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Posts Tagged ‘xbmc’

$50 CMX Dual Core Android TV Box Runs Android 4.2, Supports XBMC Linux

July 30th, 2014 6 comments

XBMC Android now runs fairly well on ARM based hardware, but some people still prefer to run XBMC Linux because they want a pure XBMC experience, and Android is just an unnecessary overhead, and some features are still better supported in XBMC Linux such as frame rate switching, which is not supported in Android (You need to manually select the refresh rate in the settings). One way to go if you want to get XBMC Linux is to buy one of the boxes pre-loaded with the firmware such as Jynxbox M1V2 Pure Linux or Little Black Box. But these devices are generally significantly more expensive than their Android equivalents. So instead, some people get an Android TV box, and install XBMC Linux firmware compatible with the hardware such as MX Linux which runs on media players with a “g18ref” and “mx2ref” boards. Gbox Midgnight MX2 is one of these g18ref Android TV boxes, but there are quite a few “clones” on the market, and CMX is one of the most recent, powered by Amlogic AML8726-MX, running Android 4.2.2, and selling for just $49.99 on GeekBuying.

Original Matricom Gbox Midnight MX2 and Accessories

Original Matricom Gbox Midnight MX2 and Accessories

CMX specs are indeed exactly the same as Gbox Midnigt MX2:

  • SoC – Amlogic AML8726-MX Dual Core Cortex A9 CPU + dual core Mali-400 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 8GB Flash + SD card slot (Up to 32GB)
  • Video Output – HDMI v1.4, composite (CVBS) and component (YUV)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and coaxial S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n internal Wifi + 10/100M Ethernet Port
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 Ports
  • Misc – IR sensor, LED
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A

The box apparently also comes with the same accessories including a 5V/2A power adapter, HDMI and AV cables, the same IR remote control, and a user’s manual.

It’s impossible to verify whether there’s indeed a “g18ref” board inside the device that compatible with XBMC Linux without actually trying it or opening the box [Update: CMX board picture can be seen on Freaktab]. After failing to get a satisfying answer from GeekBuying support, one reader contacted me about this, and I asked GeekBuying to try MX Linux or OpenElec on the device, and they kindly did test both versions, and reported them to boot fine.

Here are the links to both versions with instructions:

  1. OpenELEC 4.2 beta2 – It can be installed on generic g18ref device after flashing Matricom’s firmware 1.1.6 that changes the NAND layout/partition table. Geekbuying reported they did not need to update the firmware on CMX, and it just worked by flashing OpenELEC directly.
  2. MX Linux v1.00 Stable

If for some reasons, after you try XBMC Linux, you want to get back to Android, you can always reinstall the stock firmware.

Beside GeekBuying, CMX TV Box is also available on Aliexpress for $57.99 and up. I don’t know any other dual core Android TV box compatible with XBMC Linux that sells for $50, and whether you run Android and Linux, it looks like a very good deal.

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XBMC Linux (Beta) for SZ Tomato / Eny M8 Available for Download

July 19th, 2014 3 comments

SZ Tomato / Eny (E)M8 is an Android TV box powered by Amlogic S802 quad core processor, with 2GB RAM and 16 GB flash, but Stane1983 has been working on an XBMC Linux port for the device, and has released a beta version on Freaktab a few days ago.

M8 Android TV Box (Click to Enlarge)

M8 Android TV Box (Click to Enlarge)

The firmware file (MX_LINUX-K200-update.zip) is available, and just need to be copied to an SD card to perform the update. The version is Gotham 13.1. This will completely replace you Android installation, and only works on M8 TV box, as the bootloader is not compatible with other S802 hardware, and the firmware only support AP6330 Wi-Fi module. If you decide not to keep using XBMC Linux, you can revert to Android, but reflashing the firmware via the SD card.

This is a beta version, so expects some bugs. The list of known bugs is as follows:

  • Bootlogo and splashscreens (booting up/shutting down) are not shown
  • 720p and 1080i/1080p resolutions work for sure, however I’m pretty sure 4k output will not work at all or will not work correctly
  • When network connected via cable MAC address is picked randomly so on each reboot box will have different MAC address and IP address assigned by router. This means that router’s DHCP pool might fill up quickly if there are many reboots.
  • Some users reported USB mouse issues, poor Ethernet performance, etc..
  • Many add-ons do not seem to work

You can also access the device with SSH using root/letmein credentials.

Thanks to Stanislav for the tip.

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Amlogic S802 TV Boxes Are Getting Cheaper: Meet $72 MX3 (M82) TV Box

July 18th, 2014 8 comments

When Android media players based on Amlogic S802 first launched a little over 3 months ago, they all sold for over $100. Since then various products have come to market, with prices slowly edging lower. But none comes as cheap as MX3 (aka M82), whose name is probably inspired from Gbox Midnight MX2, as it sells for $72.22 on GearBest including shipping.

MXIIILet’s go through the specifications:

  • SoC – AMLogic S802 quad core ARM Cortex A9r4 at 2.0GHz with ARM Mali-450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 4 GB NAND Flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video and Audio Output – HDMI  and AV
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n,
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports + micro USB OTG
  • Misc – IR Sensor, Power LED, power button, and recovery/update switch via AV jack
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 11.5 x 11.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Weight – 192 grams

The box comes with HDMI & AV cables,  a power adapter, an IR remote control, and a user’s manual. In order to achieve a lower price, they’ve cut a few corners with just 1GB RAM, 4GB flash, and Bluetooth and SPDIF found in many other S802 have been dropped. The biggest issue might be the 4GB flash if you plan to install many applications.

There’s another reseller, Earnwisdom, that sells the box, and they made a review video showing the unboxing and the device in action. It’s still running Android 4.4 with XBMC pre-installed, and the usual metro style user interface.

The MX3 on Earnwisdon is sold for a more standard $99.99, but comes with 2GB RAM, 8GB flash, dual band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so clearly there are several variations of the same model.

Via AndroidPC.es

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Eweat EW802 Android TV Box (Amlogic S802) Supports External SATA Drives, Features Dual Wi-Fi Antennas

July 14th, 2014 2 comments

Amlogic S802 does not support SATA natively, so few Android media players based on this quad core SoC comes with SATA hard drive or SSD support. Zoomtak T8 is one of them, but there’s now another options with Eweat EW802, except than having an internal bay for 2.5″ hard drives, it just features an external SATA connector capable of handling both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives, and comes with better specs including dual Wi-Fi antennas, 2GB RAM, and 16GB flash.

Egreat_EW802Eweat EW802 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S802  quad core cortex A9r4 @ 2 GHz with Mali-450MP6 GPU (N.B: It could also be S802-H due to Dolby abd DTS hardware decoding claim).
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB NAND flash + micro SD slot + SATA connector
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with two external antennas, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4a and AV (3.5mm jack)
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG
  • Misc – IR receiver, Power LED,  power button (at the back),  and recovery/reset pin hole
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions -  161x100x27.5 mm
  • Weight – 850 grams

The device runs Android 4.4 using the same user interface as other S802 boxes, is preloaded with XBMC, and is said to support FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS+, and Ext-2/3 file systems. The box comes with an IR remote control, HDMI and AV cables, a SATA cable, a micro USB cable, a 12V/2A power adapter, a Quick Installation Guide, and a warranty card.

Eweat_EW802Eweat EW802 is now available for $118.50 including shipping on Aliexpress. You can also check out Eweat EW802 product page on the company website, where you’ll find a “firmware zone”, but nothing for EW802 just yet.

Via AndroidPC.es

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SolidRun HummingBoard Raspberry Pi-Like Board is Now Available for $45 and Up

July 2nd, 2014 2 comments

HummingBoard is a board made by SolidRun that’s mechanically compatible with the Raspberry Pi, and offering the same expansions connectors, and a few extras. The board is comprised of a baseboard and a microSoM powered by Freescale i.MX6 Solo, Dual Lite or Dual. At first it looked like an internal project,  but the board went viral together with the Banana Pi, and the company has now announced availability for the HummingBoard with pricing starting at $45 for the single core version up to $100 for the dual core version with extra options.

HummingBoard-i2

HummingBoard-i2

There are currently three models:

  • HummingBoard-i1 ($44.90) – Freescale i.MX6 Solo with GC880 GPU, 512 MB RAM, 10/100M Ethernet
  • HummingBoard-i2 ($74.99) – Freescale i.MX6 Dual Lite with GC880 GPU, 1GB RAM, 10/100M Ethernet
  • HummingBoard-i2ex ($99.99) – Freescale i.MX6 Dual with GC2000 GPU, 1GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, LVDS output, mSATA II interface, PCI Express Gen 2 slot, RTC with baterry backup, and IR receiver

All three boards also come with an HDMI video output, two powered USB ports, a 2-Lane CSI-2 camera interface, a microSD interface, a coaxial S/PDIF output, and the same GPIO header as the Raspberry Pi. They sell with options such as 110V or 220V power adapters, or a micro SD card.Just like the Raspberry Pi, there’s no internal storage (NAND or eMMC), and instead the board boots from a micro SD card with operating systems such as Android, Ubuntu, and Debian, and it’s also likely there will be an XBMC port. The company also has Micro-SOM i4Pro with Freescale i.MX6 Quad but for some reasons (thermal dissipation?) it is not included in a HummingBoard-i4, but it can be found in Cubox-i4Pro.

HummingBoard Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

HummingBoard Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

The company has uploaded a promo video comparing their HummingBoard to the Raspberry Pi.

It offers a more powerful hardware with faster processing power and better peripherals, more operating systems choices including Ubuntu and Android which are not available for the Raspberry Pi, but you can’t expect the same level of software support and community as the original Raspberry Pi, and although some Raspberry Pi accessories (enclosures and expansion board) will work on the HummingBoard, you can’t expect them to all work at least without some serious software work.

You can find more information and/or purchase a board on SolidRun’s HummingBoard product page.

Thanks to dhead666 for the tip.

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Zoomtak T8 Android TV Box Powered by Amlogic S802 Features a 2.5″ SATA Bay, an Aluminum Enclosure

June 26th, 2014 4 comments

There are now several Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S802 such as Tronsmart Vega S89, SZTomato/Eny M8, and Minix Neo X8, and Zoomtak T8 hardware specifications are quite similar to these three devices, except it happens to feature an internal 2.5″ SATA bay placed under the board, and the body is made of aluminum.

Zoomtak_T8Zoomtak T8 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S802 quad core cortex A9r4 @ 2 GHz with Mali-450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + SD/MMC/MS card reader + 2.5″ SATA bay
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna.
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4a, composite output, and component output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, stereo RCA, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Container Formats – DAT, MPEG, MPE, MPG, TS/TP, VOB, ISO, AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP, FLV, MKV, M2TS, MTS, M4V, WMV, ASF, RM/RMVB, etc…
  • Audio Formats – MP2, MP3, WMA, WAV, OGG, OGA, FLAC, ALAC, APE, AAC etc…
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, LED display on front panel, and power button.
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A

S802_SATA_BayThe box is strangely said to run Android 4.2, instead of Android 4.4 for all other S802 devices, and comes with an HDMI cable, a user’s manual and an IR remote control. The case is made of aluminum available in black, gold, or silver. The downsides are that there’s only 1GB RAM, and Bluetooth is only supported with an external USB Bluetooth dongle. The specs only list PAL/NTSC to 1080p60 resolutions to be supported, no 4K, which seems odd as well. Having said that, the manufacturer’s product page as different hardware specs with 2GB RAM, built-in Bluetooth 4.0, 4K output, and Android 4.4 with XBMC pre-installed. For people who care about proper power handling, power on/off can be handled both by the remote control and the power button on the box, which should be mean an MCU is controlling the power.

Zoomtak T8 can be purchased for $79 + shipping (about $20) on Zoomtak Aliexpress store. With an Aluminum casing and a SATA bay it seems pretty inexpensive, so I’d assume the specs on Zoomtak Aliexpress might be correct, rather than the ones on their own website. AFAIK, S802 SoC does not features SATA, so it is most likely implemented via a USB 2.0 to SATA chip limiting throughput to 60MB/s in theory, but in practice it should be even lower. I’m also a little concerned about power dissipation seeing where the SATA is placed in the enclosure.

[Update: חן קסל left comments on Google+ saying he has received the box, it comes with 2GB RAM, built-in Bluetooth, Android 4.4, and the hard drive he has inserted is working fine. Not bought from Aliexpress however.]

Via AndroidPC.es

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Giveaway Week – Gbox Midnight MX2 Android Media Player

June 19th, 2014 95 comments

The fourth prize for this week is Matricom Gbox Midnight MX2, an Android TV box powered by Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core processor with 1GB RAM, 4GB flash, HDMI and AV output, optical S/PDIF, Wi-Fi and Ethernet, and 4 USB ports. The company had specifically worked on the XBMC port at the time, and I found it did a pretty good job.

GBox_Midnight_MX2_AccessoriesI tested the device in May of last, and I found the firmware to be very stable and responsive, and XBMC works as expected, supporting most video files without issues, except some MPEG-2 had aspect ratio issues,, RMVB files would make XBMC exit, and WebM 1080p could not be played smoothly due to software decode for this particular codec. It could decode all high-end audio codecs such as DTS and Dolby just fine. I did have problems with composite and component outputs but it must have been fixed now. It also had very good Wi-Fi performance until I upgraded my Wi-Fi router and Wi-Fi throughput took a hit, but was still usable. The other nice thing about this device is support for OTA updates, and albeit the device was released around May 2013, the firmware is still continuously improved, and the latest Beta 1.1.9 has been announced on June 14 in Matricom forums.

To enter the draw simply leave a comment below.

Other rules are as follows:

  • Only one entry per contest. I will filter out entries with the same IP and/or email address.
  • Contests are open for 48 hours starting at 10am (Bangkok time) every day. Comments will be closed after 48 hours.
  • Winners will be selected with random.org
  • I’ll contact the winners by email or Facebook, and I’ll expect an answer within 24 hours, or I’ll pick another one.
  • Shipping
    • Free for winners with a shipping address in Thailand
    • Flat fee of $17 for the rest of the world payable via Paypal within 48 hours once the contest is complete, or I’ll pick another winner.
  • I’ll post all 8 prizes at the same time, so around the 25th of June, using Airmail (Small Packet) with tracking.
  • I’ll make sure we have 8 different winners, so if you have already won a device during this week giveaway, I’ll draw another person.

Good luck!

Matricom Gbox Midnight MX2 can be purchased on Amazon for $105.

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