First Impressions: Odroid


SNESFAN

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Alright, well as promised here is my first impressions review of the Odroid

Purchase & Shipping: Total price was $223 USD for the Odroid lite model plus shipping. They accept PayPal as a form of payment which I like very much. Package arrived in 3-4 days from halfway across the world is a pretty spectacular feat, $20 USD shipping going from korea post-> USPS -> my door I'm fairly satisified with that.



Unboxing: Small android robot green/yellow (i'm colorblind) box with lots of formed padding, Odroid, usb->hdmi connector, and battery is all thats in the box, all documentation is provided online. Odroid came with a protective plastic film on the screen.



Hardware: Odroid is fairly sturdy, but has a somewhat cheap plastic feel to it, alot lighter than you would expect by looking at it. Twisting it creates popping sounds as it moves back and forth, but nothing too bad. Visually is a dark transparent black matte finish. Parts fit together with no obvious flaws in the case construction. Battery cover slides on and off easy but doesn't appear to come off while using the device. There is a SD slot for mass storage and microSD slot with supplied 2Gb microSD for the system image, both accessible in the battery well, only replaceable with battery removed.

-Wifi:This is my biggest complaint here, it technically works, but it seems like it only connects when it wants to. With the version that comes out of the box, only WPA encryption is useable, after upgrading to android 2.1 pre-release, the same spotty connection is there but at least it allows you to connect to more types of secured wifi networks. I belive this to be software based, once it connects (and stays connected) it is snappy just as you would expect.

-Processor: The Samsung Cortex-A8 833Mhz ARM proc does a fairly decent job of being snappy in and out of apps very quickly. Comparing it to similar tasks that my HTC hero can do at 528mhz I'd say you definitely feel the boost to the proc.

-Bluetooth: Advertised but does not appear to be functional. I was unable to pair it with any headsets at the time of this posting. This is probably software related.

-Ram:512mb ram is sufficient IMO for android and all the software available at the time of this posting.

-Display: anti scratch glass capacitive touch screen survived my car keys test. The touch input needs more of a delay as it is extremely easy to tap items when you intended on scrolling. This is a software problem and should be resolved with further firmware development. No noticeable tearing or blur with fast action, crisp image, noticeable colors were brilliant (agian I note I'm colorblind) I should also mention they haven't finished writing the drivers for openGL yet but even in it's primitive state it's not too bad for graphic intensive apps, but live wallpapers fail horribly in 2.1... at least until they get this implemented I'm guessing.

-Buttons:This is where the design gets most people. The placement of the buttons d-pad on the left, abxy on the right and standard android home, back, menu, search on the lower left. They all technically work, but the design is horrible here. Putting the Odroid in to portrait mode the layout makes sence and is very natural, but it into landscape the layout is just quirky. If I could have designed it, I would have put the dpad directly left center, and abxy directly right center. I'd make all of them bigger and more nintendo/sony esque. I'd change the "android buttons" to be along the bottom of the screen in landscape and more of a oblong pill shaped. That's just my opinion. Anyway, the button press on the action and dpad buttons is a little stiff, but responsive, no issues with buttons getting stuck. Also there's a sliding off/on & fn switch, when going to the right it turns off the accelerometer (from what I gather) and puts the home screen and any running apps into landscape, this is very useful.

-Shoulder buttons: The way they did this was interesting but are somewhat of a mess also. They are capacitive touch sensors (really sensitive), not physical buttons. The sensitivity has been turned way down in the newest software release however. In the supplied version it is extremely easy to accidently hit them to the point of being annoying, obviously will be improved over time. You can feel this the most while in portrait. The inputs themselves are on the top of the device directly near the HDMI and I/O connector ports, they react the way you want them to when purposely hitting them. The shoulder buttons control the volume and work as such in most of the android apps you will download. In emulators they act just as they should as actual inputs. This is no different than most android phones. The placement is frustrating in portrait mode, but is the only logical placement while playing in landscape mode. I really wish they would have went with physical buttons here.

-Speaker: Mono internal speaker works, pretty clear, nothing spectacular, not as high quality as the hero I own. Headphone jack output is nice, this part depends on your headphones mainly, the audio quality is about what you would expect for something of this nature, nothing to write home about, volume is about as loud as you'd want it to be. It has a microphone but I didn't test it, nor do I know why you would need one, but if you find a reason, it's there.

-HDMI Out: I wasn't able to test this due to my lack of owning anything with HDMI input. Videos on youtube make it look nice though.



Software: This part is going to change vastly in the upcomming months. If more devs get ahold of an Odroid, it will move much faster. I'm extremely happy with the jump to 2.1 in the upcomming weeks. Alpha version is already very nice in it's infantcy. The manufacturers are very open to community development. They have guides on how to get to know and use your device, booting, to modifying, flashing, compiling android. Everything you would want from an open source handheld. The rate at which they are developing, it is hard for them to release the source code of every improvement, but they make it a point to post the source of everything they've done as official roll outs come out. This isn't just for the kernel development like they have to do legeally. They are honest to goodness an open source manufacturer. Much like OpenPandora ltd.

-Android:Use and feel of the android version that comes on it does feel rather clunky ATM compared to the android phones I've used in the past. If you feel android is already clunky, add twice as many clunks in the version they are providing. 10 times as many in the pre-release of enclair. The releases are based on the open source android git reposity, AOSP is what it is called I belive. All of your "with google" stuff is not there, such as the market (they have an alternative for this) gmail, google maps, google talk, google sync... all that fun stuff. The reason is it is not open source. One of the first things I'm going to do is figure out how to get all that on here though.

-Adding Software:The market alternative is called slideME, it works exactly like the market but is a non-google controlled source, you can purchase almost all the same apps as you can via the google android market. With the added ability to install via sd card downloads. It's like the android market+ if you ask me. Once you purchase a piece of software it's tied to your slideME account to be downloaded as much as you want. I haven't dug into the DRM aspect of it, but it seems fair.

-Hacking: If it is anything that I'm the most impressed with is this. They make it easy to get into hacking this thing. I'm somewhat of a noob when it comes to compiling an OS, but they break it down like barney, I need to do a lot of reading, but the information is there just waiting for anyone to go through it. They break it down to command line inputs. Simple copy and paste if that's what you're looking for. Great starting ground for anyone getting into this type of development. Android interests me very much and I can't wait to get started. One thing I have previous experience with is adb shell, talking to the internal guts of android, I am still having a hard time making my computer recognize Odroid as an android device with adb (android development bridge) I think it's because I'm running windows 7 and there's a long history of that casing problems with accessing android devices because of driver issues... I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually... that or break out my windows xp agian. ;)

-Updateing: Firmware flashing software is all windows XP based, upgrades are very straight forward if you own a xp based machine, download a zip file, it contains uboot image, the kernel and the system image. No linux version of the sd card flasher currently, but has a guide on how to do it manually. The Odroid is unbrickable due to everything being read of the microSD and not flash.

-Gaming: As an emulator it is sufficient, no noticeable lag on the snes, gb, and sms emulators that I had, controls work, nothing amazing, but nothing bad... it works.



Battery: Battery life is fair, but admittedly Odroid manufacturers have stated they have made improvements to the sleep state and overall efficentcy to significantly improve battery life. As it is right now 4 hours away from charger under normal use and it was dead. The supplied IIRC 1400mAh battery (unmarked) should be enough as is while improvements would be welcomed.



Overall: The overall feeling I get on this is exciting. Even if it's just for the learning aspect of it. Watching it grow, seeing how basic android is supposed to work and getting the benefits of every major development google makes to it without the manufacturers getting in the way of releases and proprietary software. The handheld it's self is alright, but I'm more interested on what's on it rather than how it actually feels to use. Not something I'm going to be showing off to my friends thats for sure. Fun little device... definitely

EDIT: Oh yea... if you have any questions, feel free to ask ;)
 
Did you take any photos?

I'm interested in this. Maybe not enough to cancel my Pandora preorder, but it's getting close.


Awesome review by the way.
 
Nova said:
Did you take any photos?

I'm interested in this. Maybe not enough to cancel my Pandora preorder, but it's getting close.


Awesome review by the way.
I didn't take any photos, funny story... my only camera is on my phone, my phone is running a hacked version of android 2.1 and the camera doesn't work atm, if they fix that I'll post pics but it very much looks like this
odroid-android-france-01.jpg

but more of a black finish, same transparency.

I wouldn't cancel (and didn't cancel) my pre-order, it's not quite "there" yet, but has great potential. I had the expendable money and it looked like a cool project to get into while I wait for my pandora.
 

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jb0yx said:
-Wifi:This is my biggest complaint here, it technically works, but it seems like it only connects when it wants to. With the version that comes out of the box, only WPA encryption is useable, after upgrading to android 2.1 pre-release, the same spotty connection is there but at least it allows you to connect to more types of secured wifi networks. I belive this to be software based, once it connects (and stays connected) it is snappy just as you would expect.

-Bluetooth: Advertised but does not appear to be functional. I was unable to pair it with any headsets at the time of this posting. This is probably software related.

Interesting :)
The same two things where we had a lot of work to get them going (and WiFi still isn't going too well).

Looks like even bigger companies have the same problems :)

Well, I'm sure they'll fix it, same as us :)
 
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Does anybody have the schematics? I'm not overly keen on spending $150 extra just to get them.
 
Orkie said:
Does anybody have the schematics? I'm not overly keen on spending $150 extra just to get them.
that extra 150 is for the debug board (haven't found a need for this yet it appears everything can be compiled and loaded via microSD), extra battery, and 8gb sd I think? other than that it's the same as the lite version.

here's the schematic (it's huge)
http://dev.odroid.com/wiki/odroid/pds/HardwareInformation/S5PC100_UM_REV101.pdf


here is some more informative reading
user manual
http://dev.odroid.com/wiki/odroid/pds/FrontPage/ODROID_User_Manual_ENG_V091.pdf
hardware info
http://dev.odroid.com/projects/odroid/wiki/HardwareInformation

EDIT: looks like there's talk of a debian port project... not a whole lot there yet, but kinda cool
http://dev.odroid.com/projects/debiandroid/
 
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That is the manual for the chip in there, not the schematic. If I had the schematic I could build a serial dongle for a few pounds, and it also on their website it does not have any JTAG pinout information unless you buy expensive model with the schematic.
 
Orkie said:
That is the manual for the chip in there, not the schematic. If I had the schematic I could build a serial dongle for a few pounds, and it also on their website it does not have any JTAG pinout information unless you buy expensive model with the schematic.
mweston said he was looking at it and found some potential flaws, might hit him up for a copy of it?
 
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Here are some videos...

Quake-3 and GameboyAdvance with HDMI-TV.
You can find source code of Quake3 for Android from http://code.google.com/p/kwaak3/


Unboxing



You can find more interesting videos via this link...
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=odroid&search_type=&aq=f
 
jb0yx said:
Orkie said:
Does anybody have the schematics? I'm not overly keen on spending $150 extra just to get them.
that extra 150 is for the debug board (haven't found a need for this yet it appears everything can be compiled and loaded via microSD), extra battery, and 8gb sd I think? other than that it's the same as the lite version.

here's the schematic (it's huge)
http://dev.odroid.com/wiki/odroid/pds/HardwareInformation/S5PC100_UM_REV101.pdf


here is some more informative reading
user manual
http://dev.odroid.com/wiki/odroid/pds/FrontPage/ODROID_User_Manual_ENG_V091.pdf
hardware info
http://dev.odroid.com/projects/odroid/wiki/HardwareInformation

EDIT: looks like there's talk of a debian port project... not a whole lot there yet, but kinda cool
http://dev.odroid.com/projects/debiandroid/


The debian/Ubuntu-9.10 ports is still WIP.
You can check this thread.
http://groups.google.com/group/odroid-developer-discuss/browse_thread/thread/28d51f25deb47559
 
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I worked out how to get all the proprietary google stuff on any device running AOSP 2.1(market, gmail, google maps)

*LEGAL* By reading further or downloading below you agree and confirm you own another android device that came with these apps pre-installed. This is free software but not open source software it is not meant to be freely distributed. This is only a guide on how to put this software BACK on your device after making modifications or upgrading your OS to AOSP 2.1 *LEGAL*
***UPDATE*** most of the following work, (gmail, maps, lockscreen etc) there's a problem with android market connecting and a force close on google talk... I'm working the issue now ***UPDATE***

Download GoogleBits-sdk7-v1.7-signed.zip (RapidShare, Megaupload, DepositFile, HotFile)
Unzip it in c:\sdk-android\tools\GoogleBits\
Connect USB to your PC
Type the following commands:
Code:
cd c:\android-sdk\tools\
adb remount
adb push GoogleBits\system\framework /system/framework
adb push GoogleBits\system\lib /system/lib
adb push GoogleBits\system\app /system/app
adb reboot

Google bits 1.9 located here
Note to Mods: if this is going to cause problems let me know before taking this post down or provide an alternative method of getting this info out there. This info is elsewhere on the internet but took several days of intensive searching knowing ahead of time what exactly it was I was looking for.
 
minor update: adb bridge is working fine for me now, had a driver conflict with my htc hero. Now it is running right as rain, just had to manually update my hero's adb driver in windows to the odroid's reconnect odroid and it worked. Odroid people said they are going to go through and make sure the vendor id isn't conflicting with other android devices.

usb mass storage mode works fine as well, wifi is working better, after disconnecting my htc hero from wifi, the network I'm trying to connect to shows up fine now on Odroid. Very weird issue I have to say, not quite sure why that was. Market and google talk still isn't working, youtube is reported working by others, but not for me, weird... still trying to work it out.

"testing" more snes roms, works really good actually, f-zero was really run and playable. Chrono trigger, final fantasies, contra, and zelda all worked well. Mario world is laggy, mario rpg fails to load. I feel now that I would change my opinion on the position of the action buttons, I'd move them to the top, where the dpad is instead of the middle, my right thumb was starting to cramp a bit after extended playing, where my left was fine. Tested only a few sega games, sonic, golden axe, earthworm jim... fast and playable. Any requests for testing emulators/roms or any apps out there? Let me know.
 
I have a smartq v5 which only has android 1.6 and doesn't have the market. Slideme is decent but doesn't have nearly as much as the real market. This device needs the real market in order to be worth it. Looks pretty cool though.
 
I also have the odroid. I'm the one that made that crappy unboxing video you posted earlier. :rolleyes: I have been able to get the market and other google apps to work on it under the 1.5 firmware but not with 2.1. I went back to 1.5 because everything was extremely buggy on 2.1 (more buggy then it already is on 1.5). I also agree and think the capacitive shoulder buttons were a very odd idea. You can see me fumbling at the end of my video trying to figure out what was turning the volume up and down.

I bought the odroid because I was looking for a device that I could use as a skype phone, play emulators, and to browse the web. Unfortunately skype (and other voip apps) don't play well with the odroid as of yet. The overall web browsing and internet experience (facebook, etc.) is fine and I'm happy with it. The music app from google is awesome and so is their podcast application "Listen" (this is based on if you get the google applications to work).

These are the following emulators that I have tried and their status:

android 1.5

- SNES plays full speed (SNESoid)
- NES plays full speed (NESoid)
- Gameboy plays full speed (GBCoid)
- Genesis/Megadrive plays full speed (Gensoid)
- GBA does not work (Gameboid crashes to the home screen)

android 2.1

- SNES crashes to the home screen
- NES plays full speed
- Gameboy plays full speed
- Genesis/Megadrive crashes to the home screen
- GBA works (haven't tested but Gameboid 1.7 has been confirmed to work)

The most disappointing thing about the odroid thus far is the battery life. On moderate wifi usage it only last about three and a half hours on a full charge. There really isn't too much difference on the idle time either. When I had an iPhone, if I left it in my pocket and turned on with 3G running all day long, it still would have half the battery life left, but the odroid does not do this. Also, it only comes with a USB charging cable and every "USB to AC" adapter I have tried so far does not charge the odroid. The odroid uses the TTA20 pin Korean cell phone plug standard and it's been rough finding any info on the web about it. I bought an adapter on ebay that appears to be the same type but I won't know if it works or not until it gets here (could take up to 18 days from Hong Kong).

Overall it's not a bad device and you can't really knock it completely since it really isn't meant for consumer use just yet. Hopefully as time goes on it will get better and hopefully I won't get impatient and sell it like I normally do. :)
 
@wolfspirit

I am able to play snesoid and gendoid on 2.1, that is weird. I did however backup the full versions I purchased from my hero and installed it via slideME's sd card feature. I got that, astro, beautiful widgets, task panel, droid armory, robo defence, slacker, google voice, taskoS all running fine installed via this method. Maybe the apps on slideME aren't of the same version as the market... who knows.

Can you please share how you got the market to run on 1.5? This will help me greatly on how to get it to run on 2.1, thanks in advance.
 
So far the reviews here aren't that good, so I think I'll pass even though there's a lot of hype on the Android OS. Unless I can get a used one for $150. :D So far none on ebay, I guess they only sold a couple hundreds.

I think the next batch of Pandora should upgrade their CPU since the Odroid is now faster. Gonna wait for Pandora's reviews.
 
cool, so I was able to get android market to work in 1.5 with some help from wolfspirit. I actually hosed my 2.1 and was in the process in going back to 1.5 to test some of the stuff he was talking about before I got a hold of him anyway. It looks like it works, it doesn't recognize purchased apps I remember running into a similar problem when messing with custom roms from xda for my hero. Had some difficulties downloading some of the apps also. I'll be re-reading over that stuff at some point probally.

I'm going to keep trying to mess around with 2.1 until I get it to work though. I've been reading some chatter in the Korean forum (google translated, so not 100%) but it seems someone over there is at least acknowledging the problem. It might be pointless for me to try since 2.1 is in an alpha build on Odroid and the problem might be deeper than just tying to copy and paste apps and edit a line of code or two. Oh well, I will continue to beat my head against the wall until an official release comes out.

EDIT: @rsuryase the motorola droid and the pandora have almost the exact same specs, a small nod to pandora however, and android runs great on the droid. I'd only suggest that the pandora maybe get 512mb ram to compete with the newest android handhelds out there, it will probably be needed in the upcoming years.

http://pdadb.net/index.php?m=specs&id=2011&c=motorola_droid___tao_a855_motorola_sholes
http://www.open-pandora.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=91&Itemid=6&lang=en

if you're wagering between the Odroid and Pandora... 100000% go for the pandora, I only bought a Odroid to fill the gap in my boredom untill my pandora arrives, if you are in the same boat as me, I still encourage you to do so... right around $200 is my threshold on my hobby, hence why I got one. I do not suggest you get this as an alternative to the pandora, now, or in the future, unless some major improvements are done... the pandora is going to be awesome, I'm very confident in this.
 
jb0yx said:
if you're wagering between the Odroid and Pandora... 100000% go for the pandora, I only bought a Odroid to fill the gap in my boredom untill my pandora arrives, if you are in the same boat as me, I still encourage you to do so... right around $200 is my threshold on my hobby, hence why I got one. I do not suggest you get this as an alternative to the pandora, now, or in the future, unless some major improvements are done... the pandora is going to be awesome, I'm very confident in this.
Does this mean you'll be selling your Odroid when Pandora releases? I must confess I'm looking forward to the release of Pandora to cash in on all the great deals the community has purchased to fill their gaming needs till Pandora releases.
 
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