Mele A1000 Android 2.3 STB Unboxing and Review

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I’ve finally received the Mele A1000 media player I ordered 3 weeks ago. I mainly plan to use it as a Linux development platform for Allwinner A10 processor, but today I’ll just post some unboxing pictures and provide some feedback about the Android software running on the box.

I received the device in the box below. (Sorry about the picture quality, I took pictures with my smartphone).

Mele A1000 Box
Mele A1000 Packaging (Click to Enlarge)

Once you open the box, you’ll get see the set-top box, related accessories, a (not so useful) user guide in English and Chinese and what looks like a warranty card.

Inside Mele A1000 Box
Mele A1000 Packaging Opened (Click to Enlarge)

Once you unpack everything you get the set-top box, 2.5″ hard drive case, composite cable, remote control (infrared) and 5V power supply.

Allwinner A10 Device, power supply, audio/video cable, HDD casing and IR remote
Mele A1000 STB and Accessories (Click to Enlarge)

You’ll noticed some buttons on the remote control have markings in Chinese, this is where the user manual can be useful.

You may already have seen the box itself (with clearer images), but I’ll show again the back of the box with most of the connectors and…

Allwinner A10 STB video output, USB, ethernet and power
Mele A1000 Rear Panel

…the left panel with another USB host port, the SD Card slot and the power button.

Left side of Mele A1000 STB
Mele A1000 Side Panel

Time to add 2 AAA batteries to the remote control, connect the power supply and connect the media player to the TV with an HDMI cable. After slightly over 1 minute, you should see the GUI.

Mele A1000 GUI
Mele A1000 Graphical User Interface

Everything is in Chinese, but you can easily change the language to English and setting up WiFi was a breeze. The Home Screen will mostly still be Chinese and this is normal, as most applications are in Chinese (mainly to access Chinese TV and movies online) and the MUIU weather widget in only available in Chinese, but the rest of the menus will be in English (mostly). I had to restart the device to apply changes.

My device was shipped with firmware version 1.2. You can do an OTA update (Blue icon with 2 curved white arrows) but it will only allow you to update up to version 1.3, although Mele has released version 1.5 which can be downloaded online and installed with an SD Card (more on that later).

So I kept playing with firmware 1.3.  The good thing is that the Android Market (now Google Play) seems to work just fine and you’ll be able to install and run most of your favorite apps. I tried gmail, Angry Bird, Fruit Ninja, Bloomberg for Mobile, Antutu benchmark, Terminal and a few others which seemed to work fine. Quadrant benchmark installed and started fine, but once you want to run Benchmarks it does not work.

Soon enough I realized that the remote would not be enough (e.g. try to play Angry Bird or write emails with the remote), so I connected a USB keyboard and mouse. It’s the first time I use an Android based media player and it feels quite awkward to use as you don’t exactly have easy access to all your media files and sometimes I found myself having to use the 3 input devices in one application.

Mele does provide a custom File Manager which allows you to browse files on your SD card, flash memory and external USB mass storage (but not NFS or CIFS/SAMBA network shares) and it can filter by Video, Music and Picture. Once you click on a file, you have to select which software you want to use to play and display the selected media file. The selected software can be made default, so that you don’t have to choose each time you click on this type of file. If you want to access file in a Windows Share (CIFS/Samba) simply install AndSMD or ES File Explorer, I used the later and it works well. The only thing that I could not achieve is a picture slideshow on a SAMBA share, as I had to open and close picture one by one (which is a pain).

I only tried about 10 videos, and about half of them could not play correctly. Some FLV and VOB files would not play at all and MOV files I shot with my Kodak camera could play but the image is corrupted. I was unable to play Youtube video in the web browser, however installing the YouTube application works just fine.

I finally upgraded the firmware to version 1.5 with an SD Card as a previous attempt to do so with a USB Thumbdrive failed miserably.  Once you download the file, extract them, run the Phoenix Utility and burn the firmware to your SD card (it will wipe out all the files on your card).  To upgrade the firmware, insert the SD card in the Mele A1000 SD card slot and power on your device. During upgrade nothing is display on the monitor (HDMI output), and you can only see the front panel LED blink and once the blinking stops, you can safely assume your firmware has been upgraded. Restart your device,  select the language, configure your network settings and you should see the new UI without the weather widget and less Chinese software. You’ll lose all settings and  apps  should installed with the previous firmware.

Mele A1000 Graphical User Inteface
Mele A1000 UI Firmware 1.5 (Click to Enlarge)

Now some more geeky stuff with Antutu benchmark and system details.

Allwinner A10 Antutu Benchmark
Mele A1000 Antutu Benchmark

With an Antutu score of 2337, the performance of Mele A1000 (Allwinner A10 + Mali-400MP) is similar to the one of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i (Qualcomm QSD8250 @ 1GHZ + Adreno GPU), but previous tests showed scores around 2600/2700 closer to the performance of  Samsung Galaxy S (Samsung S5PC110 ARM Cortex-A8 processor  @ 1Ghz + PowerVR SGX 540 GPU) which is more in the range that we could expect. I’ve read somewhere the Allwinner A10 could be overcloked to 1.5 GHz, but I don’t know how to do this for now, nor if it is safe.

Although I could not run Quadrant benchmark, I could retrieve the system details.

Mele A1000 Android and Linux Versions
Mele A1000 System Details

This shows Android 2.3.4 and Linux 2.6.36 kernel run on the device, A10 gets about 1000 Bogomips and the available system memory for Linux is 305 MB out of 512 MB, which means 207 MB are used by the GPU.

I also captured the display and GPU details.

Allwinner A10 Mali 400 Details
Mele A1000 Display & GPU Info

Quadrant also shows OpenGL ES, OpenGL ES 2 and Pixel format, but I haven’t shown it. If somebody wants to know, leave a comment, I’ll provide a link to the screenshot.

If you are interested in purchasing the box, you could buy it for 70 USD + shipping on Aliexpress or like I did on dealextreme.com for 100 USD including international shipping. The total price on Aliexpress should be cheaper, and if you are a developer, you can ask the seller to include a USB to TTL board for debugging. In case you get an exorbitant shipping fee, you can tell the seller so that he can find a better option.

That will be it for today, I’ll keep updating this blog as (or should I say “if”) I make progress…

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CNXSoft – Embedded Systems News » Independent Dual Display Support on Firefly-RK3288 Development Board (Video)Mele Android Set-Top Boxes At China Sourcing Fair 2013Mele A1000G Quad Set-Top Box Features AllWinner A31 SoCFinal Release of Fedora 18 for AllWinner A10 & A13 Powered DevicesOpen ARM GPU Drivers FOSDEM 2013 Video and Call to ARM Management Recent comment authors
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Demetris
Guest

Any development you do on it i would be much more than interested!
Please post your progress here, thanks.

deadfunk
Guest
deadfunk

hi:
i am interested in this machine, can you make a video review?, the machine have good speed?, working youtube?, flash is working?, whats vercion of flash compatible?.
do you want to install linux os?
thanks for the info
greetings

deadfunk
Guest
deadfunk

@ cnxsoft
thanks for the video, the sistem seems to respond fast, but like you say is for touch, with mouse is strange.
if you install ubuntu , make a an installation guide. i apreciate that. the use of mele a 1000 in a distribution like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XBMC_Live#XBMC_Live is my goal.
it have a remote control, sata plugin and power to reproduce full hd.
i keep seen your exelent page.
greetings

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

have u installed flash before checking youtube in the web browser?

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

What about the file playback issues after the firmware update to v1.5

Aurelio
Guest
Aurelio

Hi!

Thanks for the review. I am anxious for more news.

I care very much about power consumption. If you can measure that, I will appreciate it very much.

Thanks again.

Tom Cubie
Guest

Good review, thank you, Jean-Luc.

John
Guest
John

Have you tried installing other media players from the Android Market to see if they’ll play the files that you have trouble with? I’m considering buying one of these as a media player so I’m very interested in all of the media playing details.

John
Guest
John

@ cnxsoft
Some of the popular players are MoboPlayer, Dice Player, MX Player, and RockPlayer. I’d probably start with MoboPlayer because it was able to play some formats on my tablet that would cause the other players to freeze and reset my tablet. I’m most interested in h.264/MKV playback if you can test that out, especially in HD resolutions. I realize that the player as it is might be limited, but there’s some interest in porting XBMC to it, so if one of the apps that I mentioned can work “good enough” before XBMC is ported, then I’ll pick one up while I wait for XBMC.

Lagstarr
Guest

@john @cnxsoft
Have you tried Arc Media Player, It is the main Video Player I use Across all my android devices and it will play all video formats (h264/MKV/OGM/AVI/Xvid/Divx/MP4/Mpeg/WMV) but also allows streaming through SMB shares but look for the older version under 2.0

John
Guest
John

@ cnxsoft
Sounds great. Is the output quality good when playing video with MoboPlayer? And have you tried to install Flash Player and see if Flash works in any browser (such as Dolphin or Opera)? If you can test out this live streaming Flash video in Dolphin and/or Opera, then that would be great:

http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles

Also, is the Aliexpress product exactly the same as the Dealextreme one?

@ Lagstarr
Thanks for the tip. I just gave arcMedia a shot and it seems to work for me as well.

@ cnxsoft
There are multiple versions of arcMedia depending on the cpu architecture. Have you tried the other ones? Thanks for all your testing.

John
Guest
John

I wanted to add that I could get arcMedia to access my shared folders but I can’t seem to get anything to play from the shares.

Mark
Guest
Mark

I see in the screenshot above that your refresh rate is 61.9 Hz. Since most video is encoded at either 23.976, 29.970 or 59.940, this would be very bad for video playback. You would see micro-stutter every few seconds as frames are repeated/dropped every few seconds. Would be noticeable on panning camera shots, especially at higher speeds like 59.940. Do you know if the hardware supports other refresh rates? There is a good set of panning test videos here: http://st7.us/MotionBarsH264.7z . They run perfectly smoothly on the Sigma based media players over HDMI.

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[…] Set-top Box April 17th, 2012 cnxsoft Leave a comment Go to commentsI’ve recently received and reviewed the 70 USD Mele A1000 STB powered by AllWinner A10, but haven’t been able to hack it yet since I’ve have not […]

John
Guest
John

This STB sounds almost exactly like what I need (something that can both reliably play media and stream Flash from websites while costing $100 or less) but the refresh rate issue is unfortunate. I hope that it can be resolved. I don’t even understand why it would output at such an odd refresh rate.

John
Guest
John

Unfortunately for me, it might be one of those situations where “what has been seen cannot be unseen”. After reading about the refresh rate here, I watched an episode of a TV show on my Xbox with XBMC ripped from a DVD set. I wasn’t specifically looking for judder, but I noticed it even though I had never noticed it before in earlier episodes. I checked the framerate and it was 25fps, but my Xbox is NTSC and outputs at 30fps. Up until then, I had always assumed that the show was either 24 or 30fps and I had never noticed a problem with judder, but now I see it very clearly. Maybe I can train my brain to forget about it with time, but at least for now, I’m too aware of it to ignore it. 🙁

Pedro
Guest
Pedro

Hi,

Could you tell me if It’s possible watch 1080p movies correctly ?

I’ll like to buy the Mele as HD player.

Thanks.

tret
Guest
tret

Is it possible to share a 2gb image? 412MB of deb package in the apt cache (/var/cache/apt/archives) could be easily removed with ‘apt-get clean’.

2gb would allow for a cheaper sd/mmc card.

tret
Guest
tret

@ tret
Maybe also remove openoffice?

tret
Guest
tret

Thnx for your answer. Another question:
OTA updates provide with 1.3 firmware. I downloaded 1.5 firmware. As you write, I won’t use Livesuite due to problems. I want to use PhoenixCard utility. Where can I find this utility?

bgiraut
Guest
bgiraut

PhoenixCard utility is provide within the 1.5 firmware rar on this review or on the mele site : http://www.mele.cn/download/mele_HTPC_v1.5.rar

brian
Guest
brian

just fyi 1.6 firmware recently released. The download page (both english and chinese) still points to the 1.5 firmware even though claiming 1.6

correct link is: http://www.mele.cn/download/mele_HTPC_v1.6.rar

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

Can u please check google play again?
I was thinking of upgrading to firmware ver. 1.6

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

I have upgraded my mele 2000 to ver 1.6. Built in file explorer utility keeps blinking when it is used to open usb or sd card. Explorer works correctly only on the first launch.
Strange thing happened with the sd card. After upgrading the firmware i formatted the sd card and copied some movies in it to check the compatibility. When file explorer started blinking i power cycled the box. On boot up board started blinking as if box have started the firmware update process but there was no firmware update image on the sd card. After that board stopped booting.
I had to update the firmware again to boot again.
Is there some bootup mark on the sd card which has to be erased to stop board from booting and corrupting the internal flash?
how can i make sd card to non bootable?

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

I am using win 7 and try to format through phoenix utility.
How can i do boot up from sd card without changing the internal flash?
Mele manufacturers should have used separate memory for saving wifi and android store configuration. After the update you have to go through same process again.
Have u tried using skype in mele?

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[…] to Xibo.org.uk.  To know more about the Mele A1000, you can check the specifications and read the review of Mele A1000 I wrote last month. (function(){var […]

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

Is there some way i could save android configuration in some file and restore settings from there?
I will try ubuntu image later.
I have tried a4tech usb mic + camera to mele but it doesn’t detect any thing.
I also tried logging to skype but it is stuck at login screen.

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

Thanks
Some apps in store require root in android, can mele be rooted to use these apps?

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

I have just checked the titanium backup app it also needs root

Haris Sarwar
Guest
Haris Sarwar

I was looking for usb camera and mic support in andorid and came across
http://artway.en.alibaba.com/product/520083544-213323202/New_Low_cost_Android_2_2_Internet_TV_box_support_USB_camera_microphone_and_DVBT.html
So it is possible in android if box contains the proper drivers.
Do you know anything about usb camera and mic support for mele?