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Hackable, Rockchip-based media player also offers NAS and retro gaming

Jan 5, 2018 — by Eric Brown 5,819 views

Cloud Media’s open source “Popcorn Hour Transformer Media Computer / NAS” computer is based on Pine64’s RK3328-based Rock64 SBC, and supports Linux and Android media player, NAS, and retro gaming.

Cloud Media has spun a new variant of its Popcorn Hour media player that is open source in hardware and software thanks to its mainboard: Pine64’s open source, quad-core Cortex-A53 Rock64 SBC. It’s available in a Media Computer and NAS (network attached storage) version for the same price of $95.90 (2GB LPDDR3/16GB eMMC) or $115.90 (4GB/32GB), not counting SATA storage.

Popcorn Hour Transformer Media Computer / NAS
(click images to enlarge)

The only difference between the two versions is that the Media Player version is preloaded with stock Android 7.1.2 firmware with RKMC, a Rockchip optimized media center stack forked from Kodi 16.1. Both the Media Player and NAS models let you download other Rockport-supplied Linux and Android distributions from Pine64’s Rock64 repositories.

Downloads include LibreELEC (Kodi) and Android TV media player software, as well as Ubuntu Xenial Mate and Debian Jessie Linux distributions. You can also load the lightweight Lakka retro gaming distro, which is built on the RetroArch emulator. In addition, the Debian-based OpenMediaVault is available for NAS duty, offering services including SSH, (S)FTP, SMB/CIFS, DAAP media server, RSync, and BitTorrent client.

Rockchip’s versions of Google’s stock Android 7.1.2 (left) and AndroidTV
(click images to enlarge)

The Popcorn Hour Transformer hardware is a modified version of Pine64’s Rock64 SBC, providing access to all the major ports, and adding a SATA interface and room for a 2.5-inch HDD cooled by passive cooling fins. Cloud Media has also added an IR remote control, an aluminum case, and a 5V3A adapter with US and EU power cables.

Three Popcorn Hour Transformer units, with the third showing the onboard Rock64 SBC
(click image to enlarge)

Pine64’s Rock64 combines Rockchip’s mid-range, quad -A53 RK3328 with a Raspberry Pi like 85 x 56mm footprint and expansion, and a somewhat similar feature set. The Rock64 lacks the RPi 3’s onboard wireless, except for an optional USB dongle, and you won’t find the RPi 3’s DSI and CSI interfaces. In addition, it only has 3x USB ports instead of four. However, one of those three is a faster USB 3.0 port, and another is an OTG port.

Rock64 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Rock64’s microSD slot and eMMC are bootable, and you get a GbE port and an HDMI 2.0 port with 4K HDR support. The SBC and the Popcorn Hour Transformer are further equipped with 128Mb SPI flash, a real time clock, and an audio jack that provides analog stereo or optical S/PDIF.


Further information

The Popcorn Hour Transformer Media Computer and NAS models are each available for $95.90 (2GB LPDDR3/16GB eMMC) or $115.90 (4GB/32GB), with shipments due Jan. 22. More information may be found on Cloud Media’s Popcorn Hour Transformer product page.

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