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Posts Tagged ‘Android’

Fingbox Helps You Monitor & Manage Devices on Your Network with Your iOS/Android Smartphone

November 19th, 2017 7 comments

Fing network scanner mobile app available for iOS and Android that allows you to discover which devices are connected to your Wi-Fi network, map devices, detect intruders, assess network security risks, troubleshoot network problems, and optimize wireless network performance.

But in order to go beyond network monitoring, the developers have designed Ubuntu Core based Fingbox hardware to add features such as access control (e.g. parental control), analyze the usage of bandwidth for each clients, find Wi-Fi sweet spots/ avoid black spots, verify your Internet speed, monitor devices in your network, and protects it with a digital fence that works against threats.

From a hardware perspective Fingbox is a round shaped Ethernet node with the following specifications:

  • Processor – ARMv7 processor
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet

The Linux (Ubuntu Core) device just needs to be connected to your network via an Ethernet cable, and powered by its adapter. You’d then run Fing app on Android or iOS, which will automatically detect the Fingbox, and allow you to easily monitor and control devices on your home network. The best way to clearly understand what the device brings to the table is to watch the demo embedded below.

Fingbox was launched through an Indiegogo campaign, that ended up very successfully with 20,000 backers, and over @1.6 millions raised, but now you can purchased it directly from Amazon for $129 with shipping to US, UK, EU, and Canada, or Fing website for other countries.

When I think about it, I’m wondering why we don’t get such functionality from the router directly, as surely that’s something vendors could implement in the firmware, except possibly on the cheapest models due to storage and/or memory limitations, with no added hardware cost. Feel free to comment if you can already use your smartphone to monitor and manage other devices via your router, or is Fingbox the only workable solution right now?

Google Releases Tensorflow Lite Developer Preview for Android & iOS

November 17th, 2017 No comments

Google mentioned TensorFlow Lite at Google I/O 2017 last may, an implementation of TensorFlow open source machine learning library specifically optimized for embedded use cases. The company said support was coming to Android Oreo, but it was not possible to evaluate the solution at the time.

The company has now released a developer preview of TensorFlow Lite for mobile and embedded devices with a lightweight cross-platform runtine that runs on Android and iOS for now.

TensorFlow Lite Architecture – Click to Enlarge

TensorFlow Lite supports the Android Neural Networks API to take advantage of Machine Learning accelerators when available, but falls back to  CPU execution otherwise.

The architecture diagram above shows three components for TensorFlow Lite:

  • TensorFlow Model – A trained TensorFlow model saved on disk.
  • TensorFlow Lite Converter – A program that converts the model to the TensorFlow Lite file format.
  • TensorFlow Lite Model File – A model file format based on FlatBuffers, that has been optimized for maximum speed and minimum size.

The model file is then within a Mobile App using a C++ or Java (Android only) API, and an interpreter optionally using the Neural Networks API.

TensorFlow Lite currently supports three models: MobileNet (A class of vision models to identify across 1000 different object classes),Inception v3 (An image recognition model with higher accuracy, larger size), and Smart Reply (An on-device conversational model for one-touch replies to chat messages).

The preview release is available on Github, where you’ll also find a demo app that can be tried with a pre-build binary, but it’s probably more fun/useful to instead build it from source in Android Studio and try to change the code to experiment and learn. You can also build the complete framework and demo app from source by cloning the repo. TensorFlow Lite may also be coming to Linux soon, as one of the comment in the announcement mentions that “it should be pretty easy to build TensorFlow Lite on Raspberry PI. We plan to make sure this path works seamlessly soon“. While most of the documentation can be found on Github, some more info may be available on TensorFlow Lite page.

WandPi 8M Development Board Coming Soon with NXP i.MX8M SoC for $89 and Up

November 17th, 2017 19 comments

Wandboard launched in 2012 using Freescale i.MX6 Solo/Dual processor, following soon after by Wandbord Quad. We are not hearing much about those boards today, but since the processor comes with 10 to 15-year long term support, they are still being sold, and software keeps getting updated. For example, the board first shipped with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), and the company recently provided Android 7.1 (Nougat) images, and Android 8.x Oreo is likely coming next year.

The company has now unveiled the next generation of Wandboard boards with WandPi 8M powered by NXP i.MX 8M Cortex A53/M4 processors, with up to 2GB DDR4, 16GB eMMC flash, and various network connectivity options and ports.

Three versions of the board (Lite, Pro, Deluxe) will be available with the following specifications:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX8M Quad with four ARM Cortex A53 cores, a Cortex M4F real-time core, and Vivante GC7000Lite GPU with support for OpenGL/ES 3.1, OpenGL 3.0, Vulkan, OpenCL 1.2
  • System Memory / Storage
    • WANDPI-8M-LITE – 1GB DDR4 + 4GB eMMC flash
    • WANDPI-8M-PRO – 2GB DDR4 + 8GB eMMC flash
    • WANDPI-8M-DELUXE – 2GB DDR4 + 16GB eMMC flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz
  • Video Decode – 4K UltraHD HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG) up to 4Kp60 for H.265, VP9, 4Kp30 for H.264, 1080p60 for MPEG2, MPEG4p2, VC1, VP8, RV9, AVS/AVS+, h.263, DiVX.
  • Connectivity

    40-pin Header Pinout Diagram

    • Gigabit Ethernet port via Atheros AR8035 chip
    • WANDPI-8M-PRO/DELUXE – Dual band 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.2 via Atheros QCA9377; MHF4 antenna connector
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion Header
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi (mostly) compatible GPIO header with I2C, UART, SPI, PWM, GPIO, SAI/I2S, 5V, 3.3V and GND
    • mikroBUS socket with SPI/I2C/UART/PWM/GPIO/Analog for MikroElectronika Click Boards (now over 250 modules)
  • Debugging – 1x micro USB port for serial console access
  • Misc – Reset button
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB type C port
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56 x 17.5 mm
  • Weight – Working on it
  • Environment / Reliability –
    • Temperature Range – 0 to 50°C
    • Humidity – 10 to 90% RH humidity
    • MTFB – 50,000 hours
    • Shock – 50G/25ms
    • Vibration – 20G/0-600Hz
  • Certifications – Compliant with CE / FCC / RoHS / REACH directives

The block diagram also reveals MIPI camera display (FPC) and MIPI camera (BTB) which are not listed in the specifications.

WandPi 8M Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Information about software is currently limited, and we just know the boards will run Linux with “open source code and binary images that are easily accessible” as well design guides and schematics just like the previous Wandboards. The company also shows some logos for the Yocto Project, Ubuntu, Android, Kodi, and Debian, so we can expect support for those.

WandPi 8M boards will ship in Q2 2018, but the company is already taking pre-orders for $89 (LITE), $99 (PRO) and $119 (DELUXE). You’ll find purchase links and a few more details on the product page. Those relatively low cost development boards could also be good news for other open source i.MX8 projects such as Purism Librem 5 smartphone, and MNT reform DIY modular laptop, as more developers may be involved on working on i.MX 8M software support.

LEAGOO T5c Smartphone Features Spreadtrum SC9853i Octa-core Intel Airmont SoC

November 16th, 2017 7 comments

Intel is supposed to have left the mobile and IoT markets, but a few month ago, I wrote about Spreadtrum SC9861G-IA, an octa-core Intel Airmont SoC designed for LTE smartphones. Airmont is the microarchitecture used in Intel’s Cherry Trail and Braswell SoC, so the Spreadtrum SoC is not based on a new microarchitecture, but it still shows Intel decided to still use the technology, just not with their name on the processor.

The news was published in February, but so far I have not seen any phone based on the processor. Instead, a similarly specced SoC, namely Spreatrum SC9853i, is now found in LEAGOO T5c 5.5″ smartphone with 3GB RAM and 32GB flash.

LEAGOO T5c smartphone specifications:

  • SoC – Spreatrum SC9853i octa-core Intel 64-bit Airmont “Cherry Trail-T” processor @ up to 1.8 GHz (14-nm FinFET process)
  • System Memory – 3GB RAM
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash
  • Display – 5.5″ SHARP Full HD IPS display
  • Cellular Connectivity – LTE cat 6 and dual 4G networks
  • Camera – 13.0 MP + 2.0 MP dual rear camera with aufocus,  front-facing camera
  • Misc – Font fingerprint scanner
  • Battery – 3,000 mAh battery with 5V/2A “quick charge”

The operating system is not mentioned at all, but it’s probably safe to assume it’s running some version of Android.

The company claims SC9853i delivers 30% less power consumption, and is 25% to 39% faster than MediaTek MT6750 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz (Cluster 1) / 1.0 GHz (Cluster 2) for single core, multi-core and “CPU total” – whatever that means – performance.

Leegoo T5c retail price will be around $129.99, but they have a promotion at launch, offering the phone for $1.99 to 5 winners on December 4, as well as a $30 discount coupon to some of the participants, making it a $100 phone. For comparison, LEAGOO T5 smartphone based on  Mediatek MT6750T SoC, but with 4GB RAM/64GB storage instead of just 3GB/32GB, currently sells for $128 shipped.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Smartphone Review – Part 2: Android 7.1.2 Firmware

November 15th, 2017 10 comments

Google recently announced several Android One smartphones, which are supposed to get 2 years of firmware updates, including to the latest version of Android, such as HTC U11 Life and Android One Moto X4. Many of those phones are limited to some specific countries, but Xiaomi Mi A1 will be launched in over 40 countries, and thanks to Chinese online shops is really available worldwide. GearBest sent me the latter last month, and in the first part of Xiaomi Mi A1 review I simply went through unboxing, booted the phone, perform an OTA update, and ran Antutu 6.x on the phone for a quick estimate of performance.

Since then, I’ve had around four weeks to play with the smartphone running Android 7.1.2 (still), so I’m ready to report my experience in the second part of the review.

Click to Enlarge

General Impressions

In the past year, I used Vernee Apollo Lite smartphone powered by Mediatek Helio X20 deca-core SoC, which in theory is quite faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 used in Mi A1, but in practise, I did not feel much difference in performance for example while browsing the web or checking email, and in some games, performance of Xiaomi Mi A1 was actually much better than on Apollo Lite, as I reported in the post entitled “Mediatek Helio X20 vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 – 3D Graphics Benchmarks and CSR 2 Game“.

Some of my wishes in Vernee Apollo Lite included a better camera, and improved GPS accuracy, and Mi A1 is a big improvement for both as we’ll see in more details later on in the review. The build quality of the phone is good, and the design looks more stylish and thinner than my previous phone. The display is clear, and I like the wide brightness range, that is low enough not to hurt eyes in the dark, and high enough to use the phone in sunlight. It’s quite glossy though, so you’ll have reflect especially with black background, and it’s possibly to use it as a mirror without turning it on… I seldom call with my phone, but the couple of times I made or received actual calls, the sound was loud and clear. I spend most of my time browsing the web, checking emails, watching YouTube video, and playing games (mostly CSR 2) on my phone, and do so over WiFi connection, and the phone just works flawlessly for this with good performance, and no overheating (that I could notice) contrary to Vernee Apollo Lite, which does get hot in some cases, and slows down considerably.

I’m also happy about battery life, and with my use case of hour 4 to 5 hours use a day, I can still get around 30 hours on a charge. One of the downside is the lack of fast charging, so I can’t quickly top of the battery for 5 minutes before going out. A full charge takes around 1h30, so still not too bad, and since the battery lasts more than 24 hours, it would be possible to charge every day at the same time to avoid low battery charge while on the go.

The main selling of the phone is being part of Android One program, as you’ll get security updated once or twice a month, as well as bigger Android version updates for two years hopefully up to Android 9 / P.  You do pay a premium for this, so if regular security/firmware updates are not important to you, you’ll get better value with other smartphones.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone, I could not find any major flaws so far, so I can safely recommend it especially if having up-to-date firmware (for the next two years) is important to you.

Benchmarks: Antutu, Vellamo, and 3DMarks

Here are Antutu 6.x benchmark results for people who have yet to read the first part of the review.

Click to Enlarge

60,000 points is a decent score for a mid-range phone, but for example quite lower than the 85,840 points I got on Vernee Apollo Lite.

Next up… Vellamo 3.x benchmark. Comparisons are against older phone / Android version, so I should probably drop that benchmark in future reviews…

Click to Enlarge

Note that I could not run Vellamo with Chrome browser, since it would hang during CSS 3D animation. Firefox mostly worked, except for Pixel Bender test timing out… The number are all much lower than my Vellamo results on Vernee Apollo Lite.

So I also ran GeekBench 4. AFAIK, It’s however limited to CPU performance so it does not really give real world indication like Vellamo’s Browser test for example.

Click to Enlarge

We can see the single core performance is quite lower than more powerful Cortex A72 “class” processors, but multicore performance is close enough. You can find the full details here.

I also ran 3DMark Ice Store Extreme for evaluation 3D performance further. Vernee Apollo Lite would max out the test, but Xiaomi Mi A1 scored “only” 8,045 points.

Click to Enlarge

The interested part is that my real-life experience does not match the benchmarks at all, as I found Mi A1 to perform just as well as if not much better in many apps. We’ll find out one potential reason just below.

Storage and Wi-Fi Performance

I ran A1 SD Benchmark app to estimate storage performance of 64 GB eMMC flash, and Xiaomi Mi A1 has by far the best storage I’ve used on any devices.

With sequential read speed of 198.94 MB/s, and a write speed of 192.45 MB/s, the device is in a class of its down. Ideally, random I/O performance should be tested too, but it still gives an indication.

Read & Write Speeds in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Time for some WiFi testing. I did not have any issues, and felt web pages were always loading fast, and YouTube videos played smoothly even at 1080p. But let’s have some numbers to play using SAMBA file copy (278MB) over 802.11ac WiFi  with ES File Explorer, and placing the phone is the same test location as the other DUTs. Just like many recent devices SAMBA “download” is much faster than “upload”:

  • File copy SAMBA to Flash – 47.5s on average (5.85 MB/s)
  • File copy Flash to SAMBA – 2m10s on average (2.13 MB/s)

When we average both numbers, Xiaomi WiFi SAMBA performance is only slightly above average, but still outperformed by some 802.11n devices.

Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Maybe that’s an Android Nougat bug… In order to have raw numbers, I also used  iperf for both upload and download

  • 802.11ac WiFi upload:

  • 802.11ac WiFi download:

Assymetry is gone, and Mi A1 is the best device in that test, but we have less data for comparison…

Throughput in Mbps

The main takeaway is that WiFi is working well, and performance is very good.

Rear and Front Facing Cameras

Beside being part of Android One program, another key feature of Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone is the dual rear camera with optical zoom.

Rear Camera

So I’ve taken a few shots with the camera, starting with an easy cat shot… The thing that surprised me the most at first was the speed at which the photo is taken. It just happens instantaneously. With older devices, I often had to wait around one second after pressing the button while it was doing the auto-focus and take photos. You can launch the camera app very quickly – without having to unlock your phone – by pressing the power button twice.

“What do you want?” Cat – Click for Original Size

Clear enough for a camera phone. Close up shots are sometimes problematic with phone, but I had pretty good results. The text book shot is close to perfect.

I used to Read that Stuff – Click for Original Size

Development board can be tricky to photograph because the camera can focus on the wrong part (e.g. top of Ethernet/USB connector), But Orange Pi One photo below is fairly good. I had to try a few times to get the right focus.

 

Best.Board.Ever? – Click for Original Size

You can press on the live view to set the focus point. It will help.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

Flower photos were also good with color matching reality.

Local Angel – Click for Original Size

Photos taken with good lighting are always good.

What year is this? Morning Shot – Click for Original Size

The photo above was taken in the morning with the sun in my back.

Dirt Road Genocide at Sunset – Click for Original Size

When it get a little dark, or in shots with different lighting conditions for foreground and background it helps to enable HDR function.

HDR Works in Temples Too – Click for Original Size

Night shots can be a little grainy, but I find they are still pretty good…

Smoking Bear with Pig and Hedgehog overlooked by Confused Panda at Night – Click for Original Size

Now some video testing, starting with the easiest of all 1080p30 day time video.

The video looks fine, but if you’ve watched it with audio, you may have noticed may not be quite right with the microphone/audio.

4K video can be recorded at 30 fps, but it does feel as smooth as the 1080p one while panning.

All videos are recorded using MP4 Quicktime container, H.264 video codec @ 30 fps, and MPEG-4 AAC stereo audio. If you plan to watch 4K videos from the phone on TV, you’ll have to make sure the player supports 4K H.264 @ 30 fps, as some 4K TV boxes are limited to 24 fps.

Slow motion recording is something that I did not have in my previous phone, and it’s working fairly well up to 720p30 (recorded at 120 fps).

Night time videos are the most difficult, and even at 1080p the results are quite poor with the video frame rate at 14 fps, auto focus being seriously confused, and and audio has a metallic component to it, even more than for the video I recorded during day time.

So I tried again to shot a video will taking to myself, and audio was just fine. So I guess the issue may be specific to far field audio or traffic noise.

Font-facing camera

The front-facing camera works pretty well for selfies.

Angel with Bra – Click for Original Size

Golden Necklace Beauty – Click for Original Size

Black “The Boss” – Click for Original Size

I also used it with a one hour long Skype call.

Camera App Settings

Let’s have a look at the camera app interface. In the preview window we have three icons at the top to change flash settings, enable/disable portrait mode (if enabled it will bur the background), and enable/disable HDR.

Click to Enlarge

If we tap on Options we’ll have the choice to play with Panorama mode, adjust timer and audio settings, set manual camera settings for white balance, exposure time, focus, ISO, lens selection (wide/tele), and more. Tapping the Settings icon on the top right corner will bring further camera settings.

Click to Enlarge

If you plan to share photos with strangers you may want to disable “Save location info” as otherwise your GPS location will be embedded into the photos’s EXIF info. Face detection is nice, but you may consider disabling “Age & gender”, as it will automatically detect whether a person is male or female, and estimate their age while taking a photo (although it won’t show on the photo itself). I’ve seen the phone misgender people, and age can always be a contentious subject 🙂

Click to Enlarge

If we switch to video capture we have much fewer options, mostly time-lapse or slow-motion, and we can select video quality (4K, FULL HD, HD, SD).

Battery Life

Xiaomi Mi A1’s ~3,000 mAh baterry provides enough juice for over 30 hours in my use cases (Web browsing / YouTube / Gaming 4 to 5 hours a day). I also like to turn off my phone automatically at night between 22:00 and 7:00, so it adds a little to the battery life too. A typical cycle for charge to charge looks as the one below.

I normally use LAB501 Battery Life app to test battery life from 100% to 15% for browsing, video and gaming cases, with brightness to 50%, WiFi and Cellular (no data) enabled, but for some reasons I cannot explain, the tests would always stop after a few hours – despite several attempts -, not drawing the battery down to 15%.

Click to Enlarge

However, the battery discharge on this phone, and Vernee Apollo Lite looks linear…

…so I’ll use linear approximation to estimate the actual battery life..

  • Browsing (100% to 15%) – 740 minutes (12h20)
  • Video (100% to 15%) –  598 minutes (9h58)
  • Gaming (100% to 15%) –  389 minutes (6h29)

…and compare it to the other battery powered mobile devices I’ve tested so far.

Battery Life in Minutes

Xiaomi Mi A1 wins hands down against the other (older) devices I’ve tested when it comes to battery life. The good news is that battery life seems to improve over the years, as the older devices fare the worse. So a few more years, and we can get a week of charge on our phones?

Charging is not as fast as on Vernee Apollo Lite since there’s no Quick Charge, and it takes 1h30 to 1h50 to fully charge the phone from 15% to 100%. Topping the battery from a low of 8% to 27% took me 23 minutes. For comparison, I could do a full charge in one hour on Apollo Lite with Quick Pump 3.0, and a 20 minute charge would add about 40% to the battery.

Miscellaneous

Bluetooth

No problems here. I could transfer photos between the phone and Zidoo H6 Pro Android TV box over Bluetooth, connect two different Bluetooth headsets to the phone, and pair with, and retrieve data from a fitness tracker using Smart Movement app.

GPS

GPS is also an improvement over all the other Mediatek phones I’ve had. GPS fix is super fast like on Vernee Apollo Lite, but while using Nike+ Running, GPS accuracy is much better on the Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone, as you can see from the two screenshots below.

Xiaomi Mi A1 (left) vs Vernee Apollo Lite (Right) – Click to Enlarge

I ran two laps with the Xiaomi phone, and they almost exactly overlap. The downside is that I have to run a little longer to achieve the same distance on the app 🙂

Gaming

I tried four games: Candy Crush Saga, Beach Buggy Bleach, Riptide GP2, and CSR Racing 2. All played very smoothly, to my surprise CSR 2 performed much better than on Vernee Apollo Lite, despite the latter having a more powerful ARM Mali-T880 GPU in Helio X20 SoC. As mentioned in a aforelinked post, I can see 3 potential reasons for the difference in that game: more optimization on Qualcomm SoCs than Mediatek SoCs, slightly lower level of details shown in the Qualcomm phone, better cooling for Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone, which stays cool at all times, contrary to the Vernee phone which may require a cool pack to run smoothly…

IR Transmitter / Remote Control App

An infrared transmitter is built into Xiaomi Mi A1  smartphone, and can be control with Mi Remote app. I tried with LG 4K UHD TV, and it worked well.

Click to Enlarge

Air conditioners are always more challenging. So first I had to go through a process to detect which Haier aircon model I had, pressing poweroff button, and then other buttons, to find the right model among 158 options.

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It finally found mine, I gave it a name “Bedroom Haier AC” and realized on some functions would work, and some temperatures are not supported. So not so useful in that case.

Others

Multitouch app reports the touchscreen supports 10 touch points. The smartphone has a single speaker with mediocre quality when listening to music, but that’s not that big of an issue as Bluetooth speakers are now rather inexpensive, and in my daily life I mostly use wired or Bluetooth audio headsets. It’s good to have a 3.5mm audio jack, but I normally prefer when it’s placed on the top of the phone, rather than the bottom left, which can be an issue when using an armband, or while holding the phone.

Video Review

I’ve also shot a video review mostly summarizing the points above, showing the camera in action, playing Riptide GP2, a YouTube video up to 1080p, opening a large PDF files, etc…

Long Term Review / History

Since I’ve very satisfied with the phone, I’m going to retire Vernee Apollo Lite, and make Mi A1 my main phone. Since it’s also supposed to be upgraded for two years, I’ll keep this section to report the history of the phone, like a long term review, and report important events like firmware updates, or if something stops working. I got 3 firmware updates since I received the phone less than a month ago.

  • September 5, 2017 – Xiaomi Mi A1 announcement
  • September 12, 2017 – Official launch in India
  • October 16, 2017 –  Unboxing and September 2017 security update (1059.6 MB), Android 7.1.2 / Linux 3.18.31
  • October 21, 2017 – October 2017 security update (118 MB), Android 7.1.2 / Linux 3.18.31
  • November 3, 2017 – October 2017 security update (75.7 MB), Android 7.12 / Linux 3.18.31

Conclusion

I’m really pleased with my experience with Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone, and to my surprise it’s an improvement over Vernee Apollo Lake with most features, except for fast charging that’s missing from the phone.

PROS

  • Stable and relatively recent Android 7.1.2 firmware
  • Part of Android One program with promise of regular security and firmware updates for 2 years (including Android 8.x and 9.x).
  • Good & sharp 1920 x 1080 display; wide brightness range
  • Excellent Wi-Fi 802.11ac performance
  • Excellent eMMC flash performance (Best I’ve tested so far)
  • Long battery life (about 30 hours per charge for 4 to 5 hours active use per day)
  • Good front-facing camera and rear dual cameras for depth effect
  • Overall better app performance compared to my previous Helio X20 based smartphone, especially for some games
  • Support forums

CONS

  • Quick Charge (Fast charging) not available
  • Videos shot with the rear camera are not smooth in dark scenes, and audio is poor in some videos (metal sound)
  • SAMBA WiFi performance is average for transfer from phone to server
  • Mi Remote  app (infrared remote) is not working well with my aircon (Haier)
  • Display is quite glossy / reflective
  • Built-in speaker not really good to listen to music
  • Android One support may add about $30 to $40 to the price of the phone
  • GPL source code not released yet, but an article suggests Mi A1 Linux kernel source code may be released within three months.

I’d like to thank GearBest for providing a review sample. Xiaomi Mi A1 (Black) can be purchased on their shop for $219.99 shipped with coupon A1HS. Other shopping options include GeekBuying, Banggood, eBay, and others online shops.

Some people noticed that Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 smartphone has very similar specifications with a Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage, the same 5.5″ Full HD display, but no dual rear camera, and a bigger battery (4,100 mAh). It’s sold for on Aliexpress for about $190 (Black version) and around $180 (Other colors), so if we assume the battery / camera features cancel out (in terms of price) that means Android One support adds about $30 to $40. One way to look at it is that you pay a little less than $2 per month for 2-year support with regular security & firmware updates.

$9+ Libre Computer Tritium Allwinner H2+/H3/H5 SBCs Leverage Raspberry Pi 3 Form Factor (Crowdfunding)

November 15th, 2017 17 comments

A few months ago, Libre Computer introduced Le Potato board (aka AML-S905X-CC) powered by Amlogic S905X processor plus up to 2GB RAM, and using Raspberry Pi 3 form factor.

The company is now back with three Tritium boards, using the same form factor, but instead powered by Allwinner H2+, H3, or H5 processors, with a lower price point as the Tritium IoT board (H2+ / 512 MB RAM) goes for $9 only.

Tritium 1GB and Tritium 2GB Boards

Tritium boards (ALL-H3-CC) specifications:

  • SoC and Memory
    • Tritium IoT – Allwinner H2+ quad core Cortex A7 processor with Mali-400MP2, 512MB DDR3
    • Tritium 1GB – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 processor with Mali-400MP2, 1GB DDR3
    • Tritium 2GB – Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor with Mali-450MP4, 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 1x micro SD Card slot, eMMC module connector
  • Video & Audio Output
    • Tritium IoT – HDMI up to 1080p60, AV port
    • Tritium 1GB & 2GB – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K30, AV port
  • Camera – Parallel camera interface
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi header with I2C, SPI, PWM, UART, 5V, 3.3V, and GPIO
  • Debugging –  UART via header for access to the serial console
  • Misc – IR Receiver, u-boot button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – Raspberry Pi 3 form factor

The boards do not perform as fast as the Amlogic S905X one, and the I2S and S/PDIF header are gone, but a camera connector has been added to connect a camera. Tritium IoT board runs Linux only (e.g. Ubuntu 16.04), but Tritium 1GB can run also Android 7.0, and Tritium 2GB Android 7.1, beside the listed Linux distributions:

  • Ubuntu 16.04 by Libre Computer Project
  • Debian 9 Stretch by Libre Computer Project
  • Ubuntu 16.04 by Armbian

The Linux source will be released on Github as they’ve done for Le Potato, for which they’ve also released the PDF schematics, and CE/FCC certifications.

Tritium Board in Case made for Raspberry Pi 3

The project has been launched on Kickstarter with a $10,000 goal. The bare boards are available for respectively $9 (IoT), $19 (1GB), and $29 (2GB), but you can also get kits with all accessories such as the $59 “Tritium IoT Kit Special” with comes with:

  • Tritium IoT Board
  • 8GB eMMC 4.x Module
  • Push-Pin Heatsink with Thermal Tape
  • 5.1V/2.5A MicroUSB Power Supply
  • Active Cooling Media Center Polycarbonate Case
  • 1m HDMI Cable
  • 8GB MicrorSD Card
  • Wireless RF Remote with Mini Keyboard and Touchpad

Shipping is not included and depends on the selected reward, but for example it adds $7 to $9 to Tritium IoT board, and $10 to $14 to the kit listed above. Delivery is planned for January 2018, and general availability (outside the KS campaign) in February 2018. Hardware customizations are accepted for orders of 500 units or more.

The market is starting to get crowded with Allwinner H development boards thanks to the Orange Pi and NanoPi board families, but that also means software support should be good, and AFAIK, Tritium boards are the first to be compatible (HW + Mech) to Raspberry Pi 3, excluding NanoPi Duo + mini Shield which does not come with HDMI, and is limited to Allwinner H2+ with 512MB RAM. That means you could reuse or purchase RPi 3 accessories and they should work either out of the box (enclosures), or with some SW development efforts (add-on boards). RPi MIPI camera and display modules won’t work.

Magicsee C300 is a $70 DVB-T2/C & DVB-S2 Android Set-Top Box Powered by Amlogic S905D SoC

November 14th, 2017 10 comments

Amlogic S905D processor is an evolution of Amlogic S905X with Gigabit Ethernet support, and TS interfaces for digital TV tuners. That explains why most devices launched with the processor come with tuners. So far, we’ve covered or reviewed a few including Sen5 STB (2x DVB-T2/C), Mecool KI Pro (T2/S2), and TX95D TV box with a single DVB-T2 tuner.

Magicsee C300 is another Amlogic S905D Android STB that comes with DVB-T2/C (Terrestrial & Cable), and DVB-S2 (Satellite) tuners, and sells for just under $70 on Aliexpress, and can be found on other shops such as GearBest.

Magicsee C300 specifications are quite similar to the ones for Mecool KI Pro:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905D quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with penta core Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60Hz with support for HDR10 and HLG, and 3.5mm AV (composite video) jack
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV (stereo audio), optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – 10-bit H.265, and VP9 Profile 2 up to 4K60, H.264 up to 4K30, AVS+ and other codecs up to 1080p60
  • Tuners
    • DVB-T/T2/C tuner with coaxial antenna input connector
    • DVB-S/S2 tuner with F antenna input connector
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, IR receiver
  • Power Supply –  DC 12V/1.5A
  • Dimensions – 14.80 x 12.00 x 3.30 cm
  • Weight – 195 grams

The only differences are that they used DDR3 memory instead of DDR4, Fast Ethernet instead on Gigabit Ethernet, and a slightly more powerful power supply (18W vs 12W). The ports layout is exactly the same, so I suspect Magicsee is using Videostrong KI Pro board with DDR3 memory, and no Gigabit Ethernet placed into a different case.

The set-top box is said to run Android 6.0.1 according to Aliexpress/GearBest, and ships with a power adapter, a HDMI cable, an IR remote control, and a user manual.

Shenzhen Intek Technology may be the manufacturer of the device as they list Magicsee C300 on Alibaba. There’s one key difference however, as they claim the device runs Android 7.1.2 support instead of Android 6.0.1. Android Nougat would make more sense, as KI Pro is running the more recent operating system.

Via AndroidPC.es

NanoPi Fire2A & Fire3 Boards Released with Samsung/Nexell Quad & Octa Core Processors

November 12th, 2017 26 comments

FriendlyElec previously launched NanoPi 2 Fire board powered by Samsung (Nexell) S5P4418 quad core Cortex A9 SoC, mostly interesting because of its small form factor, camera and LCD interfaces.

The company has now launched two new boards based on S5Pxx18 processors, namely NanoPi Fire2A powered by S5P4418 SoC, and NanoPi Fire3 based on S5P6818 octa-core Cortex-A53 SoC. Both boards share the same form factor, which remains quite similar to the one of NanoPi 2 Fire, except the HDMI connector now makes place for a micro HDMI port, the USB 2.0 has moved into vertical position, and a few other tweaks have been made to positions of buttons and components.

NanoPi Fire2A / Fire3 specifications:

  • SoC
    • Fire2A – Samsung S5P4418 quad core Cortex A9 processor @ up to 1.4GHz, Mali-400MP GPU
    • Fire3 – Samsung S5P6818 octa core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.4 GHz, Mali-400MP GPU
  • System Memory
    • Fire2A – 512MB DDR3
    • Fire3 – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 1x Micro SD Slot
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Video Output / Display I/F- 1x micro HDMI 1.4a port up to 1080p60, RGB LCD interface
  • Camera – 24-pin DVP interface; 0.5mm pitch
  • USB – 1x USB Host port; 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port for power and data
  • Expansions Headers – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with UART, I2C, SPI, GPIOs…
  • Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – Power and reset buttons, power and system LEDs, RTC battery header
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port; STM32F03 ARM Cortex M0 MCU for power handling (SW power off, sleep , and wakeup function)
  • Dimension: 75 x 40 mm

Other differences with the earlier model: AXP288 PMIC is gone, and replaced by an STM32 Cortex M0 MCU, and the company has now added mounting holes for a heatsink. The company provides FriendlyCore, and Debian firmware images for both hardware, and an extra Android image for Fire3 board. FriendlyCore is based on Ubuntu Core 16.04 with Linux 4.4, Qt 5.9 with OpenGL, and GStreams with VPU acceleration. The good news is the Linux kernel got an upgrade from Linux 3.4 to a more recent Linux 4.4 LTS kernel.

You’ll find download links and instructions to get starting in the Wiki pages here and there. NanoPi Fire2A is sold for $28 plus shipping, while NanoPi Fire3 goes for $35. You may also be interested in compatible accessories and external modules, including S430 4.3″ capacitive touch screen LCD display, X710 7.1″ capacitive touch screen LCD display, HD101 10.1″ touchscreen LCD display, CAM500B 5MP CMOS camera, Matrix GPS module, and others which you can find by browsing in the store.

NanoPi Fire2A/3 Connected to LCD430 Display (Left) and GPS Matrix Module (Right)