Remember the IBOX mini PC that we featured early last month? I got myself an early sample unit to review courtesy of the team over at Itead Studio. The device is still running its campaign over at Indiegogo however its goal of raising $2,000 has already been achieved with more than $9,000 already raised.
Build quality & construction
The IBOX has a solid construction that’s shaped like a small rectangular modem. Its case is made of aluminum with a glossy plastic on top. At the bottom you will find four screws that serve as the access point to the board inside. The front part houses the infrared sensor and the microSD slot. At the left part of the device is where the 32-pin proprietary connector is located. The back part of the device is where most of the ports are located. There’s the DC port, Ethernet port, HDMI port, four USB ports, an S/PDIF port, and a Uboot button.
The reason why IBOX is called a multi-function PC is that it can take on various roles. For this review I used it as a multimedia center. What I did was plug a USB mouse on the device and connect it using an HDMI cable to a TV. After plugging in the DC adaptor the device immediately boots to the main screen where you can choose between Applications, Settings, Favorites, File Browser, and Web Browser.
Navigating its menu system can be easily done with the mouse. A left click on the mouse opens a particular app or setting while a right click usually brings you back to the previous page. I tested the system using a 1080p copy of Avatar which played smoothly from start to finish without any problems.
At the heart of the IBOX is the ITEAD A20 CORE which is designed as a Computer on Module (COM) with its own RAM, onboard flash, and integrated PMU. AllWinner A20 dual core ARM Cortex-A7 processor clocked at 1 GHz with an ARM Mali 400 MP2 GPU. There’s 1GB of RAM as well as 4GB of internal storage.
According to Alex of Itead Studio “IBOX is actually an application example of ITEAD A20 CORE. Although IBOX provides development interfaces to achieve a variety of other functions by externally connecting to other expansion boards, ITEAD A10/20 CORE will bring greater flexibility for development. ITEAD STUDIO can provide various types of customized functional baseboards for users to adapt to their projects according to their needs.”
(size comparison with iPad Mini)
While I have only tested the multimedia set-top box capability of the IBOX so far this is just one of its features. The device can also be used as a mini computer. With the addition of an expansion board this device can reach its true potential by serving as a lab instrument or even a control center.