Solidrun CuBox-i (Arm XBMC HTPC)

next010

Distinguished Member
If anyone is interested here is some info on the Solidrun CuBox-i

What is it ?
If your familiar with the Raspberry Pi project then the CuBox-i is that on steroids, while the R-Pi used a very old Arm CPU, the CuBox-i use the 1Ghz quad core Freescale iMX6 series chip.

There are four versions but really only the i2 (dual core) and i4 (quad core) are worth getting.

Hardware features;
It is a fanless very small cube, it comes with HDMI, optical, ethernet, wireless, USB, and a micro SD card slot. You also get IR built in (no remote though) and support for HDMI-CEC.

Video decoding properties;
A wide range of media types is supported, all the common types are there and it can play DVD/Blu-ray video without issue. 3D (MVC) is also supported by the hardware but XBMC itself does not support decoding this format in hardware it can only CPU soft decode MVC video so 3D Blu-ray is ruled out I'm afraid. If XBMC gets MVC hardware support that should change things.

Audio decoding properties;
The hardware supports decoding Dolby, DTS, TrueHD, DTS-MA, currently HD audio bit-streaming is not functional but active work is being made in this area.

What can I run on it ?
XBMC distros
GeeXbox - alpha version available.
Openelec - alpha version available.
LinXBMC - still in development from creator of Raspbmc.
Xbian - for linux pros.

Music distros
Rune audio
Volumio

Android can run on it too but it's not so great.

To run these use 7-zip to extract the .img file from zip or tar then use win32 disk image writer to burn the image to a micro SD card, insert SD card into the device and it will boot the OS.

How well does XBMC run cause the R-Pi was slooowww ?
XBMC runs very speedy on it, feels like running it on a PC at least on the top of the line i4 model.

Is this ready for the average user ?
Probably not yet but it's getting close, support for Freescale chips is being merged into XBMC and its still very new, the XBMC distros above are all early development snapshots so it's not even in beta stage yet.

There are also other minor issues like it only does full range black levels over HDMI so your TV needs to support that and IR doesn't work properly out of the box with the XBMC distros it requires some linux knowledge to get going. I'd recommend the HDMI-CEC operation for now.

It is quite stable even in this early state as is media playback too but this is for those who don't mind being on the cutting edge, you will encounter bugs.

You will also need a basic 2 pin to 3 pin plug adapter for the device.

More reading;
CuBox-i Wiki
CuBox-i forums
Buy from here
 
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Smallclone

Active Member
I can't get over how cheap this is if it runs XBMC like you say it does. £60 for a very nice media player is nuts.

How would you run the alpha version of openelec? On the micro SD card right - but is 4GB enough? Or is it advisable to buy your own?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
GeeXbox is the better of the distros at least in terms of speed (60fps in xbmc info at 1080p), Openelec feels a little slower probably not done enough optimization yet.

There is a great deal of potential in this little box and it's really good value too but as I said if the software was a little further along and things like IR worked out of the box I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

The SD card is your hard drive basically so you'd want one with a bit of storage if you plan on using the coverart media library, micro SD cards up to 64GB in size are supported not that you might ever need that but you can get smaller size cards very cheaply.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Yup thats fine, the RAM is plenty.

To insert the SD card into the CuBox-i put it in with the ridge on the card facing down, the ridge is for your fingernail so you can pull the card out of it. It doesn't have one of those springy SD card slots that you can press and it ejects the card.
 

BobbyMac

Banned
So what's the difference between this box and say a M8 Android box?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Amlogic S8 series box is not open and bound by certain limitations as to what ships on it.

The CuBox-i on the other hand is fully open source and there are no restrictions, it's pretty much an Arm PC sort of.

OS;
The S8 series run Android tablet OS, the CuBox-i runs XBMC on linux via Openelec and other distros, you will not get this on Amlogic at least not easily and no vendors are working on linux Amlogic any more.

Pivos was the main Amlogic linux dev and they have stopped development focusing on Android only. There are a few amateurs around still hacking away at Amlogic linux for earlier M3/M6 chips but development moves at a snails pace, Pivos had XBMC devs working for them who knew what they were doing & everyone cloned their work.

Audio bit-streaming;
Dolby/DTS have become very fussy about licensing of late and crack down of anything not properly licensed, the Amlogic S8 series comes in three or four variants one has no bit-streaming support, another supports Dolby/DTS and their are rumours there might be eventually be another which TrueHD/DTS-HD but other models wont get this.

The CuBox-i on the other hand has no limits in this area, as such the XBMC distros can support the full range of Dolby/DTS/TrueHD/DTS-HD. Currently the HD formats aren't operational but work is progressing on enabling it.

CPU/GPU
Both are pretty good in this area.

If your not picky about certain features like [email protected] switching, HD audio then an Amlogic Android box is a decent choice but if your looking for a more PC like experience without paying the cost of an Intel NUC the CuBox-i comes very close.
 
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Smallclone

Active Member
Are there any links to where you can buy this in the UK? solid run claim to be selling it but I can't see a link on their site.
 

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