Posts Tagged ‘stb’

HD18T Android DVB-T2 Receiver Mini Review

February 16th, 2015 7 comments

I’ve had HD18T Android TV box with a DVB-T2 tuner for several months, but I’ve only installed a roof antenna recently, so I’ve decided to give it another try since my indoor antenna did not pick-up any signal with that box. The set-top box is also known as EM6-T2 or HD18T2, and features Amlogic AML8726-MX dual Cortex A9 processor which has been used in numerous boxes in the past, so I will only focus on my experience with the DVB app in this mini review.

Android Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

Android Home Screen (Click for Original Size)

If you want to use DVB-T2 go straight to the right and click on DVB app. Where you’ll then be greeted with a pop-up windowsasking if if you want to scan channels.

hd18t_dvb_settings_scanYou can do autoscan, manual scan (for one frequency), select the area (France/Taiwan/UK/Italy/Australia only), and enable/disable LCN (Logical Channel Numbering). At first I selected “Australia”, and the system did not find any channels, but after switching back to “UK”, the device found most, if not all, digital TV channels available in Thailand, including HD channels, meaning DVB-T2 is clearly working just fine. However, several people in Singapore complained that DVB-T2 does not work at all, and only DVB-T channels could be viewed. So your mileage may vary.

hd18t_dvb_settingsIn the program section you can delete or rename channels in the Program Edit menu, check the EPG and schedule recording, configure the PVR function (recording path and timeshitfing duration), access the PVR manager (password: 0000) to view or delete recordings, and TimeShifting to be able to pause live TV.

Using the box to watch TV works relatively well, although some of the channels marked with “$$” in the info overlay produced background noise (with the proper image), meaning I could only really watch about 25 channels, while it’s working just fine on a cheap Linux based DVB-T2 set-top box such as Samart Strong Black. I’ve also noticed some stability issues, as I may lose either picture or audio from time to time, requiring a reboot.

PVR function can be started with the “Rec” button on the remote, and you just need to input the duration. You can watch another channel at the same DVB-T2 frequency while recording. When I tried a single DVB-T2 stream could handle 6 TV channels. If you go over the boundaries, the system will ask if you want to cancel recording.

Once recording is complete, you can go to PVR manager to view the videos, but I did not manage to play any recording from there, so instead I went back to the main menu, and clicked on Movie app to access TVRecordFiles folder on my hard drive, and watch the recordings. Unfortunately all videos were recorded without audio, and I got some artifacts from time to time.

Time-shifting is working OK, but I could not find a way to manually hide the “record” button and the controls overlaid on top of the video, which can be annoying, although they’ll hide after a while (maybe one minute or so).

Other available settings are shown in the screenshot below. Picture size can be set to auto, 4:3 or 16:9, while the selectable languages for subtitle and audio are only English and Chinese. I don’t understand what “Blackout Policy” means.


The system menu has some options to enable subtitles, reset data, set password, and set the TTX region (a few more languages are available here).hd18t_dvb_settings_systemThe firmware version installed was built on May 14, 2014, with building number JDQ39.20140514. I could not find any other firmware updates.

You may want to watch the review video below for more details about DVB app.

The sample was sent to me by Shenzhen Tomato, and if you want to purchase this type of box in quantities you may contact them. I don’t recommend buying such device based on my experience, but at least it’s relatively cheap as it can be found on DealExtreme for $73.99, or Aliexpress for just under $70.

Linux based Vu+ DVB Set-top Boxes Now Support XBMC/Kodi

January 17th, 2015 15 comments

Vu+ Duo2, Solo2 and Solo SE are high-end Linux based DVB receivers powered by Broadcom processors made by Ceru, and with a relatively active community of users and developers. All three models have recently received support for XBMC in their “Black Hole” firmware. Solo SE is the most recent model having been released in 2014, against Duo2 and Solo2 that have been selling since 2012 according to Wikipedia. Since I’ve never heard about these, I’ll check out Duo2, as it comes with the most features out of the three.

Vu+_Duo2.jpgVu+ Duo2 specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM7424 dual core MIPS processor @ 1.3 GHz with VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 1 GB NAND flash + SATA III interface for 2.5″ and 3.5″ HDD (internal) + eSATA +
  • Video Output – HDMI, SCART, Composite, and Component (YPbPr)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, stereo audio, and optical S/PDIF
  • Tuners – 2x S2/C/T2 (Up to 4 tuners supported)
  • Front Panel Displays – 3.2″ TFT LCD (262,000 color / 16-bit) + VFD display
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi up to 300 Mbps
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, 2x Smart card slots, RS232 port,
  • Power – 12V/1.5A

The box also supports 3DTV, PiP, on-the-fly video transcoding for mobile devices, up to 16 channels recording via four tuners, and is compliant with HbbTV providing access to TV guides, catch-up services, web video, VOD, or portable services. The Linux distributions used in Vu+ products is based on Enigma2, and it also supports OpenPLI, an open source software for set-top boxes based on Enigma2.

Rear Panel (Click to Enlarge)

Rear Panel (Click to Enlarge)

The tuner cards can also be purchased separately, and you can add satellite, cable, or terrestrial tuners as needed. Only two tuner slots are available, the last slot show on the panel can’t be used (Ultimo model support 3 tuner cards). Since the device has been around for a while, there are already reviews, and the one written by Linux TV, also includes lots of internal pictures.

Vu+ Duo2 sells for 349 Euros on Satshop.TV or 399.99 GBP on Amazon UK. The other two Vu+ set-top boxes supporting XBMC/Kodi cost a bit less, as Vu+ Solo2 goes for 299 Euros, and the new Vu+ Solo SE (Second Edition) for 220 Euros. More details can be found on VuPlus website.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

Broadcom Unveils BCM725x SoCs for STBs and TV Sticks

January 14th, 2015 10 comments

Broadcom has recently announced two new SoCs, namely BCM7250 and BCM72502, respectively targeted at OTT streaming media player form factor and  HDMI stick or dongle applications.  Both feature Broadcom’s Brahma-B15 ARMv7-A cores, support 10-bit H.265, HDMI 2.0, MHL 2.0, and up to to 4×4 5G WiFi via BCM4366 WiSoC.

Broadcom_BCM72502_TV_StickKey features listed by Broadcom for both SoCs:

  • High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)/H.265 compression
  • 6000 DMIPS B15 ARMv7-A CPU
  • 1.0 Gpix/s OpenGL ES 3.0 3D GPU
  • Supports HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 or MHL 2.0 digital video output
  • PCIe connectivity to Broadcom BCM4366 4×4 carrier-grade 5G WiFi
  • 480/576p30 transcode
  • 1080p60 10-Bit HD HEVC decode and 4Kp60 upscale
  • High Performance DDR3/DDR4 system memory interface
  • Supports Android, Chromium, DIAL, DLNA CVP2, Miracast protocols
  • Supports Broadcom Trellis Multi-Application Framework and DTVKit software stack

The company can also provide reference platforms with 2×2 and 4×4 5G WiFi connectivity options via a high-speed PCIe interface, and announced that BCM7250, BCM72502 and BCM4366 are currently sampling.

SML-482 HEVC Hybrid Based on BCM7250

SML-482 HEVC Hybrid Based on BCM7250

Smart Labs is one of the first companies to have designed a products based on the latest Broadcom processors with SML-482 HEVC Hybrid box pictured above featuring BCM7250 processor, and with the following specifications:

  • SoC – Broadcom BCM7250 with 3D GPU supporting OpenGL ES 2.0
  • System Memory – Options: 512MB DDR3, 1GB DDR3 for Dual HEVC Decode, 1GB DDR3 for Android
  • Storage – 256 MB flash  (Up to 16GB as option for Android)
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4 with HDCP 1.4 and 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 (upscale 1080p60 content to 4k2kp60), CVBS + stereo audio
  • Video Codecs – HEVC / H.265, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, VC-1
  • Audio Codecs – MPEG1/2, MP3, AAC, AC3, WMA, FLAC, OGG vorbis
  • Tuner – DVB-C (QAM, ITU-T J.83 Annex A, B, C)
  • Connectivity – 10/100Mbit Base-T Ethernet + optional internal 802.11n Wi-Fi or USB WiFi dongle
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 port,  1x USB 2.0 with internal Wi-Fi (whatever that means)
  • Misc – IR Receiver
  • Dimensions – 100x100x32 mm
  • Weight – 140 grams

The device runs either Linux or Android as option, with Webkit as the browser, and Verimatrix and Securemedia for security / DRM. Smartlabs does not sell to individual, so you may end-up with one, possibly re-branded, via your IPTV provider. More details can be found on Smartlabs SML-482 product page.

I could not find a TV stick with BCM72502, but the one in the top picture might be Broadcom’s reference design.


UTStarcom MC8718 is a Funny Looking Tegra K1 Based Android Game Console

January 12th, 2015 3 comments

An article about a Mediatek MT8685 based Android media player on, made me look into UTStarcom products, and beside some other MT8685 based quad core set-top boxes such as MC8685A and MC8685B, I found a weird/funny/intriguing/futuristic looking game console STB powered by Nvidia Tegra K1 quad core cortex A15 processor named MC8718.

UTStarCom_MC8718UTStarcom MC8718 specifications:

  • SoC – Nvidia Tegra K1 quad core Cortex A15r3 processor @ 2.3 GHz with Kepler GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 16GB internal storage + micro SD card slot
  • Video and Audio  Output – HDMI 1.4b up to 4K @ 30Hz
  • Video Decode – H.264, MPEG-4, etc..
  • Audio Decode – MP3, AAC, optional Dolby and DTS, etc..
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – USB 2.0 interface
  • Misc – IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V

The company claims support for TegraZone and Shield games, as well as PC streaming, and cloud gaming. An optional gamepad can also be provided. The box is said to run a customized version of Android 4.4.

MC8718 does not seem to be selling online right now, and pricing has not been disclosed. UTStarcom is a large Chinese company, part of Fortune 1000, and even listed on the Nasdaq, but somehow none of the set-top boxes listed on their products page appear to be mentioned anywhere. The product briefs do not like very professional either. The official website reported by Google is, but the site I ended-up on was, that may explain everything…

WeTek Play Set-Top Box Now Also Comes with an ATSC Tuner

January 9th, 2015 5 comments

WeTek Play is an Android media player that comes with a digital TV tuner, and in my recent updated review with a DVB-S2 tuner I found out that the software for live TV either via Internet or satellite was pretty good, and despite the older Amlogic AML8726-MX processor used in the box, it could still be recommended for watching live TV, with featuring like PVR, TimeShifting and EPG working reasonably well. At launch however, WeTek Play was only available with DVB-S2 or DVB-C/T/T2 tuners, so North American did not have the option to watch free-to-air digital TV on the box. This has now been resolved, as the company has launched Wetek Play with an ATSC tuner.

Wetek_PlayThe rest of the specifications for the ATSC model are exactly the same:

  • SoC – Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core Cortex A9 @ 1.5GHz with a dual core 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
  • Tuner – ATSC tuner with two antenna connectors
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi , and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6210)
  • USB – 3x external USB 2.0 ports, 2x internal USB 2.0 ports (used by anti-copy USB token, and RF dongle for remote)
  • Debugging – Serial debug port
  • Misc – IR receiver, 3 LEDs for power, Ethernet and Wi-Fi, RS-232 port for serial console.
  • Power – 12V/1.5A

This version also support Android 4.2 (internal flash) or OpenELEC 5.0 (SD card).

WeTek Play with ATSC or other tuners can be purchased on WeTek website, and it seems the price may have gone down, as it is now listed as $106.11 / 89.34 Euros instead of 109 Euros last month, but it’s just because they don’t include VAT by default now, since it does not apply to countries outside the European Union.

Rockchip RK3036 Android 4.4 TV Boxes with H.265 Codec Support To Sell for $10

January 8th, 2015 17 comments

Rockchip announced RK3368 64-bit processor yesterday for mid-range tablets and 4K media player, but the company also have some new ultra low cost TV box and HDMI TV stick solution with Rockchip RK3036 dual core Cortex A7 processor that will go into $9.9 TV boxes running Android 4.4. The price is most probably factory price, but that means $20 H.265/HEC capable Android media players are probably around the corner. You can already get an RK3066 TV dongle (MK808 and similar) for less than $30 in Aliexpress, so the new solution will likely decrease the price by $5 to $10.


Technical specifications of RK3036 reference design:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3036 dual core Cortex A7 processor @ up to 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP GPU
  • System Memory – 256MB DDR3 or DDR3L
  • Storage – 2GB flash. RK3036 supports MLC NAND, eMMC 4.5.
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4a. The chip also supports CVBS, and optical S/PDIF.
  • (Main) Video Codecs – 1080p multi format decoder including H.265 / H.264 codecs. H.264 encoding.
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (possibly using Expressif ESP8089). The chip also supports 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port. (Two USB interfaces are provided by the SoC)

The RAM is really on the low side, but Rockchip has said they further optimized Android 4.4 to run on 256 MB RAM. Lots of apps will probably fail to run properly on this platform, and such device should be mostly reserved to video playback. I’m not even quite sure Kodi would run with that little RAM.

A few more details may eventually be added to RK3036 product page.
[Update: Just to get a better grasp to what might be the actual online retail price. Rockchip announced $10 RK2928 miracast dongles in 2013, which are now selling for $16 to $20 shipped, so something around $20 to $25 on Aliexpress should be feasible on RK3036 devices become available]

Via Liliputing

Xtreamer Prodigy 4K Android Media Streamer & Recorder Comes with a 3.5″ SATA Bay

January 3rd, 2015 14 comments

Last month, we discovered Zidoo X9 Android TV box powered by Mstar MSO9810 quad core processor, and featuring an HDMI input for PVR function. There’s now an alternative with Xtreamer Prodigy 4K based on the same Mstar processor, but adding an internal SATA bay for 3.5″ Hard drives.


Xtreamer Prodigy 4K specifications:

  • SoC – Mstar MSO9180D1R quad core Cortex A9 processor up to 1.5GHz with octa-core ARM Mali-450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + 3.5″ SATA bay up to 3TB + multicard slot
  • Video Output / Input – HDMI output up to 4K @ 30HZ, HDMI input with PVR and Time Shifting support up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio I/O – HDMI Out and In, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs & Containers – H.264, H.265, MPG/MPEG/MP4, TS, M2ts, AVI, BD-ISO, 3D-MVC, DVD-ISO, WMV, FLV, F4V, MKV, Xvid, DAT, VOB, AVS, 3GP, WebM, OGM, TP, TRP, MOV; RM/RMVB ..etc
  • Audio Formats – MP3/WMA/WMV/APE/OGG/FLAC/AAC…;  Dolby & DTS hardware decoding and 7.1ch pass-through
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna.
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host, 1x USB 3.0 slave, 2x USB 2.0 host ports.
  • Misc – ON/OFF switch, reset pinhole, LCD display on front panel
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions – 238 x 207 x 64 mm
  • Weight – 1.1 kg

The box runs Android 4.4 with Xtreamer launcher & user interface, and supports OTA updates. It sells with an HDMI cable, a 12V/2A power adapter, an IR remote control, and a quick start guide. The HDMI input supports both PiP (Picture-in-picture), and PVR functions. If you’ve already watched Zidoo X9 demo video, the video recording interface below will look familiar.


The company is now taking pre-orders for 149 Euros including shipping worldwide, and a free air mouse, with the release expected in February 16, 2015. The company may be a little to optimistic with its delivery address, as at least one person pre-ordered Xtreamer Wonder in October, and had yet to receive it in December, despite shipping scheduled on October 31. For more details are available on Xtreamer Prodigy 4K product page.

Thanks to Jvan for the tip.

Categories: Android, Hardware, Mstar Tags: 4k, Android, pvr, stb, TV box, xtreamer

Top 10 Posts of 2014 and Stats on CNX Software

December 31st, 2014 15 comments

Wow! After a slow start of the year, 2014 has been a busy year as new devices based on newer processor from Amlogic started to flood the market in Q2, soon followed by even more Rockchip RK3288 based media players, and then some more Amlogic S805 and Allwinner A80 boards and devices. It’s now the last day of the year, so just like in 2013, it’s time to look back on the main trends of the year, and based on the list of the top 10 most visited posts below, the new generation of ARM Android media players were the most important story of the year on CNX Software, but we also saw more IoT devices and board like Vidonn X5 or LinkIT One, lots of new Wi-Fi modules, and by the end of the year ESP8266 seemed to have won that fight, but being found in $3 Wi-Fi modules. Low cost Intel based mini PCs generated a lot of buzz in the last quarter, although they’ve just started shipping in the last few days.

I’ve compiled the list using data from Google Analytics, filtered posts from 2014, and sorted them by decreasing number of page views. Here are the top 10 posts of 2014:

    1. Review of M8 Android Kitkat TV Box Powered by Amlogic S802 SoC (April 2014) – Shenzhen Tomato M8 was one of the first new generation Android TV boxes available on the market, featuring the new Amlogic S802 quad core Cortex A9 processor with a Mali-450MP6 GPU. Despite stability issues, and poor Wi-Fi performance at with earlier firmware, the device became popular, and is by far the most popular post of 2014, getting three times more pageviews than the post in second position.
    2. Rockchip RK3288 vs RK3188 Performance Comparison (January 2014) – Rockchip RK3188 was the king of 2013 in TV boxes and HDMI TV sticks, so it was natural people were eager to find out more about the performance of its more powerful successor, Rockchip RK3288.
    3. Review of Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite Amlogic S802 TV Box (April 2014) – Tronsmart Vega S89 was another Amlogic S802 Android media player released in April, and my very first review for an Amlogic S802 device, so people certainly wanted to find out more about the performance and video capabilities of the latest Amlogic processor.
    4. How to Upgrade Firmware in Amlogic S802 Devices (April 2014) – With all these Amlogic S802 mini PCs in the market requiring firmware updates, and user friendly working OTA firmware updates a rarity rather than the norm, people had to find out how they could upgrade their device with the latest firmware.
    5. MEEGO-T01 HDMI TV Stick Supports Android, Windows 8.1, and Ubuntu/Linux (October 2014) – By Q4 2014, several low cost Intel Atom Z3735 mini PC started to be announced, and Meego-T01, now better known as MeegoPad T01, got popular as a Windows 8.1 / Android HDMI TV Stick.
    6. ARM Cortex A15/A17 SoCs Comparison – Nvidia Tegra K1 vs Samsung Exynos 5422 vs Rockchip RK3288 vs AllWinner A80 (May 2014) – Several Cortex A15 and A17 based processors have hit the market this year, so I’ve drawn a comparison table with features, interfaces, and interfaces of the most popular ones by Nvidia, Samsung, Rockchip, and Allwinner.
    7. List of Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Boxes So Far (May 2014) – Chinese manufacturers were announcing Rockchip RK3288 devices at a tremendous pace, and many months before Rockchip RK3288 became available, at times announcing their products by showing early PCBA while the enclosure was not finalized. This was all confusing, so I started to make a non-exhaustive list to try to navigate the flood of devices.
    8. M8 Android TV Box Powered by AMLogic S802 (Unboxing) (April 2014) – As people checkout M8 review, the top post of 2014, they also clicked on the unboxing post to checkout pictures and specs of the device.
    9. Raspberry Pi Model A+ Board Features a 40-pin GPIO Connector, a micro SD slot, and Improved Power Management (November 2014) – What happens when you are the first to post a leak of a widely anticipated product? It goes viral. It’s what happens with Raspberry Pi Model A+, as I found a page on Element14 a couple of days before the official release. Posted on November 8, this is the most recent post of this list.
    10. SolidRun HummingBoard is a Raspberry Pi Compatible Board Powered by Freescale i.MX6 (April 2014) – You often read people asking for a more powerful Raspberry Pi, but although the Foundation only released variations of their Broadcom BCM2835 based boards this year with A+ and B+, some R-Pi inspired dual and quad board got released this year with Banana Pi, Orange Pi, and SolidRun HummingBoard.

Several posts from 2013, and even 2012 would have made it to the top 10 list, including my now-somewhat-outdated comparison table of GPU in ARM SoCs, a simplified method to install Rockchip drivers in Windows, a rooting method for WM8800 tablets, or the 84 MB minimal image for the Raspberry Pi.

Let’s now check out some traffic stats for CNX Software blog in 2014.

CNX_Software_Pageviews_2014The year started just like the end of 2013 with traffic around 350,000 pageviews per month, with a slow growth for the first 9 months, but then around mid-October, Google pushed a new search algorithm update, and traffic nearly doubled to 600,000 pageviews in November and December. Google Analytics reports a total of 2,999,462 sessions, 1,757,172 users, and 4,834,676 pageviews for the year, or about a 35% increase in traffic mostly thanks to the last three months.

Nearly 70% of traffic comes from search engines, mainly Google, with the remaining coming from nearly 5,000 other websites. The top 10 search terms clicked (excluding “cnxsoft”, “cnx software” and similar keywords) for the last 3 months listed in Google Webmasters, and referrals for the full year listed in Google Analytics (GA) are shown in the table below. Keywords for the year are listed in GA too, but for the vast majority of request the keywords are “not provided”, which is why I use Google Webmasters data instead.

Top 10 Keywords Top 10 Referrals
m8 android tv box
meegopad t01
xtreamer wonder
tronsmart draco aw80
amlogic s812
amlogic s805

Google Plus, that some “pundits” refers as the “ghost town”, went to the top of referral traffic for the year, barely overtaking website curating service. Freaktab and Reddit are new entrants to the referral list. Most keywords are related to Android mini PC articles found the top 10 post, but ESP8266, the ultra low cost Wi-Fi SoC, and ODROID-C1 development board are also part of the list.

Let’s find a bit more about you, my readers / visitors.

CNX_Software_Traffic_2014_Country_CityThe top four countries are still the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France, with the USA and the UK totalling about 22%, just like last year. London still has the top city, with Seoul moving to second position, and moving Moscow down to third.

CNX_Software_Traffic_2014_OS_BrowserWindows is still the most widely use operating systems of CNX visitors, but its market share has gone down from 61.9% to 57.39%. Linux is still in second position, but has gone down from 17.30% to 15.30%, and the rising OS are the mobile OS such as Android and iOS, so we should expect Android to overtake Linux distributions next year, unless something drastic happens. If we add up all Linux based OS (Linux + Android + Chrome OS), Linux market share goes up to 28.55% vs 25.5% last year. Chrome Browser has extended its lead from 43.94% to 48.05%, while Firefox went down to 27.20% from 30.61%, and the others did not change that much. That means despite the rise of Android OS, people are not using the Android Browser that much and prefer to use alternative browsers such as Chromium, Opera, or Firefox.

I’ll conclude this post and 2014 by joining some of this year’s media player, boards, and tools (pictured below) to wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year 2015, which should see the rise of 64-bit ARM platform, an interesting ARM vs Intel mini PCs war, more products finally getting out with alternative OS such as Tizen, Firefos OS, and Ubuntu, as well as low cost IoT products and wearables featuring ESP8266 or Mediatek Aster SoCs.