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Freescale iMX515 Cortex™-A8 Android 2.2 Epad Teardown

Why…… Because we can

Expectations

Our goal was to source a very good and cost effective  pad based android system, specifically for the purpose of  hardware and software development under the android development platform, with the option of  running a separate base linux OS without Android.

A good development platform from China can start at $150us, with extra charges for the display and without any case or battery, even then you get very little idea of the usability of the final hardware.(which has to be redesigned to fit a case)  the costs of development kits outside of China are far more expensive.

Methodology

In any other country you go to a local shop take the user manuals and compare specifications so that you may evaluate the product that best suits your needs. Unfortunately in China it does not work the same way, many times the manuals are over generous in the specification or the products are fake/refurbished returns from unhappy customers.(or in some cases suppliers will say anything to make a sale)

The next best option is a product ‘strip down’, but there are very few  retailers/suppliers that will actually allow you to ‘strip’ a device down prior to buying it.

Suck it and See

This requires that you trial each and every product, make copious notes, grab business cards, photograph product,  sit and drink tea, tell funny anecdotes and not be easily offended (even when the guy is cutting his toe nails in front of you), but all the time be picking up useful tit-bits of information -such as the  ‘iRobot’ sucks so bad you don’t ever want one any any cost. -because currently even the suppliers are getting a 90% device failure rate within 1 month-

The final Device Selection

Eventually you find a device that meets most of your expectations and looks like it may run for more that the requisite 10 minutes.The following content will cover the device, please note that just because you have seen a ‘similar’ case/ box on the internet  does not make it the same device, nor does the fact that any such device specification that appears ‘better’ actually make the product better, if you think it does then maybe you need to re-read  ‘Methodology’.

Device Connections

Device Specification:

CPUFreescale™ iMX515 Cortex™-A8
CPU Speed800 Mhz*
MemoryDDR 512Mb (4 chips*64Mbx16)
Internal SD Storage4Gb MINI SD Card  (holds Base operating system)
OSAndroid 2.2
Resolution800*600 (4:3)
Display8″ inch TFT LCD
VideoAVI, RM, RMVB, MKV, WMV, MOV, MP4,PMP,MPEG, MPG, FLV,3GP,MPG, Flash etc.
3GExternal 3G
BluetoothExternal Bluetooth
WIFIWireless LAN 802.11b/g
Keyboard & Mouse (Optional)US Keyboard, USB external keyboard & Mouse
Touch PadBuilt-in resistive touch panel
USB Port1 * USB 2.0, High-speed USB OTG
HDMIN/A
Card ReaderTF/MINI SD Card
Sound SystemsFormatsMP3,WMA,MP2,OGG,AAC,M4A,MA4,FLAC,APE,3GP,WAV
Built-in0 .5w * 1 Speaker
OutputHigh Quality Stereo 3.5mm
RecordingBuilt-in Monophonic
Power SystemsBattery7.4v 2000mAH (7.6nl)
Battery Life2-4Hrs
ManagementFreescale™ MC13892 Advanced power management
Office CompatibilityWORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT, PDF, TXT
Instant Messaging ToolsE-mail, YouTube, MSN, Google talk, Skype, Yahoo
Internet BrowserInternet Browser
Other functions3D GamesE-book, FM, FLASH 10.1
Digital Photo Frame/AlarmJPG,BMP,PNG,GIF,TIFF
Language Multilingual:Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Spanish, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Chinese Simplified & Traditional
Weight1.2KG (with battery pack)
Size210mm*162mm*14mm (includes any button protrusions)
CaseRear silver plastic, front black/ translucent plastic
AccessoriesPower AdapterInput: 100-240V Output: 9V DC 2A
USB LeadInbuilt to Male USB
USB LeadInbuilt to Female USB
Head PhonesSet of Stereo Ear-buds

Specification Analysis

Drop over to the iMX51 Forum for more detailed pictures, no point in wasting the bandwidth here.

Interesting point you will note:

  • The CPU is listed as 800 Mhz, currently there are shops/forums claiming 1 Ghz for this processor. However when you open these other units they are actually Freescale CPU rated at only 800 Mhz.

It could be argued that these devices are ‘over-clocked’, however when we evaluate  the ram memory subsystem it appears that either the ram device selection or PCB layout is not designed for the supposed 1 Ghz operating frequency. This may lead to ‘random’  behavior/crashes and general system corruption or lack of consistency during mass production of the devices. Furthermore during our investigations we find that many of the ‘published’ specifications for  these devices are complete bollocks, many have just been cut & pasted from other websites rather than accurately researched based on the device being sold.

  • The Battery is listed as 2000mAh, however this is a ‘certified’ battery with a manufacturers traceable serial number and purchase records .
  • The battery life is 2-4 hours (with the above battery), which tends to seem unreasonable when other units  with ‘bigger capacity’ batteries get the same life, however if you consider that most power goes into the back light of the LCD and that the LCD is the most expensive part of the device (and as such the largest cost saving a manufacture can make by using a shite LCD), battery life begins to tell you more about the choice of LCD used, rather than storage capacity of a battery.

Conclusion

We have acquired a reliable source for  an Android  Epad,  personally I’m very impressed with the device, even more so with the performance of the resistive touch screen (having designed and worked with resistive touch screens they can be a real pain to get functioning correctly)
This device is FAST and more importantly STABLE, further analysis will be carried out and documented within the iMX51 Forum

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