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Old 26th June 2013, 16:15   #1
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Default Google / Android TV project

This is a project I recently completed at home. I'd been planning for quite some time to turn my existing TV (Samsung PS43E470 43" plasma) into a smart TV for web browsing, streaming video and music from the internet and from an external media store (HDD), other functions like skype, facebook etc.

Now there are lots of ways to do this. I spent some time researching the various options and finally decided on using an Android "mini-PC". This is a small device (slightly bigger than a USB dongle). The one I'm using is an MK808b. It's based on a Rockchip 3066 chipset, which has a dual core ARM (Cortex A9) processor and a quad-core Mali GPU. Basically it's like a tablet but minus the touchscreen. With this I also bought an RC11 wireless keyboard / air mouse to use as an input device.

Step 1: After identifying the various bits and pieces, I bought the MK808b and RC11 online.

Google / Android TV project-mk808_packed.jpg
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Google / Android TV project-rc11_packed.jpg  

Google / Android TV project-mk808b_box.jpg  

Google / Android TV project-rc11_unboxed.jpg  

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Old 26th June 2013, 16:26   #2
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The connections are quite straightforward:
  1. HDMI cable to HDMI input of TV
  2. USB "OTG" cable to USB port of TV (if it can source enough power - mine cannot), or to the supplied AC adapter
  3. Another USB cable from the USB A port on the device to any other hardware. (I am using a 500 GB external hard drive as a media store). IF you need to add more stuff, use a powered USB hub.
Once it's all connected up, I powered it on, only to see this discouraging screen!


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This is because it wasn't able to load the firmware properly. The solution I found was to flash a different ROM. There are a range of choices for this, I chose the latest "official" version i.e. Android JellyBean 4.2.2. With this, the device booted up perfectly as below:

Google / Android TV project-20130625_191454.jpg

Google / Android TV project-20130625_191432.jpg
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Old 26th June 2013, 16:32   #3
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The next step was to upgrade my internet connection from the Airtel 2Mbps ADSL I was using. I first tried Airtel but they were unable to upgrade it (although they do offer upto 16Mbps in some areas). I then found the Internet connection thread here on TBHP and called up ACT who were really prompt and pro-active. I signed up for a 25Mbps / 60GB fiber to the home (FTTH) connection. I paid Rs. 2000 for a WiFi router and one month's bill in advance. Monthly charges for this plan are Rs. 1400 approx. Here's a screeshot of speedtest when using my laptop. (speedtest android app isnt compatible with the MK808b so I couldnt install it there).

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Last edited by ajitkommini : 26th June 2013 at 16:41.
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Old 26th June 2013, 16:39   #4
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Finally some screenshots of JB4.2.2 running on the TV display, and some performance stats. You'll notice the AnTuTu score is pretty low. Others have reported scores upto 9000+ using different ROMs, but I think I'll stick to this one for now.

So far I've used it to watch video from the external HDD (using xbmc player), YouTube, facebook, general browsing and mail, and watching BBC programs on the BBC iPlayer. For this you will need a VPN with a UK IP address (I use Hide My A$$). Also watched TED talks using the excellent TED app for android. Video plays smoothly with NO buffering or pauses. Resolution seems more like 720p to me, although the device is capable of 1080p. On my screen it doesnt make a huge lot of difference, but if you go larger than 55" it will be noticeable.

Anyway, if anyone has done a similar setup or is interested in doing one please do get in touch!
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Google / Android TV project-screenshot_20130623164037.png  

Google / Android TV project-screenshot_20130623163651.png  

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Old 26th June 2013, 17:12   #5
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Default re: Google / Android TV project

congratulations.. for sometime i was tempted to get this particular android tv dongle but couldn't gather the courage to experiment.
now i think i can certainly get it after your reviews.
have you played any game on it yet?
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Old 26th June 2013, 18:08   #6
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Having played Real Racing 3 and the kind of games that are getting developed for android phones, would this act as a replacement for PS3/4 and xboxes sometime in future?
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Old 26th June 2013, 18:27   #7
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@ajitkommini,

Well done project. A better replacement for the current generation of STBs and the picture quality they hope to provide.
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Old 27th June 2013, 11:07   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicky View Post
congratulations.. for sometime i was tempted to get this particular android tv dongle but couldn't gather the courage to experiment.
now i think i can certainly get it after your reviews.
have you played any game on it yet?
Absolutely - it's a very easy setup. However, you need to be careful where you buy it from because there are some fakes/clones on the market. Do check out the excellent forums at VonDroid and ArmTVTech. Also get in touch if you need anything. I'd be happy to help you out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fine69 View Post
Having played Real Racing 3 and the kind of games that are getting developed for android phones, would this act as a replacement for PS3/4 and xboxes sometime in future?
I haven't tried playing a game on it yet. In terms of processing power and display quality I think it should be up to the job. The only hitch might be the controller. I doubt my RC11 would work very well. It functions properly as a mouse and keyboard but you might need to use an Xbox or Wii controller for serious gaming. The MK808b also has a bluetooth interface so if you have a bluetooth game controller that might work (not sure about the speed and responsiveness though). There's also a quad-core version of this coming out later this year I think called the MK809(?). That will definitely have more grunt and maybe better suited to gaming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashutosh View Post
@ajitkommini,

Well done project. A better replacement for the current generation of STBs and the picture quality they hope to provide.
Thank you Ashutosh. In terms of picture quality I think it's comparable to the HD channels available through the STB. The real differentiator for me is the choice of programming available through Youtube, Vudu, Crackle, BBC iPlayer and other similar apps. The main motivation for this project was the fact that we pay Rs. 500 plus for the TATA Sky connection but only end up watching 3 or 4 channels, and even those are filled with reruns and ads.
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Old 27th June 2013, 11:19   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajitkommini View Post
Thank you Ashutosh. In terms of picture quality I think it's comparable to the HD channels available through the STB. The real differentiator for me is the choice of programming available through Youtube, Vudu, Crackle, BBC iPlayer and other similar apps. The main motivation for this project was the fact that we pay Rs. 500 plus for the TATA Sky connection but only end up watching 3 or 4 channels, and even those are filled with reruns and ads.
Very true, that money is better spent on the internet. A request for you,

There is this site likned below. Its a streaming site for most popular news channels around the world.

They say they provide high quality videos and the streams are mostly wide, but i doubt if its even 720p.Whenever you can, please checkout this site on the device:

http://www.livestation.com/player/download

and post your experience with the application and the video quality.
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Old 27th June 2013, 12:25   #10
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Default re: Google / Android TV project

Very interesting ajit. The itch to get the droid TV ha always been bothering me, but seeing your project I know how I'm going to spend my Sunday.

Two things if you help on, since you mentioned "fakes/clones on the market" and I see the device wrapped in ebay bag, could you share the seller's name / link. Also does this come wifi enabled or you need to buy a separate one for your TV.
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Old 27th June 2013, 13:25   #11
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Default re: Google / Android TV project

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashutosh View Post
Very true, that money is better spent on the internet. A request for you,

There is this site likned below. Its a streaming site for most popular news channels around the world.

They say they provide high quality videos and the streams are mostly wide, but i doubt if its even 720p.Whenever you can, please checkout this site on the device:

http://www.livestation.com/player/download

and post your experience with the application and the video quality.
Ashutosh, I'll check this out once I'm home this evening and let you know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arup.misra View Post
Very interesting ajit. The itch to get the droid TV ha always been bothering me, but seeing your project I know how I'm going to spend my Sunday.

Two things if you help on, since you mentioned "fakes/clones on the market" and I see the device wrapped in ebay bag, could you share the seller's name / link. Also does this come wifi enabled or you need to buy a separate one for your TV.
The MK808b I bought online from homeshop18 - thats the one in the first picture. The seller was "Delhi Mall". I paid Rs. 4999. Free delivery by Aramex and it arrived in 2-3 days.

The RC11 remote I bought off ebay, from seller: "silicon_theitstore" (VS Rajpurohit) for Rs. 1990 + Rs. 99 for shipping. This arrived via DTDC the following day.

The MK808b came with a power supply, USB cable and an HDMI cable. If you want to connect more stuff I suggest you also buy a powered USB hub (Belkin makes good ones). There's also a SD card slot, so you might also want to pick up one of those to use as external storage (internal storage on the device is only 400MB so limits the number of apps etc).

Wifi connection is built-in, although I must warn you it's not very powerful. It was unable to catch the signal from my Airtel router which is installed in the living room. (TV and this box are in the bedroom). To solve this issue I got the ACT router placed right next to the box (you can see it near the lamp in the picture above). That said, there are people who have reported ways to boost the signal but I've not tried this myself. The MK808b connects to the TV through HDMI, so the TV does not need WiFi.
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Old 27th June 2013, 14:14   #12
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Default re: Google / Android TV project

Hi,

MK808B is very good device. I sell these myself on ebay. I would like to share some information which can help people make better choice.

There are many models with RK3066 chipset. Some of them are MK808B, UG007II, MK809II. All these are dual-core with bluetooth.

All above models have almost same spec. All of them have many many custom ROMS. Some which support XMBC too with hardware acceleration.

MK808B is most famous and hence sells most. But at the same time UG007II and MK809II are more premium and have additional microUSB host port.

Also, there are many TV sticks with RK3066. Most of them are same inside. Only body is little different to create a wider market by manufacturers.

WiFi of all these devices is weak. The only full proof workaround i read is to open and solder a approx 10cm long wire as antenna. :-)

Coming to Air Mouse. There are many models. Measy RC11, RC12, RC13, Mele F10, etc.

I have used all. I consider Mele F10 best wrt precision and quality. But its expensive. RC12 are for users who want touchpad. RC13 is very unique at it gives voice call capability to all these TV sticks as it has mic and speaker (with headphone jack) on the remote itself!

AFAIK, we cannot use the gyro on the remote to play games like wii/etc. Also these dont support multi-touch, so pinch-zoom, etc cannot be done. There is one air mouse by Logitech which has 2 joysticks on remote to represent 2-finger touch.

Easy workaround is to use Android App DriodMote. By this we can use our Android cellphone/tablet to remote control tv stick. We can use phone as gyro and play games, also do all multitouch apps. however please try the demo before buying it.

Another interesting app is iMediaShare. You can beam your multimedia directly to your TV. Very useful and easy of use. Must have.

There are other Android TV devices in market. Some with camera and mic. Some with dual full size USB host ports so u dont need external powered hub, external antenna, etc. There are quad core ones too.

These devices have great potential its only thought process is limited.

sorry for long boring post! ;-)
@ajitkommini: sorry to hijack your thread.

Last edited by devrajman : 27th June 2013 at 14:17.
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Old 27th June 2013, 15:10   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devrajman View Post
Hi,


sorry for long boring post! ;-)
@ajitkommini: sorry to hijack your thread.
Are you kidding?? I'm wondering where you were when I was figuring all this stuff out last couple of weeks Its great to have an expert viewpoint.

Which ROM would you recommend for the MK808B? I'm currently using the 4.2.2 official one but it has some drawbacks e.g. I can't set a PIN lockscreen in order to setup VPN. Any ideas? Should I go back to 4.1.x or use one of the "finless" ROMs?
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Old 27th June 2013, 17:09   #14
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Default re: Google / Android TV project

@ajitkommini,

Interesting thread.

Would you mind sharing the cost of the entire setup ?
Including shipping/customs etc for your Google TV if any.

Thanks
-F
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Old 28th June 2013, 09:18   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajitkommini View Post
Are you kidding?? I'm wondering where you were when I was figuring all this stuff out last couple of weeks Its great to have an expert viewpoint.

Which ROM would you recommend for the MK808B? I'm currently using the 4.2.2 official one but it has some drawbacks e.g. I can't set a PIN lockscreen in order to setup VPN. Any ideas? Should I go back to 4.1.x or use one of the "finless" ROMs?
Thanks! Anytime...

I didnt use MK808B extensively, however have found below forum to be useful:

http://blog.geekbuying.com/index.php...tv-box/mk808b/

Hope it helps!
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