Category Archives: Android MiniPCs

MiniPC News February 2015

There won’t be any major news in the next couple of weeks, at least not from China-based manufacturers.
Chinese New Year is next week (Happy New Year to our Chinese readers – according to Analytics we have quite a few).

So, the news:
– Minix Z64 launched just a few days ago and there’s a tutorial on how to dual boot Windows and Ubuntu already (here).
– Egreat A9 is now for sale on GeekBuying, and so are Egreat I6 and the Ainol Mini PC.
– Qualcomm launched a tiny Mini PC (or, how they called it “4K Streaming Adapter”).

Mini PC Spotlight: Himedia Q5 Quad

We’ve recently started a series of posts dedicated to Mini PC’s that are already on market and could use some more attention.
We are revisiting today the Himedia Q5 Quad, a Mini PC that we covered back in June 2014, before it was launched.

Since then the Q5 quad went through a major hardware overhaul (back in October) and several firmware updates, earning it’s place in MiniPCDB’s Spotlight.

What makes Himedia Q5 Quad special?
This is the third generation of the “Q5” line, and Himedia certainly took the feedback from the first two versions when building this.
The first generation was also the first Android Mini PC built by Himedia, and the switch from the “classic” Realtek-based media players to Android was not easy. The first generation had several issues with supported file formats, including DVD ISO, which didn’t make clients happy.
But that’s no longer the case, Android evolved a lot since then, Hisilicon’s chipset evolved also.
Speaking about the chipset, Hi3798C is a close relative of the Kirin CPU used by Huawei on it’s flagship phones, and at this time it’s still one of the few chipsets designed specifically for TV boxes (unlike most other chipsets we talk about on MiniPCDB, which are designed for mostly for tablets).
This is why Himedia Q5 quad has good image quality and a good variety of supported file types (Himedia are basically the first to add support for DVD-ISO and BluRay ISO – including 3D- to an Android device).
The case is a good-looking full-metal one, they also include an LCD front-panel and pretty much include everything you might need: USB 3.0, Gigabit ethernet, and not-so-common SATA port.

Himedia Q5 quad – the specs
himedia-q5-quad
 himedia-q5-quad-left-side himedia-q5-quad-right-side himedia-q5-quad-back CPU: HiSilicon Hi3798C, Quad core
GPU: Mali450 (8 cores)
RAM: 2GB DDR3
– Storage: 8GB eMMC
– Network: Gigabit LAN, Wi-fi (one external antenna)
Case: full metal
USB: 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
SD card: yes
HDMI: 1.4
Other: Coaxial, optical, AV outputs
– SATA port – very few mini PC’s today have an external SATA port
himedia-q5-quad-launcher Software : Himedia has a simple launcher optimized to work on TV’s.
They have a dedicated video player that makes DVD-ISO, BluRay ISO and 3D BDISO rendering possible.
What’s even more impressive is the downmix and passthrough support, which goes up to 7.1 channel.
Yes, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA lossless HD-Audio formats.
There’s also support for 4K (@30fps) and H.265.
As for XBMC, Himedia released a custom version that makes use of their native player. You can also  just install the latest Kodi for Android
 himedia-q5-quad-remote Remote:
Himedia Q5 Quad comes with a simple IR remote…with a twist: it can also learn some commands from your other remote (maybe TV?). This way you can watch a movie using a single remote.
But there’s also two features you rarely hear about: Himedia provides two apps for your android device:
– HiControl: once you’ve started your Q5 Quad, you can use the HiShare App to control your mini PC, including seeing in real-time on your tablet what’s currently running on your TV. This could be very useful if you want to see what your kids are watching.
But it does even more than that, you can use your phone to play games on the big-scree TV, for instance.
– HiShare – basically use your phone/tablet to push content (images, video) to the TV

 

 

Mini PC Spotlight: Kaiboer F5

With so many new MiniPCs being announced weekly, it’s hard to keep track of what device might be the perfect solution for our needs.
MiniPCDB’s “Spotlight” series is trying to bring back into the news Mini PC’s that were launched months ago and that might use a little more attention now. There could be a number of reasons for this: maybe because the recent firmware updates made them closer to perfection, or perhaps the current price is much more attractive .

So we start our series with the Kaiboer F5.
Fun fact for you, in Chinese “Kaiboer” is a homophone for “cable” – they’ve been in business for a decade and they actually do manufacture cables … but they also had an impressive line of Realtek-based and SigmaDesigns based media players.
Like most manufacturers, they adapted their offer in the past few years to accommodate the need for Android-based TV boxes… and they do it with style.

If most manufacturers try to cut corners by using cheap(er) plastic cases, Kaiboer still provide good-looking metal cases.
They also choose their chipsets wisely, so their use of the Mstar MSO9180D1R chipset should be an indicator that the chipset does provide good value for the money.

Kaiboer F5 – the specs
kaiboer-F5
kaiboer-F5-left-sidekaiboer-F5-back CPU: Mstar MSO9180 (Quad Core)
GPU: Mali-450MP2
RAM: 2GB DDR3
Storage: 8GB eMMC
Network: 10/100 Ethernet,150M b/g/n wi-fi (dual antenna)
Case: full metal
USB: 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
SD card: yes
HDMI: 1.4b out, also has HDMI-in
Others: Optical Audio, AV, Bluetooth 4.0
kaiboer-F5-remote  Kaiboer F5 comes with a pretty-standard IR remote.
As usual, you might be better off with an airmouse or with a full-keyboard and mouse, depending on your needs
kaiboer-F5-UI-2
kaiboer-F5-UI
kaiboer-F5-UI-3
 As for UI, Kaiboer chose to customize it a bit, you can see the results for yourself.

What makes this unit deserve it’s place on the MiniPCDB Spotlight?
First of all, this Mini PC has on paper most of the most sought after features in a Mini PC currently:
– Ultra HD 4K output
– H.265 hardware decoding
– Real 3D output
– XBMC hardware decoding
– solid case, good airflow without the use of any cooler.
– nice-looking front-panel LED display.
It also has HDMI-in, useful in a couple of scenarios.

January 2015 MiniPC news

After CES 2015 things tend to slow down a bit, and although it has been quiet lately, here are some Mini PC News.

Minix is launching this week their Z64 Mini PC.
Minix Z64 is based on an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor has 2GB of RAM and 32GB storage.
It comes in two flavors: a cheaper one using Android 4.4 and a more expensive one with Windows 8.1.
Minix Z64 Windows 8.1 seems to be preactivated, unlike some similar Chinese boxes that have only a 30-day trial license.

Zappiti’s first and second batches are already sold out!
You might have to wait for March to get the Realtek RTD1195-based Mini PC that promises to be all you will need for living room entertainment .
Meanwhile the Zappiti team is working on their firmware, already some big progress has been made.

Himedia finally launched their own customized version of Kodi/XBMC.
This version will work on both the dual-core and the quad-core versions of their Hisilicon-based Mini PC’s (Himedia Q5-II, Himedia Q5 Quad) and it will allow you to use the excellent Himedia Player as an external player for XBMC.

Mygica promises to be the first manufacturer to release Android 5.0 update for their Mini PCs .
They featured at CES 2015 their ATV 1900 model with Android 5.0, and in 1-2 months they will have an update for the ATV 1800e and ATV 582 models. Congrats to them!

AC Ryan Veolo 4K unboxing

[Update – AC Ryan Veolo 4K is now available on Amazon – read here about it – also, AC Ryan USA is now offering a free Veo Navigator and 10% off+free shipping for our US&Canada readers]

A few weeks ago we mentioned that the third generation of ACRyan’s Veolo line is soon to be made available.

Now it’s time to test it!

AC Ryan Veolo 4K box

First impressions:
– the unit is much smaller than I thought, the promotional pictures led me to believe that the size will be roughly the same as the first generation of Veolo, which I briefly tested years ago. Well, it is not!
AC Ryan Veolo 4K will fit in your palm.

– the unit does not have a regular HDMI 2.0 port, but a mini-HDMI port. This might be a problem for some , as the HDMI cable provided with the unit is rather short, if you need to place it somewhere further away from your TV or monitor (as I did) you might need to have a male-to-female HDMI extension cable around.

– there are no external wi-fi antennas, we’ll check the wi-fi signal strength in a later review

– the review unit arrived with two remotes, and apparently the VEO Navigator remote is to be sold separately .
Both remotes work with regular AAA batteries, which AC Ryan included in the package.

Veolo 4K Box The Veolo 4K arrives in a stylish black box
AC Ryan Veolo 4K unboxing Once you open it, you are greeted by the small Veolo Mini PC
AC Ryan Veolo 4K accessories All accessories are individually wrapped in their own black boxes
AC Ryan Veolo 4K box contents What’s in the box:
– Power adapter
– HDMI cable (miniHDMI to regular HDMI)
– quick start guide
– 2 AAA batteries
– IR remote
– AV cable
AC Ryan Veo navigator remote AC Ryan Veo navigator remote next to the standard IR remote. Note that the Veolo 4K Mini PC does have a power button.

Conclusions:
-AC Ryan Veolo 4K is a small, nice-looking device.It comes to everything you need to set it up, although a male-to-female HDMI extension cable might have been more useful than the included AV cable.
-it comes with a standard IR remote, and you can purchase additionally an airmouse (AC Ryan VEO Navigator).
Probably AC Ryan should have included the VEO Navigator in the package (as other manufacturers do).
Just like on any other Android TV boxes on market, the IR remote can become frustrating to use after a while, and you will feel much more comfortable wih a keyboard+mouse combo (even a qwerty remote with airmouse).

List of Mstar MSO9180 devices announced as of January 2015

[Update: Egreat A9 unboxing]

A couple of days ago we revealed the imminent launch at CES 2015 of the Egreat A9 unit, powered by Mstar MSO9180D1R.
This particular chipset is not new, several units were launched in China last year, but never quite took off overseas.
But this is about to change, as several devices were announced, and some are quite interesting:

Egreat A9

Egreat A9

Powerful Mini PC. Egreat announced a partnership with Vidon, making the device even more interesting.

Zidoo X9

Zidoo X9

Good looking case, (so far) regular firmware updates, custom UI interface.
Very promising device.

Xtreamer Prodigy 4K

Xtreamer Prodigy 4K

Another good looking case. Internal HDD slot.

Kaiboer F5

Kaiboer F5

One of the first Mini PC’s to use this chipset. Little to no availability outside China.

UYESEE T1H

UYESEE T1H

Less attractive case, unknown availability.

So, which one you should choose?
Here’s a side by side comparison between the most popular Mstar MSO9180D1R Mini PC’s:

Egreat A9 Zidoo X9 Xtreamer Prodigy 4K Kaiboer F5
Case metal metal metal metal
RAM 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
Memory 16GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Ethernet Gigabit Gigabit Gigabit Gigabit
Wi-fi Dual Band Dual Band 802.11 b/g/n Dual Band
Bluetooth 4.0 4.0 -? yes
USB 2.0 3 2 2 2
USB 3.0 1 1 1 1
HDD Tray yes, 3.5” no yes, 3.5” no
HDD fan yes no
HDMI-In yes, with PVR yes yes, with PVR yes
Other – VFD
– Touchpanel
– custom UI /EG-UI
– Vidon.me partner
– VFD
– custom Zidoo UI
– Xtreamer gui v.7

Meet Mele SP-100 – Mini PC with built-in projector

Chinese manufacturer Mele will announce several new devices at CES2015, including their very own Realtek RTD1195 MiniPC and several Wintel devices (Mele PCG47, Mele PCG32).

But what really caught my eye is their Mini PC / Smart Projector called SP-100.
Most Mini PC’s claim to turn any TV into a smart one. Mele SP100 claims to do that with your bedroom wall.

mele-smart-projector

Mele SP-100 specs:
– CPU: Realtek RK3188, 4-core, 1.5Ghz
– Memory: 1GB DDR3
– Storage: 4GB, extendable with an SD card (up to 32GB)
– Network : 802.1b/g/n (no Ethernet!)
– HDMI – IN (1.4, up to 1080P)
– 2x USB 2.0 and 1 mini-USB
– Lamp: 150 Lumen, RGB LED, over 20000 hours, DLP WVGA 0,3″ Image processor, 12 to 120 inches, 1000:1 contrast
– built-in 1800mAh rechargeable Lithium-polymer battery
– Android 4.2
– comes in one of the two flavors, black and white

This Android-powered portable projector comes with a small remote control, but it can also be controlled by means of Android app from your tablet or smartphone.
It can connect to your iPhone with an “iPhone to mini-HDMI cable” which could be included upon request, or with one of your ancient devices using the VGA to Mini HDMI cable, also not included.

 

Meet Egreat A9, Mini PC with HDMI In recording capabilities

[Update: Egreat A9 unboxing]

Looks like Mstar MSO9180 finally gets some real-world use with the launch, at CES 2015, of the new Egreat A9 Mini PC.
This is one of the new Mini PC’s that Egreat will announce, check out the Egreat 2015 roadmap post to see the others.

As you can see in the below images, this mini PC will use a strong aluminum case with VFD which allows a 3.5” HDD to be mounted inside (same case used by the Egreat R300 media player a few years back).
As usual with the newly announced models, they claim to support 4K/Ultra-HD videos (although just at 30fps, due to HDMI 1.4 limits).
The mini PC will support H.265, BluRay ISO’s, 3D movies (and not just SBS and top/Bottom, Frame Packing 3D also).
They also mention Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA 7.1ch RAW audio passthrough.
But what caught my eye was the Vidon.me logo – does this mean that Egreat has some sort of partnership with Vidon?
[Update] – Both Egreat and Vidon.me confirmed for MiniPCDB that they are indeed working together. This makes the Egreat A9 unit even more interesting.
This unit can also record an 1080P stream using the HDMI-In interface,  feature that could be useful for those that have a HD TV receiver, for instance.
egreat-A9-vidon

Egreat A9 specs:
– CPU: Mstar MSO9180-DB2 – quad core, Cortex A9
– GPU: Mali-450MP4
– RAM: 2GB DDR3
– 16GB eMMC
– 1 x USB 3.0 host and 3 x USB 2.0 host
– Bluetooth 4.0 BLE
– Gigabit Ethernet
– dual band wi-fi (802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4GHz/5.0GHz 300M) with 2 antennas, 3dB each
– HDMI 1.4 ouput (max: 3840×2160 at 30 fps)
– HDMI 1.4 input (max: 3840×2160 at 30 fps)
– 3.5” HDD tray (HDD not included)

egreat-A9-back egreat-A9 egreat-A9-side

 

Meet Smartenit Harmony G1, Smart Home Mini PC

We are continuing our series of posts dedicated to products that will be officially announced at CES 2015, and now we have a special product.
Why special? because it just might be the first of it’s kind – the world’s first Smart Home Mini PC (actually I just coined this term, hopefully it would catch on).
You might know Smartenit for their Home automation projects (if not, you can look up “iSmartenit” on Google Play or  AppStore).
With their Harmony G1 you can do much more than watching movies on Netflix, Hulu, or from an USB drive or local network: you can also control your lights, irrigation system, watch live feeds from your security cameras and even receive alerts on your sensors (windows or front door locked/unlocked, motion detection), see power consumption for your appliances, etc.

harmony-g1

Hardware:
– Dual Core ARMv7  CPU @ 1 Ghz
– 1GB RAM, 4GB Nand
– Android 4.2.2
– 2 USB 2.0 ports
– HDMI and AV out
– SD card (up to 64 GB)
– Ethernet and 802.11 b/g/n wi-fi

Are you a developer? Check out the Harmony socket XML API!

Mini PC DB in 2015

2015 arrived, and it will be an exciting year, here’s why:

– The rise of Windows Mini PC’s
Most Mini PC’s we are featuring on MiniPCDB are below $250, and most of them are using now Android.
But during the last 3 months of 2014 there were quite a few Mini (HT)PC’s announced that would use the Intel Z3735F and they are now just around the corner.
Windows 8.1 with Bing will bring a nice change to the otherwise quite plain market when it comes to operating systems (all other units were using Android 4.4, and rarely Linux, mostly without video hardware acceleration).

The Android 5.0/5.1 Lollipop (Android TV)
Until now, Android TV boxes were simply turning your TV or monitor in a touch-less tablet.
Now Android TV is just around the corner, and we expect to see updates to Android 5.0 from some of the established brands like Minix or Tronsmart.
Finally the UI will be aimed at TV’s (“10-foot user interface”) and we’ll have apps that are specifically designed to be displayed on a TV.

Allwinner A80
For a few months now, Allwinner A80 is said to have the greatest potential due to the massive power of the 8-core CPU with 64-cores GPU.
But as we know, having a bunch of extra cores is good for marketing as it looks great on paper, but without the software to put those cores to work it simply doesn’t make much of a difference.
Allwinner is making efforts alongside manufacturers and there could be some interesting new TV and development boxes with Linux and Android L early this year.

(Even) More Intel devices
More and more cheap Intel devices like Intel’s NUC series (or Gigabyte’s Brix) are coming – see our posts on Mr.Nuc .

XBMC/Kodi
XBMC folks had a fantastic year – basically now when a manufacturer releases an Android TV box (or any other TV box for that matter) they feel the need to announce that it will support XBMC.
This brings more exposure to XBMC and they deserve it – a fantastic project that simply changed living-room entertainment forever.

OpenELEC
OpenELEC  was built with a simple (but great) idea in mind – turn a Mini PC/computer into a “Kodi” machine – you can install it in minutes time and although it’s Linux-based you don’t even need to know much about Linux to use it.
Fast way of getting your own Media Center with a limited budget and great results.

MiniPCDB
Our goals are beyond this blog, we plan on having a full website completed by Q2, with anything a Mini PC enthusiast should need to know.

Follow us on Twitter, as we plan to release there any new information regarding the website and it’s planned features.
You think you can contribute with a subject? Just contact us!