My UGOOS UT3S has finally arrived so I’ve had an opportunity to connect it up so I thought I’d share my hands-on impressions with the UGOOS UT3S so far. The UGOOS UT3S comes in two variants (2GB RAM/16GB Storage and 4GB RAM/32GB Storage) and I was fortunate enough to test the 4GB variant. respectively.
Trying to find the best airmouse to control your HTPC can be a challenge. The Rikomagic MK705 combines airmouse functionality with a full QWERTY keyboard. Is this the perfect HTPC remote?
Wearables is a massive growth area and growth is anticipated to continue into 2015. Whilst devices such as the Pebble have taken off, a number of other wearables supporting a single OS have entered the market such as the Apple Watch and Galaxy Gear.
The No. 1 G2 is a new device from the phone manufacturer which borrows heavily from the Galaxy Gear but offers both Android and iOS compatibility.
There are so many Android media players out there so it is refreshing t0 see a company release a device with a Linux focus. SolidRun’s CuboxTV uses a Freescale i.MX6 chipset armed with a quadcore CPU and Vivante GC2000 3D GPU to run a variety of operating systems such as OpenELEC and Android. Whilst I’m completing my review, I thought I’d share my impressions of the device so far.
I want to say thanks to Solidrun for sending me a CuboxTV to review. You can purchase one from their online store. For those wanting features such as built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, SolidRun also have the CuBox i4Pro available from their store and NewEgg.
CuboxTV Technical Specs
- Chipset: Freescale i.MX6
- GPU: Vivante GC2000 3D GPU
- RAM: 1 GB SDRAM
- Storage: 8 GB + microSD
- Video & Audio Output: HDMI 1.4, SP-DIF
- Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet (Limited to 470Mbps due to internal i.MX6 buses)
- USB: 2 x USB 2.0 port
- Other Features: IR receiver
- Power: 5V 3A
- Dimensions: 5.08 x 5.08 x 5.08 cm
- OS: Linux/OpenELEC/Android 4.4
The CuboxTV is tiny! Just 5.08 cm on each side, SolidRun have managed an IR port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, optical audio and a micro SD card slot into the CuboxTV’s diminutive frame.
The CuboxTV doesn’t feature a power button, so plugging it in causes it to immediately boot. I had installed OpenELEC by downloading and flashing the Ignition image from SolidRun’s site. Connecting my Rikomagic MK705 airmouse, I was able get the CuboxTV to automatically download and install OpenELEC. The box then rebooted into OpenELEC. Easy!
Boot times were fast at just 15.7 seconds (approximately). However, this is a device that is clearly designed to be always-on so the significance of boot times is probably irrelevant to most.
OpenELEC performance was very good, with everything feeling responsive and list scrolling was nice and smooth.
HDMI-CEC worked perfectly with my Samsung TV, allowing me to use my TV’s remote to control the CuboxTV.
CuboxTV Media Playback in OpenELEC
I took the CuboxTV through my media test files. The results are below:
|1080p 3D SBS H.264||OK|
|1080p 3D ABL H.264||Audio only|
|1080p H.264 60Hz||Unwatchable|
|1080p High Bitrate H.264||OK|
|4K H.264||Audio only|
|720P RMVB||No Video|
Playback was generally good. Those files that were unwatchable were obviously switching to software decoding, which the CPU couldn’t keep up with. Watching interlaced content was fine and and automatic frame rate switching worked perfectly. Some files only played with audio however.
Verdict so far
I’m impressed with the performance of the CuboxTV so far. It’s easy to set up, fast and offers a played back the most common video codecs without issue. Those who watch content with various framerates will appreciate the automatic framerate switching, a function that is unfortunately not available on most Android players.
You can purchase the CuboxTV directly from Solidrun from their online store. For those wanting features such as built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, SolidRun also have the CuBox i4Pro available from their store and NewEgg.
It can be a nightmare trying to find a good Bluetooth controller for your phone, tablet or mini PC. And whilst touch gaming is acceptable, nothing replaces the tactile feel of a gamepad. I had a chance to test out the iPega PG-9025, a Bluetooth gamepad featuring dual analog sticks and media playback buttons. iPega have a history of developing a number of Bluetooth controllers that boast iOS and Android compatibility out of the box and the PG-9025 is no different.
I want to say thank you to Tmart for providing me a sample to review. You can purchase one from them here.
iPega PG-9025 Technical Specifications
- Operating System Compatability: Android 3.2+, iOS 4.3+, WinXP/Win7/Win8
- Connection: Bluetooth 3.0
- Range: 6-8m
- Battery: Built-in Lithium battery (380mAh)
- Size: 16x6x14cm
- Weight: 0.270kg
What’s in the box?
The iPega comes with the basics you need to start gaming:
- 1 x iPega PG-9025 Gamepad
- 1 x Micro USB Cable
- 1 x Instruction Manual
iPega PG-9025 Design
The iPega PG-9025 definitely follows in its predecessors steps, the PG-9017, and at first glance, you’d almost get the two confused. The iPega PG-9025 adopts a layout almost identical to the Xbox 360 controller. Using the familiar “boomerang” silhouette, gamers will be at home with the dual analog sticks, d-pad, and the start select, shoulder and face buttons. All the face buttons and the devices home button are made of a nice, transparent plastic with the labels under the surface. It all looks very nice.
A set of media player buttons, consisting of volume, skip and play/pause, are located between the d-pad and right analog stick.
The shoulder buttons (note: not triggers) are located at the top and rear (?!) of the device. L1 and R1 are located at their usual locations, however, in order to allow for the phone mount on the device, the L2 and R2 buttons have been moved to the back. They remain relatively comfortable to press and your fingers rest nicely into their contours but I still felt like I was making a bit of a claw to press them. A reset button also makes an appearance here, allowing you to reset the device should anything strange happen.
The top of the device features a spring-loaded telescopic device holder that’s capable of extending far further than expected. I decided to test out just how much the phone holder could take and there was no issue with the Samsung Galaxy S4. I had plenty of room to spare – perfect for those with phablets. Rubber grips hold the device into place and I didn’t have any concerns that the phone would fly out during a particularly vigorous gaming session.
The device has two lights on the front of the device. The search light will blink orange when connecting via Bluetooth and turn solid when paired. A charging indicator below illuminates when charging the internal battery via the bottom micro USB port.
Whilst its not the smallest controllers, it’s probably about 2/3rds of the size of your standard Xbox 360 controller and roughly the size of the Moga Hero Power. I’d definitely still consider the whole thing portable however, and it would make an ideal partner for gaming on the go.
The whole thing feels very solid and not cheap at all. The device has a comfortable grip, using a rubbery plastic which ensures no slippage if you get sweaty hands.
An inbuilt 380mAh battery simplifies the whole device, offering roughly 20 hours of playtime or 100 hours of standby.
The first thing I did after unboxing the device was plug it in to charge the inbuilt 380mAh battery using the provided USB cable. After about two hours, the charge light went out to signify charging was complete and I was ready to go.
The iPega PG-9025 supports a number of modes, which grants it compatibility with such a large number of devices. Holding a face button and holding down the Home button will switch modes and begin the syncing process: X for Android gamepad, A for Keyboard, B for iCade (iOS) and Y for a touch mode which uses a separate APK driver.
Connecting the device to Android was painless, using a Galaxy S4 as a guinea pig. Holding down X and Home, the device appeared as an “ipega media gamepad controller” in the Bluetooth menu. Clicking on it caused the two devices to pair and we were ready to go.
I opened up Beach Buggy Racing and the iPega PG-9025 was recognized as a connected gamepad automatically. Racing was great, with the controller feeling responsive and lag-free. Moving across to Mupen64+AE, I had no issue mapping all the keys and analog sticks.
Testing the media controls, I jumped into our old friend Kodi to see how if it worked. Thankfully, it did, with the volume play/pause and skip buttons working perfectly!
Some people mentioned that they had issues with the on-screen keyboard not appearing with the gamepad connected but I had no issues.
Connecting to an iOS device was painless. Using an iPhone 6, holding B+Home caused the “ipega media gamepad controller” to appear in the list of Bluetooth devices. A touch and the controller was synced.
iOS compatibility needs a little explanation. Prior to Apple’s official controller support in iOS7, the iCade standard was developed and the iPega PG-9025 supports it but not Apple’s official API. Luckily, there are plenty of excellent games out there that support iCade so you should have no issue using this controller. Just check that your game is iCade compatible first. I tested out No Gravity and had no issues blasting enemy ships out of the skies and many more popular titles are supported.
I paired the controller with a PiPO W2F Windows 8.1 tablet without any issue. For games where you can remap the keys, the controller worked perfectly. Those that didn’t (Asphalt 8, I’m looking at you!) weren’t really playable as the controller keys were different from those expected by the game.
But how does it feel?
So everyone’s probably wondering “how does it feel to use?”. Thankfully, I can say pretty darn great. There’s a healthy amount of resistance in the analog sticks ensuring that movements are nice and precise. Releasing them causes them to promptly snap back into position. The face and shoulder buttons feel nice to press and respond well.
I never had any concerns about lag and it was great being able to connect my phone wireless and have a portable gaming console or connect it up to my Android PC and play games from the comfort of my couch. Bluetooth means there are no wireless dongles to lose or take up those precious USB ports either.
However, all is not perfect. I did find the d-pad a little stiff at times, meaning that a little extra pressure was required than I’m used to. It’s also only 4-way, making some of those Street Fighter special moves a little tricky at times due the lack of “true” diagonals.
The face buttons do have a tendency to be a bit louder than its console brethren too, with a slight “click” when pressed. Lastly, the odd placement of the L2 and R2 buttons make them slightly difficult to press and I could see situations that required them to be held down for long times could get uncomfortable after a while.
My iPega PG-9025 was provided by Tmart and you can purchase one from them here.
iPega PG-9025 Additional Photos
Uniqueness is not something you often see in many of these android players. Having been using these boxes for so long, when you see something different, it piques your interest. The Zidoo x9 does this on a few fronts. It’s the first. Device I’ve used that runs on an M star processor, it has dual wifi antennas, an LED panel and HDMI In. But do these unique features make it amazing?
The Rippl-TV has an Amlogic S802 chipset and tries to stand out by offering a customized launcher called UtilOS. How well does this unique looking box stand up against the competition?
Rippl-TV Technical Specs
- Operating System: Android 4.4
- Chipset: Amlogic S802
- CPU: Quad core ARM Cortex-A9, 2.0GHz
- GPU: Octa core ARM Mali-450 GPU
- Memory: 2GB DDR3
- Internal Storage: 8GB + SD card slot (up to 32GB)
- Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n Dual Band Wifi, 10/100 Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0
- Audio/Video Output: HDMI 1.4, SP-DIF
- Interfaces: 2 x USB 2.0
- Power Supply: DC 5V/2A
- Other: Google Play Store installed, IR Remote
What’s in the box?
The Rippl-TV comes inside a nice solid box with some branding and the slogan “A drop of perfection brings out the best in media…”. Inside the box, you get:
- 1 x Rippl-TV Box
- 1 x HDMI cable
- 1 x 5V 2A Power supply
- 1 x IR Remote control
- 1 x English User Manual
Unboxing the Rippl TV, I was struck by the unique design. Clearly the Rippl TV takes is namesake very seriously, with a striking water drop effect on the top of the box. Continuing this theme, a droplet shaped power light is on the front of the box, glowing blue when the power is on. I really like the design as it helps it stand out from the dozens of generic square devices many companies produce.
The right side of the device has a full sized SD card slot. This is unusual as most of these boxes tend to use microSD cards, but not unwelcomed as I personally tend to have a lot more spare SD cards for some reason.
The bulk of the Ports are on the rear of the device. Moving from the left to the right, we have 2 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, Composite Video out, optical audio and DC power. Below the ports is some additional venting.
The included remote is nice and compact but rather basic – perfect for navigating the device but not much else. it has all the key Android buttons such as Home, Menu and Back in addition to a full number pad. A “manual” mouse mode using the directional buttons is also included which is handy but only useful in the rarest of occasions due to the slow speed and inaccuracy associated with operating a mouse in this fashion.
Rippl-TV Initial Impressions
After plugging in the box, it automatically booted. During the booting sequence, a horror movie-esqe soundbite plays and then the device boots into a set up wizard. The wizard which guides you through the basic set-up process which is a really nice touch and aids in making a user friendly media player. Subsequent boots took about 36 seconds to reach a usable state.
Rippl-TV User Interface and Included Apps
After completing the setup wizard, you need to select a launcher. Two launchers are included – the Mediabox launcher, as seen on the MK808B Plus or UtilOS.
I’ve covered the media box launcher in my MK808B Plus Review so I’m not going to go into any great detail. Suffice to say, it is a nice launcher that is much better suited for TV use than the stock Android one.
UtilOS however, is unique to the Rippl-TV. Heavily based on XBMC/Kodi, it is essentially Kodi with core specific menus such as the app drawer integrated. Whether or not you are familiar with Kodi, it’s super easy to navigate and very intuitive. UtilOS has a whole bunch of Kodi repositories pre-installed, giving you access to a large number of streaming services and other features out of the box. By preinstalling these, it removes one of the more complex parts of the Kodi experience for those who are less tech savvy.
That’s not to say everything is great however. Both the setup wizard and settings screens both fall back to the Mediabox UI. Whilst not a major issue, transitioning from Kodi-styled menus using a dark color scheme to the rainbow buttons and different navigation approach of Mediabox is jarring. A bit more polish here would be appreciated.
A large number of apps are preinstalled which is great. TeamViewer QuickSupport, YouTube, Netflix, OnLive, Facebook, Twitter and Skype all make an appearance.
A great inclusion is the Gamesome Frontend, which acts as an emulator launcher and helps organise all your ROMs for you. Another great addition for those who favor simplicity over customisation.
Navigating through UtilOS was a really nice experience. Having used Kodi for a number of years, everything was familiar. I didn’t notice any lagging at all whilst navigating the menus.
The included IR remote is sufficient for getting around UtilOS and for the average user, it will probably be good enough. All the media buttons worked as expected in both the included 4K Media Player and UtilOS. The mouse function was basic and slow. I was still able to use it to take screenshots and such but, being controlled by the directional controls, it’s a bit painful. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good air mouse such as the Mele F10 Deluxe or Rikomagic MK705.
The box supports standby via the power button on the remote. Pressing it again will bring the box back to life almost instantly.
I can also confirm that the box comes pre-rooted, which is nice.
Rippl-TV Media Playback
Antutu Video Tester 2.2
To test media playback, I started with Antutu Video Tester 2.2. This application runs through a number of video files with different codecs and outputs the results. The final test score was 656.
As expected, the device couldn’t handle HEVC files as the chipset doesn’t support them in hardware. WMV2 also resulted in no video at all.
App-Based Video Playback
A number of test videos were run through both UtilOS and the included 4K Movie Player to test video playback in a more realistic use scenario.
|1080p 3D SBS H.264|
|1080p 3D ABL H.264|
|1080p High Bitrate H.264|
Watchable/many skipped frames
Watchable/many skipped frames
Watchable/many skipped frames
Decoding issues/many skipped frames
Watchable/many skipped frames
I wasn’t able to get Miracast working at all with my Galaxy S4. Both the phone and the Rippl-TV said they were connecting but it eventually timed out. Miracast tends to be fussy on some devices, particularly the Galaxy S4, so you may have better luck with other phone/tablet models.
I tested DLNA via the included Rippl-TV Media Center app. I didn’t have any issues streaming media from my server.
I was able to connect a USB thumbdrive and play media files off them without any issue.
Rippl-TV Gaming Performance
To test gaming performance, I installed 2 games – 1 2D and 1 3D title:
Gaming on the Rippl-TV was pretty good, with the Amlogic S802’s octacore GPU performing nicely. Angry Birds ran perfectly and I noticed no dips in the framerate. Setting Beach Buggy Racing to the maximum settings, the game ran well. The only real time I noticed the framerate suffer was during the water splash effect or when there were lots of explosions on screen.
Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth
I connected up my iPega 9025 via Bluetooth and played a few races in Beach Buggy Racing. Controls were responsive and there was no perceivable lag.
Rippl-TV Networking Performance
Based on feedback from previous reviews, I have switched my network tests to a straight TCP transfer using the WiFi Speed Test app which should remove/limit protocol overhead affected the results.
Rippl-TV WiFi Performance
A 100Mb file is transferred between the device and a PC running the benchmarking server application. This is repeated 3 times for each direction and the average is taken. The results are presented below. Download and Upload speeds were 17.18 Mbps and 18.34 Mbps respectively.
Testing video playback from a Samba share, I was able to stream a 1080p video without any issue.
Rippl-TV Ethernet Performance
A 100Mb file is transferred between the device and a PC running the benchmarking server application. This is repeated 3 times for each direction and the average is taken. Download and Upload speeds were 95.15 Mbps and 81.59 Mbps respectively.
Antutu returned a score of 31109, which is roughly what other devices in the same family receive.
A1 SD Bench
I benchmarked the Internal Storage and RAM using A1 SD Bench. The internal memory attained a Read of 24.91 MB/s and a Write speed of 8.22 MB/s. Whilst the read speed is fine, the write speed is a little bit slower than other devices I have rested. RAM copy speed was 1058.22 MB/s.
Custom ROM Support
I haven’t been able to find custom ROMs for the Rippl-TV at this stage.
Temperatures were ok during testing. Using an IR thermometer after Antutu and my gaming tests, the temperatures were 40.2°C and 34.4°C on the top and bottom respectively. Ambient room temperature was 21.5°C.
Power consumption was good:
|0 W||0 W||2.8 W|
HDMI CEC worked without issue on my Samsung TV.
Rippl-TV Additional Photos
So it’s begun. Intel’s introduction of low cost chips combined with Microsoft’s improved licencing with their Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU has seen a number of small Windows sticks and boxes starting to appear. Whilst the first seemed to be the Meegopad T01, the PiPO X7 has arrived. Packing a quad core Intel processor and running Windows 8.1 with Bing, how does this box stack up?
Following the MeegoPad T01, the PiPO X7 is an quadcore mini PC using a more traditional “box” form factor. Leveraging Intel’s Bay Trail processor, this all-metal box runs Windows 8.1 with Bing and should have more than enough grunt to handle XBMC. Will this replace the traditional HTPC?
PiPO X7 Technical Specifications
- Chipset: Intel Baytrail quad core processor with Intel HD graphics (Z3736F)
- RAM: 2 GB DDR3
- Storage: 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot up to 32GB
- Video & Audio Output: HDMI 1.4, 3.5mm Audio
- Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (Realtek RTL8723BS), Bluetooth 4.0, 10/100 Ethernet
- USB: 4x USB 2.0 port
- Other Features: Power button, 1 Year Office 365 Subscription
- OS: Windows 8.1 with Bing (32-bit)
What’s in the box?
Whilst unboxing th3 PiPO x7, I have to say that there isn’t much in the way of inclusions. Inside the box, you get:
- 1 x PiPO X7 Box
- 1 x Warranty Card
- 1 x 12v 2.4A Power Supply
I’m accustomed to getting HDMI cables as a minimum but no such luck here. But strangely, I’m not that disappointed. I’m more impressed that I’m staring at a Windows PC that costs less than $100.
PiPO X7 Unboxing
PiPO X7 Design
Opening the box, I was struck at the size of the device. Whilst not large by any means, my familiarity with Android boxes and the Meegopad T01 set my expectations for something tiny. That’s not to say it’s big by any means – I’d say that roughly the size of a 7 inch tablet. The device feels solid and its all-metal case gives it the weight and feel like a premium product. The metal case pulls double duty, also acting as a giant heatsink to cool the quadcore Intel processor within.
The front panel of the device is relatively minimalist. A small, silver power button, red power light, two USB ports and a headphone jack make an appearance. It’s nice to see a headphone jack on the device, making it feel like a complete PC, rather than just a media player.
Moving around to the back of the box, we have the bulk of the ports. A large wifi antenna is connected on the rear of the device. Unfortunately, its not removable like on the PROBOX2 EX but it’s not a big issue. The other ports, from left to right, are 2 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, 10/100 Ethernet and DC Power.
Both sides of the case feature grilled vents arranged in an appealing pattern.
The PiPO X7 comes in both black and silver. I’ve got the black version and I have to say, it’s a nice looking unit. A sleek, black box, the PiPO X7 looks incredibly minimalist and just blends in with your home theatre equipment. One thing I’m massively relieved about is that the antenna on the black model is black too, unlike the white that was shown in the product photos. Phew!
PiPO X7 Initial Impressions
After plugging in the box, you need to hold down the power button for a second to begin booting, with the red power light turning on. My TV was recognized as 1080p and the resolution was automatically set correctly.
I had to follow the standard setup process for a Windows 8.1 install – selecting country, naming the PC, setting the timezone, etc. After that, Windows set up the PC which took about 5 minutes. After this, the device rebooted. From this point on, booting was insanely fast – it only takes approximately 12 seconds to get to a usable state! There has been a lot of confusion about Windows licensing on these boxes but I can confirm that my box came with Windows 8.1 with Bing and was activated.
In terms of storage, according to My Computer, the C drive had 19.4 Gb out of 23.5 Gb free after the intial setup. Running Windows Update will reduce the amount of storage available slightly.
Connecting a keyboard and mouse, the PiPO X7 is effectively a standard PC, which is amazing for such a small and economical device.
PiPO X7 User Interface and Included Apps
So normally I’d talk about Android launchers and the customization (or lack thereof) here but this is your garden-variety Windows 8.1. No bloatware is included which is fantastic. If you want a detailed overview of Windows 8.1, TechRadar put together this excellent review.
Navigating Windows 8.1 was fluid. I didn’t experience any slowdown when testing the included apps. Web browsing was fast and scrolling was relatively smooth. I also had no issues playing embedded YouTube videos. I’ve included a video of my initial walk-through below:
PiPO X7 Media Playback
To test media playback, I installed the latest version of Kodi and played a number of test videos.
|1080p 3D SBS H.264|
|1080p 3D ABL H.264|
|1080p High Bitrate H.264|
Many Skipped Frames
Many Skipped Frames
Unwatchable/ Many Skipped Frames
Many Skipped Frames
Many Skipped Frames
I’ve put together a video showing how well Kodi performs on the PiPO X7:
I was able to connect both a USB thumbdrive and a 2.5″ Portable HDD and play media files off them without any issue.
PiPO X7 Gaming Performance
To test out gaming performance, I installed the Painkiller Overdose demo from 2007. Quite the blast from the past.
I have to say that gaming performance was pretty average, as I expected for this particular. I was able to get playable framerates at 1024×768 resolution with everything turned down to low.
PiPO X7 Networking Performance
PiPO X7 WiFi Performance
To test out WiFi performance, I used iperf (iperf –t 60 -c SERVER_IP -r) to test networking bandwidth. Speeds were relatively good, achieving download and upload speeds of 27.4 Mbps and 33.3 Mbps respectively.
With regards to actual usage, web browsing and watching YouTube videos over WiFi has felt fast.
PiPO X7 Ethernet Performance
Ethernet bandwidth was tested using the same procedure as WiFi, with the device connected to a Gigabit Ethernet port. As expected, Ethernet speeds were good. Download and upload speeds were 90.8 Mbps and 89.1 Mbps respectively.
PiPO X7 Benchmarks
The internal storage was benchmarked using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3:
During benchmarking, the device barely felt warm to the touch, suggesting that the case was effectively dispersing the heat. Using an IR thermometer, I measured the temperatures on the top and bottom of the case to be 31.8°C and 34.1°C respectively. Ambient room temperature was 24.6°C.
Power consumption so far appears quite low. During benchmarking, I had a peak power usage of 11W which isn’t much at all. I will update this with more detailed figures as testing continues. When the device is powered off, the adapter still draws 0.5W.
PiPO X7 Additional Photos
The Probox2 EX is an Android media player powered by the Amlogic S802-H chipset. Packing a quad core CPU, octacore Mali-450 GPU and running Android 4.4 KitKat, how does this android media player stack up?
Trying to find the ideal XBMC/Kodi box is a tough preposition. With so many Android boxes out there, which one should you choose? VidOn have come to the table with the VidOn box, a gorgeous aluminium box packing a quadcore Allwinner A31S chipset.