Saturday, 18 March 2017

Fixing the SmartTV

Over the years I have collected a couple of ARM based boards evaluation / experimentation . Some I bought because just I wanted to and others I have bought for a specific purpose that they never fore filled.

I got recently so disappointed with the "SmartTV" part of my Samsung television UE40ES6300. The issues are that the applications are not very convenient (e.g. difficult to search in Youtube), the SmartHub always needs an update when it is inconvenient and in June 2016 was the support for Skype discontinued. The discontinuation of Skype would be enough for a own post.

The combination bad SmartTV, no Skype and Arm board gave me the thought that it would be maybe a solution to install AndroidTV on one of my boards. Such that I can enjoy a more stable experience, have a good working Youtube and Skype again because this all works so nice on my android telephone.

My board of choice for this is an Odroid U3 of Hardkernel.
Odroid U3

This is a board based on a Samsung Exynos4412 processor a quad core Cortex-A9 on 1.7GHz and with 2Gb of memory. Quite a potent processor that is also used for some of Samsugs galaxy telephones and tablets. This processor was discontinued / succeded with a newer version sometime Q2 2014.

I first tried Android TV CM 12.1 which did not do the trick for me.
  • The google play store did not work properly
  • Did not get used to the user interface, (More my problem)
  • To have skype support in your android device you need a "key" which is not available for this device / android combination.
The above made that this did not solve my requirements. With having to give up on Skype there was  no need to use Android. The next step would be a linux based media player (i.e Openelec with Kodi).

Openelec is also available for the Odroid U3 and can be found here on the Odroid forum. This worked for me better than Android, because of my better knowledge of linux. It is for me easier to understand what is happening under the hood than with Android. With Android I am more the stupid user than the "hacker" that can fix the internals.

I do have a couple of issues for which I will make a few blog entries:
  1. The image works very well from an SD card but not from the faster / sexier eMMC memory. The solution of that can be found here.
  2. My above mentioned television is not always detecting the HDMI and CEC interface, depending on who was switched on first. I will need to further look into this.
  3. It would be nice to only supply power to the board when the television is on. But this should not give a corrupt file system when the TV is switched off.

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