MINIX NEO U1 Android TV box, which the company prefers to call “media hub for Android”, has been announced last week, and has started shipping. The company sent me one sample of the Amlogic S905 device, as well as MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse which can be included with the box as part as some bundle. I’ll check out the media hub and air mouse today, as well as get a close look at the internals, before testing the device, and published a full review of MINIX NEO U1 lateron.
MINIX sent me the packages via Fedex and I received it within 2 or 3 days.
The devices comes with a simple infrared remote control, a micro USB to USB cable, a USB OTG adapter, an HDMI cable, a WiFi antenna, a 5V/3A power supply, a setup guide in English, German, Chinese and Russian, and MINIX product brochure.
The case is made of plastic, but still feels of good quality. All four side have some connectors or interfaces:
- Front panel – IR receiver window + power LED
- Side 1 – Power button, 3x USB 2.0 host ports, a micro SD slot, a Kensington lock, and a micro USB OTG port
- Rear panel – Two 3.5 mm jacks for speakers and microphone, HDMI 2.0 port, optical S/PDIF, Gigabit Ethernet, and power jack
- Side 2 – WiFi antenna connector
NEO A2 Lite is an air mouse with the following specifications:
- Connectivity – 2.4GHz transmission with up to 10 meters range
- Sensors – 6-axis gyroscope and accelerometer
- Remote side and QWERTY keyboard side
- Power – 2x AAA batteries
- Support for Android, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows
Air mice with keyboard are my favorite input devices for Android mini PC, and I normally use MeLE F10 Deluxe, but MINIX NEO A2 Lite does look better, and if it works well, it might well become my main input device for reviews.
The remote is a bit larger than usual, but feel sturdier and fits well in my hands. For some reasons, I appreciate the two bumps on the side, which hold the two AAA batteries (not included), and the RF dongle which you need to connect to one of the USB port of your computer, TV or media device.
For comparison, I’ve take two pictures of MeLE F10 Deluxe and MINIX MEO A2 Lite side-by-side.
Both have a D-pad, play/pause keys, volume +/-, mute, power button… but the MeLE air mouse also features an IR learning function, which never worked for me, but is missing from the MINIX one. I do like the mouse activation key on MINIX, as with MeLE F10 you need to press the left button to activate mouse mode, and this may trigger unwanted clicks.
But on the keyboard side, MINIX NEO A2 Lite might be the clear winner here, with larger keys, a layout similar to standard keyboards, and the Tabulation key which was never included in any of MeLE’s many air mice.
So all-in-all A2 Lite appears to be well-designed air mouse, but I’ll have to use it to find out if it performs as well as it looks.
I had to remove the four sticky rubbed pads on the bottom of the case, and loosen four screws to open the device. There’s a sticker on the side of the case, so doing so will likely void your warranty. The screws were quite firmly tightened, so I had to use a larger than usual screwdriver, i.e. not a precision screwdriver.
MINIX has taken cooling seriously, and they have a rather large heatsink covering most of the board including Amlogic S905, the RAM and eMMC flash chips. You’ll also notice two antennas: one external, one internal. The first impression is again one of quality.
I’ve also removed the heatsink to have a clear view of all components on the board.
Sadly, I could not see whether the board comes with Amlogic S905 or S905-H processor as it was not readable, so I’ll have to find out during the review. Two more SKhynix RAM chip brings the total memory to 2GB, and a 16GB Samsung KLMAG2GEND-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash is used for storage. Most companies go with low end or mainstream eMMC flash, but the part selected by MINIX is part of the new high performance 10nm-class eMMC, and capable of 230 MB/s read, and 50 MB/s write speeds, with fast random I/O (up to 6000 IOPS) according to Samsung product selection guide. They’ve carried on with their no-compromise approach while selecting Ampak AP6356S wireless module that supports 802.11 b/g/n, 802.11ac up to 867 Mbps (2×2 MIMO), and Bluetooth 4.1. Other noticeable components include GL852G USB 2.0 hub controller, ESS323? audio codec, Realtek RTL8211F Gigabit transceiver, and Nuvoton MINI54ZDE ARM Cortex M0 MCU to handle power controls. If you are interested in hacking the device there are three headers: JDEBUG1 with 3.3V/Tx/Rx and GND, ICE1 probably for Nuvotron MCU, and JUART1 with Tx/Rx/GND.
So I’m very pleased with that I’ve seen on the hardware side both with MINIX NEO A2 Lite Air Mouse, and NEO U1 TV box which makes use a much better components than the other Amlogic S905 devices I’ve seen so far. Quality does come at a price however, as MINIX NEO U1 sells for $129.99 on Amazon US, Amazon UK, DX.com, GearBest, GeekBuying and others, while the bundle with NEO A2 Lite goes for $149.99, and the air mouse is also sold separately for $29.99 shipped.
That’s for the hardware, and I’ll have to see if DTS and Dolby are supported, DRM implemented, and other bugs found in earlier Amlogic S905 TV boxes have been fixed or improved. An OTA firmware update is schedule for this week-end, with “big improvements to the KODI performance”, so I’ll wait for this before starting to test the device.
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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