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WeTek Unveils Hyperion 4G LTE Set-Top Box & Nix OTT TV Box Running Android TV OS

January 12th, 2018 5 comments

When Geniatech announced Android TV certification for their ATV598Max set-top box with digital TV tuners compliant with DVB-T2, DVB-C, ATSC, or ISDB standards earlier this week, we noticed how few official Android TV STB there was on the market.

But more may be coming, as Wetek will showcase two Android TV products at CABSAT in Dubai on January 14-16 with Wetek Hyperion Amlogic S905D 4G LTE set-top box, as well as WeTek Nix OTT box powered by Amlogic S905X processor.

WeTek Hyperion

Specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905D quad core ARM Cortex-A53 SoC up to 1.5 GHz, with penta-core ARM Mali-450 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 5.0 flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a (CEC, HDR, HDCP 1.4/2.2), mini jack analog AV output
  • Connectivity
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • Dual band 802.11 ac/b/g/n WiFi (optional 802.11ac MiMo)
    • Bluetooth 4.0
    • 4G LTE modem – LTE-FDD: B2/B4/B5/B12/B13/B17/B25/B26; LTE-TDD: B41; Download up to 150 (Mbps). Upload up to 50 (Mbps)
  • Power Supply –  5V/2A

Hyperion does not appear to come with tuner, so we’ll have to see since S905D processor is well-suited for tuners. I think 4G LTE is popular in the Middle East since that’s how many people get their broadband Internet, so it’s possible this model mostly targets the MENA market. The device is promoted as a “complete home hub capable of providing the best video quality, user’s favorite Android applications and routing all Internet traffic at home”.

The set-top box currently runs Android TV 7.1.2, but Oreo 8.0 will also be supported, and DRM is enabled using ARM TrustZone SecureOS with Google Widevine Level 1 and Microsoft PlayReady 2.5 & 3.0 for secured, premium content playback. It will ship with a power supply, a 1.2m HDMI cable, and an optional one meter IR extender cable.

WeTek Nix

The second device appears to include lots of ventilation holes, and is a more traditional OTT TV box with the following specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905X quad core ARM Cortex-A53 SoC up to 1.5 GHz, with penta-core ARM Mali-450 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC 5.0 flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a (CEC, HDR, HDCP 1.4/2.2) up to 4K @ 60 Hz, mini jack analog AV output
  • Connectivity – 100 Mbit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 ac/b/g/n WiFi (optional 8902.11ac MiMo), Bluetooth 4.0
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A

Like Hyperion, Nix support Android TV 7.1.2 / 8.0, as well as Widewine L1 and PlayReady 2.5/3.0, but also adds Verimatrix VCAS for IPTV. The TV box with also ship with a power adapter, HDMI cable, and optional IR extender cable.

Both device seem to be targeted to OEM partners, and it’s unclear whether those models will be sold direct to end users like previous models such as Wetek Hub or WeTek Play 2. We’ll probably find out more in a few days.

Thanks to Ron for the tip

Samsung Announces Exynos 9810 Octa-core Processor Optimized for AI and Multimedia Applications

January 4th, 2018 3 comments

Samsung Electronics has just announced the launch of Exynos 9 Series 9810 (Exynos 9810) manufactured with Samsung’s 10-nm FinFET process, featuring an eight core processor clocked up to 2.9 GHz, a gigabit (1.2 Gbps) LTE modem and deep learning-enhanced image processing.

Single core performance is aud to be improved by two-fold, while multi-core performance gets a 40% improvement compared to the previous generation chip, which should be Exynos 8895. ARM Mali-G72 GPU is said to bring more realistic graphics along with 20% more performance.

Samsung Exynos 9810 specifications with extra cache and memory info from Anandtech:

  • CPU
    • Quad core custom Exynos M3 @ up to 2.9GHz optimized for performance; 512KB L2 cache per core
    • Quad-core Arm Cortex-A55 @ up to 1.9GHz optimized for efficiency; 128KB L2 cache per core
  • GPU – Arm Mali-G72MP18
  • Memory – LPDDR4x (4x 16-bit @ 1794 MHz)
  • Storage – UFS 2.1, SD 3.0
  • Display –  Up to WQUXGA (3840×2400), 4K UHD (4096×2160)
  • LTE Modem – LTE Cat.18 6CA 1.2Gbps (DL) / Cat.18 2CA 200Mbps (UL)
  • GNSS – GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
  • Camera – Rear 24MP, Front 24MP, Dual Camera 16+16MP
  • Video – 4K UHD 120fps recording and playback with 10-bit HEVC (H.265), H.264, VP9 Codec
  • Process – 2nd gen. Samsung 10nm FinFET Process

The company did not provide much details about deep-learning acceleration, except it will leverage hardware and software…:

Exynos 9810 introduces sophisticated features to enhance user experiences with neural network-based deep learning and stronger security on the most advanced mobile devices. This cutting-edge technology allows the processor to accurately recognize people or items in photos for fast image searching or categorization, or through depth sensing, scan a user’s face in 3D for hybrid face detection. By utilizing both hardware and software, hybrid face detection enables realistic face-tracking filters as well as stronger security when unlocking a device with one’s face. For added security, the processor has a separate security processing unit to safeguard vital personal data such as facial, iris and fingerprint information.

The Exynos 9 Series 9810 is currently in mass production, and should be found in smartphones, personal computing devices, and automotive products later this year. More details can be found on the product page.

SRH-X5 is a Palm-sized Android TV Box based on Amlogic S905W Processor

January 3rd, 2018 4 comments

Amlogic S905W processor is a cost down version of S905X processor limited to 1080p60 / 4K30 video output and found in low cost TV boxes such as Tanix TX3 or X96 Mini that sells for just above $20 shipped.

SRH-X5 is yet another of those boxes, but the device is more compact than the ones of competitors I’ve seen, as they’ve not included interfaces such as Ethernet or optical S/PDIF, and it could fit into the palm of your hand (although it’s not meant to be).

SHR-X5 TV box specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905W quad core Arm Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3 (2GB optional )
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (Up to 32GB as option) + micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 output
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone jack with stereo output/microphone, HDMI audio output
  • Video Codecs – 10-bit H.265, VP9 Profile-2, and H.264 up to [email protected]
  • Connectivity – Single band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with external antenna
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, power LED
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via DC jack
  • Dimensions – 75 x 65 x 15mm
  • Weight – 80 grams

The TV box runs Android 7.1, and ships with a power adapter, a HDMI cable, a simple IR remote control, and a user’s manual (on a mini CD?).

SHR-X5 “HD Media Player” can be purchased on Aliexpress for $32.57 including shipping, but I’d expect the price to come down closer – or even below – to $25 once more sellers offer the device.

Via AndroidPC.es

Categories: AMLogic, Android, Hardware Tags: 4k, Android, h.265, nougat, TV box, vp9

BBen MN10 TV Stick Review – Windows 10, Ubuntu 17.04, Benchmarks, and Kodi

The BBEN MN10 is the second Apollo Lake device to be released in the stick form-factor and on paper looks to have a lot to offer:

It features an Apollo Lake N3350 SoC, an unusual 3GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and is cooled by a ‘mute’ fan. The devices comes in a plain box with a power adapter, and a leaflet style manual.

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It also included a three-pin UK power adapter, as this was advertised as the ‘BBen MN10 Mini PC  –  UK PLUG  BLACK’.

Looking at the detail specifications:

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We can immediately see discrepancies as the device does not have a ‘RJ45 Port Speed: 1000M LAN’ port, and was not supplied with ‘1 x HDMI Cable’ nor ‘1 x Remote Control’.

Powering on the device and the ‘mute’ fan is also a miss-representation as it starts immediately and is noticeably noisy. It also runs at full speed regardless of workload so the noise is a constant reminder that the device is switched-on:

Starting Windows and the disappointment continues with a message informing that ‘We can’t activate Windows on this device because you don’t have a valid digital license or product key’:

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also ‘Intel Remote Keyboard Host App’ is pre-installed (see icon top left) and the computer name is already been set as ‘BBEN’.

As a result I tried installing Microsoft’s Windows 10 Home ISO but because of the confirmed lack of license, I then installed Microsoft’s Windows 10 Enterprise product evaluation ISO in order to review the device.

The basic hardware matched the specification:

with plenty of free-space available post installation:

I then ran some standard benchmarking tools to look at performance under Windows. These are a new set of benchmarks as I’ve updated the tools and releases specifically for devices running Windows version 1709 and later:

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As can be seen the performance is as expected for the N3350 SoC and is comparable with other devices such as ECDREAM A9 or Beelink AP34 Ultimate:

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Next I installed Ubuntu as dual-boot using my ‘isorespin.sh’ script, which includes installing the rEFInd bootloader to enable booting on Apollo Lake devices when the BIOS doesn’t support Linux:

Performance is again as expected:

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And can be compared with other Intel Apollo Lake and earlier Intel Atom devices:

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Revisiting the hardware using Linux commands additionally shows the micro SD card is running the slower HS200 interface:

and rather interestingly a S/PDIF audio interface shows up in the sound settings. However given there is only a 3.5mm audio jack and when an external speaker is connected through it, sound works when selecting the S/PDIF interface. This again is somewhat misleading.

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Looking at real-work Windows usage cases the first being watching a 4K video using Microsoft Edge which works flawlessly:

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The same video when watched using Google Chrome results in occasional dropped frames:

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but notice how much harder the CPU and GPU are working.

Watching the same video and changing the video quality to high definition (1080p resolution) results in a better experience.

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Unfortunately this can’t be said for watching the same video in Google Chrome on Ubuntu. At 4K the video is unwatchable with excessive dropped frames and a stalled network connection after a short while:

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Even at 1080p the video still stutters:

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Running Kodi on both Windows and Ubuntu show similar ‘differences’ in the results.

On Windows if the video is encoded using the VP9 codec then decoding is using software resulting in high CPU usage and high internal temperatures:

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However when the video is encoded with the H.264 codec then Windows uses hardware to decode:

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and similar for videos encoded with H.265 or HEVC:

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with no issues playing the videos.

On Ubuntu hardware is used to decode all three codecs:

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however some H.265 videos resulted in a blank (black) screen just with audio whereas others played without issue:

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As previously mentioned the internal fan is screaming away merrily although it’s effectiveness with internal cooling is somewhat questionable:

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It does assist in keeping the device at a safe external temperature:

with the highest observed reading being 41°C.

So looking at the physical characteristics of the device its size is only slightly larger than the second generation Intel Compute Stick:

Initially I used the device upside down as it seemed sensible to have the case vents exposed:

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However cracking open the case reveals the fan actually uses the side vent between the two USB ports:

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with the bottom vents for cooling the memory and storage chips:

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Remarkably the WiFi chip appeared to have been exposed to excessive heat at some stage:

yet had still passed inspection as evidenced by the green ‘Pass’ sticker.

The only identifiable marking on the board were on the bottom under the sticky black coverings:

The BIOS is minimalistic:

which is an issue when booting with a connected USB to Ethernet adapter, as it defaults to PXE booting which needs to timeout before booting occurs from internal storage. A workaround is to boot Windows from the boot menu after pressing F7:

Notice also that the BIOS is unbranded and simply displays the Intel logo.

Finally after using Windows then Ubuntu and returning to Windows I encountered that audio over HDMI had disappeared:

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and reinstalling the Intel HD Graphics driver didn’t fix it.

So to sum up this is a device with specific limitations which the buyer should be aware of prior to purchase. I’d like to thank Gearbest for providing the BBEN MN10 for review. They sell it for $197.42 shipped. You’ll also find it on Aliexpress from various sellers with not-activated or activated Windows 10 Home / Pro.

H.265 / HEVC License Pricing Updated for Low Cost Devices

October 30th, 2017 8 comments

Most video codecs such as H.264, H265/HEVC, MPEG-2, MPEG-4… requires the manufacturer to pay a license fee. The fees are then added to the final product, but the actual codec fees are usually unknown to the end user. One of the exceptions are VC-1 and MPEG-2 license fees for Raspberry pi boards which are sold separately for respectively £1.20 ($1.58 US) and £2.40 ($3.16 US).

So I assumed that licenses pricing was mostly private and negotiated based on volume. But a recent article stated that HEVC Advance, independent licensing administrator, revised the royalties for lower-price devices (<$40) with the price table below providing a good insight into pricing for different device types, unit prices and regions.

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The new discounted royalty rate category applied to consumer and commercial products selling for less than $40 including set-top boxes, surveillance cameras, game console and others. A simplified Patent License Agreement (PPL) was also announced in order to reduce costs for licensees.

The table above requires some explanations:

  • Region 1/2 – Region 1 is comprised of countries with higher GPD per capita, and Region 2 are all other countries, mostly developing countries.
  • Advance Profiles Extension –  Additions to version 2 of HEVC specifications with RExt, MV-HEVC and SHVC (3 profiles).
  • Three main categories of devices for licenses:
    • Mobile Devices
    • Connected Home & Other Devices
    • 4K UHD+ TV

The license is apparently applied to the country of sale or manufacture, and “if there are no patents in both the country of manufacture and the country of sale, then no royalties are due for HEVC”. Those licenses appear to be for manufacturers, so I don’t know if silicon vendors pay a license too. I also don’t understand what happens to those TV boxes sold from China, and shipped to various countries around the world, how is the licensee fee calculated, if any? Comments are welcome.

The good news is that in case HEVC license fees are indeed paid in China, cheap devices with H.265 codec should become even cheaper with up to 85 cents less royalities to be paid per devices.

Thanks to Theguyuk for the tip.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: h.265, hevc

Amlogic T962E SoC Powers $55 Alfawise H96 Mini TV Box with HDMI Input, HDMI Output

October 25th, 2017 22 comments

HDMI input can be a useful addition to Android TV boxes, or media centers, as they allow for functions such as PiP (Picture in Picture), PVR/DVR  (Personal / Digital Video Recording), and potentially video broadcasting with the box taking input from your set-top box (or other HDMI device), and broadcasting the video over your network in order to make it accessible to other computer or mobile devices on your home network, or the Internet.

We started to see HDMI input on devices powered by Mstar MSO9810 processor a few years, and more recently Realtek RTD1295 processor has become more popular with products such as Zidoo X9S, Beelink SEA I, or EWEAT R9 Plus.

Amlogic appears to have joined the fray with Amlogic T962E processor, a family normally used for TVs instead of TV boxes, found in Alfawise H96 mini 4K TV box with HDMI In and Out, 2GB RAM, and 16GB flash.

H96 Mini specifications [Updated based on comments]:

  • SoC – Amlogic T962E quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor with ARM Mali-450 MP3 (GearBest says Mali-T820MP3)
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Video I/F –  HDMI 2.0a output with HDR, CEC, and HDCP 2.2 support, HDMI 2.0 input, AV port (composite)
  • Audio I/F – HDMI In/Out, AV port (stereo audio), optical S/PDIF
  • Video Playback – 4K HDR; 10-bit H.265 up to 4K @ 60 Hz, VP9 Profile 2 up to 4K @ 60 Hz, H.264 up to 4K @ 30 Hz, H.263, MPEG-4 codecs
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – TBD
  • Power Supply –  TBD
  • Dimensions – 10 x 10 x 1.9 cm
  • Weight – 130 grams

The device runs Android 7.1, and ships with a power adapter, a remote control, a HDMI cable, and an English user manual.

While Amlogic T962 is listed on Amlogic website, T962E is not, and provided the info on GearBest is correct, it appears to be a bit different with a least the GPU being Mali-T820MP3 instead of Mali-450MP3. The solution is quite not as powerful as RTD1295 since it lacks Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and SATA interfaces.

You’d think that with a fairly unique feature such as HDMI input, even claiming “the only one with HDMI IN / HDMI OUT”, that they’d explain the capabilities of the port, but nothing. Worse case it’s just a mostly useless built-in HDMI switcher, and best case, it rivals Realtek feature set with PiP, DVR and video broadcasting features. We could assume it support DVR since it’s likely derived from a TV SoC, but honestly we just don’t know. I’ll try to see if I can find more info.

What we know for sure is that the price is much cheaper, with H96 Mini selling for just $54.99 on GearBest with coupon GBH96MINI.

Via AndroidPC.es

Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6) TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing & Teardown

October 12th, 2017 13 comments

Allwinner H6 is a quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K HDR set-top boxes and TV boxes that also comes with high speed interfaces like USB 3.0 and PCIe. While at least one other company is working on an Allwinner H6 development board, Zidoo is the only company that I can find whose made a TV box based on the processor: Zidoo H6 Pro.

They’ve just send me a sample from their local supplier for review, and as usual, I’ll start by checking out the hardware inside out, before testing the firmware and multimedia capabilities in the second part of the review in a few weeks.

Zidoo H6 Pro Unboxing

The company has slightly changed the design of their retail package. It also shows some icons with the main features like 4K, 3D,  H.265, 2GB DDR4, Android 7.0 with ZIUI, etc…

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The box ships with a HDMI cable, a 5V/2A power supply, a Bluetooth + Infrared remote control taking two AAA batteries, a user guide in English, a guarantee card, and a “qualified certificate”.

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The main body of the case is made of metal, but the top is glass. We’ll find a window on the front panel that looks to be for an LCD display, but as we’ll see below it’s only for an IR receiver, and a small hole is used for the power LED.

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The two sides includes two USB 2.0 ports, including one OTG port, one USB 3.0 port, and a micro SD card slot. The rear panel features an AV (composite + stereo audio) jack, an HDMI 2.0a port, Gigabit Ethernet, optical S/PDIF, and the power jack.

Zidoo H6 Pro Teardown

We can peak inside the device after loosening four screws on the bottom of the case.

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Not much to see here, except a metal shield placed on the bottom side of the processor and RAM chips. A sticker makes sure I got a board with 2GB RAM, and 16GB flash. I wonder what the orange rectangle with a hole in the middle is for. Any idea?

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If we take out for more screws we can completely remove the board from the case. We’ll find the WiFi antenna attached to a sticky surface (if you look closely, an ant also got captured, not sure a Chinese or Thai ant though :)), and cooling is achieving with a small heatsink placed on top of Allwinner H6 SoC.

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Two 8Gb (512MB x 16) SKHynix H5AN8G6NAFR-UHC DDR4-2400 brings us 2GB RAM, while a 16GB Samsung KLMAG2GEND-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash is used for storage. Its theoretical performance is: 230/50 MB/s for sequential R/W, and 6.5K/6K R/W IOPS, which should allow for a responsive system, free of “app not responding” issues. Ampak AP6255 module enables 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2, while Realtek RTL8211E transceiver and SG24002 transformer are used for Gigabit Ethernet. X-Powers AXP805 should be Allwinner H6 companion chip to handle power management.  Other potentially details include the recovery button hidden behind the AV port, and the 3-pin connector close to the processor should be the serial console.

 

I normally leave the remote control alone in my reviews. But since Zidoo decided to include a Bluetooth remote, it went through the “operation table” too.

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We can see both the IR transmitter, and the Bluetooth antenna inside the remote control. The brain of the input device is Realtek RTL8762AG Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy chip, part of RTL8762A family, based on an ARM Cortex-M0 MCU with 256KB eFlash, and 80KB RAM.

I can see the chip supports an “OTA (Over-the-Air) programming mechanism for firmware upgrade”, so in theory Zidoo could send OTA firmware updates to the remote control, but I doubt this will happen 🙂

I’d like to thank Zidoo for sending a review sample. Distributors and resellers may inquire the company via the product page, and individuals can purchase the TV box for around $90 on various websites including GearBest, GeekBuying, ChinaVasion, Banggood, and others.

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

$69.99 Amazon Fire TV 2017 TV Box Supports 4K HDR-10 Video Playback

September 28th, 2017 10 comments

Amazon has just announced a new Fire TV TV box with support for 4K Ultra HD and HDR (High Dynamic Range), and a cheaper price, as it is selling for $69.99 on Amazon US with delivery scheduled to start on October 25, 2017.

Amazon Fire TV 2017 specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905Z quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB RAM
  • Storage – 8GB flash
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K 60 Hz with HDCP 2.2, Doby Atmos support
  • Video – HDR-10. H.265, H.264
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power (and optional USB Ethernet adapter)
  • Dimensions – 65 x 65 x 15 mm
  • Weight – 87 grams

Amazon just mentions “Amlogic Quad-core 1.5GHz | ARM 4xCA53” for Fire TV processor, so it first assumed it could either be S905X, S905D or S905L since all support 4K60, HDR-10, and H.265, but since Amazon did not list VP9 in the store page, I assumed Amlogic S905L should be the one. But based on more complete specs, the TV box is actually powered by a new Amlogic S905Z processor that supports VP9 too…

The new Fire TV runs Fire OS 6 based on Android 7.1, and ships with an Alexa voice remote control, a USB cable and power adapter, a quick start guide, a product guide, and 2 AAA batteries for the remote control. The device is as simple as possible with only two ports: a short built-in HDMI cable, and a micro USB port for power. That’s it. The latter can also be used to connect a $15 USB Ethernet adapter. Netflix, Hulu, SHOWTIME, Amazon Video, and more services will be accessible using the buttons on the remote control or Alexa, and the TV box can also be paired to Echo devices for far-field voice control.

As with most Amazon devices it will be mostly be for the US market, and some services and features may not work overseas. As a side note, Amlogic has made some recent good deals in the US, as Amlogic S905X is found in Xiaomi Mi Box entry-level Android TV TV box, and now in Amazon Fire TV.