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Cheap Chinese Android 4.0 tablet

This toy has board with Allwinner A10, it's ICOO D70GT (new version of D70W). Price was at the time around $105/85€ (express shipping with DHL HK for ~15€). Specifications are (platform is called sun4i or crane):

  • ARM Cortex A8 (one core), 1.2 GHz (supposedly up to 1.5 GHz)
  • Mali 400 GPU
  • CedarX VPU (2160p HW video decoding) – Allwinner’s own Video Processing Unit
  • 1G DDR3 RAM
  • 16G internal memory
  • TF (Micro SD) slot
  • mini USB (supports OTG, connect keyboard/mouse/storage)
  • mini HDMI output (supports audio channel)
  • 7” 1024×600 capacitive screen with multitouch (no IPS, colors can be bleak)
  • 1.3Mpix front camera
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • rotation sensor/accelerometer (is kinda slow?)
  • 3500 mAh battery, 3.7V LiPo

You may be able to add another battery in parallel (similar tablet on this picture: http://i.imgur.com/fpwYc.jpg). This is actual tablet: http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/6738/p1030987small.jpg (it's quite slim but it might not fit in with the touchscreen).

Allwinner A10 is usable even with Linux distribution, there is no support for OpenGL and HW video decoding yet (AFAIK).

Also it is supposed to be unbrickable, you can always reflash.

Reflashing/updating original firmware

I have used this latest firmware for D70GT (don't use D70W image, it has horizontally mirrored touch screen): http://soft.aoicoo.com/soft/show.asp?id=268. There are 2 links, use google translator if you can't find latest firmware update. Download will be slow.

Some tips:

  • Run LiveSuit (tested with version 1.09) and click all the way through wizard, choose .img file.
  • You will have to install driver first time for USB device 1F3A:EFE8.
  • Power off tablet (shut down or press power for 10 seconds, you can see when it turns of when charging indicator shuts down).
  • Hold any key (V+), plug USB into tablet and then press power about 5 times – this will connect device 1F3A:EFE8.
  • Make sure USB device is connected if you use VirtualBox.
  • LiveSuit should open upgrade dialog when device connects.
  • :!: If you have problems with connecting, make sure it is powered off again.

USB in VirtualBox can be slow. It's quite OK for this reflashing (few minutes), but I've seen slow transfer speed and freeze in batch file which pushed files to Android through ADB.

Application compatibility

I had compatibility issues with Google Maps, Facebook for Android and even Angry Birds, try these to test compatibility.

There are tips which at first did not work for me:

  • change some values in build.prop: ro.product.brand=samsung, ro.product.model=GT-P6210 (or GT-I9100) – I don't believe this does anything, but there can be LCD density/screen size filtering (you should probably use ro.sf.lcd_density=160 if needed)
  • XML files in /system/etc/properties: http://www.mediafire.com/?ft28i70alfchc0m
  • or both (and even more?): http://blog.g4team.com/?p=5550 (:!: this had some issues with displaying popups and unlocking, I reflashed original firmware)

You will need to copy those XML files (those in zip file include bluetooth which will make even more apps available). I think you will need to clear Google Play Store cache and reboot to update device features.

There is currently (up to 2.8.0.920) issue with Skype where the sent video is damaged (pink/magenta colored). Version 2.5.0.160 works fine.

You can install Google applications, just put it on SD card and install from ClockworkMod.

Root

Rooting not needed, root is available from the start.

ClockworkMod

I have used ClockworkMod for flashing CyanogenMod 9 and compatibility packs/fixes. There is CWM Recovery for D70W which works. If you're on Windows then you have to install Windows driver for Android device from that package (.inf file) and maybe even reboot. ADB commands to install:

adb shell "cat /mnt/extsd/recovery.img > /dev/block/nandg; sync"

You can reboot to CWM with one of these commands:

adb shell "echo -n boot-recovery | busybox dd of=/dev/block/nandf count=1 conv=sync; sync; reboot"
adb reboot recovery

CyanogenMod 9

Unsuccessful. I've tried 2012-07-11 CM9 nightly which garbled screen (I believe touchscreen reacted though).

Then there are more nightlies which are better, but every one of them (latest build 120623) could not handle touchscreen – display was ok, but no reaction to touch (some problem with goodix_touch.ko or maybe gt801_2plus1.ko, I think they are the same). None of the compatible drivers could be modprobed/insmodded. Original firmware kernel has everything built in and uses goodix_touch driver. Here's output of lsmod:

8192cu 570686 0 - Live 0xbf09d000
mma7660 5671 0 - Live 0xbf097000
rtl8150 8910 0 - Live 0xbf090000
mcs7830 6557 0 - Live 0xbf08a000
qf9700 8513 0 - Live 0xbf083000
asix 22500 0 - Live 0xbf078000
usbnet 23745 3 mcs7830,qf9700,asix, Live 0xbf06c000
sun4i_csi0 27097 0 - Live 0xbf061000
gc0308 15303 1 - Live 0xbf059000
videobuf_dma_contig 5659 1 sun4i_csi0, Live 0xbf054000
videobuf_core 18067 2 sun4i_csi0,videobuf_dma_contig, Live 0xbf04a000
mali 130067 10 - Live 0xbf01d000
ump 42150 21 mali, Live 0xbf00c000
goodix_touch 13238 0 - Live 0xbf004000
sun4i_vibrator 2278 0 - Live 0xbf000000

Camera is reportedly not working on A10 tablets with CyanogenMod 9. There's probably some problem with CedarX.

CyanogenMod 10 version should not be expected as there are some problems with Jelly Bean and A10 proprietary software. We'll probably have to wait for original firmware first. Onda A10 tablets already have Jelly Bean.

Better battery lifetime

You can use SetCPU or AnTuTu CPU Master to change CPU clock settings. Default governor was fantasy which was keeping CPU at maximum frequency for most of the time. Default frequency range was 60-1008. This results in 21% battery drain after 1 hour of Google Reader browsing (brightness was set to half). My first try was to change governor to ondemand, lowest frequency to 192 MHz (for responsive UI) and highest to 700 MHz.

It seems at times unresponsive with these numbers. Also ondemand governor probably drops frequency too low while playing HD videos this results in short audio/video skips.

XBMC

XBMC with hardware decoding on A10 is not yet supported but there is APK which can be used with external player MXPlayer (more information).

Just save this configuration file to /sdcard/Android/data/org.xbmc.xbmc/files/.xbmc/userdata/playercorefactory.xml:

<playercorefactory>
 <players>
  <player name="MPC-HC" type="ExternalPlayer" audio="false" video="true">
   <filename>com.mxtech.videoplayer.ad</filename>
   <hidexbmc>true</hidexbmc>
  </player>
 </players>
 <rules action="prepend">
  <rule video="true" player="MPC-HC"/>
 </rules>
</playercorefactory>

Remote use on Android

ADB setup

Setup ADB on device to TCP with adbWireless and then connect:

adb tcpip 5555
adb connect <IP>

Running VNC

I recommend VMLite VNC Server which passes the input events, free alternatives didn't do this for me (also I think they might neet to run a command like adb forward tcp:5901 tcp:5901).

adb shell "am start -n com.vmlite.vncserver/.MainActivity"
adb shell "/data/data/com.vmlite.vncserver/files/vmlitevncserver"
xtightvncviewer -encoding tight tablet:5901
# to retry you have to stop it:
#adb shell /data/data/com.vmlite.vncserver/files/vmlitevncserver --stop

Dropbear

Use DropBearServer II, possibly add pubkey through configuration app. It won't start automatically if network is not accessible on boot (bad wifi signal), you have to start it over VNC.

Screenshots over ADB

This can be really slow over WiFi, it's fine over cable. You can use stock DDMS program from the SDK or Droid@Screen (watch out for Java IPv6 problems, if it fails to start):

java -jar droidAtScreen-1.0.1.jar -Djava.net.preferIPv4Stack=true
# (or set sysctl value net.ipv6.bindv6only = 0)

When I tried this again later, connection to device strarted failing in all programs and I was not able to make it work again.

Shutdown

Command to power off the device is:

reboot -p

Linux

After trying a lot of images that would fit 2G SD card, I was able to boot Fedora 18 image. I don't quite remember the details, but there is a handy script to select correct settings depending on the device and I think this tablet is compatible with Mele settings (make sure it's the version for 1G RAM). The image was found here: http://www.cnx-software.com/2013/02/21/final-release-of-fedora-18-for-allwinner-a10-a13-powered-devices/

 
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howto/cheap_chinese_android_4.0_tablet.txt · Last modified: 2013/08/10 07:59 by disorder
 
 
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