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Sen5 Amlogic S905D TV Box Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Kodi 17, and DVB-T2 & S2 App

May 19th, 2017 5 comments

Sen5 is one of the first Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S905D processor, and comes with two tuners (DVB-C/T/T2 and DVB-T/T2) with two demodulators that should allow for recording on one tuner, while watching the other, or recording two channels at the same time. We’ve already check out the hardware in the first part of the review, and seen a glimpse of the neat user interface, so today I’ll report about my experience with the device.

Sen5 Android Set-Top Box First Boot, Setup Wizard, & First Impressions

The STB comes with two USB ports so I used one for the hard drive, a necessity if you plan to use the PVR function, and connected a USB hub to the other with RF dongles for an air mouse and a gamepad, as well as a USB keyboard to take screenshots. I also connected Ethernet and HDMI cables, as well as my terrestrial antenna to the coaxial “DVB-T2” input, and my satellite dish to the DVB-S2 F-connector.

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Finally I connected the power, after a several seconds after the “Amlogic S905D” and “MBOX” boot logo I go to  a setup wizard asking me to select the language…

The next step is the output resolution, and the system auto-detected 4K2K-60Hz maximum resolution from LG 42UB820T 4K UHD TV.Screen adjust is used for overscan, but if you have a recent TV, you should not really need to use since you can always understand with settings like “just scan”.Step 4 is the selection between Ethernet and WiFi.This is followed by Date & Time configuration.Finally, you’ll be asked to select between “Scan TV channel”, “Login to Google Play Store”, and “Go to Home page”.

I selected the later at this stage, and the beautiful “NesTV” launcher appeared. A typical boot takes around 35 seconds with this box.

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You’ll get date, time, and weather on the top left, 6 main icons in the center for TV (DVB) app, IPTV & VOD (both required a login I did not have), YouTube, Kodi, and the list of app. The bottom include an “Add/Remove” button to organize favorites.

The top right row includes some convenient shortcuts showing (from left to right):

  • Free memory – Clicking on it will cleaned up memory
  • USB status – Redirects to File Browser
  • Network Status (Ethernet or WiFi) – Redirects to Network settings
  • Bluetooth Status – Redirects to Bluetooth settings
  • Download – Shortcut for easy access to Download direction
  • Notifications – Will display notifications on the left of the screen (See screenshot below)
  • Backup & Restore & Update button
  • Ookla – Measures your Internet connection performance
  • Settings – Redirect to Amlogic’s Settings app

The preview zone is black until your scan channel after which it will show a preview of the last selected channel (with audio).

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The pre-installed apps can be found below.

The Setting app is about the same as on other Amlogic Android 6.0 TV boxes, but it’s still worth noting HDMI CEC, HDR and Playback settings (for HDMI self-adaptation) options are there. The only new menu is MediaScan which lets you decided whether to automatically scan USB drives in the background (disabled by default).

Going to Android settings, we can see 5.27 GB is already used out of 8 GB storage, and that is before I installed any app. The flash was almost full by the end of the review.

NTFS and exFAT file systems are supported, but not EXT-4, nor BTRFS.

The About section indicates the model is called SH8B7AV_SF001 and runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 3.14.29, the same as most other Amlogic S9xx boxes.. Android security patch is date August 1, 2016. The firmware is not rooted. OTA firmware update appears to be implemented, with the Update app communicating with the firmware update server, but I did not get any updates since March 29th.

The IR remote control works well up to 10 meters, and I also appreciate shortcuts key to app list, Play Store, YouTube, etc.. The remote control is also absolutely necessary to use with the TV app, which relies color button (red/green/yellow.blue) and special keys like EPG. Since an air mouse or wireless keyboard with touchpad is necessary in many Android apps, I ended switching between the remote control, and MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse depending on which app I used. I wishes such Android Set-top boxes would come with an optional air mouse that also support the TV app.

Google Play and Amazon Underground worked just fine, and I could install all apps I needed for the review.

The set-top box supports standby and power off mode. That’s the theory, because in practice, the box will reboot maybe 95% of the time when I try to turn it off (long press on remote control power key). Standby is working fine. The power button on the unit itself does not work at all for me. Maybe it’s just a problem with the sample.

I tested power consumption with or without the USB hard drive:

  • Standby – 0.3 Watt
  • Idle – 4.4 to 5.0 Watss
  • Standby + HDD – 0.3 to 0.4 Watt
  • Idle + HDD – 6.0 to 6.3 Watts

A reliably working power off would be nice though. I gave up on measuring power off, since it was so difficult to enter in this mode. At least power consumption is sufficiently low in standby mode, and there are reasons (scheduling) to prefer standby over power off, as we’ll see below.

Sen5 does get a little hot over time.After playing a 2-hour H.264 1080p movie in Kodi, max. top and bottom temperatures were 51 and 61 °C respectively, and as I went to CPU-Z to check the CPU temperature, soc_thermal was 84 °C. The movie frame rate did not feel “optimal” at the end either. Riptide GP2 game frame rate also suffered over time, and temperature after playing 15 minutes were 48°C (top) , 56°C (bottom) and 79°C (CPU-Z).  The idle temperature reported in CPU-Z is also a not-so-cool 73 °C. Hopefully, the company will find a solution before selling the box retail.

An Amlogic S905D TV box is very much like other Amlogic S905(X) TV boxes with a fairly stable and responsive firmware. But Sen5 box stands out thanks to NesTV launcher which looks really nice, and comes with some useful features and shortcuts. The remote control is also well designed, although I’d like it to have air mouse and keyboard functions. The two main issues I encountered were overheating, and the inability to power off the box reliably.

Video & Audio Tests with TV Center (Kodi), and DRM Info

Sen5 comes with Kodi 17 pre-installed.

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After enabling “Adjust display refresh rate” in Kodi settings, and  HDMI self-adaptation, I played 4K videos over Gigabit Ethernet /SAMBA:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – Choppy at the end of the video
  • 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
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC, 24 fps) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – The video plays in slow motion and audio delays (As expected, as 4K H.264 @ 60 fps is not supported by S905D VPU)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – Plays at around 1 to 2 fps (expected since it relies software decode)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – USB hard drive playback: Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Plays, but could be smoother

My experience with 4K video playback was inline with other Amlogic S912/S905X TV boxes, except possibly with HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4.Automatic Another common state of affair is that automatic frame rate switching is not working, and  MINIX NEO U9-H is the only exception to this rule for recent Amlogic TV boxes (that I tested).

I enabled HDMI Passthrough in Android settings…and in Kodi. Some whatever reasons, there are no option to select AC3/ DTS, TrueHD, or DTS HD like in other devices. You can only enable or disable “Allow passthrough”.

Those are the results with Onkyo TX-NR636 receiver. PCM 2.0 is without pass-through using my TV speakers, and I used both Kodi (which handle audio its own way), and MoviePlayer app.

Video PCM 2.0 Output
(Kodi)
PCM 2.0 Output
(MoviePlayer)
HDMI Pass-through
(Kodi)
HDMI Pass-through
(MoviePlayer)
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK, video not smooth No audio Audio OK (Dolby D 5.1), Video not smooth OK (Dolby D 5.1)
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK No audio OK (Dolby D 5.1) OK (Dolby D 5.1)
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0 OK (DD+ 7.1)
TrueHD 5.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0 OK (TrueHD 5.1)
TrueHD 7.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0 OK (TrueHD 7.1)
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK No audio PCM 2.0 Beep (AC3 audio track)
DTS HD Master OK No audio PCM 2.0 DTS 5.1
DTS HD High Resolution OK No audio PCM 2.0 DTS 5.1
DTS:X OK No audio PCM 2.0 DTS 5.1

Kodi is not usable with your AV receiver, except for Dolby Digital 5.1 / AC3, while MoviePlayer requires you to own an AV receiver if you want to have any audio on videos with only Dolby or DTS audio track(s).

I could play a 2-hour movie over SAMBA, but as mentioned previously the frame rate seemed to drop slightly at the end due to over heating.

Sen5 supports Widevine Level 3 DRM, meaning no HD support on some premium apps like Netflix. YouTube worked well, even while recording live TV in the background.

DTV App for DVB-S/S2 and DVB-T/T2

Let’s get started with the TV app. The first time you’ll go through the “TV First Installation” wizard.

You can select aspect ratio, zap mode (black screen or freeze), subtitle, LCN, and DVB Type between DVBS-DVBT/T2 or DVBS-DVBC. I did not change any of the settings and kept going with DVBS-DVBT/T2.The next window will let you start scan, and load channels from USB, the Internet, and another STB. I just clicked on Start Scan which brought me to the TV menu.

If you’re going to change any “installation” setting for satellite or DVB-T/T2/C, you’ll be asked for a password “0000”.

Going into Dish Settings, I could select Thaicom 5/6 satellite, as I normally do, but I was a little confused since I had to select between C-band and Ku-band. I eventually figured I had to select C-band, as I would not get any channels with Ku-band selection.

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The first time I did a “standard scan” as shown above, and I got only 13 channels, far below what I would expect especially I select both free-to-air and paid channels. So I restarted a Blind Scan instead again on Thaicom 5/6 (78.5E C-band).

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I ended up with 387 TV channels including premium (marked with $) and free channels.

You can select channels by CAS type using the blue button on the remote control for example to select the Free channels. The paid channels should be accessible via the smart card reader provided you have the right card. But it’s not something I could try.

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Next up I had to configure DVB-T2. It took me a couple of minutes to find out I had to use the drawer key (on the left side of the Blue HOME key) in order to bring the TV menu back up.

I selected auto scan, input the country, before running the scan.

It found 25 channels, but no radio channels.I could watch DVB-T2 channels. but some HD channels have low quality sometimes dropping below 25% and the channels freezing. I have not noticed the same issue with SD channels, and sometimes the same HD channels do not have any problem.

The “I” button on the remote shows some of the info about the current channel including channel number abd name, date and time, current and next program name and time, audio, S2/T2, and CAS information, as well as signal strength and quality.

I’ll go through other options in TV menu before checking out the other features of the app. The Edit Channels section allows you to set favorites, and organize channels as you see fit.

The PVR and Timers section will give you access to the list of already recorded program, and current timers / schedules (see further below for details).

The Add-on menu allows you to add favorites, so you can quickly jump from the TV app to whatever other you may want. Not very useful IMHO, as you could do the same by pressing the Home key and selecting shortcuts in the main launcher.

Finally there are various TV settings. The only problem is that none of the options would work for me, as each option would just go back to the main launcher. You can access the program guide by pressing the EPG button on the remote control. Encoding is handled properly with DVB-T2 channels, and there’s a problem with Thai language with satellite channels, probably because the software does not use the right encoding.

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Burmese language is barely better.

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Anyway, you can still browser channels and the program guide, and add or remove “timers” to record or play videos at any given time.

By default all timers are set to record once, but you can go to the list of timers (drawer button-> PVR and Timers-> Timer), and change the option.

The repeat mode is quite versatile, as you can select daily, weekly, and even select the days to record during the week.

Timers and PVR are working quite well, and I had no troubles recording videos on either DVB-T2 or DVB-S2. Since the box has two demodulators, you can even record on DVB-T2 and watch DVB-S2 channels and vice-versa, as shown in the photo below (ONE HD is a DVB-T2 channel)

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Later on, I also discovered that during recording the list of unavailable channels will be grayed out, and you can still watch channels both on DVB-T2 or DVB-S2, as long as the channel on the busy input is one the same stream.

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Another thing impossible on VideoStrong set-top boxes is background recording, so as I recorded a channel, I pressed the HOME key, went to browse the web, and then watch a YouTube video. I came back to the TV app and discovered the recording was still taking place, and later on I could verify the video was properly recorded, and I did not notice any stuttering or obvious artifacts. So that’s a big plus compare to existing solutions. In theory, you should be able to record live TV on DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 at the same time, but the timer software detects a conflict if you do so.

I did one last test with schedules. I setup a recording at 16:30, and put the device into standby, waiting for the time… To my surprise, Sen5 STB started automatically at 16:30, but for whatever reason the recording only started 10 minutes later, at 16:40. So it looks like the capability is there, but it’s still buggy.  Timeshifting is working using the play/pause key, and you can also record manually using the record button on the remote control.

You can play the recordings in the TV app, but if you prefer to use another player, you’ll find the files in the DVBRecordFiles directory on your hard drive with a subdirectory for each recording.

The TV app will split large files into 2GB files probably because of hard drives still using FAT32, and despite mine using NTFS file system. info.amri is a binary file with some details about the recording, but it also contains some visible strings like the program name and TV channel name.

You can find some SD and HD recordings from DVB-T2 or DVB-S2, as well as info.amri file in MEGA. I had no troubles playing the DVB-T2 recording in my computer, but I had neither Totem, nor VLC could play the DVB-S2 recording, and I had to use

You’ll find a demo with the TV app in the video below.

Networking (WiFi & Ethernet)

WiFi performance was first tested by transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash (and vice versa) using ES File Explorer. The box only support 2.4 GHz WiFi, and the transfer rate was 1.5 MB/s on average.

Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

The performance is not very good, but similar to other Amlogic TV box due to the poor SAMBA performance. However, during testing I had other problems, with the first transfer failing after about 60%, which I could complete by clicking on Retry, and another transfer failing to start completely.

I also ran iperf for 60 seconds on both direction to get a raw benchmark value:

WiFi upload:

WiFi download:

Gigabit Ethernet is however working pretty well as least with iperf.

Iperf upload:

iperf download:

iperf full duplex:

A SAMBA to flash copy was limited by the write speed of the flash, and occurred at about 9.8 MB/s. Flash to SAMBA performance was worse because of the poor SAMBA implementation in Amlogic Android 6.0 SDK @ 5.9 MB/s.

Storage

FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT file systems are support, but as is often the case not EXT-4 and BTRFS. As usual USB storage benchmarks show that exFAT should be avoided as slow write speed may impact recorded videos. NTFS performance is however OK, and the eMMC flash used in the box does not have the best performance on the market, but I have not noticed any specific slowdowns, it may just take a little longer to install some apps.

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I’ve drawn a red line on exFAT – USB 2.0 and internal memory read results because they were cached read, and the internal memory can clearly NOT be read @ ~629 MB/s.

Bluetooth

I could pair Vernee Apollo Lite Android smartphone to the box and transfer several photos without any problem, but there was not a direct and easy way to click to see the files after the transfer, so I had to go to the FileBrowser app and into the bluetooth directory to check the files. I also watched a YouTube video after easily pairing X1T earbuds, and the box also detected the SimpleBLE demo I had running on a ESP32 board, so Bluetooth LE should also work.

Sen5 and Amlogic S905D Benchmarks

That’s my first Amlogic S905D device, so let’s run CPU-Z first. It’s impossible to distinguish S905D to  S905/S905X as they are all shown to be quad core Cortex A53 processors @ up to 1.51 GHz with a Mali-450 MP GPU.

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Antutu would just crash each time I start it, so I ran Vellamo instead to check the performance.
1,540 for Multicore, 919 for Metal, and 1,887 for Browser are comparable to the results I got on Amlogic S905X boxes (1,491 / 910 / 1,855).

Conclusion

Sen5 device is the first true dual tuner Android set-top box I have reviewed, as I was able to record one channel, and watch another at the same time. It also supports background recording, and wakeup from standby to start recording a video, both of which are impossible in all other Android STBs I have reviewed. NesTV launcher is also eye-pleasing, and includes really convenient shortcuts.  The box is not perfect however, as it still has some serious bugs like DVB-T2 channels freezing from time to time, WiFi failures (at least with SAMBA), and overheating issues. There are also various smaller bugs which hopefully will be fixed once the box is sold to end users.

PROS

  • Dual independent DVB-S/S2 and DVB-C/T/T2 tuner allowing for recording and watching live TV at the same time;
  • EPG, Timeshitfing, and PVR function working reasonably well
  • Exclusive Tuner Features (for an Android TV box) – Support for recording from standby mode (with caveat), and background recording (e.g. you can watch YouTube, browse the web, or play games while recording)
  • Beautiful & user-friendly NesTV launcher (I also found out after the review that there’s a mobile app for it)
  • Good 4K video playback in Kodi 17 works well
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 works in all apps including Kodi, TrueHD and DTS HDMI audio pass-through works with MoviePlayer app (and likely most other apps including the TV app, but not Kodi)
  • Excellent Ethernet performance
  • Bluetooth is working well for file transfer, audio headset, and BLE
  • Support for smartcards (not tested)

CONS

  • DTV app issues and shortcomings
    • DVB-T2 channels may freeze from time to time
    • Encoding problems with data from satellite channel, at least for Burmese and Thai languages
    • It’s not possible to record two videos (one in DVB-S2 / one in DVB-T2) at the same time as the app reports a scheduling conflict
    • When the box is in standby and a program is schedule, the box will wake up, but recording will only start a few minutes later (10 minutes in my case)
  • The box may overheat potentially leading to video become choppy over time, and games less smooth
  • Power off mode does not work reliably (will reboot most of the time), and the unit power did not work for me at all
  • SAMBA + WiFi performance is poor, and connection can be unreliable
  • Kodi issues: automatic frame rate switching does not work, pass-through is limited to AC3/ Dolby Digital 5.1
  • DTS/Dolby audio down-mixing does not work in Android apps like MoviePlayer or Video Player; DTS-HD pass-through does not work (DTS 5.1 only) in such apps.

I’d like to thanks Shenzhen Sen5 for providing a sample for review. AS previously mentioned, the product is not available for retail yet, but interested resellers and distributors may contact the company via their website.

U5 PVR Deluxe Android Set-Top Box Review – Part 1: Specs, Unboxing, Teardown, and SATA HDD Assembly

April 22nd, 2017 33 comments

Last year, I reviewed U4 Quad Hybrid, an Android TV box powered by Hisilicon Hi3796M quad core Cortex A7 processor and with a combo DVB-T2/C + DVB-S2 tuner. with digital TV tuner. It worked pretty well, except for a few bugs here and there, the processor is not the most powerful, and video output & decoding is limited to 4K  @ 30Hz. The company – Shenzhen Vivant Technology – is now back with a new model called U5 PVR powered by a more powerful Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 quad core Cortex A53 processor with fast interfaces like USB 3.0, SATA, and Gigabit Ethernet, as well as support for 4K @ 60Hz via a HDMI 2.0a interface. There are actually three variations of U5 PVR with Deluxe/Slim/Normal models, and the company sent me U5 PVR Deluxe model for review. As usual, after listing the specifications, I’ll start the review by checking out the hardware, before reporting my experience with the firmware in the second part.

U5 PVR Deluxe TV Box Specifications

The TV box has some pretty impressive specifications:

  • SoC – Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 quad core Cortex A53 processor + multi-core ARM Mali-T720 processor
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 5.0 flash, internal SATA port for 2.5″ & 3.5″ hard drives / SSDs, micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a port up to 4K60 with HDR10 support, HDCP 1.4/2.2, AV port (composite + stereo audio)
  • Audio Output – Via HDMI, AV ports, optical S/PDIF port
  • Video Decoding – 10-bit H.265/HEVC up to 160 Mbps, H.264, MPEG-2, AVS/AVS+, VC1, VP8/VP9
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 3x USB 2.0 ports
  • Tuner
    • Smart Card slot
    • 4 Options
      • Combo tuner with DVB-S2/S and DVB-T2/T/C tuners
      • Dual DVB-T2/T/C tuner with two demodulators
      • Twin DVB-S2/S tuner with Disqc v1.0, v1.2, and USALS support
      • Dual ATSC 2.0 tuner with two demodulators
  • Misc – Power/standby button, power switch, 2x LED, 4-digit 7 segment front panel display, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 12V/3A ; Standby mode power consumption: 0.5 watt
  • Dimensions – 320 x 275 x 135 mm
  • Weight – 1.5 kg
  • Operating Temperature – 0 to 45 °C

The box runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with LeanBack launcher, a customized Live TV app, and support for PVR, time-shifting, and  TVHeadEnd 3.6 to steam Live TV to other devices (laptop, smartphone…). You’ll find more details hardware and software specifications in U5 PVR forums.

U5 PVR Deluxe Unboxing

The device package is really massive compared to other boxes I’ve received. I thought somebody might have sent an large oscilloscope instead…

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The package also shows one more option for tuner: single satellite tuner (DVB-S2/S). No tick on my package, so we’ll see which exact model I’ve received later.

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The box ships with a WiFi antenna, a large remote control taking two AAA batteries, and HDMI cable, a SATA cable + screws, a 12V/3A power supoply, and U5 PVR user manual. The user manual indicates that I should have gotten an RS-232 cable too, but it was nowhere to be found.

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The front panel comes with one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, a window for the IR receiver and LCD display, two LEDs and the power button.

Both sides of the set-top box expose plenty of ventilation holes, with one side featuring the WiFi antenna connector, and the other two more USB 2.0 ports, and the Smart Card slot. The rear panles comes with two coaxial connectors (one female, one male) for the tuner, a 3.5mm AV jack, optical S/PDIF, HDMI 2.0a, Gigabit Ethernet, micro SD slot, the power jack, a mechanical power switch, and an RS-232 port used to reflash or upgrade the firmware.

U5 PVR Deluxe Teardown and SATA Drive Installation

Most TV boxes need to be opened from the bottom side of the case, and there are indeed a few screws that we could have removed to try to open the box. But since U5 PVR is supposed to take an internal hard drive, I found it would be an inconvenient way.

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So I looked into the user manual, but found absolutely nothing about installing a hard drive in the box. Then I realized the top cover was slightly elevated, and after gently pulling it I managed to take it out fairly easily.

We can see multiple mounting options with A: 2x 2.5″ HDD, B: 1x 3.5″ HDD, and C: 1x DVD. There’s only one SATA port, so I’m not sure how you would install two SATA drives, and a DVD drive would be possibly, but inconvenient unless you have a specific application that requires one DVD, or you place it on top of the case, and do not put the top cover back. There are also holes to install a fan, but I don’t have details to what type of fan is suitable. The sticker on the top left of the case read “Warranty void if seal is broken”, which does not make any sense, since that means connecting the hard drive internally would void the warranty. Anyway, I loosen the four screws, and pulled out the cover to have a better look at the board.

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The board is called “VV98C VERO 3”. A small heatsink covers the Hisilicon processor, are very next to it we can see a 16GB Samsung KLMAG2GEND-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash with 230/50MB/s sequential R/W speeds, and 6.5K/6K R/W IOPS, as well as two K4A8G16-5WG8CRC DDR4 memory chips. The tuner board comes with two Availink AVL6762TA DVB-T2/T/C demodulators, which means I got the Dual DVB-T2/T/C tuner version of U5 PVR Deluxe. Ampak AP6335 module provides 802.11 b/g/n/ac and  Bluetooth 4.0 Smart connectivity, while as we can see in the picture below, Realtek RTL8211E transceiver and PSF-2447 transformer are used for Gigabit Ethernet.

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Genesys Logic GL850G USB 2.0 hub is used for the extra USB ports since the processor only comes with a single USB 2.0 interface. The tiny 8-pin chip close to the power jack is FR9889 step-down DC to DC converter. The front panel board includes i-core HD2015E LED driver IC.

Now that we’ve had a look at the board’s main components. Let’s carry with the hard drive installation, and I’ll use a 3.5″ hard drive. First connect the 4-wire part of the cable J12 header, and the red SATA cable to the SATA port close to Ampak AP6335 module.

Connect the other part of the cable to the hard drive, place the HDD upside-down on a table, and tighten the four screws through the four “B” holes, before placing it back on top of the case as shown below.

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Tighten the four screws on the edges of the box, put back the top cover, and you’re done. In case, you prefer to use a fan, I strongly suspect that J14 3-pin header on the main board is designed for this very purpose.

I’d like to thank Shenzhen Vivant Technology for sending a review sample. Distributors and resellers may contact the company to purchase in quantities. U5 PVR Deluxe is for sale for $229.99 on Vivant Technology Aliexpress store, where you’ll also find a dual ATSC tuner board for $29.99.

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

April 1st, 2017 39 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.

Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 3: Updates and New Features for Version 2.4.2

March 8th, 2017 No comments

This is the third part of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel review. IPTV Panel Professional Edition is a software to build your own IPTV Server from scratch. It supports all common Streaming Protocols as an Input and it is powered by FFmpeg & nginx. If you have not done so already, you may consider reading the first two parts:

  1. Review of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Professional Edition – Part 1: Introduction, Initial Setup, Adding Streams…
  2. Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management

Here are the major changes since Part 2:

And part of the company’s announcement of the release:

Why choose IPTV Panel Pro?

IPTV Panel is powered by many Open Source Tools. These are only few reasons why we believe our software is different from our competitors:

Stability: Our software is powered by FFmpeg to do the Restreaming & Transcoding of your streams. FFmpeg is the leading multimedia framework, able to decode, encode, transcode, mux, demux, stream, filter and play pretty much anything that humans and machines have created. It supports the most obscure ancient formats up to the cutting edge. No matter if they are designed by some standards committee, the community or a corporation.

Security: We provide an Addon who will increase the security of your Streams even more. We guarantee that it will be hard, even impossible for someone, to steal your streams.

Fast & Lightweight: We are using NGinx to serve the Streams to your Client’s, which is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) & most stable Web Server currently. Our solution can be used even in a simple VPS. Everything has been optimized & tuned.

True Load Balancer: When it comes to load balancing, the iptv panel has been made in such way that lets you add your own external servers. By adding a new external server into the current installation offers you many advantages. You can split the load, you can change the streaming flow, you can add/change servers of your Videos and much more

Statistics & Interface: We have built our solution in a way that you can find what you want fast and easy. No matter how many external servers you added, you have everything in one place, you can search, export Statistics, view Client’s Connections from one single interface.

Let’s got to work and test the new Version 2.4.2.

You will notice that the fingerprint addon is now free but it is limited to ONLY send one messages to a specific client and not massive as the pay version add-on does.

Complete Changelog: https://forum.xtream-codes.com/topic/3552-v242-released/

Before getting down-under, here are some very useful advices right in the beginning of Part 3:

Flood Setting (General Setting-Security Settings)

As you can see, the optimal setting for most users is 80 in Flood Limit, and 2 in Request Frequency. This setting will block ONLY customers with no valid or expired Lines! Their IP simply will be blocked and can be seen in BLOCK IP/CIDR Section later, where you are able to unblock as well if you want.

We also see the “XC Support ALLOW AUTO-LOGIN”. This you activate by putting YES in.

If you create a Ticket with XC Support, just tell in the Ticket your CMS Address (URL of your Panel) and inform them, that you activated Auto Login.(Don’t forget to set it to NO after your ticket is closed)

MAG BOXES and Co, like TVIP and BLOMC Boxes, Emulators, Clones and other Stalker Middleware Boxes!

Advice: Pay attention that you have the latest Firmware installed.

Many problems for inexperienced users of the Panel can occur, like the Box gets blocked, cannot load the Portal, or you do the most common mistake in choosing an image to lock the MagBox. (my opinion: inexperienced user’s should not lock the mag boxes with an image. If you have detect Reshare/IP Lock Plugin, you can lock him with IP-LOCK feature.)

Hint: Many clients are having trouble to put the Portal in their boxes, after they bought it, so I’ve included a useful video showing how to put a Portal in a MagBox for your customers.

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You can do as follows to unlock the MagBoxes:

Run on Database Manager the command:

Update: This feature was taken OFF from Xtream-Codes a couple of days ago… Not a good decision, more Tickets will be created as a result, I guess.

Look once a while into your SECURITY CENTER

Suspicious Files will be seen there, on all of your servers, as well as intruders or hacking attempts.

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The “DASHBOARD” has now the much asked for  Clients’s Connection Geo again, what we know from the older Version 1.

The meaning of the shown geographical connects is, it shows all CLOSED CONNECTIONS. (It would be more useful if it would show the actual real-time connects out of the countries, or is “show from yesterday” such important ? Maybe I am wrong..:))

Hint: After pressing the FIX & OPTIMIZE Button in Database Manager, all current so called “closed” connections are gone….(Guess, starting all over the counting of “all closed conections..still looking for a sense in this..)

Update: The function to install a manually downloaded Databank Backup is also gone now after a few more “pushed” Pre-Updates from Xtream Codes. (Opinion: Not a good idea at all! I think it has to be implemented again)

Before v.2.4.2

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And after Update to v.2.4.2

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The Clients’s Connection Geo

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The huge and most important Section of creating Sub-Resellers from a Reseller-Panel (Since Version 2.3.1)

I must say, why not before? Great idea, great feature! Giving your Reseller A the choice to create a Sub-Reseller B!

So far so good, if there would not be the pricing sector. I try to bring here light into the darkness.

Let’s start with “how to activate” this feature, for the Admin of the panel.

Here we go: MANAGE GROUP MEMBERS; edit the Group-Member of your choice

Then you see 4 Choices in Section Section SubResellers

  • Can Resellers in this Group create SubResellers
  • Credits Cost for Creating Subresellers
  • Can resellers alter the packages prices of their sub-resellers
  • Can Resellers select specific packages to assign to their subresellers

Now I will try to explain the most important part for Admin’s and also Resellers.

Who create a Sub-Reseller. The Margin, the pricing.

A lot of confusion about that, as most of the Admin’s also the Resellers’, who create a Sub-Reseller. Note: Only Reseller A can create a Sub-Reseller B, and that is then the end of the line, a Sub-Reseller can not create another Sub-Reseller.

Pricing, Margins and about Profits

We call here in the following examples with ADMIN (the Owner of the Panel), Reseller A (created from the Admin) and Sub-Reseller B (created from Reseller A).

Admin charges Reseller A with 1 Credit / 1 Euro.

Reseller A creates a Sub-Reseller B, and now Reseller A sells Credits to Sub-Reseller B, right? But for sure Reseller A wants to make a profit, remember, Reseller A pays 1Credit/1Euro already, so his created Sub-Reseller B should be charged more than 1 Euro for 1 Credit, right? The easy way for Reseller A would be to calculate in percentage, meaning: If he wants 50% Profit, he has to charge Sub-Reseller B 1.50 Euros for 1 Credit.

Other way, if the Admin charges the Reseller A 5 Euros for 1 Credit, then Reseller A could theoretically charge every price what is over his own price of 5 Euros.
Example: 1 Month – 1 Credit (Reseller A’s price is 5 Euro, he charges the Sub-Reseller B 7 Euros).

I hope that brings a little light in Reseller-SubResellers pricing politics.

Here’s what the official text says about this all:

We prepared a Subreseller system for you, and to prevent any downtime, we just applied the new system, in all the current v2.3.1 panels. If you are reading this, and you have the new version v2.3.1, you should have the new system embed.

This system gives the ability to groups where the Reseller status is ON, to be able to make their own reseller which we call subreseller.A subreseller has similar features and abilities like the Main Reseller, with the difference that his Users, Credits & Packages are being controlled by his owner.
Features

Reseller can make their own resellers (subresellers)
Resellers can remove some of the packages for their subresellers
Resellers can adjust different credit costs for any of the packages that are assigned by the administrator
Subresellers users & credits, are being controlled by the resellers who made them
Administrator can edit the permissions from the Admin Panel -> Manage Member Groups
Administrators can now edit the Packages and apply different credit costs per Reseller (the current system is per group). Now he can do both. ( Manage Registered Users -> Edit -> Assign Packages )

Reseller A sees this in his Panel:

New “TOOLS” Section (Very Useful)

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Many new features, like changing Streams DNS old2new, transfer Live-Streams from a server of your choice to another; fix Vod’s names (the VOD name should be correct and exactly match), Reset all ISPs restrictions for all your users (in case you activated IP Lock before, ex: customer at home with box on ISP A, his mobile phone on ISP B)

Update IMDB Details (needs some overhaul, not correct working in tests)

Clear different kind of Log’s, MagBox events and more.

Conclusion: Highly Useful

Movies Section

I know definitely now, like I mentioned already in Part 1 and 2, that the developers are not great fan’s with movies. There is still the almost whole range of movie editing section missing, and I would also like to see, that a Movie and a Stream could directly being assigned into a bouquet.

By the way…I never really managed to sort the categories out. Meaning that a category could be moved around of choice, up or down. At first place, at the end. And so on.

There is a section MANAGE CATEGORIES, but I must confess, I never came clear with this. Sorting categories works by pressing one “category” down, and move it up or down. Results are shown only in Magboxes later. VLC & Co? No chance at all. All mixed up. Stream Tools seemed promising, But somehow I missed here something, I guess. For me useful only in deleting streams and even mass delete is of no problem.

The ALL-NEW BOOST Setting in v. 2.4.2 (ATTN. ONLY FOR MAIN-SERVER)

To go there, MANAGE SERVERS, edit Main…Performance Settings, activate BOOST PERFORMANCE to YES.

Requirements to activate this BOOST

The Bad News: Totally EMPTY MAIN SERVER, not one single Stream on it, and no VOD, completely empty!
The good News: Before v.2.4.2 the recommendation was a 40-core Beast! You read it right, a “cheap” 40-core EMPTY Main was necessary, to enjoy the boost.

This is not necessary anymore, since update to 2.4.2! A minimum 8-core to 16-core will do the job now, if you should decide to use this boost, yhat results in more stability, and even faster stream connects, panel and on client side.

My personal recommendation is, minimum 32GB RAM with a 16-core server.

This gave me good results in extensive testings.

The ALL-NEW GUI of the Dashboard

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As we can see in the first picture, the usage of the network is continuous measured, and absolutely exact! In case of overloading your bandwidth, you will be warned about.

For Security Lovers.

As you see, with Xtream-Codes Backups Cronjob’s, you will be safe and sound, always. You even will be warned if your peer uses a HIGHLY UNSAFE cracked Panel Version v.1 with YOU BET…BACKDOORS!

Pros

  1. Amazing new features, too much to count even, everything is possible!
  2. Faster then ever, more stable then ever before
  3. Very fast reconnects of streams, with no kind of interrupts for clients.
  4. Highly flexible kind of configurations possible
  5. Compared to competitors, very cheap prices
  6. Brilliant Security settings
  7. Great and responsive Support (Thanks to Despoina and colleagues)
  8. Easy understandable GUI (if you invest a little time in the beginning)
  9. Brilliant and superfast transcoding
  10. Xtream-Codes even creates new long awaited Plugin for E2 (soon released)

Cons

  1. No assignment of streams or Vod’s direct into a bouquet till now possible
  2. Categories sections should be more flexible, regarding sorting the Lists
  3. NO REAL MOVIE EDITOR SECTION! Still….

Conclusion

Xtream-Codes is just on the jump to be a big player in the IPTV scene. It is to hope that the developers will go on and listen to the needs of their clients, like they do till now. I want to thank the Developers and the whole XC-Team for the support I received during the last months. You do an amazing job, and it was my pleasure to be a part of Xtream Codes.

Linux 4.9 Release – Main Changes, ARM and MIPS Architectures

December 12th, 2016 2 comments

Linus Torvalds released Linux 4.9 on Sunday:

So Linux 4.9 is out, and the merge window for 4.10 is thus open.

With the extra week for 4.9, the timing for the merge window is obviously a bit awkward, and it technically closes in two weeks on Christmas Day. But that is a pure technicality, because I will certainly stop pulling on the 23rd at the latest, and if I get roped into Xmas food prep, even that date might be questionable.

I could extend the merge window rather than cut it short, but I’m not going to. I suspect we all want a nice calm winter break, so if your stuff isn’t ready to be merged early, the solution is to just not merge it yet at all, and wait for 4.11. Just so you all know (I already bcc’d the main merge window suspects in a separate mailing last week, I’m just repeating myself here to avoid anybody being confused about timing).

Anyway, back to 4.9 itself.

I’m pretty sure this is the biggest release we’ve ever had, at least in number of commits. If you look at the number of lines changed, we’ve had bigger releases in the past, but they have tended to be due to specific issues (v4.2 got a lot of lines from the AMD GPU register definition files, for example, and we’ve had big re-organizations that caused a lot of lines in the past: v3.2 was big due to staging, v3.7 had the automated uapi header file disintegration, etc). In contrast, 4.9 is just big.

Admittedly a chunk of that is the new greybus staging support, but that really isn’t the bulk of it – it’s just another small detail in the overall “yes, v4.9 is big” picture.

Other than just the size, 4.9 looks fairly normal. A bit over two thirds drivers (staging, GPU and networking are the bulk of it, but it’s all over), with the rest looking fairly normal too: arch updates, documentation, generic networking, filesystems..

The shortlog (16k+ commits, with another 1100 merge commits to round things out) is obviously much too big to put here, and wouldn’t be legible anyway. So as is my wont, I’m appending just the log of my merges.

Linux 4.8 brought us an HDMI-CEC framework, a new kernel documentation system is now based on Sphinx, a user-space GPIO subsystem and tools, file systems improvements and more.

 

linux-4-9-changelogSome of the notable changes for Linux 4.9 include:

  • Greybus staging support. While Project Ara has been canceled, the code is still used in one Motorola phone, a Toshiba chip requires it, as well as other undisclosed users.
  • File systems improvements for CIFS (bug fixes, idsfromsid mount option, better reconnection handling), BTRFS (bug fixes), NFS (bug fixes and new features such as server-side copy), F2FS (bug fixed and performance improvements), EXT-4 (“Lots of bug fixes and cleanups”) , and XFS (iomap-based DAX infrastructure and XFS delalloc rework + bug fixes)
  • Improved security with virtually mapped kernel stacks, and memory protection keys
  • AMDGPU now supports older Radeon graphics cards, virtual display support, and improved reset.

Some interesting ARM architecture fixes and new features:

  • Allwinner:
    • Allwinner GR8 – Preliminary SoC support
    • Allwinner AXP209 PMIC – GPIO support
    • Allwinner A31 – SPDIF support
    • Allwinner A23/A33 and A31/A31s – sunxi-ng CCU driver
    • Allwinner A33 – Display Driver
    • Allwinner A64 – USB PHY support
    • Allwinner H3 – PWM support, I2C support
    • AXP806 PMIC – regulator support
    • AC100 RTC / codec IC – mfd driver, RTC driver
    • New boards and devices – Orange Pi PC Plus, Olimex A33-OLinuXino, Orange Pi Lite, Inet q972, Empire Electronix M712, Orange Pi Plus 2, Orange Pi Plus 2E, NanoPi NEO.
  • Rockchip:
    • PCI – Update Rockchip rk3399 host bridge driver DTS and resets
    • Rockchip RK808 PMIC driver
    • Rockchip DDR clks and rk3399 driver tweaks
    • phy driver for Rockchip usb2phy, internal PCIe PHY, and USB Type-C PHY on rk3399
    • update compatible strings for Rockchip efuse (RK3399)
    • Support for Tronsmart Orion R86 set-top-box (RK3368), Rockchip RK3288 Fennec reference board, Firefly RK3288 Reload platform
  • Amlogic
    • Network, clocks, and usb driver changes for meson-gxbb (S905)
    • Secure monitor firmware for Amlogic SoCs, and an NVMEM driver for the EFUSE based on that firmware interface
    • Amlogic 64-bit DT changes: added  USB host, I2C, SPI flash controller, PWM, mailbox, MHU, pinctrl: add pins for SPI, I2C, SDIO
    • Updates IR support for newer SoCs
    • net: new stmmac glue driver
  • Samsung
    • Added Samsung Exynos Low Power Audio driver (LPASS = Low Power Audio SubSystem)
    • samsung clk driver update: sound subsystem related clocks, addition of DRAM controller related clocks for exynos5420
    • Device Tree Update:
      • Enable HDMI on Arndale Octa board.
      • Update list of clocks for FIMC-IS block on Exynos4x12.
      • Remove skeleton.dtsi to fix DT compiler warning.
      • Cleanup of DT files
      • Allow compile testing of exynos-mct clocksource driver on ARM64.
      • Document Exynos5433 PMU compatible
      • Set chosen serial bitrate which allows proper serial output when bootloader does pass all the data in command line
  • Qualcomm
    • ASoC bug fix for simultaneous playback and capture
    • Added Qualcomm external bus interface 2 (EBI2), used in some mobile phone chips for connecting flash memory, LCD displays or other peripherals
    • Add a skeletal TSENS drivers for  MSM8916/MSM8996. TSENS is Qualcomms’ thermal temperature sensor device
    • Add MSM8916/APQ8016 display support
    • Updates for MSM8916 including TSCR, SMSM/SMP2P, and MBA reserve
    • Enable defconfig options for QDF2432
    • Added Qualcomm DragonBoard 820c single-board computer in 96boards form factor, LG Nexus 5 Phone
    • Device Tree Changes:
      • Rework dr_mode on APQ8064 and Nexus7
      • Add MSM8974 BLSP1 UART1 port
      • Add AP148 SATA mapping
      • Fixup MSM8660/MSM8064 SPMI/MPP IRQs
      • Add Nexus7 IMEM/reboot reason
      • Add Honami touchscreen support
      • Add TSENS support on MSM8974, APQ8064, and APQ8084
      • Add APQ8060 Dragonboard PM8058 LEDs
      • Rework VPH PWR REG for MSM8974
  • Mediatek
    • Add Mediatek thermal driver for mt2701
    • Driver for mt6577 auxdac found in mt2701, mt6577 and mt8173
    • Some DRM driver fixes
  • Other new ARM hardware or SoCs:
    • Marvell Armada 8040 development board, Netgear WNR854T router, Armada 395 SoC platform, GP board Armada 390 DB development board
    • ZTE ZX296718 STB SoC
    • SocioNext UniPhier LD11 TV SoC
    • Broadcom BCM958525er, BCM958522er, BCM988312hr, BCM958623hr and BCM958622hr reference boards for Northstar platform, Raspberry Pi Zero board
    • NXP i.MX 7 Warp7 reference board, Gateworks Ventana GW553x SBC, Technologic Systems TS-4900, and Engicam IMX6UL GEA M6UL computer-on-module, Inverse Path USB armory board
    • Renesas r8a7792/wheat and r7s72100/rskrza1 development boards
    • ST Microelectronics STi B2260 (96boards) single-board computer
    • TI Davinci OMAP-L138 LCDK Development kit, beagleboard-x15 rev B1 single-board computer

There has been a fair amount of MIPS changes in Linux 4.9 too, some of them are:

  • Various updated to MIPS core arch code –  generic DT-based board & Flattened Image Trees (.itb) support, per-device DMA coherence support, bug fixes for KVM, uprobes, c-r4k, ptrace and more
  • Octeon – Delete dead code and files, change to use all memory into use by default, add DTS for D-Link DSR-500N, etc…
  • Pistachio – Remove ANDROID_TIMED_OUTPUT from defconfig
  • TX39xx & TX49xx – Move GPIO setup from .mem_setup() to .arch_init(), convert to Common Clock Framework
  • txx9wdt – Add missing clock (un)prepare calls for CCF
  • BMIPS – Add PW, GPIO SDHCI and NAND device node names, add DT examples for BCM63268, BCM3368 and BCM6362, add support for BCM3368 and BCM6362, etc…
  • Code changes for PCI, CPC, GIC, SMP, USB host, cpuidle, fbdev, auxdisplay…
  • mt7620 -Delete unnecessary assignment for the field “owner” from PCI
  • BCM63xx -Let clk_disable() return immediately if clk is NULL
  • pm-cps – Change FSB workaround to CPU blacklist, Use MIPS standard lightweight ordering barrier and completion barrier, etc…
  • SEAD3 – Rewrite to use DT and generic kernel feature
  • Malta – Rewrite to use DT
  • Loongson1C – Add CPU support for Loongson1C, add board support, add defconfig, and add RTC support for Loongson1C board

The full list of changes can be found in Linux 4.9 changelog with comments only, generated using git log v4.8..v4.9 --stat. You’ll also find a more readable list of changes for Linux 4.9 once kernelnewbies.org is updated.

V-Bridge Muses DTV Modulator and Video Encoder Review – Part 2: Muses-β Turnkey Solution Demo

November 12th, 2016 No comments

V-Bridge Muses-α and Muses-β boards can be used to respectively broadcast video to DTV standard from your PC, and as a turnkey solution taking any HDMI, CVBS, or USB inputs. The VATek SoC used in those  board support various DTV standards including DVB-T, DVB-C, ATSC/QAM, DTMB, ISDB-T/TB up to full HD resolution. I’ve received an early prototype for each, and I’ve already taken pictures and show how to assemble both Muses-α and Muses-β kits in the first part of the review. Today, I’ll show a demo with Muses-β turnkey solution taking HDMI input from an Android TV box (R-Box Pro), encoding and modulating the video to DVB-T, before broadcast it to an Android STB with a DVB-T/T2 tuner (U4 Quad Hybrid). This tool could be useful to test STB featuring ATSC or ISDB-T too, as those two standards are not supported in my country, and I could instead generate signals within my office.

muses-beta-video-encoder-dtv-demodulator-demo

U4 Quad Hybrid (Left), Muses-Beta Kit (Center) and R-Box Pro TV box (left)

You could also connect it directly to your TV, but for this review it was easier to show with an external device, and my TV is using a coaxial input instead of a female F-connector, so that made it easier. If you connect it to your TV, you could still combine your local TV station signal with Muses-Beta signal by using a 2-way splitter as shown below.

2-way-splitter-antenna

The company provided a cable to connect the RF board to tuner directly, but you could also use the type of antenna shown above instead. The power level is -12dBm, which means it won’t affect others, and should not break any laws in your country. If you need longer range you’d need to use an amplifier, and check with your local authorities if you need any specific licenses.dtv-antenna

Now that the connection is done, let’s have a look at the LCD display, since it;s used to configure the DTV standard, frequency, and many more options. I did not have to change much for this demo. First I select DVB-T and QPSK modulation.

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Then set the frequency to 628 MHz as it’s one of the listed frequencies in U4 Quad Hybrid.
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And kept HDMI to 720i-60, as the prototype can only handle HD resolution (720p) smoothly, and while Full HD (1080p) is possible it won’t be that smooth yet, but should be in the final hardware.
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There are many options as shown in the UI chart below.

User Interface State Machine (Click to Enlarge)

LCD User Interface Options (Click to Enlarge)

If HDMI input is detected, the LCD should then soon show three full squares on the top left indicating video is being broadcast with whatever standard you’ve chosen. In order to get the signal I had to configure U4 Quad Hybrid set-top box with the frequency, bandwidth, and delivery system  I selected for the modulator.

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And it worked pretty much out of the box, as you can see from the photo below showing U4 Quad Hybrid menu overlaid over the DVB-T signal showing R-Box Pro user interface. Please ignore the vertical lines, as it’s just a problem with LG 4K TV.

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I’ve also shot a video showing the setup, and how well it works. Sadly, the video I selected does not play optimally in R-Box Pro (the video source), but I found it only after the review, and other videos are being broadcast normally without smoothness issues nor audio cuts. But the important in the video is to show how easy it is to configure the system and that it works reasonably well. Quality will obviously suffer a bit compare to the source since its re-encoded and HDMI output is set to 720p.

Latency & video quality can be adjusted using three profiles: High Quality (500ms), Average (300ms) and Low latency (200ms). You’ll find some more details in the preliminary? Muses Turnkey Product user’s manual.

The kickstarter campaign is still on-going with 21 days to go. Muses-β kit with the LCD control board – as reviewed in this post – requires a $559 pledge, but if you prefer to replace the STM32 Board and LCD display by your own control board (API will be provided), you can get Muses-β board with AV input board and RF board for $399. I’ll test the cheaper $200 Muses-α board connected to a computer in the next few days in part 3 of the review.

Review of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Professional Edition – Part 1: Introduction, Initial Setup, Adding Streams…

September 22nd, 2016 9 comments

Today I’ll start the review of one of the streaming software available on the market, with version 2.2.0 EVO of IPTV Panel Professional Edition developed by Xtream-codes.

The Software is mainly used for the so-called IPTV broadcasting, but also with great potential for all kind of other content delivery applications such as audio and business streaming, cloud video transcoding, and all other kind of global streams.

What is IPTV?

Wikipedia definition:

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as a LAN or the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats. Unlike downloaded media, IPTV offers the ability to stream the media in smaller batches, directly from the source. As a result, a client media player can begin playing the data (such as a movie) before the entire file has been transmitted. This is known as streaming media.

IPTV services may be classified into three main groups:

  • Live television, with or without interactivity related to the current TV show;
  • Time-shifted television: catch-up TV (replays a TV show that was broadcast hours or days ago), start-over TV (replays the current TV show from its beginning);
  • Video on demand (VOD): browse a catalogue of videos, not related to TV programming.

IPTV is distinguished from Internet television by its ongoing standardisation process (e.g., European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and preferential deployment scenarios in subscriber-based telecommunications networks with high-speed access channels into end-user premises via set-top boxes or other customer-premises equipment.

This review will contain results mainly for the “end-user” or business owner, who already owns or bought legitimate streams, as Xtream-codes IPTV software does not provide any video streams, and “only” helps distributing your content.

If starting from scratch, producing your self-made streams, it’s already professionally explained in the video below using Xtream-codes IPTV panel on AMD MOI Pro IPTV streaming server.

I would love to do this by myself, but I would be in need of the necessary hardware. TBS can provides future producers of streams with all the required and necessary hardware.

Installation Process

After you registered at https://xtream-codes.com and placed your order, you get access (after payment) to your unique default root username, default root password, and your CMS Address.

You can now login with both credentials, and start adding your server addresses. Your Server IP and SSH Password is required, and the whole process is pretty straightforward.

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If necessary, you can add a second Load balancer Server by the same method. If you need more Load balancers (LB’s) in the future, you will have to pay an extra Fee. Xtream-Codes call this “plugins”, but I guess it’s a simple SSH Protocol.

They activate on their server side, like: 2/4/6 LB’s…. Again, the first LB is free of charge.

The Graphical User Interface (GUI): Xtream-Codes Panel

xtream-codes-iptv-guiIf you are confronted the very first time with it, it might be confusing at first with all the available options, but be assured, that after 1 or 2 days you’ll be getting used to it. Many features and possibilities are waiting for you, and it also a few have’s and have not’s. Let’s start with the “have’s!

One of the great features in version 2.2.0 Evo is the Transcoding process. Here a general overview of the 2 Versions: Profesional and Minimal Editions.

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-professional-version-2

Xtream-Codes also offers a Minimal Edition of this software for a cheaper monthly price (19 Euros per month vs 59 Euros per month)

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-minimal-editionAs you might expect, the professional edition adds several features including:

  • Load Balancing by adding servers (1 is free, all others must be bought)
  • Manage all servers in a very simple and powerful interface
  • MAG Devices Support
  • New powerful transcode System supporting almost every function
  • Every stream is playable (more protocols support)
  • Faster zapping time (instant)
  • Powerful Logging & Search System
  • Stream Statistics
  • Http Live Streaming (HLS) Output
  • iOS/Android Client Area Portal
  • More lightweight

The Menus & Options  of the Panel

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The Transcoding or Video-Conversion process

This is one one of the “Highlights” of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel. I’ve tested over a hundred different kinds of formats, from Blu-ray-MKV, different AVI’s, FLV, MP4, WMV, MOV and OGG. Each time the transcoding process was successful.

I also tested quite a few homemade AVI’s without transcoding, all watchable later on. But for professional hosting, large sized movies should be encoded before transferred to your server, in my opinion. The reason is mainly the later ability for your future customers to watch the movie streams, without any kind of freezings or bufferings. Due to Internet limitations, and nowadays also server bandwidth problems, the movies should be transcoded in 720p maximum and the file size should be around +/- 1GB each. The bitrate should be somewhere around 2 – 3000k maximum. This would later almost guarantee the freeze free availability of the stream, if the user owns a decent Internet connection. Not everybody have an 200 Mbit/s and up broadband connection.

Sure, there are higher bitrates possible and many customers already crying for lossless FHD’s streams. In my eyes often a wishful thinking. Too many components playing a huge role in the Internet world, and last but not least there’s always the question of bandwidth.

encoding-vs-transcoding

“What’s the difference between encoding and transcoding?” was one of the first questions I had when I started working with video’s and IPTV streaming. I had always used them interchangeably and after a quick Internet search I was surprised that I did not find a clear answer.

While encoding and transcoding both represent ways of converting files between formats, there is a distinct difference:

  • Encoding, by definition, takes analog source content and converts it to a digital format. For example – converting a video on a VHS tape to an mpeg file or a video DVD.
  • Transcoding takes an existing digital format and converts it to a different digital format, like taking a sample video and converting it to an adaptive bitrate format such as HTTP-Live-Streaming.

Despite the clear differences by definition, I’ve noticed that only technical experts tend to use the term with distinction. People getting started with video are often left behind and confused between the terms like I was. I hope that with this short note, we were able to shed some light on this myth….

Here you can see the different kinds of VIDEO and AUDIO transcoding codecs available:

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The Preset option allows you to select between ultra fast and very slow transcoding options, which should also affect the video quality.

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The Video Profile option (in my opinion too many Apple’s…)

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Setting the average video bitrate

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Other Transcoding Options

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Main server and load balancer monitoring

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3rd Load balancer

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Load Balancer Settings

Load balancing Chart? What this feature is doing exactly? As stated before, IPTV Panel Pro has load-balancing mode that will redirect your users automatically to other servers in a case of huge load. The load-balancing chart is being used to control the SOURCE flow or how the stream source will be transferred to your servers.

You can draw any flow you want depending on your needs.

iptv-load-balancerBoth servers will take the stream from the source in the configuration above.

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In this case, the server “Load balancer 1” will read the stream from the source and at the same time he will transfer the same stream to the second server.

Implementing LEGITIMATE Streams in your Panel and Managing Streams

Attention: Many customers make here a major mistake, with the result of missing audio and other misbehaviors in the stream later. What Video & Audio Codec should I use if I transcode later?

Xtream Codes has added many video & audio codecs but not all of these codecs are supported for IPTV use. To be on the safe side, you should always use the H.264 as video codec and AAC as audio codec for IPTV use.

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As we can see, importing a live stream, a movie or a radio broadcast stream was never that easy. We start by adding a live stream.

Two options here: One single stream, or multiple streams! If you import multiple streams, you need the file/stream list containing all of your streams.

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We have several options later, how the streams can act. For better understanding, it’s theoretically possible that you “restream” your legitimate bought streams later. In other words…in some cases, you may want to sell these streams to other resellers.

Through this setting you can block your streams to be “restreamed” later on, if you really try to sell some of your streams in time by choosing a category or bouquet later for your customer. Streams marked here as “yes” will not work for your customer.xtream-codes-restream-block

xtream-codes-stream-control Very useful are the “Quicktools” in the Manage-Streams Section:

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Adding a New Movie

You can also add a movie you uploaded to your server previously, or even from a remote source.

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If you add a movie from your own server, it works over the integrated file browser, while if you want to stream from a remote location, simply type in the location.

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You can set read “Input Source in Native Frames”, and  if you are transcoding, set it to YES.xtream-codes-imdb-database

You like to have a picon for your Movie? Here you can add a IMDB ID.

But here we go…Movies! It is common in this business, that once a while a server is having issues, and most times the load balancer also gives up. If this happens, and no matter the backup of your data bank, you are in troubles. You may have tons of movies in backup, and must re-assign them all again to a server manually.

This feature is definitely missing in the editing movies section. There are only 3 parts: Add New Movie, Import Multiple Movies and Manage Movies.

The scenario: You transfer in an emergency case over ssh protocol sftp-wise all your movies to an other server. You set up a new OS or reinstall one, and you get a new root password. After making a new server with Xtream Codes Panel, so far, so good. But you have to assign them later, all of them! A mass-edit regarding assigning movies to the main server or one of the load balancers would do it! Saving a dramatic amount of time for a customer. I repeat myself here, I mentioned that above already, regarding “add a new stream”. No reason for me to think of right now, that it should not be possible to assign this stream to a bouquet, and not only in to a category.

Adding a New Radio

It’s the same procedure as adding a video stream. You can import a single or multiple Streams from a file.

Creating new Client/Customer Lines xtream-code-user-details-2

Creating a new customer line is a piece of cake; just fill up the necessary fields. Like user, a unique password if you wish so, you even can use the created line in a stalker portal, but watch out then, please read:

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-mag-devices

If a customer has a MagBox for example, the better option is to bind the box over the MAC address. It is even possible to bind a before created simple m3u Playlist to a newly created MAC address. Simply go to “Add New Mag Device” and associate the existing line to it.

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-mag-stbPortals for Mag-Devices are like “http://yoursite.com:port/c/”

Features, Options, Security

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Restreamers Finder

Another useful feature is the so-called Restreamers Finder. In these days there are many restream software’s for ordinary users on the market, like Hola addons for Android Systems and many more.

Block User Agent

Not absolutely clear about this feature. What is a “User Agent”? A User Agent is normally a short string that web browsers and other applications send to identify themselves to web servers. Unfortunately, most browsers falsify part of their User-Agent header in an attempt to be compatible with more web servers. Useful, but I find that the manual assigning of each single user agent is a hell of a work. There are preconfigured block lists already in the Internet and it would be from great help, if Xtream Codes would allow loading a whole list.

Block IP/CIDR

IP blocking is clear, but what is a CIDR? Classless inter-domain routing (CIDR) is a set of Internet protocol (IP) standards that is used to create unique identifiers for networks and individual devices.

The IP addresses allow particular information packets to be sent to specific computers. Shortly after the introduction of CIDR, technicians found it difficult to track and label IP addresses, so a notation system was developed to make the process more efficient and standardized. That system is known as CIDR notation.

Resume? Absolutely useful!

There is still some work to do specially in the editing sector, one of the most important parts of streaming software:

  • Searching for Bad Movies (a dog’s work if hundreds/thousands of movies)
  • Adding a new stream and assign it direct into a bouquet, would be more then useful.
  • Mass edit Movies features (ex:Assign Movies to a server in bulk)

Part 2 (…coming soon)

  1. Finishing the part of the most important features
  2. Comparison the “Have’s” and “Have Not’s”
  3. Results after a new installation (Simulated Crash of the Main Server)
  4. The Pro’s
  5. The Contra’s
  6. The Competitors of Xtreme-Codes Panel
  7. Be aware of some kind of hoster (Strange experiences with 2 “Big Ones”! Troubleshootings)
  8. The Conclusion and resume

Ending the first part, I want to say thanks to Xtream-Codes for giving me the tools and the necessary “LB Plugins” (Naaaa, not a plugin, Xtream-Codes! Call it a Addon better!) to start.

[Update: Part 2 is up @ Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management ]

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.