Wechip R69 Allwinner H3 TV Box goes for $19 Shipped

Orange Pi Development Boards

A few years ago, it was relatively easy to purchase sub $20 TV boxes with some patience, but with the increase in RAM and flash prices, it’s been more difficult to find those ultra-cheap TV boxes.

It turns out there’s such a deal now on Aliexpress where Wechip R69 TV box is sold for just $18.99 shipped. Now with an Allwinner H3 processor, 1GB RAM, and 8GB flash, I would not necessarily recommend such device for your media needs, but they can be useful for some specific use cases like a simple digital signage, or even to run Linux with some efforts. Wechip R69 also looks to be similar to Sunvell R69 TV box that is officially supported by RetroOrangePi, but with the pin-to-pin compatible Allwinner H2 processor, so it could make an inexpensive retro gaming console as well.

Wechip R69Wechip R69 specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad-core Cortex A7 processor with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB flash + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4 output up to 1080p60, AV port (composite video + stereo audio OR YPbPr)
  • Video Codec – H.265 / H.264 up to 4K @ 30 fps
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 9 x 9.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Weight – 200 grams

Normally, Allwinner H3 is similar to Allwinner H2+, except the latter is limited to 1080p60 video output and decoding. So I’d expect Wechip R69 to support 4K 30fps video output over HDMI 1.4 and H.265/H.264 video decoding, despite the specifications claiming video output only works up to 1080p60.

Cheap Allwinner H3 TV Box

Sunvell R69 is sold with Android 4.4, but Wechip R69 runs a relatively recent Android 7.1, which should be a definite plus if you plan to run Android. The Wechip box ships with a power supply, an HDMI cable, an IR remote control, and a user manual. If you decided to go ahead, and purchase the box, you should be aware the company is now on holidays for Chinese New Year, and they’ll only start processing orders on February 12.

Thanks to theguyuk for the tip.

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tkaiser
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tkaiser

Why do you feature garbage on this blog?

tmunzer
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tmunzer

For a year, that garbage (Sunvell R69) ran wonderfully Pihole and Domoticz (on Armbian).

Jonathanscott21
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Jonathanscott21

tkaiser, I think we all understand your point, especially given your contributions to the community, but the tone of your post seems a bit neck-beardish. After all, this post has a big flashing OrangePi ad at the top, so writing about garbage means everybody wins!

val
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val

so what if his tone is that? is it bad? should he behave like all? like you? I think those pussies constantly, crowdly and cowardly minusing him in every of his post are the real stinkies. and he expressing his opinions the way his character defines is OK. those extrasensitive ones could apply some anti-butthurt cream.

theyguyuk
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theyguyuk

Puerile language used when spitting dummy out, result of being frustrated by lack of ability, knowledge, interpersonal skills. A trait called brat on degree courses.

theyguyuk
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theyguyuk

Well even the Eachlink Allwinner H6 is now going for £25.08 inc p+p on Aliexpress. Allwinner TV box prices seem to be being driven down.

theyguyuk
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theyguyuk

From watching the videos on the similar Sunvell R69 H3 . I expect it can play up to 1080p , struggle with anything higher. Play basic google store games llike Crissy road, surf the web with a browser, play from USB storage and use twitter or Facebook. So ideal for a cheap second 1080 player with no high end support.

In UK it should run BBC iPlayer, itv, blaze, the blaze, UK play etc and maybe Now TV .

Ideal for steaming without draining phone or tablet battery.

theyguyuk
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theyguyuk
TheLinuxBug
Guest

Guys, I am willing to bet the $20 this costs that it is new-old product and its actually just the R69 being resold under a new brand. There have been constantly a large leftover amount of the old R69 on Banggood and other e-tailers and since the case, remote, box its boxed in, etc all look identical, there is no reason to think this isn’t the identical H2+ device as was sold previously under Sunvell.

I will say this, at least the older R69 (not the new 2GB one which is literally a door stop unless you intend to use it to cook dinner on as a hot plate), these actually will run Armbian and H3Droid in a stable fashion at 720p, however, with the poor quality of the memory used on these boards, one should not expect 1080p and keep in mind that in older firmware versions of the software on these they never exposed the 1080p frambuffer anyways and faked 1080p to the end user. So I have no reason to believe 1080p should work correctly on this one either.

Also, YOU MUST add a heatsink / fan for any type of reliable use, so plan this into your costs if you do purchase one. I especially wouldn’t suggest running the Android 7 image they will provide for any long period without heatsink and fan, as mention by Tkaiser, there is no correct handling of thermals, so you will end up throttled to 1 core at 600Mhz after about 5 minutes of use when it starts overheating.

To get an idea, you can check out my blog post on the Sunvell R69: https://h3droid.com/blog/sunvell-r69-my-adventures-with-a-cheap-tv-box

my 2 cents.

Cheers!

s. hippy
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s. hippy

@TheLinuxBug

1. Read your R69 blog…why spend $35 with a lot of pain when a great X96mini 1/8G Amlogic S905W ( Vontar label) is available from Ali for $28 plus shipping? 😏😏

2. Does anyone know if RAM prices are coming down in the next few months? Any “official” forecasts?

3. If only 720p media streaming ( e.g., KODI-18 Leia) is needed, will this “new” box still heat up with its Android 7.1?

4. Any chance an ATV ROM might become available for this/R69?
(I don’t expect a LibreElec JeOS for Allwinner at all.)

tkaiser
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tkaiser

> If only 720p media streaming ( e.g., KODI-18 Leia) is needed, will this “new” box still heat up with its Android 7.1?

@TheLinuxBug already mixed this up. It’s not about ‘correct handling of thermals’ but that Allwinner removed support for DVFS (voltage regulation) with their recent Android/kernel and as such the hardware manufacturers followed and don’t allow to feed the H2+/H3/H5 CPU cores with lower voltages when idle. Two consequences at the same time: Shitty performance due to lower CPU clockspeeds and higher consumption + heat generation at the same time. These things will throttle pretty early and heavy especially since thermal design of those cheap TV boxes is usually crap (read his blog post).

The probable limitation to 720p has a different root cause: Using DRAM from the bin. An awful lot of these things only run reliably with heavily downclocked RAM (Allwinner’s u-boot’s job dynamically ‘tuning’ the clockspeeds, there is no such thing in mainline u-boot!) but if DRAM bandwidth drops below a specific rate you can’t watch video stutter free.

As you said using this thing for Android is insane. And only if @TheLinuxBug is correct and this ‘Wechip R69’ is the same as old and boring Sunvell R69 then running Linux will work for novice users.

This thing is garbage/e-waste targeting only the ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ crowd never learning that spending 10 bucks more makes the difference between crap that will be thrown away after some days and something usable also in a few years. If I want to buy an Android box in early 2019 I clearly will not choose a 2014 design from a SoC vendor with such a horrible history wrt future software support.

theyguyuk
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theyguyuk

So remember buy cheap, buy twice due to cheap quality, stay away from those nasty cheap Orange Pi boards !

Matt
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Matt

4- You can always start contributing to the allwinner branch of the JeOS instead of just expecting things…

tkaiser
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tkaiser

> You can always start contributing to the allwinner branch of the JeOS

Once one device of a specific Allwinner SoC family is supported all that’s needed to add all the other devices using the same SoC featuring same basic set of features is just adopting fex or DT stuff. Problem could be that specific hardware only works (reliably) with proprietary code (see ‘DRAM from hell’ and ‘raw NAND’ requiring the use of Allwinner’s smelly BSP u-boot/kernel so if your project relies on upstream u-boot you’re already lost).

And the whole job is totally unrelated to anything KODI, it’s just basic hardware bring up. Any developer wasting his time with such a crap hardware is IMO a fool since what do you learn here? If you want a good media player skip Allwinner designs from 2014 and if you want to learn how to add hardware to a project better start with developer boards where at least schematics are available and all the stuff needed lives in public repositories with good or at least ok-ish code quality (ever added wireless support for a device relying on crappy drivers/hardware like Allwinner’s XR819 we’re most probably talking here about?)

s. hippy
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s. hippy

@Matt,

Given the good development of LibreElec/ CoreElec/ AlexElec including by @balbes150 ( of Armbian fame) and others for Amlogic and now Rockchip, why bother with Allwinner?

Both Amlogic and Rockchip seem to have released good enough code upstream unlike Allwinner.

jernej
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jernej

I guess you don’t follow *all* of LibreELEC development. Allwinner port is very near of being included in master. Initially only for H3 and A64 and soon for H6. So there is no reason why to discourage people from using AW boards.

s. hippy
Guest
s. hippy

@jernej

I have been hearing this “near completion/just miss” for 2+ years.

Do you have an ETA? I hope AW happens for sake of market competition !

But will AW be really competitive price/performance wise with AML or RK in the media space anymore?

theyguyuk
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theyguyuk

His post here answers those questions

https://forum.libreelec.tv/thread/13228-very-early-community-images-for-h3-and-a64/

Seems those cheap nasty Orange Pi are lacking !

jernej
Guest
jernej

I’m not sure who did you hear talking about “near completion/just miss” and in what context. Definitively not for LibreELEC, because only now it has decent H264, HEVC and MPEG2 support (I did some work on top of Bootlin patches).

If you mean old OpenELEC ports (2-3 years ago), then it was clear from the beginning that it has no future. But it was nice learning experience (what hardware supports and how to connect everything together). I didn’t know much about this topic at the time.

BTW, mainline VPU drivers for AW, RK and AML are all work in progress and none of them are written by SoC manufacturer. Well, one RK employee wants to help with mainline RK VPU driver, but initial driver is written by others.

I don’t see why AW wouldn’t be price competitive. For most users which want to watch 8-bit H264 or HEVC videos in 1080p H3 is already enough. For more demanding usage H6 is better, but those “advanced features” are not yet implemented in mainline Linux. That issue is also not limited to AW. For example, HDR is not yet implemented for any of RK, AML or AW SoCs in mainline Linux.

Clarification why I’m talking only about mainline Linux: LibreELEC wants move all projects to mainline Linux. AML port which uses Linux 3.14 is already renamed to “Amlogic_Legacy”. It will soon be replaced with another port which will use mainline Linux. Similar thing will happen with Rockchip port, which currently uses Linux 4.4. All migrations will happen before LibreELEC 10 and some probably for 9.2.

There is no exact ETA, but plan is to merge AW port to master before 9.2, so there will be at least some alpha and beta release, but probably not stable. Merging to master means that nightly builds will be available with dedicated addon repository.

slackstick
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slackstick

With Chinese high end phone market struggling, I expect significantly lower RAM prices.

TheLinuxBug
Guest

It was done to bring H3Droid compatibility to some TV Boxes, I also have the Beelink X2 H3 device and have perfected it working as well. If you want a H3 based TV Box the best option by far, hands down, is the Beelink X2. It still runs hot but they give you ‘quality’ components (ram/etc) that at least run at the suggested speeds and seem to actually be QC checked. However, its getting quite hard to find the Beelink X2 anymore because of it actually being a decent box so the supply has mostly been purchased and it doesn’t seem they did many runs.

The original R69, past the cheap (slow) memory and the poor cooling, it is actually stable to use, the new version of it though is absolute garbage (the 2GB Ram 16Gb NAND version).

TL:DR:
For H3Droid support on some H3 Based TV Boxes

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

> there is no reason to think this isn’t the identical H2+ device as was sold previously under Sunvell

If these things are leftovers from 1.5 years ago (I provided @tmunzer an Armbian image for the first garbage iteration in late 2017) then somebody must have opened the package boxes, connected the plastic boxes via USB/FEL mode to another host to flash Android 7 just to repackage the whole stuff again directly afterwards. And there should still be profit possible with such stunts?

Netomx
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Netomx

Wait, what? H3droid is yours?!

manuti
Guest

The original Sunvell R69 can reach 1080p at 24Hz with kernel 4.19 in armbian 5.72. Search Suschman the Nerd Google Drive images on armbian forum ► https://forum.armbian.com/topic/4877-h2-sunvell-r69-android-tv-box-aliexpress/?page=8&tab=comments#comment-60773

TheLinuxBug
Guest

Only if you are very lucky and bought at the beginning of the batches where they supposedly used QC checked memory in the batch. Further batches, especially with the newer version of the unit with 2GB, in most cases have super crap RAM modules which can’t support the speeds needed to handle high rate video. I believe Tkaiser mentioned about this in a few of his posts already, so I won’t recap again.

@tkaiser thanks for correcting me, but I do disagree that H3 isn’t usable at this point as a reasonable system. I for sure wouldn’t suggest the TV boxes for this use case, but Orange Pi made boards, especially Orange Pi Plus 2E is still quite performant and usable.

Cheers!

theyguyuk
Guest
theyguyuk

Buy cheap buy twice! Cheap nasty Orange Pi

Karl
Guest
Karl

Imo these types of boxes are good for certain projects. For example octoprint. If you get a raspberry pi power supply and SD card there is a considerable cost savings going this path.

theyguyuk
Guest
theyguyuk

Wechip main company site

http://www.wechipbox.com/

toz
Guest
toz

@tkaiser: love your post and technicaldetails and information.

BUT it would be good habit to mention also the alternative to your citics..
what is the better board/product in your opinion?
you may shorthand mention directly the board (and only addtionally linking to armbian-threads)?
i buy a better sbc for modern android and armbian. What is it?

thx,
(keep on comments, despite all other critics, i appreciate them)

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

> it would be good habit to mention also the alternative

The alternative to generating more e-waste? While I understand that blogs like this are required to use affiliate links I simply feel sad that people are encouraged to buy such garbage that will be thrown away shortly anyway.

The ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ principle has more than one downside…

toz
Guest
toz

you mean:
buy no SBC’s anymore? criticise this one here, means dont buy it?
(or which would you buy? is there any good one you would buy?)

Or do you recommend completely something else?
Good living is without commenting blogs ? Or take long time off-line? ;-))
your point is a bit miracoulous to me..

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

> buy no SBC’s anymore?

Huh? It’s not about SBC here. It’s about a crappy TV box on sale in 2019. What does crappy mean? See @TheLinuxBug’s link above. The hardware is a problem in itself due to no voltage regulation and overall poor thermal design, Allwinner’s Android/kernel adds to this somewhat strange ‘throttling’ behavior since it will not throttle cores but simply kill them so you end up with a dual or even single core TV box in no time. AW hardware + AW software –> disaster.

I tried to explain the ‘throttling’ problem few years ago telling partially BS since the weird overclocking settings were not Xunlong’s fault but the result of a former community member providing the only working OS images back in 2015: http://linux-sunxi.org/User:Tkaiser#Dynamic_Voltage_Frequency_Scaling

But while the Xunlong boards provide fine grained voltage control (in 20mV steps adjustable by our own settings/optimizations) those el cheapo TV boxes provide nothing and constantly fry the CPU cores at a high voltage –> they overheat by design. You can’t fix crappy hardware with software/settings.

Then why would you want to buy a dirt cheap TV box in the first place? The vendor’s Android is old and crappy, the hardware is crappy. So if your use case is just ‘watching movies’ why the hell would you pick up a 2014 design (H3) in early 2019? Spend just a few bucks more and get an Amlogic S905W box or something similar for better codec support, ‘better’ Android, maybe even Android updates…

If you want to run something else on this box (I called it Linux but this could also be something like JeOS+KODI of course) then I already outlined in which problems you might run based on whether this thing really ships with Alwinner’s Android 7 (new BSP version) or if ‘Android 7’ is also just part of the Wechip marketing BS then you might be lucky and can use the various 3rd party ‘firmwares’ flying around.

It’s 2019 now, H3 (a chip from 2014) was somewhat exciting 3 years ago (back at that time we as a community explored a lot of the potential of those cheap H3 boards, improved software/settings a lot and still community is going strong — see heroes like @jernej working on making this old SoC platform usable with most recent software which is great since vendor offerings simply suck and already existing devices can extend their lifetime significantly).

But what’s the reason to buy any new H2+/H3 in 2019? Especially if you know what you can expect: ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. It’s just e-waste made to be thrown away soon.

BTW: I wouldn’t buy any H3/H2+ based SBC today as well other than those really inexpensive boards like Orange Pi Zero or NanoPi Duo (since documentation and schematics available so software support isn’t an issue and the stuff I’m interested in — ‘watching movies using crappy Android’ not amongst them — will work just fine and reliable.

toz
Guest
toz

like your exhausted explanation of details, as normal. really.
overall still reading as in the first post: what you _dont_ like.

besides your normal citicism, try to be positive, give it a try:
What (cheap,modern) SBC would you personaly buy – in early 2019?
a h6? nothing? spend money for holidays?
got the impression you dont wont come up with a risky recommendation?

among all other,
really thanks for the usual detailed and competently post.
i read them always completly.

theyguyuk
Guest
theyguyuk

What double standards, you spent years singing praise of Orange Pi cheap as cheap gets but with no software support from vendor. Now you use again ” Buy cheap buy twice !” .

Orange Pi which come from the land of recycled, refurbished and faked parts.

You are just cherry picking a opinion, as suites your mood.

theyguyuk
Guest
theyguyuk

Yesterday Monday, I did a search on Aliexpress and with some persistence managed to find two RK3229 1gb Android TV boxes for sales for $19.99 including p + p ( there is only 18hrs left of the sale ) . Also I know of no Linux for RK3229.

bee
Guest

Hi….yeah …i was infact looking at the OCTA CORE boxes with AMlogic chips….that are just 20 odd dollars new….they indeed have a proper linux for them and a lovely media-center linux build also…plus the android 7.1 they arrive with. Youtube shows that the Android works relatively ok…..

https://www.cnx-software.com/2019/01/04/mecool-km8-p-octa-core-tv-box-promo/

The OS builds are listed below in the comments.

theyguyuk
Guest
theyguyuk
theyguyuk
Guest
theyguyuk

There are also two MXQ PRO s905w 1gb 8 GB ROM , TV boxes on Aliexpress on 20hrs left sale @ $20.50 and less inc p + p

Schmurtz
Guest
Schmurtz

It’s also an excellent retrogaming console thanks to retrorange distrib :
http://orangepi.club/showthread.php?tid=2497

theguyuk
Guest
theguyuk
theguyuk
Guest
theguyuk

Just how cheap can a R69 Allwinner H3 ( warning someone is selling a RK3229 in exact same case, colours and R69 badge ) go. Well now available for $16.72 ( £12 .97 ) inc p+p for next 19 hrs

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Android-7-1-tv-box-R69-smart-tv-box-1-GB-8-GB-Allwinner-H3-Quad/32983518598.html?