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Posts Tagged ‘windows 10’

CHUWI LapBook 14.1 Laptop Manufacturing Changes – Hardware at Launch vs Several Months Later

October 22nd, 2017 8 comments

Products may evolve over time due to parts becoming phased out (EOL), so company often issues PCN (product change notices) to the company for example to replace eMMC flash that’s not manufactured anymore by a new one. They won’t change any advertised features, so the product specifications should remain the same. Reviewers normally get product from one of the first batch of production, and if you purchase the product a few months later, after carefully reading reviews, you may end up with a device slightly different.

But in some cases, the company makes major changes, while still delivering the same advertised hardware specifications. That’s apparently the case for CHUWI LapBook 14.1 laptop. The photo below shows how it looked internally for the sample I reviewed.

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If you zoom on the photo, you’ll find an M.2 slot on the bottom of the right PCB, potentially allowing you to add an SSD internally. At the time, I could also install Ubuntu 17.04 to the eMMC flash. None of those features (M.2 SSD and Linux) were officially supported by the company.

I installed Ubuntu on February 2017, and I had recommended this $250 laptop as a decent inexpensive Linux laptop. But in May, I started to get reports that Linux would not find the eMMC flash. Several people had the same experience even after following the same instructions. So it was likely the company just changed the part.

But at the end of September, I had another person telling me the M.2 slot was gone too, and the company dramatically changed the hardware design with new batteries, motherboard, and so on, as shown in the photo below. The shell looks exactly the same, and connectors are placed at the same location, so I’d assume this is indeed the same model.

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Beside the different eMMC flash, missing M.2 slot, and completely different motherboard, he also pointed out other differences / issues in the model he bought in GearBest (the same seller I got my sample from):

  • Keyboard issues for some keys that need to be pressed harder.
  • Battery changed, and issue with charge controller, so the battery is not usable below 20% charge level
  • Different BIOS with few options
  • Doesn’t run Linux without considerable effort. systemd-boot worked on Arch. It can’t boot Ubuntu boot disk (without isorespin.sh/refind see below)
  • The USB touchpad replaced with a cheaper I2C touchpad, not working in Linux. (He wrote his own driver for it to make it work).

Some of the changes are confirmed in one of the customer reviews on GearBest (Search for user BearGest):

  • No m2 slot in 3rd revision
  • Linux users need to use isorespin.sh to replace grub with a compatible bootloader \’refind\’.
  • Touchpad not supported yet in latest Linux Kernel

ACEPC AK1 Celeron J3455 Mini PC Review – Part 1: Unboxing, Teardown, and First Impressions

October 17th, 2017 16 comments

Karl here. Today we are going to look at the ACEPC AK1 mini PC. Here are some of the specs pulled from ACEPC’s website. The feature that is most notable to me is the included 2.5” hard drive compartment.

Hardware

CPU:Intel Celeron J3455
GPU:Intel HD Graphics 500
RAM:4GB DDR3L
ROM:32GB eMMC
WiFi:Ac3165 Dual Band2.4G/5G
LAN: Ethernet RJ45 10/100/1000M
Bluetooth: BT V4.0

Interfaces

USB port:2xUSB 3.0;2xUSB 2.0;1xType C;support USB disk and USB HDD
Card reader: TF Card (up to 128GB)
HDMI Port: HDMI 1.4
Microphone audio: 3.5mm Microphone jack x1

Unboxing & Teardown

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Looks like an mSATA connector inside but not listed on spec? – Click to Enlarge

Some close-up photos to get a better look at the chips, and overall hardware design.

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First Boot – Storage / Task Manager

Storage after first boot:

Storage after update:

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Thermal Testing with Prime 95

Cooling seems adequate. Below is a picture of Prime 95 after 5 minutes. I am glad to see it staying at about 2 GHz considering the base frequency is 1.5 GHz. After stopping, it loses 30° Celsius immediately and after 30 seconds back to around 50° Celsius.

Goal

One of my goals for the second part of this review is to use it in the living room as a silent PC and mini server. I want to stream games from my new rig via Steam in Home Streaming and/or Nvidia GameStream. I want to also test it as a Plex server. Plex is testing out some hardware encoding on its beta software and I will be installing it on this box. I used Emby for a long time, but got to a point I had to reboot daily. Home automation server and Minecraft server should be a cakewalk. I have installed Steam and Moonlight chrome plugin, and tested them for a few minutes. Both work as expected but Steam is the clear winner at 25% CPU usage. It would be really great if I could both stream a game and live encode TV from my antenna. I think it won’t be a problem but need to test. My in-laws canceled pay TV a while back and they stream live TV from our antenna through the Plex app on Mi Box. They are even more rural than we are, and get no channels unless they erect an outside antenna.

First Impressions

This is subjective but I do like the way it looks. Has enough IOs. I wrote this article on it and other than typing on Logitech K400(ugh), it was uneventful. The expansion for a 2.5” hard drive is a great feature in my opinion. I just added a hard drive taken from a laptop. I have only tested out Ethernet at this point. I am in my lab and testing WiFi here is unfair to any device. If you would like to see any specific benchmark/test please let me know in the comments below.

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending ACEPC AK1 for review. It is currently on sale for $149.99 [Update: coupon USBLOG9 drop the price further to $147]. The device is also sold on Amazon US for $199.99, and it can be found under other brands like Unistorm, WooYi, Findarling, etc.. on Aliexpress.

Industrial Shields Industrial Panel PCs are Based on Raspberry Pi, Banana Pi, or HummingBoard

October 10th, 2017 4 comments

Boot&Work Corp., S.L. is a company based in Catalonia that sells industrial automation electronic devices under “Industrial Shields” brand. What makes their product noticeable is that they all appear to be based on maker boards such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

The company offers various Arduino based PLC modules with or without Ethernet that can be controlled with 10.1″ industrial grade panel PCs based on ARM Linux development boards.

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Currently three sub-families are available:

  • HummTOUCH powered by Solidrun HummingBoard-i2 NXP i.MX 6Dual Lite board
  • BANANATOUCH with either Banana Pi M64 (Allwinner A64 quad core Cortex A53) or Banana Pi M3 (Allwinner A83T octa core Cortex A7)
  • TOUCHBERRY with Raspberry Pi model B or Raspberry Pi 3 model B

Beside the different processors, the 10.1″ Panel PCs share some of the same specifications:

Industrial Shields Arduino PLC – Click to Enlarge

  • Display – 10.1″ resistive multitouch LVDS, 315 nits, 170° viewing angle, 1280×720 resolution
  • Video Input – MIPI CSI connector (HummTouch only)
  • System Memory – 512MB to
    • HummTOUCH – 1 GB RAM
    • BANANATOUCH – 2GB RAM
    • BERRYTOUCH – 512MB RAM or 1GB LPDDR2
  • Storage
    • All – micro SD slot
    • BANANATOUCH – 8GB eMMC flash (16, 32, 64 GB optional)
  • Connectivity
    • Fast or Gigabit Ethernet depending on model
    • BANANATOUCH and BERRYTOUCH 3 – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x to 3x USB ports
  • I/O Expansion – 8x GPIO, SPI, I2C, UART
  • Power Supply – 12V DC; supports 7 – 18V DC input up to 1.5A
  • Dimensions – 325.5 x 195.6 x 95 mm
  • Compliance – CE

The user manual lists further details about environmental conditions, for example for HummTOUCH models:

  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 45°C; storage: -20 to 60 C
  • Humidity – 10% to 90% (no condensation)
  • Ambient Environment – With no corrosive gas
  • Shock resistance – 80m/s2 in the X, Y and Z direction 2 times each.

There’s no information about Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, so it’s safe to assume those have not been tested for dust- and waterproofness.

Back of BANANATOUCH M3 Panel PC

The company also have smaller 3.5″ and 3.7″ model based on Raspberry Pi 3 board only. HummTOUCH models are available with either Linux or Android, BANANATOUCH and BERRYTOUCH models are only sold with Linux (Raspbian),  but Ubuntu, Android and Windows 10 IoT are options if they are supported by the respective board.

The 10.1″ panel PCs are sold for 375 to 460 Euros, and the Arduino based PLCs start at 135 Euros. Documentation and purchase links can all be found on Industrial Shields website.

$290 DERE A3 Air Intel Celeron J3455 Apollo Lake Notebook Comes with 64GB SSD, 512GB HDD

October 9th, 2017 1 comment

We’ve already seen several laptops and notebooks powered by Intel Apollo Lake processors such as CHUWI LapBook 14.1, Voyo VBook A1, or Acer Spin 1. However, most of the time those models only come with 32 or 64GB eMMC flash for the operating system, which – for my needs at least – is clearly not enough, as I need extra space for data. Some allow for M.2 or mSATA card expansions but that’s usually expensive, and I’d prefer the combination of an eMMC flash (or ideally a similarly sized SSD) for optional performance, together with the capacity and cheaper price of an hard drive.

DERA A3 Air notebook appears to provide just that as it includes a 64GB SSD and a 500GB HDD. The device also comes with a 14.1″ display, and is powered by an Intel Celeron J3455 quad core Apollo Lake processor.

DERA A3 Air notebook specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron J3455 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.50 GHz / 2.30 GHz (Burst frequency) and 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 250 MHz / 750 MHz (Burst freq.); 10W TDP
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3L RAM upgradeable to 8GB
  • Storage – 64 GB SSD flash, SD card slot up to 128 GB, optional 500GB hard drive, mSATA connector
  • Display – 14.1″ LED display with 1920 x 1080 (FHD) resolution
  • Video Output – 1x mini HDMI port
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, microphone jack, built-in stereo speakers and microphone
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Camera – 1.3 MP front-facing camera
  • USB – 1 x USB 2.0 host port, 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • Power Supply – 19V DC / 2A
  • Battery – 4,000 mAh/7.4V Li-ion polymer battery good
  • Dimensions – 32.90 x 21.90 x 2.50 cm
  • Weight – 1.50 kg

The laptop comes with Windows 10 Home, and ships with a charger and English user manual. The choice of Celeron J3455 is interesting as it’s supposed to be a desktop processor, while N-series processors – often used in mini PCs – are for “mobile” applications such as laptops and 2-in-1 hybrids. That will mean cooling will be more challenging, but at 10W they may have managed. For some reasons Bluetooth is not listed anywhere, and battery capacity looks quite low.

DERE A3 Air notebook can be pre-ordered for $289.99 with 64GB SSD and 500GB HDD, and $249.99 with the SSD only. Shipping is expected after October 15.

Intel Compute Card and Dock Hands On, Windows 10 and Ubuntu Benchmarks

September 29th, 2017 9 comments

We’ve recently seen Intel introduced Dock DK132EPJ for their Compute Cards, and released some pricing info. Ian Morrison (Linuxium) got sent a full kit by Intel with the dock and Compute Card CD1M3128MK powered by a dual core / quad Core m3-7Y30 processor with 4GB RAM, 128GB PCIe SSD, and Intel Wireless-AC 8265 module. You can get the full details in Ian’s post, but I’ll provide a summary of the key points here.

While the compute card and dock are thinner than most product, the computer card is quite wider than TV sticks, and the dock larger than an Intel NUC. It also comes with a fan, and cooling works well with maximum CPU temperature under being 70°C.

The Compute Cards do not come with any operating system, but you get to the BIOS easily, and install Windows or Linux distributions. Ian’s started with Windows 10 Enterprise Evaluation, and ran several benchmarks including PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3.0.

Click to Enlarge – Full results here.

As expected, performance is quite good on this 4.5W TDP Core m processor, as the best results I got so far on sub 10W TDP processors was 1,846 points with Voyo VMac Mini Celeron N4200 mini PC. The NVMe SSD also helps with performance as shown in CrystalDiskMark Results.

The processor was apparently powerful enough to play 4320p / 8K videos in YouTube.

He then installed Ubuntu 17.04 for a dual boot setup, and it worked after tweaking Ubuntu NVRAM entry. Apart from that, everything seems to work out of the box.

Phoronix Suite benchmarks showed a jump in performance compared to the Intel Compute sticks, even against the Core-m3 one (STK2M364CC) as shown below.

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The iozone results are particularly striking, but easily explained as a 64GB eMMC flash was pitted against a 128GB NVMe SSD.

In conclusion, Ian explains that overall the Card and Dock combination works well, and while there may be use cases for the enterprise market, it might be a different story for the consumer market, but it might be worth it eventually if more docks come to market, for example Laptop docks, so you can switch the card between two or more types of docks. Since the solution is rather expensive, standard mini PCs will likely prevail in the consumer market.

MeLE PCG35 Apo mini PC Review – Part 1: Unboxing, Teardown, and M.2 SSD / SATA HDD Installation

September 18th, 2017 13 comments

MeLE PCG35 Apo is a mini PC powered by Intel Pentium J3455, one of the most powerful Intel processors from Apollo Lake family, coupled with 4GB LPDDR3, 32GB eMMC flash and support for M.2 SSD and 2.5″ SATA HDD/SSD. The company sent me a sample for review, and I’ll start by taking photos of the device, accessories, and internal design, as well as showing how to install an M.2SSD and 2.5″ SATA drive, before publishing the second part of the review with Windows 10 at the end of next month.

MeLE PCG35 Apo Unboxing

The mini PC comes with the usual black package with gold fonts the company has used us to.

The side shows the main specifications of the fanless mini PC.

The mini PC, which comes with an aluminum heatsink shaped as number 6, ships with a 12V/2A power supply plus UK, AU, US, and EU plug adapter, a quick start guide, and a zip bag with 4 screws to install a 2.5″ SATA drive, as well as thermal pad for the M.2 SSD.

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The case is not fully made of metal with the top part made of plastic, and the bottom and rear panel made of metal. The front panel include power button and LED, one of the side features a full sized SD card slot, a USB 3.0 ports, and a USB 2.0 ports…

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… and the rear panel is equipped with a 3.5mm audio jack, two more USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 and VGA outputs, the power jack, a USB type C port for data and power only (no video/audio), a security lock, and an external WiFi antenna.

MeLE PCG35 Apo Teardown

If you plan to install an hard drive and/or SSD you’ll need to open the case. Four screws are located on the bottom, and four screws in the rear panel. I loosened all eight screws, but it should be possible to install the drives by only removing the bottom cover.

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Note that the screws do not feel of good build quality, and I had to try with 4 different screw drivers/heads for fear of damaging them, as with the first screw driver I used I could see some metal going off of the first screws. You’ll need to find a screw head that fit perfectly to avoid any damage. Note that two screws are shorter than the other to make sure to check this when you open the box. The short ones are on the edges of the rear panel.

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The bottom metal cover also include another aluminum piece that, as we’ll see later, is used to cool the M.2 SSD. We can also find the SATA cables, and 80mm M.2 slot inside the case as expected.

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On the top of the main board we’ll get the RTC battery, and several chips including:

  • Parade PS175HDM DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0a video interface converter
  • ITE IT6513FN DisplayPort to VGA controller
  • Richtek RT5074A power management IC?
  • Realtek ALC269 audio coded for the headphone jack
  • M-TEK G24101SCGX Gigabit Ethernet transformer
  • Intel 3165D2W wireless module for 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Realtek RTS5170 card reader controller driver

Unsurprisingly, those are exactly the same chips used in MeLE PCG03 Apo.

If we looks on the side, we’ll see more about the design of the aluminum heatsink. It actually looks like a heat spreader, but since it’s attached to plastic part of the case, it does not spread heat to another metal part. Most people should not do that, but I loosened for more screws to take out the board, and have a better looks at the design of the aluminum part. There’s a fair amount of thermal paste on the “volcano” like part of the heatsink that makes contact with the Intel Pentium J3455 processor.

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We can also see an internal WiFi/Bluetooth antenna in the background. That part of the PCB also includes the chips for RAM, storage, ITE IT8528E embedded controller, and Realtek RTL8111(AN) Gigabit Ethernet transceiver.

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We have 32GB storage with Samsung KLM8G2JENB-B041 eMMC 5.1 flash with theoretical performance of up to 310MB/s read, 70MB/s write, and 13K/14K R/W IOPS, which differs from the Toshiba eMMC flash found in PCG03 Apo, and the best 32GB Samsung eMMC part available.

We also have two ELPIDA FAZ32A2MA RAM chips that should be 2GB each for a total of 4GB RAM, and there are two unpopulated footprints for two more, meaning there could be a 8GB RAM model on the way, or for OEM customers.

M.2 SSD and SATA HDD Installation in MeLE PCG35 Apo

The user manual does not explain at all how to install either M.2 SSD, nor SATA HDD, but it’s quite easy enough to figure out.

I used KingDian N480 M.2 SSD (80mm long), inserted it in the M.2 slot and kept it in place with the screw. You may also want to the the M.2 SSD thermal pad included in the package. Peel off the plastic sheet on the pad, and place it pad on the of the aluminum part attached to the bottom metal cover, before peeling off the second plastic sheet as shown in the photo below.

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If you plan to use a 2.5″ drive too, use the four extra screws in the package to attach it to the bottom metal cover making sure the drive is oriented such as the SATA connector is placed close to the SATA marking on the cover, and connect the SATA cables accordingly. Now we can put everything back together, and we should be good to go. So I plan to use the eMMC flash for Windows 10, the M.2 SSD for program, cache, and email database, and the SATA hard drive for other data.

About those screws…

When I first started the teardown, I mentioned the screws could be damaged easily, and I managed to damage one on the bottom plate, enough so I can not screw it or loosen it with a screwdriver anymore. I’ll have to use another tool to take it once I want to get back my SSD and hard drive.

I also had another problem with another screw in the rear panel that would not go straight. I tried to loose the other screw around, and try again, and later mix the screws but no luck…

Since the mini PC is designed to be open, it would have been good if the company has found an easier way to open the device to insert an SSD/HDD, or sturdier screws.

[Update from MeLE:

As for the screws on the rear panel and bottom, we have realized the seriousness that it may bring uncomfortable experience to customers who install and uninstall frequently. Therefore, we have urged our R&D team to implement new screws (more stronger and more feasible) from next batch of massive production in end of this month by sending official ECN (engineering change notice) to our factory within this week.
]

I’d like to thank MeLE for sending their latest fanless mini PC for review, and if you are interested in the device, you can purchase it for $179.99 including shipping on Aliexpress. They also have options for a VESA mount, and a MeLE F10 air mouse. Please note that the company will often put the device back to $199.99, just wait a few days if this is the case, and I’ve also been told promotional prices are always on during week-ends.

PiPo X12 Mini PC is Equipped with a 10.8″ Touchscreen Display, an RS232 Port, Ships with a Digital Stylus Pen

September 11th, 2017 4 comments

PiPo has released several mini PCs with touchscreen displays with products like PiPo X8 or PiPo X9S, and now the company has launched PiPo X12 model based on an Intel Cherry Trail processor, with a larger 10.8″ display, an RS-232 port to connect a barcode reader for instance, and that ships with a digital stylus pen.

PiPo X12 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz/1.92 GHz with Intel Gen8 HD graphics
  • System Memory – 4 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB flash, and micro SD slot
  • Display – 10.8″ capacitive touch IPS display with 1920×1280 resolution
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4a and VGA
  • Audio Output – HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, built-in microphone and speaker.
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet ports, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 with external antenna
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – Power and volume buttons, and reset pinhole; gravity sensor
  • Battery – 10,000 mAh @ 3.7V
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Dimensions – 250.6 x 174.3 x 70.4 mm
  • Weight – 850 grams

PiPoi X12 ships with an activated version of Windows 10, a power adapter, and a digital stylus pen that can be used for hand-writing.


PiPo X12 is sold for $227.99 on Banggood, but we could also find the device on Aliexpress for about the same price, as well as a dual boot Windows 10 / Android 5.1 version (maybe) on GeekBuying. Note the latter only mentions Android 5.1 in the title, and does not specifically list the stylus, but shows a picture of it.

Via AndroidPC.es

MINIX NEO N42C-4 Apollo Lake Mini PC To Launch Soon with SO-DIMM and M.2 Slots

September 5th, 2017 7 comments

I’ve just completed MINIX NEO Z83-4 Pro review, a Cherry Trail mini PC with Windows 10 Pro, but if you’d like something with a more recent and faster processor, the company will soon launch a MINIX NEO N42C-4 with an Apollo Lake processor, and upgradeable memory and storage.

MINIX NEO N42C-4 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Pentium N4200 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.10 / 2.50 GHz with 18 EU Intel HD Graphics 505 (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR3L SO-DIMM module (upgradeable to 8GB via 2x SO-DIMM slots)
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC 5.1 flash, 1x 2280 M.2 SSD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz, mini DisplayPort up to 4K @ 60 Hz, USB type C up to 4K @ 60 Hz(video only, no audio); supports for up to 3 independent displays
  • Audio – Via HDMI, miniDP, 3.5mm audio combo jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB – 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB Type-C port
  • Misc – Power button
  • Power Supply  – 12V? power jack or USB type C

The mini PC is pre-loaded with an activated version of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. While other recent MINIX Intel mini PCs are all fanless, N42C-4 relies on a cooling fan, and it’s the first model that upgradeable with SO-DIMM SDRAM slots, and an M.2 slot for SSD. The video below also shows the mini PC connected to a monitor over a USB type C cable providing both power (from display) and video output.

MINIX NEO N42C-4 will be available at the beginning of October for $269.90 / 269.90 Euros.

Via Netbook Italia