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Rikomagic RKM R1 Mini Projector Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Kodi, Touchpad, and HDMI Input

April 10th, 2017 1 comment

Rikomagic RKM R1 is a projector running Android 4.4.4, and powered by Rockchip RK3128 quad core Cortex A7 processor with 1GB RAM, and 32GB storage. It has a particular feature as it comes with a touchpad on the top of the case as we’ve seen in the unboxing and teardown part of the Rikomagic R1 review. Today, I’ll report my experience with the projector playing games in Android, 1080p videos with Kodi 14.2, using the touchpad, and connecting a laptop through the HDMI input port. I’ll also run some benchmarks as usual.

RKM R1 Android User Experience and HDMI Input

I wanted to relax and use the projector on the bed pointing to the ceiling. RKM R1 comes with a tripod, but it’s quite small, not the projector would fall off, so I used my own tripod, connected a USB keyboard, and the USB RF dongle for Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad as I planed to play some games.

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I turned it on, and it was already all good to use, as I had already configured WiFi using the touchpad and USB keyboard, and installed various apps and games using Google Play, all without any issue whatsoever. It was a big difference in terms of user-friendlyness compared to Doogee P1 projector when it comes to initial setup, as you don’t need to go through various steps to scan a QR Code, install the control app on your smartphone and so on.

I had my (thick) curtain closed, and once I adjusted the focus with the wheel on the side of the projector the output projector looks like that.

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I would have wished for a brighter picture, so RKM R1 is better suited in really dark room or at night. If you want more control about the display there’s a setting section for this. The auto-rotate screen has nothing to do with landscape or portrait like in tablets or phone, but makes sure the bottom of the screen always faces down. For example, if you move the projector from the bed and turn it up to screw on the ceiling it will rotate the display 180 degrees so that it shows properly.

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I started playing Beach Buggy Racing with the gamepad, and it worked very smoothly in the tutorial, but then I noticed some degradation of performance in gameplay. Note that the framebuffer resolution is set to 1280×720 which makes it easier compared to most recent TV boxes where it is set to 1920×1080. Before considering we are using an old Mali-400MP GPU, it’s not too bad, the game as set the maximum graphics setting by default probably due to the low resolution.

By default the volume was very, so I used the remote control to turn up the volume, and while I could hear music and audio effects during the game, the quality was quite poor. I decided to connect my headphones to the 3.5mm audio jack, and the audio was quite saturated. I could eventually find a sweet spot by not pushing the audio jack fully, but obviously it’s not ideal. I would not say the fan is very noisy, but it will be a problem for some people, as it’s noisier than some mini PCs I’ve tried in the past.

I moved the projector outdoors evening time, and connected some USB powered speakers, but sill using the 3.5mm audio jack. I have not mention the power supply simply because the projector is battery powered, and I can last 4 to 5 hours for the projector on playing videos at times, and in the launcher at other times.

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Instead of playing games, I decided to start YouTube to play a few videos, and the only problem I really had was to switch to full screen mode. For some reason the full screen icon on shows a very short time, and when using the touchpad to go full screen I would often switch to another video or jump to the end of the current video. Apart from that, no problem, and the quality is OK, just like the one you may get if you watch a sports event at a bar. Of course this is standard resolution, so don’t expect miracles.

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The touchpad supports multi-finger gestures such as taping with two fingers for going back, or sliding with two fingers upwards for page up, and downwards or page down.

RKM R1 also comes with an HDMI input which can be convenient for presentation or any media that you prefer to play on another device. I connected CHUWI Laptbook 14.1 Windows 10 laptop, and enabled HDMI Input in the settings.

Within a few seconds I could the Windows 10 desktop from my laptop on the projected display, opened a few apps, and played a YouTube video. No problem, except audio saturation in the speakers. Audio really seems to be one of the weaknesses of this projector.

You can watch a quick demo of RKM R1 projector in the embedded video below.

Rikomagic RKM R1 Kodi Video Playback

As beside Android 4.4.4, it’s also running the older Kodi 14.2, so RKM R1 feels some sort of time machine, going back about 2 years in times.

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Since the projector resolution is 854×480 native, and the video decoder is limited to 1080p60, I’ll skip the usual 4K video decoding and audio pass-through (since there’s no hardware for it), and only went through some 1080p videos (Linaro samples) played over a SAMBA share:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny) – 1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container –  1080p – OK
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container – 1080p – Plays, but frequent buffering
  • VC1 codec (WMV) – 1080p – 1080p – Audio only, frequent audio cuts
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Plays in slow motion (software decode)
  • WebM / VP8 – 1080p – Plays in slow motion (software decode), frequent buffering.
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container  – 1080p – Not smooth at all (software decode)

That was no good, so I repeated the tests from a USB hard drive instead, and while I could browse the hard drive, none of the videos would start to play. Last change with a USB flash drive instead (lower power consumption):

  • 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 – 1080p – Audio only, and it cuts after a while (stuck at 00:08 time mark)
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – Plays in slow motion (software decode)
  • WebM / VP8 – 1080p – Plays in slow motion
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container  – 1080p – Not smooth at all (software decode)

So it’s clearly not the best platform for Kodi, but if you are only playing the most common videos codec like H.264 or MPEG2, you’ll probably do fine.

Rikomagic RKM R1 System Information

During the teardown I found two flash chips, and since there were advertised as 16 Gbit each on several websites, I believed there was only 4GB storage on the projector, but apparently this is a mistake as there’s just under 32 GB flash on the board with a 1.91GB internal storage partition, and a 32GB (less than that in reality, maybe ~28GB) “NAND flash” partition. The firmware is rooted by default.

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The system completely lacks DRM, but considering the projector is only running Android 4.4, I’m not even sure that’s a problem.

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CPU-Z wrongly reports a “Rockchip RK3066” processor, but it gets the rest correct with a quad core Cortex A7 processor clocked at 216 MHz to1.20 GHz with a Mali-400MP GPU. Android 4.4.4 runs on top of Linux 3.10.0 in rk30sdk board. 999MB total RAM is available to the system, but at the time I ran CPU-Z only 448 MB was available.

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Rikomagic RKM R1 Benchmarks

Antutu 6.x confirms Rockchip RK3128 is not exactly a beast, and the projector performance may not satisfy everybody, depending on which apps you play to run. Performance may not be that important if you only plan to watch videos, or use the HDMI input.

While the processor is slow I never had “app not working: windows, likely because the internal flash performance is quite decent at 39.91 MB/s (R) and 31.46 MB/s (W)

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Finally, let’s have a look at network performance by copying a file over WiFi + SAMBA with ES File Explorer in both direction. The results are rather weak (1.8 MB/s on average), and may explain why some videos were buffering in Kodi.

WiFi Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

I also did some tests with iperf in case the culprit is SAMBA as with Amlogic Android Marshmallow firmware, but results with iperf are also rather low (about 3 MB/s):

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Conclusion

Rikomagic RKM R1 Android projector works much better than Doogee P1, is much easier to use, and also comes with HDMI input. The projector is also mostly bug free, and I had almost no problems playing YouTube videos, but that does not mean the user experience is perfect. First the processor is quite low end, and relying on older software like Android 4.4 and Kodi 14.2, possibly because of all the extra work needed to make the DLP projector work.

PROS

  • Mostly bug-free and responsive firmware
  • Projector works well in dark room
  • The touchpad on top of the project is an amazing idea, and works really well, also supporting multi-finger gestures.
  • HDMI input to connect another computer or laptop
  • Built-in battery  that last about 4 to 5 hours with the projector
  • Google Play install, and no problem to install and use apps such as YouTube
  • OTA firmware update appears to be supported

CONS

  • Low end SoC with quad core Cortex A7 and Mali-400MP GPU
  • The projector runs somewhat older software: Android 4.4 and Kodi 14.2
  • Kodi 14.2 does not work with all video codec, for example H.265 and VC1 are not supported
  • WiFi performance is rather poor
  • Built-in speaker of low quality, and audio is often distorted or saturates via the 3.5mm audio jack (headphone and external speakers)
  • Lack of DRM support
  • Higher brightness would be beneficial in some situations
  • Focus appears to be slightly different on left and right sides of display (at least with my sample)

I’d like to thank Rikomagic for providing a sample, and if you are interested you could purchase the projector for around $246 shipped by DHL, or if you plan to order in quantities, contact the company via the product page.

Rikomagic R1 Android Projector Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

March 27th, 2017 5 comments

Rikomagic R1 Android mini projector runs Android 4.4 on Rockchip RK3128 quad core processor, and the company sent me a sample for review, so today I’ll first do an unboxing, and partial teardown, before testing the projector in more details in the second part of the review.

Rikomagic R1 Projector Unboxing

The projector comes with a white package marked RKM R1.

The bottom of the package indicated its unsurprisingly based on Texas Instruments DLP technology with a LED light, and is equipped with a touch panel and a battery.

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More importantly, there’s a QR code that links to R1 Setup Guide, which for once will be useful, as this device has some unique features.

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The projector ships with a 5V/2.5A power supply, an IR remote control, a HDMI cable, a tripod, and an adapter to make the interface between the projector box and the tripod.

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The top of the device has a touch area, the front comes with the projector and plenty of ventilation holes. One of the sides features opening for speakers, and the other the power button, a reset pinhole likely use for firmware recovery, and a wheel to manually adjust focus. The rear panel includes a micro SD slot, the IR receiver window, a 3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI input, two USB ports, and the power jack.

The tripod and adapter feels a little flimsy, but it does the job. It’s easy to assemble, and to adjust to your needs.

There are two locations to screw the tripod to the adapter, and it’s also possible to mount the projector on the tripod to project the image on the ceiling.

Rikomagic R1 Projector Teardown

RKM R1 is the second Android projector I review, and with the first one I miserably failed to teardown Doogee P1, so I was quite motivated to succeed with R1 projector. The problem is that it was not easy. There are four rubber pad on the bottom of the case, but no screws underneath. I eventually figured out I had to take the top cover using a sharp to lift it up at at least two of the corners, and work my way under the cover with an old credit card to peel it off.

At this stage, we can see the touch panel board is called JSX-TP15 and comes with two chips: Elan Micro EM78F611 USB Flash MCU, and eKTF2135EAW which should be a Touch Sensor IC from Elan. We can also see the projector comes with a fan to cool the projector.

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The next step is to cover the second cover. First I tried to do that on the corners but just damaged the box a bit doing so. So finally, I just pulled the cover with my hand using the rectangle area in the middle.

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We’ve got the project on the bottom left, right on the left of the fan. The Rockchip processor and memory (1GB) are covered by some sort of black heatsink, so we still have plenty to ICs to checkout starting with Ampak AP6330 module for 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity. Sandisk SDTNSGAMA-016GM NAND flash gives us 16Gbit (2GB) storage a far cry from the 32GB flash promised, but more on that latter. Other ICs include GL850G USB hub, Texas Instruments DRV632 audio stereo line driver, MSTAR MST6M182VG-LF-Z1 “video processing IC”, Terawins T113AI visual processor with 24-bits TTL, single/dual LVDS, serial RGB output… and for the projector part: DLP DPP2607 DLP PICO processor combined with Winbond W948D6FBHX5E 256 Mbit SDRAM. So it appears that both T113A and the MSTAR IC are used to convert the video signal from the Rockchip processor to make it compatible with the DLP chip.

I loosened 6 screws to try to take out of the board completely, but the battery is firmly attached to the case, and it was also require disconnecting the DLP projector part, so I did not go further, especially there’s only one noticeable IC on the other side of the board: another Sandisk SDTNSGAMA-016GM NAND flash.


This brings to total storage to 32 Gbit, meaning there’s just 4GB storage, not 32GB as previously advertised. [Update: Android shows two partitions: one 1.91 GB, one 25.5 GB, so it seems the info on Internet about the NAND flash having 16Gbit capacity is wrong, and it’s 16GB, with a total of 32 GB (Gigabyte) as advertised]

Since time I was not entirely confident I could put everything together without issue, but finally it works fine.

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Brightness is not that strong so you’ll need a failry dark room to use. I quickly use the touch panel on the top, and it’s just fantastic, no need to connect a mouse or install an Android app like I had to do with Doogee P1. But we’ll find out a bit more about the details in the second part of the review.

I’d like to thank Rikomagic for sending a review sample. Resellers can inquire the company to purchase in quantities via the product page, while individuals can purchase the projector for around $246 shipped with DHL on Aliexpress.

Rikomagic R1 mini Projector Runs Android 4.4 on Rockchip RK3128 Quad Core Processor

February 27th, 2017 1 comment

Rikomagic R1 may look like a Android TV box from some angles, but it’s actually a mini projector powered by Rockchip RK3128 quad core processor, with 1GB RAM, 32GB storage, with many of the port of featuring found on a TV box, plus a 854×480 DLP LED projector.

Rikomagic R1 projector specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3128 quad core Cortex A7 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32GB NAND flash + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Projector
    • DLP technology with 0.3″ DMD + RGB LED with 1000 lumens (TBC), likely based on Texas Instruments DLP3000.
    • Resolution – 854×480 (WVGA)
    • Contrast ratio – 2000:1
    • Projection – Area – 30 to 120″; distance: 1 to 5 meters; ratio: 1.19:1
    • Keystone correction – automatic, vertical: -/+ 40 degrees
    • Manual focus
  • Video Input – HDMI 1.4 port
  • Audio – 3.5mm earphone jack, built-in speaker(s)
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB OTG port
  • Misc – IR receiver, touchpad on top of enclosure, power button, reset pinhole
  • Power Supply – 5V/2.5A via power barrel
  • Battery – 5,000 mAh @
  • Dimensions – 137 x 82 x 24mm

The projector runs Android 4.4, and ships with an HDMI cable, an IR remote control, a power supply, and a tripod.

In some way Rikomagic R1 is very similar to Doogee P1 with a quad core processor running Android 4.4, an WVGA DLP projector, and a battery. R1 however adds HDMI input, a micro SD port, a larger eMMC flash, an audio jack, and an IR receiver. The resolution may seem low, but based on my experience with Doogee P1 review, it’s perfectly usable. The stated luminance of 1,000 lumens contrast a lot with the 70 lumens listed for Doogee P1, but it’s probably because one is expressed in raw lumens and the other, in effective lumens.

Rikomagic R1 is not for sale yet, but considering Doogee P1 goes for about $160, I’d expect the new projector to be little more expensive due to the extra features. More details may be available on the product page.

Rikomagic MK22 Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Video & Audio in Kodi, Benchmarks…

November 7th, 2016 4 comments

Rikomagic MK22 is one of the many Android TV boxes powered by Amlogic S912 octa-core processor with typical hardware specifications such as 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, Gigabit Ethernet and dual band WiFi. I’ve already taken the box apart to check out the hardware in the first part of the review, so I’ll focus on the firmware, but I’ll keep it short focusing on typical problem areas, as I’ve already reviewed a bunch of other Amlogic S912 TV boxes such as Qintaix Q912 or Beelink GT1.

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First Boot, Firmware Update, and First Impressions

After having connected all usual cables and  accessories include a 1TB USB hard drive, and RF dongles for my air mouse and wireless gamepad, I booted the device, and after around 45 seconds (typically), I got to the main launcher.

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Click for Original Size

Since I received the device about a month ago, I decided to go to the UPDATE&BACKUP app to see if there was any OTA firmware update, and unfortunately, as you can see from the screenshot below online update was not enabled in the device with the error: “Check Failed! Check Your OTA Servier Argent” (sic).

update-backup-fail

So I went to Rikomagic download page, and I could find a new firmware, the latest USB burning tool, and instructions. It did not go very smoothly, but I still managed to flash the firmware, and I explained the issues I came across in details in the post entitled USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016. Still that was a disappointment to have to go through this, as the vast majority of TV boxes now support OTA firmware update through the network or SD cards, a much more user-friendly way to upgrade the firmware. The company explained that my early sample did not support OTA firmware update, but it should now. I tried again UPDATE&BACKUP, and got the same error, until I found another firmware update app called WirelessUpdate.

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It won’t detect a new firmware since I have RKM MK22_161031 firmware released a week ago, but it did seem to properly check the status from the OTA server, telling that was not new update.

I won’t go into much details about the settings, as you can check my other S912 reviews for all options, for example M12N review. HDMI CEC, Playback settings (HDMI Adaptation), and Power key definition were all present in MK22 firmware. I had no troubles with settings Ethernet, WiFi, and the system automatically set my TV to 2160p @ 60 Hz and kept it that way throughout. I did not have the typical HDMI CEC issue turning on my AV receiver against my will. So it appears Rikomagic fixed some of the issues I encountered in early S912 TV boxes.

about-mediabox-rkm-mk22

I could also enter Android Marshmallow settings, and access all usual options. A single unified 11.38GB partition is used for both apps and storage from the 16GB eMMC flash, and the system runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux kernel 3.14.29. The firmware is rooted.

The provide remote control worked fine for up to 8 meters, as further away some keys would be missed. I reverted to MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse for most of the review because its mouse mode and QWERTY keyboard make it so much easier in most Android apps.

I could also power on and off (long press) the system with the remote, and make it enter standby (short press), with the following power consumption numbers when all accessories, include a USB hard drive, are connected:

  • Power off – 0 Watt
  • Standby – 5.1 Watts
  • Idle – 6.2 Watts

Temperature wise the box top and bottom temperatures reach 44 and 52 °C max after Antutu 6.x benchmark, and after 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2, they rise to about 47°C and 59°C respectively. I could not notice any performance degradation over time in the game, and performance was the same as on other Amlogic S912 TV boxes.

After my initial frustration with having to upgrade the firmware using Windows based Amlogic USB burning tool, the device actually performance well, just like other entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes, with the advantage of having several bugs fixed (HDMI CEC bug gone, HDMI video setting constant, …). Google Play also worked with any problems and could install all apps I normally use for reviews.

4K Video & Audio playback in Kodi 16.1, DRM Info

While some Amlogic S912 TV boxes are pre-loaded with Kodi 17.0 (alpha / beta), Rikomagic MK22 comes with the stable version of Kodi 16.1, possibly with some tweaks, as well as pre-installed add-ons.

mk22-kodi-16-1
Again, I’ll be quick in this review, as Amlogic S912 video playback performance is well known.  So I’ve only tested 4K videos, and checked whether automatic frame rate switching and HDMI audio pass-through are working. All videos were playing through the Gigabit Ethernet connection from a SAMBA share, unless otherwise noted (HDD = played from USB hard drive).

4K videos are playing reasonably well, although 2 had some unusual issues:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – First time: Video exited early (after 2 to 3 seconds). Second time: 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
  • 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 – Started well, but after 30 seconds or so the image froze with the audio still playing in the background.
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth, and audio delay (hardware does not support this type of video)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK (although video did not seem as sharp as usual)
  • 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
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – HDD: Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Plays but could be smoother.

Automatic frame rate switching is not working just like on other Amlogic S912 devices, even after setting it in both Kodi and Android (HDMI Adaptation).

HDMI audio passthrough works for 5.1 channel audio, and I could not detect any audio cuts during testing contrary to what happens on some other devices:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK, but video not smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – OK
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 5.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • TrueHD 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – PCM 2.0, no audio
  • DTS HD Master – DTS 5.1
  • DTS HD High Resolution – DTS 5.1
  • DTS:X (not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636) – DTS 5.1

So if all you really is Dolby and DTS 5.1, MK22 should be good enough, but TrueHD and DTS HD audio formats are not supported, at least in Kodi.

MK22 support Widevine Level 3 according to DRM Info, which may be useful for some premium video streaming app. This DRM level is only good enough for SD resolution on Widewine “protected” apps, as Level 1 would be required for HD and UHD resolution.

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Networking and Storage

In order to evaluate WiFi performance, I copy a 278 MBfile between the internal storage and a SAMBA server using ES File Explorer in both direction. As with many recent boxes, MK22 also experience an asymmetric performance between download and upload, with the latter about twice as slow. On average Rikomagic MK22 achieves 1.6 MB/s throughput using 802.11n, not a very high performance even for 802.11n, but what’s surprising is that all Amlogic S912 TV boxes are very closely tied for 802.1n WiFi performance, so there may be an issue with Amlogic SDK, or some other limitations.

WiFI throughput in MB/s - Click to Enlarge

WiFi throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Internal performance is also important for fast loading times and overall system performance, and the eMMC used in MK22 has very good performance with 63.65 MB/s read speed, and 20.23 MB/s write speed.

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Read and Write Speed in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

That means there should not be visible slowdowns due to I/Os (provided random I/Os are fast too), and indeed during testing I did not experience any slowdowns, and found apps to load rapidly. Somehow boot time could be a bit faster with such performance.

I also tested file systems support and found FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT file systems to be supported by the device.

Rikomagic MK22 System Info and Antutu Benchmark

CPU-Z reports Amlogic S912 clocked at 1.51 GHz, so Kudos to Rikomagic here, as they are the first to report the real CPU frequency of that processor. The board name is q6330, framebuffer resolution is set to 1920 x 1080, and there’s indeed 2GB RAM (1807MB due to hardware buffers), and 11.38 GB storage available to the user.

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RKM-MK22 achieved 40,827 points in Antutu 6.x, a score in line with other Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes I’ve tested so far.

rkm-mk22-antutu-score

Conclusion

I found Rikomagic MK22 to be stable and working mostly as expected, with some bugs corrected compared to earlier S912 TV box models under reviews, but with limitations frequently found in entry-level Amlogic S912 TV boxes with lack of support for automatic frame rate switching and HD audio (TrueHD, DTS HD) pass-through in Kodi, as well as DRM limited to Widewine Level 3. WiFi 802.11n is reliable, but performance is a bit weak, although similar to what you get with other Amlogic S912 devices. Storage speed is very good which ensure fast loading times and a responsive system. A big let down was lack of OTA firmware update, as I had to run USB burning tool to upgrade the firmware, but the company told me that from now on OTA firmware will be provided.

Rikomagic MK22 TV box can be purchased on the company’s Aliexpress store for $93.90 including shipping, or quite higher than equivalent competitors products. The Android box is also listed on GearBest, but still shown as “out of stock”.

Amlogic USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016

November 6th, 2016 18 comments

[Update November 2016: If you don’t like USB Burning Tool or don’t have the necessary USB cable, you can flash Amlogic IMG firmware to a micro SD card instead]

In the first few years when Android TV Boxes/mini PCs started to hit the markets, in the 2012-2014 period, online firmware update was inexistent for the vast majority of the boxes, and if you wanted to update your firmware you had to use some windows tools like USB Burning Tool for Amlogic, AndroidTool for Rockchip, or PhoenixUSBPro / PhonixSuite for Allwinner platforms. All those tools have poor design, for example the window is not resizable, so it’s impossible to your an old netbook (1024×600 resolution), and then you have to install drivers which is easy, for after detection of the box may be hit and miss, and you have to follow a procedure with the right power sequence with a USB cable connected to a USB OTG port (not always properly marked) and the recovery pin hole or button. It’s taken me close to 4 hours in the past to update firmware through that method switching between USB ports and computers to find out what may be wrong… Luckily in recent years, many devices are now supporting OTA firmware updates, or an easy offline update procedure using a micro SD card or USB flash drive. That means most people should not need to torture themselves using such terrible tools and procedure, unless your TV box is somehow bricked, in which case Windows tools, or their Linux equivalent, are required.

I’ve writing about this because Rikomagic must have been nostalgic and decided not to provide OTA firmware update, and only distribute MK22 TV box firmware as an IMG file for Amlogic USB Burning Tool, both of which can be downloaded on Rikomagic download page. Even though I must have had to use such tools for nearly two years, I was naively expecting it update the firmware in a few minutes, since I used such tools extensively in the past. I was wrong, and I did managed to flash the firmware after two hours, most of it due my own mistakes, as I forgot some of the caveat, and did not read the complete instructions. So I’ll report my experience in case it can help somebody.

The first challenge was to find which one of the USB ports is the OTG one, as there are three, and no specific markings. At first, none of the ports would be detected due the wrong recovery sequence as explained, but I eventually found out it was the lonely USB port on the side, on the left of the micro SD slot and recovery pinhole.

mk22-otg-port-recovery-button

I know that normally you need to insert a toothpick in the recovery button and apply power, before releasing the recovery button, and I did just that and could not get into recovery mode at anytime. My mistake was that I had also inserted the USB cable, and it took me a while to realize it would also power the power through USB, not enough to show anything on the TV, but enough to boot the processor, and prevent me from accessing recovery mode. So the correct procedure, is to enter recovery mode by pressing the recovery button, applying power, and a few second later release the recovery button, and only then you can insert the USB cable.

After that I fired up a Windows 7 virtual image through VirtualBox, and installed USB Burning Tool and drivers by clicking on setup_v2.0.5.15_build7.exe downloaded from Rikomagic website. The installation went smoothly, but after enabling “Amlogic” device in Virtual Box, it would report the device is not supported, so I removed the drivers and reinstalled them, and I could get “Worldcup Device” in the Device Manager.

Good, now I can start USB Burning Tool, change the language to English in the program, and the TV box is detected, so I loaded the firmware file (File->Import Image… RKM MK22_161031.img), hoping to get ready to flash the firmware, but I got another error message “Get key failed” with the mac = 0 on the right window when click on Start button… Very odd.

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But I’m not the only one with the issue, and for some reasons, Amlogic decided to add a license to their factory software… Hard to understand why, but I should definitely have read the provided “MK22.MK06 Software installation intructions-161013.doc” manual, as it explicitly states to

copy the folderlicense to the path when you set by this step. For example: I set C:\Program Files (x86)\Amlogic\USB_Burning_Tool

And there’s indeed a license folder in the downloaded file from Rikomagic, so I copied the directory to C:\Program Files (x86)\Amlogic\USB_Burning_Tool, overwriting the current license directory, and started USB burning tool again. Hmm… same “get key failed” error… Should I reboot? Let’s do it, but same error again after reboot.

So I decided to uninstall everything, and start from start with the drivers and USB Burning Tool, and made sure I copied the license directory before starting USB burning tool. After which I started the program, loaded the firmware file, click on Start button, and after just under 7 minutes I had managed to flash the firmware! Woohoo!

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Click to Enlarge

That was a painful experience. So while there’s a case (firmware recovery) for such tools and images, end users should not be asked to install the firmware through that method. It’s complicated, and the default settings wipe out your data and apps.

Rikomagic MK22 Octa-core Android TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

October 3rd, 2016 8 comments

Rikomagic became a much better known company when they launched MK802 TV stick in 2012, and over the years they’ve kept introducing new products, and I’ve just received a review sample of their latest Rikomagic MK22 octa-core Android TV box powered by Amlogic S912 processor. I’ve posted photos of the device and its accessories, and check out the hardware design in the first part of the review, before testing Android 6.0 firmware in the second part in a few weeks.

Rikomagic MK22 Unboxing

I received MK22 in its black and white retail package.

rikomagic-mk22-package
The back of the package details the main features, and the hardware specifications.

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Instead of printing a user’s manual that anybody will hardly read, the company instead printed a QR Core to MK22 user’s manual download link.

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The TV box ships with a 5V/2.5A power supply, an HDMI cable, and an IR remote control that looks the same as used with Ugoos TV boxes and GeekBox board.

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The case is made of plastic with the top having a speaker like design. We’ll find a USB port, a micro SD slot, and the firmware recovery pinhole on one of the sides, and an external WiFi antenna, two more USB 2.0 ports, optical S/PDIF output, AV and HDMI 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 connector, and the power jack on the rear panel.

Rikomagic MK22 Teardown

In order to open the device, I had to remove the four rubber pads on the bottom of the case, and loosen four screws.

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One of them was really hard to remove, but I eventually managed, and could have a closer look at CZ-S29-V2 board, which has a naming scheme very similar to CZ-S32-V2.1 board found in R-Box Pro TV box.

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Click to Enlarge

A now common black and relatively thin heatsink is placed on top of Amlogic S912 processor, which is connected to a 16GB Samsung KLMAG2WEMB-B031 eMMC 5.0 flash (Seq. R/W: 170/11 MB/s; IOPS R/W: 4000/500), and two SKHynix H5TQ45G3CFR DDR3 chips (1GB RAM) on this side of the board. The board also features AP6330 wirelress module for dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as Pulse H5007NL and Realtek RTL8211F for Gigabit Ethernet. The serial console should be the unpopulated 4-pin on the right side, right one top of two unused USB 2.0 PCB footprints. The 24-pin unpopulated header on the bottom right are probably reserved for a front panel LCD display.

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Click to Enlarge

The bottom of the board comes with two more SKHynix DDR3 chip to bring the total to 2GB RAM, as well as a sticker with a MAC address starting with 78:C2:C0, corresponding to any unregistered MAC address range, but again the same range as found in R-Box Pro.

I’d like to thank Rikomagic for sending the box for review, and if you are interested in the device, the company sells MK22 TV box on their Aliexpress store for $90.90 including shipping. I could also find it listed on GearBest, but it’s currently “out of stock”.

[Update: Part 2 is up @ Rikomagic MK22 Review – Part 2: Android Firmware, Video & Audio in Kodi, Benchmarks…]

Amlogic S912 Android TV Boxes List So Far

August 15th, 2016 55 comments

Following up on the tradition to create list of TV boxes with popular processor, such as my Amlogic S905 TV boxes and sticks list, I’ve decided to generate a comparison table for the first ten Amlogic S912 Android TV boxes announced so far. There won’t be any S912 TV sticks, as the processor probably dissipate a little too much heat to be useful in that form factor.

Amlogic_S912_TV_Boxes

All TV boxes in the table below share the same Amlogic S912 octa-core Cortex A53 processor @ 2.0 GHz with an ARM Mali-820MP3 GPU, support for HDMI 2.0a output, HDR, 4K video playback for  VP9, H.265 and H.264 codecs, and run Android 6.0, so I only included columns for items that differ between products.

 MemoryStorageVideo OutputAudio OutputEthernetWirelessUSBPrice
MXQ Plus M12N / ENYBOX X22GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIF10/100M802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$69.99
Zoomtak Vplus2GB16GB + SD slotHDMI + RCA compositeHDMI, RCA stereo, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.03x USB 2.0$54 (FOB)
Nexbox A12GB16GB + SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$70.99 (Coupon GBNA1)
Rikomagic MK222GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0, 1x USB OTG portTBD
R-Box Pro2 or 3 GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0, 1x micro USB OTG 2GB RAM: $74.99
3GB RAM: $82.99
QINTAIX Q9122GB8 or 16 GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.03x USB 2.0TBD
Beelink GT12GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMIHDMI, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0TBDx USB 2.0$55.99 (coupon GBGT1)
Videostrong KM8 Pro2GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI + AVGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$47 (FOB)
Vontar Z5 Supermax2GB16GB + micro SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabitDual band 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$89.99
Intbox i72GB8GB + SD slotHDMI + AVHDMI, AV, optical S/PDIFGigabit802.11 b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.02x USB 2.0$118.00

Remarks: AV means 3.5mm AV jack with composite and stereo audio, and prices are usually retail prices with shipping by registered airmail from China, except for the ones followed by “FOB” which are factory prices.

Corrections are welcomed in the comments section, as well as tips about new S912 boxes not mentioned in this post.

Rikomagic MK22 Amlogic S912 TV Box is Coming Soon

August 8th, 2016 4 comments

We already know Amlogic S912 TV boxes are coming, after several Amlogic S912 TV box boards surfaced, and products such as Qintaix Q912, and Beelink GT1 were announced. So it’s no surprise that Rikomagic has announced their own Amlogic S912 TV box with MK22.

Rikomagic_MK22

Rikomagic MK22 Specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 2.0GHz with ARM Mali-820MP3 @ up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash and micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 and AV ports
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video codecs – VP9-10/ and H.265 up to [email protected], H.264, WMV, MPEG-1/2/4, VC-1, AVS, and RealVideo up to [email protected]
  • Audio codecs – MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, FLAC, Ogg, and programmable with 7.1/5.1 down-mixing
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB OTG port
  • Misc – IR receiver, power button
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions & weight –  TBD

The box will run Android 6.0 with Google, and either custom launcher or Android home screen (user selectable), and come pre-loaded with Kodi with support for hardware decoding. MK22 will ship with HDMI and AV cables, an USB cable, the power supply, a remote control, and a user’s manual.

The company did not provide any availability, nor price information. MK22 does not have a product page on their website either, but should eventually be listed on Rikomagic Android PC page.