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Orange Pi Development Boards

Amlogic 2018 Roadmap Reveals S905X2, S905C, and S922 Processors

January 10th, 2018 25 comments

I’ve been asked what’s next for Amlogic a few times recently, and today I received an Amlogic 2017/2018 roadmap dated Q3 2017 that shows three new processors beside Amlogic S805X, which has yet to be launched into products: Amlogic S905C, S905X2 and S922. So let’s have a look at the three new processors.

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Amlogic S905C specifications:

  • CPU – Quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor
  • GPU- ARM Mali-450MP2
  • System Memory  – Up to 3GB DDR3/3L, LPDDR2/3 memory
  • Storage – NAND flash, eMMC 5.0 flash, and NOR flash interfaces
  • Video – 4K60 HEVC decoder, 4K30 H.264 decoder, and AVS+ decoder with HDR10, HLG, 1080p60 H.264 encoder
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0b, CVBS
  • Audio – integrated audio DAC
  • Integrated DVB-C demodulator , 1x TS input
  • Others – 10/100M Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0
  • Package – 13 x 13 mm BGA

Engineering samples have been available since July 2017, and it looks to be targeting the Chinese cable TV market with an AVS+ decoder and built-in DVB-C demodulator. Android and TVOS SDK will be provided. I had never heard about tvOS, and it looks to be the operating system used in Apple TV boxes. Will Amlogic processor be found in Apple devices, or is that another “TVOS”? [Update: TVOS should either be Android TV OS, or more likely NGB TVOS for the Chinese market. See comments]

Amlogic S905X2 is an update for S905X with a new manufacturing process and a mysterious dual core Dvalin GPU:

  • CPU – Quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor
  • GPU- Dvalin MP2
  • Video – Advanced HEVC, VP9 decoders; H.264, H.265 encoder
  • HDR – Dolby Vision, HDR10+
  • Ultra low power
  • Next gen process

Amlogic S922 will move to next gen Arm cores, and an upgraded GPU, but we don’t know a whole lot:

  • CPU – Octa-core next gen Arm CPU
  • GPU – Next gen GPU
  • Video – Dual 4K decode/4K encode
  • Full HDR standards
  • Display – MIPI DSI
  • Camera – MIPI CSI
  • Interfaces – USB type C, and PCI-e
  • Ultra low power

That processor should be able to handle 4K 3D videos thanks to the dual decoder, and will likely go beyond TV boxes, with the camera and display interfaces, so maybe Amlogic S922 laptops or tablets will be a thing at the end of 2018. If that’s the case, the processor will likely use an Arm Cortex A7x/A5x configuration, instead of just eight Cortex A55 cores.

Lenovo Miix 630 2-in-1 Detachable Runs Windows 10 S on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

January 9th, 2018 5 comments

Lenovo Miix 630 is joining other Qualcomm 835 powered always-on always connected Windows 10 PCs such as HP Envy x2 2017, and ASUS Novago TP370. Like its peers, the 2-in-1 laptop supports both WiFi and LTE connectivity, and promises ultra-long battery life for example up to 20 hours of local video playback.

The device also includes a digital pen with 1024 levels of sensitivity, and a backlit keyboard. Another similarity is a high price, as Miix 630 pricing with keyboard and  digital pen will start at $799.99 in Q2 2018.

Lenovo Miix 630 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor @ up to 2.6GHz with Adreno 540 GPU
  • System memory – 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 128GB UFS 2.0 storage
  • Display – 12.3″ WUXGA (1920×1200) touchscreen display
  • Audio – Speaker and microphone (support for Cortana)
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Connectivity – 4G LTE and WiFi
  • Camera – Infrared camera compatible with Windows Hello
  • Battery – good for up to 20 hours of local video playback
  • Dimensions – 15.6mm thickness (with keyboard)
  • Weight – 1.33 kg

If you’re not too happy running Windows 10 S with its better security but serious limitations, Lenovo allows you to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro at no cost within 180 days after Windows activation, however they note that the offer is subject to availability and may vary by market.

Those Windows Arm laptops are quite expensive, so we’ll have to see how they perform, but initial prototype benchmarks show results varying from Cherry Trail to Core M3 performance, so I doubt they become that popular, unless people are ready to pay up a few hundred dollars extra for the very long battery life and LTE connectivity.

Year 2017 in Review, Top 10 Posts, and Some Fun Stats

December 31st, 2017 20 comments

2017 is coming to an end, and as I do every year, I’ll take a look back at the year that was on CNX Software. The pace of development boards launches has not slowed down this year, and we get an even wider range from the low-end with Orange Pi or NanoPi boards, to much more powerful ARM boards, and some new entrants like Libre Computer. The same is true for TV boxes, most of which now support 4K HDR, ranging from ultra cheap models selling for less than $20 to higher end Android TV boxes, while mini PCs were dominated by Intel Apollo Lake models, although some Cherry Trail products were also launched.

Processor-wise, Amlogic launched more Amlogic S905X derivatives with S905W/S905D/S905Z, which are popular in the TV box market. Rockchip’s most interesting processor this year was RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K HDR Android TV boxes, but also popular with single board computers thanks to Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 interfaces that provide good I/O performance. Allwinner H2+/H3/H5 were launched last year, but they kept being used in cheap development boards, retro game consoles, etc.. The company also launched A63 SoC for 2K tablets, and H6 for 4K OTT TV boxes, and we can expect the latter not only to be found in TV boxes such as Zidoo H6 Pro, but in more Orange Pi H6 boards, and likely other products in 2018 since beside media capabilities, the processor also supports Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and PCIe. Intel’s Celeron and Pentium Apollo Lake processors dominated the entry-level Windows mini PCs market this year, and Linux was much better supported than in Bay Trail / Cherry Trail processors, but few manufacturers decided to offer Apollo Lake mini PC pre-installed with Ubuntu or other Linux distributions.

2017 was also an interesting year for the Internet of Things (IoT) with Espressif ESP32 going into full gear, and prices dropping to $5 for maker boards. Other WiFi IoT solutions that looked promising last year such as RTL8710AF, did not really took off in a big way. LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) solutions got even more traction with LoRa dominating, but far from being alone with Sigfox, and the emergence of 3GPP standards like NB-IoT and eMTC.

While I had written articles about 3D printing in the past, it really became a proper category on the blog this year, thanks to Karl’s reviews, and 3D printers provided by GearBest. I’d also like to thank Ian Morrison (Linuxium), TLS, Blu, Nanik who helped with reviews and/or articles this year.

Top 10 Posts Written in 2017

I’ve again compiled a list of the most popular posts of 2017 using the pageviews from Google Analytics, but for a change, I’ll show the results in reverse order:

  1. Google Assistant SDK Turns Your Raspberry Pi 3 into Google Home (May 2017) – Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant went beyond the companies’own products, and Google Assistant SDK release allowed developers to make their own DIY smart speaker based on Raspberry Pi 3 board, or other ARM Linux boards. I could successfully implement my own using an Orange Pi Zero kit.
  2. Mecool BB2 Pro Review – TV Box with DDR4 Memory – Part 2: Android Firmware, Benchmarks, Kodi (January 2017) – Mecool BB2 Pro was one of the first Amlogic S912 octa-core TV boxes with DDR4 memory, but my tests did not show any benefits over DDR3 memory.
  3. Mecool KI PRO Hybrid Android TV Box with Amlogic S905D SoC, DVB-T2 & DVB-S2 Tuners Sells for $80 (May 2017) – For some reasons, post about VideoStrong/Mecool Android set-top boxes are quite popular on CNX Software, and KI PRO was the first model based on Amlogic S905D processor with support for multiple demodulators.
  4. Orange Pi 2G-IoT ARM Linux Development Board with 2G/GSM Support is Up for Sale for $9.90 (March 2017) – “Cellular IoT Linux board for $10? Where’s the buy button?” might have been the first reaction to many people. But when buyers received their board, it was a struggle and may still be, since it was based on a  RDA Micro processor for phones poorly supported in Linux.
  5. Installing Ubuntu 17.04 on CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Apollo Lake Laptop (February 2017) – People want their cheap and usable Ubuntu laptop, and if manufacturers won’t make one for them, they’ll find ways to make their own. Sadly, CHUWI massively changed the hardware, and it’s not such a good solution anymore.
  6. ASUS Tinker Board is a Raspberry Pi 3 Alternative based on Rockchip RK3288 Processor (January 2017) – A large company like ASUS entering the maker board market, and the solution inspired from Raspberry Pi 3, but more much powerful. That got people interested!
  7. Creality CR-10 3D Printer Review – Part 2: Tips & Tricks, Octoprint, and Craftware (May 2017) – It was the year of cheap $100 to $200 3D printer, but CNX Software visitors were more interested in a better model, and Creality CR-10 review was the most popular 3D Printer review/post this year.
  8. Mecool KIII Pro Hybrid STB Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, TV Center, and DVB-T2 & DVB-S2 App (March 2017) – VideoStrong sells some inexpensive Android TV boxes with tuner under their Mecool, and KIII Pro was their first octa-core model with both DVB-T/T2 and DVB-S2 tuners.
  9. ASUS Tinker Board’s Debian & Kodi Linux Images, Schematics and Documentation (January 2017) – ASUS board was somehow started selling before the company intended to, and while firmware & documentation were there, they were hard to find, so people looked for that information, and found it on CNX Software.
  10. MINIX NEO U9-H Media Hub Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 Firmware & Kodi 17 (March 2017) – Apparently, I’m not the only to consider MINIX NEO U9-H to be one of the best Android TV boxes, as my review of the media hub was the most read post of 2017.

Stats

981 posts were published in 2017. Let’s go straight to users’ country and city location data.

The top five countries have not changes, but this year Germany overtook the United Kingdom in second position. Traffic from India increased on a relative basis, and Australia made it to the top ten at the cost of Russia. London and Paris kept the two top steps, but Bangkok rose to third position, while last year third, Tel aviv-Yafo went away completely from the list. New York is gone being replaced by Warsaw in 8th position.

The list of the most used operating systems, and browsers is fairly stable, but the trends noticed in past years continues, with Windows share of traffic going down, Android going up, and Linux stable, while Chrome dominated even more, with most other browsers going down in percentage basis, except Edge that is very slowly replacing Internet Explorer, and Samsung Internet that replaced Opera mini in the list.

Desktop traffic still rules, but mobile + tablet traffic now accounts for around a third of the traffic.

Finally, I went to dig into pagespeed data with pages loading in 15.58 seconds on average. I then filtered the countries with more than 5,000 pageviews, and CNX Software pages and posts loaded fastest in Portugal, Denmark, and Macedonia. However, people in Venezuela need to wait close to 2 minutes for a page to load on average, and in China and Iran around one minute.

Next year looks promising, and I expect to test Gemini Lake mini PC, and maybe some ARM based mini PCs or laptops, but I’ll review less TV boxes as due to some new regulations I can’t easily import them. The regulatory framework is now in place for LPWAN standards, and I should be able to start playing with LoRa and NB-IoT in 2018, using local services, or my own gateway(s). I’ll keep playing with development boards, as I’m expecting interesting Allwinner H6, Realtek RTD129x, Hilsicon, and other platforms in the year ahead, as well as various IoT products.

I’d like to come together with some of the devices and boards reviewed in 2017 (and a Linux tux) to wish you all a prosperous, healthy, and happy new year 2018!

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PiPO P10 Phoenix OS 2-in-1 Laptop is Powered by Rockchip RK3399 Processor

December 22nd, 2017 12 comments

Phoenix OS is an operating system based on Android 7.1 with desktop optimizations, and is one of the last few options if you plan to run Android on x86 platforms as other projects such as Remix OS have stopped providing images, at least for the consumer market.

The operating system also work on Arm platforms, but it is not open source – except for a Linux kernel release a few months ago -, manufacturers partners with the company to port the OS to their hardware. PiPO P10 2-in-1 laptop is one of those devices, and thanks to Rockchip RK3399 processor should offer decent performance.

PiPO P10 (preliminary) specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3399 hexa core processor with 2x Cortex A72 cores, 4x Cortex A53 cores, Mali-860MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 32 or 64GB storage, 1x micro SD slot
  • Display – 10.1″ capacitive touch display with 2560×1600 resolution; 10-point touch
  • Video Output – 1x micro HDMI port
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, built-in microphone, stereo speakers, HDMI audio output
  • Camera – 8MP rear camera with auto focus, flashlight; 5MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, maybe GPS
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • Sensors – Fingerprint sensor, Gravity sensor, Light sensor, Compass, Gyro
  • Battery – 6,600mAh @ 3.7V (24.42Wh)
  • Power Supply – 5V/2.5A
  • Dimensions – 255 x 164 x 7.8 mm (materials: metal+plastic back)
  • Weight – 510 grams without keyboard

The tablet / laptop ships with a power adapter, a pair of earphones, a USB cable, and an OTG cable. Keyboard, digital pen, and fingerprint scanner are shown to be optional on the manufacturer website.

The device can be found on GearBest with keyboard and digital pen for $249.69 including shipping.  The device is also listed as out of stock on the unofficial PiPO store. While talking about GearBest, you may want to change your password, as there has allegedly been a leak of some (162) customers emails, password (plain text), and address.

Via AndroidPC.es

Ubuntu 17.10 May Corrupt the BIOS on Some Lenovo, Acer, Dell, and Other Laptops

December 21st, 2017 2 comments

Canonical has decided to temporarily remove the download link to Ubuntu 17.10 due leaving a notice reading:

The download of Ubuntu 17.10 is currently discouraged due to an issue on certain Lenovo laptops. Once fixed this download will be enabled again.

The issue that many user are reported being unable to save BIOS settings or boot with USB in several Lenovo Laptops with many topics about this issue on Lenovo Forums. The installed operating system still boots normally, so many affected people may not have even noticed.

Based on the bug report it seems to be related to the enablement of intel-spi-* drivers (Intel Serial Flash drive) in the kernel (CONFIG_SPI_INTEL_SPI_PCI option), and this could also affect Ubuntu 16.04 with HWE kernels. The fix is to disable the driver in the kernel, and Canonical will soon release images. The downside of not using the driver are likely null or minimal, since according to the bug report “it’s unlikely anyone is actually doing anything which requires this driver”.

If you’ve been using isorepin.sh script to run the latest Ubuntu version/Linux kernel, you may also be impacted.

The current list of impacted system include:

  • Lenovo B40-70, B50-70, B50-80
  • Lenovo Flex-3, Flex-10
  • Lenovo G40-30, G50-70, G50-80
  • Lenovo S20-30
  • Lenovo U31-70
  • Lenovo Y50-70, Y70-70
  • Lenovo Yoga Thinkpad (20C0)
  • Lenovo Yoga 2 11″ – 20332
  • Lenovo Z50-70, Z51-70
  • Lenovo ideapad 100-15IBY
  • Acer Aspire E5-771G
  • Acer TravelMate B113
  • Toshiba Satellite S55T-B5233
  • Dell Insperion (with Insyde Software BIOS)

It’s likely other models / brands may also have the same problem. The bug report also include a link to a temporary workaround.

Via Linuxium

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa Core Kryo 385 SoC to Power Premium Smartphones, XR Headsets, Windows Laptops

December 7th, 2017 9 comments

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor was expected since May 2017 with four custom Cortex A75 cores, four Cortex A53 cores, Adreno 630 GPU, and X20 LTE modem. with the launch planned for Q1 2018. At least, that what the leaks said.

Qualcomm has now formally launched Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform and rumors were mostly right, as the the octa-core processor comes with four Kryo 385 Gold cores (custom Cortex A75), four Kryo 385 Silver cores (custom Cortex A55) leveraging DynamIQ technology, an Adreno 630 “Visual Processing System”, and Snapdragon X20 modem supporting LTE Cat18/13.

The processor is said to use more advanced artificial intelligence (AI) allowing what the company calls “extended reality (XR)” applications, and will soon be found in flagship smartphones, XR headsets, mobile PCs, and more.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (SDM845) specifications:

  • Processor
    • 4x Kryo 385 Gold performance cores @ up to 2.80 GHz (custom ARM Cortex A75 cores)
    • 4x Kryo 385 Silver efficiency cores @ up to 1.80 GHz (custom ARM Cortex A55 cores)
    • DynamIQ technology
  • GPU (Visual Processing Subsystem) – Adreno 630 supporting OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0,Vulkan 1.x, DxNext
  • DSP
    • Hexagon 685 with 3rd Gen Vector Extensions, Qualcomm All-Ways Aware Sensor Hub.
    • Supports Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine (NPE) SDK, Caffe, Caffe2, and Tensorflow
  • Memory I/F – LPDDR4x, 4×16 bit up to 1866MHz, 8GB RAM
  • Storage I/F – TBD (Likely UFS 2.1, but maybe UFS 3.0?)
  • Display
    • Up to 4K Ultra HD, 60 FPS, or dual 2400×2400 @ 120 FPS (VR); 10-bit color depth
    • DisplayPort and USB Type-C support
  • Audio
    • Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec and speaker amplifier
    • Qualcomm aptX audio playback with support for aptX Classic and HD
    • Native DSD support, PCM up to 384kHz/32bit
  • Camera
    • Spectra 280 ISP with dual 14-bit ISPs
    • Up to 16 MP dual camera, up to 32 MP single camera
    • Support for 16MP image sensor operating up to 60 frames per second
    • Hybrid Autofocus, Zero Shutter Lag, Multi-frame Noise Reduction (MFNR)
    • Video Capture – Up to 4K @ 60fps HDR (H.265), up to 720p @ 480fps (slow motion)
  • Connectivity
    • Cellular Modem – Snapdragon X20 with peak download speed: 1.2 Gbps (LTE Cat 18), peak upload speed: 150 Mbps (LTE Cat 13)
    • Qualcomm Wi-Fi 802.11ad Multi-gigabit, integrated 802.11ac 2×2 with MU-MIMO, 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 60 GHz
    • Qualcomm TrueWireless Bluetooth 5
  • Location – Support for 6 satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, SBAS; low power geofencing and tracking, sensor-assisted navigation
  • Security – Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit (SPU), Qualcomm Processor Security, Qualcomm Mobile Security, Qualcomm Content Protection
  • Charging – Qualcomm Quick Charge 4/4+ technology
  • Process – 10nm LPP

The company will provide support for Android and Windows operating systems. eXtended Reality (XR) is enabled with features such as room-scale 6DoF with simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), advanced visual inertial odometry (VIO), and Adreno Foveation. Maybe I don’t follow the phone market closely enough, but I can’t remember seeing odometry implemented in any other phones, and Adreon Foveation is not quite self-explaining, so the company explains it combines graphics rendering with eye tracking, and directs the highest graphics resources to where you’re physically looking, while using less resources for rendering other areas. This improves the experience, performance, and lower power consumption.

 

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Compared to Snapdragon 835, the new processor is said to be around 25 to 30% faster, the Spectra camera and Adreno graphics architectures are claimed to boost power efficiency by up to 30 percent, and the LTE modem is a bit faster (1.2 Gbps/150Mbps vs 1.0 Gbps/150Mbps). Quick Charge 4+ technology should deliver up  to 50 percent charge in 15 minutes. Earlier this year when SD835 was officially launched, there was virtually no mention of artificial intelligence support in mobile APs, but now NNA (Neural Network Accelerator) or NPE (Neural Processing Engine) are part of most high-end mobile processors, which in SD845 appears to be done though the Hexagon 685 DSP. High Dynamic Range (HDR) for video playback and capture is also a novelty in the new Snapdragon processor.

One of the first device powered by Snapdragon 845 will be Xiaomi Mi 7 smartphone, and according to leaks it will come with a 6.1″ display, up to 8GB RAM, dual camera, 3D facial recognition, and more. Further details about the phone are expected for Mobile World Congress 2018. Considering the first Windows 10 laptop based on Snapdragon 835 processor are expected in H1 2018, we may have to wait until the second part of the year for the launch of Snapdragon 845 mobile PCs.

More details may be found on Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform product page.

Meet the First Windows 10 Arm “Always Connected PCs” – HP Envy x2 (2017) and ASUS NovaGo TP370

December 6th, 2017 30 comments

Qualcomm and Microsoft showcased some Snapdragon 835 based Windows 10 “Mobile PCs” at Computex 2017 last June, and while the press was allowed film the demo, the device could only be operated by a Qualcomm employee.

But both companies and their partners have made progress, and at the Snapdragon Technology Summit, Qualcomm announced “Always Connected PCs” which will run Windows 10, be always on and always connected at Gigabit LTE speeds, and support all-day battery life while keeping thin and fanless designs. all while incorporating Windows 10. HP and ASUS unveiled their very own “Always Connected PCs”, respectively Envy X2 and Novago TP370. What I used to call laptop or in this case 2-in-1 hybrid (laptop) is now apparently called “Always Connected PC”, but in any case let’s have a closer look at both devices.

HP Envy x2 (2017)

Specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Processor @ 2.6GHz with Adreno 540 GPU @ 710MHz
  • System memory – Up to 8GB RAM
  • Storage – Up to 256GB UFS 2.0 storage, micro SD card reader
  • Display – 12.3″ WUXGA+ (1920 x 1280) touch display
  • Audio – 1x combo audio jack; dual speaker; microphone array with Cortana voice-recognition support
  • Backlit Keyboard and touchpad
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi – 802.11a/b/g/n, 802.11ac
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 modem (Gigabit LTE with DL: 1Gbps, UL: 150Mbps; 4×4 MIMO); 1x SIM card reader
  • Camera – 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera
  • USB – 1x USB-C port
  • Misc – Volume buttons
  • Battery – Good for up to 20 hours of local video playback, over 700 hours of connected standby
  • Dimensions –  6.9 mm thick
  • Weight – 1.21 kg

ASUS Novago TP370

NovaGo-TP370QL specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Processor @ 2.6GHz with Adreno 540 GPU @ 710MHz
  • System memory – 4GB / 6GB / 8GB 1866MHz LPDDR4x (soldered)
  • Storage – 64GB / 128GB / 256GB UFS 2.0 storage, micro SD card slot up to 256 GB
  • Display – 13.3” LED-backlit Full HD (1920x 1080) display
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Audio – 1x audio jack; dual speaker; smart amplifier; microphone array with Cortana voice-recognition support
  • Backlit keyboard and PTP touchpad
  • Connectivity
    • WiFi – 802.11a/b/g/n, 802.11ac (2×2 MIMO)
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 modem (Gigabit LTE with DL: 1Gbps, UL: 150Mbps; 4×4 MIMO); 1x Combo Nano SIM (tray with needle)
  • Camera – 1280×720 HD camera
  • USB – 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports
  • Sensors – Fingerprint sensor
  • Battery – 52 Wh lithium-polymer battery good for up to 22 hours battery life, over 30 days of modern standby
  • Dimensions – 31.6 x 22.1 x 1.49 cm
  • Weight – 1.39 kg

The 2-in-1 laptop always connected PC will run Windows 10 S by default, but a recommended free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro will be offered. More details may be found on the product page. Windows 10 S only allows the installation of apps in Windows Store, and Microsoft own Edge browser (no Firefox, no Chrome), so most people will likely upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, especially if it is free, and this is probably a condition imposed by Microsoft.

ASUS NovaGo is expected to be available early next year, while the HP Envy x2 is planned for Spring 2018. I could not find pricing on the official page, but Liliputing reports an “entry-level model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage should sell for about $599, while an 8GB/256GB model will run $799”.

You’ll find various hands-on video for the Envy x2 (2017) model online, including the one from Engadget embedded below.

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Laptop Manufacturing Changes – Hardware at Launch vs Several Months Later

October 22nd, 2017 11 comments

Products may evolve over time due to parts becoming phased out (EOL), so company often issues PCN (product change notices) to the company for example to replace eMMC flash that’s not manufactured anymore by a new one. They won’t change any advertised features, so the product specifications should remain the same. Reviewers normally get product from one of the first batch of production, and if you purchase the product a few months later, after carefully reading reviews, you may end up with a device slightly different.

But in some cases, the company makes major changes, while still delivering the same advertised hardware specifications. That’s apparently the case for CHUWI LapBook 14.1 laptop. The photo below shows how it looked internally for the sample I reviewed.

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If you zoom on the photo, you’ll find an M.2 slot on the bottom of the right PCB, potentially allowing you to add an SSD internally. At the time, I could also install Ubuntu 17.04 to the eMMC flash. None of those features (M.2 SSD and Linux) were officially supported by the company.

I installed Ubuntu on February 2017, and I had recommended this $250 laptop as a decent inexpensive Linux laptop. But in May, I started to get reports that Linux would not find the eMMC flash. Several people had the same experience even after following the same instructions. So it was likely the company just changed the part.

But at the end of September, I had another person telling me the M.2 slot was gone too, and the company dramatically changed the hardware design with new batteries, motherboard, and so on, as shown in the photo below. The shell looks exactly the same, and connectors are placed at the same location, so I’d assume this is indeed the same model.

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Beside the different eMMC flash, missing M.2 slot, and completely different motherboard, he also pointed out other differences / issues in the model he bought in GearBest (the same seller I got my sample from):

  • Keyboard issues for some keys that need to be pressed harder.
  • Battery changed, and issue with charge controller, so the battery is not usable below 20% charge level
  • Different BIOS with few options
  • Doesn’t run Linux without considerable effort. systemd-boot worked on Arch. It can’t boot Ubuntu boot disk (without isorespin.sh/refind see below)
  • The USB touchpad replaced with a cheaper I2C touchpad, not working in Linux. (He wrote his own driver for it to make it work).

Some of the changes are confirmed in one of the customer reviews on GearBest (Search for user BearGest):

  • No m2 slot in 3rd revision
  • Linux users need to use isorespin.sh to replace grub with a compatible bootloader \’refind\’.
  • Touchpad not supported yet in latest Linux Kernel