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Hardkernel Odroid-U2 Android HTPC

Posted on January 26, 2013 by | No Comments

They say good things come in small packages. And they do, things like my Hardkernel Odroid U2 which comes in a tiny package measuring 48 x 52 mm, about half the size of a credit card sans the heat sink. Even with the heat sink the unit is still tiny, measuring a midget like 59 x 57 x 60 mm.

Given it’s size the Odroid U2 packs a mighty impressive punch with it’s Samsung Exynos4412 Prime CPU, a Cortex-A9 Quad Core CPU clocked @ 1.7Ghz (68x faster than my first PC which was a 486 DX4 @ 100MHz), with 2 GB of ram (128x more RAM than my first PC), and a Mali-400 Quad Core GPU @ 440MHz. Storage options come in the form of a microSD card and an eMMC connector to which you can plugin an 8, 16, or 64 GB eMMC chip. I sprung for the 64GB eMMC module which alone gives me more than 75x more storage space than the 850 GB HDD in my first PC (the afore mentioned 486 DX4), which by today’s standards is positively infinitesimal.

The Odroid U2 is intended as an Android development platform for programmers that want to develop Android applications. But I have other plans in store for this pint sized beast. Instead I’m going to set it up as a streaming HTPC.

I have had the unit for a few weeks now and have had a chance to play with it and my initial impressions have been pretty good so far. Although it’s not perfect, there are a few bugs, things to work out, to do and setup. For example the device comes with only a handful of applications installed and doesn’t come with the Google Play store pre-installed. I also found that the desktop is slightly larger than the screen.

One thing that you should be aware of is that the eMMC reader isn’t compatible some MicroSD card readers. The eMMC reader is a MicroSD card adapter that you plug the eMMC chip onto then you plug it into any regular microSD card reader. Apparently the adapter is a little bit to big and doesn’t sit in some MicroSD card readers properly. I’m not the only one that was having issues with the eMMC adapter, there were a few people on the Hardkernel forum complaining that they had the same issue. Although there were reports that the adapter does work with some MicroSD card readers like Trust’s Stello Mini Card Reader and Transcend’s P5 card reader. I ended up purchasing a Transcend P5 card reader which I can confirm does work with the eMMC adapter/reader.

After setting up my Odroid-U2 the first thing I did was install XBMC on it. Installing XBMC is even easier than installing a game or app from the play store. Simply point the browser to the .APK on the XBMC web site, save it then run the APK and after a minute XBMC is installed. XBMC performed rather well, I fond it to be nice and smooth and the few plugins that I did install installed and worked without any problems. YouTube was one of the plugins I installed worked perfectly, HD videos played flawlessly.

At the time I received my Odroid-U2 I hadn’t received my Mele F10 wireless air mouse and keyboard remote, not that it mattered because a normal USB keyboard an mouse works perfectly with the Odroid-U2, except that it will use both of the USB ports.

There’s still things to do like fix the resolution so the Desktop fits the screen properly, root my Odroid-U2 so I can install the Play store, test apps, and remote controls etc… Expect a full write up and guide on setting up Hardkernel’s Odroid-U2 for use as a HTPC.

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Looking for more? Then check out my Ultimate HTPC builders guide project on Kickstarter. I promise you it really it is the best HTPC builders guide ever written. It’s a 45+ pages PDF e-book that contains all of the information in this blog post and more including exclusive information not available anywhere else. If you pledge your support you can get the guide for as little as $15, after the Kickstarter project has finished I’ll be selling the guide for $25 so get it while it’s cheap!

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