cuboxi2Recently, I got a grip to a Cubox-i4Pro. It is a mini computer with low power demand and quite a few interfaces that can be useful for all kinds of things. Also, it has enough computing power to be interesting for a wide variety of applications.

In contrast to other development boards like the Raspberry Pi, the Cuboxi comes in a closed case and, thus, does not offer a set of hardware interfaces for arbitrary maker projects. It comes, however, in a neat black case that is ready to be put into your living room next to your other (set-top) box.

Introduction

Let us start with a view on the different sides of this tiny little box:

As you might have guessed from the grid lines on the images the dimensions of the Cubox-i are only 2″ x 2″ x 2″.

Hardware

An overview of the technical specifications is given in the following and shows in a plain table what the smallest and the biggest model of the Cubox-i offer. The following table is actually just a copy of the overview table given on the manufacturer’s website:

Cubox-i1Cubox-i4Pro
Chipseti.MX6 Soloi.MX6 Quad
Core count1 @ 1 GHz4 @ 1 GHz
Memory size512MByte DDR32GByte DDR3
Memory Config32 bit @ 800Mbps64 bit @ 1066Mbps
3D GPUGC880GC2000
3D GPU TypeOpenGL/ES 1.1/2.0OpenGL/ES 1.1/2.0,OpenCL 1.1E
HW Video Dec/EncMulti FormatMulti Format
HDMI 1080p1.4, 3D support1.4, 3D support
Ethernet10/100 Mbps10/100/1000 Mbps (*)
USB 2.0 Host2 x Hosts2x Hosts
WiFi 11n/BlueToothnoyes
Micro SD Interfaceyesyes
eSata II 3Gbpsnoyes
RTC With Backup Batterynoyes
Optical S/PDIFAudio Outyesyes
Micro USB to RS-232noyes
InfraRed for Remote ControlReceiverReceiver and Transmitter

First Use

There is a bunch of different operating system images available for the Cubox-i. Zou can find an overview about these images in the Cubox-i wiki. To begin with, I decided to take a closer look at the Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center (OpenELEC), whose official website can be found here.

Getting things to work was as easy as copying the image to the micro sd card and plugging power to the Cubox-i. I used an old Microsoft X-Box remote control that I happened to find in one of my cabinets. The remote control was recognized without any configuration and I was able to configure XBMC with it.

Emulation on the Cubox-i4

So far, I did not have detailed look at the possibilities of the Cubox-i regarding emulators and their performance. With a However, with a Debian distribution and working drivers it might be possible that some of the emulators, that are part of the RetroPie Project, can be used on the Cubox-i.

Plans are to test which of the components of the RetroPie-Setup Script can be used on the Cubox-i. If this turns out to be successful to a certain extend, the RetroPie-Setup Scriot could be adapted to also support the Cubox-i.

Conclusion and Outlook

This concludes the brief glance at the Cubox-i4. This tiny little box certainly is an interesting platform for everyone who is looking for a homemade XBMC-based media center. The Cubox-i comes in a closed case and, thus, does not offer the possibilities attach any kind of hardware to realize arbitrary maker projects. It seems to have enough computing power to be interesting as a gaming station and it still has to be looked at the possibilities of using the RetroPie-Setup Script on the Cubox-i.

This is a brief article. Do you have any related questions or comments? Feel free to post these below!