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.
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 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)
The 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 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.
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.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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