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Posts Tagged ‘xbmc’

XBMC 13.2 Android and Source Code for Amlogic S802 Released

September 1st, 2014 3 comments

Based on comments on my M8 review post, many people have troubles with XBMC stability on this hardware, and the official XBMC 13.2 release can only be used on Android 4.2.2. But there’s hope, and maybe a solution to all these problems, as stane1983 has now released XBMC 13.2 for Amlogic S802 with backports from Kodi 14 alpha, that runs on Android 4.4.2.

XBMC_13.2_S802So if you have issues with XBMC in your Amlogic S802 Android TV box, you may want to download and install XBMC Gotham 13.2 (20140831_xbmcapp-stane.apk) from Stane1983′s download section. If you have an Amlogic device running Android 4.2.2, this won’t work due to differences with Amlogic’s libplayer header files, and you need to download and install mainline XBMC 13.2 instead.

He’s also made all source available on his github account.

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Armada Mach 8 Pure Linux is a Quad Core XBMC Linux TV Box

August 31st, 2014 15 comments

Armada Mach 8 is an Amlogic S802 based TV Box apparently based on M8/EM8 hardware, but instead of running Android, it comes with XBMC Linux. It’s unlikely a quad core media player brings much performance over a dual core media player with XBMC Linux, but Amlogic S802 adds 4K video playback compared to Amlogic AML8726-MX. One of the main advantages of Linux compared to Android is support for automatic frame rate switching depending on the video you are watching (24Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz…), in order to avoid regular skipped frames when the video frame rate does not match the video output refresh rate.
Armada_Mach_8_Pure_Linux_XBMC

Let’s double check the specifications to confirm they are indeed the same as Shenzhen Tomato / Enybox M8, except possibly for Bluetooth:

  • SoC – AMLogic S802 quad core Cortex A9r4 processor @ 2GHz with Mali‐450MP6 GPU @ 600Mhz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band Wi‐Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p, AV
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs and Containers – MPEG1/2/4, H.264, AVC, VC‐1, RM/RMVB, Xvid, DivX3/4/5/6, RealVideo8/9/10…
  • Audio – MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, OGG, AC3, DDP, TrueHD, DTS, DTS HD, FLAC, APE…
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power LED (ON:blue; Standby:Red), IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A

The firmware is what differentiate this box from the Android ones. Many people have reported problem with XBMC Android in their M8, so hopefully the Linux version may bring more stability. If the listed specs are correct the box will decoded 4K, but only output up to 1080p, so there’s no true 4K output with this box, which by the way is also the case for all ARM based Android TV boxes on the market at this time. You may remember XBMC Linux (Beta) was released for the M8, but the firmware used in Armada Mach 8 looks much different with a custom skin, and some extra features such as OTA updates, “Cloudword installer” to make add-ons installation easy with just a keyword/code, and “Total Installer” to search for add-ons.

You can now get an Android M8 for about $85 to $100, but XBMC Linux based TV Boxes are usually more expensive, and Armada Mach 8 Pure Linux is not exception, as it that goes for $129.99 in TheaterInABox or Amazon US.

Thanks to CSilie

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ZOTAC ZBOX PI320 is a Pocket-Sized Intel Bay Trail-T Mini PC

August 28th, 2014 14 comments

If you’re a fan of HDMI TV sticks, but wished it could use an Intel processor, instead of the various ARM processors currently available, your dream may have come true thanks to ZOTAC ZBOC PI320 mini PC. Although it’s not quite as small as your standard HDMI TV stick, it’s small enough (115.5mm x 66mm x 19.2mm) to fit into your pocket, and it’s also much more powerful, as it features Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core Bay Trail-T processor, 2GB RAM, 32GB flash, wired and wireless connectivity and more.

ZOTAC_ZBOX_PI320ZBOX PI320 pico-series mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Burst freq up to 1.83 GHz) and Intel HD Graphics
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L @ 1333 MHz (soldered)
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash (soldered) + “3-in-1″ card reader  (micro SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6383)
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio Output – Analog Stereo output, HDMI
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0
  • Misc – Power button
  • Dimensions – 115.5mm x 66mm x 19.2mm

This mini PC is sold with a VESA-compatible mount, two mounting screws, an AC adapter, a warranty card, a user’s manual, a quick install guide, and a OS recovery disc. Which OS? Windows 8.1 with Bing with various languages depending on the model. There are four models, that only differ by languages shipped with the Windows 8.1 version. In case you’d rather not use Windows 8.1 for Bing, especially it’s reported to be buggy, you may probably be able to install Linux distributions such as Ubuntu or Debian, and possibly Android.

You can watch the promo video below comparing it to the (huge) Intel NUC, with a quick look at the board, and software demos including XBMC and 3D games.

ZBOX PI320 will be available in September for $199 in the US, and 199 Euros in Europe.

Via Fanless Tech with additional info by Liliputing

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Review of UyeSee G1H Rockchip RK3288 Android TV Box

August 27th, 2014 4 comments

UyeSee G1H is one of the first Android TV boxes powered by Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex A17 SoC. I’ve already listed specs, and shown a few pictures of the device and the board in my “UyeSee G1H Unboxing” post, so today I’ll write a full review, checking out the user interface, testing video playback capabilities, network and storage performance, play a few games, check hardware features are working as expected, and runs some benchmarks on the platform.

First Boot, Settings and First Impressions

There’s an infrared remote control with the device. I’ve inserted a CR2032 battery, and although it works great in the user interface, it becomes useless with Android apps, so instead I’ve opted to use Mele F10 Deluxe air mouse which brings mouse and keyboard support. Before powering up the device, I’ve connected an HDMI cable, the RF dongle for Mele F10 Deluxe, a USB hard drive, and an Ethernet cable. Connecting the power supply will start the device automatically, and the boot is super fast compared to other devices I’ve tested, as it takes about 18 seconds only.

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_Default_640px

UyeSee G1H Android Launcher (Click for Original Size)

There’s a custom launcher as shown above, as well as the stock Android home screen as shown below. The status bar is disabled by default, but I’ve enabled it for easier control with the air mouse, and to take screenshots. It looks pretty, but unfortunately this must have been designed for the Chinese market, and all buttons report “App not installed”, except the Settings button which goes to the Android settings. You can use the arro keys to navigate, and if you go right, you’ll find the all the you’ve installed apps. This menu has some animation that are extremely smooth, probably thanks to the Mali-T764 GPU. However, if you click on the screenshot above you’ll find out the resolution is set to 1280×720. I’d assume most people don’t buy the latest Android mini PC to get a 720p machine, but you can change to 1920×1080 resolution in the settings, and the user interface will also be set to 1080p. I don’t have a 4K TV so 4K options did not show up. The launcher above won’t look very nice at 1080p, because graphics are made for 720p, and a large part of the bottom of the screen will not be used. There’s no such problem when switching to the stock Android home screen.

UyeSee_G1H_Android_Home_640px

Android Home Screen (Click for Original @ 720p)

Going to the Settings, we’ve got all usually Wireless and Networks options for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet, including VPN, Portable Hotspot and so on. There’s a Home menu to select the launcher, and ScreenshotSetting  menu, both of which I did not notice in most other firmware. The Sound settings like you choose between “Default Output” (PCM / Down-mixing), “Spdif Passthough”, and HDMI Bitstream (HDMI pass-through), but I don’t have an audio receiver yet, so I could not try the pass-though options. The Display settings will allow you to hide or show the status bar, adjust for overscan, select HDMI, YPbPr, and “TV” (Composite) video output, as well as the resolution: “auto”, 1080p 24/25/30/50/60Hz, 720p 50/60, 720×576 or 720×480. If you have a 4K TV, 4K options should show as well. I’ve been informed there’s currently a bug for 4K @ 60Hz, but it will be resolved in the next firmware upgrade. I’ve done most of my testing with HDMI, and I had no problem, but I also tested composite and component (YPbPr) video output.

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Composite (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

Component (Click to Enlarge)

Composite looks fine, but there’s a green line on my TV that could not be removed even after using the “Screen Scale” menu. YMMV. Component output is more problematic as it is only shown in Grey (Y signal), I could not get the Chrominance signal to show which any cable combination I tried.

About_UyeSee_G1HMy device comes with a 8GB NAND flash, and they’ve partitioned it with a 1.91GB “Internal Storage” partition for apps, and a 3.88 GB “NAND FLASH” partition for data. I really prefer a single partition for everything, but even after installing all apps I needed for testing I still had 1.17GB free in the “Internal Storage” partition. It may become a problem if you install many apps, especially games which can be rather large.

Other settings are pretty standard, and the developer option are enabled by default. The “About device” section reports the model number as “rk3288″, Android 4.4.2 on top of Linux kernel 3.10.0. The firmware is not rooted, and I don’t have male to male USB cable, so I could not root it via the OTG port.

I could install most applications I tried on Google Play Store including Root checker, Antutu, Quadrant, Beach Buggy Blitz, etc…, but a few would just report my device is not compatible such as Real Racing 3 (but many Android STB have the same issue) and Vidonn activity tracker app. I have had some 941 errors from time to time, failing to install an app, but these were possibly network error unrelated to G1H. Paid apps such as Sixaxis Controller installed properly. In order to play Riptide GP2, I also installed Amazon AppStore without issue.

There’s no power button, so you can’t power off the device gracefully, only put it in standby mode with the IR remote control power button, The soft power button in the status did not work for me. Despite having only a 5V/2A power adapter, connected a USB hard drive, I did not seem to have issues with a lack of power, except possibly at the end of one Antutu test at 1080p where the screen went blank. The box can get pretty hot however. After Antutu, the max temperature on the top and bottom of the box were respectively 53 °C and 60 °C, after after playing Riptide GP2 for 30 minutes at 1080p, it went all the way up to 63 °C and 71 °C, which means the processor even gets hotter, possibly well over 80 °C, I’m not sure this can be good if this happens too often.

The firmware is very smooth most of the time, except when it’s writing to the flash, while installing an app for example, where the mouse pointer may not react for short periods of time. Stability is OK, but I had the screen turn off at the end of Antutu benchmark once, requiring a power cycle, and another time the box rebooted itself, while browsing files in ES File Explorer. I like the fact that you can switch between 720p and 1080p user interface, as you want prefer the former for smoother games, and the former for video playback for example.

You can watch the video below to see what the UI looks like at 1280×720 and 1920×1080 resolution, as well as the difference settings options available.

Video Playback

I normally play videos from a SAMBA share over Ethernet using XBMC. However, the box does not come with XBMC, and currently XBMC does not support hardware decoding for HEVC, so instead I’ve chosen to test videos with MXPlayer. I did try to install XBMC using XBMC Updater, and downloaded both stable and nightly apk, but the system reported the apk were not recognized. So I tried to install SPMC via Google Play instead, but atfirst I got a 941 error, and I could only manage install it after most testing was complete at a later stage. Using Es File Explorer, I connected to my SAMBA share, and unfortunately even 480p video were buffering like crazy, so I ended up using a USB hard drive. The Ethernet issue may not be due to G1H, but my Gigabit switch, as I’ll explain in the networking section. Nevertheless, the takeaway is that videos were played from USB hard drive with MXPlayer, unless otherwise stated.

I start with videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, and as well as videos with H.265/HEVC codec from Elecard:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – Video playing at an estimated 2 to 4 fps, with most frames skipped [SPMC test: OK, but every second or so, there will be a subtle change of color / screen jump]
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB) – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK, much smoother than any other device I’ve tried, and according to MXPlayer using HW decode.
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – No video, audio only.

I’ve also tested some high bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK, no problem even in fast moving scenes
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK. (Audio needs to be decoded by S/W)
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK  (Audio needs to be decoded by S/W)
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK

Most high definition audio codecs (except AC3 and TrueHD) could not play with MXPlayer, but I tried later with SPMC (XBMC fork on Google Play), and all could play:

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

Sintel-Bluray.iso Blu-ray ISO file could play in MX Player but with video only, I could not get audio to work, even switching to software decode.

Rockchip RK3288 is supposed to handle 4K videos, even with HEVC, so let’s try a few in MX Player:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Can play but with some slow downs from time to time. I can get audio by switching to audio S/W decoding.
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK, but some white “fog” appears on the black background
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts – Cannot play.

Several AVI, MKV, FLV and MP4 videos in my library could play fine with SPMC. I also played a complete 1080p video (1h50) in the box, and I had no issues either.

At first, I was not too happy with video playback using MX Player only, but when you put SPMC (XBMC) into the mix, it looks much better. The main thing you lose (confirmed) with XBMC is H.265 / HEVC hardware video decoding.

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

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

The network test consists in transferring a 278 MB file between a SAMBA share and the internal flash using, and vice versa, repeating the test three times using ES File Explorer. Wi-Fi performance appears to be inconsistent, as I had three much different transfer times: 3m20s, 2m43s, and 4m31s, averaging a rather disappointing 1.31 MB/s. I also tested Miracast via Rockchip’s “Wi-Fi display” app included with the firmware, and after a few tries I managed to mirror my Android phone display.

Wi-Fi_UyeSee_G1H

Wi-Fi Performance in MB/s

Now.. Ethernet.. This gets interesting. At first, when I used the device connected to Ethernet, it felt sluggish in the Play Store, and soon found some serious issues while transferring a file from a SAMBA share using ES File Explorer, as throughput was around 300 to 500 KB/s most of the time, and sometimes it would even stall. This looks very similar to the issue I had to Wetek Play. I’ve recently purchased a D-Link DGS-1005A 5-port Gigabit switch for test, and used it in my last five reviews. That means three products had no problem with the switch, and two had issues. Which item is guilty is difficult to prove. So I decided to insert my older (D-Link) 10/100M hub, between the device and the Gigabit switch and it worked. I tried to connect the device to my Gigabit switch with a different cable, and it also worked, but the connection is only 100M. If I used the original cable (the same I used for all other reviews), it will detect a Gigabit connection, but the Ethernet LEDs will “funnily” blink on the device, and the Link LED will turn on and off. So at the end of the day, I did not manage to get a proper Gigabit connection, so I tested Fast Ethernet, and the result is OK.

Ethernet_UyeSee_G1H

Ethernet Performance in MB/s

Like with Probox2 EX, this test used the ES File Explorer version with improved SAMBA performance, which may have helped a bit for Ethernet, but did nothing for Wi-Fi.

Miscellaneous Tests

Bluetooth

Transferring a picture via Bluetooth worked just fine, after pairing G1H with my Android smartphone (ThL W200).

I skipped Sixaxis test for PS3 Bluetooth Gamepad support, as it required root.

After installing Vidonn app for Vidonn X5 activity tracker, it could connected via Bluetooth 4.0 LE to retrieve the data.

Storage

Both a micro SD card and a USB flash drive formatted to FAT32 could be mounted and accessed successfully.
I’ve also connected my USB 3.0 hard drive with NTFS, EXT-4, FAT32, and BTRFS partitions. and as usual the Linux file systems are not supported, at least not by default.

File System Read Write
NTFS OK OK
EXT-4 Not mounted Not mounted
FAT32 OK OK
BTRFS Not mounted Not mounted

After setting the custom locations set to /mnt/usb_storage/USB_DISK2/USB3_NTFS in A1 SD Bench to benchmark the NTFS partition, I got a read speed of 27.5MB/s and a write speed of 25.98MB/s.

UyeSee_G1H_USB_Drive

USB Hard Drive Performance in MB/s

There’s not that much differences between difference platforms at USB 2.0 speeds.

Last time, the eMMC flash in Probox2 EX could be read at 27.57MB/s, and written at 15.11 MB/s, and the eMMC used in G1H as better read speed at 44.50 MB/s, but much slower write speed at 7.3 MB/s, which may explain some the rare slowdowns I experienced while playing with this mini PC.

USB Webcam

Skype sort of worked with my UVC USB webcam. I tested audio successfully with the Echo service, and I could see the video, but as I tried to leave a video message the app crashed.

Google Hangouts could detect the webcam, but when I did a video call the camera image did not show up.

Gaming

With Mali-T764 GPU, Rockchip RK3288 should be a star when it comes to video games. I’ve tested the three games: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Blitz, and Riptide GP2. Candy Crush Saga unsurprisingly worked fine as with any device. Beach Buggy Blitz is a little more challenging, and based on my experience Riptide GP2 is even more demanding.

Testing games was actually the first thing I did, at first the resolution was set to 720p. I used Tronsmart Mars G01 wireless gamepad to control both games. I went to Beach Buggy Blitz settings, and maxed out the graphics settings which normally make devices based on Amlogic S802 struggle to have a decent framerate. But with UyeSee G1H, the game was just extra smooth. I did the same with Riptide GP2, and yet again very smooth most of the time. I could even win races, or battle with the lead driver at all games. That’s not usual at all, as normally I’m always fighting for third place in other Android TV boxes :). Beside the high framerate, one of the reasons gameplay is better is that I don’t have lag with Tronsmart Gamepad in this device.  Switching to 1080p, Beach Buggy Blitz is still super smooth, except sometimes during the first one of two seconds of the game. Riptide GP2 is still very playable, and I’m still fighting for victory!, but it feels like the framerate may drop in the low 20, or even 15 at times. I’ve played Riptide GP2 for 30 consecutive minutes, and albeit the box gets very hot (70 C), everything is stable and smooth.

UyeSee G1H Benchmark

Since it’s my first Rockchip RK3288 device, I’ve run a few more benchmarks than usual, and also checked the CPU details with CPU-Z app.
Rockchip_RK3288_CPU-Z
CPU-Z has apparently not yet heard about Rockchip RK3288, as it reports a Rockchip RK3066 processor. The CPU architecture is 0xc0d, which stands for ARM Cortex A12, whereas Cortex A17 should be 0xc0e, according to this. So finally Rockchip RK3288 might be a Cortex A12, at least for the first versions. If there are other ways to check let me know.  The CPU clock can scale between 126MHz and 1.8 GHz, the GPU is correctly detected as Mali-T764, and there’s indeed 2GB RAM in my device, but CPU-Z only takes the “internal flash” partition reporting 1.91 GB storage for the 8 GB flash.
UyeSee_G1H_Antutu
Antutu 4.x score is excellent with 40,497, one of the top device on the market. That score has been achieved with a resolution of 1280×720, switching to 1920×1080 brings the score down to a still very good 39273 points. I’ve created a table below showing comparing S802 in Probox2 EX, and RK3288 in G1H  to find out where it shine in the tests:

Amlogic S802 Rockchip RK3288
Multitask 5744 10415
Runtime 2018 4698
RAM Operation 2997 2066
RAM Speed 1596 2797
CPU integer 3781 3162
CPU float-point 2815 5218
2D Graphics 1648 (607×1008) 1641 (1280×672)
3D graphics 8717 (607×1008) 8404 (1280×672)
Storage I/O 1801 1461
Database I/O 630 635

Results are quite surprising. According to Antutu 4.x scores, RK3288 shines in multitask, runtime, and CPU floating point testes, but graphics are about equivalent to S802 (at slightly different resolutions), and CPU integer is faster in the S802 @ 2.0 Ghz compared to RK3288 @ 1.8 Ghz. Probox2 EX has slightly better storage performance compared to UyeSee G1H but this part is mostly independent from the processor.

I also tried to run Quadrant, but all I got was a grey screen as I ran the test. Vellamo benchmark is now at version 3.0, so I can’t really compared it to earlier tests I did, but UyeSee G1H performance is also pretty good here.

Vellamo_UyeSee_G1H_Rockchip_RK3288In the new Multicore (beta) benchmark, this Rockchip RK3288 solution even beats all other players.

Rockchip_RK3288_Vellamo_MulticoreIn the browser score, UyeSee G1H is only outperformed by LG G3 smartphone (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801), and in the metal score, its performance is about equivalent to LG Nexus 5 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801).

Despite the clear superior performance in games, the graphics benchmarks in Antutu were somewhat disappointing, so I’ve run Ice Storm Extreme test in 3DMark.

3DMarks_RK3288_UyeSee_G1H

3DMark Benchmark Results (Click to Enlarge)

A score of 7278 points is about equivalent to a phone based on Snapdragon 600 with Adreno 320 GPU. Many recent devices based on Qualcomm 800 and greater get score above 10,000 or simply maxes out the test, so again I was expecting the GPU to perform better in benchmarks.

Conclusion

First, I’d like to thank Shenzhen UyeSee Technology for being the first company to send me a product based on Rockchip RK3288. The product is still new, and although there are positives, there’s still some work that need to be done. Compared to existing products, the main benefits of Rockchip RK3288 are HEVC video decoding and a 3D gaming performance unmatched by other Android TV boxes

PRO:

  • Fast new processor
  • Excellent 3D graphics performance for games, which for some reasons does not really show in benchmarks.
  • Both 720p and 1080p user interfaces are supported
  • Video Output – 1080p support 24, 25 ,30 , 50 and 60 Hz output which may be important for some videos. 4K will eventually support 60Hz thanks to HDMI 2.0.
  • HEVC video decoding support
  • OTA firmware updates appear to be supported (but I cannot confirm).
  • Webcam supported in Skype (although it did not work in Google Hangouts)

CONS:

  • Rare stability issues (1 reboot, one black screen over 8 hours of testing)
  • Lacklustre Wi-Fi performance
  • XBMC not pre-installed
  • Issues with some videos in MX Player (MPEG2, several HEVC/H.265 can’t be played, some audio issues)
  • Somewhat slow eMMC flash write speed potentially leading to slowdowns
  • Potential Gigabit Ethernet issues, at least confirmed with my switch (D-Link DSG-1005A).
  • No proper power off (standby only)
  • The device can get pretty hot (70+ C)
  • A few apps are not compatible in Google Play
  • Video output – Component only output the Luminance signal with my TV, composite has a green bar at the bottom
  • “TV” Launcher is only made for 720p resolution

I had quite a few problem with networking with this hardware. First Wi-Fi is stable, but relatively slow, and then the box did not want to play nice with my Gigabit Ethernet switch, but connection and performance were fine with a Fast Ethernet hub. Video playback is decent, but may still need more work, a version of XBMC with support for H.265 would be nice, but I’d assume at first all Rockchip RK3288 TV boxes will suffer from the same flaw, at least initially. If you’d like to play some 3D games this TV box will give you a much better experience than what you can achieve with the fastest Cortex A9 solution (Rockchip RK3188, Amlogic S802), and after testing the box, this is currently the main selling point of this media player.

You may find more information and/or contact the company via G1H product page. UyeSee G1H is not yet listed on their Aliexpress Store, but some hardware with similar specs, but different enclosure, can be bought for $90 including shipping on Aliexpress, so we might expect a similar price for G1H.

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VidOn Box XBMC Android Media Player Can Now be Pre-ordered for $72.88

August 21st, 2014 1 comment

Last month, Vidon.me provided me with their AV200 media player for review, and at the end of the review, I was a little surprised (and annoyed), when I discovered that the product was not for sale anymore. Since then, they’ve brought a new product to market called “VidOn Box” with similar hardware specs, but a completely redesigned aluminum enclosure, and much more attractive pricing.

VidOn Box (Click to Enlarge)

VidOn Box (Click to Enlarge)

VidOn Box specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A31s ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core CPU with PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB Flash
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4
  • Audio Output – HDMI and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, reset button
  • Power – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 150 x 107 x 31 mm

The box now runs Android 4.4, instead of Android 4.2.2 in AV200, with a custom version of XBMC. They’ve also changed the user’s interface compared to last time.

VidOn Box Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

VidOn Box Home Screen (Click to Enlarge)

VidOn Box is sold with an IR remote control, a power adapter, and a user’s manual. The hardware is said to cost $49, but they also include 12-month of discounted VidOn membership ($1.99 per month, regular price is $3.99 per month), bringing the total to $72.88. The membership apparently enables Blu-ray menu navigation, VidOn XBMC updates, as well as services such as photo backup, mobile transfer, access of VidOn media libraries via your Android and iOS smartphone or tablet, and more… However, the membership is not mandatory, and if you don’t want to extend it after one year, your box will still be usable, but you may not get firmware/XBMC updates (TBC), and access to VidOn services.

With AllWinner A31s processor, you won’t get the fastest Android experience available, but based on my preview review of AV200, it’s perfectly usable, the company provides OTA updates, video playback support in XBMC is very good, and Wi-Fi was excellent in AV200. The main concern I had was with regards to stability, as the AV200 rebooted twice during my testing, once in ES File Explorer, and another time in System Settings, but no problem in XBMC. Hopefully, they’ve even made further improvements over their previous firmware.

Via AndroidPC.es

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Raspberry Pi Based Slice, and EzeeCube Quad Media Players Support Internal Hard Drives (Crowdfunding)

August 20th, 2014 6 comments

Slice is a media player based on Raspberry Pi Compute Module, and EzeeCube Quad is media hub powered by Freescale i.MX6 Quad, and an upgrade to EzeeCube based on i.MX6 dual, which was successfully funded. The underlying hardware between Slice and EzeeCube is much different, but both devices have a lot in common. They are both media players currently being crowd-funded respectively in Kickstarter and Indiegogo, both comes with an internal hard drive, run XBMC, targets typical end-users (rather than tinkerers) and are somewhat pricey.

Slice Media Player

When I first saw Slice, all I could see was an Raspberry Pi module, put in a case with an internal hard drive bay, and lots of pretty RGB LEDs, and with an air mouse sold for an inflated price of 114 GBP ($190 US) without hard drive or 179 GBP ($300 US) with a 1TB drive, with admittedly some cheaper early bird pledges, and I did not think many people would be ready to pay a premium price for a device powered by a low-end processor, and decided to skip it. But I was wrong to underestimate to power of the Raspberry Pi brand (R-Pi and Pimoroni members are part of the team), and they’ve already fully funded, after raising over 104,000 GBP (~$173,000 US), and the first stretch goal (Free Wi-Fi!) has been reached.

Slice_Media_Player

Slice technical specifications:

  • SoC- Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 CPU @ 700MHz + VideoCore IV GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC Flash for the OS,  2.5″ SATA hard disk for media files
  • Video Output – HDMI port with 5.1 audio pass through and CEC support
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm jack for stereo audio (up to 192KHz 24-bit) or optical output
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet port + Wi-Fi via included USB dongle
  • USB – 2x USB2 ports , 1x micro USB device port to use Slice as mass storage device from your PC or program the flash.
  • Misc -  IR Sensor,  Real time clock with backup battery, 25 programmable RGB LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A (barrel type)
  • Enclosure – Aluminum case with REG LED string (Knight Rider style but multi-color, and customizable)

Slide_Raspberry_Pi_Compute_Module_Baseboard_LEDThe box runs XBMC with a skin that simplifies user experience, and with different color themes and backgrounds. Video files and other media can be loaded to the Slice simply by connecting it your computer via USB and copy/paste files as if it was a simple USB flash drive. You can have a better grasp about the user interface in the video embedded below.

The company, FiveNinjas Ltd, launched a Kickstarter campaign for the project. As mentioned in the introduction, it is already successful with 36 days to go and close to 800 backers, and you can now pledge for one for as “low” as 114 GBP (~$190) without hard drive, and 169 GBP (~$280) with a 1TB hard drive. The perks include the media player, a remote control with a USB RF dongle, a power supply with multiple connectors, an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a n instruction manual, a protective carry bag, and depending on the perk, a 2.5″ 1TB  hard drive. Shipping is free worldwide with delivery scheduled for November 2014 to December 2015 depending on the chosen option.

 EzeeCube Quad

EzeeCube is a much more powerful quad core device, and features stackable layers (EzeeStacks) allowing for a Blu-Ray player, and a total of 10 TB storage.

Rear Panel of EzeeCube Media Hub

Rear Panel of EzeeCube Media Hub

EzeeCube Quad specifications:

  • SoC – Freescale i.MX6 Quad with four ARM Cortex A9 cores @ 1 GHz and Vivante GC2000 3D GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB 64-bit DDR3 @ 1066MHz
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC,  2TB 2.5″ hard drive @ 5400rpm, and SD/SDXC card slot
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (limited to 470Mbps), 802.11n Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), and Bluetooth 3.0
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 with CEC support
  • Audio Output – HDMI and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Containers – AVI, MPEG, WMV, ASF, FLV, MKV/MKA, QuickTime, MP4, M4A, AAC, NUT, OGG, RealMedia RAM/RM/RV/RA/RMV8, OGM, 3gp, VIVO, PVA, NUV, NSV, NSA, FLI, FLC, DVR-MS and WTV
  • Video Codecs – H.264 (AVC BP/MP/HP), MPEG4 (AP/ASP), H.263, VC1, MPEG-2 (MP/HP), DivX/Xvid, and VP8
  • Audio Formats – MIDI, AIFF, WAV/WAVE, AIFF, MP2, MP3, AAC, AAC+, Vorbis, AC3, DTS, ALAC, AMR, FLAC, Monkey’s Audio (APE), RealAudio, SHN, WavePack, MPC, Speex, WMA, ADPCM, CDDA and more
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG
  • Misc – Reset Button, EzeeStack connector for add-ons
  • Power – 5V power adapter
  • Dimensions – 14 x 14 x 4.5 cm
  • Weight – ~700 grams

The device runs embedded Linux built with Yocto, and a custom version of XBMC.

Since the company has already raised close to $150,000 from their previous campaign for the dual core version, they already have the funds for production, which explains why the new Indiegogo campaign only has a $500 funding target… EzeeCube Quad is available for $349 including a 2TB internal hard drive. Shipping is $15 outside of Hong Kong, and delivery is expected for March 2015. There’s also a $49 “EzeeTuner” a USB tuner to watch and record TV on the internal storage (but no mention if it is DVB, ASTC,… or analog TV [Update: I asked and: "Right now only off the air all standard, after we finish testing, we will also support dvb c"]), a $49 Retrogame EzeeStack for Nintendo and Sega game cartridges, and Blu-Ray and 2TB hard drive EzeeStack expansions for respectively $99 and $149. If you had pledge for a dual core version in the previous campaign, and wish to upgrade to a quad core version with 2GB RAM, 2TB HDD, you can do so for $99.

If you had to chose, what would you prefer? The Raspberry Pi powered Slice, the quad core EzeeCube, or none of the above?

Thanks to Harley (again) for the tip.

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XBMC 13.2 Gotham Final Release

August 19th, 2014 7 comments

XBMC developers have just released XBMC 13.2, which could be one of the latest, if not the latest release, under the name XBMC, before Kodi 14 makes it debut. Since it’s only a minor release (13.x), there aren’t any new features, only bug fixes, and it should be safe to upgrade from older 13.x release on various supported operating systems and probably, except possibly in some Android TV boxes where you may have a custom version of Android specific to your hardware / SoC.

XBMC_13.2List of changes against XBMC 13.1:

  • Fix audio problems with pass-through on OSX
  • Crash in Android if an app is favourite, then uninstalled from system.
  • Fix crash in Android when entering programs menu in some skins
  • Bitstream conversion fix for some BD mkv iso rips
  • Fix labelcontrols with autowidth set were always marked as dirty (re-render)
  • Update included PVR add-on
  • Set “remote as keyboard” default to true for Android
  • Fix FTP TLS not working
  • Fix some disappearing characters on Mac OSX
  • Fix onplaybackstarted event for external players
  • Don’t show OSD menu DVD menu with mouse/touch
  • GetText and delete sound option for add-on developers
  • Fix wrong sample-rate selection on OSX
  • Fix optical usb devices with > 2 channels on OSX
  • Fix firewall popups in OSX on start-up
  • Make the fake full-screen option only visible when running OSX snowleopard
  • Fix overlapping subtitles
  • Fix accented letters. Example: “VARIéS” rather than “VARIÉS”
  • Prompt for master pin in case the add-on manager is locked
  • Update GUI translations
  • Update included add-ons
  • Fixed several bugs and memory leaks

You can download the latest XBMC @ xbmc.org/download, and in Android, alternative methods are also available, albeit not all of them may have been updated just yet.

Thanks to Harley.

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Categories: Android, Linux, Windows 8 Tags: kodi, xbmc