Archive

Posts Tagged ‘stb’

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.

Via AndroidPC.es

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 AndroidPC.es, 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 utstar.com, but the site I ended-up on was utstarcom.cn, 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 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.