The Envizen EM63 TX Reviewed 7 inch Android HD Quad Core Tablet

08 October, 2014 21:34 CST6CDT

Envizen Digital and Emdoor Digital has just released a 7” quad-core Cortex powered tablet, the EM63 TX into the retail space. The EM63 TX is a budget friendly Android tablet priced at $59.00 that goes above and beyond the previous EM63T model in both hardware specifications and performance.

The EM63 TX sports a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor with a 1.3 GHz clock speed. This processor will handle most intensive CPU demanding applications you may use. The CPU scaling governor 'hotplug' is used by default for those of you interested in CPU scaling, scheduling, and power consumption. The tablet has 1 GB of RAM, more than most mid-range and some high end Android tablets making this CPU & RAM combination a competitor.

This tablet uses an ARM Mali 450 MP GPU capable of 1080p HD video playback on the 7” 600x1024 resolution 160 dpi display or external monitor attached with an HDMI connection. The GPU uses OpenGL ES 2.0 for 3D rendering with performance not too far below an Adreno 320 on a virtual scale. When the navigation buttons are shown, the reported resolution is 1024x552 in landscape mode and 500x976 in the portrait orientation.

The EM63 TX show 16 GB of internal flash with the firmware using 7.26 GB. 1.32 GB of internal storage is available for applications and data. While the available internal storage is lacking in space, the tablet provides an additional 3.69 GB from an internal non-accessible USB device for additional user storage. This is an interesting storage configuration by all means. You may add an additional external USB storage device in addition to the internal USB storage type. In addition their is a micro SD card slot supporting up to 32 GB of removable storage.

Here is a rundown of the EM63 TX specifications:

  • Quad-Core Cortex@1.3GHz
  • 7-inch Multi-touch Screen (600*1024)
  • 8 GB of advertised Internal Flash Memory
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • Front and Back 0.3 Megapixel Cameras
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM Receiver Radios
  • I/O Ports For: Earphone, Micro USB, HDMI output, and Micro SD
  • One 8 ohm 1 Watt Internal Speaker and One Internal Microphone
  • 2000mAH Li-ion Battery
  • Weighs in at 0.59 pounds with the Dimensions 7.42” x 4.26” x 0.32”

The following accessories come with the tablet:

  • USB Charger (1500 mA)
  • Micro USB Cable
  • User Manual
  • Service Card(s)

The battery life is much better than expected. I was able to get over 6 hours of continuous moderate to heavy use with the integrated 2000mAH battery.

The screen has an almost unbearable glare for the first day or two of using the device. The reflection has an almost metal like quality. Deep black reflects and literally hurts the eyes. This could be a chemical wash byproduct of some type. This particular screen problem is getting better the more the tablet is used.

The screen brightness levels available are beyond what any normal environment would require. I needed to change the screen brightness to absolute 0 in order to look at the display without a headache.

The EM63 TX uses a Six-Axis Accelerometer for screen orientation. This sensor is an MPU-6880. Rotating the device for changing the orientation fails without a large force of movement.

The sides of the tablet are grooved from half its thickness from the bottom to the top of the screen for grip support. This sharp side grip hurts the fingers after extended use. It appears as though a completed model would have had a rubber-band like material fill in this gap from the center of the depth to the screen level. I assume this grip strip is missing to cut costs and bring the device down to the $59 range.

The Envizen EM63 TX comes stock with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and with a build date of September 15, 2014, less than a month old from this review. While this Android build will hold together for general use, it is a mess in many places especially where the company performed any software customization. It appears as though some aspects of the system are borrowed from Cyanogenmod such as the application privacy feature for instance.

In the system menu the screen-shot menu item is entitled 'ScreenshotSettings' with no space and the menu icon is the only non white menu icon in the system menu. These hurried customizations can be spotted in other areas across the platform.

The tablet uses the default KitKat launcher however applications moved to SD card are not displayed on the work spaces even after waiting for the external storage to be scanned. I recommend switching to a 3rd party launcher such as Nova Launcher.

The internal USB storage and SD storage devices are available for read and write operations. In the storage menu you are given the choice of the write device, either USB or SD. I have found that after choosing any write device, Android still uses the SD card for applications if you choose to move them off the system partition. However, if USB is not the write device, write access by the user is forbidden by the new Android KitKat permissions unless the method uses a new API call. While this option is confusing, it is nice to read and write to both the USB and SD storage while the USB write option is selected. I assume cost of hardware and manufacturing lead to the dedicated integrated USB storage device lowering the price and putting it in the inexpensive class of tablets.

USB debugging is enabled by default and disabling it fails. USB debugging remains enabled even after attempting to disable ADB access in the developer options menu. The manual specifies that USB debugging is needed for MTP and Mass Storage access. Mounting modern Android storage devices as mass storage is becoming rare these days. It appears this OS build is using a workaround for the missing by default KitKat mass storage capability with an ISO file located in the system partition referred to by “Linux File-CD Gadget USB Device”.

You may connect the tablet to a computer using mass storage, MTP, PTP, USB power for charging, or 'CONNECT AS CD-ROM'. The connect as CD-ROM describes itself as an option to “Show a virtual CD-ROM containing some useful software.”. When using this option a CD-ROM device is made available and accessible with the contents showing just one file, 'Micro-USB_1_01.pdf'. This one file is a PDF entitled “Universal Serial Bus Micro USB Cables and Connectors Specification”. It is a highly technical USB specifications document, wow.

The developer, and I probably used the singularity for the person who developed this ROM correctly, left a mess of a file system. Their are personal files scattered all over the root partition and left bread crumb trails of good ideas that were toyed with however never completed. The trust level of this Android tablet is not where I would like it to be.

The MediaTek Wi-Fi firmware has the known 'NVRAM WARNING: Err = 0x10' fault in addition to random Wi-Fi MAC address creation each time the Wi-Fi adapter is powered on. No, the random MAC is unfortunately not a feature. Their are resources available to help fix these firmware issues however you either have to root the EM63 TX or the use a programming mode that is not for the light of heart.

The Bluetooth FTP profile is missing and only OBEX push is available for Bluetooth file transfers. I use ES File Explorer's Bluetooth FTP server for working around this unexpected missing profile.

The Envizen EM63 TX is the epitome of 'you get what you pay for'. I am paranoid the engineer will attempt to hunt down his development machine and I am waiting for a possible knock on the door. I wouldn't know what advice to give the individual if that were to happen.

A year ago I was writing...

Pre Octoberfest Maple Leaf Parade in La Crosse Wisconsin
It is Squirrel Thursday? - The Damn Humans

Article & Comments (1) Tags: Technology

The Morning I Turned On World News Now And This Happened

09 September, 2014 03:12 CST6CDT

I have a problem with broadcast and cable television stations.  Broadcast television is the most problematic for myself while I watch horrifically bad commercials halved with news or else content branded as entertainment.  I don't last long before switching swiftly to an entertainment device for movies, Netflix, music, and the like.

This morning I was visually educated with magnificent scenes of lava and a tidbit of how what I was watching was even more acidic than a car battery.  I thought wow, a volcano of molten rock and crystal more acidic than a car battery; the adventurer only having to visit the edge of one more volcanic ocean for a five out of five.  Wait!  It's not the fact that a car battery is not that horrific, but where is this acid in the video that was spewed forth onto my eyes?

Wikipedia's 'Lava' page doesn't reference any preceding acid* so I was back to the search engine results and landed on USGS's 'Volcanic Gases and Their Effects'.  The gas not mentioned on the television or visualized dramatically for our not so far reaching imagination, as it might be overbearing, is referenced in this article as "gases spread from an erupting vent primarily as acid aerosols (tiny acid droplets)".  It was so simple yet so aggravating searching for the "ahh".  I hate TV, so I turned on Kodi.

A year ago I was writing...

La Crosse Technology Weather Station - Weather One

Article & Comments Tags: Bullshit

Webalizer Search Engine List

19 August, 2014 23:14 CST6CDT

updated 2014-08-19

'The Webalizer' is an HTTP server log file analyzer that generates visual output with statistics and graphs for your Internet website(s) and visitors.  One of the features of The Webalizer is the search engine Search Strings (keywords, search text) logging.  Each search engine uses a URL parameter that contains a query or a search string from the referring site that could direct traffic to your website(s).  Webalizer uses the search query parameter to generate a list of 'Search Strings' that may be viewed and referenced by rank, hits, and percentage of hits.

SearchEngine name variable

Allows the specification of search engines and their query strings. The name is the name to match against the referrer string for a given search engine. The variable is the cgi variable that the search engine uses for queries. See the sample.conf file for example usage with common search engines.

The following is a list of search provider names and their corresponding query variable for generating Webalizer search strings statistics.  I will update these periodically.

SearchEngine    aolsearch.      q=
SearchEngine    ask.com q=
SearchEngine    bingj.  q=
SearchEngine    bing.   q=
SearchEngine    facebook.       q=
SearchEngine    .google.        q=
SearchEngine    fastbrowsersearch.com q=
SearchEngine    image.youdao.com        q=
SearchEngine    kvasir.no       q=
SearchEngine    m.yahoo.        p=
SearchEngine    search.aol.     q=
SearchEngine    search.alot.    q=
SearchEngine    search.comcast.net      q=
SearchEngine    search.conduit. q=
SearchEngine    search.lycos.   query=
SearchEngine    search.pro      q=
SearchEngine    search.yahoo.   p=
SearchEngine    webcache.googleusercontent.com  q=
SearchEngine    altavista.com   q=
SearchEngine    eureka.com      q=
SearchEngine    hotbot.com      MT=
SearchEngine    msn.com         MT=
SearchEngine    infoseek.com    qt=
SearchEngine    webcrawler      searchText=
SearchEngine    excite          search=
SearchEngine    netscape.com    search=
SearchEngine    mamma.com       query=
SearchEngine    alltheweb.com   query=
SearchEngine    northernlight.com       qr=
SearchEngine    sensis.com.au   find=
SearchEngine    frontier.com    q=
SearchEngine    pavlovmedia.com q=
SearchEngine    zoominternet.net        q=
SearchEngine    yandex. text=

Article & Comments Tags: Software, Projects

Zenphoto Lighttpd Rewrite Rules

09 August, 2014 07:35 CST6CDT

Zenphoto rewrite rules for Lighttpd works similarly to NGINX rewrite rules.  Most URL resources are passed directly to index.php for processing.  Their are a few exceptions to index.php handling for resources which I will detail here.  These are the steps to enable friendly URLs for Zenphoto using Lighttpd as a web server.

The following Lighttpd configuration assumes Zenphoto is located in the root web path.  If not, you may simply prepend the /path/ to the rules.

$HTTP["host"] == "zen.zenphoto.org" {
   url.rewrite += (
     "^/(admin|albums|cache|cache_html|themes|plugins|zp-core|favicon\.ico|robots\.txt).*$" => "$0",
     "^/(index.php)?\?.*" => "$0"
   )

   url.redirect = (
     "^/admin" => "/zp-core/admin.php"
   )

   server.error-handler-404   = "/index.php"
}

The first rule above bypasses rewriting, retreives content as an absolute location for the admin, albums, cache, cache_html, themes, plugins, zp-core directories and favicon.ico & robots.txt files in the installation path.

In the second rule, any requests for content using the conventional method of index.php will be handled as normal and will not be rewriten.

The following redirect rule (third rule) is a simple shortcut to the administration panel.  In this case http://zen.zenphoto.org/admin would redirect you to http://zen.zenphoto.org/zp-core/admin.php.

The fourth rule, and last rule, the error handler, passes all URL requests not handled by the previouse three rules to index.php for content.  This is similar to the NGINX example shown in the Zenphoto user guide.

Now that Lighty is able to handle clean and SEO friendly web pages, you need to enable URL rewrite in Zenphoto.  Navigate to admin->options->general, enable mod rewrite under URL options, and use ".html" for the mod_rewrite suffix.  Now navigate to admin->plugins->admin and enable the rewriteTokens plugin.  Friendly URLs should now be enabled for Zenphoto using the Lighttpd web server.

This was tested using Zenphoto 1.4.6 and should work on subsequent releases for any foreseeable release.

Article & Comments Tags: Software

XBMC now Kodi on the Raspberry Pi B+ First Impressions

01 August, 2014 19:41 CST6CDT

I have been using a WD TV Live for my media center for the past few months. Before that I was using XBMC on a desktop with a very long HDMI cable. I just picked up the new Raspberry Pi B+ model and installed RaspBMC (XBMC) on it, purchased a VC-1 and MPEG-2 license, and the machine works better than I had imagined - better than my desktop performance of XBMC.

I will still use the WD for proprietary services like Netflix, Pandora, and the like of Android screen casting. $40 bucks ($35 Pi & $5 hardware decoding) for a media center, excluding storage!  Since purchasing the WD TV Live (HD) I had been saying to myself "now I know why people have more than one" while still putting the option of two media devices to the far side of my plans.  Raspberry Pi recently released a new hardware revision, the B+ with 4 USB ports, a dedicated power supply for the analog audio output, micro SD slot replacing the SD standard, additional GPIO pins, and lower power consumption allowing the Pi to run with as little as 900mA via micro USB.  With this hardware revision so fresh off the board I decided it was a good point to grab one and have a little fun.

Since I didn't have a micro SD card of a class that would perform at its best, I went the route of using a USB thumbdrive for the OS and XBMC installation.  A micro SD card is still required to boot from and contains the kernel, kernel modules; the boot process is all done here.  The RaspBMC install of the debian based Linux distribution and the XBMC package all went on a thumb drive for the best performance I could achieve with what was readily available around me.

Right off the bat I disabled services I knew I would not need using the RaspBMC application lauchable from XBMC.  I left two services open, SSH (using Dropbear), and lircd.  For now I could probably disable lirc since I do not have an IR receiver.  I added '-g' to Dropbear to deny root login.  The login user is 'pi' with a password 'raspbmc' as the default password.  The password can be changed using the XBMC RaspBMC integrated program.  The 'pi' user is sudo capable, using 'sudo -s', for root operations.  A couple of the services I disabled include FTP, and an SMB server.  XBMC is capable of accessing SMB/CIFS shares remotely and can act as an SMB server internally aside from Samba.  I found out happily that many of the services are started with the xinetd TCP wrapper.  This is so the server applications are only loaded into memory once a connection is made to a service port leaving more resources available to XBMC.

The only internal change I had made other than adding '-g' to Dropbear in the 'ssh' configuration file for xinetd was to add a local NTP server to the NTPD (network time protocol) and remove a few external NTP server declerations.  I must say that having five NTP servers using iburst from an NTP pool might be a bit overkill.  Other than time, the installation is tight!  Once RaspBMC is installed, their is no need for the general user to worry much about any of my modifications, as XBMC is mostly ready to be pointed to your media locations and rock your entertainment room.  Speaking of media, with the Raspberry now sporting 4 USB ports (3 available in a USB installation), you are able to expand the local media collection with additional hardware.

Before putzing around in depth too much, I sprung for the VC1 and MPG2 hardware decoding keys.  While h.264 and x.264 is an open to use standard, about a 3rd of my library would benefit from the GPU VC1 hardware decoding.  I plan on adding an external DVD drive to playback media so the MPEG-2 codec will be of use in the future.  Both codecs were just over five dollars total.  All that was needed to purchase the licenses was the serial number of the board.  This can be found with 'cat /proc/cpuinfo' in an SSH session with the last line displaying the serial number of the board.  I imagine you can find this through the XBMC program in addition.  The keys may be entered into the XBMC program addon or in the config.txt file located in /boot if you are using an SSH terminal.

The boot-up time with the extra services disabled is around 10 seconds from cold.  XBMC launches and is ready for use in just a few seconds.  Navigation is fluid, as the RaspBMC team has this distribution right on button with minimizing overhead and bloat.  RaspBMC used the HDMI CEC link right out of the box so I am able to use my TV remote for XBMC navigation.  I personally prefer the Android application 'Yatse' for XBMC navigation.  Infrared devices may be added for navigation if they are compatible with lirc and are connected using a USB port or the GPIO pins.  A standard keyboard and a mouse works well also if you so choose.

It was just announced that XBMC is being renamed to Kodi.  The team explains that XBMC no longer represents the software as it should.  XBMC, now Kodi is more of an entertainment center than it is just a media center.  Here is the announcement: http://xbmc.org/introducing-kodi-14/  They touch on the difficulty it will be for this new branding to propogate over the internet.  As I think about this name change, I also think of all the ports adopting a new identity - a difficult change for everyone.  Maybe RaspBMC will change to KodBMC, or maybe not.  I believe RaspBMC will be renaming to OSMC, an appropriate name for a multiple platform XBMC distribution.

A year ago I was writing...

The "92" Percent

Article & Comments Tags: Technology, Software, Projects


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