Mele A1000/A2000 Owners Thread

LightBright

Active Member
I've been investigating home media players quite extensively over the past week and I think that the Mele products should be better known. So I thought I would start a thread for these relatively impressive devices. One thread, since the only significant difference is the extra 2GB of NAND memory on the A2000. They are based on the Allwinner A10 chipset (which is a Cortex A8 ARM CPU).

Link: Mele A2000 Android 2.3 Media Player Powered by AllWinner A10

The idea is that these are GPL compliant devices through and through. That's even more than the Raspberry Pi can claim and these are far more capable (though cost more of course). They come with Android, but you can wipe that off and use Ubuntu TV, which looks far better than any of the other UIs I've seen. XBMC is coming soon (probably via OpenElec's ARM port). Great stuff.

That slot in the top is a full SATA port, including power. The idea is that you plug a 2.5" harddrive in the top like a cartridge. The harddisk is shown with a black cover in the pics but the A1000 includes this cover. A little misleading and an unusual approach overall. All my disks are 3.5".

The devices don't include Bluetooth, and only have 802.11b/g WiFi. You can plug in dongles though. There's a also a few different remotes available. I'm not sure if any of these are Bluetooth but I bet other Bluetooth remotes will work even if you have to install drivers.

Oh, it comes with an American power adaptor.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Update: XBMC may not happen, things took a turn for the worse so assume it wont run XBMC & disregard the old chatter in this thread.

Yeah these are the most promising devices to run XBMC one day, not sure if Openelec guys will get around to it first, might be xbmc running under ubuntu first perhaps. There are also other Arm OS developers like Geexbox and SamN's Raspbmc (for R-Pi but could probably run under other hardware) which might make something happen.

Given how open it is there is no limits what could be added on via USB so other remotes, wireless and so on.

Dealextreme seems the place to get them but they are very slow to deliver from what I've read.
 
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Pegasi

Novice Member
Sorry to bump the thread, but I was wondering if any owners of the A1000 (can't find the 2000 anywhere in the UK, but not too fussed about the extra 2GB of NAND) can confirm that it supports USB keyboards and mice? I'm keen to use it as a media centre for my living room TV but want to know whether it'll be capable of easy browsing using Dolphin or suchlike, as this opens up flash streaming services like BBCi etc.

If anyone has successfully used USB mice/keyboards (since I understand it doesn't have bluetooth) and could confirm this it would be much appreciated.

Also, has anyone got a different version of Android or Ubuntu working with an easy install? The only instructions I can find seem much closer to expert level than I'm used to with other Android devices, so I'm guessing this device doesn't have built in recovery or a download mode to flash from my PC etc?
 

LightBright

Active Member
I believe it supports USB keyboards and mice out of the box. I think you can add Bluetooth too.

It comes with Android 2.x and drivers for hardware acceleration. If you install Ubuntu (or Ubuntu TV) then you'll forfeit the hardware acceleration. Some people are working on drivers to get Ubuntu up to the mark.

The devices can boot from NAND or SD, so you can safely play around with the OS on the SD card without the risk of making the device useless.

What's Dolphin then?
 

Pegasi

Novice Member
I believe it supports USB keyboards and mice out of the box. I think you can add Bluetooth too.

It comes with Android 2.x and drivers for hardware acceleration. If you install Ubuntu (or Ubuntu TV) then you'll forfeit the hardware acceleration. Some people are working on drivers to get Ubuntu up to the mark.

The devices can boot from NAND or SD, so you can safely play around with the OS on the SD card without the risk of making the device useless.

What's Dolphin then?
Cheers for the quick reply, I'm glad I finally stopped lurking this place and registered :).

Good to hear about the USB stuff, and yeah the idea of a bluetooth option with dongles occurred to me afterwards as well. Worst comes to worst I'm sure I can find an app on the market to provide keyboard and mouse support.

That also sounds good about Ubuntu and how it's moving forwards, I can imagine the modding community are interested in this thing, well featured and cheap to try. Another thing which occurred to me is that I can just stick with the stock 2.3 installation and put ADW launcher on or something, I'm guessing that will likely fix the residual language issues on the home screen etc?

Dolphin is just my browser of choice for Android, it'd be nice to be able to use this as a general purpose mini-PC (since with those specs and 2.3 it should be able to support Flash), but browsing the web etc. without keyboard and mouse control would be too much hassle.

Thanks again for the help :).
 

next010

Distinguished Member
The only thing to watch out for with Android Flash is that for some reason hardware acceleration is not universal in Android and some Android devices ship with a modified version of Flash baked into the OS, if you attempt to download the stock Flash from Google market you will lose hardware acceleration for video in Flash.

Some sites will demand Flash 11 and if your on Flash 10 there is no way to access the video. It looks like Flash 11 is pre-installed on the latest Android firmwares for All Winner A10 devices though whether it's present on the Mele A1000/2000 I couldn't say, maybe someone else can...

Also for those interested this guy on Ali-Express is selling Mele A1000 and A2000 players direct from the Mele factory along with the optional debug cable/tools and a better remote which has a built in air mouse/wand and keyboard.

There is apparently no difference between the A1000 and A2000 other than external casing they both have the same 4GB of flash ram, just the A1000 doesn't use it so is partitioned to 2GB, the A1000 comes with a case of some kind I think for 2.5" hard drives.

I decided to buy one of the A2000 plus the F10 remote, I hope of running XBMC one day on these :)
 

djstu_d

Active Member
I decided to buy one of the A2000 plus the F10 remote, I hope of running XBMC one day on these :)
Hey.

any chance of a review when you get it ???

and if i could be really cheeky, can you try running the sopcast app on it, to see if it works ???

cheers.

stu
 

BobbyMac

Banned
Pardon my ignorance, what does the TTL to USB debug board do?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I will definitely post some impressions of it, though someone already has over here. I will see what I can do about the sopcast app.

The debug cable is I presume something for developers so you can communicate with the OS running on the device, it's not needed for end users any compatible linux OS will boot if present on an SDcard.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
All right after some delays got my Mele A2000 box.

I did these tests initially on the 1.5 firmware which it ships with then updated to the 1.6 firmware, the 1.6 is only available via manual update, apparently Mele will be releasing a new firmware with Android 4 soon. The player can be updated via online too.

Packaging:
Nice build quality and packaging doesn't feel cheap, though keep in mind there are no batteries for the remote supplied and it doesn't come with a 2 pin power adapter.

Remotes:
The stock remote is serviceable though the d-pad could be better but I would absolutely not use this just on its own unless you enjoy slowness and frustration, a wireless mouse is essential. I used a Microsoft Wireless Mobile 6000 mouse and it was so much easier to navigate and manage the UI.

I also got the RF remote Mele make for it the F10 which combines both mouse and keyboard and it's actually a pretty nice piece of kit. Well built, it's like a larger Boxee remote with more buttons and a bigger keyboard. It uses a rechargeable battery and is charged via USB cable. You can also turn on and off the air mouse from the remote. The F10 mouse is much more sensitive though thankfully you can tweak this in the settings.

Which to go for I don't know, I never liked wand/air mice so perhaps I'm not the best judge, I prefer using the MS 6000 mouse and you can always fall back to the remote for video playing/controls too.





Hardware:
Not much to say here all the specs are there to see, it's small and fanless with wireless built in, one of the few (only ?) players with a VGA output too, there is also a 2.5” SATA dock on the top of the player under a removable panel. These players are also unbrickable you can't kill it firmware wise.

Android:
This player is intended for the Chinese market so that's another thing to consider out of the box the language is set to Chinese which is easy enough to change (just go into settings and keep clicking the top most menu item and you'll get to language) and there are a bunch of Chinese apps included which you can remove.

The 1.6 firmware make it quicker/easier to change language and remove these pre-installed apps.

Android 2.3.4 ships on it and it certainly feels like a more tailored version of Android then the one that runs on Amlogic Android TV boxes, its closest competition. Everything scales well enough up to 1080p for the most part, you can even select [email protected] as an output option.

For those unfamiliar with Android a lot of apps expect wireless and won't work with Ethernet and some will refuse to install via the market even. However Mele have worked some magic and certain apps which refused to work over Ethernet now do work with Ethernet active so that's a nice touch. However I did notice some apps would refuse to install via the market when using Ethernet so there are still some issues to be resolved with that.

Another to watch out for is that the internal flash memory of the player is mounted as an SDcard, this is done as most things under Android expect to install to an SDcard however this can be confusing as when you plug in an actual SDcard your wondering where it is to access the data. Using ES File Explorer (enable root browsing in settings) you can find the contents under mnt/extern_sd0 this goes for the USB and SATA inputs too you'll see them in this area. Note that you can install apk files using ES File Explorer so it's very handy that way as many of the other apk installer's just auto scan sdcard which will get you nothing of course.

You can also read NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT formatted drives, no EXT4 support unfortunately, Android does support EXT4 so don't know why it's omitted.

Finally the Android OS is rooted so you can do other cool things with it.

Android Market:
The older market is present, application selection is filtered so not everything is available. There are market hacks that should open it up further which I tried and it works so you have the newest market app but I didn't notice a difference in app selection.

Web Browsing:
Works well enough with mouse or F10 remote, I wouldn't use stock remote with it. Flash 10 is present, you can't update to Flash 11 otherwise you will lose hardware acceleration for video which is a problem with many Android set top boxes. HTML5 video works well enough on the sites that support it. Youtube app works very well and videos are in HD.

Media Player:
I'll have to break this down as it might be a little confusing initially.
The video player app with hardware decoding is only reachable through apps that call it which is a thing you can do under Android though not all apps will.
Also included is a 2160p Gallery app it is a photo gallery app. The video app allows selecting audio and subtitle tracks and it is designed for use with the stock remote too. There is also support for 3D SBS style videos within the stock video player, you can set the type of 3D mode so the players UI display properly in 3D.


There is a another app called “File Manager” this provides a basic GUI from which you can browse any attached SDCard, SATA or USB device along with internal storage using the stock remote. The file manager app can use any installed media player app to play media like the built in video app, it can filter between various media types and includes an auto play of the video though I would prefer if you could turn this off. It actually resembles the GUI from Realtek players a bit.


Media support is quite good but there is a major problem, the AC3 & DTS codecs don't work with hardware decoding active but all other audio types are fine like Flac, MP3, Vorbis etc. If you disable the hardware decoding then the AC3/DTS audio plays normally but that's simply not a viable option. The problem is noted on the Chinese Mele forums, their was a patch released but not for the newer firmwares, apparently it is to be fixed in the Android 4 release.

I would strongly recommend getting MX Player Pro as it is the only player of the third party ones I tested that supported the hardware decoding on the Mele A2000 and also has a nice UI with easier selection of subtitles and audio tracks. You can also use it in conjunction with the File Manager app and many other applications which don't recognise the video app as a media player.

MX Player pro also better detects the proper aspect ratio for videos and it also can do software decoding of audio with the hardware decoder active but this was very buggy in my experience.

Third party SMB/Samba and DLNA apps are very hit and miss, some apps for instance prevented MX Player Pro from using the video hardware decoder.

Getting access to network shares is messy, the easiest way to resolve this is to install CIFS Manager or Mount Manager, these apps will mount a SMB network share to a local folder, the settings below are what you use, also you must use an IP address for the name of the server it will not work with anything else.

For example
Server: 192.168.1.28
Mount path: /mnt/sdcard/NAS_share

Linux:
I imagine this is what some or even most people will be buying it for, an easy to install image has just been released for another All Winner A10 device and it works on the A2000, it's very early days but it does indeed work but certain things are broken like networking support and hardware video decoding, you'll need a 4GB or larger SDcard. In time all of that will be fixed so it could be a nice little platform.

So an interesting little gizmo,the Android software could be more polished & really these Android TV boxes need a proper shell/launcher with support for network shares or even DLNA it can't be that hard to copy a WDTV Live style UI.

I'm guessing an optimized linux OS running XBMC will allow the A10 chipset to really stretch its legs but we will have to wait for that. Perhaps not too long given the chatter in the thread on the XBMC forums, the hardware decoders on the A10 chipset are working now with XBMC apparently.

Other Stuff:
Sopcast crashed the box (auto reboots) the first time I tried to install the apk but worked the second time, it appeared to run normally from there.

Plex works even over Ethernet and everything seemed to be okay though the UI on Plex for Android 2.3 is a bit cramped.

Netflix installed and ran though I don't have a subscription to it so didn't test, I was under the impression Netflix would not install on rooted devices but it did on this.

1.6 firmware, it took an hour or so to download this from Mele's site so you'll want to use a download manager too otherwise it will loose the link.

To update the firmware manually.
• Use the Phoenix utility (run as admin) and select the img file and burn to an SDcard, the card must be 4GB or larger anything smaller will not work. The Phoenix tool used is also in the rar.
• Unplug the power from the Mele A1000/A2000 and insert SDcard then plug in power.
• Lights will flash blue/red on the front of the box.
• After two-three minutes the lights should go off on the front at which point the update is installed so you can remove the SDcard and pull the power, then just start it up normally again.

Mele forum, in Chinese but Chrome does a reasonable enough job at translating.

Power Consumption: Cnxsoft posted these numbers in his review on the comments section. His review was a lot of help in figuring out things.
u-boot idle, [email protected] = 1.15W
Android idle. [email protected] = 1.7W
Android busy navigating some web page: [email protected] = 2.75W
Android 2.3.3 + youtube + video 720p = ~4.6W
Android 2.3.3 + SATA HDD + video 1280p = ~7.3W
Ubuntu 12.04 (headless) + SATA HDD + deluge (torrent client) + minidlna (dlna server) = ~5.0W-6.5W (sometimes max 7.8W)

I'd bookmark CNXSoft's website as thats were all the cool stuff relating to All Winner A10 seems to be covered.
 
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kopchoir

Banned
How are we doing with xbmc then, did you get manage to get it to boot xbmc?? im thinking of getting one,at the current price it would be rude not to,as i can only see them getting more expensive in the very near future.

Thanks also for the quick review
 

next010

Distinguished Member
The XBMC developers have hardware decoding working in XBMC but it's not publicly available, some other stuff needs to be sorted too in relation to the display driver for the GPU. It's not possible to run XBMC yet but it's getting very close.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Little update to this Android 4 was released a week or two ago officially. Also a patch was released which restores AC3 and DTS audio. Android 4 runs okay on it, it's not super speedy but it works well enough and at the very low cost your paying for these that's not bad at all.

Download mirrors for Android 4 and 1.3 patch for AC3/DTS.

The file manager GUI which you can use via the remote now also supports native network browsing of Samba network shares which is a very handy addition and makes it more like an actual network media player.
 

contemptx

Standard Member
I have a couple of these on the way, going to test them out see what they can do ;)

@next010, thanks for uploading those files, is the android 4 image the official release or?

also does anyone have firmware version 1.6 that they could upload as repeat attempts at downloading from 115 yields zero results!
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Yes thats the official Android 4 image from Mele.

I have the older 1.6 I will upload it later, check back tomorrow for the link. To download anything from Mele's site you need a download manager like Flashget otherwise it just gets cut off.

Edit: Link for Android 2.3 (1.6 firmware).
 
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contemptx

Standard Member
Got my unit in today and been playing around with it for a few hours and upgraded to android 4.0, which has better connectivity support but seems that bbc iplayer does not work on 4.0

wondering if anyone has tried any games yet? maybe we could get a compatability list going?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Apprently changing the DPI value to 140 in Android will get the iPlayer app to run instead of the redirect to website saying device in incompatible.

LCD Density Modder seems recommended, not tried out any of this myself & you could screw things up by changing this but all that means is a reflash of the firmware if so.

Edit: I gave this a try and sure enough it messed up the system, had to restore it. Maybe there are some other DPI values that wont mess things up and work with iPlayer, the Mele uses 160 DPI be default.
 
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next010

Distinguished Member
Mele doesnt run Android 3. Only runs Android 4 and Android 2.3

I thought Android 4 runs pretty well on it, definitely better than some other Android TV devices.

if your happy enough with 2.3 then stick with it, the only reason I guess is app compatibility and features that might need Android 4.
 

timmmay

Standard Member
I've just ordered the A2000 plus remote, it should arrive in 30 days or so. The A3600 is out, but it's more expensive and the only difference seem to be a nicer case and a new remote, no more ram or processor, so I skipped it.

I got this for three things:
- Playing movies and TV on a file server in my house, with XBMC I guess
- Skype (I'll try my Logitech webcam and hope for the best, or buy another if I need to)
- Maybe light web browsing

Should I use the built in Android 2.3, upgrade to Android 4, or should I put a Linux distribution on it? If I should go Linux is there a version that runs XMBC best, that's likely to get hardware acceleration in the future?

Is there a guide about how to install another OS on these things anywhere?

Any other tips and tricks would also be welcome :)
 

LightBright

Active Member
Thanks for the tip on the Mele A3600. I'd been checking for Mele A3000 :-/

I'm afraid I can't answer your question, but I'll add the the Mele A3700 is on the Mele.cn site, and I think it has twice the RAM and a built-in camera? Or maybe the automatic translation did a bad job. It doesn't seem to be available yet anyway and I bet it'll be pricey given the price of the Mele A3600 which, as you said, looks the same as the Mele A2000 inside.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
@timmay
- XBMC may or may not be a bust, current status is wait and see.
- some cams do work with Android but couldnt say which, Logitech ones are usually a good bet.
- should be fine for web browsing

I didn't see much of a difference between Android 2.3 and Android 4, Android 4 seemed better to me as it's a tablet OS.

All the linux OS images out there have no video hardware decoding so even if you do use those you will lose video playback, Allwinner never released software needed for open source to access their VPU, though there has been some positive talk behind the scenes but I would still consider them a dead end until proven otherwise.

To install the other firmware updates you use the Phoenix utility supplied in the stock firmware updates to burn the image to an SDcard (4GB or higher) then plug it into the box it will either boot from it (linux) or flash the firmware update.
 

timmmay

Standard Member
I think I'm going to consider the whole idea of anything AllWinner based a bust, since they won't support XBMC any time soon. I've cancelled my A2000 order and I'll get a R Pi, which while having a slower CPU has a GPU that people can work with.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I think I'm going to consider the whole idea of anything AllWinner based a bust, since they won't support XBMC any time soon. I've cancelled my A2000 order and I'll get a R Pi, which while having a slower CPU has a GPU that people can work with.
Amlogic would be a better bet if you want something with a little more kick than the R-Pi & is a straight STB with case and remote.
 

timmmay

Standard Member
I ordered my R Pi yesterday, should be here in a day or two. I'll see how it is, if it's not up to the task I'll probably just wait for the Ouya.
 

josh_parker123

Standard Member
Could anyone with the F10 remote tell me what the buttons on the remote side are please. I know there's volume keys but any more infor would be great
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Could anyone with the F10 remote tell me what the buttons on the remote side are please. I know there's volume keys but any more infor would be great
Here you go, a photo of the manual that comes with it.
[IMG=http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/4766/dsc00311ry.jpg][/IMG]

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Some of the buttons only work the the Mele software player and you really dont want to use the back button (which is kinda important in Android) if not using the air mouse as it activates the air mouse every time.
 

josh_parker123

Standard Member
Thanks, seems a shame, this looks like a really good remote with the keyboard and air mouse in particular, but the lack of media buttons is a big negative for me.

Here you go, a photo of the manual that comes with it.
[IMG=http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/4766/dsc00311ry.jpg]]image
[/URL]

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Some of the buttons only work the the Mele software player and you really dont want to use the back button (which is kinda important in Android) if not using the air mouse as it activates the air mouse every time.
 

zad

Well-known Member
So xbmc frodo beta 2 is out, which is better to look for A1000/A2000 or some thing else? I need optical out so that discounts the Sumvision Cyclone.
 
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