MINIX NEO Z64W (Intel Atom Z3735F) mini PC gets HDMI Audio in Ubuntu

We’ve been able to run Ubuntu on Intel Atom Z3735F mini PCs, as well as other Linux distributions, for a while, but with an important caveat: HDMI audio would not work, so instead you had to use an external USB sound card to get any audio. Luckily the problem seems solved, as Linuxium has now released a script (audio-wifi-minix-neo-z64-release.sh) and relevant files that will  patch your system to enable HDMI audio, and WiFI on MINIX NEO Z64W running Ubuntu. Ian Morrison (Liuxium) compiled a Linux kernel and the Wi-Fi driver, together with a modified DSDT (Differentiated System Description Table) table to fix an ACPI bug. He used John Pemberton’s Bay Trail Audio HDMI patch, as well as help from Paul Kendall for identifying the ACPI DSDT table bug, Bastien Nocera (hadess) for the wifi source code and DroidMote Server / Client for the wifi pointer.  A quick demo shows WiFi […]

Popcorn Hour VTEN Review

Popcorn Hour VTEN a Linux based media player powered by Sigma Designs SMP8757 ARM Cortex A9 processor. Contrary to the many Android TV boxes I tested in the last few years, the device is dedicated to media playback, even though it has an App Store with 59 apps including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ve already taken a few pictures of the device and board, so today, I’ll go through the user interface, quickly test the app store, go through my library of video test files, and check if HDMI audio pass-through is indeed working. Popcorn Hour VTEN User Interface I’ve connected VTEN to an Ethernet Gigabit switch, the HDMI port to Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver which itself is connected to LG 42UB820T 4K UHD TV, and the 5V/3A power supply. Pressing the On/Off switch at the back of the player will start it, and the boot takes just under one […]

Open Hour Chameleon RK3288 TV Box Gets (Partial) DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD HDMI Pass-through Support

People owning AV receivers capable of outputting 7.1 channels or more have had a hard time finding Android TV boxes that supports HD audio pass-through via HDMI. Many devices can pass through 5.1 codec like DTS or Dolby Digital (AC3 / E-AC3), but so far, none of the boxes I’ve tried could manage content with DTS-HD (MA / HR) and Dolby TrueHD with 8 channels properly. The one that came close was Zidoo X9 with support for Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and 7.1, but it downmixes 7.1 channels to 5.1 channels. So the only cost effective options to get proper 7.1 channel pass-through were Intel based mini PCs running Linux such as Asus Chromebox M004U or Intel NUCs. But recently, I’ve seen some progress. For example, yesterday Cloud Media released a new firmware for their Open Hour Chameleon media player based on Rockchip RK3288 processor. Their Android 4.4.2 firmware (version 1.0.23) […]

Beelink i one (i826) / Ubox i828 Quad Core Amlogic Media Player & Recorder with HDMI Input

There are very few Android TV boxes capable of recording video over HDMI. One of them is Zidoo X9 which works pretty well as long as you use the built-in apps, but playing 4K and/or H.265 with Kodi is a disaster, and despite Mstar MS09810 being a quad core Cortex A9 processor, the actual performance barely better than Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core Cortex A9 processor due to the poor memory bandwidth. But now, if you’d like a system with HDMI PVR function, but better performance and good Kodi support, Beelink i one (i826) could be an option with its Amlogic S812 processor and HDMI input support. There’s also a similar looking UBox i828 featuring Amlogic S802 processor which lacks H.265 support. i one / Ubox i828 specifications: SoC i one – Amlogic S812 quad core ARM Cortex A9r4 at 2.0GHz with ARM Mali-450MP6 GPU Ubox i828 – Amlogic S802 quad […]

EZCap 280 Records Videos up to 1080p via HDMI or Component

The recent release of Mstar 9810 based media players with video recording capabilities via HDMI input such as Zidoo X9 and Egreat A9, as made me wonder about standalone 1080p HDMI recording boxes, so I’ve had a look, and several products are available, but EZCap 280 seems one of the most affordable and popular, and beside HDMI input, it can also take component input. Some of EZCap 280 specifications: Video / Audio Input HDMI 1.4 Component video connector with YPbPr and stereo audio; 3.5mm jacks for LINE IN and Microphone Video / Audio Output – HDMI, and LINE OUT Recording Format – MPEG4 AVI with AAC stereo audio. Up to 18 Mbps @ 1080p30. Input Standards Supported – 720×480@60Hz, 720×576@50hz, 720p50/60, 1080i50/60, 1080p24/25/30 USB – 1x USB 2.0 Host port for USB mass storage connection. Misc – LED, REC button Dimensions – 11 cm x 7.4 cm x 2.5 cm […]

Review of Zidoo X9 Android Media Player and Video Recorder

Zidoo X9 is quite a unique product on the market, as it’s the only low cost Android platform that I know of that features an HDMI input port with recording capabilities. The hardware is actually based on Kaiboer F5, with some modifications, but the latter focuses on the Chinese market, while Zidoo X9 targets oversea markets with an English firmware by default. I took pictures of Zidoo X9 and its board about a month ago, but a busy schedule and some initial issues with Google Play Store delayed the review. Finally, I’ve completed testing of the device, and ready to share my findings about performance, stability, and features in this review. OTA Firmware Update I’ve had to go through two firmware updates before carrying on with the review, and this part is working great, and they even include a detailed changelog with each release, which they also publish on their […]

Onkyo TX-NR636 AV Receiver Setup and Audio Pass-through with OpenELEC / Kodi

Following up on my LG 42U820T 4K TV review,  I’ll know checkout the second item purchased for my reviews thanks to the help of my readers, with Onkyo TX-NR636 7.2 channel AV receiver combined with Pioneer S-11 speaker set. As this is my first AV receiver, I still have a lot to learn, I can’t really comment on audio quality (except it sounds much better than my TV speakers, and is more powerful), so I won’t do a full review, but I’ll show some details about the receiver, explain how to it setup with speakers, show how to setup OpenELEC / Kodi for HDMI audio pass-through, and test it with various Dolby and DTS video files. Onkyo TX-NR636 Specifications But before all that, I’ll list some of the specifications of this cool AV receiver. Amplified Rated Output Power: 95 watts minimum continuous power per channel, 8 ohm loads, 2 channels driven […]

All HDMI 2.0 Implementations Are not Equal

One of the key changes between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 is support for up to 4K @ 60Hz instead of just 4K @ 30Hz, and at first, I thought an HDMI 2.0 capable device would be compatible with HDMI 2.0 TV, and it did not need to look into details. I was wrong. There’s a nice table in Wikipedia that explains the main differences between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 and older versions. Other features include YCbCr 4:2:0 (That’s the important bit), Rec. 2020 color space, 32 channel audio, 21:9 aspect ratio, and more. By the way, there’s no such thing as an HDMI 2.0 cable (Source: straight from the horse’s mouth), so if you have a cable that support 4K30, it will work with 4K60 as well. Does HDMI 2.0 require new cables? No, HDMI 2.0 features will work with existing HDMI cables. Higher bandwidth features, such as […]

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