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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Pandora’s Box 5S Arcade Game Console – Teardown and Mini Review

Last year – and even in 2016 – , there was a fair amount of new retro gaming news, with products such a Nintendo SNES Classic Edition or GameShell Portable Retro console, as well as community supported firmware such as RetrOrangePi 4.0. GearBest asked me if I wanted to review something a little different: Pandora’s Box 5S (aka Pandora’s Key 5S) arcade game console with 999 games most (all?) designed for two players. This looked fun, and I was particularly interesting in checking out the hardware design, and hacking potential, e.g. if there could be a way to replace the board or firmware with your own. So in the review, I’ll focus mostly on the teardown, before shortly testing out the system and a few games. Pandora’s Box 5S Unboxing The device comes ins a large package (~70 x 24 x 16cm), so I’m surprised customs did not ask any questions, and it just went through without any issues. Once …

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Popcorn Hour Transformer Media Computer / NAS Launched for $95.90 and Up

Last month, we wrote about Cloud Media’s Popcorn Hour Transformer, a platform based on Rockchip RK3328 processor that could be used a 2.5″ drive NAS, and/or a 4K HDR TV box, and looked like an interested alternative  to ODROID HC1 NAS system. The company has now officially launch the device, and is taking orders for $95.90 or $115.90 for respectively the 2GB RAM/16GB flash, or 4GB/32GB versions. Popcorn Hour Transformer specifications: SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor with Mali-450MP GPU System Memory – 2GB or 4GB LPDDR3 Storage micro SD slot 16 or 32GB eMMC flash (removable and upgradeable) 128 Mbit SPI NOR flash SATA interface via USB 3.0 to SATA bridge chipset for 2.5″ HDD/SSD Network Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K 60Hz with HDR (HDR10/HLG) support Audio Output – Via HDMI, and 3.5mm audio jack (analog stereo or optical S/PDIF) USB – 2x USB 2.0 type A ports including …

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Sega Genesis Flashback Retro Game Console is Powered by “Monkey King 3.6” Processor, Runs Android

Retro gaming is cool again with products like Nintendo NES Classic / SNES Classic, DIY solutions based on firmware like RetrOrangePi, and the upcoming Atari console  among others. Another model is AtGames Sega Genesis Flashback, a smaller replica of Sega Model 1 Genesis with 85 pre-loaded games including the Sonic series, Mortal Kombat series, Phantasy Star series, and Shining Force series games.   The console ships with two wireless controllers, connect to your TV via HDMI with 720p resolution, and includes a cartridge slot that works with Sega Genesis and Mega Drive cartridges. The console has been out for several months, and it would be an understatement to say reviews are not very positive with titles / bylines such as “do not buy” (partially because the console requires a power adapter….), This Genesis does not do what Nintendoes, or “More like Trashback“. But what caught my eyes is ETA Prime’s Sega Genesis Flashback HD Teardown And Review (embedded below), which reveals the board is …

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Gameshell Portable Retro Gaming Console Features Clockwork Pi Allwinner R16 Board (Crowdfunding)

Allwinner R16 with its lowly four Cortex A7 cores and Mali-400MP2 GPU would not normally come to mind when designing a gaming console. But Nintendo used the R16 processor twice in their retro gaming consoles: NES Classic and SNES Classic Edition. Clockwork, a startup based in Hangzhou, China, decided they could also do gaming console with the processor: Gameshell. But their product is quite different, as it’s both a portable console with 2.7″ display, and a development platform with the console based on Clockwork Pi development board, and an Atmel AVR (Arduino) based keypad board. Gameshell specifications: Clockwork Pi development board SoC – Alwinner R16-J quad core Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU System Memory – 512MB or 1GB (in future revision of the board) Storage – 1x micro SDHC slot Video Output / Display I/F – 18-bit RGB display interface, micro HDMI (planned in revision of the board), Audio Output – Via HDMI, 3.5 mm stereo …

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RetrOrangePi 4.0 Released

RetrOrangePi is a retro gaming & media center firmware based on Armbian Debian image and working on Allwinner H3/H2+ based Orange Pi boards, Banana Pi M2+, and NanoPi M1, as well as Beelink X2 TV Box. Right at the end of last year, I reviewed RetrOrangePi 3.0 on Orange Pi One board to which I connected Mars G01 gamepad, and I could play some games like Wolfenstein 3D and Quake, and watch videos on OpenELEC/Kodi 16. The firmware also comes with various emulators, but you’d have to load the ROMs yourself due to intellectual property / license issues. The developers have now released RetrOrangePi 4.0. RetrOrangePi 4.0 changelog: Latest Armbian v5.32 (Debian Jessie kernel 3.4.113) RetroPie-Setup v4.3.3 (unofficial fork, upgradeable) New RetrOrangePi repository for easy updates and fixes EmulationStation v2.6.5 with video and game collection support, Desktop/OpenELEC shorcuts from main menu New ROPi “Attract-Mode”-like theme (based on Cosmos theme) Retroarch 1.6.7 – Retroachievements tested Kodi Krypton 17.4 (hardware acceleration provided …

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Orange Pi Lite Based Seedi Retro Gaming Console Takes Your Old DVDs or CD-ROMs (Crowdfunding)

Shenzhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi family is a nice collection of low costs ARM Linux development boards that can be used in all sort of projects, just like Raspberry Pi boards, but cheaper at the cost of requiring more skills, and/or efforts to complete a project. One popular use for Orange Pi boards is retro gaming thanks to community supported images like RetrOrange Pi supporting games for Atari, Amiga, DreamCast, and other consoles. The implementation looks good enough for startups to sell their own products based on Orange Pi  hardware and RetrOrangePi software, as we’ve already seen with RetroEngine Sigma Retro Game Console which had a very successful Indiegogo campaign with $629,368 USD raised. “Seedi Team” has now launched their own game console apparently based on Orange Pi Lite, but it’s a little different as instead of copying “ROMs” , you can simply insert your old CD-ROMs or DVDs. Seedi game console hardware specifications: SoC – Quad core ARM processor System …

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Having Old Floppy Disks Around? You Can Still Buy a USB Floppy Disk Drive to Read Them

If you are young enough, you may never have heard about floppy disks. They were the equivalent of “micro SD card” in the 1970’s to 2000’s , in the sense they were portable mass storage device, but the comparison stops there, as the size and capacity were quite different, and they relied on magnetic storage technology. The first 8-inch floppy drives appeared in 1971/1972 and the best models could eventually store 1.2 MB, they were following by 5¼-inch drives later the same decade with 360KB being the most common capacity, and finally 3.5-inch floppy drives coming with either 720 KB or 1.44 MB capacity in the 80’s. The latter were used until the early 2000’s, and I can remember Windows 3.1 being sold with 7 or so floppy drives. They were eventually replaced by CD ROMs, and USB flash drives. I’m writing about this, because I found out that Aliexpress is selling USB floppy disk drives for just under $10 …

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