec / MPG container – 480p/720p/1080p – OK could be smoother (Kodi live log also reports ~20fps instead of the native 25 fps)
MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
VC1 codec (WMV) – 480p/720p/1080p – OK
Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Software decode @ ~20 fps instead of 25 fps
WebM / VP8 – 480p/720p OK. 1080p could be a little smoother (18 fps instead of 25 fps)
H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – 360p: OK; 720p: 15 fps. 1080p: plays at ~12fps with audio cuts
WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK
The results here are very similar to what I got on the Mygica device, and again the results are basically the same for higher bitrate videos, except for one little detail:
ED_HD.avi – audio only
big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – Plays but at the wrong size (postcard like, zoomed out)
hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – 15 fps instead of 29.970 fps and zoomed out
Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – Plays OK from network (Gigabit), but again zoomed out.
This is what it looks like when the system plays the video at the wrong size (zoomed out) :
Normally I use my AV receiver to test both PCM output and HDMI / (SPDIF) pass-through with videos using HD audio codec, but since I can’t set HDMI pass-through via the settings, I skipped the pass-through test, and the results with videos down-mixed to PCM are already depressing:
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK, but video not very smooth
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – audio only (black screen)
TrueHD 5.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
TrueHD 7.1 – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
Dolby Atmos 7.1 – OK! Yeah!
DTS HD Master – Audio OK, but black screen
DTS HD High Resolution – Audio OK, but video zoomed out
Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO video and 1080i videos could play smoothly and in full screen.
Hi10p videos decoded with some artifacts in like ATV1900AC, but the video were again zoomed out:
[Commie] Steins;Gate – NCED [BD 720p AAC] [10bit] [C706859E].mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts (wrong size)
[1080p][16_REF_L5.1][mp3_2.0]Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu BD OP.mkv – Audio & subtitles OK, and video plays with with some artifacts. (wrong size)
4K videos also have mixed results with only two videos that are watchable:
HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Video zoomed out
sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Playing @ 2 to 3 fps
Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Won’t play at all
MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Plays @ 3 to 4 fps.
phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at 3 to 4 fps
BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play at all.
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Looks OK to be, but Kodi reports ~25 fps for a 30 fps video
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Plays in slow motion, audio/video sync issues, and audio cuts
Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – Only shows a still image, frequent audio cuts
I’ve also added a 4K 60fps H.265 video sample to my test procedure since some new processors can now support H.265 at 60 frames per second (in theory). Software decoding explains why some video play at very low framerate.
LG 42UB820T 4K TV, which I use for all my reviews, does not support 3D, but I check whether the system can decode some stereoscopic 3D videos:
bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK
bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Audio only, black screen.
Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK
Following the catastrophic results with Kodi in this box, I just decided to skip video testing of AVI, MKV, VOB and MP4 movies, as I don’t see why I have to waste my time further with such a poor product. I did start the stability test with a complete 1080p MKV movie (~2 hours), but after seeing the video was only displayed at quarter size on the top left corner, I just laughed and stopped the test.
Video samples can be downloaded from “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.
Wi-Fi and Ethernet Network Performance
I’ve transferred a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the flash in both directions using ES File Explorer to test WiFi network performance. WiFi performance is pretty both with 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz (2.72 MB/s over a 65 Mbps link) and 802.11ac (4.15 MB/s over a 433 Mbps link).
WiFi Throughput in MB/s
For some reasons the system could only transfer in one direction with iperf, using “iperf -t 60 -c server_ip -d” command line:
Bluetooth Low Energy support with Vidonn X5 fitness tracker
A Bluetooth headset
FAT32 (micro SD card), and the NTFS and exFAT partitions of a USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted, and there was no problem with the SD card, however while the two partitions on the HDD are about 250GB large, but the system would only show 10MB partitions with 10MB free instead, basically meaning my hard drive was mounted as read only. The same bug occurred with Mygica ATV1900AC.
So once again I could not test USB storage performance, and I simply ran A1 SD Bench app to benchmark the eMMC flash performance, which read at 26.33 MB/s and wrote at 21.83 MB/s on average.
Read and Write Speeds in MB/s
The combined read+write performance is about the same as Mygica ATV1900AC here, not too bad for a significantly cheaper device…
Skype worked fine both with the Test /Echo Service audio call, and a video call, however I could not run Google Hangouts since I only tested it after I had to disable Google Play Services.
Unsurprisingly, gaming performance on Tronfy MX4 Telos was exactly the same as with ATV1900AC: Candy Crush and Beach Buggy Racing were both very smooth with default graphics settings, but Beach Buggy Racing was not quite enjoyable with maxed out graphics settings, albeit still playable.
Tronfy MXIV Telos Benchmarks
For some reasons, Amlogic S812 processor was limited to 1608 MHz in Mygica ATV1900AC, but it runs at full speed in MXIV Telos (1.99 GHz). The board name is n200.
So it should be no surprise that Antutu 5.7.1 score is a bit higher at 35,519 points against 34,137 points for ATV1900AC
However, 3DMark score was about the same with 5,897 point for MX4 against 5,834 for Mygica platform.
Tronfy MXIV Telos hardware hold itself pretty well against Mygica ATV1900AC, with similar Gigabit Ethernet and storage performance, and pretty good WiFi performance, although not as perfect as on Mygica TV box, and it also has some extras like Bluetooth support and power control circuitry. I was a bit disappointed by the firmware on Mygica because there were still a bit too many bugs, but somehow MXIV Telos managed to do much worse, and it really feels like they had the hardware ready, and just load Amlogic Android 5.1 SDK onto the device and shipped it without any testing: Kodi is barely usable, many settings are not reachable because the Setting app will crash, my hard drive is read-only, and Google Play Store simply stopped to work after a while. Although to be fair, I’m not sure the latter is 100% related to that particularly firmware since people also had the same issues on Samsung Galaxy phones.
Android Lollipop firmware
Very good Ethernet and good WiFi performance
Relatively fast internal storage
Video Output – 1080p 24/50/60 Hz, 4K @ 24/25/30Hz, etc…
Hardware video decoding for H.265 4K up to 30Hz in “4K MoviePlayer”
Bluetooth works for file transfer, Sixaxis gamepad, Bluetooth low energy, and Bluetooth headset.
Power handled by MCU with support for proper power off.
Skype works fine
Two launchers available
Pre-installed Kodi is a disaster: many videos play at the wrong size (Zoomed out in the top left corner), several videos can’t play at all (black screen), H.265 is not working, audio pass-through is not working
Dolby and DTS audio not supported outside of Kodi.
Settings app will crash, so several settings are not accessible including audio output selection (PC/pass-through).
Incorrect partition size detected on USB hard drive leading to read-only partitions
Slow boot time (100 seconds will USB devices attached)
The hardware base is good, so you’d either have to rely on Tronfy to release a new firmware with bug fixes, or find another firmware compatible with n200 board, or try various versions of Kodi (this won’t fix the USD HDD nor Settings app issues though..) for it to be usable.
Tinydeal kindly provided Tronfy MXIV Telos sample for review, and in case you are interested, you can purchase it on their website for $91.85 with coupon tronfy4. As mentioned in the unboxing post, the hardware is based on Beelink MXIII Plus, that can be found on Gearbest, Geekbuying, eBay, Aliexpress, but you need to carefully check the specifications, as memory, storage and network connectivity options may vary.
Today, I received both Mygica ATV1900AC and ATV586 from Geniatech. I’ve already taken apart ATV1900AC, so it’s now the turn for Mygica’s latest Android DVB-T2 receiver powered by Amlogic S805 to get photographed and torn down. If you don’t like in a region where DVB-T2 is supported, Mygica also sells a version with an ATSC tuner.
Mygica ATV586 Unboxing
That’s the retail package for the receiver that shows the tuner type (DVB-T2), and that the box is based on a quad core processor supporting HEVC/H.265 video codec and running Kodi in Android 4.4.
There are quite a lotf of accessories in the package including the usual HDMI cable, 5V/2A power supply, and IR remote with two AAA batteries, but there’s also a TV antenna set with an indoor antenna and mounts. I’ll try the indoor antenna, but it’s unlikely to work in my location, so I’ll probably connect the box to my roof antenna during testing. A Quick Start Guide is provided, as well as more detailed user’s manual in English, which might be useful for this type of device.
ATV586, Power Supply, TV Antenna, Cables etc… (Click to Enlarge)
The set-top box has an IR receiver and power LED on the front, two USB 2.0 ports and a micro SD slot on the side, as well as a single RF input, an HDMI output, an Ethernet port, a WiFi antenna, and the DC jack on the rear panel.
Mygica ATV586 (Click to Enlarge)
You may also want to watch the unboxing video.
Mygica ATV586 Teardown
There aren’t any screws to remove from the case, and you need to a sharp and rigig pastic tools to pop the bottom cover. It does not really come off easily, but I still managed to take it off without breaking any clips.
Bottom of ATV586 Board (Click to Enlarge)
There’s no much too see on the bottom of the board, except the firmware recovery button, and the metallic plate used to cool the device, but without direct contact with the board… Let’s loosen the four screws that hold the PCBA in place.
ATV586 Board (Click to Enlarge)
The silkscreen markings read “RMF1029 VER 1.1, 20150124, RD_hfy”. Amlogic S805 is a low power processor, and Geniatech did not feel it necessary to add an heatsink. Two NANYA NT5CB256M16CP-DI DDR3 chips are used to get 1GB RAM, and a Samsung KLM8G1WEMB-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash (100MB/s read, 6MB/s write) provides 8GB storage. A Wi-Fi module based on Realtek RTL8189ETV adds 802.11 b/g/n WiFi to the board. I could not find more information about the tuner, since the shield is soldered to the board.
Mygica ATV586 is available now, and can be purchased either in quantity directly from Geniatech/Mygica with either a DVB-T2 or ATSC tuner, or online on eBay for $149.99 including shipping. [Update 24/8/2015: It’s $109 on Mygica Aliexpress store] That’s about double price a bit more expensive than Videostrong K1 (aka GX-TVA30), another Amlogic S805 Android receiver with a DVB-T2, so Mygica firmware will have to be outstanding to justify the price different. That’s what I hope to find out in the full review.
Last year, Rockchip RK3288 was always going to be popular, since it offered a massive performance upgrade compared to its predecessor (Rockchip RK3188) with Cortex A17 cores replacing Cortex A9 cores, and a Mali-T764 GPU replacing an aging Mali-400MP4 GPU, plus the addition of 4K video output and decoding, as well as H.265 video codec support. So many manufacturers got involved that I decided to write a list of RK3288 TV boxes and sticks. Rockchip RK3368, the company’s new “flagship” processor for 2015, is a bit less exciting despite providing eight 64-bit ARM cores, since Cortex A53 cores are significantly less powerful than the Cortex A17 cores found in RK3288, and the performance of the PowerVR G6110 GPU used in the processor is a bit of an unknown for now. RK3368 might still rank pretty well in benchmark since it comes with eight cores instead of four cores, but I’m not convinced it will really show during normal use, although the upgrade to Android 5.1 on the newer processor may also help. The main improvement is probably support for 4K @ 60Hz video decoding and output (HDMI 2.0), which was not possible with RK3288 and lower end 4K UHD televisions.
Nevertheless, it’s still interesting to look at new platforms, and I’ve compiled a list of RK3368 mini PCs announced so far, some of which already ship:
Eny EKB368 – TV box with 1 or 2GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: TBD
Beelink i68 – TV box with 1 or 2 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $71 on GearBest (1GB RAM/8GB flash version)
Pro – 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $75 on GeekBuying.
Meta – 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $99.99 on GeekBuying.
CSA90 – TV box with two models:
Model 1 – 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) output. Price: $70 on Aliexpress.
Model 2 – 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) output. Price: $96 on Aliexpress.
Rikomagic MK68 – TV box with 2 GB RAM, 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG and HDMI 2.0. Price: $111.90 on Aliexpress
Zero Devices Z64 – TV box apparently based on CSA90 “Model 2” but with Gigabit Ethernet. Price: $125 on Asiapads.
Measy B4T – TV box with 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0. Price: $72.95 on Aliexpress
CloudnetGo CR13 Plus – TV box with 2 GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0. Price: TBD.
CloudnetGo CR18 – TV box with 2 GB RAM, 8 or 16 GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) outputs. Price: TBD.
X6 – TV box with 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth (Maybe), 2x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) outputs. Price: $57 on Aliexpress. Note: X6 model was supposed to be for the Chinese market, but the few who bought appear satisfied.
Himedia H7 III – TV box with 1 GB RAM, 8 GB flash, Fast Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, and HDMI 2.0 & composite (RCA) outputs. Price: $89.89 on Aliexpress. The firmware is likely in Chinese only (TBC).
Ugoos UT4 – Upcoming RK3368 TV Box with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi. Listing found on Android Warehouse. Price: TDB
All boxes run Android 5.1, and prices when available including shipping. The cheapest and lower end model is X6 selling for $57, with other 1GB RAM/8GB flash boxes selling for around $70. The best devices in terms of features appear to be Rikomagic MK68 and Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta both with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC flash, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi, and selling respectively for $100 and $112. For reference, their Rockchip RK3288 equivalent, namely Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta and Rikomagic MK902 II sell respectively for $115 and $113. So far, nobody appears to have come up with a Rockchip RK3368 HDMI TV stick. Not sure whether the cause is fading demand for sticks, the CPU gets a little too hot, or we just need to be patient.
Corrections and additions to the list are more than welcome.
In theory, Allwinner H3 is supposed to be a better alternative to Amlogic S805 processor thanks to more powerful Cortex A7 cores, and support for 4K video output and playback, while Amlogic S805 only features four Cortex A5 cores, and support H.265 up to 1080p60 only. Zidoo X1 is one of the TV boxes recently released with H3 processor. If you’ve not read my two previous posts yet, you may want to check out Zidoo X1 specifications, as well as the unboxing and tear-down post. In this post, I’ll focus on testing performance, stability, and video playback capabilities with Kodi.
First Boot, Settings and First Impressions
I’ve connected an Ethernet cable, an HDMI cable, a USB hard drive, and a USB hub with a USB webcam, an two RF dongles for an air mouse and a wireless gamepad. The box will boot automatically as you connect the power adapter. Boot takes just under one minute, which is fairly normal for a low end box.
Home Screen (Click for Original Size)
The Home Screen is divided in three zones with weather and time information at the top, shortcuts in the middle (Google Play, Firmware Update, Shortcut key for remote, Zidoo RC, Easy Cast by default), as well as icon for Kodi (ZDMC), Local file browser, apps, settings, and a web browser. There are also three icons on the bottom right to indicate WiFi, Ethernet, and/or USB connections. The user interface is 720p by default, but Zidoo also provide a 1080p kernel. However, considering Allwinner H3 has a Mali-400MP2 GPU, sticking with a 720p framebuffer is probably a better idea.
The settings icon redirect to the usual Android Settings interface with some customizations for TV boxes. The main options include:
Wireless & Networks – Wi-Fi and Ethernet configuration, Data usage for Wi-Fi and Ethernet, and “More” section for Tethering & portable hotspot and VPN
Sound – Enable Pass Through option, and Audio output mode selection for AUDIO_CODEC, AUDIO_HDMI, or AUDIO_SPDIF. Since there’s an option for pass-through, I don’t really understand what AUDIO_CODEC means here
Display – HDMI CEC; HDMI output mode: 720p50/60, 1080p24/50/60, or 4K30; and “Screen percent”
Storage – Single 4.77GB partition with around 4GB free
I had no problems connecting with Wi-Fi and Ethernet. I set HDMI output to 4K 30Hz successfully, but it would also revert to 720p 50Hz upon reboot. Byt default the screen scale is not set to 100%, so if you have a TV underscans by default, you should go to “Screen percent” menu to adjust it to 100%. I could not see options for composite output, but maybe these will appear if the box is not connected via HDMI.
The “About device” section shows the model number is indeed ZIDOO_X1, and Android 4.4.2 runs on top of Linux 3.4.39. The firmware version is h3_v1.0.15, but despite Zidoo releasing v1.0.16 a few days ago, it was not available via the Update application at the time of testing, so I kept running firmware 1.0.15, especially people complained about stability issues in the latest firmware… Firmware v1.0.15 was rooted on my device.
You’ll also find “ZDrepo Identify Code” mentioned in the about device section, as well as the website www.zdrepo.com, which seems to be used to manage Kodi add-ons, but I have not investigated further.
For those of you who want to check all settings options, and find out more about Easy Cast (not related to EZCast), Zidoo RC, and Shortcut apps, I’ve recorded a walk-through video of Zidoo X1 user interface using Zidoo X9 video recorder.
When I first used the device, I started controlling it with the IR remote control, which required two AAA batteries, and within ZIUI (Zidoo UI) and Kodi it’s working pretty well. The IR learning function worked for me too, as I could record my TV remote control volume, power and video input keys. However, I quickly switched to MeLe F10 Deluxe air mouse, since it’s just better to use such input device to input text and control the mouse pointer on Android TV boxes.
The Google Play Store is pre-installed, and mostly works as expected. Some apps won’t install of hardware requirements (GPS, Bluetooth, SMS…), or country limitations. However, I’m not sure why my “device was not compatible with this version” for EZCast and Google+ apps.
Power control is implemented properly. A short press on the power key of the remote control will pop-up a menu allowing you to select between Power off, Standby, or Reboot, and all three are working as expected. A long press on the power key will turn off the device. You can use the IR remote control to power on the device, even when it’s in power off mode. However, if you use an air mouse, power on won’t work as the IR code is different, but standby mode will work.
Zidoo X1 gets a little warmer than MXQ S85, as the temperature reached 43°C and 55°C (max) on the top and bottom of the enclosure after running Antutu. I skipped my usual Riptide GP2 temperature and stability test, as playing the game amounts to torture on this platform.
I was expecting the user interface to feel sluggish with the Mali-400MP2 GPU, but the interface was surprisingly smooth, and my initial impression was that the firmware was stable and well optimized for the platform. ZIUI (Zidoo UI) also looks pretty nice to me.
Video Playback with Kodi
Unfortunately these positive first impressions quickly changed to massive disappointment once I started playing videos in Kodi 14.2, called ZDMC (Zidoo MC) in the device, as even some H.264 videos failed to play smoothly. Unless otherwise stated, all videos were played from a SAMBA share in an Ubuntu 14.04 computer with Zidoo X1 connected via Ethernet.
I started with video samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, Elecard H.265/HEVC samples, and a low resolution VP9 video:
H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 480p: OK; 720p/1080p/1080p60: Some micro pauses every 1 or 2 seconds due to skipped and dropped frames
MPEG2 codec / MPG container – 480p: OK; 720p/1080p: Some micro pauses every 1 or 2 seconds due to skipped and dropped frames
MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
VC1 codec (WMV) – 480p: OK – 720p/1080p – audio only
Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Software decode @ ~14 fps, so not very smooth.
WebM / VP8 – OK
H.265 codec / MPEG TS container (360p/720p/1080p) – 360p: OK. 720p would play at 15fps (24fps video) with some severe audio/video sync issues. 1080p would play in slow motions with frequent audio cuts.
WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK
I think it’s the first time, I’ve been sent a box that can’t play 1080p H.264 properly, and only MPEG4 and VP8 videos could play fine.
But let’s just assume we were unlucky with the first sample, and let’s move onto some higher bitrate videos:
ED_HD.avi – 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) – audio only
Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK, played from USB hard drive
Some H.264 videos can play OK, so it should only be some that have problems.
HD audio codecs have been tested down-mixed to PCM using Kodi and TvdVideo app (pre-installed), and audio pass-through has been tested with Onkyo TX-NR636 using HDMI pass-through with BD/DVD input. AC3 and DTS pass-through were enabled in Kodi, and Pass-Through in Android’s Sound settings.
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio OK, but the image will freeze right before the end of the video
OK, except for video freeze
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1
Audio OK, but image will freeze
OK, except for video freeze
Dolby Digital+ 7.1
Audio OK, but image will freeze
DTS HD Master
DTS HD High Resolution
Pass-through is not really working in Kodi, except for AC3 and E-AC-3.
Sintel-Bluray.iso could play smoothly, so unencrypted Blu-ray ISO are supported. 1080i MPEG2 videos (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) could also play fine, albeit with Kodi reporting 15 fps playbacks, but this was not a problem visually, as these samples are mostly showing static images… Results with two Hi10p H.264 videos were interesting as audio would play, but the image would freeze at the very beginning, yet the various subtitles would show correctly.
4K video decoding is one of the main selling point of Zidoo X1 (and Allwinner H3), but unfortunately, the whole experience with Kodi was an unmitigated disaster:
HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Does not play smoothly: ~15 to 23fps for a 30 fps video
sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Starts to play at 15 fps, and then after a while the image freezes, but audio carries on normally.
Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Looks like it’s playing at 1 to 2 fps
Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Looks like it’s playing at 1 to 2 fps
Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Won’t play, the system stays in Kodi file browser.
MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Won’t play, the system stays in Kodi file browser.
phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at 1 to 2 fps
BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play, the system stays in Kodi file browser
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Not smooth, audio/video sync issues, and after a while the image will freeze
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Image will freeze at the start of the video, but audio still plays.
This was really depressing, so I tried in TvdVideo app again:
HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Image will freeze at the start of the video, but audio still plays.
So that’s much better, and the system only fails to play the more complex videos.
My LG 42UB820T television does not support 3D, but it’s still interesting to find out whether platforms can decode stereoscopic 3D videos:
bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – Audio only, first image shown
bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Won’t play (and hard power cycle was required)
Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – Plays with many micro pauses every 1 or 2 seconds
I’ve played several AVI, MKV, IFO and MP4 videos (720p/1080p) and usually XViD, DiVX, and VOD video fine, but H.264 videos are a mixed bag, with videos using “avc1” codec all suffering from very short pauses likely due to dropped and skipped frames. Most FLV videos played, but some only had audio with black screen, and playing these required a reboot to get a working system again.
Automatic Frame Rate switching is enabled by default, but Kodi is setup to ask each time it starts a video, and when playing a 4K video @ 30 fps, the system will automatically switch to 1080p60, instead of staying at 4K30. So I disabled it. Another annoyance is the lack of Zoom option in Kodi to adjust the aspect ratio, and instead the menu will just show 3D settings. This should be fixable, but changing some options, e.g. selection of decoding method (ZDCodec, Stagefright…), but it’s what I got by default.
A full 1080p movie (1h50 / MKV / 3GB) could play without interruption, but unfortunately it was unwatchable due to dropped and skipped frames, and audio/video sync issues. At the end of the video, Kodi reported 15,000 dropped frames, and 60,000 skipped frames.
Usually, I’d also run Antutu Video Tester, but unfortunately after downloading around 120 MB of video data, the app refused to download the remaining 50MB, even after several trials on different days, and always reported “Network Connection is unavailable”. I’m not sure why that is as the app, now at version 3.0, could download the test videos, and run the test, while at the same time, I had no connection problem with other apps installed on Zidoo X1, with either Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
In order to test network performance, I transfer a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash, and vice versa, repeating the test three times with ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi transfer speed is very poor @ 1.1 MB/s on average, making Zidoo X1 one of the worst performer ever, at least with my setup.
Wi-Fi Throughput in MB/s
Ethernet is not really good either, but at least it’s usable for streaming most videos @ 4.1 MB/s on average. The poor performance for this test may however be due to the slow NAND flash write speed, as it’s much faster from NAND flash to SAMBA (6MB/s).
Ethernet Throughput in MB/s
iperf seems to confirm this theory, as running iPerf app using “iperf -t 60 -c 192.168.0.104 -d” command line yields 92.7 Mbps in one direction, and 53.5 Mbps in the other. Not the best device, but in line with most competitors.
There’s no Bluetooth built-in Zidoo X1. Firmware 1.0.16 is supposed to support USB Bluetooth dongles, but I have not tried.
Both FAT32 formatted micro SD card and USB flash drive could be mounted by the system.
File systems support is pretty good as NTFS, EXT-4 and EXFAT partition on a Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive could be mounted and accessed, with only BTRFS failing to mount.
I ran A1 SD Bench on the three partitions, with rather disappointing results, even considering transfers take place over a USB 2.0 port:
So if you own this box, you may consider using a hard drive formatted with EXT-4 for better performance.
Read and Write Speeds in MB/s
Low cost device often come with NAND flash instead of eMMC, and that’s also the case for the latest Zidoo media player, with rather underwhelming performance (Read: 15.71 Mb/s; Write: 3.31 MB/s), although it does not really seem to affect overall system performance that much.
Skype worked just fine on the device, with both the Skype Call Test Service (audio) working, and a normal call, although the image of the other party was zoomed in, so you may have to ask the other party to move back a little.
Google Hangouts installed OK, but it would just get stuck at the “Signing in” stage when I start the application.
Allwinner H3 with its Mali-400MP2 GPU was never going to be a great gaming device, but i still tried Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2.
Candy Crush Saga ran just fine, and I controlled the game with the air mouse. I then switched to Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad to play Beach Buggy Blitz and Riptide GP2. The latter is playable with default settings, also not really enjoyable, but Riptide GP2 is hard to play with default settings, strangely set to high quality, as the frame rate is just to low. If I change all graphics settings to disable or low, it becomes more playable, but I would still not like to play a long time with this hardware…
Zidoo X1 (Allwinner H3) Benchmarks
It’s the first Allwinner H3 platform that I’ve tested, so I’ve run CPU-Z, before going through the benchmarks.
So the app is confused and thinks Allwinner H3 is a quad core Allwinner A23 processor, probably because the processor is not yet in CPU-Z database, and it’s also a sun8i platform. Having said that it correctly detected a Mali-400MP GPU and quad core Cortex A7 processor, but instead of being clocked at 1.5 GHz as in marketing documents, it appears to run at 1.2 GHz max.
The model is ZIDOO_X1 with the codename dophin_fvd_p1, the resolution is 1280×720, there’s 1GB of RAM and 4.77GB of storage accessible to the end user.
Zidoo X1 gets 16,948 points in Antutu 5.7, which compares to 16,448 points for MXQ S85, so both platform have similar overall performance. Please note that MXQ S85 features a 1920×1080 user interface instead of the 1280×720 in Zidoo device. The Mali-450MP4 GPU in the Amlogic S805 TV box being significantly more powerful than the Mali-400MP2 GPU in the Allwinner H3 based device.
Vellamo scores are pretty much the same between H3 and S805.
But MXQ S85 got 2,300+ points in 3DMark’ Ice Storm Extreme @ 1080p against 1,449 points for Zidoo X1 @ 720p, which confirms the relative GPU weakness of Allwinner H3 SoC.
The underlying firmware of Zidoo X1 appears to be stable and responsive, but there are still a few bugs, and the real downside is Kodi implementation, which is the worst i’ve see so far, and it really feels like Zidoo released their X1 a little too early. That said based on my Zidoo X9 experience, the developers are really committed to fixing user’s bugs, and release firmware upgrade regularly. But this time, they’ve got a lot of work on their hands.
Slow NAND flash, and relatively slow USB mass storage performance
GPU is an older Mali-400MP2, and not really suitable for 3D games, even though the GPU is said to be clocked @ 700 MHz
So hopefully Zidoo and Allwinner are hard at work improving their Kodi implementation, and in a few months, the box will be a decent device for video playback.
If you are a reseller or distributors, you can contact Zidoo directly if you are interested in purchasing the box in quantities. Individuals should really wait (unless you don’t care about Kodi) before purchasing that box, but if you’d like to give it a try anyway you can find it for $59.99 on GeekBuying, as well as Amazon US, and Aliexpress.
Amlogic mostly makes SoCs for tablets, for example the M80x series, and TV boxes such as Amlogic S805 or S812, but they also have a processor family designed for Smart TVs such as Amlogic T866 quad core Cortex A9 processor @ 1.8 GHz coupled with an octa-core Mali-450MP. Somehow, Geniatech has designed ATV1866 TV box based on the latter support two HDMI inputs, and one HDMI output.
The box does not appears to support video recoding from the HDMI input, nor time-shifting, but the company showcased picture-in-picture (PiP) functionality, showing either input used in full screen or windowed mode on top of the Android user interface. HDMI version is 2.0 for the output, with H.265 codec supported, but I could not find details about the HDMI inputs.
The box is running Android 4.4 for now, but will certainly run Android 5.0 at launch. The company is still developing the product, and it’s unclear when it will be released.