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Posts Tagged ‘nougat’

Rikomagic Introduces V3 TV Stick, MK39 TV Box, R3 Projector, and DS01 Digital Signage Player

September 19th, 2017 1 comment

Rikomagic will launch four new Android devices this month with RKM V3 TV stick powered by Rockchip RK3328 processor, RKM MK39 TV box / mini PC based on Rockchip RK3399, RKM R3 projector with an octa-core processor, and DS01 digital signage player.

RKM V3 TV Stick

RKM V3 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz with Mali-450MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2 GB RAM
  • Storage – 8 GB eMMC flash + micro SD card up to 32GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR10 and HLG support
  • Video Codec – 4K VP9, H.265 and H.264. 1080p VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP6/8
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – IR receiver? (TBC)
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via power barrel jack

The stick runs Android 7.1 OS with Google Play store, Miracast, DLNA, etc… It ships with a USB male to female adapter, and a power supply.

RKM MK39 TV box

RKM MK39 mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3399 hexa core processor with 2x ARM Cortex A72 cores @ up to 2.0 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex A53 cores @ up to 1.5 GHz, and ARM Mali-T860MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz
  • Video Codecs – 4K H.265 & VP9 decoding
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB type C port (no details about supported features)
  • Misc – IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A

The device also runs Android 7.1, and ships with an HDMI cable, a simple IR remote control, and the power supply.

R3 Projector, and DS01 Digital Signage Player

We don’t have the full details about the last two devices to launch this month, but we do know RKM R3 will be an Android 6.0 smart Full HD projector powered by an Octa-core processor (maybe RK3368) coupled with 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, and delivering 220 lumen brightness, while DS01 will be a digital signage player powered by Rockchip RK3228 quad core Cortex A17 processor, and also sold with the board only.

Eventually, all details about the four new models should be provided on Rikomagic products’ page, and sold to individuals via their Aliexpress store.

X96 Mini Amlogic S905W Android TV Box Sells for $25 and Up

August 24th, 2017 17 comments

Last week, we discovered Amlogic S905W processor through Tanix TX3 Mini TV box, with the processor maxing out at 4K @ 30 Hz in order to provide cost-competitive solutions, for example against Rockchip RK3229 TV boxes. However, at the time, the price was not that attractive. Prices have come down quickly, as Tanix TX3 Mini can be purchased for about $29 with 1GB RAM /16GB flash, and $32 with 2GB RAM/ 16 GB flash using coupon PYNNHDAH. X96 Mini is an even cheaper option as the Amlogic S905W is sold for as low as $24.99 shipped on Banggood.

X96 mini TV box specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905W quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 1 or 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 or 16GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a output with HDR, AV port (composite + stereo audio)
  • Video Codecs – [email protected] H.265 [email protected], [email protected] VP9 Profile-2, MPEG1/2/4, H.264, HD AVC/VC-1, RM/RMVB, Xvid/DivX3/4/5/6 , RealVideo8/9/10
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (No Bluetooth)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports: 1x host, 1x device (OTG?)
  • Misc – IR receiver, IR expansion port
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 82 x 82 x 17mm

 

X96 Mini can be cheaper than Tanix TX3 because it comes with less internal storage (8GB vs 16GB), they’ve done without optical S/PDIF audio output, and the device is smaller. The box runs Android 7.1.2, and ships with an HDMI cable, a remote control, an IR remote control, a power adapter, user’s manual, and just like the older X96 TV box,  some mounting kit with “magic tape” in order to hook the device behind the TV. A photo of the board has also been provided, sop we can look a more details about the design:

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  1. The IR port is marked IR/COAX, so I suspect it can also be used as a coaxial S/PDIF output port
  2. An 8GB Samsung KLM8G1GEME-B041 eMMC 5.1 flash is used which means they’ve used the best 8GB Samsung flash available with 185/40 MB/s sequential R/W speed, and 5.2K/2.5K R/W IOPS, meaning performance should be decent at all times. The 16GB should be even faster, if they’ve used the same eMMC 5.1 family.
  3. The WiFi chipset reads something like 5V6051P… I have no idea what brand or model that is…

The 2GB/16GB version of X96 mini is sold for $34.99, that’s about $2 more than the equivalent Tanix TX3 price. You’ll also find both X96 Mini models on Aliexpress.

As a side note, Banggood is organizing a promotion for their 11th Anniversary, and while I have not been able to find any big discount myself, but just around 5% off compared to normal price, you may be luckier.

As a second side note, Amlogic S805X – 4x Cortex A53 limited to 1080p – is also coming, as I learned via Stane1983’s rant about the latest Amlogic Android SDK…

Via AndroidPC.es

YotaPhone 3 Dual Screen Smartphone to Launch for $360 and Up (in China)

August 24th, 2017 No comments

Russia based Yota makes some unusual phones with dual display with a standard color front display, and an e-paper rear display that allows you to check the time without pressing a button, keeping displaying important information even when your battery is completely discharged, and more. The first Yotaphone was launched in December 2012, followed by a prettier and more powerful Yotaphone 2 in December 2014, but we’ve had to wait nearly three years for the company – with some fresh money and technical involvements from Chinese partners – to introduce YotaPhone 3 at the Russian Embassy in Beijing. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, and features a 5.5″ super AMOLED display on the front, and a 5.2″ E-Ink display on the back.

Yotaphone 3 preliminary  (& partial) specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core Cortex A53 processor @ up to 2.0 GHz with Adreno 506 GPU
  • System Memory – 4 GB
  • Storage – 64 or 128 eMMC flash
  • Display
    • 5.5″ super AMOLED LCD 1920 x 1080 display (front)
    • 5.2″ E-ink Carta 1280 x 720 display (back)
  • Cellular Connectivity – Dual SIM support
  • Camera – 13MP front-facing camera, 12MP rear camera with dual tone flash
  • USB – 1x USB type C port
  • Sensors – Fingerprint sensor, front and back proximity sensors, etc…
  • Battery – 3,300 mAh battery
  • Dimensions – TBD

The phone runs YotaOS 3.0 based on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and comes with apps for the E-ink display that are specific to the Chinese market.

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YotaPhone 3 will first sell in China with pre-order starting on JD.com on September 5th for 2,398 CNY ($360) for the 64GB version, and 3,098 CNY ($465) for the 128 GB, and actual sales starting on Setpember 18th. The phone will later launch in Russia, where it will be called YOTA 3. It’s unclear when/whether it will sell in other markets, but you can be sure it will soon show up on Chinese e-retailer websites such as Aliexpress, GearBest, Geekbuking, and others.

Via Liliputing and GSM Arena

Khadas VIM2 Amlogic S912 Development Board Sells for $75 and Up

August 21st, 2017 21 comments

Khadas VIM2 is the only low cost development board powered by Amlogic S912 octa-core processor that I know of, but when we first wrote about the board it was not available yet. The three versions of the boards are now being sold on GearBest with the Basic version going for $74.99, the Pro version for $94.99, and the Max version for $109.99. [Update: You can get VIM2 Max for $99.99 by using GBVIM2MAX coupon code for the first 100 boards daily, and the five first boards are sold for $49.99 daily at 9:00 UTC until August 28th. Details on promotion page.]

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Khadas VIM2 Basic/Pro/Max specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S912 octa core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-820MP GPU
  • System Memory
    • Basic – 2 GB DDR4
    • Pro/Max – 3 GB DDR4
  • Storage
    • micro SD card and 2MB SPI flash
    • eMMC Flash – Basic: 16GB; Pro: 32GB; Max: 64GB
  • Video & Audio  Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with CEC support
  • Connectivity
    • Basic – Gigabit Ethernet with WoL support, 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1 via Ampak AP6356S module
    • Pro/Max – Gigabit Ethernet with WoL support, 802.11 b/g/n/ac with RSDB and Bluetooth 4.2 via Ampak AP6359SA module
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports supporting 900mA and 500mA loads, 1x USB 2.0 type C port supporting power and data only
  • Expansion header
    • 40-pin 2.54mm pitch header with USB, UART, I2C, ADC, PWM, I2S, SPDIF, and ISO7816
    • 10-pin FPC connector with I2C and IOs
    • 8 “pin” pogo pads array with USB, I2C, DVB bus, and I/Os
  • Misc – Blue LED, white LED, dual channel IR, power/function/reset buttons, header for RTC battery, fan header
  • Power Supply –  5V to 9V via USB type C, 4-pin VIN 1.25mm pitch header, or pogo pads for VIN (5V recommended for better efficiency); programmable current limit switch up to 4A (Set to 3A by default)
  • Dimensions – 82.0 x 57.5 x 11.5 mm (4x M2 mounting holes)

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SZWesion has a single Wiki for both Khadas VIM (S905X) and VIM2 (S912) boards, so it may be a little confusing, but you’ll find Android Nougat, Ubuntu 16.04.2 and Dual OS (Android + Ubuntu) images in the firmware page, as well as more technical information (e.g. schematics, build instructions…) in the documentation page. The board should work well in Android 7.1 with hardware video decoding and GPU acceleration working since they’ve been so many Amlogic S912 Android devices on the market. For Linux, the board will likely work well for headless applications, or applications that do not require multimedia features, but for example, 4K video decoding may not work that well – at least for now -,  as I was told kszaq work on LibreELEC using 32-bit Android libraries and libhybris would only work up to 1080p60. If you have any specific question, you should be able to get your answer in the support forum.

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 Development Board Review – Part 1: Unboxing, Kit Assembly, SDK and Documentation

August 18th, 2017 8 comments

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 development board is a full-featured development based on Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor with up to 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC flash, and plenty of I/Os. The company has sent me a sample, and after getting some trouble going through customs with questions like “what is a development board?” and “is it a board for TV boxes or computers?”, I finally got hold of the parcel. Today, I’ll check out the board and its accessories, show how to assemble it, and since the company shared more info about documentation and software, quickly go over what’s available.

Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 Development Kit Unboxing

The board was in a bland carton box, which is fine since it’s not a consumer product, with a stick showing I got the 4GB LPDDR3 / 32GB eMMC flash version. There’s also a board using 2GB/16GB configuration.


The package includes the board, bottom and top acrylic plates for the “case”, some spacers, WiFi and Bluetooth antenna, USB 3.0 type A to USB type C cable, a user’s manual detailing the board’s specifications and pinout diagram…

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… and a 12V/2A power adapter and EU, US, and UK plug adapters.

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I also took some closer photos of the development board, and it will only report new information that I have not already written in the announcement post.  First, the eMMC flash is Samsung KLMBG4WEBD-B031, the cheapest 32GB eMMC flash from the company, but still with acceptable performance: 246/46 MB/s R/W speed, and 6K/5K R/W IOPS.

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There are many USB ports in the board’s design, and this is done via Genesys Logic GL850G USB 2.0 hub chip, while the audio codec is Realtek ALC5640.

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The back of the board includes an mPCIe slot for a 4G LTE card, and a MIPI DSI connector.

VS-RD-RK3399 Kit Assembly

The assembly of the kit is mostly straightforward for may be a little confusing at the beginning. First, we’ll need to remove the protection on the acrylic plates, and use the bottom one with the 6 ventilation lines, and tighten the small and medium spacers around the base, with the small ones facing down. I thought it was a good idea to connect the u.FL to SMA cable for the antenna at this stage, but they come off those easily, it’s better to do it later.

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Then we’ll place the main board on top of the medium spacer, and tighten the longer spacers on top. Once it’s done we can remove nuts from the SMA connector, insert the antenna cables on the right and middle hole in the top acrylic, and screw the nuts back to keep the cables in place.

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We can now connect the antenna cables the ANT0 (for Bluetooth), and ANT1 (for WiFi) u.FL connectors on the board, place the top cover with the two opening aligned over the MIPI CSI connectors, and tighten it with the four remaining nuts we have, before completing the assembly by installing the two antennas.

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VS-RD-RK3399 Board SDK and Documentation

When I asked about Android/Linux software development kit, and documentation last week, the company had nothing to offer, saying the SDK will be provided via a link… Today, they gave me that link on MEGA with most of what is needed for development.

The download is too big for a free MEGA account, unless you are really patient, but you should be able to download everything using megaupload tools in a terminal.

I haven’t completed the download yet, and I’ll look into details during the next part of the review, but we can see 6 main directories:

  • VS-RD-RK3399-linuxSDK – The Linux SDK
  • VS-RD-android7.1-SDK – Android Nougat SDK
  • VS-RD Software image – Android firmware, apparently no Linux OS (yet)
  • VS-RD Software datasheet – Linux, Android, Dual OS documentation
  • VS-RD Hardware – Parts datasheet, RK3399 TRM, LCD datasheet (No schematics apparently)
  • DevelopmentTool – Various tools for development like AndroidTool, DriverAssistant, etc…

If you are interesting in the platform, you can purchase it by contacting Videostrong via Alibaba.

Bqeel MVR9 (NT-N9) TV Box Review – Part 2: Android Nougat Firmware, RKMC, YouTube 4K, and More

August 18th, 2017 No comments

Bqeel MVR9 is another TV box powered by Rockchip RK3328, but that model comes with Gigabit Ethernet and 2GB RAM contrary to the cheaper A95X R2 TV box I previously reviewed. If you want to check thsee some pictures read “Bqeel MVR9 TV Box Review – Part 1: Specifications, Unboxing and Teardown“, as in this second part I’ll focus on the firmware, and we’ll see if the claims of better 4K video playback thanks to DDR4, optimized RKMC with HD audio pass-through, YouTube 4K, and DRM support are true.

First Boot, Setup, and First Impressions

One good thing about Bqeel MVR9 is that it comes four 4 USB port, so I did not need to use a USB hub to connect my two RF dongles for MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse and Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad, a Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive, and a USB keyboard I normally use to take screenshots. I completed the hardware setup with Ethernet, HDMI, and power cable with the device booting as soon as I applied power.

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A typical boot takes around 18 seconds from power on to the Android launcher below, one of the fastest boot I’ve experienced in TV boxes.

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Browser, Music and Player icons link to a list of apps such as Chrome, RKMC, or Media Center, while MyDevice is a file manager. I was unable to find a way to enable the status bar and notification bar.

Pre-installed apps include the Play Store, Hulu, and HappyCast.

The setupWizard app will guide though the main settings namely Language, TimeZone, ScreenScale, and Network (Ethernet/WiFi). I used it to adjust overscan to none, but this can also be done in the settings. The settings will show on the right side of the screen as with other Android Nougat firmware I played with.

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Those are pretty standard, except USB mode that I may have missed in other boxes, and that allows you to switch between Host and Device modes. The about section shows the device name is actually NT-N9 – Nagrace made devices usually start with NT – and it runs Android 7.1.2 on top of Linux 3.10.104. The firmware is not rooted, and I was unable to find out if OTA firmware update works since I did not get a new firmware during the review.

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I had no problem settings the display resolution to 3840x2160p60(YCbCr420), and Audio device can be set to default, SPDIF pass-through, or HDMI bitstream. I could not see any HDR settings. The More Settings option will bring you to a full screen Settings app that looks to be made for phones with lock screen, and adaptive brightness option.

One interesting option in the Display settings was Display size in order to make items smaller or larger on the screen.

Storage settings shows 2.61GB of the 14.56GB eMMC flash partition are used, and EXT-4 and NTFS partitions of my USB hard drive are supported but not the exFAT and BTRFS ones.

I could install all apps I needed for the review via Google Play and Amazon Underground (Riptide GP2 only).The basic IR remote control included worked fine up to 8 meters, but as usual I mostly controlled the device with my air mouse.

Power handling is all good, as I could use the power button on the unit or the remote control to turn on and off the device cleanly, with a short press on the power key on the remote entering standby/sleep mode automatically, and a long press showing a menu with reboot, sleep, or shutdown.

I measured power consumption with a kill-a-watt clone, and with or without USB drive connected:

  • Power off – 0.1 Watt
  • Standby – 2.4 Watts
  • Idle – 3.2 Watts
  • Power off + USB HDD – 0.1 Watt
  • Standby – 4.4 Watts
  • Idle + USB HDD – 5.2 Watts

So everything is done right here.

The box gets a little hot during use with 47 and 61ºC max measured on the top and bottom sides of the box after playing a 2-hour 1080p video in RKMC (Kodi fork), and 40 and 57ºC after spending 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2. Going to CPU-Z to check the temperature sensor after each test showed respectively 92.1°C and 86.5°C, both values clearly on the high side if the reported temperature is correct. Note that the ambient temperature was slightly above 30°C, and that I could not notice slowdown, but if you push the box to its limit, I’d expect a drop in performance at some point.

So far, I’m very satisfied with the box with features working as they should, and a responsive firmware. The only downsides are the lack of option to enable the status and notifications bar, and potential issues due to the high temperature, but as just mentioned it did not noticeably affect me even with a fairly high room temperature.

Video & Audio Playback – RKMC, DRM, and YouTube

RKMC 16.1 is installed with a purple skin.

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As I went to the settings to enable automatic frame rate switching, I also noticed some RKCodec specific settings, with most enable, except fractional HDMI (23.976/59.97) which I manually enabled for the review.

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Once this was done I started playing some videos over SAMBA and Gigabit Ethernet starting with 4K samples:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK (24 Hz video output)
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK (24 Hz video output)
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – OK
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Almost smooth, but big audio delay (H.264 @ 4K60fps is not supported by RK3328 VPU)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) –  OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – HDD: Not perfectly smooth all the way through; Chinese fonts not supported in the filename
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – OK
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK at the beginning, then gray screen with lots of artifacts at 2:50 for a few seconds, then normal. However, I could not reproduce it after going back to the 2:40 mark, and playing again.
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – OK, but not smooth for every scenes.

Automatic frame rate switching worked just fine, and most videos played well. The box is using DDR4 so it may help with some 4K videos, especially, if you are using 4K HDR, sometimes that I can not test since I don’t have the TV for it. Another problem is that I can’t change the zoom level, it will only show 3D settings while playing videos. I also quickly tested some Blu-Ray ISO (amat.iso and sintel.iso) and again no problem in RKMC. I had less luck with my 1080p Hi10p 16-ref video, as it would only show the first frame.

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I switched to audio testing both using my TV speakers (PCM 2.0), and HDMI audio pass-through to my Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver using RKMC and MediaCenter.

Audio Codec in Video PCM 2.0 Output
(RKMC 16.1)
PCM 2.0 Output
(MediaCenter)
HDMI Pass-through
(RKMC 16.1)
HDMI Pass-through
(MediaCenter)
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK Audio OK,
Video 1:1 aspect ratio
OK Audio OK,
Video 1:1 aspect ratio
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK OK OK
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK OK Video won’t fully play -> can’t test OK
TrueHD 5.1 OK OK TrueHD 5.1, but several audio cuts TrueHD 5.1, but several audio cuts
TrueHD 7.1 OK OK TrueHD 7.1, but several audio cuts TrueHD 7.1, but several audio cuts
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK Beep / no audio ** TrueHD 7.1*, but several audio cuts TrueHD 7.1*, but several audio cuts
DTS HD Master OK OK DTS-HD MA, but some audio cuts DTS-HD MA, but some audio cuts
DTS HD High Resolution OK OK DTS-HD HR, but some audio cuts DTS 5.1
DTS:X OK OK DTS-HD MA* DTS-HD MA*

* The sample comes with two audio tracks: Dolby Atmos (normal audio), and AC3 (beep) only, so AC3 was selected by default, and switching to the other track failed to product audio
** My AV receiver does not support Dolby Atmos nor DTS:X, so falling back to respectively TrueHD 7.1 and DTS HS Master is normal.

So the good news is that RKMC and MediaCenter pass-through all HD audio codec properly, except DTS HD HR for the latter, but there’s some timing or compatibility issues, as I’d get audio cuts with the receiver often reporting “UNKNOWN” codec for  short times instead of TrueHD or DTS HD. That’s a problem similar to what I got when I reviewed Zidoo X6 Pro, and at the time others reported no problem at all, so I’m assuming the audio pass-through issue may only affect some AV receivers models including mine.

Finally, I tested different video codec in RKMC with 1080p videos from Linaro media samples and Elecard:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container – 1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container – 1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – OK
  • WebM / VP8 – 1080p – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 1080p – OK

No problem at all here, with all codec handled by hardware (RKCodec).

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DRM info reports Widevine Level 3 DRM is supported.

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The company also told me YouTube 1080p/4K is supported by the device, and at first glance it works, as I could select 2160p for 4K video. However, I quickly realized I could take screenshot of the video playing, a bad sign on this type of hardware, since videos are supposed to play on a separate hardware buffer.

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So I enabled Stats for Nerds in YouTube, and I can indeed play 3840×2160 videos, but they are rendered to a 1920×1080 viewport, so what we are actually watching is a 4K video downscaled to 1080p. So it’s better to just watch the 1080p version of the videos, especially I noticed some slowdowns at times while watching 4K streams.

Networking & Storage Performance

As usual, I tested WiFi with SAMBA by copying a 278MB file with ES File Explorer between the server and the internal flash, and vice versa. The results are not very good for this part:

  1. Server to flash: 3 minutes 5 seconds, or around 1.5 MB/s; included one short stall period
  2. Flash to server: 2 minutes 33 seconds, or around 1.81 MB/s
  3. Server to flash: Failed after 90% transfer

If I use the first two transfers to add to my comparison chart, it shows the device around the bottom.

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

It’s actually fairly similar to many other devices with 802.11n WiFi only, and in the past we’ve seen some devices, especially the one based on Amlogic + Android 6.0 did not perform well at all with SAMBA, so let’s see what happens when using iperf instead

  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n upload:

  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n download:

The performance looks better here, and should be good enough for most video streaming (although maybe not 4K ones).

Gigabit Ethernet works fine, and if you buy this device, is the recommended network interface to use anyway.

  • Gigabit Ethernet full duplex test with iperf:

Switching to storage performance, I used A1SD bench to test storage performance of the eMMC flash, and USB 3.0 hard drive.

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Please ignore the read speed of the eMMC flash since a “cached” read occur, but the write speed at 38.90 MB/s is valid, and looks good to me and close to the 40MB/s limit for the part used. The high random IO performance listed by Samsung 8K/10k R/W IOPS, certainly helps with fast boot times, app loading times, and overall system performance. USB 3.0 performance is as expected, and you’ll get good performance from both EXT-4 and NTFS, but if you want to optimize write performance, EXT-4 is the way to go. Just a quick word about the RAM test, with RAM copy done at 3397.21 MB/s (with DDR4 memory) against 3008.39 MB/s with DDR3 memory  on A95X R2 TV box, so it looks like DDR4 may improve performance a little bit on RK3328 devices.

Gaming

I played two games with my wireless controller: Beach Buggy Racing and Riptide GP2. The first game played very smoothly with default settings, and at max settings it was still perfectly playable, but not 60fps smooth. Riptide GP2 felt good with default settings, but game play was really affected after switching to max resolution in the games settings, with frame rate decreasing to probably 10 to 25 fps during the game. The frame rate was however constant through the game, as I played for 15 minutes.

This differs with my experience with A95X R2, which felt similar to Amlogic S905 based device, with a higher frame rate in both games whatever the settings. This can be easily explained however, as A95X R2 framebuffer is configured to 1280×720, while MVR9 is set to 1920×1080. 1280×720 is better for some games, but 1920×1080 is better while watching YouTube videos (I does not affect videos played in Kodi or MediaCenter since they are rendered on a separate hardware buffer).

Bluetooth

I also tested the built-in Bluetooth function in side the device I could transfer photos with my phone, and watched a YouTube video using Bluetooth headphone.

Benchmarks and System Info

CPU-Z shows a quad core ARM Cortex A53 r0p4 processor clocked @ 408 MHz to 1.51 GHz with a Mali-450MP as expected, as well as 1982 MB total RAM, and 12.40 GB internal storage

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I just ran a single benchmark to check performance is normal, and MVR9 achieved 35,994 points in Antutu 6.x, which compares to 33,117 points in A95X R2, and 34,811 points in ROCK64 development board (without heatsink).

Conclusion

Overall I was impressed by Bqeel MVR9 TV box with excellent 4K video playback with automatic frame rate switching, and fast internal storage leading to good overall performance, fast boot times and app loading times. However, if you want to use WiFi with SAMBA, you may prefer another device as I found performance to be below average, and unreliable, although raw performance number (iperf) look better, and in my case, while all HD codec were properly detected, I had many audio cuts when connected to my A/V receiver. The company also told me, the box would support YouTube 4K, but while it can stream 4K YouTube videos, it will actually downscale them 1920×1080 during playback.

PROS

  • Recent, responsive and stable Android 7.1.2 operating systems
  • Excellent supports for 4K videos in RKMC 16.1 (Kodi fork) with automatic frame rate switching support
  • HD audio codec such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD are detected with HDMI pass-through in RKMC, and
  • High performance internal storage leading to fast booting and app loading times, and good overall performance (no waiting for app windows…)
  • USB 3.0 performance is good with EXT-4, and to a lesser extend with NTFS
  • Good power handling with reboot/standby/power off mode, and low power consumption
  • Built-in Bluetooth is working well

CONS

  • Frequent micro audio cuts in most videos with HDMI audio passthrough using Onkyo TX-NR636 (When cuts happen the display on the receiver cycle between  TrueHD -> UNKNOWN -> TrueHD). Same results in RKMC and MediaCenter. The results may be different with other A/V receiver models.
  • 3D gaming frame rate may not be very high on some apps, due to the 1920×1080 resolution (instead of 1280×720 on competing models)
  • The device tends to get fairly hot. However, I did not notice any shutdown drops in performance during use myself.
  • WiFi SAMBA performance is rather poor, and connection unreliable.
  • Lack of zoom option in RKMC (only shows 3D settings)
  • Lack of option to show status or notification bars

I’d like to thank Nagrace for sending a review sample. I cannot find Bqeel MVR9 or NT-N9 TV box for sale anywhere, and the Nagrace has not setup a product page on their website yet, but if you are interested in purchasing in quantities, you may contact the company.

NutsBoard Pistachio 3.5″ Embedded SBC is Powered by NXP i.MX 6Dual/Quad Processor

August 17th, 2017 2 comments

I don’t write about i.MX6 solutions much anymore, since there are so many options available on the market, but Pistachio SBC has been designed by a company I had never heard of before: NutsBoard, and they’ve released documentation and software publicly, which does not always happen in the industrial/embedded space.

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Pistachio single board computer specifications:

  • SoC – NXP ARM Cortex-A9 IMX6 Quad/Dual @ 800MHz
  • System Memory –  Up to 2GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 4GB eMMC flash, 1x SATA interface, 1x micro SD card slot
  • Display I/F / Video Output

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    • 2x LVDS (6 or 8 bit)
    • 1x 24-bit VGA output
    • 1x HDMI port up to 1920×1080 (FHD)
    • 1x I2C AR1021 touch controller
  • Audio – SGTL5000 audio codec with class D amplifier; 1x audio header for speaker and microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Qualcomm AR8035), industrial grade wireless module  (Jorjin WG7833) with dual band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host interfaces with two USB type A ports, and two internal headers
  • Serial – 1x RS232/422/485 DB9 port, 3x RS232 headers including one for debugging
  • Other I/Os
    • 1x CAN bus
    • 1x I2C, 1x GPIO’s (5 V)
    • 1x PWM
  • Expansion – 1x mPCIE, 1x SIM card slot
  • Misc – RTC with batter slot (no battery by default)
  • Power Supply – 9 to 36V DC input; PMIC NXP PFUZE100
  • Dimensions – 148 x 102mm (3.5″ embedded SBC form factor)
  • Temperature Range – -30 to 70°C
  • Certifications – CE, FCC, RoHS, EMI, ESD and Surge for pre-testing

The company provides Linux 4.1.15, and support for Debian, Buildroot, Yocto Project, and Android 7.1 Nougat. You’ll find source code on pistachio-android-7 github account, software development tools and Android 7.1 firmware for HDMI/VGA or LCD panel in the download page, and documentation such as product brief, hardware manual, and getting started guide in the product page.

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The board will officially launch tomorrow (Friday), with the quad core version selling for $164, and the dual core version for $153 for quantities less than 100 pieces, and Pistachio development toolkits with 7″ (1024×600) LVDS touchscreen display or 10″ (1024×600) LVDS touchscreen display for respectively $284 and $291. The company will accept orders by email for samples or larger quantities first, before listing the boards and kits in their online shop by the end of the month.

Tanix TX3 Mini TV Box is Powered by Amlogic S905W SoC

August 14th, 2017 2 comments

So it looks like Amlogic has outed another SoC with Amlogic S905W processor that appears to be a cost down version of Amlogic S905X limited to 4K @ 30 fps video decoding. One of the first device to used the new processor is Tanix TX3 mini TV box that should be priced similarly to Rockchip RK3229 devices.

Tanix TX3 mini specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905W quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB/2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 output, AV port (composite)
  • Audio – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, AV port (stereo audio)
  • Video Codecs – [email protected] H.265, MPEG1/2/4, H.264, HD AVC/VC-1, RM/RMVB, Xvid/DivX3/4/5/6 , RealVideo8/9/10
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, front panel LCD display
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 105 x 105 x 15mm
  • Weight – 150g

VP9 codec support also appears to be gone. The devices runs Android 7.1 with Kodi 17.3, and ships with a power adapter, a HDMI cable, an IR remote control, and a user’s manual. It’s interesting that they’ve allegedly kept HDMI 2.0 since video decoding is limited to 4K @ 30 fps.

We don’t have pricing info, but since it’s supposed to compete against Rockchip RK3229, prices should be similar to the ones for Tanix R2 TV box that is around $28 with 1GB RAM/16GB flash, and $30 in 2GB/16GB configuration based on the prices listed in GearBest. More details may be found in the manufacturer’s product page.

[Update: Tanix TX3 mini is listed on Aliexpress, but at prices that are not very competitive
Update 2: It’s also on GeekBuying for $31.99 with PYNNHDAH coupon]

Via AndroidTVBox.eu

Categories: AMLogic, Android, Hardware Tags: 4k, Android, hevc, nougat, tanix, TV box