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Posts Tagged ‘stb’

Tronsmart Vega S89 (Elite) Android 4.4 Media Player Unboxing

April 9th, 2014 8 comments

Last review, I wrote an unboxing post about M8, an Android TV Box powered by Amlogic S802 quad core Cortex A9r4 processor with a Mali-450MP6 GPU. I’m still waiting for the firmware to test this device. In the meantime, Geekbuying sent me Tronsmart Vega S89 (Click for full specs), another Android Kitkat TV box powered by S802. There are actually two versions: Tronsmart Vega S89 (16 GB Flash, dual band Wi-Fi), and Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite (8GB Flash, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi) which is the model I received. I’ll write an unboxing post today with the device and the board, and test the firmware in the next few days.

Tronsmart Vega S89 (Elite) Unboxing

Geekbuying sent me the sample via DHL which I received in the package below.

Tronsmart_Vega_S89There are quite a few accessories included with the board.

Tronsmart Vega  S89 and Accessories

Tronsmart Vega S89 and Accessories

From left to right: IR remote control (2x AAA batteries not included), HDMI cable, 5V/3A power adapter, Vega S89 TV Box, a micro USB to USB cable, an AV cable, and a user’s manual in English describing the ports, and explaining how to use Android. Interestingly, M8 is sold with a 5V/2A, but Vega S89 manufacturer has decided to play it safe with a 5V/3A power supply.

Tronsmart Vega S89 Ports (Click to Enlarge)

Tronsmart Vega S89 Ports (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s have a closer look of this cylindrical box to checkout the ports at the back. We’ve got the power button, two USB host ports, an AV output (composite + stereo audio), the power jack, an RJ45 Ethernet port, HDMI & optical S/PDIF outputs, a micro SD slot, and a micro USB OTG port. The top of the box is very glossy, and the side matte.

You can have a look at the unboxing video if you wish.

Tronsmart Vega S89 (Elite) Board and Enclosure

To open the box, you need to remove three stick pads at the bottom, and remove 3 screws. That part is easy.

Top of PCB (Click to Enlarge)

Top of PCB (Click to Enlarge)

We’ll see AP6210 Wi-Fi module (2.4 GHz) and its internal antenna, all the various ports, a 8GB Flash chip, and an emplacement for another flash for the 16 GB version. Just like M8 there’s an heatsink on top of the SoC which this time points upwards in the enclosure. The UART pins can be seen just on the right of “Netxeon S82_V2.0_20140304″ markings on the board.

Bottom of PCB (Click to Enlarge)

Bottom of PCB (Click to Enlarge)

Completely removing the board from the case was a bit more complicated, but by pushing the connector with a screw driver it eventually popped out. There’s nothing really noticeable on the bottom of the PCB, except there’s another thick metallic plate on the bottom of the enclosure. So all S802 based products seems to produce a lot of heat, and require some serious power dissipation measures, unless designers have been especially careful on the Vega S89 and M8.

Amlogic S802 on Tronsmart Vega S89 Board (Click to Enlarge)

Amlogic S802 on Tronsmart Vega S89 Board (Click to Enlarge)

It’s very easy to remove the heatsink from the CPU and RAM, and confirm it’s indeed S802. As I previously mentioned there should be different versions depending on pass-through (S802: No HDMI pass-through support, S802D: HDMI pass-through for Dolby, but not DTS, S802DD or S802H: HDMI pass-through for Dolby and DTS).  We can only see S802 on the SoC, but GeekBuying tested HDMI pass-through on the Vega S89, and reported Dolby (AC3), DTS, DTS-HD HRA, and  DTS-HD MA could work, but Dolby True-HD failed with their receiver only showing 2.1 audio instead of 5.1. This should mean the SoC above is S802DD/S802H.

Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite (shown in this post) is available from GeekBuying for $105, and Vega S89, replacing AP6210 Wi-Fi module with AP6330 dual band Wi-Fi module, and adding 8 GB Flash, for $120. You can also find it for the same price on various stores on Aliexpress.

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Rockchip RK3288 based Android Mini PCs and TV Boxes Are Starting to Show Up (Wholesale)

April 9th, 2014 15 comments

Rockchip RK3288 based devices should be available soon. At the end of last month, I read Pipo was about to introduce RK3288 Tablets at the Hong Kong electronics fair this month, and yesterday I’ve been informed some RK3288 mini PCs and TV Boxes had started to appear on Alibaba.

RK3288 HDMI TV Dongle (D368)

RK3288_mini-pcD368 mini PC is said to come with the following specs according to a product page on Alibaba:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3288 quad core ARM Cortex-A17 with Mali-T7xx 3D GPU (OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0,and OpenCL 1.1)
  • System Memory - 2GB DDR3  (Optional:1GB)
  • Storage – 8GB NAND Flash (Options: 4GB and 16GB), micro SD card (up to 32GB)
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4a (Resolution 4K and 1080p60 support)
  • Connectivity – Dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and 802.11ac, optional Bluetooth 4.0.
  • Video Codecs
    • Decode – H.265, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4,H.263, H.264, AVS, VC-1, RV, VP6/VP8, Sorenson Spark, MVC
    • Encode – H.264, H.265,VP8, MVC(1080P)
    • Max H.264/H.265 datarate – 60 Mbps
  • Audio Formats -  MP1,MP2,MP3,WMA,WAV,OGG,OGA,APE,FLAC,AAC,M4A,3GPP…etc
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB for power.
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB
  • Certification – CCC, CE, EMC, FCC, Wi-Fi
  • Dimension – 110 x 40 x 12.9 mm

The dongle comes with a USB cable, an HDMI cable, a power adapter and a user’s manual by default. Options include a Y-type USB cable, a USB to Ethernet cable, an IR remote with an IR receiver (USB), and/or a 2.4GHz RF air mouse. There’s no price available yet.

RK3288 Android TV Box (B368)

RK3288_Android_TV_BoxB368 Android TV Box has the following specs, against according to its page on Alibaba:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3288 quad core ARM Cortex-A17 with Mali-T7xx 3D GPU (OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0,and OpenCL 1.1)
  • System Memory - 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND Flash, micro SD card (up to 32GB)
  • Output – HDMI 1.4a (Resolution 4K and 1080p60 support), AV (CVBS) via 3.5mm jack
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV jack, 1x optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and 802.11ac with external Wi-Fi antenna, and Bluetooth 4.0.
  • Video Codecs
    • Decode – H.265, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4,H.263, H.264, AVS, VC-1, RV, VP6/VP8, Sorenson Spark, MVC
    • Encode – H.264, H.265,VP8, MVC(1080P)
    • Max H.264/H.265 datarate – 60 Mbps
  • Audio Formats -  MP1,MP2,MP3,WMA,WAV,OGG,OGA,APE,FLAC,AAC,M4A,3GPP…etc
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB  OTG port.
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB
  • Certification – CCC, CE, EMC, FCC, Wi-Fi
  • Dimension – 142.3 x 108.6 x 21mm

The specs are basically the same as the HDMI TV dongle, expect for the addition of AV output, optical S/PDIF, and Gigabit Ethernet, as well as the different dimensions. Both products are listed by the same company (Shenzhen Tena Electronics), and will run Android 4.4 Kitkat.

This Android TV box comes with an HDMI cable, a composite + stereo cable, an IR remote, a power adapter and a user’s manual by default. Options include an RF air mouse or an RF mouse and keyboard. There’s no price available yet, but AndroidPC.es recently wrote about G20, another upcoming RK3288 TV Box, running Aliyun OS, that should be available soon for 598 CNY, or about $97, in China. This price apparently includes a Wii-like remote. We’ll have to see how the market evolve, but it appears AMLogic S802 (4x A9 + Mali-450) and Rockchip RK3288 (4x A17 + Mali-T764) devices may have similar pricing.

ARM announced the first Cortex A17 based devices should become available in Q1 2015, but products based on Rockchip RK3288 may be available in a few weeks or a couple of months, so I wonder if we could end up with two kinds of RK3288, one with Cortex A12, and the other Cortex A17, as both cores are pretty similar.

Thanks to csgabe for the tip.

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Amazon Launches $99 Fire TV Android Media Player Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Quad Core SoC

April 3rd, 2014 18 comments

After few months ago, news broke that Amazon was working on an Android STB. The company has now launched Amazon Fire TV media player featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 quad core Krait processor with 2GB RAM, and supporting Amazon Prime Video, as well as a host of other popular online video and audio streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, Pandora, and more.

Amazon_Fire_TVLet’s go through the specifications first:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 quad core Krait 300 processor @ 1.7 GHz with Adreno 320 GPU. (Part of Snapdragon 600 family)
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR2 @ 533 MHZ
  • Storage – 8 GB internal
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDCP. Resolution: 720p and 1080p up to 60fps
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical SPDIF
  • Video Codecs -  H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1
  • Audio Codecs – AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3, Dolby Digital Plus, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch Stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual-band/dual-antenna 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (MIMO),  Bluetooth 4.0 (profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP),
  • USB -  1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Dimensions  – 115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm
  • Weight – 281 grams

Amazon also included specs for the “Fire TV Remote” provided with their box:

  • Communication Protocol – Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP
  • Buttons – Voice, 5-way Directional, Back, Home, Menu, Rewind, Play/Pause, Fast Forward
  • Dimensions – 38.3 mm x 139.9 mm x 16.1 mm
  • Weight 68 grams with batteries (45.5 grams without batteries)
  • Power – 2x AAA Batteries  (included)

The remote supports voice search thanks to two digital microphones.

Fire TV and Remote Description (Click to Enlarge)

Fire TV and Remote Description (Click to Enlarge)

Amazon Fire TV will come with the aforementioned remote, 2x AAA batteries, a power adapter, and a Quick Start Guide. An optional Game Controller is also available. The device runs FireOS, an highly customized Android firmware based on Android 4.2.

Amazon has also provided a comparison table including Fire TV STB, as well as what the company considers as its main competitors, namely Roku 3, Apple TV and Google ChromeCast.

Amazon Fire TV vs Roku 3 vs Apple TV vs ChomeCast (Click to Enlarge)

Amazon Fire TV vs Roku 3 vs Apple TV vs ChomeCast (Click to Enlarge)

When it comes to hardware, Fire TV is clearly ahead, so if the firmware is right you should have a very smooth experience. Fire TV appears to have support for  most of popular online U.S. video and audio services, lacking only HBO GO, and support for a greater amount of games, but it’s quite likely they put aside some others strong points of the Roku, Apple TV, and ChromeCast. I can’t really comment here, as I have never really looked into Roku or Apple TV in details.

Together with Fire TV launch, Amazon also announced FireTV SDK to let developer brings apps to their new device. All information you need should be available on  Amazon Developer’s Fire TV page.

Fire TV is available and shipping now for just $99 on Amazon (US only), and the Game Controller can also be pre-ordered for $39.99 with shipping scheduled for the 7th of April. You may also get a free 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime when you purchase Fire TV.

Thanks to CSilie for the tip

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Review of Mele X1000 Blu-Ray Android TV Box (Telechips TCC8935)

March 27th, 2014 7 comments

Mele X1000 is an Android media player based on Telechips TCC8935 dual core Cortex A9 that is said to support Blu-ray video playback. You can refer to Mele X1000 specs for more technical details, as well as my previous Mele X1000 Unboxing post for pictures of the device, as well as the PCB.  Today I’ll review Mele X1000, by showing off the user interface, and going through the different settings, test video playback including a Blu-ray ISO, wi-fi performance, and report whether all other features such as Bluetooth, USB mass storage, USB webcam, etc… work as expected.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

This media player comes with an infrared remote and corresponding AAA batteries, but during most the tests I’ve actually switched to Mele F10 RF remote (not included) as it’s just more convenient to navigate menus, and I’ve also test an Android Remote app compatible with the device, but more on that later. After connected an Ethernet cable, the HDMI and AV cable, Mele F10 USB RF dongle, and the power supply, I’ve pressed to power button on the front panel to get started. Boot feels a little slow, and it might take close to one minute to reach the user’s interface shown below.

Multimedia Launcher (Click for Original Size)

Multimedia Launcher (Click for Original Size)

On the top right corner, you’ll get the time, day of the week, and the options to add some system information such as network status with IP address. At the bottom of the screen you’ve got a navigation bar with access to “File”, “Photo”, “Music”, “Movie”, Apps, Settings, and Internet (Android Browser). The first four menu give access to storage devices including SATA hard drive or SSD (not tested), USB flash driver, SD card, and NFS & SAMBA network shares. The app section redirect to the list of Android Apps, which only a few pre-installed, including Google Play. Media applications are IPDTV (not working for me), and XBMC plugins, but XBMC is not installed in this firmware, something I’ve been told would be corrected during mass production. The settings menu gives access to a custom setup menu, and the Android menu.

Movie Menu with Blu-Ray Region Code and Playback Options (Click for Original Size)

Movie Menu with Blu-Ray Region Code and Playback Mode Options (Click for Original Size)

If you do not like the default launcher named “Multimedia Launcher”, you can switch the default Android home screen, or even select a “Pop Up” that will ask you each time. The navigation bar shown above will still be there in the Android Home screen, but you’ll have access to the 5 screens to add apps or widgets, just like in stock Android. I’ve kept the Multimedia Launcher for testing.

I have to admit I’m impressive with the level of options found in the setup menu. There are options about the configure the System. Audio & Video Output, network, movie, music, photo, and access to Android settings. It’s the level of details inside the menu that I found particularly compelling. Since there are so many options, I won’t go through them all in the article, but I’ve shot a video instead.

Some of the goodies include:

  • Language options for system and subtitles
  • Screensaver mode and options
  • Auto power off time
  • HDMI, DVI and Composite output options (640×480 to 1080p60)
  • HDMI, SPDIF, and AV audio output options. Pass-through options with HDMI and SPDIF allows you to select which audio codec (eg . DTS, Dolby) to downsample, and which one to pass-through.
  • YouTube Cache Size configuratin
  • Blu-ray settings (shown in the screenshot above)
  • Power button can be set to suspend or power off the device
  • And many more

I had no problem setting up Wi-Fi and Ethernet, the only thing is that both can’t be enabled at the same time, or Wi-Fi won’t work.

I’ve used HDMI output with 1080p during my testing with the user interface always set to 720p. Component (YPbPr) is not supported, but I tested composite output with success. the only problem is that I’ve been unable to revert to HDMI without doing a factory reset in the menu… A video input button on the IR remote could have been nice.

Mele_X1000_About_DeviceMele X1000 has a 4GB flash, and there’s only one partition on the flash providing 2.29GB of storage, which means it may take a while before apps take all storage. All your medi files woudl have to be in external device with as USB drives, SATA hard drives, and network shares, whch I think is just fine for this type of device. Developer Options are enabled with lots of different options. Looking into the “About device” section shows the device name is  “MeLE″, and it’s running Android 4.2.2 with Kernel 3.1.10

The firmware is not rooted, and I have not tried to find a root method yet. I could install all applications I tried including ES File Explorer, Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Vellamo, Candy Crush Saga, Racing thunder 2, Sixaxis Controller, YouTube, Facebook etc…, except for one: Netflix, which did not show up in the search results. The apps I tried could run fine, except Quadrant with refused to start the tests.

As explained above, the power button on the front panel and the remote control can be used to put the device in suspend mode, or turn it off depending on the settings. This is possible thanks to an MCU that control power, IR, and the small LCD display, which appears to be more or less useless, as all I have seen is the power icon.

The firmware is relatively stable, but since the processor is only a dual core clocked at up to 1GHz, you may not want to do anything else while installing apps, as there’s a noticeable slowdown. For the rest of the time, it’s pretty smooth. There’s an animation between the main menu, which looks nice at first, but last about 3 seconds and becomes annoying overtime. During my testing, the Multimedia Launcher crashed three times, requiring a reboot.

TizzRemote App

In the Quick Start Guide, there’s mention of AirlinkMedia, an Android app to transform your smartphone or tablet into a remote control. They explain to look for it in Google Play, but there’s nothing there. The company finally then me a link to AirLinkRemote which failed to find my Mele. But previously, I found a QR code in the setup menu directing to TizzRemote, which immediately found my device, and allowed me to access control the files on the devices, and play YouTube videos. This also probably means the firmware and software has been developed by TizzBird, a Korean company specialized in Telechips products.

TizzMote App Screenshots (Click to Enlarge)

TizzMote App Screenshots (Click to Enlarge)

This remote app works pretty well, and you have access to files from your device or your phone. The files from the phone will only play in the phone however, where the files in the Mele will play on your TV. There are also remote and mouse modes, that allow you to use the touchscreen of your phone as a touchpad, and with buttons providing video playback trick modes. When I tried to input text using the soft keyboard on the phone, it would just show the previous letter twice on the TV. For example, test would show up as ttss, so basically unusable. The YouTube app is very similar to ChromeCast or EZCast, as you can search and play YouTube videos streaming directly to your box, but controlled by your phone. The YouTube videos I tried seemed to skip frames however.

Video Playback

As there’s an XBMC logo on the package, and at the bottom of the device itself, I expect to find XBMC, but all I could access was XBMC Plugin app. I’ve been told they will ship boxes to customer with XBMC Frodo V12, and I could just install this version. since XBMC Android is currently a mess, with different version depending on the device, I was not hopeful, and I tried to install the latest Frodo V12.3 apk, it could run and play videos, but it’s obvious it was just using software decode. I’ve asked the actual apk, and still waiting… So the only solution was to use the default user interface. I usually play from a SAMBA share, and configuration went smoothly, as the device automatically found the share, and entered the username and password, and success! Or so I was told because I never managed to see any files from my SAMBA share. I also tried with NFS, but same results. I tried to use ES File Explorer, which could connect to my SAMBA share, but it was clearly not using the internal player (required for Blu-Ray), and only the Android video player.  At this point I was quite frustrated. I was given a device promising XBMC, but without XBMC, and  it could not even be used as a networked media player. End of story, I used an 8GB Class 4 SD card to do video playback testing.

I started with the videos from samplemedia.linaro.org:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – Failed. “Unsupported video codec”
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – Failed. Black screen only
  • WebM / VP8 – Skip test. “File” and “Movie” menus can’t find .webm video files.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi (1080p MPEG-4 – 10Mbps) – Failed. “Could not play video”
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK

I don’t own an audio system with HDMI or S/PDIF input, but the box could play all high-end audio codec below (downsampled to PCM) without any issues:

  • AC3 – OK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital 7.1 – OK
  • TrueHD 5.1 & 7.1 – OK
  • DTS-MA and DTS-HR – OK

HDMI and S/PDIF pass-through should work as well, since there’s an option in the menu, but this has to be tested.

Since the product is being advertised as a Blu-ray Navigation Android TV Box, I could play Sintel-Bluray.iso, a free Blu-ray ISO file, without issue. I could also change the subtitles. I’m not sure how to test “Blu-ray Navigation”. I’ve asked the company at the beginning of the week, but I still have to receive an answer.

Finally, I played some random AVI, MKV, and MP4 videos without any problems. I also tried some FLV videos but many could not play well, either complaining about “unsupported codec”, or producing noise (audio).

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

Wi-Fi Performance

I’ve transferred a 278 MB video files between SAMBA and the internal flash, and vice versa. I repeated the test three times, and on average it took a cool 1:48 (2.57 MB/s), which makes Mele X1000′s Wi-Fi performance one of the best in the field, at least with my setup. This time the transfer rate in the direction Flash to SAMBA was faster (1:32) compared to the one from SAMBA to Flash (1:56). The SD card writing speed may have affected the result negatively.

Mele_X1000_WiFi_PerformancePlease bear in mind there are many factors when it comes to Wi-Fi performance, and the results you’ve got with your setup may be completely different than the ones I’ve gotten here.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

There’s no built-in Bluetooth, but Bluetooth menu is enabled in the Android settings, so I connected a USB Bluetotoh dongle, which the device failed to recognize.

External Storage

I’ve used an SD card formatted with FAT32 to play videos that hat part works. I’ve also done the same successfully with a USB flash drive. At one point I used an SD card for the Raspberry Pi, and it could only see the FAT32 partition, so either the device can’t handle more than 2 partitions on a device, or it can’t handle ext-2 file systems.

There’s also an external SATA port, but I don’t have a spare 2.5″ drive to test it.

USB Webcam

I could use a low cost no brand USB webcam with both Skype and Google Hangouts. Video is working in both apps, and the “Echo Test” in Skype could record my voice using the webcam mic, and repeat the recording.

Gaming

I’ve tested 4 games: Angry Birds, Angry Birds Go,  Candy Crush Saga, and Racing Thunder 2. They could all run fine. You can play these with the included remote control,. but with Mele F10, this is playable, except the racing games which are more challenging. You could always Candy Crush Saga with TizzRemote, but this requires some practice (and maybe luck), using two fingers on your screen. However, with this rather low end processor, this is obviously not the best gaming platform.

Mele X1000 (and Telechips TCC8935) Benchmarks

Since this is a complete new processor to me, I’ve started by running CPU-Z to get some data.

Mele_X1000_TCC8935_CPU-ZBeside the CPU details, interesting part of the model name (full_tcc8930st) which could be used to build the kernel, there’s only 741MB RAM available, which mens the GPU and other part of the hardware take about 280 MB, and the manufacturer is said to be DigitalZone Co.Ltd & ChipAlive Co Ltd. instead of MeLE. This could be a mistake, as Mele does have their own factory.

I ran Antutu 4.x, Quadrant and Vellamo to test the system performance. Quadrant failed to start the full benchmark, but other two completed successfully.

Mele_X1000_Antutu

Mele X1000 scores 9,002 in Antutu whichseems reasonable as RK3188 devices with four Cortex A9 @ 1.6 GHz, and a Mali-400MP4 now get aroud 18,000. However, please note that the 2D/3D GPU testsAntutu were performed in portrait mode using only the center of te screen (526×672 resolution) which could have inflated the graphics results. MeLE X1000 is listed just under Samsung Galaxy S2 (Exynos 4210), which about 1,000 less points.

In Vellamo, the media player got 1118 points in the HTML5 test, and 285 in the metal test, placing Mele X1000 at about the same level as the Galaxy Nexus powered by Texas Instruments OMAP4460, another dual core Cortex A9 processor.

There’s nothing unusual about the performance of the device for a dual core processor. This won’t give you an optimal performance for Android, but for what the device specializes in, i.e. video playback, it should be just good enough.

Conclusion

There’s no need to hide than I’m disappointed by the device, not because of performance, but simply because the current firmware has so many shortcomings that it real feels beta. Having said that Mele X1000 feels like a solid device thanks to its metallic casing, SATA support, Blu-ray ISO playback, and excellent Wi-Fi performance.

Let’s summarize the PRO and CONS

  • PROS
    • Metallic enclosure
    • SATA port
    • Outstanding Wi-Fi performance
    • Blu-Ray ISO support
    • High level of details and configuration options in the setup menu
    • Decent Android Remote App
    • USB Webcam support
  • CONS
    • Multimedia launcher somewhat unstable
    • SAMBA and NFS currently not working
    • Some videos can’t play. Potential skipped frame in YouTube
    • External Bluetooth does not work
    • XBMC not pre-installed in this firmware (Mass production unit will come with XBMC)

Mele X1000 is currently sold for $179 including shipping, which is quite expensive considering the firmware status, but if everything works, it may be worth it if you plan to play Blu-Ray videos, and have a surround audio sub system. I can see good potential as a media player, but in the first few months, Mele’s customer may spend some time working out the bug, and will rely on Mele to provide firmware update to fix issues. If you don’t plan to play Blu-Ray ISO or rips, and will spend more time playing around wih other Android apps, you’d be better off with some cheaper and more powerful TV BOX, in terms of CPU and GPU performance, such as the many based on Rockchip RK3188.

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$65 Cheerlink B712 and B716 Android Media Players Powered by Actions Semi ATM7029

February 25th, 2014 4 comments

Actions Semi ATM7029 is a quad core ARM Cortex A5 class SoC usually found in low cost Android tablets. A manufacturer, which might be Egotronics, has decided to make Android STBs with the processor, and B712 and B716 are now sold for about $65 on dx.com under the brand Cheerlink. This price should make them one of the cheapest full size quad core Android TV boxes on the market, albeit with much lower performance compared to devices based on Rockchip RK3188 or AllWinner A31.

Cheerlink_B712

Cheerlink B712

Cheerlink B712/B716 specifications:

  • SoC – Actions Semi ATM7029 Quad Core ARM Cortex A5 @ 1.2 GHz with Vivante GC1000 Plus GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB SDRAM DDR3 (512MB as an option)
  • Storage – 4 GB NAND Flash (8GB/16GB as options) + microSD slot up to 32GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4A, AV (3.5mm jack)
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • USB – 2x USB host ports
  • Power Supply – DC 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 16 x 11.8 x 2.4 cm (B712), 15.7 x 10.6 x 2.4 cm (B716)
  • Weight – 552 g (B712), 547.7 g (B716). Note: this must be the package weight…

Both media players run Android 4.2.2, and are said to support Google Play, and features like Miracast or DLNA. They are sold with an IR remote (2x AAA batteries not included), HDMI and AV cables, and a universal power adapter.

Cheerlink_B716

Cheerlink B716 (Back)

In terms of performance, you should expect about half the score of RK3188 in popular CPU and GPU benchmark. I could well be that these media players have a performance similar to Android TV Boxes based on Rockchip RK3066. In theory, power consumption may be lower. AFAIK, there’s no Linux source code available for ATM7029, but hackability would be limited too.

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Xtreamer SideWinder4 is an XBMC Android TV Box with a DVB-T2 Receiver, and Google Cast Support

February 17th, 2014 6 comments

Xtreamer, a Hong Kong based company specialized in digital media products, is now taking pre-orders for Xtreamer SideWinder4, an Android media player powered by AMLogic AML8726-MX dual core processor, featuring a DVB-T2 receiver, and pre-loaded with XBMC and Cheapcast Chromecast emulator.

 

Xtreamer_SideWinder4

Let’s get right to the specs:

  • SoC – AMLogic AML8726-MX dual core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.5GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND Flash (32M bit nor flash + 32Gbit MLC flash), micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4
  • Audio Output – HDMI 1.4 + optical S/PDIF. Dolby & DTS 2ch output, 5CH & 7CH pass-through
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with AirPlay, Miracast and DLNA support, 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Power Supply – DC 5V, 2A power adapter (CE, FCC, CCC certified)
  • Dimensions – 18 x 8.2 x 3.5cm

Xstreamer_SideWinder4_ConnectorsThe device runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2, and comes with an air mouse (remote control), an HDMI cable, a 5V/2A power Adapter, a USB cable, adn a quick start guide. Interestingly, SideWinder4 appears to be modder friendly, as the company also mentions support for root access, and init.d scripting.  The firmware supports Airplay & DLNA by Airpin, CIFS mount, XBMC plugins & repo (Fusion, Xfinity and mashup pre-installed), and OTA Update, a features a setup wizard, as well as kids mode (parental control?). USB Camera should work with this firmware, as they recommend Logitech Cams for their device. They also have an interesting feature called PushBullet, that will show your phone notifications on TV.

It’s the first time I’ve heard about this company, but they seem to have been around for a few years already. Based on the specifications on their website, it feels like they know what they are talking about, as features such as  5.1 and 7.1 audio pass-through, CIFS mount, or init.d scripting are rarely mentioned in specs. I also like the fact they’ve gone with an air mouse, albeit simple, with their product, as standard IR remote are usually pretty much useless with Android, unless you only use XBMC. XBMC and corresponding plugins and Cheapcast can be installed for free on any Android devices, but it’s still nice to have them pre-loaded if you need a device that’s just plug and play. Bear in mind that Cheapcast will only provide some of functionality of Chromecast, but YouTube and Google Music should work. The company also has a forum, a download page (for firmware, nothing there just yet), and a Wiki with mods and source code, but only for previous products at this time, as SideWinder4 has yet to been released.

Xtreamer SideWinder4 is available for pre-order for 79 Euros (111.07 USD) including worldwide shipping with release scheduled for March 3, 2014. The price is relatively good compared to competing AML8726-MX Android STBs, considering it includes a DVB-T2 receiver, and an air mouse. Further information is available on Xtreamer SideWinder4 page.

Thanks to .jon for the tip.

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Android TV Box with Satellite (DVB-S2) Receiver Sells for $84

February 14th, 2014 31 comments

Last year, I wrote about DVB-S2 Android STB that are just like your typical Android media player except they allow you to connect your dish antenna to receive TV channels available via satellite. They were all based on AMLogic AML8726-M1/M3 single core processor, and I could not find an sellers at the time. There’s now a new model called EM6-S2 featuring AML8726-MX dual core processor, Android 4.2, and a DVB-S2 receiver with two antenna inputs that available on Aliexpress for $92.90 $84 from a seller with good feedback, as well as Geekbuying for $97.29.

EM6-S2Let’s go though the specifications:

  • SoC – AMLogic AML8726-MX dual cortex A9 @ 1.5 GHz + Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 8GB NAND FLASH + SD card reader
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4, AV
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical SPDIF.  DOLBY TrueHD and DTS HD DOLBY TrueHD and DTS HD pass-through via HDMI (and SPDIF?)
  • USB – 2x USB host ports
  • DVB-S2 Support with DTV IN and OUT
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Misc – Power Indicator (LED). ON :blue, Standby :Red
  • Power Supply – 12V/1.5A

DVB-S2_AndroidThe device runs Android 4.2.2, and comes with an IR remote, a 12V/1.5A power adapter, AV and HDMI cables, and a user’s manual in English. I’m not exactly sure which application is used to watch TV, and/if this works with XBMC Android. The manufacturer appears to be Eny Technology, and they also make EM6-T2 with DVB-T2 support which sells for a little over $90 on Aliexpress and Geekbuying.

Via AndroidPC.es

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