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Magicsee C300 is a $70 DVB-T2/C & DVB-S2 Android Set-Top Box Powered by Amlogic S905D SoC

November 14th, 2017 10 comments

Amlogic S905D processor is an evolution of Amlogic S905X with Gigabit Ethernet support, and TS interfaces for digital TV tuners. That explains why most devices launched with the processor come with tuners. So far, we’ve covered or reviewed a few including Sen5 STB (2x DVB-T2/C), Mecool KI Pro (T2/S2), and TX95D TV box with a single DVB-T2 tuner.

Magicsee C300 is another Amlogic S905D Android STB that comes with DVB-T2/C (Terrestrial & Cable), and DVB-S2 (Satellite) tuners, and sells for just under $70 on Aliexpress, and can be found on other shops such as GearBest.

Magicsee C300 specifications are quite similar to the ones for Mecool KI Pro:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905D quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with penta core Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60Hz with support for HDR10 and HLG, and 3.5mm AV (composite video) jack
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV (stereo audio), optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs – 10-bit H.265, and VP9 Profile 2 up to 4K60, H.264 up to 4K30, AVS+ and other codecs up to 1080p60
  • Tuners
    • DVB-T/T2/C tuner with coaxial antenna input connector
    • DVB-S/S2 tuner with F antenna input connector
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, IR receiver
  • Power Supply –  DC 12V/1.5A
  • Dimensions – 14.80 x 12.00 x 3.30 cm
  • Weight – 195 grams

The only differences are that they used DDR3 memory instead of DDR4, Fast Ethernet instead on Gigabit Ethernet, and a slightly more powerful power supply (18W vs 12W). The ports layout is exactly the same, so I suspect Magicsee is using Videostrong KI Pro board with DDR3 memory, and no Gigabit Ethernet placed into a different case.

The set-top box is said to run Android 6.0.1 according to Aliexpress/GearBest, and ships with a power adapter, a HDMI cable, an IR remote control, and a user manual.

Shenzhen Intek Technology may be the manufacturer of the device as they list Magicsee C300 on Alibaba. There’s one key difference however, as they claim the device runs Android 7.1.2 support instead of Android 6.0.1. Android Nougat would make more sense, as KI Pro is running the more recent operating system.

Via AndroidPC.es

Ugoos UM4 TV Box/Dongle Runs Android 7.1.2 with Some Uncommon Features

November 10th, 2017 4 comments

Ugoos UM3 was launched in 2014 with Android 4.4 on Rockchip RK3288 processor, and could be described a a tiny TV box, or large TV stick. That form factor must have had some success, and they later launched AM2 model powered by Amlogic S905 plus Android 6.0.

The company has now just launched Ugoos UM4 with the same form factor but with Rockchip RK3328 processor running Android 7.1.2. Ugoos likes to add some software features often not found on other devices, and that would normally require hacking the firmware, or purchasing apps.

Ugoos UM4 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR4 memory
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC flash (8GB optional) + micro SD card slot up to 32 GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a female port up to 4k @ 60 fps with CEC and HDR support, 3.5mm AV output with composite and stereo audio
  • Connectivity – Dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 with external antenna
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 OTG port (USB type A receptacle)
  • Misc – 2.5mm IR jack
  • Power Supply – 5V/2.5A via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 109 x 60 x 20 mm
  • Weight – 80 grams

The device ships with a user manual, a power adapter, a  short HDMI cable, an IR remote controller, and a extension cable with IR receiver. I’ve not found the latter in that many TV stick, and it allows you to use an IR remote control with the stick even if it is connected behind your TV. But what could be the most interesting with this device are the extra Ugoos settings in the firmware.

You’ll get a choice of 7 submenus with some options that are not commonly found in other TV boxes:

  • Root – Enable/disable root access which can be useful as some apps require a system without root, while others won’t work with root
  • File server/client – NFS and SAMBA client, and SAMBA server. I understand the clients make your SAMBA/NFS server accessible from any apps.
  • Hardware Monitor – Shows network usage, CPU info, RAM info in notification bar
  • (Fireeasy) Wireless Assistant – Remote control app for Android / iOS (download)
  • Gamepad settings – Gamepad buttons mapping app. Profiles are shareable among users
  • Debug settings – WiFi/USB Adb access, log files management, etc…
  • User scripts – Create init.d directory is enabled, and allows advanced user to run scripts at boot time without rooting the device.

The device also supports automatic frame rate switching (AFRS) with 3 modes: system resolution, video resolution priority, and frequency resolution priority. This does not affect AFRS function in Kodi, which handle this on its own. Finally, digital signage users will be happy to find an option to switch between landscape and portrait mode.

The firmware might be at the beta stage right now, as reviewers and customers are only starting to get samples right now. If you’d like to give it a try yourself, Ugoos UM4 can be purchased on Aliexpress for $89.99 shipped.

Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6) TV Box Review – Part 2: Android 7.0 Firmware

November 10th, 2017 5 comments

Zidoo H6 Pro is the very first Allwinner H6 based 4K TV box. The Android 7.0 device support H.265, H.264 and VP6 4K video decoding, comes with fast interfaces such as USB 3.0, and network connectivity with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi.

I’ve already checkout the hardware in the first part of the review entitled “Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6) TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing & Teardown“, and since then, I’ve had time to play with the TV box, and report my experience with Android 7.0 in this second part of the review.

First Boot and OTA Firmware Update

I’ve connected a USB keyboard and a USB dongle with RF dongles for an air mouse and gamepad on the two USB ports, a USB 3.0 hard drive to the single USB 3.0 ports, as well as HDMI and Ethernet cables before powering up the TV box. I also added two AAA batteries to the IR/Bluetooth remote control.

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Boot to the background image takes around 20 seconds, but to reach the actual launched it normally takes around one minute and 25 seconds when I have the hard drive connected (with 4 partitions and many files). If I remove the hard drive, the full boot can complete within 23 seconds. Not that much of an issue, but it still may be something Zidoo wants to optimize.

On the very first boot, a few seconds after the launcher showed up, I also had a pop-up window informing me that Firmware v1.0.11 update was available, with a neat changelog listing the main changes including support for Netflix 1080p playback, and YouTube 2K/4K playback.

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I clicked on the Update button to start downloading the new firmware…

… an cliked Update again after downloading, to complete the firmware update with MD5 check and installation to the eMMC flash.

The system will then reboot, and we can get access the Zidoo ZIUI launcher.

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The launcher is identical to the one in Zidoo X7 except for two extra icons on the bottom for BT remote, and “Box RC” app, but more on that later.


Beside those two new remote apps, we’ll also notice HappyCast app used by Airplay/Miracast, and the lack of ZDMC (Zidoo’s Kodi fork), as we are told to use Kodi from Google Play instead.

Settings & Google Play

The settings section looks the same as Zidoo X7 settings, so I will only go through it quickly.

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We have four main section with Network, Display, Sound and Other. I could connect to WiFI and Ethernet with no issues, and Bluetooth worked with my smartphone and a pair of headphones. Display can be set up to a resolution / framerate of 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz, and PCM 2.0 output, HDMI & S/PDIF audio pass-through options are available. Looking at the Other section, About tab, and Android Settings about TV box reveals ZIDOO_H6 Pro is running Android 7.0 on top of Linux 3.10.65, and the firmware I tested for the review is v1.0.11, as we’ve seen from the OTA firmware update part of this review.

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Android security patch level is dated November 5, 2016. Not the most recent, and you won’t get monthly to bi-monthly security updates like in Android One phones such as Xiaomi Mi A1. The firmware is rooted by default.

Looking into storage options, I had 418MB free out of 10.22GB internal storage partition at the very beginning of the review, and NTFS and exFAT partitions of my USB hard drive could be mounted, but not the EXT-4 and BTRFS partitions.

I could install all apps I needed for review using Google Play, and I also installed Riptide GP2 game with Amazon Appstore since I got it for free there.

Remote Control – IR/Bluetooth, and Box RC Android App

One way Zidoo H6 Pro differs from most competitors is that it comes with a Bluetooth remote control. By default it works with the IR transmitter, and Bluetooth is disable, but you can enable Bluetooth by launching Bluetooth Remote app, or selecting BT Remote icon on the launcher.

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Hold the back and menu keys for a few seconds until the LED on the remote start flashing. The app will then show the Bluetooth remote is connected, and the battery level. Bluetooth does not enable air mouse function, and you’d still need to use the arrow keys to move the cursor in mouse mode, so the main advantage of Bluetooth over infrared is that it does not require line of sight. You can hide the box being the TV, or inside a furniture, and the remote would work. You do not need to point the remote control towards the TV box either, it works in any directions. I successfully tested the remote control up to a distance of 10 meters. Once I lost control of the OK and Back keys, but they came back later on after a reboot, and could not reproduce the issue.

I also tested MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse / keyboard / remote control, and again no problem. It’s my favorite way to control an Android TV boxes, since it works with all sort of user interfaces and most apps, excluding some games that require touch support.

Another way to control the TV box is to install Box RC  Android app in your smartphone. Launch Box RC app in the TV box, and you should see the QR Code below.

It redirects to RC Box apk file. +  Screenshots of smartphone app.

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After installation, you’ll be presented with the “key mode” pad. Tap on “My Device” and select ZIDOO_H6 Pro to connect to the TV box. Clicking on the icon in the top left corner will give you a few more remote modes, including “Handle model” for gaming…… as well as mouse and gesture mode – both of which look like the left screenshot below -, and an Applications with a complete list of apps installed in the TV box. Simply select the app you want to launch in the TV box.

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Finally, you’ll have an About section showing the version number, and checking for app updates, and a Screenshot option to remotely take screenshots. Everything worked well. I’m just not quite sure how to use the gesture mode.

Power Consumption & Temperature

Power control is just like on Zidoo X7 with a short press on the remote control power button bringing a menu to select between Power off, Standby, or Reboot. A long press will allow you to configure the behavior of the power button: Off, Standby, or Ask (default).

I measured power consumption in various mode, and here it works better than X7:

  • Power off – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby – 3.2 Watts
  • Idle – 4.0 ~ 4.4 Watts
  • Power off + USB HDD – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby – 6.0 to 6.4 Watts
  • Idle + USB HDD – 6.0 to 6.4 Watts

With regards to temperature, the box itself stays fairly as after playing a 2-hour video in Kodi, I measured 45 and 43ºC max measured on the top and bottom with an IR thermometer, and 47ºC on both sides after playing Beach Buggy Racing & Riptide GP2 for about 30 minutes. However, right after playing, CPU-Z reported respectively 86°C and 80°C CPU & GPU temperatures, which should be close to limit of the SoC. The ambient temperature was around 28°C, and 3D performance was contant while playing.

Video & Audio Playback with Kodi, Media Center and YouTube, DRM Info

Some people reported that Kodi installed from Google Play is working well in the box, so I installed Kodi 17.5 from Google Play, enabled automatic frame rate switching, setup the connection to my SAMBA share over Ethernet, and started playing my 4K video samples:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – Not smooth, and some parts of the picture are very red
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) – Not perfectly smooth
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Plays fine, but woman face is more red than usual
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Not perfectly smooth
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Not perfectly smooth
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Not perfectly smooth
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – 2 to 3 fps (software decode)
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Not super smooth
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not very smooth, audio delay (OK, as not supported by Allwinner H6)
  • 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) – Plays OK, but red parts are over-saturated?
  • 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) – ~2 fps (software decode – OK, as not supported by hardware)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – 2 to 3 fps (software decode), lots of buffering
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – 2 to 3 fps (software decode), lots of buffering

Automatic frame rate switching is not working, but that’s only a small issue compared to the disastrous results above. As shown in the screenshot above, H.265 is hardware decoded, but for some videos the CPU usage is really high, close to 100% on all four cores, so something is clearly wrong. H.265 / H.264 1080p videos fare better, so maybe that’s why other people think Kodi works well. Maybe ZDMC, Zidoo’s fork of Kodi is coming soon.

In the meantime, I switched to Media Center, and it’s night and day compared to my experience with Kodi, also played from the same SAMBA share:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK most of the time, but the end is a bit choppy
  • 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) – 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 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Plays but not smoothly, plus audio delay (OK, as not supported by Allwinner H6)
  • 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) – Massive artifacts  (OK, as not supported by Allwinner H6)
  • 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
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Not too bad, but not 100% smooth in all scenes. (Note: Most TV boxes struggle with this video).

I’m pretty happy with the results, and automatic frame rate switching works, it just need to be enabled in Advanced menu.
Switching audio tracks and subtitles are supported by the app, and work well. SmartColor engine is specific to Allwinner processors, and may help improve the video quality, or adjust the image to your taste.


Let’s carry on testing with PCM 2.0 (stereo) output to my TV, and HDMI audio pass-through to Onkyo TX-NR636 A/V receiver, with some advanced audio codec in Media Player.

Audio Codec in Video PCM 2.0 Output HDMI Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK OK
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK OK
TrueHD 5.1 OK OK
TrueHD 7.1 OK OK
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK TrueHD 7.1 (OK)
DTS HD Master OK DTS 5.1
DTS HD High Resolution OK DTS 5.1
DTS:X OK DTS 5.1

Audio works pretty well with the only downside being a lack of support for DTS HD MA/HR which all fallback to DTS 5.1. My receiver does not support Atmos, so the box outputs TrueHD 7.1 as it should.

I’ve also tested HD videos with various bitrates:

  • ED_HD.avi (MPEG-4/MSMPEG4v2 – 10 Mbps) – OK (except running scene that is not smooth)
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – HDD: OK

Most Linaro media and H.265 elecard samples are playing fine in Media Center:

  • 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 – Media Center app returns “Can’t play video”
  • WebM / VP8 – 1080p – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 1080p – OK

The full HD Blu-ray ISO files I tested (Sintel-Bluray.iso and amat.iso) played fine, so were 1080i MPEG-2 samples. I had the usual artifacts with Hi10p videos, but audio and subtitles were displayed correctly.

I also tested a bunch of 720p/1080p movies with various codecs/containers such as H.264, Xvid, DivX, VOB / IFO, FLV, AVI, MKV, MP4, etc… Most could play, except some of my FLV video samples, and DVD Rips would show the “This is a Blu-ray folder” pop-up…

… but the app would also report “Can’t play video”. If I browse to the folder, and select the IFO, it does not work, and the only way to start is to select a VOB file. However, it does not automatically switch to the next file. So there’s a problem with DVD rips in Media Center app.

YouTube app could play videos up to 1440p, but 4K (2160p) is not an option.

I’ve shot a video to show issues in Kodi, as well as Media Center app which work pretty well, and YouTube playback up to 1440p.

DRM Info app shows Widevine DRM L1 is supported, meaning one of the requirements for Full HD Netflix is fulfilled.

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The company – as we’ve seen in the firmware changelog – claims support for Netflix 1080p, but since I don’t have an account I could not confirm that. It’s also unclear whether this has been achieved through a hack, or a partnership with Netflix. The latter would be permanent, while the former may not work in a few months. Based on info gathered on Zidoo forums, I can see other boxes like Mecool M8S Pro Plus TV box can play Netflix 1080p through a “3rd party Android TV Firmware”, so it’s likely something similar has been implemented for H6 Pro.

Network & Storage Performance

Zidoo X7 had a somewhat asymmetrical performance while copying a 278 MB file over 802.11ac + SAMBA, and Zidoo H6 Pro appears to have the same issues:

  1. Server to flash (average): 51, or around 5.45 MB/s
  2. Flash to server (average): 3 minutes 22 seconds, or around 1.37 MB/s

So excellent download performance, but weak upload performance with SAMBA. The average is around 2.24 MB/s.

Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

It’s probably a SAMBA configuration/implementation issue, as testing with iperf shows good performance in both directions:

  • 802.11ac download:

  • 802.11ac upload:

Throughput in Mbps

I also tested Gigabit Ethernet with iperf:

  • Full duplex:

  • Upload only:

  • Download only:

That’s pretty good, and fairly close to the results I got with ROCK64 Board (RK3328).

Switching to store benchmarks with A1 SD Bench.

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The cached read is due to the incredibly low exFAT write performance (1.52 MB/s). Read speed is quite weak to at 16.37 MB/s with this file system, but poor exFAT performance is a common to most Android TV boxes. NTFS is much better at 59.07MB/s read, and 42.12 MB/s but still far from the ~100MB/s R/W, I achieved with the same hard drive on ROCK64 board. Nevertheless the performance will be good enough for TV box use case. However, if you need hardware with fast storage (through USB 3.0) and Ethernet, RK3328 processor looks to be better.

Internal performance is good, and helps explain relatively fast boot (when no HDD is connected), fast app loading, and the lack of “app not responding” issues.

Gaming

I installed three games: Candy Crush Sage, Beach Buggy Racing (BBR) and Riptide GP2. I played Candy Crush with my air mouse, and no problem here. I played the two racing games with Tronsmart Mars G01 game controller, and BBR played very smoothly even with max graphics settings. Riptide GP2 was quite playable with max “resolution”, maybe at 25 to 30 fps, but not quite close to 60 fps. I feel Allwinner H6 might be a little better at playing games than Rockchip RK3328, and somewhat comparable to Amlogic S905/S905X. I played both games for around 30 minutes in total, and I did not notice any drop in performance over time, so no obvious throttling/overheating, despite the rather high CPU/GPU temperatures reported by CPU-Z.

Bluetooth

I’ve used Bluetooth more than on any other TV boxes simply because of the Bluetooth remote control. But I could also pair the TV box (seen as petrel-p1) with Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone, and transfer a few photos over Bluetooth, watch some YouTube video using X1T Bluetooth earbuds, but while I was able to see and pair my BLE fitness tracker in the Bluetooth settings, I was never able to locate the smart band from within “Smart Movement” app.

Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6) System Info and Benchmarks

CPU-Z still shows a quad core Cortex A53 r0p4 processor clocked between 480 MHz and 1.80 GHz, and a Mali-T720 GPU. Note that I never saw the frequency goes over 1488 MHz, so that 1.80 GHz may only occur during short bursts if at all.

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1906 MB total memory was reported, and 10.22 GB storage. Screen resolution was 1920×1080. As with most Allwinner platform you’ll never get a recent kernel (Linux 3.10.65).

The device achieved 40,467 points in Antutu 6.x, or about 5,000+ more compared to competitors based on RK3328 or S905X.

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One of the big jump is with 3D graphics, but there’s an easy explanation: Rockchip RK3328 and Amlogic S905X SoCs rely on Mali-450MP GPU which does not support OpenGL ES 3.1 used by “Marooned” benchmark, meaning Allwinner H6 just gets 3,510 points extra just for supporting OpenGL ES 3.1… So in reality, there’s not so much performance difference between the performance.

Vellamo 3.x confirms Allwinner H6 is that much faster with the following scores: Browser: 2,546 points, Metal: 930 points, and Multicore (836 points). I’ll put aside Multicore as on the test failed because of an issue with sysbench: “issue with Finepar: Invalid CPU mode”. But when comparing the metal score result against Amlogic S905X (910) and Rockchip RK3328 (937), the differences are minor.

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The Ice Storm Extreme score (3,951 points) is about the same as Amlogic S905X (4,183 points), but quite better than Rockchip RK3328 (2,252 points). We can also see the CPU frequency never surpassed around 1.5 GHz, so I’m wondering whether the 1.8 GHZ reported by CPU-Z might just be for show/marketing…

Conclusion

Despite Allwinner H6 SoC being pretty new, I have not found any really critical bugs in Zidoo H6 Pro TV Box. 4K video playback is working well in Media Center app with automatic frame rate switching, and HD audio pass-through, and overall performance is good, including for Wifi, Ethernet and storage.Widevine Level 1 DRM is installed, and the device is also supposed to support Netflix HD playback (not tested). 3D graphics performance is closer to the one of Amlogic S905X ,and quite better than on Rockchip RK3328 SoC.

The biggest issues I’ve found is poor support for Kodi with most 4K videos I’ve tried not playing well, and red color is over-statured in many videos. Media Center app also have a few limitations such as no support for DTS HD HR/MA pass-through (fallbacks to DTS 5.1), and IFO (DVD Rip) & Real Media video files are not supported. Other issues include poor exFAT performance, and WiFi SAMBA upload speed.

PROS

  • Android 7.0 operating system – Stable and responsive
  • Eye-pleasing ZIUI launcher / user interface
  • Very good support for 4K videos played in Media Center app with automatic frame rate switching support; Smart Color Engine for post-processing
  • HDMI pass-through for Dolby, DTS, and Dolby TrueHD working in Media Center app
  • Relatively fast eMMC flash storage (fast boot/app loading)
  • Very good networking performance for Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac WiFi (except for SAMBA uploads)
  • Bluetooth remote control
  • Decent 3D graphics performance
  • Widevine Level 1 DRM; Netflix HD support (not tested)

CONS (and bugs)

  • Kodi 17.5 from Google Play struggles to play 4K videos and color issues (too much red)
  • MediaCenter – No DTS HD pass-through support (DTS 5.1 instead); IFO (DVD rip) and Real Media (RM) videos not supported, some FLV files can’t play.
  • YouTube limited to 1440p (no 2160p option for me)
  • Poor SAMBA upload performance when using WiFi
  • exFAT file system performance poor -> use NTFS instead on external hard drive
  • Slow boot time (~1 minute 30 seconds) when hard drive with many files connected
  • “OK” button stopped to work on the Bluetooth remote control once (despite still working on the air mouse). Reboot fixed the issue.

Zidoo kindly sent the review sample from a local distributor. Resellers can contact the company via H6 Pro’s product page. GeekBuying currently has a promotion for the device where you can get it for as low as $79.99 (only for the first 50 orders), but it’s also sold on other websites for about $85 to 100 including GearBest, Amazon, or Aliexpress.

HiMedia Q10 Pro TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing and 3.5″ SATA Bay

November 8th, 2017 1 comment

HiMedia Q10 Pro Android TV box was launched in March of last year, equipped with a HiSilicon Hi3798CV200 quad-core ARM Cortex A53 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, and a SATA bay for 3.5″ drives. When I wrote a post about the Best Android TV boxes, on commenter mentioned that while NVIDIA Android Shield was the best box for streaming, he felt HiMedia Q10 Pro offered the best quality for media playback.

With now 18 months since launch, you may wonder why I would do a review now. That’s because Himedia keeps updating the firmware, and they asked me to check out and test their latest feature: 4K Blu-Ray navigation on Android 7.0 OS. As usual, I’ll start by checking out the hardware, and will publish a review focusing on Blu-ray playback in a few weeks.

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The package is more like a suitcase that your usual tiny box, but that’s common for high-end TV boxes. It also shows the main features like 4K HDR support, Dolby and DTS-HD audio and so so.

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The box ships with an IR remote control with IR learning function for 4 keys, a WiFi antenna, a HDMI cable, a 12V/2A power supply, and  quick guide describing the remote control functions, and explaining how to connect the device to a TV and/or amplifier.

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The build quality feels very good, and the box is entirely made of metal.

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The front panel includes a VFD display, IR receiver window, and several touch button for power, menu navigation, etc…

The left side features all USB host ports with one USB 3.0 port, and two USB 2.0 ports, as well as a SD/MMC slot.

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The rear panel has vents for the cooling fan, a WiFI antenna connector, a USB 3.0 device port to connect the box directly to your computer, optical and coaxial S/PDIF output, 3 RCA jacks for composite video and L&R audio, a Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0a output, a recovery pin hole, and the DC jack.

The remaining side comes with a button which you can slide to open the SATA bay.

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Installation is super easy, just insert your 3.5″ SATA drive push the “Open” handle, and close the lid.

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At this point, I normally do a teardown, but I found it not to be so obvious, and since the device is old enough, somebody else already did one.

HiMedia Q10 Pro is sold for $159.99 shipped on GeekBuying, but you’ll also find it on eBay, Amazon US (for $299?), and likely in a local reseller in your own country. Now, I’ll need to find some 4K Blu-Ray ISO files to test on the device…

Amazon Fire TV Stick Basic Edition Ships to over 100 Countries for $50

November 8th, 2017 3 comments

Amazon products are usually launched in the US, and a limited number of European countries, meaning most people can’t purchase or use their devices without going through various hoops.

But the company has now launched a basic edition of their latest Fire TV stick 2016 sold in over 100 countries. Basic means it supports Amazon Alexa voice services, and you pay around $10 extra for the privilege. Apart from that it looks exactly the same.

Supported languages are still quite limited with Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Italian, German, or English, and the company mentions people will have access to videos from Amazon Prime Video with “unlimited access to critically acclaimed shows like The Tick, American Gods, and The Man in the High Castle as well as The Grand Tour Season 2″

Hardware looks the same with a quad-core processor coupled with 1 GB of memory and 8 GB of storage for apps and games. Network connectivity is achieved via  802.11ac Wi-Fi, and the stick supports 1080p HEVC streaming, as well as Dolby Audio.

Fire TV Basic Edition can be purchased for $49.99 on Amazon US (and other Amazon local websites). Visit the Amazon link, and select your country to check whether the stick can be shipped there.

So I checked to see what price I would have to pay to get such device, and total price is $84.09 including a $13.12 import fees deposit. Amazon estimates no taxes would have to be collected, but I would likely be asked to pay 7% VAT. Unless Amazon somehow bribed found an agreement with local authorities, I would also have to fly to the capital city to apply for a “broadcasting license” from a government entity (NBTC) in order for the package to go through customs. No thanks.

Via Liliputing

Categories: Android, Hardware Tags: amazon, TV box

Sunvell R69 Allwinner H2 TV Box Sells for $19.99 (Promo)

November 8th, 2017 11 comments

$20 Android TV box promotions are fun. After last month, Rockchip RK3229 based A95X R1 TV box promotion, GearBest has another one with Allwinner H2(+) based Sunvell R69 TV box powered by Allwinner H2 processor sold for $19.99 with coupon R69GB.

If you have no interested in Android, the good news is that since it’s based on Allwinner H2+, you can likely run Armbian images, or the recently released RetrOrangePi 4.0 with minor modifications, to have a $20 Linux server or game console.

Sunvell R69 TV box specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H2 quad core Cortex A7 processorwith Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB flash + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 1.4 output up to 1080p60, AV port (composite video + stereo audio)
  • Video Codec – H.265 / H.264 up to 1080p
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (via XR819 chipset)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 9 x 9.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Weight – 200 grams

The box runs Android 4.4, meaning Kodi 16.1 is the most recent version you can run. With all the 4K TV box on the market now, it’s worth nothing this one is limited to Full HD.

A few reviews can be found on the web including the one below by Mr Baz Reviews.

RetrOrangePi 4.0 Released

November 6th, 2017 9 comments

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 by MPV + VDPAU): IPTVsimple included, quit button fixed
  • OpenELEC (Kodi Jarvis 16.1) with CEC support by Jernej Skrabec (optional installation)
  • Slim and Full versions for all compatible boards
  • All Libretro cores updated
  • All RetroPie themes available for installation
  • Experimental new libretro cores: DOSBox, MAME2014, VICE, X68000, Amiga PUAE
  • PPSSPP latest v1.42
  • Mupen64Plus standalone emulator (with hires textures support)
  • AdvanceMAME 3.5
  • AdvanceMENU frontend integrated
  • AdvanceMESS (support for ancient platforms, tested OK: Bally Astrocade, BBC Micro, Channel F, Colecovision etc.
  • New Quake 2 port (Yamagi Quake)
  • New Streets of Rage Remake port (needs BennuGD engine downloaded to home folder)
  • Improved Amiga emulation – fullscreen UAE4ARM with JIT support, optional WHDLoad
  • Hatari 2.0 (SDL2) – atariST emulator
  • Vice 3.1 (SDL2) – Commodore emulator
  • Boot selection – from Desktop (EmulationStation, Kodi, AdvanceMENU, RetroArch, Desktop)
  • Onscreen keyboard (Florence)
  • Overscan fix in AV outputs (Allwinner_TVOUT_manipulator)
  • New Desktop wallpaper, wifi config, ES, Kodi, Donate and Support icons
  • Customized Retroarch configuration (optimal settings, appearance tweaks, original aspect ratio)
  • New HDMI/Analog AV configuration tool (thanks Jose Rios) + our overscan fix
  • New exclusive ROPi Radio beta version
  • Scraper by Sselph update
  • Universal XML Scraper integration and tutorials
  • Binary cores updates
  • GPIO driver can be installed from driver section.
  • RetroPie services tested: USBROMSERVICE – create a retropie-mount folder in your FAT32 flash drive, Virtual gamepad
  • Custom ES splashscreen by Francois Lebel @MagicFranky – the number 4 was on us :p (great skills!)
  • Custom MOTD with ROPi invader + Armbian info
  • Improved filesystem support: FAT32 automount, ExFAT support

The full images are not yet available, but if you are an existing users with ROPi 3.0.1 instead, you can upgrade to version 4.0 by running ropi4.sh script in your board/device as pi user:

The images for new users will be coming later once one of the developers involved get more free time. In the meantime, you’d have to download & install RetroOrange Pi 3.0.1, and run the script to upgrade to 4.0.

You’ll find more details about the release in the forums, where you can also ask for support questions. The source code can be found on github.

2017 Singles’ Day Promotions on Chinese Online Stores

November 1st, 2017 6 comments

Singles’ day (Guanggun Jie – 光棍节) is celebrated every year on November 11 (11.11) in China, and retailers launch promotions to attract young shoppers, especially online. Last year Singles’ day was even bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US terms of (online?) sales,with an estimated 20 billions dollars of goods moved.

Online Chinese retailers that cater to overseas market bring their promotions to the international stage, and like last year, I’ve gather some of the Singles’ day promos launched by the most popular e-retailers in China.

GearBest 11.11 Sale / Double Eleven promotion will span from November 1 until November 13, with Day 1-7 being the preheat period, abd 8-13 the formal time for the promotion. The event includes flash sales for all sort of items, “lucky bags” where you buy something cheap but do not know exactly what it is…, promotions for top brands (Vernee, Creality, Beelink, SJCAM, etc…) with discount coupons, exclusive offers for new buyers, and various other deals.

Aliexpress call the event “11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2017” and while the sale itself will take place on November 11 only, they’ve started events since October 27 with games to win coupons, and starting this Friday, you’ll be able to add items to your cart, and wait on November 11 before ordering at the discounted price.

Banggood‘s 11.11 Price Storm also started a few days ago, an every day you can try to grab 11% sitewide coupons, and other 10 to 15% coupons for other categories. The company appears to have started sales, but the “big deals” are only expected in a little over 8 days  (November 10) if the countdown clock is right.

GeekBuying‘s 11.11 Shopping Spree has also started with 24 hours deals, “gift rain” competition to win coupons or prizes like a Xiaomi A1 smartphone, “buy together” bundle discounts , and discounts for big brands and clearance items. If you share the promo on social media, the company will offer your 6 to 15% discount coupons for phone, toys, TV boxes, and home & garden items. Starting on November 8 and until November 15, you’ll also be able to get a $5 discount if you spend more than $50, and “buy 1, get 1”, but no details are provided for the latter.

DX (DealExtreme) event appears to be different, since not related to Singles’ day, but DX 11.8 Epic Carnival may offer some interesting discounts too with coupons offered every day until November 7, and the main even on November 8 with discount on specific items / method (5% on best items, 3% on new items, 5% on mobile app purchases),  as well as a buy 1 get 1 free gift promo.

I’ll add other promotions in this post, or in comments as I find them.