Linux

Vorke V2 Mini PC Appears (Plus a Presale Offer)

There hasn’t been much happening in the world of Windows/x86 Mini PCs lately, with most of the new releases focusing on Android. However, GeekBuying have recently listed the new Vorke V2 mini PC which looks interesting.

The Vorke V2 is the reasonably named followup to the Vorke V1 (which left me with some very positive impressions). Powered by Ubuntu out of the box (but also supporting Windows though you’ll need to bring your own licence), it’s a compact PC with everything you need to get started.

Thanks to its small form factor (and an included VESA bracket), you’ll even be able to mount it behind your compatible monitor for a minimalist setup.

vorke-v2-mini-pc-n02

In terms of specifications, the Vorke V2 comes in several variants powered by Intel’s Skylake architecture. You can choose between either the Intel Core i5-6300U or the more powerful Core i7-6500U, both of which include Intel HD 520 graphics for improved gaming performance.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want 128GB or 256GB of SSD storage.

The rest of the specs are equally solid, featuring 8GB of DDR3 RAM, support for 2.5″ SATA hard drives for additional storage, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type C port, Gigabit Ethernet, and Wireless AC. There’s no mention of Bluetooth connectivity however.

That USB Type C port is important, as you’ll be able to use the Vorke V2 in dual monitor setups by purchasing a USB-C adapter, in addition to the various other features USB Type C enables.

Inside the box, you’ll get the Vorke V2 Windows Mini PC, HDMI cable, power adapter, VESA bracket and a user manual.

Where to Buy the Vorke V2

The Vorke V2 is currently on presale over at GeekBuying starting at $349.99.

Use the below coupons to get the special presale prices:

  • Core i5-6200U with 128 GB SSD – $349.99 using coupon VORKEV220
  • Core i5-6200U with 256 GB SSD – $399.99 using coupon VORKEV230
  • Core i7-6500U with 128 GB SSD – $399.99 using coupon VORKEV230
  • Core i7-6500U with 256 GB SSD – $449.99 using coupon VORKEV220

HYSTOU FMP04B PC Features Intel Core i3-i7, Dual HDMI and Dual Ethernet

An interesting range of devices have appeared on GearBest showing off some pretty unique specifications.

The HYSTOU FMP04B is an range of PCs powered by a variety of Intel’s higher-specc’d chips, ranging from the Intel Core-i3-4010U right up to the Core-i7-4510U meaning the device’s should be capable of some fairly impressive performance.

However, the choice of these processors is not the only unique aspect, as the HYSTOU FMP04B also boasts between 4-8GB of RAM, 64-128GB of storage, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports, dual HDMI output, dual Ethernet, dual Wifi antennas, mSATA and SATA ports and interestingly, 4 COM ports.

Clearly targeting the industrial market with all the COM ports and it’s very industrial aluminium design, most users won’t ever touch the COM ports but there is some serious grunt if you’re wanting to move beyond Intel’s Cherry Trail SoC.

The listing does mention Windows 10, however, it’s not clear if there’s a licence included in the unit’s price.

Inside the box, you’ll get the HYSTOU FMP04B unit, 2 WiFi Antennas, a power adapter, a power cord, screw bag, CD, and an English User Manual.

Getting One

The HYSTOU FMP04B range is available from GearBest and GeekBuying starting at $210 at the time of writing as part of a Flash sale the retailer is running.

HYSTOU FMP04B Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Core i3-4010U/i5-4200U/i7-4510U
  • CPU CPU
    Up to 3.1GHz
  • GPU
    Intel HD 4400
  • Operating System
    Windows 10
  • RAM
    4-8GB DDR3
  • Storage
    64-128GB
    mSATA
    SATA
  • Other Features
    6x COM Ports
    Aluminium Case
    Wall Mounts
  • Power
    DC 12V/3A

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    Wi-Fi
  • Ethernet
    Dual Gigabit

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    2x HDMI
  • Audio Output
    2x HDMI
    3.5mm
  • Other Interfaces
    4x USB 2.0 port
    4x USB 3.0 port
    Mic Input

Physical

  • Dimensions
    234 x 175 x 50mm
  • Weight
    1.5kg

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Impressions

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus is an Android TV box powered by the Amlogic S812 and featuring 2GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage, wireless AC, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 and even a 2.5″ HDD slot.

However, the company adds a number of features on top of the hardware, including a number of pre-installed apps, Apple Airplay support, the DroidBOX Share streaming and support for OpenELEC that turns the unit into a pure Kodi appliance.

I want to say thanks to DroidBOX for sending me a sample to review

Check It Out at DroidBOX

What’s In The Box?

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you get:

  • DroidBOX T8-S Plus Unit
  • IR Remote
  • UK Power Adapter
  • HDMI Cable
  • Instruction Manual
  • Mounting Screws for the HDD tray

The company also sent me their VIP Airmouse Remote for improved control and DroidBOX Play gamepad for the gamers which I’ll be reviewing separately.

DroidBOX T8-S Plus Impressions

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus is a solid-feeling unit made entirely of metal. The design is very similar to that of the Zidoo X9 or HiMedia Q10. It’s an nice black metal box, with chamfered silver edges that looks elegant.

The front of the unit houses an IR reciever, LED display and power button.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Front

Ports are located on the right and rear of the unit. The right side houses a fullsize SD card slot, 3 USB 2.0 ports and a reset button.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Right

The rear of the unit has the WiFi antenna, DC In, Ethernet, HDMI, Composite ports and optical audio.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Back

Flipping the unit over exposes the 2.5″ hard drive tray. After unscrewing the two screws, the tray slides or, exposing the unit’s internals. The actual hard done is held in place with 4 additional screws.

Now, I had an issue with the unit not booting into Android after rebooting from OpenELEC. However, after wiping the SDD with my Windows PC and formatting it in OpenELEC, everything seems OK now. I checked around the web to see if anyone else had the same issue and didn’t find much so it’s seems to be rare. DroidBOX support were helpful getting the issue resolved though.

Booting up the unit is done via the power button, with a cold boot taking around a minute. Standby isn’t supported so you’ll need to keep the unit on powered on all the time if you want it to always be available.

The DroidBOX T8-S Plus comes with a TV friendly launcher that reminds me of the one that ships with Probox’s devices. It uses square tiles that act solely as app shortcuts – no folders here.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-01

Harddrives installed in the 2.5″ bay can actually be used as internal storage, allowing you to install apps on it in addition to other multimedia. It’s an awesome feature and great for those who need lots of storage space for apps. It’s great to see over 100GB of free space on an Android device.

There’s a heap of pre-installed apps including FilmON Live TV, Skype, IPVanish and MX Player. Droidbox have also packaged their own apps including Control (for getting help and fixing issues), Market (DroidBOX’s app store), DroidBOX Play Market (a dedicated store for games), DroixBOX Share for streaming media, DroidBOX Switch for switching to OpenELEC and their customised version of Kodi called DroidBOX Media Center.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-02

DroidBOX Media Center is based on Kodi 16.0, with a few company-specific tweaks such as inclusion of the DroidBOX Repository, and a rather unattractive wallpaper.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Kodi-02

A quick multimedia test in DroidBOX Media Center was promising. 1080p24 H.264 and H.265 content played back fine. Automatic framerate switching also works after being enabled in Settings which is great, as few Android boxes actually support it.

Wireless streaming was also good, streaming my 4K H.264 samples from my NFS share without any noticeable buffering.

The Amlogic S812 has some decent gaming chops so I expected games to play pretty well. Riptide GP2 played well even on max settings, though the framerate dipped with lots of water movement or general action onscreen.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Riptide-GP2

OTA updates are supported, with the company regularly releasing firmware updates that fix bugs and add features.

DroidBOX-T8-S-Plus-Review-Android-OTA

OpenELEC is also pre-installed. A quick click on the DroidBOX Switch app automatically boots the box into OpenELEC. If you’ve used OpenELEC before you know what to expect: An appliance-like experience based around Kodi. I didn’t notice any obvious issues when I quickly played with it but will examine it in more detail when I do my full review.

Verdict So Far

So far, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen with the DroidBOX T8-S Plus. Performance was good in my belief testing and DroidBOX’s customisations add real value.

Keep posted for my full review in the coming days.

Getting one

You can purchase the DroidBOX from the company directly or via Amazon.

GeekBox Review: A Hacker’s Dream?

The GeekBox is GeekBuying’s first foray into the mini PC market. Powered by the octacore Rockchip RK3368 SoC, it’s capable of running Android and Linux out of the box. However, it’s more than your standard TV box, with a variety of additional interfaces and purchasable extras that allow you to use the GeekBox as a development platform. Open the case, remove the board and plug it into the $30 GeekBox landing strip.

I want to say thanks to GeekBuying for providing me a GeekBox to review.

Check Price

GeekBox Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Rockchip RK3368
  • CPU CPU
    Octacore Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz
  • GPU
    PowerVR G6110
  • Operating System
    Android Lollipop 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB eMMC 5.0
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
    Power button
  • Power
    DC 5V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Other Interfaces
    2 x USB 2.0
    1x micro USB
    MXM3 Connector (Internal)

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    802.11ac 2 x 2 MIMO Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.0GHz)
  • Ethernet
    1000Mbps
  • Bluetooth
    4.1

Physical

  • Dimensions
    90 x 69 x 21 mm
  • Weight
    500g

What’s in the Box?

GeekBox-Review-Inside-The-Box

GeekBuying have provided the typical inclusions that are included with most Android TV boxes:

  • 1x GeekBox unit
  • 1x IR Remote
  • 1x USB power cable
  • 1x USB Power Adapter
  • 1x HDMI cable
  • 1x Instruction Manual

For those of you who are wanting to take the GeekBox beyond a TV box, there’s a whole heap of additional accessories that can be purchased separately including a RTC battery, fan and the $30 landing strip.

GeekBox Review: Design

The box that the Geekbox is packaged in was pretty typically size for most Android boxes. So I was pretty surprised just how tiny the GeekBox is when I unboxed it. At just 90x69x21mm, it’s small enough to fit into the palm of your hand and far smaller than any other RK3368 device I’ve tested to date.

The Geekbox looks incredible and is probably the most distinct box I’ve seen since the Zidoo X1. It’s definitely military inspired (although marketing material claims its inspired by SUVs), with faceted surfaces, triangle vents and small details that really make it look unique. The whole case is made of a black translucent plastic that’s glossy but thankfully, the details help mask any fingerprints.

GeekBox-Review-03
All the ports are located on the rear of the GeekBox. From left to right, you have a wifi antenna, DC In, micro USB OTG, HDMI In, micro SD card slot, Ethernet, 2 fullsize USB 2.0 ports and a second Wifi antenna.

GeekBox-Review-Back

The right side houses dedicated reset and update buttons. However, these are just plastic tabs that press the buttons directly on the board. A small power button is also located on the top of the unit.

GeekBox-Review-Right

Part of the draw of the GeekBox is it’s ability to be used as a development platform by interfacing directly with the motherboard.

GeekBox-Review-Inside-02

By removing the two wifi antennas, you can access the innards, including the MXM-III interface and expansion ports for additional components offered by GeekBuying such as a cooling fan.

GeekBox-Review-Inside-01

The included remote is almost identical to the one included on the Ugoos UT3S. There’s the basic Android functionality and navigation controls. Interestingly, there’s a button with the Android app switcher icon but pressing it triggered a mouse mode which was odd.

GeekBox-Review-Remote

GeekBox Review: Using It

The GeekBox powers up via the power button on the top of the unit. With a keyboard and mouse connected, a cold boot into Android takes around 24 seconds.I found that my keyboard and mouse wasn’t detected unless it was plugged in before boot, so make sure you keep it plugged in. I’ve reached out to GeekBuying to see if it’s a bug or just an incompatibility. Waking from standby is instant.

Whilst waking the unit from standby using the remote worked fine, the unit can’t be turned off using the remote if fully powered off which is frustrating.

The GeekBox’s Android 5.1 ROM is essentially stock, aside from the cute GeekBuying branded wallpaper. The internal storage is split into two partitions of 1.91GB and 8.18GB respectively.

The RK3368 processor handles Android really well, without any noticeable lag or slowdown during my review process.

GeekBox-Review-Android-01

There’s a few pre-installed apps such as the Aptoide app store, Netflix, ES File Explorer and Kodi 15.2. It’s also rooted out of the box for those that need it.

GeekBox-Review-Android-02

HDMI CEC worked fine with my Samsung TV after activating it in settings.

A big draw of the GeekBox is the fact that it runs Linux. After holding down the power button for a few seconds, you’re able to select a “Reboot to Linux” option that will boot you into the pre-installed Linux distribution Lubuntu.

GeekBox-Review-Android-03

There’s a few basic apps included such as Chromium for web browsing and an app to boot back into Android. However, with a lack of GPU support, web browsing and playing back media is painful. Trying to watch YouTube was agony, with laggy images and out-of-sync audio everywhere. That said, the actual OS felt snappy so it doesn’t seem to be an issue with the SoC but simply the lack of GPU support that’s holding back this element. If you’re looking for a Linux box, I’d suggest you look elsewhere at this stage.

GeekBox-Review-Linux

GeekBox Review: Media Playback

GeekBox-Review-Kodi-01

Given the lack of GPU support in Linux, media playback was tested under Android using the pre-installed Kodi 15.2.

Video CodecVideo Performance (Kodi 15.2)
1080p 3D SBS H.264OK
1080p 3D ABL H.264OK
1080p24 H.264OK
1080p High Bitrate H.264OK
1080p60 H.264OK
720p50 H.264OK
1080i25 H.264OK
4K 30FPS H.264Watchable (Smoothness Issues)
4K 60FPS H.264Unwatchable (Video lags behind Audio)
1080p24 HEVCOK
1080p VP8OK
720p Hi10pOK
1080p Hi10pUnwatchable (Decoding Issues)
1080p MPEG2OK
1080p VC1OK
Unencrypted Bluray ISO (Sintel)OK

Media playback was generally good on the GeekBox. Unfortunately, the RK3368 still struggles with 4K video, with my 30fps sample showing minor stuttering during playback. Most common codecs played back fine however.

Automatic framerate switching doesn’t work when enabled in Kodi which is disappointing.

Deinterlacing performance was good, without any major artifacts.

5.1 passthrough via HDMI worked fine, although I did notice there was a delay of a few seconds before the audio started playing.

Netflix

I was able to start watching Netflix at 480p, however, the video stream would freeze after a few seconds whilst the audio continued to play in the background. I’m assuming this is just a bug and can be fixed in a firmware update. However, this will be a big issue for some users.

External Storage Support

I was able to connect up both my 2.5″ USB-powered HDD and USB thumbdrive and watch videos from them without any issues.

GeekBox Review: Gaming Performance

To test gaming performance, I installed 2 games,1 2D and 1 3D titles:

Gaming performance on the GeekBox was pretty pleasant. The PowerVR G6110 was able to handle both Jetpack Joyride and Beach Buggy Racing at 1080p on maximum well. Beach Buggy Racing generally sat around 30fps, dipping below during high action situations. More demanding titles such as Riptide GP2 struggled at maximum but lowering graphical fidelity improved the situation.

GeekBox-Review-BBR

Gaming Controllers and Bluetooth

I was able to pair my iPega PG-9025 and use it to play Beach Buggy Racing without any issues.

SixAxis Compatibility Checker reports that the GeekBox should be compatible.

GeekBox Review: Networking

Networking performance was tested using Wifi performance was tested using Wifi Speed Test, conducting 3 tests and averaging the results. My router is approximately 5m away, with a single wall between the router and the device. WiFi performance is heavily impacted by a number of factors so your performance may vary.

Wireless Performance

Wireless performance was generally excellent. On the 2.4GHz bands, average upload and download speeds were 58.9Mb/s and 29.7Mb/s respectively. Moving up to the less congested 5GHz band saw a dramatic increase in speeds, uploading at 103Mb/s and downloading at 123Mb/s.

Real world performance tests were great, with no buffering experienced whilst streaming 1080p and 4K H.264 samples from an NFS share on my server.

Ethernet Performance

The GeekBox’s Gigabit ethernet connection was solid but didn’t achieve the theoretical maximum, with upload and download speeds of 622Mb/s and 221Mb/s respectively.

GeekBox-Review-04

GeekBox Review: Benchmarks

Antutu 6.033102
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited7368
3DMark Ice Storm Extreme4336
GeekBench 3 Single Core650
GeekBench 3 Multi Core2266
A1 SD Bench – Internal Storage Read45.41MB/s
A1 SD Bench – Internal Storage Write12.48MB/s
A1 SD Bench – RAM Copy2387MB/s

GeekBox Review: Power Consumption

OffStandbyIdle1080p24 VideoUnder Load
0.0W2.5W2.5W3.2W4.9W

Should You Get One?

GeekBox-Review-02

The GeekBox is certainly an interesting device. As an Android TV box, it puts in a decent effort and handled media playback well, though Netflix issues and not being able to power the unit on via the remote is frustrating for TV use. Support for Linux and other OS’s such as LightBiz plus the ability to tweak the hardware via various accessories also makes it a tinkerer’s dream. However, it does come at a price premium. If you’re looking for a dedicated Android TV box, it’s probably worth investigating some of the dedicated options. However, if you’re the kind of person who loves to experiment and tinker, the GeekBox is well-worth the price of admission.

Getting One

The GeekBox (and associated accessories) are available from GeekBuying for around $120.

Check Price

GeekBox Impressions

The GeekBox is a TV box powered by the octacore Rockchip RK3368 SoC that runs Android and Linux out of the box. It’s also online retailer GeekBuying’s first entrance into the TV box space. However, it’s not just a TV box but a Development platform too. Open up the case, plug the board in to the $30 GeekBox landing strip and tinker away to your hearts content using the various ports and sensors available.

I want to say thanks to GeekBuying for providing me a GeekBox to review.

Check Price at GeekBuying

GeekBox Technical Specifications

General

  • Processor
    Rockchip RK3368
  • CPU CPU
    Octacore Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz
  • GPU
    PowerVR G6110
  • Operating System
    Android Lollipop 5.1.1
  • RAM
    2GB DDR3
  • Storage
    16GB eMMC 5.0
  • Other Features
    IR Sensor
    Power button
  • Power
    DC 5V/2A

Interfaces

  • Video Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Output
    HDMI 2.0
  • Other Interfaces
    2 x USB 2.0
    1x micro USB
    MXM3 Connector (Internal)

Connectivity

  • WiFi
    802.11ac 2 x 2 MIMO Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5.0GHz)
  • Ethernet
    1000Mbps
  • Bluetooth
    4.1

Physical

  • Dimensions
    90 x 69 x 21 mm
  • Weight
    500g

What’s in the Box?

GeekBox-Review-Inside-The-Box

Inside the box, you get:

  • 1x GeekBox unit
  • 1x IR Remote
  • 1x USB power cable
  • 1x USB Power Adapter
  • 1x HDMI cable
  • 1x Instruction Manual

There’s also a host of additional accessories available for purchase including a fan, RTC battery and more.

GeekBox Impressions

The GeekBox’s box was pretty typical for most TV boxes that I reviewed. What surprised me was just how tiny this little device is. At just 90x69x21mm, it’s small enough to fit into the palm of your hand and far smaller than any other RK3368 device I’ve tested to date.

The GeekBox design looks incredible. GeekBuying have designed a translucent case that looks unique and helps it stand out amongst all the other mini PCs on the market. Reminiscent of military aircraft (or an SUV according to GeekBuying’s marketing material), the case features lots of detailed faceted edges and hard lines, much like Netgear’s high end routers.

GeekBox-Review-01

All the ports are located on the rear of the GeekBox. From left to right, you have a wifi antenna, DC In, micro USB OTG, HDMI In, micro SD card slot, Ethernet, 2 fullsize USB 2.0 ports and a second Wifi antenna.

GeekBox-Review-Back

The right side also houses dedicated reset and update buttons. However, these are just plastic tabs that press the buttons directly on the board. A small power button is also located on the top of the unit.

GeekBox-Review-Right

Removing the two antennas allows you to open up the case and access the innards, including the MXM-III interface and expansion ports for additional components offered by GeekBuying such as a cooling fan.

GeekBox-Review-Inside-02

Powering the unit is done via the power button. A cold boot into Android takes around 24 seconds with a USB keyboard and mouse plugged in. Make sure you plug in the keyboard/mouse before boot as I found it wasn’t detected in Android when it was plugged in afterwards. I’ve reached out to GeekBuying to see if it’s a bug or just an incompatibility.

The GeekBox runs a pretty stock version of Android 5.1. As with other RK3368 devices, the GeekBox handles Android brilliantly and I didn’t notice any slowdowns during my brief tests.

GeekBox-Review-Android-01

It comes preinstalled with a few apps such as the Aptoide app store, Netflix, ES File Explorer and Kodi 15.2. It’s also rooted out of the box for those that need it.

A quick test of video playback in Kodi was good, with both 1080p H.264 and HEVC samples playing back fine.

GeekBox-Review-Kodi-01

Wifi performance appears to be good, as I didn’t experience any buffering whilst streaming both 1080p and 4K H.264 samples from an NFS share on my server.

Gaming performance was respectable. At 1080p, Jetpack Joyride was nice and smooth. Beach Buggy Racing on maximum settings was around 30fps but did dip below when there was more action on screen. Dropping the graphical quality improved the performance immensely.

GeekBox-Review-BBR

A quick benchmarking with Antutu 6.0 scored 33102 (Note that Antutu 5.0 and 6.0 scores are not comparable due to benchmark changes) and 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme scored 4336.

GeekBox-Review-Android-03

Booting into Lubuntu 14.04 can be done via the Power off menu in Android, taking around 19 seconds to make the switch. There’s a few applications pre-installed, including an app to reboot back into Android. Again, the Rockchip RK3368 seems to handle Linux fine although it doesn’t appear that hardware acceleration is currently supported making playback and gaming hopeless under Linux.

Verdict So Far

The GeekBox is an interesting proposition. The unit handles Android well, is hackable for those looking to tinker, and incredibly compact. Linux and LightBiz OS support is also handy, as long as you’re aware of the lack of hardware decoding under Linux at the time of writing.

Keep posted for my full review in the coming days.

Getting One

The GeekBox (and associated accessories) are available from GeekBuying for around $120.

Check Price at GeekBuying

Tronsmart Ara BJ19 Barebones PC Powered by Intel Celeron J1900

Following Intel’s revolutionary NUC barebones PCs, TV box manufacturer Tronsmart have released the Tronsmart Ara BJ19 – A NUC-style small form factor PC powered by the Intel Celeron J1900 and capable of running Windows or Linux. However, you’ll need to bring along your own RAM and 2.5″ HDD to the party. However, this means you can customize the Ara BJ19 to your requirements.

Tronsmart-Ara-BJ19-02

Tronsmart Ara BJ19 Technical Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel Celeron J1900
  • CPU: Quad core processor  @ 2.0 GHz (base) / 2.41 GHz (burst)
  • GPU: Intel HD graphics
  • RAM: DDR3L 1333/1666 MHz SO-DIMM slot
  • Storage: 2.5″ SATA Slot
  • Video & Audio Output: mini HDMI, Display Port, 3.5mm Audio
  • Audio In: Microphone Port
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB: 1x USB 3.0, 3x USB 2.0 port
  • OS: BYO (Windows and Linux compatible)
  • Power Supply: 19V 2.1A
  • Dimensions: 116.6x112x51mm
  • Weight: 364 grams

Inside the box, Tronsmart provide the Ara BJ19 unit, HDD mounting bracket, power supply and an English instruction manual.

Tronsmart-Ara-BJ19-03

The specifications are well-suited for a general purpose or home theatre PC thanks to its USB 3.0, gigabit Ethernet and built-in b/g/n WiFi. Unfortunately, Tronsmart have had to include a fan to keep the device cool, but hopefully its relatively silent.

Tronsmart-Ara-BJ19-01

Getting One

The Tronsmart Ara BJ19 is available for around $130 including shipping from GeekBuyingand Aliexpress. Just remember your HDD and RAM.

MeegoPad T02 Dual OS Mini PC Appears with Intel Z3735F

MeegoPad have released the MeegoPad T02 silently into market. Powered by the Intel Z3735F chipset, the MeegoPad T02 now seems to feature a licensed version of Windows 8.1 with Bing compared to its predecessor.

MeegoPad-T02-2

MeegoPad T02 Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel Atom Z3735F
  • CPU: Intel Atom Z3735F “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Burst freq: 1.83 GHz)
  • GPU: Intel HD graphics Gen 7
  • RAM: 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage: 32 or 64 GB eMMC + micro SD slot up to 64GB
  • Video & Audio Output: HDMI 1.4, 3.5mm Audio
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB:  2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x micro USB port
  • Other Features: Power button
  • OS: Windows 8.1 with Bing & Android 4.4/Ubuntu (Marketing material is mixed)

Many people were frustrated with the MeegoPad T01, with its thermal issues and a “trial” Windows installation most likely contributing to the product’s poor reputation. It does seem that MeegoPad have learned from their mistakes.

The main changes seem to be the use of a genuine Windows licence, addition of a 3.5mm audio port, additional cooling vents and the inclusion of two full size USB ports instead of the one on its predecessor.

MeegoPad-T02-1

It also looks like MeegoPad were heavily “inspired” by the design of the Intel Compute Stick as the two now look remarkably similar.

The MeegoPad T02 is anticipated to ship towards the end of May.

Getting One

If you’re interested in getting the MeegoPad T02 for yourself, you can purchase it from GearBest and AliExpress for around $110. There is also a version without Windows for around $85.

[gearbest-meegopadt02-deal] [via ChinaVasion]

VX2 Windows Mini PC Features Celeron J1900, Gigabit Ethernet, Wireless AC

A mini PC called the VX2 has been listed by GeekBuying, powered by either the Intel Celeron J1900 or J1800 processor. Reading through the spec list is like reading through a HTPC wish list.

VX2-Celeron-Mini-PC-3

VX2 Mini PC Technical Specifications

  • Chipset: Intel Celeron J1900/J1800 quad core processor with Intel HD graphics
  • RAM: 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage: 500GB
  • Video & Audio Output: VGA, HDMI, 3.5mm Audio
  • Audio Input: Microphone In
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB: 1x USB 3.0 port, 3x USB 2.0 port
  • OS: Windows 8.1 with Bing

The VX2 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 with Bing but offers compatibility with a host of operating systems, including dual booting Windows and Android,  Fedora and Ubuntu. Given the strong Linux support implied, running OpenELEC should be a possibility.

VX2-Celeron-Mini-PC-4

The VX2’s hardware is impressive for the price too. It features USB 3.0, Wireless AC, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0, VGA output and a 500gb hard drive. It also has an IR port.

VX2-Celeron-Mini-PC-1

There are a couple of questions however. Inspecting the photos and specifications list (RTS5159 is a Realtek card reader), it seems that there is a microSD slot so I’ll be trying to confirm this as soon as possible. There’s also a few photos out there of a black version but I don’t know if this was a manufacturing sample only.

The Intel Celeron J1900 should perform far better than the Intel Z3730 family chipsets seen in devices such as the PiPO X7 and MINIX NEO Z64. This could be a great solution for those wanting to play more powerful codecs such as H.265 or Hi10p but some testing will be required.

Geekbuying have the device listed from $229 at the time of writing.  Click here for the latest price.