• 1(current)
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 19
  •   
MINIX NEO U1: (64bit AMLogic S905 / 10-bit 4K HEVC / HDMI 2.0)
#1
Updated: 23 Jan. 2017.

MINIX NEO U1 product page HERE

Looks like it going to be a busy year for Kodi on AMLogic hardware if decent Firmware support is provided to take advantage of the S905's Hardware capabilities.

MINIX devices have always provided decent quality AML Firmware, and provide regular Firmware updates and support, which you don't get with most dirt cheap AML devices shipping out of Asia.

Just for info - the new iPhone 6S+ records 4K HEVC video at 30fps.

Image

Tech Specs:
  • 64-bit Quad-Core Cortex A53 (Amlogic S905) @ up to 2.0GHz 1.5GHz
  • Penta Core (5 core) Mali-450 GPU @ 750 MHz
  • Android Lollipop 5.1.1
  • Supports up to 10-bit color shading (over 1 billion colors) if you have a compatible 10-bit display capable TV
  • 4K HEVC video @ 60Hz - most TV boxes only support 4K @ 30Hz – even the NEO X8-H Plus
  • HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 (HDMI 2.0 TV required for 4K @ 60Hz)
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB eMMC flash storage, micro SDHC card slot
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 3x USB 2.0 ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Optical S/PDIF, and 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks
  • Dual band (MIMO) 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 (Very good WiFi on this box)
  • Built-in OTA (Over The Air) firmware updating system

Released: December 4, $130-$150 depending on the choice of remote control included.

The excellent MINIX NEO A2 Lite Air mouse remote control / mini keyboard is RF Wireless and much preferred over the standard IR model. NEO A2 details HERE

Some important points:

  • HD Audio Passthrough supported in XBMC for MINIX mediaplayer software.
  • Even though the U1 can decode 10-bit, video output will be 8-bit only due to lack of video player Software support (this includes Kodi)
  • This 8-bit video output restriction with Kodi applies to all hardware platforms.
  • Hi10P H264 Anime hardware decoding is not supported on any AMLogic device.
  • 10-bit 50fps 4K HEVC Hardware decode issue, see HERE
  • Potential purchasers should always read the MINIX U1 support forum first, that is found HERE


Value adding Features I would have expected in 2016:
  • HD Audio decoding to Multichannel PCM Audio output.
  • Dolby and DTS licences
  • Widevine Level 1 Certification to provide for 1080p DRM video streaming for Apps.
  • All AMLogic / Rockchip devices except ones from WeTek (S812-H / S905-H), are limited to 480p Max Resolution for Netflix, HBO Go etc.
  • Dual boot Android / OpenELEC

Reply
#2
Review updated March 10, 2016

Verdict: B+; based on v006 beta firmware

Overview:

I've always wanted to try a Minix, since the initial X8 release, but never quite did. The recent addition of HD audio and 23.976 pushed me over the fence. I also wanted to see how U1 with AMLogic's S905 SoC would compare with WeTek Core's previous-gen S812 SoC. My thanks to Ken and John at Minix for sending me a U1 unit with A2 Lite remote for review.

Mark, over at AVForums, already did an excellent, detailed review, so you can refer to that, then read mine for further detailed A/V tests and any variances. I only tested via Kodi, mostly via the preinstalled 'XBMC for Minix'.

A note about 3D MVC playback: Minix already let me know this is in the works and not done yet. I tested it, but just be aware it's not supposed to work properly yet. So, it didn't affect the rating.

U1 Design, Remote & UI:

Minix U1 has a larger form factor over Tronsmart S95 and Beelink Mini MX, the other two AMLogic S905 media players I have. But, it feels sturdier, with better build quality. I didn't bother with the included IR remote, opting for the nicer A2 Lite remote instead (must be purchased separately). It's a large remote with big buttons and a full Qwerty keyboard on the flip side (very handy). The A2 Lite's range is very good, and doesn't require a line of sight. It's responsive and fairly intuitive to use. As the A2 Lite is also a gyro remote, you can use it as an airmouse where needed. The A2 Lite gets an 'A' Smile.

The U1 has the same Minix 'Metro' UI (Android launcher) as X8 series. It's simple and easy to use, with the standard remote or the A2 Lite. I may try installing Google's Android TV launcher at a later point.

Photo Gallery:

watch gallery


Performance:

Minix U1 feels snappy and responsive. No lags I could see. This carries into Kodi, with U1 able to keep up browsing large libraries, navigating around. Browsing network shares is snappy as well.

A/V Tests: The part we're all most interested in...

For all these tests, in Android settings, I set 'Digital Audio' to HDMI and display refresh rate to 'Auto'. In XBMC for Minx, I enabled 'Adjust display refresh rate', and 'Enable passthrough' with all HD audio types selected. For my home theater and U1 evaluation set-up, please see link in my signature below.

I haven't yet tested any 4K clips; that's coming up in the next update of this review.
  • [Audio] DD5.1 (640Kbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DD+ 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DD+ 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] TrueHD 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] TrueHD 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] ATMOS = pass (to TrueHD 7.1 as my AVR doesn't support ATMOS, but confirmed by users w/ATMOS AVR's)
  • [Audio] DTS (1.5Mbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DTS HRA 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS HRA 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS-HD MA 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS-HD MA 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS:X = pass (to MA 7.1 as my AVR doesn't support X, but confirmed by a user w/DTS:X AVR)
  • [Audio] AAC 5.1 = fail (passed as DD5.1)
  • [Audio] FLAC 5.1 = fail (passed as DD5.1)
  • [Audio] LPCM 5.1 = fail (passed as DD5.1)
  • [Audio] LPCM 7.1 = fail (passed as DD5.1)
  • [Audio] 96 and 192kHz = my AVR only indicated 'Stereo', and front panel didn't show '96' or '192' as when testing with players that support it
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 (VOB from a DVD rip) = stuttery playback (similar to WeTek Core); displayed at 60.00 by my projector
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:0 = perfect playback (displayed at 60.00)
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:2 = green pixellated mess, but audio fine (most media players can't play 4:2:2, in MPEG2 at least)
  • [Video] 59.940 MPEG2 720p = perfect playback (displayed at 60.00)
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p H.264 = perfect playback (displayed at proper 23.97)
  • [Video] 24.000 1080p H.264 = perfect playback (displayed at 24.00)
  • [Video] 29.970/60.000 1080p H.264 = perfect playback (displayed at 60.00)
  • [Video] 25.000/50.000 1080p H.264 = perfect playback (displayed at 50.00)
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p VC-1 = judder in playback, which is surprising as S812 WeTek Core has no issues with this
  • [Video] 29.970 1080i VC-1 = judder in playback, similar to S812 WeTek Core, but Core handles it a little better. Again, surprising as I'd have expected S905 to be better than S812 at this
  • [Video] 4K HEVC 50.000 10bit EAC3 7.1 = No audio (slight pops/crackles), with artifacts in video (h/w issue fixed by AML w/S905-H revision C; U1 is revision B)
For audio above, where AAC, FLAC and LPCM were passed (or I should say decoded) as Dolby Digital 5.1, it didn't matter if I selected 'Auto' or 'HDMI' under Abdroid's digital audio settings. If I forced to 'PCM', I go no audio out of these clips. If I disable passthrough in Kodi, then I only get 2.0 stereo these. Per Minix, passthrough of LPCM at least is "Not allowed by the license terms."

Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA playback is not buggy; these play perfectly well.

Now for bitrate, subs and full 3D tests...
  • 3D MVC MKV = HOU/TAB output (similar to WeTek Core using wrxtasy's OpenELEC build, and as with other AML S905 boxes)
  • 3D MVC ISO = Same as above (and like above, even the HOU output doesn't look right, with picture elongated, cut off on right side)
  • Forced subtitles = supported
  • Birds clips up to 90Mbps = no issues
  • Jellyfish H.264 clips up to 100Mbps = no issues
  • Jellyfish HEVC clips up to 200Mbps = no issues, but Kodi pre-buffers after 100Mbps before playback (this may or may not be an issue with full H.265 movies with 120-140Mbps bitrates later, assuming we get such 4K movies)

So, I noticed a new VidOn XBMC v15.2.2 was released recently, so curiosity got me, especially as the changelog states "Added the support for Amlogic S812 & S905". Hmmm...
  • 3D MVC MKV = playback in 2D mode
  • 3D MVC ISO = Proper 3D playback (albeit in half-rez as AML SoC can't render in full, frame-packed 3D)
Although VidOn's output is proper 3D, all 3D ISO's display at 60Hz (or whatever your UI is set to) unfortunately. This isn't acceptable. However, VidOn does play 2D 23.976 videos at proper 23.976. Didn't tested HD audio with VidOn as a 'Pro' paid license is necessary and I don't want to monetarily support VidOn. As WeTek and Minix have already added support for HD audio while complying with GPL rules, and as I know both are working in proper MVC output (in 3D mode), it should only be a matter of time. As VidOn has shown it can be done, I expect Minix and WeTek can. After this, any allure of VidOn will be all but gone.

Picture Quality: A-

Support:

Very good support via Minix's own support forum. They don't over-promise and under-deliver like other Chinese manufacturers (Zidoo and Beelink come to mind). Firmware updates seem steady, but paced out (not rushed out like Zidoo did with X6 for example).

Wrap-Up:

The Minix U1 is a very good Android media player for Kodi and home theater use. It's snappy and plays most A/V formats well. It isn't perfect, especially with LPCM and multichannel overall, and with VC-1. MVC 3D only outputs properly with VidOn, but as Minix is working on it, I expect support will be added in a future firmware. And as support is key with media players, we're in reliable hands with Minix as they've proven over the last few years.

Overall, Minix U1 is a pretty good alternative to WeTek Core for those not interested in OpenELEC option (in addition to Android). Core is the better player for now though (my review here), but I expect U1 to improve as firmware matures. I'll update this review after testing 4K and as firmware updates are released.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
#3
(2015-12-01, 15:27)wrxtasy Wrote: [*]Android Lollipop 5.1.1
[*]Supports up to 10-bit color depth (over 1 billion colors) if you have a compatible 10-bit display capable TV
[*]4K H264/HEVC video @ 60Hz - most TV boxes only support 4K @ 30Hz – even the NEO X8-H Plus
[*]HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2

(2015-12-01, 15:53)hdmkv Wrote: ...price is 3x higher than other AML S905 boxes already out. Granted, Minix's support will be better, but doesn't seem this box pushes any innovative envelopes since X8-H Plus.

Aren't the above features where this box pushes the envelope? (please correct me if Im wrong?). What other quality boxes offer similar features?

Compared to the latest Wetek Core box this new Minix box seems to be a beast doesn't it? The only thing that appears to be missing for some people's normal use is Netflix HD support?

Making comparisons to other boxes 3 times cheaper has been possible with previous models too, but it doesn't make it right - all that happens is users get laughed at later on for buying one of these 3 times cheaper boxes when things don't go right and they look for support or updates.

For me and my use (non Netflix HD, although it would always be nice to have as an option) doesn't this box seem to smash most of the others specification wise, without the limits of Android TV OS that come with a high spec device like the Nvidia Shield?

But again, correct me if Im wrong?

In any case, I'll be following this with interest. A Minix X6 was high on my list (its an old device now, but somehow still good 'value' for my needs), but if one was to look towards future proofing without paying big money this still seems like an interesting possibility from a quality manufacturer with excellent firmware support.

Doesn't it?

PS: Minix says the U1 does H265 HEVC Main-10 [email protected] (not only H264): https://www.facebook.com/minixtech/?fref=ts
If I have helped you or increased your knowledge please click the 'Thumb Up - Like' button to show me your appreciation :)

For YouTube questions see the OFFICIAL THREAD, with the Latest Info in Post 1 & 2, & the Personal API Key Instructions and FAQ in Posts 3 & 4 & more ;)
Reply
#4
From a 4K perspective, could be a good box, but I feel, in that case, spend a bit more and grab a nVidia Shield TV instead.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
#5
I understand, but I think a BIG part that people easily forget with the Nvidia Shield is that it runs Android TV, not the normal Android OS.

This might be ok for a pure media box, but as a living room box that maybe you want the option to install other apps to personalise things to your situation this could be a negative point and a big limitation.

You can't even install Google's own Chrome on a Nvidia Shield... (not from the app store at least). Im not comfortable buying an expensive box and having so many limitations forced on me by Android TV.

But I also understand that for some buyers and their use case this wont be an issue at all.

The Minix U1 seems like an interesting compromise in that respect. Nvidia style power and quality features available in a different package, and a little cheaper too.

The U1 still has some negative points of its own too though, although if it had the ability to do full Netflix HD I suspect it could be very close to the perfect box for a lot people. It's a pity, because there will be many users that specifically will not buy it because of this one missing feature.

Some people will say what's the point of a 4K box that can't do Netflix 4K in the first place? Other users might say, finally... an Android box with the box with the power specs and features that they want.
If I have helped you or increased your knowledge please click the 'Thumb Up - Like' button to show me your appreciation :)

For YouTube questions see the OFFICIAL THREAD, with the Latest Info in Post 1 & 2, & the Personal API Key Instructions and FAQ in Posts 3 & 4 & more ;)
Reply
#6
- Just a few points to consider before everyone gets completely carried away with just looking at any S905 boxes tech Specs:
  • You need a 10-bit capable display to take advantage of 10-bit video
  • Kodi's interface runs at a Max of 60Hz at 1080p, there is no 4K GUI. A 4K TV does the 1080p > 4K GUI upscaling, so the quality of a 4K TV's upscaling software is important.
  • Kodi does not output 10-bit video
  • HDCP 2.2 is just an unused Tech Spec unless you are pushing DRM copy protected content to a HDCP 2.2 connected display
  • Even a normal 1080p Bluray Rip takes between 24-48 hours to HEVC encode on an i5 Intel Machine
  • Ultra 4K Bluray will have a new Copy Protection scheme that will need to be cracked to even allow purchased discs to be user ripped, we are taking something like 100GB of data or more.
  • 4K TV's may look special up close setup in a display store, but you need a Massive screen to tell the difference in resolution from a 1080p display when you are at home sitting 10 feet away on a couch.
    Details about the Great 4K Marketing Con : HERE
  • I have actually read the ARM Cortex A53's processing power (MIPS) is 8% slower than a Cortex A9 found in a S812
  • Android Lollipop 5.1.1 on a AMLogic S812, results in a a pretty snappy interface if the Firmware is nicely optimised.

Reply
#7
All good points, thank you, many of which are why I still consider a Minix X6 to be somehow still good 'value' for my needs at this point (especially when buying multiple boxes for a household, the price adds up so it can be useful if non essential features and pricing can be shaved off without losing the quality and support side of things)

Certainly it's very important to match any box with your specific needs, and not just buy something because 'it seems like the best one'.
If I have helped you or increased your knowledge please click the 'Thumb Up - Like' button to show me your appreciation :)

For YouTube questions see the OFFICIAL THREAD, with the Latest Info in Post 1 & 2, & the Personal API Key Instructions and FAQ in Posts 3 & 4 & more ;)
Reply
#8
Looks decent! Any reviews out?

Oh, and any idea how this would compare to the Wetek Core? I don't really care about 4k or HD audio, but would like Netflix in HD (which I guess isn't possible here). Oh, and support and compatibility of course.
Reply
#9
(2015-12-01, 18:02)wrxtasy Wrote: Ultra 4K Bluray will have a new Copy Protection scheme that will need to be cracked to even allow purchased discs to be user ripped, we are taking something like 100GB of data or more.

Search for the term UltraHD bluray "Digital Bdrige"

Quote:The big change is you'll be able to make a perfect bit-for-bit digital copy of your new 4KBD. In fact, as far as early reports show, any copy you make from the 4KBD has to be a bit-for-bit copy. The 4KBD players won't be allowed to reduce the resolution.
Anthem MRX310 | XTZ 93.23 DIY 5.1 (Seas Jantzen Mundorf) | DXD808 | Oppo 103D | LG OLED 55EC930V | Nvidia Shield | ATV3





Reply
#10
You are still going to need Widevine certification and HDCP 2.2 protections in place to view these UltraHD Bluray "Digital Bridge" copies from DRM only Approved Apps. No Copy Protection stripping will take place of the actual file you store on your NAS.

Reply
#11
Very interesting, but somehow I don't see Hollywood allowing us to store bit-perfect copies on our NAS-es to be viewed anywhere we want. Probably only certain 'approved' devices with copy-once type restriction.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
#12
Theres more information in Wikileaks about digital bridge UHD example PDF

Its possible to read the some agendas, meetings, voting, PDF etc etc that happened in 2013 & 2014 search here
Anthem MRX310 | XTZ 93.23 DIY 5.1 (Seas Jantzen Mundorf) | DXD808 | Oppo 103D | LG OLED 55EC930V | Nvidia Shield | ATV3





Reply
#13
(2015-12-01, 17:02)jmh2002 Wrote: PS: Minix says the U1 does H265 HEVC Main-10 [email protected] (not only H264): https://www.facebook.com/minixtech/?fref=ts

This is going to be interesting... On Amlogic S8xx SoCs, the output is fixed YCbCr 4:4:4. If it is the same way on S9xx SoCs, there is absolutely no way it will output 10-bit 4K 50/60Hz. It is outside the specs of HDMI 2.0. On the nVIDIA shield, the output is dynamically adjusted based on the display's EDID. For 1080p and 4K 23.976Hz, it is 8-bit RGB Rec. 709. For 4K 50/60 it can be 8-bit YCbCr 4:2:0 Rec. 709 or 10-bit YCbCr 4:2:0 Rec. 2020 based on the display's capabilities.
Reply
#14
Can't wait to see it perform..

Reply
#15
(2015-12-01, 23:52)wesk05 Wrote:
(2015-12-01, 17:02)jmh2002 Wrote: PS: Minix says the U1 does H265 HEVC Main-10 [email protected] (not only H264): https://www.facebook.com/minixtech/?fref=ts

This is going to be interesting... On Amlogic S8xx SoCs, the output is fixed YCbCr 4:4:4. If it is the same way on S9xx SoCs, there is absolutely no way it will output 10-bit 4K 50/60Hz. It is outside the specs of HDMI 2.0. On the nVIDIA shield, the output is dynamically adjusted based on the display's EDID. For 1080p and 4K 23.976Hz, it is 8-bit RGB Rec. 709. For 4K 50/60 it can be 8-bit YCbCr 4:2:0 Rec. 709 or 10-bit YCbCr 4:2:0 Rec. 2020 based on the display's capabilities.

Yeah - they talk about decoding only. I told that in another thread arleady and was shot down for saying it. Nobody knows what this hw / amlogic does with the decoded data ... kodi has no influence on this.
First decide what functions / features you expect from a system. Then decide for the hardware. Don't waste your money on crap.
Reply
  • 1(current)
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 19
  •   
 
Thread Rating:
  • 2 Vote(s) - 4.5 Average



Logout Mark Read Team Forum Stats Members Help
MINIX NEO U1: (64bit AMLogic S905 / 10-bit 4K HEVC / HDMI 2.0)4.52