So, I’ve had the IBOX now for a while, so I feel like I should share my final thoughts on it. No nice pictures for this post, but I have a few things to say. If I’m honest, I haven’t used it as much as I’d have liked to. Unfortunately, like with many other gadgets I own, I can’t seem to find a dedicated purpose for it.
Multimedia performance is kind of “meh” and I don’t like the Android variants available for the IBOX. The mount points are strange, so certain apps which want to use the SD card for storage aren’t happy and report 0MB of free space. I fiddled a bit with this, but never got it to work properly.
As such, I don’t think I’d use it as a multimedia device – it just isn’t polished enough. I used a WD TV Live the other day and it was absolutely beautiful. I’m not necessarily expecting the same thing from the IBOX, but something close would be nice.
Over and above all of this, booting Linux kills the Android install due to a proprietary driver issue, so that’s a bit frustrating.
I’ve run Linux, which I’m more comfortable with and feels more like a normal desktop machine. Cubieez is my distro of choice so far, but many of the others work well too. The lack of decent multimedia performance in Linux is also frustrating, but apparently (with enough pulling of hair) can be worked around. I haven’t taken the time, but it definitely isn’t a plug-and-play affair.
I also wanted to make use of the IBOX SDK, but haven’t managed to get SPI support working. The kernel is compiled with support (I even recompiled it myself) and the .fex file had the necessary bits and pieces included. Also compiled the .fex file from Itead themselves but got no joy.
Electrically, I did the capacitor replacement as mentioned here. It seems to have helped, as I was experiencing infrequent failures of the Ethernet. It has worked perfectly since replacing the capacitor.
I also bought an adapter which converts the female USB OTG port into a female mini USB port, so that I can use a typical cable. When I wanted to switch it off, I unplugged the power, but it didn’t switch off. Turns out I was still powering the 5V rail from my computer’s USB port and everything worked great.
WARNING! This is not recommended, as it is essentially exploiting what I think is a design flaw (it would work fine without being connected to VCC) and there is no filtering or protection for the device or your USB port. Be mindful of this if you decide to power it with 5V. On the other hand, though, my TV has a 5V 1A USB port, so this opens up some pretty cool possibilities 🙂
All in all, this is a relatively powerful box with a bunch of features, but don’t expect it to work perfectly as it is still a development board. If you want a polished product, get one from one of the major players.
If you want to play, get the IBOX.