aka HDMI TV Sticks or PC-on-a-stick running Android and/or Linux
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

Discussion  - 
 
DisplayLink docks appear to be one of the best solutions to use Android mobile devices as mini PCs.
Also works with Mac and Windows. Ubuntu (Linux) is supported too http://www.displaylink.com/downloads/ubuntu.php, but I'm not sure the open source drivers supports all DisplayLink chips.
 
Works with Android 5.0 and greater.
Following my post featuring Zenfone 2 Deluxe Special Edition smartphone with 256GB internal storage and 4GB RAM, I had an interesting discussion about mobile and desktop convergence, and we had different views on how this may pan out and what the consumers want, but we all basically agreed this ...
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Joy Testwick's profile photo
 
From the forums, it looks like the drivers only support the older USB2 chipsets.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc's profile photoJaden Weiss's profile photo
2 comments
 
As long as it doesn't run minix
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So I tested Ubuntu in Tronsmart Ara X5... (Atom x5-Z8300 mini PC)
Ubuntu 15.04 does not support audio nor wifi module. 4K output is supported but painfully slow, and unstable.
I also tried my luck with Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS released by Linuxium but it could not boot on that platform.
After reviewing Tronsmart Ara X5 with Windows 10, I decided to give a try at Ubuntu. Initially I downloaded Ubuntu 15.04 Desktop 64-bit ISO image, and prepare a bootable USB drive with UNetbootin in my computer running Ubuntu 14.04. But after inserting the USB flash drive into Ara X5, ...
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Nigel Quinn's profile photo
 
Nuts!
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Sri Gogineni

Discussion  - 
 
Anyone have benchmarks on RK3288 vs ODROID XU4 vs RK3368 vs Amlogic S912? These all seem in the same class in terms for performance and power usage and except for the XU4, they all support 4K@60fps and hardware H.265 decoding.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc's profile photoLloyd Seaton's profile photo
2 comments
 
+Jean-Luc Aufranc
Well, it comes as no surprise that Amlogic S912 is not out yet but I'm a little disappointed that the S905 is not yet on the street.  Perhaps the goal of 2.0 GHz is proving to be a bit of a stretch for Cortex A53 on 28nm node.  Several other producers have settled for much slower clocking of A53.  Guess we will know soon.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

AMLogic  - 
 
Tested DVB-T2 version, but they also have one with ATSC tuner.
Pretty good overall, and features like EPG, PVR, Timeshifting are working, but sometimes the device gets pretty slow.
I've already tested some Android TV boxes with tuners such as HD18T (DVB-T2) and WeTek Play (DVB-S2) , but they were all based on Amlogic AML8726-MX dual core processor. Geniatech recently sent me Mygica ATV586 quad core Android DVB-T2 receiver based on Amlogic S805 processor.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

Rockchip  - 
 
Useful for Tronsmart R68, and Beelink i68 owners.
Then you won't install the wrong firmware...
Hi, R68 Users,. For the Rockchip Reference PCBA, the first batch of Orion R68 is 10/100MB Ethernet version. Now, tronsmart released 10/100/1000Mbps version of R68 and will stop 10/100Mbps version. There will be issue for our end-users, or some wholesales to distinguish the two versions.
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Carlos Miguel Pereira's profile photoRonnie Bailey's profile photo
2 comments
 
Thanks for this information, I have the first set of Tronsmart R68 boxes, so NO gigabit Ethernet.  One major problem I just discovered using the latest stock firmware, the MAC address changes on each reboot.  This causes this box to get a new IP address on my lan on every reboot or power up, this is using Ethernet.
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Intel Celeron N3050 mini PC
$170 for 2GB RAM/32GB Flash
$240 for 4GB RAM/64GB Flash
Prices on Newegg (So US only for now)
ECS LIVA was one of the first low power Intel mini PC that included both RAM and storage for less than $200 when it was first announced in March 2014. Since then there's been a tidal wave of Bay Trail mini PCs hitting the market, and now that it's time for Braswell and Cherry Trail lower system, ...
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radim100100's profile photoTom Johnson's profile photoDr. Nagy Marcell (marcedli)'s profile photosteeve coulombe's profile photo
2 comments
 
M jp pn¥
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Post updated with Passmark 8 and 3DMark results.
These show some performance boost for x5-Z8300, especially for 3D graphics, but also CPU performance.
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Francesco Sorrentino's profile photo
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I've just posted my detailed review of Tronsmart Ara X5 - a 64-bit Windows 10 Mini PC that features a quadcore Cherry Trail SoC for under $150. 

Read how in performs in our comprehensive review!

#Tronsmart #Windows #Windows10 #Intel
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Jean-Luc Aufranc's profile photoHome Theatre Life's profile photoChris Ainsley's profile photo
4 comments
 
That's interesting. I would have thought it would be fine if it can decode the content that rendering it at native resolution wouldn't have been an issue. Perhaps its something that can be fixed via a driver update.
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maybe stupid question, but how to merge internal storage and NAND Flash to one partition or swap this two partitions? I have new B368 RK3288 device and Internal Storage is 1,9GB and NAND 11,3GB. Sure, I can use FolderMount apps but it is not quite good. Thanks
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Jean-Luc Aufranc's profile photo
 
You need to tweak the firmware. I'm not sure how to do it exactly, but Bob Finless and others provided ROM with various partition sizes on freaktab.com.

I guess you want to do that because you run out of space on the 1.9GB partition, you could start by "Moving data to SD". Here are some of the techniques I used on my phone: http://www.cnx-software.com/2014/04/23/techniques-to-get-more-space-for-apps-in-android/
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The review with Windows 10 is now complete.
Overall performance is similar to Intel Atom Z3735F mini PCs, but it supports 4K output and video playback, H.265 codec, and features a USB 3.0 port.

Except in practise 4K videos played at 4K resolution are not really smooth enough to be watchable. 1080p H.265 works pretty well.
Tronsmart Ara X5 is one of the first mini PC featuring a Cherry Trail processor, more exactly Atom x5-8300 quad core processor manufactured with 14nm process. Price and max TDP are similar to Atom Z3735F Bay Trail-T processor found in many mini PCs designed in China, so it will interesting to ...
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Jean-Luc Aufranc's profile photoNigel Quinn's profile photo
3 comments
 
OK thanks I will keep the Vega so. Nothing to be gained with the ara x5.
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About this community

Discussions about low power mini PCs running Android or Linux. Please make sure you post in the relevant categories: Discussion, Allwinner, Rockchip, Amlogic, Freescale, Intel, Others... There's also a Promotions category for interesting deals. If you want to support the maintainer of this community and CNX Software blog, you can consider using the affiliate links below if you plan to make a purchase. You'll also find a Paypal donation link for Ian Morrison (Linuxium), who has made great work with Linux on ARM mini PCs.
 
Intel's Braswell NUC5CPYH NUC looks good on paper so what's it like in real life? Whilst I've successfully installed Linux with all the usual suspects working (graphics, sound, wifi and bluetooth) I thought I'd start with some performance comparisons in (cough) Windows. As I'd only got a spare 4G stick of memory and a 120GB SSD that was between machines, and more importantly because "I could", I've built the NUC with Windows 10 and run the same suite of tests that have recently been performed on the Tronsmart Ara X5. I then upgraded my Intel Compute Stick to Windows 10 and ran the same set of tests. The results are are very good.

For those interested in more details, the actual test results can be found at http://www.3dmark.com/pcm8/8367172, http://www.3dmark.com/pcm8/8355516, http://www.passmark.com/baselines/V8/display.php?id=46492062799, http://www.passmark.com/baselines/V8/display.php?id=46492541697, http://www.3dmark.com/pcm8/8366699 and http://www.3dmark.com/pcm8/8355871 with comparison data taken from http://www.cnx-software.com/2015/08/23/intel-atom-z3735f-vs-atom-x5-z8300-benchmarks-comparison/ and http://www.cnx-software.com/2015/08/24/review-of-tronsmart-ara-x5-windows-10-mini-pc-with-intel-atom-x5-processor/
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Jean-Luc Aufranc's profile photoMorgaine Fowle (de la faye)'s profile photo
 
That's the link to Passmark 8 results for Ara X5 -> http://passmark.com/baselines/V8/display.php?id=46322016907
Diskmark is a low 200 points.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

AMLogic  - 
 
For people who had incorrect video size with Kodi 15.x on Amlogic devices, a fix is in.
Kodi Media Center, a free and open source cross-platform media center software, capable of playing back almost all known video, audio and picture formats.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

Rockchip  - 
 
I've got Tronsmart Orion R68 Meta, the new batch with Gigabit Ethernet.
The board is actually slightly different from Beelink i68.
I've already reviewed one Rockchip RK3368 mini PC with Beelink i68, and found out that although HDMI 2.0 up to 2160p60 was working, there was still some work to do to have 4K 60 fps videos playing smoothly, and compared to Rockchip RK3288 device performance was – as expected – significantly ...
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Jean-Luc Aufranc's profile photoRonnie Bailey's profile photoCharlie Ebert's profile photo
3 comments
 
Thanks
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

Rockchip  - 
 
"Light Work OS" by Rockchip brings the start menu and mulitple windows support to Android 5.1.
Android is not exactly great to use as a desktop PC, so there's been various attempts to improve this for Android boxes, tablets, and laptops for example with Remix OS, bringing a more desktop-like user experience. Rockchip showcased multi-window supports in some tablets a while ago, ...
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Charlie Ebert's profile photoFrancesco Sorrentino's profile photoDaniel Citrin (LegacyHardware)'s profile photoCorbin Crutchley's profile photo
3 comments
 
There needs to be some answer to right click as back when using a mouse, because that sucks.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

AllWinner  - 
 
If you need some dirt cheap Linux board, that is it.
 
ARM Linux boards are even getting cheaper.
Don't expect much support though, nor up-to-date firmware.
Orange Pi 2 is a board powered by Allwinner H3 quad core processor that sells for $25. Shenzhen Xunlong Software has now launched a lower cost version with Orange Pi PC, still based on Allwinner H3 SoC, but getting ridiculously cheap at $15 + shipping ($3.43 in my case).
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Haluk DUMAN's profile photoRadovan Turan's profile photoYang Chen's profile photoTerry Ramshaw (tez)'s profile photo
12 comments
 
Too bad it's a allwinner chip they have zero support for all thier other products why would it change for this??
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

AMLogic  - 
 
WeTek will launch an Amlogic S812 box with support for Netflix HD.
No tuners this time, but it will also run OpenELEC, a few Android "ROMs", and Lubuntu.
It comes with a remote supporting Google Voice.
Price is rumored to be 109 Euros.
Last year, WeTek launched WeTek Play Android TV receiver with DVB-T2, DVB-S2 or ATSC tuners, and in my review of the DVB-S2 version I found out it was a rather capable device despite the low hardware specifications. The company is about to launch WeTek Core, a media player powered by Amlogic ...
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Ronnie Bailey's profile photoP-A Racine's profile photo
 
This could be very interesting, in a positive way. So many new boxes and so little $$$$$.
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Will the next round of Cherry Trail mini PCs be just too expensive as Linux boxes?

Initially I compared the Tronsmart Ara X5 with the ECS Liva X2 using the Intel Compute Stick as a baseline. The performance and functionality improvements showed that for only $20 extra the Braswell SOC coupled with the extra USB 3.0 and Gigabit LAN was much better than the Cherry Trail device.

Which led me to then compare against the Intel NUC (see the table I've created showing key highlights). Whilst the NUC is barebones, I already have spare RAM and SSD and I want Linux and not Windows, so the price now becomes relevant. And the NUC is extendable. So for a Linux box, I think we are now at the convergence point between cheap mini PCs and barebone PCs. Where the tendency for mini PCs is to increase in price for improved functionality, barebone PCs are getting cheaper and better.

My conclusion is that for Linux boxes the next round of Cherry Trail mini PCs will be too expensive and that barebone PCs are now viable.

Reference Links:
Intel Compute Stick benchmarks http://www.anandtech.com/show/9167/intel-compute-stick-review
Tronsmart Ara X5 benchmarks http://www.cnx-software.com/2015/08/24/review-of-tronsmart-ara-x5-windows-10-mini-pc-with-intel-atom-x5-processor/
http://hometheatrelife.com/tronsmart-ara-x5-review-windows-10-cherry-trail/
ECS Liva X2 benchmarks http://www.anandtech.com/show/9554/ecs-liva-x2-review-a-compact-fanless-braswell-pc
NUC NUC5CPYH benchmarks http://nucblog.net/2015/07/braswell-nuc-nuc5cpyh-review-windows-performance/
Linux benchmarks (Z3735F vs N3050) http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=intel-celeron-n3050

Pricing Links:
Intel Compute Stick http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA24G36F9195&cm_re=intel_compute_stick-_-83-800-004-_-Product
Tronsmart Ara X5 http://www.geekbuying.com/item/Tronsmart-Ara-X5-Windows-10-TV-Box-Cherry-Trail-Z8300-Quad-Core-1-8G-Gen-8-Graphics-2G-32G-2-4Ghz-5Ghz-351938.html
ECS Liva X2 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856501013
NUC NUC5CPYH http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856102140&cm_re=NUC5CPYH-_-56-102-140-_-Product
Kingston 2GB RAM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820239853&cm_re=SODIMM_2GB-_-20-239-853-_-Product
Mushkin 60GB SSD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226677
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Home Theatre Life's profile photoRaymond Day's profile photo
3 comments
 
Nice job showing all that. 1 more thing I think would be good adding to your list is the watt's of power they take.

Guess the ICS is the lowest on power use. If only it had USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet. More RAM would be nice too.

Looked up USB RAM but there all flash drives. I guess they don't make them. I wanted to set one up as swap space.
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Jean-Luc Aufranc
owner

Others  - 
 
4K @ 30 Hz, 10-bit HEVC, VP9, SATA Bay, XLR connectors...
Cost: $399 + shipping.
CloudMedia, previously known as Syabas, has been in the Linux media player business for many years, having developed various product based on Sigma Designs secure media processor. Popcorn Hour A-500 PRO is their latest media player, which the company claims have high-end audio and video quality ...
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Marc R's profile photolee morant's profile photo
2 comments
 
Had many models, buggy always disappoint. NUC is waaay better.
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Marko S

Intel  - 
 
Have a few questions, hopefully you guys can help me out.

I'm thinking about using one of this mini pc's for use with Zoneminder. Do the Intel Atom Z3735F pack enough punch for such an application? Most of them pack 2GB of RAM right?
I would use it with cca 2-3 720p IP cams and an external usb hdd for recording. Alternatively I could maybe use "iSpy" in Windows.

Is anyone of these mini pcs available with dual booting Windows and Ubuntu? Is it hard to make it to dual boot Ubuntu if I just buy a Windows one? Is there anything I should be aware regarding the cpu it uses and linux compatibility?

Thanks for the answers guys!
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dhruv pandit's profile photo
 
i am also planning same.
if a android box works then ok, otherwise i am ready to have a linux / windows box also.

please suggest someone which can be shipped to india.
thanks.
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