Friday, August 10, 2012

Android 4.0 MK802 Mini Computer

Application: Micro Computing
Function: Apps, media player, Smart TV, Linux, Android
Rating:****
Price: $75.00

If your a regular fan of my blog you know that I don't write much about  hardware.  The site is primarily dedicated to Marine Apps.  In this case I could not help myself. This little device has captured my attention and imagination.  The Android 4.0 MK802 is a tiny computer that fits in the palm of your hand.  It is a little larger than a USB memory stick but it also has a processor, RAM, storage and I/O ports which makes it a mini computer.

The device is designed to run Android 4.0 on a AllWinner A10 1.0 GHz processor. It also has 512Mb or 1 GB RAM and an optional 4 or 8 GB of solid state memory. The AllWinner A10 processor is used in many lower priced tablet that are presently on the market so it does a fair job running the operating system. It is not a speed demon but it can be used to check email, surf the web, play some games and play music and video files in 1080P.

To use the device you will need to connect it to some kind of monitor or TV, keyboard and mouse.  The unit comes with several options to make these connections.  This model has a micro HDMI for connecting it to your monitor. A micro USB is provided to provide power to the unit.  A full size USB is provided for connecting additional storage, keyboard and mouse. A microSD card slot will also let you provide additional storage up to 32GB.

The device has WiFi capability which will allow you to connect to the Internet or wirelessly to your onboard network NEMA server.

Specifications:
  •  OS - Android 4.0
  •  Main Chip - Allwinner A10/ 1GHz Cortex-A8
  •  Memory - 1GB
  •  Storage - 4GB
  •  Graphical processor - 2D/ 3D/ OpenGL ES2.0(AMD Z430)/OpenVG1.1(AMD Z160) 27M   Tri/sec
  •  Network - Wireless 802.11b/g/n, WAPI(Ralink8188)
  •  Expand Memory - Micro TF 2-32GB
  •  IO/Ports - Micro 5pin USB/ USB2.0 data transfer/ OTG and host expand
  •  Keyboard - Support virtual keyboard,support 2.4G wireless keyboard, fly mouse
  •  Audio - AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A
  •  Video - WMV/ASF/MP4/3GP/3G2M4V/AVI/MJPEG/RV10/DivX/VC-1/MPEG-2/MPEG- 4/H.263/H.264/1280*720P HD 30 fps, 1080P/720*480 D1 30fps
  • Android APP - Youku, Tudou, QQ, Youtube, Twitter, AngryBird, Office, Gmail, Browse, Skype.
  • HDMI - 1080P&2160P
  • Power Input - 5V2A
  • Size - 8.8*3.5*1.2cm
  • Weight - 0.2kg
Features:
  • Support the latest HTML5, Flash10.3, etc.
  • Netflix, Angry Bird, Gmail, YouTube and more
  • HDMI output port, support Full HD 1080P/2160P.
  • USB2.0 Host high speed data interface and T-Flash card slot.
  • Support install applications & games, will bring you best entertainment.
  • Can connect wireless mouse, keyboard, etc.
The device primarily runs the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version. Hackers and modders are already providing customized Android version to give the device better performance.

The processor is capable of running the Linux operating system also. There are alot of resources out there of people already running Linux on these devices. The Linux image simply has to be copied to the removable microSD card and then inserted into the device prior to powering it up.

To revert back to Android, simply unplug the device, remove the SD card and power it back up with the Android operating system.

My little mind started working overtime to come up with uses for this device onboard our boats.  We are all looking for low power consumption computers for use onboard. The less battery power we use means less charging needed from generators and alternators. This little computer operates on 5 volts and draws only 2 amps. The largest power draw will be from your monitor or big screen TV.

There are several great charting apps that will run on Android. Getting GPS to the device could come from a USB GPS or through a TCP/IP NMEA link over WiFi.

The addition of this device to any TV instantly gives you a smart TV capable of connecting to the Internet, downloading or streaming music and movies, books and much more.

I am familiar with many Android apps that are being use on mobile phones and Android tablets. All these apps can now be used on this device over a big screen TV or monitor.  The versatility to boot up with Linux gives you another full blow operating system with OpenOffice for word processing and spreadsheet applications and many other Linux programs.

Most of these devices are made in China. Once one company puts out a device others seem to copy it and put it out under their own name. Zero Device is another company that has their own version called Z802 and their newer Z902 models.  FXI Technologies has the Cotton Candy USB Stick. You can see and purchase them all at Allied Express.  Amazon.com has many of these devices for sale also.

Well, if you want to experiment or like to tinker a little like me, pick one up and let me know how you plan to use it.  I see this as a whole new developing area of computing. I am sure future versions will have bigger and faster processors and more features.  Did I mention that it was only $75.00, I might buy two!

If that is too expensive you can buy a Rasberry Pi for $25-$35 bucks.

Sail On
Mark



4 comments:

  1. Great post.

    I had similar idea last year and purchased a similar item: DreamPlug from GlobalScale Technologies ($179). I've integrated it into our boat. It provides WiFI access for our laptops (we have a Ubiquiti WiFi access point on the top of our mizzen mast). Since we are overseas where internet is often charged by the byte, it runs a web cache. We have disk drives hanging off it for hourly backups on MacBooks and access to movies. We run our NMEA/AIS through it to our laptops and iPads running our SEAiq app.

    I've been pretty happy with the DreamPlug, but I can say it took a bit of effort installing Debian Linux on it and getting everything configured. I'm not sure a run-of-the-mill cruiser would have been able to make it work. For NMEA access, I had to write some small programs. It would be great to have one of these you could buy that was targeted for the needs of the live-aboard cruiser.

    cheers, Mark

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mark,
    I should have known that you, the master programmer was already aware of devices like this. Interesting to hear the applications that you have running on it. You must be one of the most wired boats that I have heard of. What other cool hardware are you using?

    I also think there would be a huge market for a yacht friendly version. It would have to be pretty versatile to allow the many configurations needed.

    This area of computing seems to be just taking off. We live in exciting times! Can't wait to see what new products will be coming out.
    Mark

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm sure many of your readers have much more experience than we do since we've only been at this a few years, but here are some of the tips we've picked up along the way that your readers might find useful.

    We keep all sorts of gear on our boat. We got an iPad as soon as they came out and found it useful to have onboard in tons of ways. We have upgraded with each version. It is nice having several since you often need some charging.

    We found that mostly when you get internat and wifi working that is 90%. For that:

    We have a Ubiquiti wifi antennae on the top of our mizzen mast. That works great... it is not uncommon for us to be be the only boat in an anchorage with internet access. We have a 12v wifi router inside our boat that then shares the connection to other devices.

    In the area we have been cruising the last couple of years (NZ, Fiji, Australia, Indonesia) the best way to get internet has often been using data access over cell phone. For that, we have found unlocked iPhone 4s to be really good. The personal hotspot feature lets you tether multiple laptops and other devices using USB cable, bluetooth, or wifi. The unlocked iPhones are expensive but they tend to pay for themselves in all the things they can do (phone, data, flashlight, camera, scanner, etc).

    We keep an inexpensive flatbed scanner and portable printer on board. We scanned all our boat manuals and have the PDF on all our devices... very handy when working on the something or when shopping and you want to refer to a manual for a part number.

    We watch movies using the iPad Air Video app.... allows you to watch any movie stored on your iPads.

    We make a point of only purchasing USB powered devices whenever possible so we can avoid having to locate AC adaptors which seem to proliferate.

    Every year we tend to buy a couple of portable USB hard drives for storage and backup. We avoid the drives with the really small USB connectors since they disconnect too easily.

    My wife and I both have MacBooks and we try to keep a bunch of AC adaptors on board so we have one for each cabin, keep ones in our backpacks, etc. Disconnecting and reconnecting adaptors gets old real fast.

    Mark

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    ReplyDelete