Intel NUC7CJYSAL “June Canyon” Gemini Lake NUC Mini PC Review with Windows 10 and Ubuntu

The hardware specification for mini PCs has recently evolved past the traditional fixed amount of memory and storage. Now mini PCs are shipping with SODIMM slots allowing RAM expansion and a variety of M.2 or SSD combos providing flexible storage options. Recent mini PCs are also coming to market with desktop processors rather than mobile processors because there has been a gradual acceptance of the necessary inclusion of a small internal fan. In doing so not only is this addressing the key limiting factors for mini PCs but it is also redefines the very definition of a mini PC. Until recently Intel NUCs (Next Unit of Computing) were seen as small-form-factor personal computers primarily because they consisted of the traditional motherboard with a processor, included removable RAM and storage and were enclosed in a case with an external power supply. They were also sold as kits meaning they were essentially the ‘barebones’ ready to be build with separately purchased memory, …

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Android based Station OS Firmware Focuses on Multimedia and Retro Gaming for ROC-RK3328-CC and Firefly-RK3399 Boards

If you’re interesting in gaming and multimedia, one choice is to run Linux based RetrOrangePi or RetroPie on your favorite development board/SBC, and soon, with the upcoming release of Kodi 18, multimedia and retro gaming will just be an app installation away in Android, and other supported operating systems, since RetroPlayer retro-gaming emulator is part of the latest – and yet-to-be-released – version of Kodi. In the meantime, if you own a ROC-RK3328-CC and/or Firefly-RK3399 board(s), you may want to try Station OS, a firmware based on Android with a focus on 4K video playback and retro gaming. The description claims that Stations OS includes “more than 20 kinds of optimization for video and games, achieve multimedia center, Kodi 4K hardware decoding, game simulator hardware acceleration, real-time cast screen display, network acceleration, perfect Root.” The firmware does not use Kodi directly, but RKMC fork instead with some improvements, and they call the game emulator “Game Station”. The company has release …

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Kodi 18 Features and Improvements (FOSDEM 2018 Video)

Most Kodi users are now running Kodi 17.x Krypton that was initially released in February 2017, with the latest point version being Kodi 17.6. At the time of Krypton release, the developers had also started working on Kodi 18 “Leia” which should now be in “alpha”, and the stable release may only be a few months away although Kodi developers do not provide an ETA. What they did provide however – via Martijn Kaijser at FOSDEM 2018 – is a progress report for Kodi 18 “Leia”, as well as some insights into Kodi 19 whose development has just started. Kodi 18 has gone through a lot of cleanup with the code upgraded to C++11 standard, duplicate code and obsolete libraries removed, dropped unmaintained feature, and so on. They also moved non-core features such as audio encoders and decoders, PVR, picture decoding, etc…  to external plugins. This work resulted into 299,476 deleted lines of codes, and 387,205 added lines of codes …

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Vorke V1 Plus Celeron J3455 Mini PC Review with Windows and Ubuntu

Most Intel based mini PCs use processors classified as ‘Mobile’ as these have lower thermal design power (TDP) ratings which is the maximum amount of heat generated by the processor: However, the new Vorke V1 Plus has incorporated a ‘Desktop’ processor namely the Intel Celeron J3455. On paper this processor looks like it should perform similar to the Intel Pentium N4200 processor but with a tradeoff between being a cheaper processor to purchase but more expensive to run due to the increased power requirements. Geekbuying provided a Vorke V1 Plus for review so let’s start by taking a look at the physical characteristics. The device comes in a plain box and was supplied with the ‘right AC Adapter’ for my country. The first observation is that it is quite a large device. At just over 6” square (153mm) and nearly 1.5” tall (38mm) it is the biggest mini PC I’ve seen with an Apollo Lake processor. It has a large …

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Intel Compute Cards Review – Windows 10 and Ubuntu 17.04 on CD1C64GK, CD1P64GK and CD1M3128MK

The Intel Compute Stick revolutionized the mini PC market through the introduction of x86 based processors making Windows available as an OS option. However, for Intel the biggest target market turned out to be business rather than consumer with digital signage being a key user. As a result Intel have responded with the introduction of the Intel Compute Card. So far they have released four versions of card: and they they differ from compute sticks by no longer being standalone mini PCs but dependent on a dock or host device. The card itself is relatively small with a footprint slightly larger than a standard credit card: and is distinguished by the back being printed with details about the card including the model: The lack of emphasis on the consumer market is also evident in the rather unobtrusive plain packaging: On the end that inserts into the dock or host device is a connector which is separated into two sections: a …

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Review of GOLE 10 Mini PC with 10.1″ Touchscreen Display – Part 2: Windows 10 Pro

Depending on your point of view, GOLE 10 is a mini PC with a touchscreen display, or a really thick tablet with an inclined display.  I’ve already received a sample, and had a look at the hardware in the first part of the review, so in the second I tested the performance and stability, and thought about and test some use cases for this type of products. GOLE 10 (aka F6) Setup and System Info There are various way to use the mini PC, either as a standalone screen without any peripheral connected using the touchscreen, or as a mini PC with USB keyboard and mouse and potential other accessories, or in a dual display setup with the device connected to an HDMI TV or monitor. I decided to connect it to my “test” TV, add a USB 3.0 drive, USB keyboard and mouse, Ethernet cable, and of course the power supply. Note that contrary to other similar model, GOLE …

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

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 …

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What’s the Best Android TV Box (2017/2018 Edition)?

Since I was often asked which TV box to buy, I wrote a guide entitled “What’s the best Android TV box?” in April 2016. Time has passed, new products have launched, I tested more devices, and got further reader feedback, so it’s time for an update. There’s still no device that rules them all, and since everybody has different requirements and price points, what could the best Android TV box ever to one person, maybe be a piece of junk to another. Before purchasing a TV box, you should consider what you plan to do with it, and find the device with matches your needs and budget. So first, I’ll provide a list of things to look for – beside the SoC/RAM selection – before selecting three TV boxes that stand out (in no particular order), as well as alternatives worth looking at. Things to Look for The list is basically the same as last year, except I added two …

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