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Posts Tagged ‘stb’

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

January 8th, 2015 11 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.

RK3036_TV_Box

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

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.

Xtreamer_PVR

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 plus.url.google.com
esp8266 scoop.it
meegopad t01 freaktab.com
xtreamer wonder facebook.com
tronsmart draco aw80 reddit.com
rk3288 t.co
meego-t01 raspbian.org
amlogic s812 forum.xbmc.org
amlogic s805 liliputing.com
odroid-c1 4pda.ru

Google Plus, that some “pundits” refers as the “ghost town”, went to the top of referral traffic for the year, barely overtaking scoop.it 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.

Happy_New_Year_2015_CNX

Best Android Mini PCs Awards of 2014

December 27th, 2014 29 comments

I’ve reviewed quite a few Android media players this year, and as 2014 comes to an end, I thought it might be worth writing a best of 2014. But it’s difficult to announce an overall winner since all have some flaws one way or another, I’ll classified by categories: Best Ethernet, Best Internal Storage, … a bit like for “Oscars ceremony awards, based mostly on objective results from my tests. However, and somewhat oddly for a media player, I won’t select any TV boxes based on their video playback capabilities, as so far I haven’t found one that can play most 4K / H.265 videos reasonably well in Kodi, and video playback tests are also subjective. This is obviously a flawed contest as they all are, because in order to be nominated, the media player must have been reviewed on CNX Software. But it should be fun anyway, so let’s get started.

Best Ethernet Performance – Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta

This year has see several boxes with Gigabit Ethernet, pushing all devices with Fast Ethernet (10/100M) out of contest. However, Gigabit Ethernet has been a challenge for most devices, with some devices being a complete failure such as HPH NT-V6 or Kingnovel K-R6 which failed at full duplex transfers, and here we have a clear and undisputed winner with Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta.

Tronsmart Orion R28 (Click to Enlarge)

Tronsmart Orion R28 (Click to Enlarge)

I used iperf -s on my Ubuntu computer, and iperf – t 60 -c ip_address_ubuntu_compute -d command line in Android iperf app for testing.

Throughput in Mbps (Click to Enlarge)

Throughput in Mbps (Click to Enlarge)

Best Wi-Fi Performance – Nagrace HPH NT-V6

Starting this year as well, we saw Android media player featuring 802.11ac Wi-Fi modules such as AP6335, and these are usually at the top of the chart, and the winner is… Nagrace HPH NT-V6 which managed to transfer data above 4.5 MB/s (36 Mbps) on average. It also wins the 802.11n contest at around 3.9 MB/s, barely out-pacing EM6Q-MXQ media player.

Nagrace NT-V (Click to Enlarge)

Nagrace NT-V (Click to Enlarge)

For this test, I’m using ES File Explorer transferring 278 MB between the device and a SAMBA share, and vice versa. Wi-Fi transfer is usually slow enough so that internal flash write speed does not affect the results.

Wi-Fi Throughput in MB/s

Wi-Fi Throughput in MB/s (Click to Enlarge)

Best Internal Storage Performance – Kingnovel K-R6

Internal storage performance may be critical to a system performance. A fast reading speed should yield fast boot and app loading times, and a decent writing speed may avoid user noticeable slowdowns when the system is busy writing, such as when installing apps. The best devices I tested this year are not Android TV boxes, but instead Infocus CS1 A83 tablet, and ODROID XU3-Lite development board’s eMMC module, but since this contest is reserved to Android media player, the winner is Kingnovel K-R6 (previously called K-R68), closely followed by HPH NT-V6, which just won the Ethernet award.

Kingnovel K-R68 4K (Click to Enlarge)

Kingnovel K-R6 (Click to Enlarge)

The tool used to test internal storage performance is A1 SD bench, and I added read and write speed to get the full score.

Best_TV_BOX_Internal_Storage

Internal Storage Read and Write Speeds

Best External Storage Performance – M-195

A device with SATA would have easily won this contest, but unfortunately, none of the TV boxes I tested this year came with a real SATA port, so devices with USB 3.0 ports ought to win that fight, and the inexpensive ($60 to $70), Realtek RTD1195 based M-195 TV box was ahead of the competition, even outperforming other devices with USB 3.0 ports such as ODROID-XU3 Lite or Tronsmart Draco AW80.

M-195 Media Player (Click to Enlarge)

M-195 Media Player (Click to Enlarge)

All tests below were performed with a USB 3.0 hard drive either connected to a USB 2.0 host port, or a USB 3.0 port if available. A1 SD bench was the chosen app.

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Read and Write Speeds in MB/s

Best Benchmark Score – Tronsmart Draco AW80 Meta

This one might be controversial, as I may just have given an award to a cheater…with the benchmark crown given to Tronsmart Draco AW80 Meta. But I’ll explain my process below.

Draco AW80 Meta (Click to Enlarge)

Draco AW80 Meta (Click to Enlarge)

The most popular benchmark in Android is clearly Antutu, but many companies tend to “optimize”, an euphemism for “cheat”, their system to score well in Antutu. As you can see in the chart below, Draco AW80 Meta is even ahead of ODROID-XU3 Lite board with a “BIN1” Exynos 5422 processor @ 2.2 GHz, with the Allwinner A80 is only clocked at 1.8 GHz, and both are octa core processors with four Cortex A15 cores, four Cortex A7 cores.

Best_TV_Box_Antutu

Antutu 5.x Results

So instead I also selected Rockchip RK3288, and Amlogic S802 devices, where I ran Vellamo 3.x, and here somehow the quad Rockchip RK3288 based HPH NT-V6 outperforms both Exynos and Allwinner octa-core processors…

Best_TV_Box_Vellamo

Vellamo 3.x Scores

So I decided to give an equal weight to Antutu and Vellamo by multiplying Vellamo score by eight and adding Antutu score, and that’s what I got.

Best_TV_Box_Hybrid_Benchmark ODROID-XU3 Lite has the highest score based on my hybrid score, but since it’s a development board mainly, I had to declare Tronsmart Draco AW80 Meta the winner.

Most Beautiful TV Box – Ugoos UM3

Many people just want a discreet black box, that does the job, and makes you forget it’s even there. But I’ve decided to give a prettiest box of the year award anyway, and after voting unanimously with myself, I selected Ugoos UM3 which comes with a nice black and red enclosure.

Ugoos Um3 (Click to Enlarge)

Ugoos Um3 (Click to Enlarge)

Best Value for Money – MXQ S85

Most of the time, cheap also means bad quality, but not always. One of the exception is MXQ S85 selling for about $50, with above average Wi-Fi and 10/100M Ethernet performance, pretty goos codecs/containers support in XBMC, H.265 support in MX Player, reasonable internal storage performance, and overall very stable firmware. This is obviously not a racing horse, but if all you need of a 1080p media player, with some support for not-so-demanding Android apps, then it should do the job. MK808B Plus TV stick based on the same Amlogic S805 processor might have taken it place for just $30 to $39, but I did not review it, and it could not be nominated.

MXQ S85 (Click to Enlarge)

MXQ S85 (Click to Enlarge)

Best Software Support – WeTek Play

The last award is more like a special mention, as the product is very new, but WeTek Play comes with an amazing number of available firmwares, beside the officially supported Android and OpenELEC images, including Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, and various Android ROMs. It also features a specially designed DVB app with automatic scanning and PVR function, as well as WeCloud Antenna app with over 180 free-top-air channels available over the network. A support forum has also been setup.

WeTek Play (Click to Enlarge)

WeTek Play (Click to Enlarge)

Best Gaming Experience – Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta

An Nvidia Tegra K1 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 mini PC would have certainly won here, but I can’t think of any Android mini PCs featuring rthese processors, and among Chinese processors, Rocklchip RK3288 based device offer the best 3D graphics performance, close to Alwinner A80, and much better than Amlogic S802/S812, based on gaming experience and benchmarks such as 3Dmark. Tronsmart Orion R28 Meta is the winner here, as contrary to other RK3288 boxes it supported by Mars G01 and a Sony PS3 wireless controller clone, making it the only mini PC to receive two awards this year.

What do you think about these 2014 awards? Anything you would change?

VidOn Box Android XBMC TV Box Unboxing

December 23rd, 2014 11 comments

Vidon.me has sent me one of their Vidon Box (without asking). The box features an Allwinner A31s processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, and more. You can check my previous post for Vidon Box specifications. The company is also providing a membership for extra services such as HDMI / SPDIF pass-through, and Blu-ray menu navigation, among others, as you can see from the table below. The item with ** are upcoming features.

VidOn Box Features Subscriber Non Subscriber
Blu-ray Menu Navigation Y N
Access to VidOn XBMC Pro Y N
Access to VidOn Media Center Beta* Y Y
Access to VidOn XBMC* Y Y
Free XBMC Add-ons Y Y
Media Library Info Collection Y Y
Access Home Sharing Server Y Y
1080p Hardware Acceleration Y Y
Blu-ray ISO Playback Y Y
3D Blu-ray Playback Y Y
Firmware/Software Update Support Y Y
SPDIF/HDMI Passthrough Y N
Mobile Transfer** Y N
Photo Backup** Y N
Mobile Access Media Library** Y N
Mobile Access via 3G/4G/WiFi** Y N
More Upcoming Features Y N

The box includes one year subscription. Today I’ll simply post some pictures of the device and board, before writing a review in a couple of weeks.

Vidon Box Unboxing

The media player comes in the black box below with Vidon logo in golden, as well as a sticker with a summary of specs on the bottom.
Vidon_Box_Package
Vidon Box comes with an IR remote control including a CR2032 battery, a 5V/2A power supply, an instruction manual in English, and a VidOn Membership top up card to enable a free one-year membership. There’s no HDMI cable, so it’s something you’d have t purchase separately.

Vidon Box and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Vidon Box and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

Most boxes come in rectangular or squared shape, a few with a hockey puck like shape that’s not my favorite, but Vidon Box features an elliptic aluminum case that looks pretty to me.

Vidon Box (Click to Enlarge)

Vidon Box (Click to Enlarge)

All ports are located on the rear panel: Wi-Fi antenna, a reset button, optical S/PDIF, two USB 2.0 host ports, HDMI output, 10/100M Ethernet, and the power jack. There’s no micro SD slot, so the only options for external storage are the two USB ports. The front panel is a semi-transparent black plastic hiding the power LED, and the IR receiver.

Unboxing video below.

Vidon Box Board

Provided you have the right tools, opening the box is straightforward, as you only need to untighten two screen on the left and right side of the rear panel, take out the rear panel, and slide the board. It took me a little while since my multi-bit screwdriver was too thick, and would not fit into the deep holes, so I had to run around to find another screwdriver.

Vidon Box Board (Click to Enlarge)

Vidon Box Board (Click to Enlarge)

There are many golden dots on the board, and normally these are test points, but since there are just too many, and based their position, they must have another purpose. They make the board look neat though. Allwinner A31s is a quad core Cortex A7 processor clocked at 1.0 GHz, which should explain why there’s no heatsink. Two Samsung K4B4G1646D-BCK0 DDR3 are used to get 1GB RAM, and a 8GB FORESEE NAND flash has been used for storage. The Wi-Fi module is based on Realtek RTL8188EUS. Other ICs include AXP221a PMIC, and IC Plus IP101A Fast Ethernet transceiver. The UART connector for debugging is soldered. You’ll also notice a solder pads for TF (micro SD card), but they probably left this out due to mechanical issues with the chosen enclosure.

Bottom of Vidon Box Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of Vidon Box Board (Click to Enlarge)

More pretty golden dots are spread on the bottom of the board. The board is VBOX1-V1.30, and it was probably made specifically for Vidon.me. You’ll also notice the two golden bands on the left and right edges of the board. The picture below might explain why they’ve done these, although I’m not 100% sure of the exact reason for this design.
Vidon_Box-Golden_SideThe MAC address shown on the bottom of the enclosure starts with 00:88:00, which does not lookup to any vendor.

Vidon Box can be purchased on Vidon.me for $69.99 including shipping and one year of membership. After one year, membership costs $15 yearly, and is only required if you need the subscriber features listed in the table on the top of this post. Other shopping options include GeekBuying and Aliexpress. Price remains the same wherever you buy.

Unboxing of Amlogic S812 based Sunchip CX-S806 Android Media Player

December 18th, 2014 29 comments

Sunchip CX-S806 is my third Android media player based on Amlogic S812 processor, after Eny Technology EM8S (which I haven’t received yet, because the firmware is not really ready yet), and MINIX NEO X8-H Plus with a stable firmware, but some disappointment with regards to peripherals performance (eMMC, Ethernet,…), and poor support for H.265 / 4K videos in XBMC/Kodi, at least for now, since I’m sure they’ll work out the video issue with subsequent firmware / Kodi releases. CX-S806 has lower specs compared to NEO X8-H Plus, and does not come with an air mouse, but it costs about half of the MINIX box, so we’ll have to see how it performs. For now, I simply post pictures of the device and the internal board, since I’ve already posted CX-S806 specifications previously.

CX-S806 Unboxing

Sunchip sent me the box via DHL, and I received it in the black and gold package below.
Sunchip_CX-S806_Package
The box comes with a 5V/3A power supply, an IR remote control (2x AAA batteries required), an HDMI cable, and user’s manual in English.

CX-S806 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

CX-S806 and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

The box looks pretty nice, and all ports are at the back with a reset pin holes, three USB 2.0 ports including one OTG port, optical S/PDIF, AV and HDMI output, a Fast Ethernet RJ45 port, and the power jack.

Sunchip CX-S806 TV Box (Click to Enlarge)

Sunchip CX-S806 TV Box (Click to Enlarge)

We can’t see anything at the front, but it’s a semi transparent plastic hiding the IR receiver and a power LED.

Unboxing video:

CX-S806 Board Pictures

There’s large rounded sticky rubber band the bottom of the case, but there’s nothing under, so everything is held together with clips. At first I tried to open the box by popping the clip from the back of the case, and I could start to open it, but it would not come off completely, the gap between the black plastic case and the semi-transparent plastic at the front was basically inexistent, so I got stuck thiking glue may be involved, and I asked Sunchip who kindly provided some pictures explaining how to open the box, including the one just below.

CX-S806_Disassembly_by_Sunchip
Once I knew how to get started, I managed to open it with my disassembly toolkit. The tiny triangular green tool was not tiny and strong enough, so I used the scalpel like tool to take out the front panel, and separated the rest of the enclosure with the other green tool.

CX-S806_Dissassembly
There’s a bit less cooling elements than in other Amlogic S8x1 boxes with just a heatsink on top of Amlogic S812, so I’ll have to keep an eye on the temperature.

CX-S806 Board (Click to Enlarge)

CX-S806 Board (Click to Enlarge)

The board is named CX_S806_V1.2_140825. The wireless module (for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) is AP6210. Four Samsung K4B4G1646D-BCK0 DDR3-1600chips are used for the 2GB RAM, and a FORESEE NCEFES78 eMMC flash for the 8GB internal storage. You’ll also notice four pins on the right of the IR sensor which should be for serial console access.

Bottom of CX-S806 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of CX-S806 Board (Click to Enlarge)

I had to remove four screws to have a look at the back, but there’s not much to see here, except a sticker with the board key specifications, and QC status, located just on top of solder pads for another flash chip.

Sunchip is the company that designs and manufacture all CX-??? media players and TV sticks, and their board is also found in some other brands, so if you want to purchase in large quantities, you could contact them via CX-S806 product page (Contact link is on top).  Individuals can purchase the box for $80 on Amazon US, Ebay, GeekBuying, as well as Aliexpress.

Disclaimer: Although this post is not sponsored, Sunchip has recently become a sponsor for CNX Software.

A Quick Look at SAMART Strong Black “Free” DVB-T2 Receiver in Thailand

December 17th, 2014 14 comments

Thai government has made digital television a priority, so they’ve launched a program to give a 690 Baht voucher ($21) to all households in Thailand. The voucher is send by registered mail to your home, and delivery has to be signed by a Thai person. Then you can go to a shop equipped with a Thai ID card and house registration book copy, present this voucher, and get a free (except for tax payers of course) DVB-T2 receiver, or use it to buy something a more advanced set-top box or digital TV package with 690 Baht discount.

690 Baht Voucher for Digital TV

690 Baht Voucher for Digital TV

We decided to get a free DVB-T2 receiver, and ended up with a box called SAMART Strong Black supporting SD and 1080p video streams over DVB-T2, EPG (Electronic Program Guide), and with a USB port to connect devices for recording programs or time-shifting. SAMART is a Thai company whose name means “can” (formal) as in “we can”, not as in “beer can”… So I decided to have a closer look at the device, and report what kind of features and hardware a $21 DVB-T2 may have.

SAMART Strong Black Specifications & Features

Specifications listed on the user’s manual:

  • Processor – 32-bit RISC processor @ 550 MHz
  • System Memory – 64 MB DDR
  • Storage – 8MB Flash for firmware
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p60 or AV
  • Tuner
    • System – DVB-T2 (ETSI EN 302 755)
    • Receiving Channels – 470 – 862 MHz
    • RF Input/Output Impedance: 75 Ohm
    • Active Antenna – 5V, 150 mA
    • Demodulation – QPSK, 16-QAM, 64-QAM, 256-QAM
    • In and Out Antenna connectors
  • Video Codec – [email protected] and [email protected], MPEG-4 P2 ASP, H.264 MP & HP
  • Video Containers – MKV, AVI, MPG, MP4, TS, DAT, VOB, FLV, MPEG
  • Audio – Codec: MPEG-4 HE-AAC v1/2; Sampling freq: 22.1 kHz, 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, and 48 kHz
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Misc – Power LED, IR receiver, 3.5mm jack for IR extension, 4 buttons on front panel (power. vol/ch- +, vol/ch -, and exit/menu)
  • Power Supply – 100-240V 50/60Hz in to 5V/1.2A out
  • Power Consumption – Active: <= 6W, standby: <= 0.5W
  • Dimensions – 175 x 185 x 55 mm
  • Weight – 550 grams

Other features include 3D display support, picture adjustment (color/brightness/contrast), 7-day EPG function, USB hard drive for PVR, time-shifting, and firmware update functions, multiple audio and subtitles, automatic and manual channel scanning and so on.

SAMART Strong Black Unboxing

That’s the pretty package for this DVB-T2 receiver box.

The box comes with HDMI and AV cables, a 5V/1.2A power supply, an IR remote control with two AAA batteries. a warranty card, a user’s manual (strangely in English only), and some promotional brochure.

SAMART_Strong_Black_Package_Content

DVB-T2 Receiver and Accessories

I’m not exactly sure that 5V/1.2A will be able to handle an external 2.5″ HDD, we’ll have to see another day. Let’s have a closer look at the device itself.

SAMART Strong Black (Click to Enlarge)

SAMART Strong Black (Click to Enlarge)

There’s a government sticker on the top of the box to make it clear that box was “sold’ as part of the program. Four buttons are on the front pane: power, Ch+/Vol-, Ch+/Vol+, and Exit/Menu, as well as the power LED, and a window for the IR receiver. The USB port is on the right side of the box. The rear panel comes with the following port from left to right:  RF antenna connector, RF loop, jack for optional IR extension cable, HDMI output, 3.5,mm jack for composite and L/R audio, and power jack.

SAMART Strong Black Board Pictures

There’s a two year warranty with the device, which I may have well lost, since as usual, I open the enclosure. There aren’t any screws, so you have to pull the top of the box with some tools.

SAMART Strong Black PCBA (Click to Enlarge)

SAMART Strong Black PCBA (Click to Enlarge)

The board name is SAMART-G v.1, so it looks like it’s really a locally designed and manufactured product. The processor has a small heatsink on top, but I failed to remove it because the thermal paste would have to be softened with heat, and I don’t have the right equipment for that. But we can still check the other components: ESMT M14D5121632A is a 64GB DDRII RAM, and Mstar MSB1236C must be the demodulator.

Close up on Tuner (Click to Enlarge)

Close up on Tuner (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve also open the shield on top of the tuner to find out the device uses MaxLinear MxL608 tuner, which appears to be quite popular, as over 10 million STBs feature this tuner.

Since I did not have full details about the processor, and the operating systems, I decidd to connect a USB debug board to the 4-pin connector on the board. The left and right are respectively ground and 3.3V pin, so I played with the two other pins, and selected various baud rate, but all I got on my minicom terminal was gibberish.

A Google search for 550 MHz processor used in STBs points to Mstar or Novatek processor, but since neither company list their products lists on their respective website, it’s still unclear which exact processor might be used. I could only find one STB with star 550 MHz processor, and another one with Novatek 550 MHz processor. My guess goes towards Mstar since they’ve used an Mstar demodulator in their design.

We tried it at the shop, and it worked fine, but my indoor antenna at home must be too old, as the signal was 0% even though I live close to the broadcasting antenna. I tried to get a 300 Ohm to 75 Ohm matching adapter to make my own antenna, but I was told they don’t do this in Thailand, it’s old tech. maybe a language problem. So instead I purchased the matching adapter on Ebay, together with a cheap Digital TV indoor antenna.

Categories: Hardware Tags: dvb, review, samart, set-top box, stb, thailand

Inphic i8 Android Media Player Supports VP9 and H.265 Video Codecs, Features Allwinner H8 Processor

December 15th, 2014 4 comments

Allwinner H8 a new octa-core Cortex A7 processor for low cost Full HD media players with H.265 & VP9 codec support, and one the first product using the new Allwinner H-Series processor is Inphic i8, which sells for as low as 349 CNY (~$57) on JD.com and it’s also available on Taobao for 499 CNY (~$80). Some Inphic i8 boxes are available on Aliexpress, but so far all models are based on Allwinner A31s, promoted as quad core processor eight core GPU boxes, so don’t be fooled.

Inphic_i8Inphic i8 (Allwinner H8) specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H8 octa-core Cortex-A7 processor @ 2.0GHz with PowerVR SGX544 GPU up to 720MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB or 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8, 16, or 32GB internal storage
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p, Composite output (RCA)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, and Left / Right RCA connectors
  • Video Codecs
    • Multi-format [email protected] video playback, including H.264 BP/MP/HP, VP8, MPEG1/2, MPEG4 SP/ASP GMC, H.263 including Sorenson Spark, WMV9/VC-1, JPEG/MJPEG, etc
    • H.265/VP9 [email protected] video playback
    • H.264 [email protected] or [email protected] video encoding
  • Audio Format/Codecs – AAC-LC/HEAAC/HE-AAC v2, AC3 (Dolby Digital), AMR-NB, DTS, MP3, OGG, RA_COOK, WMA, WMA, LPCM/PCM/ADPCM, FLAC
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • USB – 2x USB host ports
  • Power Supply – 5V/1.5A
  • Dimensions – 175 x 116 x 32 mm
  • Weight – 192 grams

Inphic_i8_ports

The package should also include HDMI and AV cables, a power adapter, a remote control, and a power supply. The box is said to be running Android KitKat 4.4.2, with support for Google Play, XBMC / Kodi , and  Skype, as well as Airplay, DLNA, and Miracast. The Chinese websites instead report the OS is YunOS, so it’s possible there will be a Chinese version, and an international version.

“H.265 Hardware Decoder” is explicitly listed on the product page, but Allwinner also claimed support for H.265 and VP9 codec in Allwinner A80 processor,  but after testing actual products such as Draco AW80, it turns out it’s probably only software decode, or maybe GPU accelerated (GPGPU with OpenCL) instead of being actually supported by the VPU. Products will have to be tested to make sure these two codecs are properly supported. I’m currently testing Infocus CS1 A83 tablet, based on Allwinner A83T processor with the same CPU and GPU as Allwinner H8, and Antutu Video Tester reports a score of well over 600 points, which shows the tablet has good video playback capabilities and quality, so this looks promising if both A83T and H8 share the same video engine.

Since the box sells for $57 in China, I’d expect it to be available for $70 to $80 on Aliexpress sooner than later. More details can be found on Inphic i9 product page, where they mention 4K support, but I believe these claims can be discarded since H8 only supports 1080p decoding and output.

Via Home Theater Life on Google+ MINI PC Community.