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LordChuckles

Can I use a TV Box as a mini computer?

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I am thinking of buying the Alfawise H96 Pro+ TV Box ($67.99 USD). It has 3GB Ram / 32GB internal storage (some used for Android etc.) It has an Amlogic S912 Octa Core CPU.

 

http://www.gearbest.com/tv-box-mini-pc/pp_503487.html

 

I started looking for a mini PC after a recent trip. From some destinations you have to stick all electronic devices in the hold. I'd prefer to leave my laptop at home in such a case. 

 

Another motivation is that these TV boxes are easily hooked up to TVs (duh!) which most people have in their homes. I have been having a lot of discussions with people I meet. It would be handy to have documents, videos, quotes, notes available and easily to hand during these discussions. I thought of making my own mini wikipedia (it is open source) for the topics I'm interested in and putting it onto this box (plus SD card). Then I just connect the box to the wifi where I am staying and I can go through the material.

 

In the past I sent the screen from a Raspberry Pi to my laptop. Is that possible from these TV boxes (running whatever) to my android tablet? That would allow me to use this device rather like my laptop when I don't have a TV/LCD to use - like on the train.

 

I have a Logitech mouse/keyboard combination. Will this be laggy on a TV box like the one I am thinking of buying?

 

Can I do what I want using Android (7.1 already installed) or is it better to install your Ubuntu? At the moment I use Fedora for most things.

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Here you can find a reasonable support for the cheap Beelink X2 https://www.armbian.com/beelinkx2/ with 1GB of RAM and 8GB. It can be used as low profile desktop PC and can be more capable than you think with Linux.

But the BeelinkX2 have a small problem related to your idea, if you choose to replace Android with Armbian in the internal memory you loose also the access to the microSD card.

Here https://raspberryparatorpes.net/hardware/beelink-x2-primeras-impresiones/ you can see some pictures and the size compared to a Raspberry Pi and an Orange Pi One. 

Maybe is interesting to use a Orange Pi PC with case and a 64GB microSD card.

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The Orange Pi 1GB Ram is very modest in comparison to the 3GB which is available in the Alfawise H96 Pro+ for $67.99. And I get 32GB internal storage with that.

 

What is going to give me the best processing bang for buck?

 

 

I can get a 4GB/32GB stogage H96 Max for $109. It has two A-17 processors and four A-53 cores.

I can get a 3GB/32GB storage H96 Pro+ for $62 (sale next few days) which has eight A-53 cores.

 

"Cortex-A17 core provides 60% higher performance than the Cortex-A9 core, while reducing the power consumption by 20% under the same workload"

The A-7 looks to be 40% more power efficient than the A-9 while having 10% less processing power

The A-53 seems to outperform the A-7. Note that the A-53 is 64 bit while the A-7 and A-17 are 32 bit. 

 

https://community.arm.com/processors/f/discussions/5967/what-are-the-main-differences-between-cortex-a7-a9-a53

 

Perhaps I am neglecting some other SBCs whose chips hammer these into the ground. I was recently surprised by a 13.5" Tablet, which used a revised Intel Atom, that had incredible performance.

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47 minutes ago, LordChuckles said:

What is going to give me the best processing bang for buck?


It depends on your specific needs. Usually, it's never just about pure calculating power.

 

A theoretical comparison is usually bad way since you (can) have bad kernel/support on those big numbers and the board can still not be used for nothing but (Android) media player ... where top stability is not needed. There is usually no schematics for media players and therefore it's much harder to fix anything. And ... there will not be many people having this player since it's costly.

 

But. It can be better than this and you might get lucky. Sometimes some player works well :) I put my luck on Alfawise Z28 Pro since it matches chip on Rock64 where we are putting our efforts to. Not that powerful but with more chances of success.

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1 hour ago, Igor said:

Alfawise Z28 Pro

mmm very interesting, maybe in the future can be the replacement to my Beelink X2

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2 hours ago, manuti said:

 

3 hours ago, Igor said:

Alfawise Z28 Pro

mmm very interesting, maybe in the future can be the replacement to my Beelink X2

 

Please note: 'The high-end version ( 2G RAM + 16G ROM ) has gigabit interfaces, with dual-band 2.4G + 5.8G WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0'

 

Gigabit Ethernet and SDIO Wi-Fi/BT are mutually exclusive with RK3328 so wireless capabilities are provided via USB here. The box design will follow closely RK's reference design so we can take a look at ROCK64 schematics (page 4, lower left corner --> 'Config 2') but of course no one knows yet whether we need there adjusted Gigabit Ethernet TX/RX delay settings...

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Just now, tkaiser said:

Gigabit Ethernet and SDIO Wi-Fi/BT are mutually exclusive with RK3328 so wireless capabilities are provided via USB here.


I am getting exactly this one (2G/16G/Gigabit/dual band) to see how it will go.

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If you plan to run the box from a well know brand class 10 microsd card, you do not do much with the 32GB emmc. It is better to leave the android there for resale in mind. Sunvell T95Z Plus is cheaper and runs well with ballbes150 armbian 3.14.29 kernel and Debian testing Xfce. Here is my image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsNzZn-luc0

I hope the mainline kernel improves fast, hdmi audio and wifi support is missing. Otherwise it is ready and boots faster and is easier to configure and maintain. Note that there no gpu accelerated graphics Linux driver for S912. 905 boxes do have.

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14 hours ago, LordChuckles said:

I can get a 4GB/32GB stogage H96 Max for $109. It has two A-17 processors and four A-53 cores.

 

14 hours ago, LordChuckles said:

Note that the A-53 is 64 bit while the A-7 and A-17 are 32 bit. 

maybe that helps you in your choice, H96 Max has two A72, not A17, and it is also 64 bit as A53, but is a "big" core. Probably the "biggest" one from arm so far, except upcoming a73.

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The Alfawise Box is below 40€ on Gearbest, thats cheaper than the Sunvelll. Mainline USB3 Gigabit and Bluetooth...

It was not yet released when i bought my z28. Rk3328 is promising and Development is fast, hope we will get real Sound on HDMI on it.

@Igor I can not find any WIP on RK3328 on Armbian, did I miss something?

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I have been using my $40 US Amlogic box running Ubuntu 16.04 for quite awhile as my Emby and Tvheadend servers, and it works very well.  Here are a couple of my videos showing my X9 (same as the Mini M8S II).  These boxes are Soooooo versatile, they run Linux, ArchLinux + kodi, LibreELEC, and of course Android (and a port of the Android TV OS).

 

https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=a7nz00WggYc

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3SWrIdoNTY&t=112s

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12 hours ago, valant said:

H96 Max has two A72, not A17, and it is also 64 bit as A53, but is a "big" core. Probably the "biggest" one from arm so far, except upcoming a73.

 

Relying on big.LITTLE designs from Android TV boxes or tablets is a great idea if you're a developer and want to understand how stuff works. As an example: Take the hour and read through this to understand why 'real world performance' will be shitty as hell while specs look great: https://discuss.96boards.org/t/odroid-xu4-cortex-a15-vs-hikey-960-a73-speed/2140 (of course no one will do since people looking at specs already actively reject reality. Specs don't matter, settings and software support situation is way more important. Good luck buying Android devices without support)

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On 22 Липень 2017 р. at 11:26 AM, tkaiser said:

 

Relying on big.LITTLE designs from Android TV boxes or tablets is a great idea if you're a developer and want to understand how stuff works. As an example: Take the hour and read through this to understand why 'real world performance' will be shitty as hell while specs look great: https://discuss.96boards.org/t/odroid-xu4-cortex-a15-vs-hikey-960-a73-speed/2140 (of course no one will do since people looking at specs already actively reject reality. Specs don't matter, settings and software support situation is way more important. Good luck buying Android devices without support)

I just wanted to point out a confusion, the OP has had. because well a72 != a17, he seemed to think that box sports a17. mentioning the fact a73 is the "biggest" core, was a note for the sake of completeness, and it is that, - theoretically, a73 is the fastest current Arm's IP core. when they polish all that android and linux on it, it will be faster than a15 practically. this is how I should write. but it's cumbersome.

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50 minutes ago, valant said:

I just wanted to point out a confusion, the OP has had

 

The OP confused A72 with A17 which isn't really important since his main mistake is buying by hardware specs. All these TV boxes with 'better specs' are made for clueless people who buy numbers like 'more cores' or 'more DRAM'. Without appropriate software support this is absolutely useless and these Android boxes with default (smelly BSP) Android kernels perform really poor when used with Linux (since on Android everything relevant happens on GPU cores or VPU and CPU is only needed to run some single-threaded peak performance tasks from time to time). That's why I was saying 'Good luck buying Android devices without support'

 

BTW: TL Lim (Pine founder) recently told 'nice' stories from China where due to continually rising DRAM prices currently for cheap TV boxes the RAM is sourced from the bin (and then downclocked and downclocked and downclocked until the box does not crash any more).

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@igor, have you received the Z28 Pro?

I've just ordered A5X MAX with 4GB RAM and thinking whether i should cancel it and rather buy this?

A5X MAX looks, from the layout of USB ports etc, totally different than Z28 Pro + it doesn't have GbE.

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Miqi might be a good alternative to a TV-box, because it's already supported by Armbian and it's performing quite well according to what I've read.

 

If you have the same question as the OP of this thread:

Can I use a TV-box as a mini computer ? (In particular I'm thinking of @immS here)

-Then it might also be worth considering purchasing a 5 year old used PC. You should be able to find a PC that has PCIe, at least 2 SATA connectors, a faster CPU and more and much faster RAM - for approximately the same price!

 

Personally, I'm still looking at TV-boxes, but I'm no longer as blinded by their fake-specs as I were in the beginning.

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16 minutes ago, purplepumkin said:

This will speed things up quite a lot, at a cost of ram of course.

 

Some generic Debian/Ubuntu distro yes, but not Armbian. We use RAM for speed up in many ways. Memory for system logs, Chromium web and profile cache, swapping is set to emergency usage only, root media garbage write commit delay ...

 

I hope one day we get webgl acceleration withing Chromium. 

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