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Posts Tagged ‘TV box’

Amlogic S805X Processor is Designed for Low Cost TV Boxes with 1080p H.264, H.265 and VP9 Video Support

September 20th, 2017 4 comments

The low end of the TV box market is now highly competitive with Rockchip and Amlogic battling to offer the cheapest solutions available, as we’ve seen in a recent factory price list of TV boxes with RK3229 based devices selling for as low as $17.8, and Amlogic S905W based boxes going for $17.5 and up (per unit) for orders of 200 pieces. Amlogic has been working on an even lower cost SoC with Amlogic S805X based on four Cortex A53 cores, the same Mali-450MP GPU, but no 4K support, and instead H.264, H.265 and VP9 video decoding up to 1080p60, as I found out in a document shared on Amlogic Open Linux website.

Amlogic 805X will be quite similar to Amlogic S905X and S905D with the same CPU by clocked at a lower 1.2 GHz frequency, the same penta-core GPU, TrustZone support, and Fast Ethernet. The main difference is that in order to lower costs, they limited the multimedia capabilities to 1080p video decoding, and 1080p video output. Those last two actually make it more similar to Amlogic S805 SoC, but instead of a four Cortex A5 32-bit cores, S805X comes with more powerful Cortex A53 64-bit cores, and VP9 support was added to S805X.

The processor is likely be used in both Android and Linux TV boxes, as the company’s Mbox P241 reference platform / development board based on S805X SoC, comes with either 512MB DDR3 or 1GB DDR4, coupled with eMMC flash, and an AP6255 wireless module supporting 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.2.

I’ve yet to see any S805X TV boxes, even on Alibaba, but I’d expect them to sell retail for around $20 including shipping. The processor could also be an interesting choice for low cost development boards, competing against Allwinner H5 solutions.

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

September 19th, 2017 No comments

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.

Unofficial List of TV boxes Running Android TV OS

September 15th, 2017 16 comments

Most TV boxes run a modified version of Android operating system for smartphone, and devices based on Google’s Android TV are harder to find, and often country specific since they are tied to local streaming services. Yesterday, I was searching for boxes based on Marvell Armada 1500 Ultra SoC, and first found a couple in Spain and the US, but eventually found a bunch more when I discovered somebody was keeping track of all/most Android TV devices in a page hosted by Google but with no actual affiliation with Google.

The devices are sorted in three categories:

  1. Pay TV Providers, usually only sold in a specific country with programs in the local language, and a fairly long list
  2. Streaming / Gaming – Those are the most famous Android TV TV boxes like Xiaomi Mi Box or Nvidia Shield Android TV with only 6 models in that list
  3. TVs with Android TV OS

The first list is probably the most interesting as it show each device with the release year, country where it is sold, the model name / SKU and processor used with most of the devices being based on Broadcom or Marvell solutions, as well as a few Amlogic and Qualcomm Snapdragon in the mix.

Clicking on the link for each device will provide more details like specifications, official website, and more.

Factory Prices of Some TV Boxes and Accessories

September 12th, 2017 13 comments

Some companies that contact me have not read the about section of the blog, and either tell me they can give me a good price for TV boxes, and some even send me their price list. And this morning, I’ve received a EXW (Ex Works) price list this of Amlogic S912/S905X/S905W and Rockchip based TV boxes, as well as some air mice, and Android projectors.

The cheapest models are based on S905W and RK3229, with MXQ Pro 1GB/8GB going for $17.5 per unit for 200 pieces orders. For reference that models goes for around $26 shipped online before any discount coupon you may find. At the other end of the scale, you have TX2 model with 3GB RAM, 64GB flash going for $77.5 EXW for 200-unit orders, and sold online for $86 including shipping, again before coupon. Margin must be really low, or the prices above are not that competitive, but nevertheless it gives an idea of factory prices of various TV boxes. Air mice are really cheap, and backlight usually only adds 90 cents.

UFS 3.0 Embedded Flash to Support Full-Duplex 2.4GB/s Transfer Speeds

September 10th, 2017 3 comments

All my devices still rely on eMMC flash for storage, but premium smartphones, for example, make use of UFS 2.0/UFS 2.1 flash storage with performance similar to SSD, with Samsung UFS 2.0 storage achieving up to 850MB/s read speed, 260 MB/s write speed, and 50K/30K R/W IOPS. UFS 3.0 promises to roughly double the performance of UFS 2.0/2.1 with transfer rates of up to 2.4 GB/s, and separately, the UFS Card v2.0 standard should deliver UFS 2.1 performance on removable storage.

Image Source: Next Generation of Mobile Storage : UFS and UFS Card – Click to Enlarge

Several Chinese and Taiwanese websites, including CTimes and Benchlife, have reported that companies have started getting UFS 3.0 & UFS Card v2.0 licenses from JEDEC, and Phison is working on a controller to support both new standards, and scheduled to launch in 2018.

Premium smartphone SoC are only expect to support UFS 3.0 in 2019 and beyond, and hopefully by that time eMMC will have been replaced by UFS 2.0/2.1 in entry level and mid range devices. The outlook for UFS cards is less clear, as I’ve yet to see a product equipped with a UFS slot.

Click to Enlarge

Based on a recent presentation at the Flash Memory Summit, (typical) embedded storage capacity will also increase to 32GB for IoT / multimedia applications, 256GB for smart home products and drones, 512GB for mobile devices, and over 1TB for automotive applications.

Via Liliputing

H96 PRO Plus Amlogic S912 TV Box with 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage Sold for $48.49 (Promo)

September 7th, 2017 12 comments

H96 Pro+ is a Amlogic S912 TV box with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, that’s similar to R-Box Pro 3G TV box I reviewed, and Banggood has now a promotion for the box for just $48.49 shipped with about 850 pieces left in stock.

H96 Pro+ specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S912 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ up to 1.5 GHz with Mali-820MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 3 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 32 GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a with HDR and CEC support up to 4K @ 60 fps, and AV port for composite output
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV (stereo audio), and optical S/PDIF
  • Video codecs – VP9-10 profile 2 up to 4K @ 60 fps, H.265 [email protected] up to 4K 60fps, H.264 AVC up to 4K @ 30 fps, H.264 MVC up to 1080p60, MPEG-4, WMV/VC-1 SP/MP/AP,  AVS-P16(AVS+)/AVS-P2 JiZhun Profile, MPEG-2 MP/HL, MPEG-1 MP/HL, and  RealVIDEO 8/9/10 all up to 1080p60
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Misc – IR receiver, power button, front-panel LCD display, LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions & weight –  N/A

The box runs Android 6.0, and ships with a remote control, a HDMI Cable, a power adapter, and a user manual.

I double check the prices on GearBest and GeekBuying, and they sell the device in the same 3GB/32GB configuration for $65.99 and $61.99 including shipping respectively, which means the offer on Banggood is about $17.50 and $13.50 cheaper.

Banggood has a site-wide promotion on their store during September 7-9 for their 11th anniversary, where you may find further deals for gadgets and other products.

 

Categories: AMLogic, Android, Hardware Tags: 4k, Android, discount, hevc, TV box, vp9

Geniatech ATV495 Max & ATV598 Max TV Boxes Run Android TV OS

September 4th, 2017 7 comments

Most TV boxes coming from Chinese manufacturers are running Android operating systems based on the mobile version, which gives you more flexibility, but for some use cases such as watching online videos, is not as user-friendly as Android TV operating systems that’s developer by Google specifically for a TV experience. However, it looks like there’s a shift now, as I’ve heard several companies are in the process of applying for an Android TV License from Google, and Geniatech is one of the first to unveil two boxes running Android 6.0 TV operating system, that should soon be certified by Google, with ATV495 Max and ATV598 Max. [Update: The company has now removed the link to the press release (see cache), since certification is not complete yet]

Geniatech ATV495 Max

Those models are updated from their ATV495X and ATV598E models running Android 6.0, with apparently the same hardware but upgraded to Android TV OS.

Geniatech ATV495 Max specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905X quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor up to 1.5 GHz with Mali 450MP GPU @ up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 (optional 1GB)
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (optional 16GB) + microSD Slot up to 32GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a, 3.5mm AV port (CVBS + stereo audio)
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi or 802.11 b/g/ac WiFi module, optional Bluetooth
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Power Supply – 5.0V/2A
  • Dimensions – 82 x 82 x 19 mm
  • Weight – 159g

ATV598 TV Box

Geniatech ATV598 Max has beefier specs and comes with an internal digital TV USB tuner:

  • SoC  – Amlogic S912 octa core ARM Cortex-A53 processor up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-T820MP3 GPU up to 750MHz
  • System Memory – 3GB DDR4
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash (Optional 8GB) + micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a + 3.5mm AV port (composite + stereo audio)
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi or 802.11 b/g/ac WiFi module, optional Bluetooth
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Tuner – ATSC/DVB-T2/DVB-C digital TV tuner
  • Power Supply – 5.0V/2A
  • Dimensions – 115×114 x 27mm
  • Weight – 250g

Geniatech explains Android TV OS brings official access to the Google Play store, support for Google Cast, voice search, and Android TV remote apps to their devices. It’s a little odd there’s no mention about YouTube 4K support, Widevine DRM, Netflix support, etc… that are normally part of TV boxes running Android TV OS.

You’ll find more details about the hardware on ATV495X and ATV598E product page. Note that those pages are for Android 6.0, not Android 6.0 TV OS, as product pages for the new models. Price is unknown as Geniatech mostly sells B2B, although they sometimes sell directly to end users via their Mygica brand.

Zidoo X7 Review – Part 2: Android 7.1 Firmware, ZDMC, WiFi, and More

August 29th, 2017 9 comments

Zidoo X7 is an Android TV box powered by Rockchip RK3328 processor similar to Bqeel MVR9 with 2GB RAM, but instead of provide Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, it comes with Fast Ethernet, and 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, so is better suited to people using WiFi instead of Ethernet for media streaming. You’ll find plenty of photos in the first part of the review entitled “Zidoo X7 TV Box Review – Part 1: Unboxing & Teardown“, and I’ll report my experience with Android 7.1.2 firmware in this second part.

First Boot, Setup, and First Impressions

I connected two RF dongles for  MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse and Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad via a USB hub, a USB keyboard to take screenshot, and a Seagate USB 3.0 hard drive to the single USB 3.0 port on the box. I perform tests with Ethernet in most reviews, but with Zidoo X7, I’ve decided to use 802.11ac WiFi instead, so I only connected the Ethernet cable when required for some tests. I completed the hardware setup with HDMI, and power cables with the box starting automatically when connecting power.

Click to Enlarge

The boot normally takes around 19 seconds to the new version of the company’s ZIUI launcher, largely inspired from Android Leanback launcher, but I find Zidoo design more pleasing to the eyes.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

The notification and status bars will show automatically when you move the mouse pointer to the top of bottom of the screen, and hides automatically when you move away. That’s my favorite way of handling those.

Pre-installed apps include the Play Store, ZDMC (Kodi fork), some settings apps. YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu… apps shown in the main launcher are not installed by default but you can download them if you click on the icons.

The setting app have four main sections, starting with Network to configure WiFi, Ethernet, or Bluetooth…

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Display to adjust the screen resolution from 720x480p-60 up to 4096x2160p-60, adjust overscan, and set your own wall paper…

Sound to configure audio output to PCM, or S/PDIF / HDMI audio pass-through, and disable/enable system sounds…

Other to set language, reset to factory settings, switch to “advanced settings” (i.e. Android Nougat settings), or learn more about the system info.

The About section of the advanced settings shows ZIDOO_X7 model runs Android 7.1.2 on top of Linux 3.10.104 with the security patch level dated April 5, 2017.

The device has a 7.28GB internal storage partition with 2.91GB used at the beginning of the review. The system also detected and mounted exFAT, EXT-4 and NTFS partitions on my USB hard drive, but could not handle BTRFS.

I went to the Update app but no new firmware was available ,so I tested Zidoo X7 with firmware v1.2.5.

Google Play worked fine, and I could install most apps I needed for the review, but I did notice Smart Movement app for a Bluetooth LE smartwatch could not be installed via the store, so maybe BLE is not supported. I could also install Riptide GP2 with Amazon Underground, but the first time I launched the latter is crashed. (Riptide GP2 only). I had a funny issues with apps installed from Google Play, not but Amazon Underground,  as they would show twice in the list of apps.

The included IR remote control worked well up to 10 meters, and I could use the IR learning function to record some of my TV remote control buttons like power and volume. I did not use it very long though, as I used a more convenient air mouse most of the time.

A short press on the remote control power button will bring a menu to select between Power off, Standby, or Reboot.


But a long press will allow you to select between showing this menu (Ask me) go to power off and standby mode directly.

So while power handling is nicely implemented, I found power consumption to be rather high in power off mode:

  • Power off – 2.3 to 2.4 Watts (although once I somehow managed 1.0 Watt)
  • Standby – 3.3 Watts
  • Idle – 3.2 Watts
  • Power off + USB HDD – 5.0 to 6.2 Watts (even after 3 hours). The Ethernet port can establish a link if I connect the cable…
  • Standby – 5.0 to 6.4 Watts
  • Idle + USB HDD – 6.4 to 7.0 Watts

So it looks like something is wrong with power off mode.

Zidoo X7 gets a little less hot than MVR9, but I still measured up to 45 and 52ºC max measured on the top and bottom covers after playing a 2-hour 1080p video in ZDMC (Kodi fork), and 47 and 55ºC after playing Riptide GP2 for about 15 minutes. CPU-Z reported respectively 74.6°C and 83.9°C after the tests. The ambient temperature was around 28°C, and I did not experience any noticeable slowdowns during the review.

Zidoo X7 works pretty well, and I’m especially pleased with the new ZIUI launcher that’s both beautiful and convenient to use, and attention to details like option for power handling. But not everything is prefect, as power consumption in power off mode is rather high, and apps installed with Google Play show twice in the list of apps.

Video & Audio Playback – ZDMC, MediaCenter, DRM, and YouTube

Zidoo X7 comes with the compan’y own Kodi fork named ZDMC (ZiDoo MediaCenter) based on Kodi 16.1.

Click to Enlarge

For some reasons, “Accelerate VP9” and “Enable fractional HDMI (23.976, 59.67)” were disabled in Settings->Videos->RKMC, so I enabled them, as well as automatic frame rate switching before starting to test videos.

As mentioned in the introduction, I used 802.11ac WiFi for testing with my router about 4 meters away and behind a wall, but since I came across buffering issues in some videos, I tested with three methods in case of problems, stopping at the first successful attempt:

  1. ZDMC + 802.11ac WiFI (WiFi)
  2. ZDMC + 10/100M Ethernet (Ethernet)
  3. ZDMC + USB NTFS partition (HDD)

Those are the results for 4K videos:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps)

    • WiFi – Some buffering, then video OK, but no audio
    • Ethernet – Video OK, but no audio
    • HDD – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744)
    • WiFi – Frequent buffering
    • Ethernet – 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)
    • WiFi – Not smooth, no audio
    • Ethernet – Video + Audio OK for a while, then lost audio
    • HDD – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Tested with WiFi only: Not smooth, audio delay (Note: H.264 @ 4K60fps is not supported by RK3328 VPU)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps)
    • WiFi – Long buffering after 2 seconds, then some infrequent audio cuts, infrequent short image freezes
    • Ethernet – Mostly OK, but one short audio cut during the first 3 minutes
    • HDD – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC)
    • WiFi – Not smooth at all, no audio (buffer = 0%)
    • Ethernet – Not smooth at all, no audio (buffer = 0%)
    • HDD – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream)
    • WiFi – Not smooth at all, no audio (buffer = 0%)
    • Ethernet – Not smooth at all, no audio (buffer = 0%)
    • HDD – OK
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps)
    • WiFi – Constant buffering (as should be expected)
    • Ethernet – Constant buffering (as should be expected)
    • HDD – 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)
    • WiFi – Frequent buffering, then artifacts starts to show on the whole screen after 10 seconds, and audio lost
    • Ethernet – Some buffering, artifacts after a while, and some apparently AV sync issues
    • HDD – OK
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio)
    • WiFi – Frequent buffering, artifacts on the whole screen for 1 or 2 seconds from time to time
    • Ethernet – Plays OK most of the time, but artifacts on the whole screen appears from time to time (e.g. at 00:50, then 1:20, etc..)
    • HDD – Played OK at the beginning, but then massive artifacts between 1:06 to 1:36, before resuming normally

So finally, I could play most videos with automatic frame rate switching from the hard drive, but 802.11ac WiFi is just not fast enough to play many 4K videos from a SAMBA share. Some of it may be improved by using a UPnP/DLNA server instead of SAMBA. However, I was still it surprised by the number of videos not playing fine over Fast Ethernet, so there may still be some issues here, notably with videos where the buffer suddenly dropped to 0% as reported by Kodi log overlay as shown in the screenshot below.

Click for Original Size

Another oddity is that when I take screenshots on other platform, it will only capture the OSD / user interface, since the video is rendered on a separate 4K video buffer. Could that mean the video is downscaled? Before answering this question, I played the 4K video samples with MediaCenter app from the USB drive:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK with 24 Hz video output, but I could not select the subtitles like I normally do in this video
  • 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, but 1080p @ 24 Hz video output, instead of 4K @ 24Hz
  • 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 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) – OK
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – Not 100% 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) – OK, expect for some specific scenes (source issue?).

The results with MediaCenter are very good, except for a few problem for subtitles, automatic frame rate switching for one video using 1080p24 output, and a very high bitrate video not as smooth as it could be.

Click to Enlarge

Coming back to the screenshot concern in ZDMC, I did a screenshot again with MediaCenter, and the video was again included. So it could either be the video is rendered to a 1920×1080 surface, or the system does something clever during the screenshot by copying the video hardware buffer to the framebuffer to include both. let’s find with a 4K resolution test sample, which I used previously on other 4K TV boxes. The sample would not play in MediaCenter, so I played in in ZDMC, and took a picture with my camera, and zoomed in closely on a part of the movie to find out if there was any issues.

Ignore the green line, as it’s a problem with my TV.

The samples is comprised of a grid of black and white dots, and if the video is scaled to a lower resolution we would only see white/greay or black dots, but here we can see black and white dots as expected, so Zidoo X7 indeed supports 4K properly…

So I carried on the review with audio test for both PCM 2.0 (stereo audio) for people who connected the box directly to their TV or other stereo speakers, and HDMI audio pass-through for those with A/V receivers. For the latter test, I enabled pass-through settings in ZDMC and Android, and tested both configuration with ZDMC and MediaCenter using my TV and Onkyo TX-NR636 A/V receiver.

Audio Codec in Video PCM 2.0 Output
(ZDMC 16.1)
PCM 2.0 Output
(MediaCenter)
HDMI Pass-through
(ZDMC 16.1)
HDMI Pass-through
(MediaCenter)
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio OK,
Video 1:1 aspect ratio
Audio OK,
Video 1:1 aspect ratio
Audio OK,
Video 1:1 aspect ratio
Audio OK,
Video 1:1 aspect ratio
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK OK OK
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK OK OK OK
TrueHD 5.1 OK OK OK OK
TrueHD 7.1 OK OK OK OK
Dolby Atmos 7.1 OK No audio TrueHD 7.1* TrueHD 7.1*
DTS HD Master OK No audio DTS-HD MSTR 7.1 DTS-HD MSTR 7.1
DTS HD High Resolution OK OK DTS 5.1 DTS 5.1
DTS:X OK 2x No audio, 1x OK DTS-HD MSTR 7.1* DTS-HD MSTR 7.1*

* My A/V receiver does not support DTS:X nor Dolby Atmos, so it correctly falls to be best option in this case.
Zidoo X7 handles audio much better than Bqeel MVR9 in my case, with the only real issues because the lack of reliable DTS HD MA downsampling support, and DTS-HD HR pass-through is not supported.

I played a 2-hour 1080p movie in ZDMC using WiFi and SAMBA, and I had no problem, however, there was no option to adjust the zoom level, only 3D options.

Click to Enlarge

There’s no support for Widevine or PlayReady DRM, but CENC ClearKey is supported, and actually appears to be supported in all Android TV boxes (TBC).

YouTube is working fine up to 1080p, but you can’t select 2160p.

Networking & Storage Performance

I tested 802.11ac WiFi with SAMBA by copying a 278MB file between the server and the internal flash, and vice versa, with ES File Explorer. The download results are excellent, but for some reasons the upload much weaker:

  1. Server to flash (average): 1 minutes 7 seconds, or around 4.15 MB/s
  2. Flash to server (average): 3 minutes 13 seconds, or around 1.44 MB/s

So if I used the download + upload total average of around 2.14 MB/s, Zidoo X7’s WiFi performance is somewhat disappointing.

WiFi Throughput in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

But luckily the upload issue seems to be related to SAMBA, as there’s no such issues with iperf:

  • 802.11ac WiFi Upload:

  • 802.11ac WiFi Download:

Zidoo X7 has a performance similar to some other WiFi AC capable devices I’ve reviewed recently.

iperf throughput in Mbps

Switching to storage performance, A1 SDbench app shows good write speed for the internal memory (as expected), but as is often the case the read speed is cached with an invalid result. However, I had no trouble with slow I/O during testing, the box boots rapidly (< 20 seconds), apps are loading fine, and I did not get any “app is not responding” pop-ups.

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USB 3.0 performance is acceptable for EXT-4 and NTFS file systems, but exFAT is basically unusable, which may explain why some competitors disabled it.

Gaming

I could play both Beach Buggy Racing (BBR) and Riptide GP2 on the device using Mars G01 game controller. BBR was usable even with max settings, but just like in Bqeel MVR9, Riptide GP2 was only really enjoyable with default settings, while if you set the graphics settings to “max resolution” the frame rate feels like 10 to 25 fps. I played the game for around 15 minutes, and the performance was constant throughout, so there was no apparent throttling due to overheating.

So if you use such RK3328 TV box for gaming, you’ll either have to accept default settings, or decrease quality for better performance, or get a model with 1280×720 user interface, instead of 1920×1080. Ideally, this should be an option in the settings.

Bluetooth

I had no troubles at all with Bluetooth, as I could pair my  Android smartphone, and transfer some photos over Bluetooth, and X1T Bluetooth earbuds to watch and listen to YouTube videos. I did not try Sixaxis since the firmware is not rooted.

Zidoo X7 CPU-Z System Info and Antutu Benchmark

CPU-Z still shows “Rockchip RK3066” for most Rockchip device, but apart from that it properly detected a quad core ARM Cortex A53 r0p4 processor clocked @ 408 MHz to 1.51 GHz with a Mali-450MP, as well as 1998 MB total RAM, and 5.27 GB internal storage

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The Antutu 6.x score of 33,264 points is comparable to Bqeel MVR9 and A95X R2 scores of respectively 35,994 and 33,117 points. The former slightly higher score may be due to the DDR4 used, as Zidoo X7 relies on DDR3 SDRAM instead.

Conclusion

Overall I find that Zidoo X7 offers a better experience than the other Rockchip RK3328 devices I have tested so far, especially if you rely on WiFi, and HDMI audio pass-through is important to you, and 4K video playback is working decently well as long as you play from a hard drive. I also really like the new ZIUI launcher that’s quite eye pleasing, and similar to Leanback launcher with the “Suggested videos” section replaced by icon for the main apps. Attention to details, like flexibility for power options, and automatic handling of notifications and status bar. But there are also issues with some troubles playing some video over SAMBA due to unusual buffering issues, high power off consumption, lack of DRM, and so on.

PROS

  • Recent, responsive and stable Android 7.1.2 operating system
  • Nicely designed new ZIUI launcher / user interface
  • Good support for 4K videos played from hard drive in both ZDMC 16.1 (Kodi fork) and MediaCenter with automatic frame rate switching support
  • HDMI pass-through for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master working in ZDMC and MediaCenter
  • Fast eMMC flash storage allowing for fast boot, short app loading times, and good overall performance (e.g. no “aspp not responding” issues)
  • USB 3.0 performance is good with EXT-4 and NTFS file systems
  • Good 802.11ac WiFi performance (except for SAMBA uploads)
  • Built-in Bluetooth working as expected
  • Small details like notifications & status bars automatically shown/hidden, power options,

CONS (and bugs)

  • ZDMC – Some unusual buffering issues while playing from network/samba (either with WiFi and Ethernet); no zoom option while playing video (only 3D options); artifacts with some VP9 videos, even when played from HDD; No DTS HD High Resolution HR pass-through support (uses DTS 5.1 instead)
  • MediaCenter – Selecting embedded subtitles not working in one video; 1080p24 output selected while playing on 4K24 video; No DTS HD High Resolution HR pass-through support (uses DTS 5.1 instead); DTS HD audio down-mixing not working reliably.
  • High power consumption in power off mode, especially when HDD connected (5.0 to 6.4 Watts).
  • Poor SAMBA upload performance when using WiFi
  • Lack of DRM support
  • Google Play – Apps relying on Bluetooth LE cannot be installed; apps show twice is list of apps after installation
  • 3D gaming frame rate may not be very high on some apps, due to the 1920×1080 resolution (instead of 1280×720 on some other RK3328 models)

I’d like to thank Zidoo for sending a review sample. Resellers and distributors can contact the company via Zidoo X7’s product page, and individuals will find the box for sale online for $65 and up on e-retailers such as GearBest, GeekBuying, Amazon US, or Aliexpress.