3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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Trying the Stereo 3D Support of the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC

August 30th, 2012 · 7 Comments · Other S3D Tech

These little mini PCs called MK802 with Android 4.0 OS are quite the hit all over the Internet due to the fact that they are low power, decently performing and cost effective mobile platform that connects to your TV set and kind of gives it most of the features that an Android-based smartphone offers. What has attracted my attention to them however is that fact that some sellers of these devices claim that they also offer stereoscopic 3D support, so I’ve ordered one to try it out and see what kind of stereo 3D support do they have and is it really worth it. You can imagine that not a lot of people buy them because of the advertised stereo 3D support, so the information about that feature is not very much and getting a fist hand experience with the device is always much better. So I’ve just recently got the small device and played with it for a few days before sharing my feedback from the MK820…

The device is based on AllWinner A10 processor which is essentially a Cortex A8 ARM CPU running at 1 GHz (single core) backed up by a decent GPU (some sellers label this as 1.5GHz with 1GHz CPU and 500MHz GPU), with 1GB DDR3 RAM memory (though there is also a version with 512MB) and 4GB ROM. You have an microSD card slot that can take up to 32GB cards, so extending the storage is not a problem, two USB ports (one is mini-USB) with OTG support so you can connect devices like keyboard or mouse as well as USB flash drives etc. There is a built-in WiFi support and apparently USB Ethernet adapters are also supported if you a cable connection to a local network. On top of that you get Andoid 4.0 OS on a rooted device (no need to root it) with full access to Google Play, meaning it is easily hackable and extendable and you can also boot other OSes on it from an SD card. You have an HDMI port that allows you to easily connect the device to an HDTV or a computer monitor and all this comes for less than $100 USD with the shipping from China. It is not an OUYA, but you also don’t have to wait to March next year to get one either, so it does not sound like a bad deal… not as fast and powerful as Tegra 3, but it works decently fast.

But what about the stereo 3D features it should offer? As I’ve said some of the sellers of the MK802 mini PC with Android mention stereoscopic 3D support or 3D video support, others don’t. There is actually a reason for that and it is the fact that initially the first software build of the MK820 firmware supports stereo 3D video playback with HDMI 1.4 frame packaging output, but apparently the later builds don’t or at least it is not working. The device comes with a special video player called 2160p or Gallery (the exact name is not very clear) which is not available on the Android Market, and in order to get 3D video playback you need to open the 3D video with that player, apparently it supports hardware acceleration through the GPU so you can not only play 3D video, but also 2160p (4K) 2D video over it.

The device I’ve got was with the most recent software build and while it had the mentioned special video player and the player supported 3D video playback it simply did not work when I’ve tried to activate the stereo 3D mode. So I went back to the previous software it had the same problem and after that to the initial software build where I was able to easily make the 3D video playback work just fine. I’ve noticed that the initial version of the firmware for the MK802 was using an older version of the player, so I’ve tried upgrading the firmware to a newer version and replacing the video player with the one used in the initial build (the info page from the initial build is on the photo above), however the 3D mode on the TV set still did not activate. So the conclusion is that in the more recent software builds the stereoscopic 3D support has been broken and not because of the updated video player version apparently and the only way to be able to use the MK820 to play stereo 3D videos is to install the first build of the firmware for the device. Fortunately this is not hard to do as the image file for that firmware is available and you can easily flash it on the device, the actual problem is that there are some bugs and things present that are not functional in that build and the more recent versions of the software fix these and add some new useful features.

The special 2160p (Gallery) player does have support for HDMI 1.4 frame packaged output, so when you play a 3D video and select the right 3D input method of the video you can have it played back in 3D automatically and that is a good thing. The player supports Side by Side and Over/Under format for 3D videos, along with Interlaced and Anaglyph 3D formats, and you can play 3D videos in 2D as well if you wish to. No support for Blu-ray 3D ISO files for example or MVC-encoded videos is available though. The interface of the player in the only working version is a bit confusing, especially the different 3D modes menu and while this has been fixed in the more recent versions of the video player, as I’ve explained they do not function properly, but after trying out the different options you’ll quickly learn what they do and what to use.

So what is the verdict for the Android-based MK802 device? It is most definitely an interesting product at an attractive price, and while it does work with stereo 3D video if you manage to make it work (get to the early firmware) there is more to be done and seeing that in the more recent software releases 3D video playback does not work properly I will not recommend to get it if you plan to mostly use it for 3D video playback. If you however don’t care about stereoscopic 3D video playback the MK802 Android 4.0 mini PC is actually not bad, you can play with it a lot, use it is a development platform for Android or simply make your older HDTV “smarter”… not much of a game console alternative though as it is not that powerful, but you should be able to run most not so demanding Android games. The good thing about the device is that there is already a large community hacking it and even developing custom ROMs working on extending the support and features and while 3D video playback support is apparently not much desired feature, gaming with it as well as different other uses are among the priorities. There is also apparently a revised version UG802 coming out soon at a slightly higher price, but with a much faster Dual-Core A9 CPU and pretty much similar other specs and features, no word on stereo 3D support for it though. And again, while I will not recommend it for 3D video playback, the MK802 and the new UG802 devices can actually be quite useful and fill your time before we see what the OUYA will bring on the table when it becomes available and if it will answer all of our expectations.

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AC Ryan Launching Playon!HD 3D Player, Realtek 1186-based

August 2nd, 2012 · 3 Comments · Other S3D Tech

Lately there has been a real storm of standalone HD video players appearing on the market that can support 3D video playback as well s 2D, all thanks to the Realtek 1186 media processor that provides the 3D support. And yet another company called AC Ryan is also launching their 3D-capable player called Playon!HD 3D Player on the local market in Singapore this month, hopefully to soon follow with release on other markets as well.

The AC Ryan Playon!HD 3D player is based around Realtek’s 1186 media processor that provides support for the most commonly used media formats including the popular stereoscopic 3D formats as well. The player comes with Gigabit Wired Networking and a built-in wireless-N adapter for fast network transfers. The devices comes with 4 USB 2.0 host ports for connecting external devices such as keyboard as well as a USB 3.0 slave port for faster transfer speeds. You of course also have the ability to use the EZ Drive HDD slot for inserting a 3.5-inch HDD drive inside the device for storing your data.

But now, back to the 3D features of the Playon!HD 3D player. The device apparently will support HDMI 1.4 frame packaged 3D output, ensuring compatibility with different stereo 3D capable display devices such as most 3D HDTVs and many 3D-capable projectors. The player is supposed to be offering support for 3D Blu-ray (ISO files as the device does not have an optical drive), 3D AVCHD, Side by Side and Over/Under format videos as well as even be able to do 2D to 3D realtime conversion of videos.

The suggested retail price for the Playon!HD 3D player is $249 Singaporean dollars or around $199 USD. Meanwhile there are other 3D-capable video players based around the Realtek 1186 chip, so if you know another good one that is widely available you can share it here along with your feedback from the device. For example other similar 3D-capable players are Egreat R6S, Egreat R300, Fantec 3DFHDL, Himedia HD900B, Himedia HD910A, HDPro-i6, Measy X5, Xtreamer SideWinder 3 and others. Looking over the names of these devices you’ll see that still none of the more popular brands making such products still hasn’t offered a 3D-capable solution, it is mostly less known Asian brands.

For more information about the 3D-capable Realtek RTD1186 media processor chip…

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No Stereo 3D Support on Acer Iconia Tab A510 Tegra 3 Tablet

July 29th, 2012 · 3 Comments · Other S3D Tech

Up until now I’ve had the impression that all Nvidia Tegra 3-based devices should have stereoscopic 3D support when connected through HDMI to an external 3D-capable TV set (or other display device supporting HDMI 1.4 3D). I’ve already played a bit and liked the stereoscopic 3D support on the Asus Transformer Pad (TF300) tablet a while ago and I’ve decided to try out another Tegra 3-based tablet that comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich pre-installed – the Acer Iconia Tab A510 tablet. I’ve tried connecting the tablet to multiple 3D-capable display devices such as a Panasonic 3D plasma HDTV, a 3D monitor from Acer and a 3D projector with HDMI 1.4 support, but no luck in being able to enable stereo 3D support or in seeing the HDMI menu with the settings appear. The external display works just fine and displays what is shown on the tablet’s screen, but only in normal 2D mode, so apparently the the Acer Iconia Tab A510 Tegra 3 tablet simply does not feature stereoscopic 3D support. I can say I’m a bit disappointed, though besides the lack of stereoscopic 3D support the tablet actually seems quite nice and comes at a good price…

There are probably other Tegra 3-based devices that may or may not support stereoscopic 3D output to a 3D-capable display device using HDMI, so if this is a feature that you want to have on your tablet, you better try it out or thoroughly check if it is really supported before deciding on the product. The thing that I’m not very happy about is that there is no clear information which Tegra 3 devices do support stereoscopic 3D output on an external device and though Nvidia has a list of all Tegra powered products released on the market, this list does not include that information (and device manufacturers not always make information about that support or the lack of such available). The Tegra dedicated website that Nvidia also has called Tegra Zone also does not contain a list of devices with clear information on the features they support such as stereoscopic 3D output, though you can check what Tegra-optimized games do support stereo 3D mode on it. And here I’m wondering am I the only one interested in the stereoscopic 3D features of Tegra 3-based devices, surely not, but it seems like if Nvidia does not care much about that feature that is apparently supported by Tegra 3, though not available on all Tegra 3-based devices. And stereoscopic 3D support is a feature that can really make a difference for some people when making a choice for a new tablet or a smartphone and they want to be able to connect it to a 3D HDTV and use in stereo 3D mode.

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