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Mele A1000 Set Top Box

March 17, 2012 — BarryK
I have ordered one of these:

However, be warned, if this item interests you. I placed my order on March 7, and now it is the 17th and it still hasn't shipped. To read more about the slowness of dealextreme, type "dealextreme slow" into a search engine.

US$100 postage-free worldwide, superb value. There are other set-top-boxes that do something similar, but this one is special as it has the Allwinner A10 CPU (Cortex A8, with Mali GPU) and has been hacked so that we can install Linux on it (it comes with Android 2.3).

I have been following the Rhombus Tech email list with extreme interest, as they are planning an alternative to the Raspberry Pi based on the Allwinner chip:

Their email list archive:

There is a web page that describes how to hack the Mele A1000 (more info in the email list):

About 14 of the guys volunteering under the Rhombus Tech umbrella have purchased these Mele A1000's to use as development system for their planned tiny RasPi-alternative board. One of the guys already has his Mele and wrote the above Linux-hack page. Another guy is waiting his, with a plan to port T2 to it (he is also planning a RasPi port of T2).
Note, those guys did not order from dealextreme, they had a special arrangement where someone in China physically obtained them from the manufacturer.

I did purchase a board awhile back, that uses the same CPU/GPU as the Raspberry Pi, for US$143, as reported on my blog:

...I struggled with it for awhile, then I went on an extended camping holiday. After getting back home, I never got back to using that board, as I launched into internationalization of Puppy. It really was an uphill battle with not just the Chinese-only documentation but all of the software in Chinese. Now, I have no interest in it, and I consider the Mele to be far better as a development system for both the RasPi and the proposed Rhombus Tech board. So, if anyone wants it, give me a small donation say $50 and I'll post it to you -- contact me at bkaulerATgmailDOTcom.

I am thinking of using the Mele a1000 as the compiling platform for both RasPi and the proposed Rhombus Tech Allwinner-based board.

Here is an earlier blog post about the Rhombus Tech initiative:

Some useful links about Linux and ARM:

Cortex A8 CPU used in the Allwinner A10 chip (in the Mele A1000):

Mali 400 GPU used in the Allwinner A10 chip:
Mali 400 open-source kernel, X11 and openGL software:

Allwinner A10 development info:

If you want to understand a bit more about ARMv6 versus ARMv7, this blog post is an excellent read: seems that the two most significant features of ARMv7 are Thumb-2 and NEON.


Username: Dougal
Barry, note that on the Rhombus orders page, they mention the number of commitments from people the estimated price goes down: so it might be a good idea to spread this info and get people to commit in advance and help lower the price...

Username: aarf
"tell me why[url=]VIA is out in the cold? seems to fit the bill without the required contortions. seems both android and linux compatible.

ARM vx x86
Username: BarryK
"aarf, In a nutshell, the ARM chips use a tiny fraction of the power needed for an x86 chip. That's why you see ARM chips in smart phones and laptops, running off small batteries, and with passive cooling -- the chip doesn't even need a heatsink.

Logitech GoogleTV
Username: GCMartin
"Logitech's GoogleTV did a price reduction to $99 in the fall of last year. Logitech is reputable. The box is supremely reliable, and the support-warranty department is extremely responsive. It can be controlled using the remote shipped with it or you can control/program it from your smartphone. There is NO WAIT! It uses latest Android and I have read that some already have jail-breaked the unit to add their personal extensions. Lastly, this is a LAN unit integrate into your LAN for its media offerings Hope this helps

Re Logitech GoogleTV
Username: BarryK
"It is discounted because Logitech has stopped making them:

Username: GCMartin
"That's why I brought mine. The retail cost went from $400 to $99. Its still plentiful and available. and, its functional. And, its Android. Not to mention the packaging for TV, Internet integration, PVR, and entertainment media usage, its still a top of the line product at a fraction of the cost, with continued support. I like stability, support along with functionality. All for $99 This is probably not for everyone. But, its a strong contender for honors. Compare it with the Deal Extreme offer. It it will meet your needs ...

China Android Device
Username: Raffy
"Yes, I like that the box can use 2.5" hard drive. For hobbyists, you can search for "AllWinner A10" in aliexpress (Android 4.0 seems to be available).

Download Android 4.0 on GoogleTV
Username: GCMartin
"Logitech has already made V4 available. This, again,is only for those interested.

Username: Raffy
"Don't miss the cubox, based on Marvell Armada 510 SoC: [url=] [img][/img]

Neoniq Internet box
Username: BarryK
"This was on special offer on Sunday for $99.95, it has now gone up to $129.95: I did not take up the offer. Curious, the web page shows the product rated 4 stars, but if you actually look at the reviews, many of them assign it only one star, no way it can average out at 4 stars. This is a rebadged Geniatech ATV2000. The unit on offer by is an earlier release, with Android 2.2 -- the latest has Android 2.3. I looked at the neoniq website, it looks like they have discontinued it, so are doing a model runout, hence the discount.

Username: GCMartin
"Both SONY and Logitech have had their offering rates as excellent. Primarily, the Logitech unit ranks in functionality with the SONY unit but at 1/4 of the price, $99. As Logitech points out, they had a very hard time getting the populace to purchase at $400 against SONY. But, as soon as the price dropped, they/ve been selling 4 times as many units. Go figure.

Mele order progress
Username: BarryK
"A progress report, so that anyone else who orders the Mele A1000 will get an idea how long it takes... Today my order status has changed from "paid" to "order being prepared for shipment". Yay! I placed the order on the 7th, it is now 22nd. However, that stage can also be slow, so I will post an update when it actually ships.

Alternative supplier
Username: BarryK
"My daughter discovered this alternative vendor of the Mele A1000:

Hacking Android
Username: BarryK
"I will post this link here, it might be useful for me after my Mele arrives: The Mele A1000 has some Chinese apps that I will need to remove. It is supposed to be easy to do, but given my zero experience with Android, the videos might help. Note, although I want to install Linux, I also want to keep the Android installation. Hmmm, something on that site causes my system to become sluggish, mouse is jerky.

Another place to buy Mele A1000
Username: DCR
"Another place to order the Mele A1000: BR

Re Another place to buy Mele A1000
Username: BarryK
"DCR, Yes, but it is only temporary. Tom Cubie is a guy on the Rhombus Tech 'arm-netbook' mail-list, who works in China. A little while ago he kindly offered to make them available via Aliexpress and he went direct to the manufacturer, bought them, then shipped them to the buyers. There were about 14-15 buyers on that first occasion, then Tom removed the offer from Aliexpress. However, about a week ago, more guys on the mail-list expressed an interest in acquiring the Mele, so Tom put them up for sale at Aliexpress again. I have also placed an order with Tom, so I expect to be receiving two Meles (the one from dealextreme still hasn't arrived). Tom hasn't said how long he will be leaving the offer up on Aliexpress.

Re parallel universe
Username: BarryK
"Yeah, one of these days, someone who know something about Perl will fix this blog script! There is a bug with the reddit feed too, and I think that someone did once send me a patch for it, but I lost it. ...that's what happens when you think "I'll do that later"

Fix PPLOG date
Username: lwill
"I fixed it in my blog a long time ago. I [u]think[/u] this was all I did: In sub getdate: Change: [code] elsif($hour > 24) { $hour = floor(((24-$hour)*-1)+1); $day++; }[/code] to [code] elsif($hour > 24) { $hour = floor(((25-$hour)*-1)+1); $day++; } if($hour == 24) { $hour = 0; $day++; } [/code] It was a while ago, but I think it worked. PPLOG was my first time using PERL myself. I also added more BBCode tags. The one bug I still have not found sometimes a post will overwrite the very first post.

PPLOG first post
Username: lwill
"I just checked, did you notice your first post is changed/gone as well: :doh:

Tags: puppy