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Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO High-End Media Player is Powered by Sigma Designs SMP8758 SoC (Crowdfunding)

August 24th, 2015 12 comments

CloudMedia, previously known as Syabas, has been in the Linux media player business for many years, having developed various product based on Sigma Designs secure media processor. Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO is their latest media player, which the company claims have high-end audio and video quality thanks to an ESS SABRE Audio DAC, XLR connectors, and Sigma Designs SMP8758 dual core Cortex A9 processor and its VXP engine.

Popcorn_Hour_A500_PRO

Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO specifications:

  • SoC – Sigma Designs SMP8758 ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 1.2 GHz with ARM Mali-400 GPU and VXP image processing engine
  • System Memory – 2048 MB DDR3
  • Storage – NAND Flash for firmware, 1x SD card reader, internal SATA bay
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz
  • Audio Output
    • Digital – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, and coaxial S/PDIF
    • Analog – Stereo RCA jacks, XLR connectors, and headphones
    • Audio DAC – ESS SABRE Audio DAC ES9018K2M
  • Video Containers – M1V, M2V, M4V, M2P, MPG,VOB TS, TP, TRP, M2T, M@TS, MTS, AVI, ASF, WMV, MKV, 3DMKV, MOV, MP4, RMP4
  • Video Codecs – HEVC, VP9, H.264, MPEG-4.2-ASP, SMPTE 421M, AVS, H.261
  • 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
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host, 1x USB 3.0 slave
  • Misc – IR receiver, IR extender port, dual boot switch, power and network LEDs
  • Power Supply – N/A
  • Dimensions – 210 x 188 x 57 mm (Aluminum enclosure)
  • Weight – N/A

Media_Player_XLR_ConnectorThis fanless 4K media player  will ship with a remote control, two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, a USB 3.0 slave cable, ab AC power adapter, a Quick Start Guide, and a Warrranty card. The device can run Linux or Android, and both operating systems appear to be pre-installed, as there’s a dual boot switch on the device. The guts of the machine are actually pretty similar to Popcorn Hour VTEN, which I reviewed a few months ago and found quite good at what it’s supposed to do play videos, including 4K videos using 10-bit HEVC codec, and handle HDMI audio pass-through for all HD audio codec I tested. Popcorn Hour A500 PRO is a different beast however with double the RAM, a SATA bay, higher-end audio codec and connectors, and support for both Linux and Android, while VTEN was only running Linux at the time.

Movie Jukebox App in Linux

Movie Jukebox App in Linux

I had never heard about XLR connectors before. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about them:

The XLR connector is a style of electrical connector, primarily found on professional audio, video, and stage lighting equipment. The connectors are circular in design and have between 3 and 7 pins. They are most commonly associated with balanced audio interconnection, including AES3 digital audio, but are also used for lighting control, low-voltage power supplies, and other applications

It’s pretty hard to find media player with XLR outputs, Denon DN-105C is one of the them, and it sells for $549. You’ll also need need some “speakers” with XLR inputs such as Yamaha HS5 monitors ($250), so that mostly for audiophiles who don’t mind spending extra for better audio quality.

Instead of launching Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO on their website as for most their earlier products, CloudMedia decided to go the Kickstarter route as for their STACK Box home automation gateway. Rewards start at $399 with the “Early Bird Special” that should get you the player by November 2015. Shipping is not included, depending where you live can add quite a lot. This ranges from $11 to Hong Kong, $37 to the US or Europe, and up to a cool $184 if you are lucky enough to live in the Seychelles, or most African countries…

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Mygica ATV586 Quad Core Android DVB-T2 Receiver Unboxing and Teardown

August 13th, 2015 3 comments

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.

Mygica_ATV586_packageThere 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)

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)

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.

Click to Enlarge

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.

Click to Enlarge

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.

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WeTek OpenELEC Box Comes with DVB or ATSC Tuners for $91

July 11th, 2015 7 comments

WeTek Play TV boxes are Android set-top boxes with DVB-T2/C2, DVB-S2, or ATSC tuner powered by Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core Cortex A9 processor. Even though the hardware is not the greatest right now, I found that it did a pretty good job with video playback and digital TV playback and recording in my review of the DVB-S2 version. The company also provided various images including one using OpenELEC, a Linux based distribution running Kodi only. But now, if you’d rather have OpenELEC pre-installed in the box, instead other Android, WeTek made an OpenELEC box based on the same hardware platform selling for $90.55 on OpenELEC website.

WeTek_OpenELEC_BoxOpenELEC box has mostly the same hardware specifications as WeTek Play:

  • SoC – Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core Cortex A9 @ 1.5GHz with Mali-400MP GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 4 GB NAND flash + 1x micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI, AV (CVBS + R/L audio)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi , and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6210)
  • Tuner – DVB-T/T2/C, or 2x DVB-S2, or ATSC
  • USB – 3x external USB 2.0 ports, 1x internal USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, 3 LEDs for power, Ethernet and Wi-Fi, RS-232 port for serial console.
  • Power – 12V/1.5A

The set-top box ships with an HDMI cable, a serial cable, a power supply, as well as a remote control, that’s a bit different from the one I got to play with my WeTek Play.

OpenELEC Box Remote Control

OpenELEC Box Remote Control

The Wetek Play remote was an air mouse, but you might only get a standard IR remote with the OpenELEC Box (TBC) since the Kodi interface is specifically designed for this type of input device, and a mouse pointer is normally not needed.

Thanks to Harley for the tip!

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Eny EM95 Android Mini PC Runs Android 5.1 on Amlogic S905 Processor

July 8th, 2015 17 comments

Amlogic S905 is the first 64-bit ARM processor by Amlogic, and comes with four ARM Cortex A53 cores coupled with a Mali-450MP GPU, with S912 to follow later with the same CPU cores, but more powerful Mali-T7xx GPU. With Acemax G9C we already have one company working on an Amlogic S905 TV box, but Eny Technology just informed me they are about to launch two models based on Amlogic armv8 processor: EM95-MXQ, which looks exactly like G9C, and EM95 with a different casing, but very similar specs.

EM95Eny EM95 specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905 quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with quad core Mali-450MP GPU up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 (Option: 2GB)
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash (Option: 16GB) + SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz with support for CEC and HDCP 2.2 , AV output
  • Video Codecs – H.264, H.265, HD AVC/VC-1, HD MPEG1/2/4, RM/RMVB, Xvid/DivX 3/4/5/6, RealVideo 8/9/10 up to 4K resolutions
  • Audio – HDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet (Optional Gigabit Ethernet), Wi-Fi @ 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc- Power LED, LED display on front panel
  • Power Supply –  DC 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – N/A

The box will run Android 5.1 Lollipop, and the company sent me a short video showing the system booting, and they claim development is nearly complete.

Amlogic S905 TV Box Board for EM95 and EM95-MXQ (Click to Enlarge)

Amlogic S905 TV Box Board for EM95-MXQ (Click to Enlarge)

Pricing is not available publicly yet, but that mean we should soon have affordable 4K Android media players supporting 2160p @ 60 Hz. You can visit EM95 product page if you want to contact the company to order in quantities.
[Update: July 17. Picture of EM95 board
EM95_BoardSome ports still do not match the 3D rendering though…
]
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Zidoo X9 Android HDMI Recorder & Media Player Gets Picture-in-Picture (PiP) Support

July 1st, 2015 5 comments

Zidoo has released another firmware for their X9 Android mini PC with HDMI input, which implements Picture-in-Picture (PiP) support, on top of the existing HDMI video recording. That’s the first Android TV box that I know of that supports it, although I’ve seen Geniatech demo HDMI input and PiP with their ATV1810 last year, but it does not seem to be available for sale anywhere.
Zidoo_X9_Picture-in-PictureChangelog for Zidoo X9 firmware version 1.0.3.5:

  • Added PiP function, You can press the TV button on the IR remote to enable it.
  • Optimized audio compatibility.
  • Fixed various Player bugs – Audio compatibility, OSD timeout, typos fix, etc…
  • Fixed various File Manager bugs

I don’t have the box with me right, so I could not try it, and Zidoo did not reply to my request for pictures and demo in time for this post, so I’m not sure if there are any shortcomings with the current implementation.

But if you own X9, make sure you update to the latest firmware (OTA) if you want to try the PiP function with the TV button on the remote control. I’ll make sure to update that post with any demo that may show up.

[Update: Please find a video demo below

]

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Tronsmart Pavo M9 is a $90 Android HDMI Recorder and 4K Media Player

June 27th, 2015 21 comments

If you need your Android TV box to record external video via HDMI, few options are available on the market, and one of them is Zidoo X9. It works relatively well, and gets frequent firmware update. It now costs around $120, but Tronsmart has now launched a model based on the same Mstar MSO9810 processor with HDMI recording function that costs $89.90 shipped on GeekBuying or Ebay.

Tronsmart_Pavo_M9

Tronsmart Pavo M9 specifications:

  • SoC – Mstar MSO9180D1R quad core Cortex A9 processor up to 1.5GHz with a Mali-450MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot
  • Video Output / Input –  HDMI output up to 4K, HDMI input with PVR and Time Shifting support (up to 1080p), 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, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (Realtek 8188)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 host ports.
  • Misc – ON/OFF switch, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions – 15.24 x 15.24 x 4.06 cm
  • Weight – ~260 grams

Compared to Zidoo X9, you’ll have to trade the aluminum enclosure for  plastic one. you’ll lose Bluetooth, Wi-Fi only support 2.4GHz (no 5.0 GHz), the two external antennas are gone, and so is the small LCD display on the front panel, and finally the system features 1GB RAM instead of the 2GB RAM found in Zidoo X9.

Tronsmart_Pavo_M9_ConnectorsPavo M9 comes with an IR remote with IR learning function (The same as Zidoo X9), a 12V/2A power adapter, an HDMI cable, an a user’s manual. The box runs Android 4.4 with Kodi pre-installed, and OTA firmware updates support. Since Kodi is likely to be the same version as in X9 TV box, bear in mind that some videos, especially 4K ones H.265 videos, may not play very well in Kodi, and HDMI audio pass-through may not work, but all these will often work just fine in the other media player that comes pre-installed in the box, and that gets updates more often.

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Ruach A20s is a $35 Android TV Box Powered by Rockchip RK3128 SoC

June 16th, 2015 2 comments

Ruach A20 was a media player based on Allwinner A20 processor released about a year ago. Now Ruach Electronics launched an updated model featuring Rockchip RK3128 quad core Cortex A7 processor with the somewhat confusing name Ruach A20s.

Ruach_A20s_RK3128_Media_PlayerRuach A20s specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3128 quad core ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.2 GHz with ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU @ 500 MHz
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB NAND flash
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p, composite (RCA)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, stereo audio output (RCA)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR sensor, power button (mechanical On/Off switch), recovery pin hole
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 11.8 x 7.8 x 3.0 cm

Ruach_A20_rear_PanelThe features and ports are just like the older model, so the main difference is really only the Rockchip processor. The model still lacks a micro SD card and Bluetooth. It runs Android 4.4 with Kodi pre-installed. The company released the factory firmware, which you can upgrade using the usual method, but I would not expect regular firmware update for this product.

Ruach A20s is the cheapest RK3128 based product so far as it sells for about $35 on Aliexpress including shipping, and there’s also a version with 512MB RAM, that’s supposed to be cheaper, but for some reasons ends up costing the same once shipping is included. You may notice lots of orders and positive feedback on Aliexpress, but this was for the previous model, and they just updated the information, so this may not be relevant to that particular product. Nevertheless, Ruach A20s is still significantly cheaper than F6 TV Box ($42), or FirePrime board, which has just been listed for $69 + shipping. However, the board has some extra features (Bluetooth, GbE, ore USB port…), runs both Android 5.1 and Ubuntu 15.04. and is likely to have much better support.

Via AndroidPC.es

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$59 Zidoo X1 Android TV Box Powered by Allwinner H3 SoC

June 8th, 2015 9 comments

Allwinner H3 based Android TV boxes have been selling for a few months for $80 or less, and Draco H3 HDMI TV stick even goes for just $35. Zidoo has been working on their own Allwinner H3 platform called Zidoo X1 for a little while, and they are about to launch it for $59 (MSRP).

Zidoo_X1Zidoo X1 specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.5GHz with quad core Mali-400MP2 @ 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB NAND flash (16GB in option) + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 4K2K @ 30Hz, AV
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codec – H.265/HEVC up to 4K30, 1080p60 decoding for H.264, VP8, MPEG-1/2,  MPEG-4, H.263. WMV9, VC1, etc…
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A (power barrel)
  • Dimensions – 12.6 x 11.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Weight – N/A

Zidoo_X1_ConnectorsThe box runs Android 4.4, and will ship with an HDMI cable, an IR remote control, a power adapter, and a user’s manual. Based on my experience with Zidoo X9, the company is very good as providing regular firmware update all provided over-the-air (OTA), except when it comes to Kodi/XBMC support. But it’s quite possible they did not have the source code for XBMC modifications made for the Mstar processor in X9, but with Zidoo X1, they claim to have worked extensively on a Kodi 14.2 port with features like hardware decoding and 1080p24 automatic frame rate switching, and they’ll also have their own Zidoo’s add-on repository, although they haven’t provided details about the add-ons yet. I’m not quite sure Zidoo is committed to comply with Kodi’s GPL license though…

The 4K media player is not quite up for sale, but in order to promote their brand, and new product, they’ll launched a promotion where they will give away up to 100 Zidoo boxes (Only 50 units if less than 300 entries) to people who participate. You’ll need to register to their forums, post a picture of your TV (40″ or greater), and also share the link of the promotion in at least one social network or forum in order to enter the draw (Rules on the latter point are not 100% clear). If you are a winner, you’d need to pay $9.9 by Paypal to cover the cost of shipping by DHL. The competition closes on June 25, and the boxes will start to ship on June 30. Good luck to those who choose to participate.

If you’d rather not share personal information in this competition, the box is now listed for pre-order on Geekbuying for $59.99, and should soon be found on Amazon and eBay too. A few more details can also be found on Zidoo X1 product page.

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