[TTT] Updating and Tweaking a S905X Based Kodi/Android Box

UPDATE: I have confirmed that the firmware works on all variants of the T95X boxes.

Recently I purchased one of the Chinese made Kodi Android boxes. The particular model I picked up was from Amazon and was branded as the “Richino I9X”. After much digging and tinkering I discovered this was a re-badged Sunvell T95X. I was actually able to get the updated firmware loaded from Sunvell and this fixed a lot of little glitches and issues that were present on the one I purchased. They are also sold under the “Puersit” label as well as Sunvell and Richino.

Tweaks

When you get these boxes they will have a number of applications pre-loaded. I would recommend uninstalling them all and disabling any apps that you will not use. This will free up the background processes. Also note that while their hardware supports [email protected] output Netflix will NOT stream at 4K due to the lack of copy protection on the device, it will only be 1080p.

I am using mine with a USB keyboard so I downloaded an application that overrides the onscreen keyboard and allows you to change the key mappings. For example I mapped the physical “Enter” key to the Android “Enter” command so that I can press enter to search and/or execute commands like on a normal computer.

App Download: External Keyboard Helper Pro

Firmware Update

These boxes are all identical and you can tell by the housing and port layout that they have. The only thing you have to check (based on posts on numerous Android TV box forums) is that you flash the correct firmware based on the RAM and eMMC memory you have. The particular firmware I have posted here is for the 1GB of RAM and 8GB of eMMC storage variant. Now this may work on other variants but you can try at your own risk, but based on my experience with Android devices the memory shouldn’t matter and the flash should work.

Until you do this update you will have issues with the Play Store crashing as well as other typos in the system. After installing this update it will be on the OEM version of the software from Sunvell and will get their automatic firmware updates from their servers. The one that comes on the re-badged versions does NOT auto update and has numerous bugs.

August 2016 Sunvell T95X Firmware: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dmk1s0htwiuo4ed/firmware082016.zip?dl=0

If you want to install this firmware you must have a Micro SD card that is 2GB or larger and something to press the hidden recovery switch.

  1. Format the SD card as FAT (NOT FAT32). If you have a large card use this utility to format it at FAT: https://www.dropbox.com/s/43ohryu4el9odxc/guiformat.exe?dl=0
  2. Copy the contents of the firmware file posted above to the root of the MicroSD Card.
  3. Unplug the device and insert the MicroSD Card.
  4. Connect the device to HDMI.
  5. Carefully insert a long and small object into the av/headphone port, you will feel a button inside. A toothpick works very well for this.
  6. While holding the button down and the MicroSD card inserted plug the power into the device.
  7. Keep holding the button until you see the little Android Updating logo on the screen.
  8. The update will take between 5-10 minutes.

Here is a video of how to install the update once it is on the MicroSD card: https://www.dropbox.com/s/z7s0lhysnd2ayb6/T95X%20SD%20card%20update.MOV?dl=0

That’s it! You are all updated.

Should you buy one?

All in all these boxes are under $35 on Amazon and if you want a small Kodi box for your TV this is it. If you pair it with a HD HomeRun tuner on your network you can ditch your cable boxes as well! If this sounds appealing pick one up.

What should you look for? 

  • You absolutely should get a minimum of the S905X CPU. There are others out there (specifically the S905) that are older and do not have the new processing features.
  • The Android version should be 6.0 or higher.
  • There are versions with clocks on the front, remote designs, external wifi antennas, and other designs. As long as it has the right CPU it doesn’t matter what one you get.
  • You will see there are different RAM and storage configurations. They are as follows: 1GB RAM+8GB Storage, 2GB RAM+8GB Storage, and 2GB RAM+16GB Storage. The S912 (higher end CPU) versions have up to 3GB of RAM on them, these are more expensive though.
  • There are also some with and without Gigabit ethernet. From my testing these devices cannot even max out a 100mbit connection so this shouldn’t be something you should worry about.
  • There are also some with 802.11AC Dual Band, 802.11N Dual Band, or 802.11N Single Band. Get the one that suits you best. I use ethernet so this was not important to me.

I would also highly recommend getting a keyboard/trackpad device as this will make it much easier to use. I put a link to the one I recommend below, the Logitech K400 is also a larger option that works.

Amazon Links:

Richino I9X – S905X CPU, 8GB Storage, 1GB RAM, 802.11N Single Band Wifi

Puersit I9X – S905X CPU, 8GB Storage, 1GB RAM, 802.11N Single Band Wifi

TICTID T12 – S912 CPU, 16GB Storage, 2GB RAM, 802.11AC Dual Band Wifi

Rii I8 Backlit Keyboard/Trackpad – USB 2.4ghz rechargeable keypad/mouse.

Logitech K400 Keyboard/Trackpad – USB 2.4ghz keypad/mouse.

NOT! TP-LINK Archer C7 Router Finally Stable! – New Firmware Inside

As you recall in previous posts I was having random connectivity issues with my Archer C7 router. I found another firmware that was sent over to me from a contact I have. This firmware is 100% stable and has not shown any of the connectivity issues I had in the past. Download link is below. Flash it and let me know if you have an improvement too!

UPDATE: As of 12 days of running this I am getting drops yet again. I am going to RMA my router and get some other brand. I am done with this sub-par router.

Continue reading

TP-LINK Archer C7 Follow Up – New Firmware

Last week I wrote an article on the new TP-LINK Archer C7 802.11ac router. I was having some throughput issues with their latest official firmware so I found a beta firmware on a .de site and that seemed to fix the issues. Then the following day the TP-LINK support sent me an email following up on the review. They then provided me with a new beta firmware that further fixed the wireless throughput issues and improved stability.

softwareupdateI installed this about a week ago and since then the router has been stable and the throughput issues have been ironed out. I have about 10 devices on the 2.4ghz network now and have had Apple devices on it without any issues. I am running it in a 20mhz bandwidth mode now since there is too much overlap in my condo building but I still manage to pull in about 25mbps up and down.

Now the 5ghz band has improved in stability and throughput is consistently between 400mbps and 600mbps. I am very happy with the performance of the 5ghz band with this firmware. It’s nice to finally have a wireless connection that is more than capable of handling large file transfers without a dropout and at high speeds.

If you want to try it on your TP-LINK Archer C7 hit the download link here: TP-LINK Archer C7 130812 Beta Firmware

TP-LINK Archer C7 Review and Fix

Overview/History

For the past 2 years I have been running 2 separate access points to facilitate a 2.4ghz and a 5ghz wireless network. Since I moved into a condo a year and a half ago I have had to rely on the 5ghz band to provide me with fast wireless access since there are over 20 SSIDs on the 2.4ghz band in my living room. With all the sales on equipment on Black Friday and all the other holiday sales I saw the TP-LINK Archer C7 router on sale for $100. I managed to get $5 off with a NewEgg.com promotion and then on top of that there is a $20 mail in rebate. All in all I got an 802.11ac router for just under $75.

TP-LINK Archer C7 Router

Now I suspected that there may be some weird issues since it is a cheaper router but I was actually pleasantly surprised at it’s performance. Now I am only running this as an Access Point (DHCP disabled) and not as a router so I can only comment on it’s wireless throughput and stability.

Network Setup

For my main router I am running a custom built Atom powered embedded solution with PfSense 2.1 running under the hood. All my switches are 8 port HP ProCurve 1410-8P gigabit switches.

I am running the 2.4ghz on Channel 1 with a width of 40mhz and I am running the 5ghz channel on channel 36 with a width of 80mhz. There are separate SSIDs for each band.

The wireless card in the laptop I am testing with is the Intel 7260-AC Mini-PCIe card in my Asus X202E laptop. Android testing was done with a HTC Droid DNA running the Venom 4.2.2 ROM v2.0.3.

I should add that I have friends over all the time with different Android devices, iPhones, and laptops. So far they have all been able to connect and use the wireless network without any issues.

2.4ghz Band Performance

In my heavily saturated 2.4ghz enviroment with a 40mhz channel width I regularly see speeds of 15-30mbps on the downstream and the same on the upstream. I am very happy with the 2.4ghz performance and range. I am able to pickup my 2.4ghz network almost 500ft on the ground from my 3rd story condo. My previous DD-WRT powered Linksys Valet M20 AP barely could manage 10mbps on a good day in the same conditions. Some users were complaining of low signal on both 2.4 and 5ghz bands but this covers my 1500sq feet condo and my friends same condo above me through the flexicore ceiling just fine.

802.11ac File Transfer

5ghz Band Performance

Luckily the 5ghz band in my condo is almost completely untouched at the moment. There are only 2 other SSIDs on this band and they are both at the higher end of the spectrum. Since I am using a lower channel number these do not affect me.

Now the 5ghz channel is running in full 80mhz AC mode and the speeds are great. On the download and upload I manage between 300mbps and 600mbps. These speeds are great and it reliably transmits files over the LAN without any issues.

Firmware Issues

Until today I was getting random slow downs and some dropouts from the router on all the devices that I am using. I already checked that the router was not getting too hot to rule that out. Then while searching to see if anyone else has this issue I managed to stumble upon a beta firmware on the TP-LINK .de site. I flashed it on my router and appears to be working the best without these issues. I have posted a copy of the firmware for download here: TP-LINK Archer C7 130625 Beta Firmware.

Conclusion and Thoughts

This is my first 802.11ac and TP-LINK router. I have seen these before and they also seem to usually get supported by DD-WRT or OpenWRT at some point so that is why I decided to give them a try. For the more advanced users that would want to tweak more this router may annoy them as they have some more common settings locked down (channel width selection on the 5ghz band, b/g/n/ac mode selections are limited). But for the average user who just wants a solid 802.11ac router or access point this is a good solution. If I have any other issues with this router or the above mentioned firmware proves to be unstable I will post an update.

All in all I am happy with my purchase and it is nice to have the 802.11ac in my home. It’s also nice to only have 1 AP instead of 2 separate ones. Thanks for reading!