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“First” Ultra-HD Android TV STB launches in France

Mar 11, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 1,897 views

[Updated 4:30PM] — French IPTV provider Free unveiled a “Freebox Mini 4K,” claimed to be the first Ultra HD Android TV set-top box, based on a new Broadcom Cortex-A15 STB SoC.

Free’s Freebox Mini 4K set-top box (STB) was announced by Broadcom as a design win for its new BCM7252 Ultra HD system-on-chip. Available to Free TV subscribers in France later this month for 30 Euros ($31.70), the Free Mini 4K comes in a package that includes a server device, a player device, and a remote.

Freebox Mini 4K Server (left) and Player (right)
(click image to enlarge)

The Freebox Mini 4K offers streaming, terrestrial, on-demand, and recorded content at up to Ultra HD 4K resolution, according to Free. The subscription provides 200 TV channels including 49 HD channels over ADSL2, VDSL2, or fiber-optics, as well as VOD/SVOD services and telephony.

The system is claimed to be the world’s first Ultra-HD Android TV player. The gaming-oriented, 2015 version of the Nvidia Shield also runs the Android 5.0 based Android TV with Ultra HD resolution, but it won’t ship until May. Also, the Shield is a standalone player designed primarily for gaming, and does not offer over-the-top (OTT) TV services like the Freebox.

Freebox Mini 4K Player (left), Server (right), and remote (top)
(click image to enlarge)

The Freebox Mini 4K is the latest of several Freebox branded devices offered by Free, which is a subsidiary of the Iliad Group. As of Sept. 30, 2014, Free boasted 15.4 million subscribers including 9.6 million mobile subscribers and 5.8 million broadband subscribers who use triple-play STBs like the Freebox Revolution. Back in 2008, its Freebox IAD ran Linux on Broadcom’s MIPS-based BCM63xx SoC.

Android TV GUI on Freebox Mini 4K
(click image to enlarge)

The Freebox Mini 4K includes both a Player device and a larger Server unit that acts a universal modem device. Presumably, one could purchase several players that would communicate with the gateway server device. It appears that the dual-core, 1.5GHz Broadcom BCM7252 SoC runs on both the server and player devices, although this is not clear. Broadcom suggests it’s on the server, at the very least, while the Freebox product page lists the SoC only for the Player.

According to Broadcom, its new BCM7252 STB SoC offers 10.5K DMIPS performance, and is the first to provide 4Kp60 10-bit HEVC content (alternatively, quad 1080p60 HEVC decode and dual HD AVC encode). The SoC powers the Freebox Mini 4K, featuring a Bluetooth remote control and 2×2 802.11ac WiFi streaming and connectivity. The Broadcom SoC and Freebox STB support Android apps and games from Google Play, as well as voice search and Google Cast functionality.

In addition to the SoC’s two 1.5GHz “Brahma15” ARM cores, which are equivalent to Cortex-A15 cores, the BCM7252 integrates a “3D OGLES3.1” GPU, security engine, and support for HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 GPU, according to Broadcom. The SoC can use DDR3 or DDR4 RAM, and connects to peripherals including USB 3.0, PCI-Express, and gigabit Ethernet.

Freebox Mini 4K Player (left) and Server
(click image to enlarge)

The Freebox Mini 4K server device offers direct connections to Free’s broadband services, and features DSL, phone, and fiber-optic jacks. The Server includes 802.11n WiFi, as well as an integrated cellular femtocell. The device is further equipped with four gigabit Ethernet ports, an eSATA port, and dual USB 2.0 ports.

The smaller, 110 x 150 x 35mm Player device offers 2×2 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy wireless connections. The Player also provides a gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, and an SD slot. The photo above also shows an SPDIF port for audio, as well as a “TNT” port

Further information

The Freebox Mini 4K with Android TV will be available later this month in subscription packages starting at 30 Euros per month. More information may be found at Free’s Freebox Mini 4K product page. Broadcom’s BCM7252 Ultra HD SoC is currently in production.

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0 responses to ““First” Ultra-HD Android TV STB launches in France”

  1. Dig Dug says:

    There is almost ZERO 2160p content available. 1080p STILL IS NOT A STADARD broadcast type. What are these people smoking….

  2. Dig Dug says:

    Its not even 4k…. its 3840×2160. Stop calling it 4k

  3. Dig Dug says:

    I’ll accept 3840k. LOL

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