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Posts Tagged ‘802.11ac’

Zidoo Unveils Poster Wall 2.0 App, High-end Zidoo X20 Pro RTD1296 Media Player Coming Soon

January 12th, 2018 5 comments

Zidoo has some news for their Realtek RTD1295/RTD1296 powered devices such as Zidoo X8, X9S, or X10. First, the company will soon release a firmware update that includes Poster Wall 2.0, an app that display movie posters and information in a concise and eye-pleasing way.

The company is also working on a higher-end player called Zidoo X20 Pro powered by RTD1296 expected to launch in a few weeks, once beta testing is complete, and firmware looks stable enough.

Zidoo X20 Pro RTD1296 Media Player

Zidoo X20 Pro specifications:

  • SoC – Realtek RTD1296 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-T820 MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR4
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash, 2x SATA 3.0 bays for 2.5 or 3.5″ drives
  • Video
    • 2x HDMI 2.0a output ports with HDCP 2.2, 4K 60 Hz
    • 1x HDMI 2.0 input with HDCP 2.2 supporting PiP, stream recording, and UDP broadcasting
    • 1x RCA composite output
    • Decode – HDR10, 10-bit HEVC / H.265 up to 4K @ 60fps, VP9 up to 4K @ 60 fps, H.264 up to 4K @ 24 fps, automatic frame rate switching (23.976 and 29.94 fps supported)
    • Full BD menu function
  • Audio
    • ESS 9038 DAC
    • 7.1-ch HD audio pass-through via HDMI
    • optical and coaxial S/PDIF
    • RCA stereo audio
    • XLR Audio output
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac 2T2R MIMO WiFi up to 867 Mbps, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 2x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB type C port
  • Misc – RS232 port, IR input port, IR output (blaster) ports, front panel display, power switch
  • Power Supply – Built-in, 100-240VAC 1.3A 50/60 Hz input
  • Material – Smoke-colored aviation aluminum alloy case
  • Dimensions – 46 mm thick (excluding antennas)
  • Weight – 6 kg (package)

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The device will run Android 6.0 & OpenWrt (for NAS function) as in the other Zidoo X8/X9S/X10 model, includes media center functions with Poster Wall, SAMBA, NFS, as well as ZDMC, a fork of Kodi 17.4 with improvements from Zidoo.
The device will ship with a remote control, a HDMI cable, an AV cable, a power adapter, and a user manual. The company has not made anything official yet, so I get all the information above from beta testers post here and there. The last link reports Zidoo X20 Pro should launch early February for around 19,000 THB, which converts to $550 US once VAT is removed. However, Zidoo told me they did not know the release date yet, and I did not confirm pricing either.

Zidoo Poster Wall 2.0

What the company has announced however is their Poster Wall 2.0 app that will be part of future firmware for Zidoo Realtek devices. Some of key features include

  • Background stage /dynamic refresh of poster and movie data
  • Sidebar to filter movies by type (Blu-ray, 4K, 3D, Children), and watch status
  • Details information about each movie with summary, video format, actors, etc…
  • Rating system for parental control (e.g. PG-13)
  • Multi-storage devices support including thumbdrives, SATA drives, external USB drives
  • Customization of posters and background images via editing function
  • Four different views of posters.
  • Search function by year, genre, video type, name…
  • Automatic album matching to classify films from the same series (e.g. Star Trek movies / series all stored in the same folder)

You can watch a demo of Zidoo Poster Wall below.

The features should be included in the next firmware update for X9S and X10 (X8 won’t be supported).

$25 Orange Pi Lite2 Board Comes with Allwinner H6 Processor, 802.11ac WiFi + BLE Module, USB 3.0, and More

January 10th, 2018 13 comments

After Shenzhen Xunlong launched of the first low cost Allwinner H6 development board with Orange Pi One Plus at the very end of last month, we know more Allwinner H6 were coming, and the company has now launched Orange Pi Lite2 development board with 1GB LPDDR3, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth module, and a USB 3.0 port.

The board however does not come with an Ethernet port, so people wanting to get H6 with Gigabit Etheret and USB 3.0 will need to wait a little longer. Orange Pi Lite2 is sold for $25 plus shipping on Aliexpress.

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Orange Pi Lite2 board specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H6 V200 quad core Cortex A53 processor with Arm Mali-T720MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDCP 2.2 (TBC)
  • Audio – HDMI audio output, built-in microphone
  • Camera – Parallel CSI connector with support 5MP camera up to 1080p30
  • Video Decoding – 10-bit H.265 up to 4K @ 60 fps, VP9 and H.264 up to 4K @ 30 fps
  • Connectivity – 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 via Ampak 6255 module
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port (also used for power)
  • Expansion – 26-pin header
  • Debugging – 3-pin serial console header
  • Misc – Power & status LEDs, power button, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via power barrel jack, or micro USB port; AXP805 PMIC
  • Dimensions – 69 x 48 mm
  • Weight – 50 grams

The company provides Android, Ubuntu, and Debian for the board, but as mentioned for Orange Pi One Plus, Allwinner H6 is pretty new, so if you plan to use Linux, expect some initial pain… The images will eventually be one Orange Pi resources pages, and I can see the company release Android 7.1 firmware & SDK, tools, and a “user’s manual” for Allwinner H6. I’d expect Allwinner H6 to be supported by Armbian in a few months.

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Mini PC Review – Part 2: Windows 10 Pro

January 7th, 2018 9 comments

MINIX NEO N42C-4 is the first Apollo Lake mini PC from the company, which also happens to be their first one with a fan, using internal antennas for WiFi and Bluetooth, and offering user-upgradeable storage and memory thanks to M.2 and SO-DIMM slots. The device also features three video output via HDMI 2.0, mini DiplayPort, and USB Type C  ports supporting up to three independent display.

I’ve received a sample and already checked the hardware, and showed how to install an M.2 SSD and SO-DIMM RAM to the device in the first part of the review entitled  MINIX NEO N42C-4 Triple Display Capable Mini PC Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown, so I’ll report my experience with Windows 10 Pro in the second part of the review, and there should also be a third part specifically dealing with Linux support.

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Setup, System Info, BIOS

The device is basically an update to MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro mini PC, also running Windows 10 Pro but on a Cherry Trail processor instead, and maybe of the part will be similar so I’ll refer to that review from time to time.

I first connected the mini PC with the usual peripherals and cables including USB keyboard & mouse, USB 3.0 hard drive, HDMI cable to my 4K TV, Ethernet cable, and since the computer also comes with a USB type C port supporting DisplayPort Alt mode, I also connected Dodocool DC30S USB-C hub in order to get a second HDMI display.

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Time to connect the power supply, press the power button for two or three seconds to get started, with the blue LED on the front panel turning on, and shortly after getting to the Windows 10 Pro Welcome screen, where you could use Cortana voice assistant (or not) in order to go through the setup wizard to select the country and keyboard, accept the EULA, sign-in or create a user, set privacy settings and so on.

I won’t into details since the procedure is exactly the same as their previous moduel, and you can check the Windows 10 Pro setup wizard section of NEO Z83-4 Pro review to get more photos about the initial setup. What was different this time is that a large Windows update (2 to 3GB) was available, and I waited for it to complete before accessing Windows desktop, but as you can see from the photo below there’s also an option to “go to my desktop while my PC updates”.

Now we can get to the desktop, and check info about the Windows 10 license, and basic hardware info in Control Panel-> System and Security -> System. The mini PC runs an activated version of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, and is equipped with an Intel Pentium N4200 CPU, 4GB RAM as advertised.

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I took a screenshot of the “Devices and drives” section in “This PC” right after initial setup, and the 32GB eMMC flash has a 28.1 GB Windows partition (C: drive) with only 7.72GB free, but later on a pop-up will show up asking whether we want to delete the old Window 10 update files, and free space will increase a lot.

The D: drive is the 240GB M.2 SSD I installed myself, but since I partitioned it for another review with EXT-4 and NTFS, only the 59.6GB NTFS shows up. E: and F: drives are the NTFS and EXFAT partition on the USB 3.0 drives, so all my storage devices and (Windows compatible) partitions have been detected and mounted properly.

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I tool a Device Manager screenshot for people wanting more technical details, and since we can see Trusted Platform Module 2.0 shown in security devices, I also launched tpm.msc “Trusted Platform Module Management” program to confirm the TPM was indeed ready for use.

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HWiNFO64 shows the same information as for other Intel Pentium N4200 systems, except for the CPU microcode (μCU) which has been updated to version 24, and hardware specific items like the motherboard name, and BIOS date and version.

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Since I don’t own any DisplayPort capable display, so I could not test triple display support, but I could still work with a dual setup display using the HDMI 2.0 port and USB type C port via my USB-C hub as shown in the photo below. You may want to read the video output ports limitation listed in the first part of the review to make sure the system meets your requirements if you plan to use three displays.

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Pressing “Esc” at boot time will allow you to access Aptio Setup Utility, often referred to as “BIOS”.

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In previous models, MINIX had added several extra features in Advanced->MINIX Feature Configuration, but when I went there I could only find EarPhone Standard selection, no more restore AC power loss, wake-on-lan, etc…But then I found the other extra MINIX options had moved to Advanced->Power Management Configuration, and we still have WoL, resotre AC power loss, RTC wakeup, etc.. functions. So all is well…

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Benchmarks

The performance of Intel Apollo Lake processor is now well know, but let’s still go through the usual benchmark to make sure everything is working as expected.

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A PCMARK 10 score of 1,568 points is actually quite better than the score I obtained with MeLE PCG03 Apo (Celeron N3450 – 1,334 points),  and MeLE PCG35 Apo (Pentium J3455 – 1,391 points), both quad core fanless Apollo Lake mini PCs, so it looks like the fan may be helping, as well as the faster storage as we’ll see below. For reference, NEO Z83-4 Pro’s PCMARK 10 score was 896 points, so there’s a clear performance benefit here.

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NEO N42C-4 passmark 9.0 score: 768.3 points. In this case, the mini PC is slower than MeLE PCG35 Apo with 790.7, which should be expected since Pentium J3455 (1.5/2.3 GHz, 10W TDP) is supposed to be a bit faster than Pentium N4200 (1.1/2.5 GHz, 6W TDP). However, if we compare to Voyo (V1) VMac Mini‘s score (1087.0 points) also based on Pentium N4200 processor, then it’s disappointing. But there’s an explanation, as PassMark attributes a significant share of the score to storage performance, and Windows 10 is install in the faster SSD in the Voyo mini PC, breaching Microsoft’s low cost license agreement in the process… However, there’s also another element of the score that is weak in N42C-4: 3D graphics mark (132.2 vs 325.8), and both systems were configured to use 1080p60.

I’ve run the 3G graphics mark manually again to make sure the issue was reproducible (it is), and get some data to compare to similar system with better score in the future.

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However, switching to 3DMark’s 3D graphics benchmarks, MINIX NEO N42C-4 performs better than Voyo V1 with respectively 366, 1,567, and 2,658 points for respectively Fire Strike 1.1, Sky diver 1.0, and Cloud gate 1.1, against 267, 1,384, and 2,347 points for the Voyo mini PC. Ice Storm benchmark failed to complete on NEO N42C-4 after three tries, even after a reboot, so there may be a problem with the 3D graphics drivers.

Links to results:

MINIX used a pretty good 32GB eMMC flash with sequential read up to 307.5 MB/s and writes around 81 MB/s, nearly twice as fast as their MINIX NEO Z83-3 Pro for reads, but random I/Os are roughly the same.

I also benchmarked KingDian N480 M.2 SSD, and results were even better than in MeLE PCG03 Apo mini PC with significantly better sequential and random speeds in most tests.

USB 3.0 NTFS write speed was rather poor (35 to 45MB/s) in MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro mini PC, but NEO N42C-4 has no such problem getting over 100 MB/s for both read and write.

Full duplex Gigabit Ethernet performance is excellent:

802.11ac WiFi performance is also very good, and much better than MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro:

  • Download

  • Upload

So in my case, having switched to internal antennas do not negatively affect performance at all.

I’ve compared MINI NEO N42C-4 mini PC to other Apollo Lake mini PCs, as well as Cherry Trail based MINIX NEO Z83-4, and an Intel Core M3-6Y30 Compute Stick, whenever scores are available. First, there’s a clear advantage of upgrading from the Cherry Trail model to the Apollo Lake one, N42C-4 has the best eMMC storage performance (although systems run Windows 10 on an SSD will be faster), and usually performs better than other Apollo Lake mini PCs, except for Passmark 9.0 due to poor 3D graphics issues in that benchmarks.

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Note that the values above have been adjusted with different multipliers for each benchmarks (e.g. 3DMark Fire Strike multiplied by 5) in order to display all benchmarks in a single chart.

MINIX NEO Z83-4 Stress Testing, Power Consumption, and Fan Noise

 

I also use the device as a desktop computer, doing my usual tests such as multi-tasking with Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Firefox, etc, as well as multitab web browser, YouTube, playing Aaphast 8: Airborne game, etc… It works well with a user experience similar to most Apollo Lake mini PC, and the usual caveat like YouTube 4K working better in Microsoft Edge, but usual in Chrome/Firefox as long as you disable VP9. Whether Kodi 17.6 works suitably well with depending on your requirements. Automatic frame rate switching, HDMI audio pass-through for Dolby Digital 5.1, and 4K H.265 / H.264 are usually all working, but VP9 is using software decode and is quite slow, pass-through for TrueHD and DTS HD is not working, and from time to time some H.265 videos just show a black screen.

I stress-tested the mini PC using Aida64’s stability test for two hours, and CPU temperature never exceeded 60°C, so no thermal throttling problem at all, and it should make a good mini PC in relatively hot environments. CPU frequency averaged 1.8 GHz.

 

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While there was not thermal throttling, the power limit was exceeded during spikes to burst frequencies, but I’d assume this may be normal behavior.

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While the mini PC comes with a fan it is incredibly quiet, and if my main computer – which I admit is rather noisy – completely overwhelm whatever noise comes from NEO N42C-4. When I turn off all other equipment, I cannot hear anything while idle, unless I place my hear close to the device, in which case I hear some low level noise, either the fan turning slowing, or another source of noise. Under load, it’s possible to hear the fan, but again noise is very low.

I used GM1352 sound level meter, placing the device about 2cm above the enclosure (since I don’t happen to own an anechoic chamber), and as you can see from the table below measured sound levels are really low compared to a device like Voyo VMac Mini.

Noise Level (dBA)
Ambient voise (aka Silence) 38.5 to 38.9
MINIX NEO N42C-4 Idle 39.1 to 39.5
MINIX NEO N42C-4 Stress test 39.7 to 40.4
Voyo Vmac Mini – Idle 52.3
Voyo Vmac Mini – Stress test 52.5 to 57.5

Finally some power consumption numbers without USB-C hub, nor USB 3.0 expansion drive unless otherwise noted:

  • Power off –1.1 to 1.2 Watts
  • Sleep – 1.2 Watts
  • Idle – 6.4 Watts
  • Aida64 stress test – 13.4 Watts
  • Kodi 4K H.264 from HDD – 14.3 to 16 Watts
  • Kodi 4K H.265 from HDD – 15 to 17.1 Watts

Conclusion

If you’ve been using MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro mini PCs, MINIX NEO N42C-4 will offer a nice upgrade with significantly better performance, and all some problems I found in the Cherry Trail  device are gone: USB 3.0 NTFS write speed is normal (100 MB/s), and 802.11ac WiFI performance is excellent, the best I’ve tested so far (with iperf). Compared to other Apollo Lake mini PCs, the performance is also a bit higher, running temperature is very low (< 60 °C) thanks to the quiet fan, and you’ve got a TPM 2.0 chip, VESA mount, support for triple display setup, an activated Windows 10 Pro OS, all features normally not found in other cheaper models. The low running temperature should make it ideal in hot climates where room temperature may be 35 to 40ºC.

The mini PC has some of the same limitations as other Apollo Lake mini PCs, with Kodi 17.6 handling VP9 codec with software decode, and no TrueHD, nor DTS-HD pass-through), and watching online videos for example with YouTube works better in Microsoft Edge. The only small issues I found are low 3D graphics performance in Passmark 9.0 – but no such performance issues in other benchmarks – and 3DMark Ice Storm benchmark would not complete successfully.

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Pro mini PC sells for $299.90 and up on various sites including Amazon US, Amazon UKGearBest, GeekBuying, etc…

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Triple Display Capable Mini PC Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

December 18th, 2017 4 comments

MINIX NEO N42C-4 mini PC was first unveiled last September at IFA 2017, as the first Apollo Lake mini PC from the company. The device has some interesting features like the possibility to upgrade the RAM thanks to two SO-DIMM slots, and storage via an M.2 SSD slot, and support for up to three display via HDMI 1.4, mini DisplayPort 1.2, and USB type C connector. Just like MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro model, the device is pre-loaded with an activated version of Windows 10 Pro, and includes a VESA mount.

The company has now officially launched the device, with sales starting at the end of December for US$299.90 / 299.90 Euros on sites like Amazon [Update: NEO N42C-4 is now up for pre-order on GearBest]. MINIX has sent me a unit for review, so as usual, I’ll start by checking out of hardware, before testing Windows 10 Pro, system performance and stability in a separate post.

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Unboxing

While it remains blue, they’ve slightly redesigned the package, as you can see by comparing it to the one for MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro.

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The specifications are the same as the ones unveiled at IFA 2017 with an Intel Pentium N4200 Apollo Lake processor, with 4GB RAM (upgradable), 32 GB eMMC 5.1 flash, a 2280 M.2 slot for an optional SSD, and support for three independent display via HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz, Mini DP (DisplayPort) up to 4K @ 60 Hz, and USB Type C up to 4K @ 60 Hz.

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The mini PC ships with about the same accessories as NEO Z83-4 Pro model, including a HDMI cable, 6 screws for the VESA mount (not shown in the photo below), a 12V/3A power supply and power cord, MINIX product brochure, and MINIX NEO N42C-4 setup guide. The external WiFi antenna is gone, as the new design- as we’ll see below – uses two internal antennas instead, and this time the company included plug adapter for the US, Europe, and the UK.

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There’s also another small bad with rubber pads, more screws for an M.2 SSD for example, and what looks like an optical S/PDIF adapter.

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The enclosure is made of plastic, with three USB 3.0 ports and the power button on one side, a Kensington lock and a CMOS clear pinhole on the other. The rear panel features the power jack, a Gigabit Ethernet port, the miniDP port, HDMI output, USB type C, and a combo headphone / SPDIF audio jack.

The user manual indicate some of the limitations for the video output:

  1. Mini DP  port – N42C-4 only supports mini DP to D-Sub conversion or direct mini DP to mini DP/DP connection. Mini DP to HDMI or Mini DP to DVI is not supported
  2. USB type C – Only support video output, not audio output. Hot plugging is not supported, meaning you should only connect/disconnect the display when NEO N42C-4 is powered off.

The USB type C port supports 9V/2A, 12V/5A, and 15V/3A power input, but 20V/3.25A is not supported. Power output is limited to 5V/3A.

I’ve connected the SPDIF adapter, and could insert my TOSLINK cable into it. But I have not tested it yet.

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Teardown / M.2 SSD + RAM Installation

In most cases, users do not need to open their mini PCs, and I do open them to check out the hardware design. But MINIX NEO N42C-4 is different since it’s upgradeable, and you can add more RAM up to 8GB, add an M.2 SSD, or even replace the WiFi module. The company confirmed that if users upgrade the RAM or internal storage it won’t affect their warranty status, neither will it void the warranty.

For that reason, I expected them to make opening the device a little easier, but you’d still need to remove the four rubber pads, and loosen four screws on the bottom of the case. Also notice the Genuine Windows logo, something I seldom see on other devices.

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The bottom still come easily, but ideally the rubber pad and screws should be located at different location, as the sticky part on the rubber pads may not work that well if you open the device two or three times. Maybe that’s why they included a spare rubber pad set in the box.

The bottom of the board includes the RTC battery, two SO-DIMM connectors with one Samsung 4GB stick, and an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168 (3168NGW) WiFi module with 802.11ac 1×1 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2.

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You can also add your own M.2 SSD, and I did so with KingDian N480 2280 M.2 SSD with 240GB capacity, but it looks like 2260 M.2 SSD may also be supported. MINIX told me you can boot from M.2 SSD. Simply re-install the Windows 10 OS on the M.2 SSD, and disable the eMMC in the BIOS.

Most people won’t need to further remove the board from the case, but I still took it out to check more of the hardware design.

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All other MINIX mini PCs I’ve reviewed so far were fanless with a large heatsink covering the board, but the company has instead gone with a actively cooled design for their NEO N42C-4, with a copper heatsink fitted with a fan blowing out the warm air from one of the sides (the one with Kensington lock). The fan is connected via a 4-pin, so it should be controlled depending on temperature, and not spinning all the time.

Some of the visible chips include Realtek RTL8111F Gigabit Ethernet transceiver, Realtek ALC662 5.1 channel HD audio codec, and an ARM MCU (MINI5870E?) for power control. Some headers are also exposed for the ICE (In-Circuit Emulator), and serial interface for debugging.

I have not tried the VESA mount, but the installation procedure should be the same as for MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro. Documentation and support are available through a dedicated forum.

Continue reading MINIX NEO N42C-4 Mini PC Review – Part 2: Windows 10 Pro.

Ugoos UM4 TV Box/Dongle Runs Android 7.1.2 with Some Uncommon Features

November 10th, 2017 4 comments

Ugoos UM3 was launched in 2014 with Android 4.4 on Rockchip RK3288 processor, and could be described a a tiny TV box, or large TV stick. That form factor must have had some success, and they later launched AM2 model powered by Amlogic S905 plus Android 6.0.

The company has now just launched Ugoos UM4 with the same form factor but with Rockchip RK3328 processor running Android 7.1.2. Ugoos likes to add some software features often not found on other devices, and that would normally require hacking the firmware, or purchasing apps.

Ugoos UM4 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR4 memory
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC flash (8GB optional) + micro SD card slot up to 32 GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a female port up to 4k @ 60 fps with CEC and HDR support, 3.5mm AV output with composite and stereo audio
  • Connectivity – Dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 with external antenna
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 OTG port (USB type A receptacle)
  • Misc – 2.5mm IR jack
  • Power Supply – 5V/2.5A via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 109 x 60 x 20 mm
  • Weight – 80 grams

The device ships with a user manual, a power adapter, a  short HDMI cable, an IR remote controller, and a extension cable with IR receiver. I’ve not found the latter in that many TV stick, and it allows you to use an IR remote control with the stick even if it is connected behind your TV. But what could be the most interesting with this device are the extra Ugoos settings in the firmware.

You’ll get a choice of 7 submenus with some options that are not commonly found in other TV boxes:

  • Root – Enable/disable root access which can be useful as some apps require a system without root, while others won’t work with root
  • File server/client – NFS and SAMBA client, and SAMBA server. I understand the clients make your SAMBA/NFS server accessible from any apps.
  • Hardware Monitor – Shows network usage, CPU info, RAM info in notification bar
  • (Fireeasy) Wireless Assistant – Remote control app for Android / iOS (download)
  • Gamepad settings – Gamepad buttons mapping app. Profiles are shareable among users
  • Debug settings – WiFi/USB Adb access, log files management, etc…
  • User scripts – Create init.d directory is enabled, and allows advanced user to run scripts at boot time without rooting the device.

The device also supports automatic frame rate switching (AFRS) with 3 modes: system resolution, video resolution priority, and frequency resolution priority. This does not affect AFRS function in Kodi, which handle this on its own. Finally, digital signage users will be happy to find an option to switch between landscape and portrait mode.

The firmware might be at the beta stage right now, as reviewers and customers are only starting to get samples right now. If you’d like to give it a try yourself, Ugoos UM4 can be purchased on Aliexpress for $89.99 shipped.

Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6) TV Box Review – Part 2: Android 7.0 Firmware

November 10th, 2017 5 comments

Zidoo H6 Pro is the very first Allwinner H6 based 4K TV box. The Android 7.0 device support H.265, H.264 and VP6 4K video decoding, comes with fast interfaces such as USB 3.0, and network connectivity with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi.

I’ve already checkout the hardware in the first part of the review entitled “Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6) TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing & Teardown“, and since then, I’ve had time to play with the TV box, and report my experience with Android 7.0 in this second part of the review.

First Boot and OTA Firmware Update

I’ve connected a USB keyboard and a USB dongle with RF dongles for an air mouse and gamepad on the two USB ports, a USB 3.0 hard drive to the single USB 3.0 ports, as well as HDMI and Ethernet cables before powering up the TV box. I also added two AAA batteries to the IR/Bluetooth remote control.

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Boot to the background image takes around 20 seconds, but to reach the actual launched it normally takes around one minute and 25 seconds when I have the hard drive connected (with 4 partitions and many files). If I remove the hard drive, the full boot can complete within 23 seconds. Not that much of an issue, but it still may be something Zidoo wants to optimize.

On the very first boot, a few seconds after the launcher showed up, I also had a pop-up window informing me that Firmware v1.0.11 update was available, with a neat changelog listing the main changes including support for Netflix 1080p playback, and YouTube 2K/4K playback.

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I clicked on the Update button to start downloading the new firmware…

… an cliked Update again after downloading, to complete the firmware update with MD5 check and installation to the eMMC flash.

The system will then reboot, and we can get access the Zidoo ZIUI launcher.

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The launcher is identical to the one in Zidoo X7 except for two extra icons on the bottom for BT remote, and “Box RC” app, but more on that later.


Beside those two new remote apps, we’ll also notice HappyCast app used by Airplay/Miracast, and the lack of ZDMC (Zidoo’s Kodi fork), as we are told to use Kodi from Google Play instead.

Settings & Google Play

The settings section looks the same as Zidoo X7 settings, so I will only go through it quickly.

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We have four main section with Network, Display, Sound and Other. I could connect to WiFI and Ethernet with no issues, and Bluetooth worked with my smartphone and a pair of headphones. Display can be set up to a resolution / framerate of 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz, and PCM 2.0 output, HDMI & S/PDIF audio pass-through options are available. Looking at the Other section, About tab, and Android Settings about TV box reveals ZIDOO_H6 Pro is running Android 7.0 on top of Linux 3.10.65, and the firmware I tested for the review is v1.0.11, as we’ve seen from the OTA firmware update part of this review.

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Android security patch level is dated November 5, 2016. Not the most recent, and you won’t get monthly to bi-monthly security updates like in Android One phones such as Xiaomi Mi A1. The firmware is rooted by default.

Looking into storage options, I had 418MB free out of 10.22GB internal storage partition at the very beginning of the review, and NTFS and exFAT partitions of my USB hard drive could be mounted, but not the EXT-4 and BTRFS partitions.

I could install all apps I needed for review using Google Play, and I also installed Riptide GP2 game with Amazon Appstore since I got it for free there.

Remote Control – IR/Bluetooth, and Box RC Android App

One way Zidoo H6 Pro differs from most competitors is that it comes with a Bluetooth remote control. By default it works with the IR transmitter, and Bluetooth is disable, but you can enable Bluetooth by launching Bluetooth Remote app, or selecting BT Remote icon on the launcher.

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Hold the back and menu keys for a few seconds until the LED on the remote start flashing. The app will then show the Bluetooth remote is connected, and the battery level. Bluetooth does not enable air mouse function, and you’d still need to use the arrow keys to move the cursor in mouse mode, so the main advantage of Bluetooth over infrared is that it does not require line of sight. You can hide the box being the TV, or inside a furniture, and the remote would work. You do not need to point the remote control towards the TV box either, it works in any directions. I successfully tested the remote control up to a distance of 10 meters. Once I lost control of the OK and Back keys, but they came back later on after a reboot, and could not reproduce the issue.

I also tested MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse / keyboard / remote control, and again no problem. It’s my favorite way to control an Android TV boxes, since it works with all sort of user interfaces and most apps, excluding some games that require touch support.

Another way to control the TV box is to install Box RC  Android app in your smartphone. Launch Box RC app in the TV box, and you should see the QR Code below.

It redirects to RC Box apk file. +  Screenshots of smartphone app.

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After installation, you’ll be presented with the “key mode” pad. Tap on “My Device” and select ZIDOO_H6 Pro to connect to the TV box. Clicking on the icon in the top left corner will give you a few more remote modes, including “Handle model” for gaming…… as well as mouse and gesture mode – both of which look like the left screenshot below -, and an Applications with a complete list of apps installed in the TV box. Simply select the app you want to launch in the TV box.

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Finally, you’ll have an About section showing the version number, and checking for app updates, and a Screenshot option to remotely take screenshots. Everything worked well. I’m just not quite sure how to use the gesture mode.

Power Consumption & Temperature

Power control is just like on Zidoo X7 with a short press on the remote control power button bringing a menu to select between Power off, Standby, or Reboot. A long press will allow you to configure the behavior of the power button: Off, Standby, or Ask (default).

I measured power consumption in various mode, and here it works better than X7:

  • Power off – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby – 3.2 Watts
  • Idle – 4.0 ~ 4.4 Watts
  • Power off + USB HDD – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby – 6.0 to 6.4 Watts
  • Idle + USB HDD – 6.0 to 6.4 Watts

With regards to temperature, the box itself stays fairly as after playing a 2-hour video in Kodi, I measured 45 and 43ºC max measured on the top and bottom with an IR thermometer, and 47ºC on both sides after playing Beach Buggy Racing & Riptide GP2 for about 30 minutes. However, right after playing, CPU-Z reported respectively 86°C and 80°C CPU & GPU temperatures, which should be close to limit of the SoC. The ambient temperature was around 28°C, and 3D performance was contant while playing.

Video & Audio Playback with Kodi, Media Center and YouTube, DRM Info

Some people reported that Kodi installed from Google Play is working well in the box, so I installed Kodi 17.5 from Google Play, enabled automatic frame rate switching, setup the connection to my SAMBA share over Ethernet, and started playing my 4K video samples:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – Not smooth, and some parts of the picture are very red
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) – Not perfectly smooth
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Plays fine, but woman face is more red than usual
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Not perfectly smooth
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Not perfectly smooth
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Not perfectly smooth
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – 2 to 3 fps (software decode)
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Not super smooth
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not very smooth, audio delay (OK, as not supported by Allwinner H6)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – Plays OK, but red parts are over-saturated?
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – ~2 fps (software decode – OK, as not supported by hardware)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – 2 to 3 fps (software decode), lots of buffering
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – 2 to 3 fps (software decode), lots of buffering

Automatic frame rate switching is not working, but that’s only a small issue compared to the disastrous results above. As shown in the screenshot above, H.265 is hardware decoded, but for some videos the CPU usage is really high, close to 100% on all four cores, so something is clearly wrong. H.265 / H.264 1080p videos fare better, so maybe that’s why other people think Kodi works well. Maybe ZDMC, Zidoo’s fork of Kodi is coming soon.

In the meantime, I switched to Media Center, and it’s night and day compared to my experience with Kodi, also played from the same SAMBA share:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK most of the time, but the end is a bit choppy
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Plays but not smoothly, plus audio delay (OK, as not supported by Allwinner H6)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – Massive artifacts  (OK, as not supported by Allwinner H6)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – OK
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Not too bad, but not 100% smooth in all scenes. (Note: Most TV boxes struggle with this video).

I’m pretty happy with the results, and automatic frame rate switching works, it just need to be enabled in Advanced menu.
Switching audio tracks and subtitles are supported by the app, and work well. SmartColor engine is specific to Allwinner processors, and may help improve the video quality, or adjust the image to your taste.


Let’s carry on testing with PCM 2.0 (stereo) output to my TV, and HDMI audio pass-through to Onkyo TX-NR636 A/V receiver, with some advanced audio codec in Media Player.

Audio Codec in Video PCM 2.0 Output HDMI Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK OK
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK OK
TrueHD 5.1 OK OK
TrueHD 7.1 OK OK
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK TrueHD 7.1 (OK)
DTS HD Master OK DTS 5.1
DTS HD High Resolution OK DTS 5.1
DTS:X OK DTS 5.1

Audio works pretty well with the only downside being a lack of support for DTS HD MA/HR which all fallback to DTS 5.1. My receiver does not support Atmos, so the box outputs TrueHD 7.1 as it should.

I’ve also tested HD videos with various bitrates:

  • ED_HD.avi (MPEG-4/MSMPEG4v2 – 10 Mbps) – OK (except running scene that is not smooth)
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – HDD: OK

Most Linaro media and H.265 elecard samples are playing fine in Media Center:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container – 1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container – 1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Media Center app returns “Can’t play video”
  • WebM / VP8 – 1080p – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 1080p – OK

The full HD Blu-ray ISO files I tested (Sintel-Bluray.iso and amat.iso) played fine, so were 1080i MPEG-2 samples. I had the usual artifacts with Hi10p videos, but audio and subtitles were displayed correctly.

I also tested a bunch of 720p/1080p movies with various codecs/containers such as H.264, Xvid, DivX, VOB / IFO, FLV, AVI, MKV, MP4, etc… Most could play, except some of my FLV video samples, and DVD Rips would show the “This is a Blu-ray folder” pop-up…

… but the app would also report “Can’t play video”. If I browse to the folder, and select the IFO, it does not work, and the only way to start is to select a VOB file. However, it does not automatically switch to the next file. So there’s a problem with DVD rips in Media Center app.

YouTube app could play videos up to 1440p, but 4K (2160p) is not an option.

I’ve shot a video to show issues in Kodi, as well as Media Center app which work pretty well, and YouTube playback up to 1440p.

DRM Info app shows Widevine DRM L1 is supported, meaning one of the requirements for Full HD Netflix is fulfilled.

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The company – as we’ve seen in the firmware changelog – claims support for Netflix 1080p, but since I don’t have an account I could not confirm that. It’s also unclear whether this has been achieved through a hack, or a partnership with Netflix. The latter would be permanent, while the former may not work in a few months. Based on info gathered on Zidoo forums, I can see other boxes like Mecool M8S Pro Plus TV box can play Netflix 1080p through a “3rd party Android TV Firmware”, so it’s likely something similar has been implemented for H6 Pro.

Network & Storage Performance

Zidoo X7 had a somewhat asymmetrical performance while copying a 278 MB file over 802.11ac + SAMBA, and Zidoo H6 Pro appears to have the same issues:

  1. Server to flash (average): 51, or around 5.45 MB/s
  2. Flash to server (average): 3 minutes 22 seconds, or around 1.37 MB/s

So excellent download performance, but weak upload performance with SAMBA. The average is around 2.24 MB/s.

Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

It’s probably a SAMBA configuration/implementation issue, as testing with iperf shows good performance in both directions:

  • 802.11ac download:

  • 802.11ac upload:

Throughput in Mbps

I also tested Gigabit Ethernet with iperf:

  • Full duplex:

  • Upload only:

  • Download only:

That’s pretty good, and fairly close to the results I got with ROCK64 Board (RK3328).

Switching to store benchmarks with A1 SD Bench.

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The cached read is due to the incredibly low exFAT write performance (1.52 MB/s). Read speed is quite weak to at 16.37 MB/s with this file system, but poor exFAT performance is a common to most Android TV boxes. NTFS is much better at 59.07MB/s read, and 42.12 MB/s but still far from the ~100MB/s R/W, I achieved with the same hard drive on ROCK64 board. Nevertheless the performance will be good enough for TV box use case. However, if you need hardware with fast storage (through USB 3.0) and Ethernet, RK3328 processor looks to be better.

Internal performance is good, and helps explain relatively fast boot (when no HDD is connected), fast app loading, and the lack of “app not responding” issues.

Gaming

I installed three games: Candy Crush Sage, Beach Buggy Racing (BBR) and Riptide GP2. I played Candy Crush with my air mouse, and no problem here. I played the two racing games with Tronsmart Mars G01 game controller, and BBR played very smoothly even with max graphics settings. Riptide GP2 was quite playable with max “resolution”, maybe at 25 to 30 fps, but not quite close to 60 fps. I feel Allwinner H6 might be a little better at playing games than Rockchip RK3328, and somewhat comparable to Amlogic S905/S905X. I played both games for around 30 minutes in total, and I did not notice any drop in performance over time, so no obvious throttling/overheating, despite the rather high CPU/GPU temperatures reported by CPU-Z.

Bluetooth

I’ve used Bluetooth more than on any other TV boxes simply because of the Bluetooth remote control. But I could also pair the TV box (seen as petrel-p1) with Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone, and transfer a few photos over Bluetooth, watch some YouTube video using X1T Bluetooth earbuds, but while I was able to see and pair my BLE fitness tracker in the Bluetooth settings, I was never able to locate the smart band from within “Smart Movement” app.

Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6) System Info and Benchmarks

CPU-Z still shows a quad core Cortex A53 r0p4 processor clocked between 480 MHz and 1.80 GHz, and a Mali-T720 GPU. Note that I never saw the frequency goes over 1488 MHz, so that 1.80 GHz may only occur during short bursts if at all.

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1906 MB total memory was reported, and 10.22 GB storage. Screen resolution was 1920×1080. As with most Allwinner platform you’ll never get a recent kernel (Linux 3.10.65).

The device achieved 40,467 points in Antutu 6.x, or about 5,000+ more compared to competitors based on RK3328 or S905X.

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One of the big jump is with 3D graphics, but there’s an easy explanation: Rockchip RK3328 and Amlogic S905X SoCs rely on Mali-450MP GPU which does not support OpenGL ES 3.1 used by “Marooned” benchmark, meaning Allwinner H6 just gets 3,510 points extra just for supporting OpenGL ES 3.1… So in reality, there’s not so much performance difference between the performance.

Vellamo 3.x confirms Allwinner H6 is that much faster with the following scores: Browser: 2,546 points, Metal: 930 points, and Multicore (836 points). I’ll put aside Multicore as on the test failed because of an issue with sysbench: “issue with Finepar: Invalid CPU mode”. But when comparing the metal score result against Amlogic S905X (910) and Rockchip RK3328 (937), the differences are minor.

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The Ice Storm Extreme score (3,951 points) is about the same as Amlogic S905X (4,183 points), but quite better than Rockchip RK3328 (2,252 points). We can also see the CPU frequency never surpassed around 1.5 GHz, so I’m wondering whether the 1.8 GHZ reported by CPU-Z might just be for show/marketing…

Conclusion

Despite Allwinner H6 SoC being pretty new, I have not found any really critical bugs in Zidoo H6 Pro TV Box. 4K video playback is working well in Media Center app with automatic frame rate switching, and HD audio pass-through, and overall performance is good, including for Wifi, Ethernet and storage.Widevine Level 1 DRM is installed, and the device is also supposed to support Netflix HD playback (not tested). 3D graphics performance is closer to the one of Amlogic S905X ,and quite better than on Rockchip RK3328 SoC.

The biggest issues I’ve found is poor support for Kodi with most 4K videos I’ve tried not playing well, and red color is over-statured in many videos. Media Center app also have a few limitations such as no support for DTS HD HR/MA pass-through (fallbacks to DTS 5.1), and IFO (DVD Rip) & Real Media video files are not supported. Other issues include poor exFAT performance, and WiFi SAMBA upload speed.

PROS

  • Android 7.0 operating system – Stable and responsive
  • Eye-pleasing ZIUI launcher / user interface
  • Very good support for 4K videos played in Media Center app with automatic frame rate switching support; Smart Color Engine for post-processing
  • HDMI pass-through for Dolby, DTS, and Dolby TrueHD working in Media Center app
  • Relatively fast eMMC flash storage (fast boot/app loading)
  • Very good networking performance for Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi (except for SAMBA uploads)
  • Bluetooth remote control
  • Decent 3D graphics performance
  • Widevine Level 1 DRM; Netflix HD support (not tested)

CONS (and bugs)

  • Kodi 17.5 from Google Play struggles to play 4K videos and color issues (too much red)
  • MediaCenter – No DTS HD pass-through support (DTS 5.1 instead); IFO (DVD rip) and Real Media (RM) videos not supported, some FLV files can’t play.
  • YouTube limited to 1440p (no 2160p option for me)
  • Poor SAMBA upload performance when using WiFi
  • exFAT file system performance poor -> use NTFS instead on external hard drive
  • Slow boot time (~1 minute 30 seconds) when hard drive with many files connected
  • “OK” button stopped to work on the Bluetooth remote control once (despite still working on the air mouse). Reboot fixed the issue.

Zidoo kindly sent the review sample from a local distributor. Resellers can contact the company via H6 Pro’s product page. GeekBuying currently has a promotion for the device where you can get it for as low as $79.99 (only for the first 50 orders), but it’s also sold on other websites for about $85 to 100 including GearBest, Amazon, or Aliexpress.

iWave Systems iW-RainboW-G25D is a SMARC 2.0 Compliant Snapdragon 820 Development Kit

October 15th, 2017 No comments

iWave Systems previously launched iW-RainboW-G25S single board board powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. The company is now back with a new Snapdragon 820 development kit called iW-RainboW-G25D that complies with SMARC 2.0 SoM specifications.

The kit include a SoM with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, WiFi and Bluetooth connected to a SMARC compliant baseboard, and optionally features a 5.5″ AMOLED touch screen display.

Click to Enlarge

iWave Systems iW-RainboW-G25D development kit specifications:

  • APQ8096 SMARC iW-RainboW-G25M SoM:
    • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (APQ8096) quad core Kryo CPU with Adreno 530 GPU @ 624MHz, Hexagon 680 DSP @ 825 MHz (no  modem)
    • System Memory – 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
    • Storage – 32GB eMMC Flash, micro SD slot
    • Connectivity
      • PCIe to Gigabit Ethernet + PHY
      • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi + BT4.1 Low Energy (BLE)
      • GPS/GNSS receiver
    • 314-pin MXM 3.0 edge connector as per SMARC 2.0 specifications
  • SMARC Carrier Board
    • Storage – M.2 slot (back), SATA, SD card slot (back), SPI flash
    • Display – 5.5″ HD AMOLED MIPI DSI display with capacitive touch
    • Video Output – HDMI
    • Audio – 3.5mm audio IN or OUT jacks
    • Camera – 8MP MIPI CSI camera connector
    • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
    • USB – 2x USB 3.0 host port, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x USB 3.0 type C port
    • Expansion
      • 1x PCIe x1 slot
      • 1x MiniPCIe slot (multiplexed with PCIe slot and one USB 2.0 port; selectable with switch)
      • 1x UART port (full function)
      • 3x 80-pin I/O Expansion connectors with USB, GPIO, MIPI CSI, MIPI DSI,  SLIM BUS, I2C, UART, SPI, HAD/I2S, etc…
    • Misc – RTC with backup battery, DIP switch
    • Debugging – 1x micro USB Port
    • Power Supply – 12V DC
    • Dimensions – 120mmx120mm (Nano ITX form factor)
  • Operating Temperature – 0°C to +70°C

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The company provides support for Android 6.x Marshmallow, and expects the kit and SoM to be used to develop various types of applications including augmented & virtual reality, 4K digital signage, media streaming, connected home & entertainment, high end wearables, drones, secure POS, video analytics.

iW-RainboW-G25D SMARC development kit appears to be available now with or without display. For further details and potentially inquire about pricing info, visit the product page.

UniElec U7621-06 MediaTek MT7621 Router Supports OpenWrt, Padavan, and PandoraBox Firmware

October 13th, 2017 22 comments

UniElec U7621-06 is a router / gateway based on Mediatek MT7621 dual core/Quad Thread processor, and offered either as a board only or complete system with optional WiFi and/or LTE PCIe modules.

While the board is said to run OpenWrt or firmware based on Mediatek Linux SDK , the company also mentions the board runs Breed bootloader that can be used to  upgrade the firmware through a web interface. UniElec claims the router supports alternative firmware such as Padavan or PandoraBox.

UniElec U7621-06 specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT7621 dual-core, quad-thread MIPS1004K processor @ up to 880MHz
  • System Memory – 256MB DDR3 (optional 512 MB)
  • Storage – 16MB NOR Flash (optional 8/32/64MB), 1x SATA 3.0 port, 1x micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 5x Gigabit Ports (4x LAN, 1x WAN)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion
    • 2x “normal” mPCIe for 802.11ac or 802.11n WiFi module
    • 1x mPCIe connector for LTE or mSATA module
    • 1x 30-pin GPIO connector
  • Debugging – 1x 4-pin Serial Debug Port
  • Misc – Reset buttons, LEDs (power, LAN, LTE, 2x user), watchdog timer
  • Power Supply – [email protected]
  • Power Consumption – 8 Watt (Max)
  • Dimensions – 188.5 x 128.5 x 25 mm (aluminum alloy case)
  • Certifications – CE & FCC Certified, RoHS Compliant
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0ºC to 55ºC or -20-85°C; Storage: -40ºC to 90ºC
  • Humidity – Operating: 5% to 95%, Storage: Max. 90%

There’s a short discussion thread on 4PDA where they should some boot log, and other information (in Russian).

Most people who read this blog will know about OpenWrt, but I had never heard about Padavan, nor PandoraBox firmware.

The first is an open source project hosted on Bitbucket that aims to “improve the rt-n56u and other supported devices on the software part, allowing power user to take full control over their hardware”. This refers to ASUS RT-N56U router powered by Mediatek MT7621 SoC. The project is actually just called rt-n56u, and Andy Padavan is the developer.

Padavan 3.4.3.9-099 Web Interface on UniElec U7621-06 – Click to Enlarge

The second is developed by a team of Chinese developer, and support various Mediatek routers. I could not find the source code, but we know it’s based on OpenWrt. You’ll find firmware for over 30 routers and evaluation boards, including PandoraBox-PBR-M1 firmware, that according to screenshots provided on Aliexpress, is the one compatible with UniElec U7621-06.

PandoraBox PBR-M1 Firmware – Click to Enlarge

The router is sold on Aliexpress, with price starting at $41.90 with the board only without WiFi or LTE support, nor enclosure, and up to $124.80 with an MT7615 4×4 802.11ac Wave2 PCIe module, and metal enclosure. Between the two extremes, there are various options for WiFi modules, with or without enclosure. If you need LTE or mSATA, you’d have to source a compatible module separately. The manufacturer’s product page does not have much more information.

Thanks to Danman for the tip