Anyone running the Kangaroo for Video Signage

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Wondering how this thing handles videos running in 1080p HD.  I recently tried the Lenovo ideacentre Stick 300 and the video seems to skip a bit after playing a couple of videos.  I'm not sure if it's caching or just maxing out the CPU.  I would love some suggestions since we're adding these devices on a bunch of TVs, so I don't want to spend 300+ per TV :)

I'd love to know your experience with these PC sticks running Windows.  I loved the Chromebits, but unfortunately Rise isn't going to support the ChromeOS anymore :`( 
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Benjamin

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Posted 3 years ago

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William Oneal, Champion

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Something I usually tell people. If your doing fullscreen video then 1080p. Less than that you need to look at lower resolutions. The reason is you want to really match the height and width to the videos resolution. Example 1080p = 1920x1080 720p=1280x720p and so on. I usually always do 720p videos in smaller placeholders. The reason I do this is that it takes less resources to play a 720p video than a 1080p video. Plus it looks the same. It might not save a lot of resources but if you look at your stick, more resources means more heat. The heat can cause throttling which in term starts lagging. That's just a scenario but its something to think about when your looking at these low cost devices. Plus your playing video every so often or 24/7 so lower resource video will be key on sticks.
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Darius - PRODO.us, Champion

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I tried Windows Intel Compute Sticks. They do play videos in presentations well, but I, personally, will be using them only with static content. They are little fanless things, they get hot and because of that I am concerned about the long term reliability with demanding presentations. But I like them, I like Windows devices for RV in general.
(Edited)
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I just ordered a Kangaroo to test with Rise Vision. Will report how it runs when I've had a chance to test it a bit.

The top thing I liked about it was the very thin module and the dock, so if mounted well, in field replacement or update could be almost as simple as dropping a new Kangaroo module on without touching and other cables.At the low price a spare configured Kangaroo on-site ready to boot would not be a very big investment.

It occurs to me that someone way smarter than me, perhaps RiseVision could create and maintain some demo presentations of varying difficulty for test purposes for testing various present and future hardware platforms, sort of a RiseVision Presentation Benchmark. 
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Darius - PRODO.us, Champion

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what is that Kangaroo? Could you post a link here?
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Here's a review with some benchmarks:

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/kangaroo-mobile-desktop,review-3204.html

Also they've recently announced a Kangaroo Plus which costs more but has 4Gb ram and 64 Gb storage but no installed OS, might be a good Ubuntu Rise Player.
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RPTDigital Signage

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Here's another interesting Stick type with RJ-45 Lan connector and WiFi built in, not sure of the quality or reliability. 

http://azulletech.com/product/quantum-access-lan-windows-10-fanless-mini-pc-stick/
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I think that the quality of the WiFi connection can play a big role, especially with video and slower processors. We hide these controllers behind a monitor in less than ideal locations with WifFi being accessed by a lot of other computers, then expect speed without stutter? If there is a wired Ethernet it's almost always a much better result.

Azulle has a Stick version with an RJ-45 Lan which should help.

Kangaroo also have a "Pro" version with a thicker dock (still only 1.25") that has an RJ-45 Lan, a VGA connector in addition to the HDMI and also supports an optional 2.5" Hard drive on Amazon today for $199 US with Windows 10 64 Bit Home installed.

BTW: Kangaroo is an InFocus company, the projector people so they have been around for a while.
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Darius - PRODO.us, Champion

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WiFi on Intel Stick sucks big time. I ended up using a USB hub with Ethernet connection port and had the device "wired" this way. It worked very well. Also it worked well with added $18 WiFi antenna/adapter combo.
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I have been using the Azulle Quantum Access LAN for 6 months - Its fantastic!
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Biologyben,  What kind of presentations are you running?  Mostly HTML or do you have full screen video playing?  My biggest issue with these little sticks is running 1080p with no skipping.  
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I believe the Azulle Quantum Access LAN is the one with a wired Ethernet connection.

The various sticks often have two issues:
1) Marginal WiFi on the built-in antenna
2) Heat related CPU Throttling.

Darius makes the great suggestion of a low cost USB LAN or USB WiFi adapter, worth the few bucks to own and then you can test with a wired connection or an antenna in open air (not behind the monitor) and isolate the problem.

For heat issues, download a free copy of CoreTemp, set it to stay on top and and run it before Rise Player opens and see how hot the CPU is getting. Throttling can take a hot CPU down to 25% or less of rated speed and then nothing good happens on video.  
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I ordered my basic (2Gb Ram 32 Gb Storage) Kangaroo yesterday from Newegg.ca (we're in Canada) and it arrived just about 1:00pm today. Connected it up, using a USB Keyboard and Mouse and did a basic set up of the pre-installed Windows 10 Home, logged it onto our WiFi, updates Windows 10 Home. The WiFi runs as fast on Speedtest.net as our wired network and hit 25 Mb/s download (we're throttled at that limit) consistently without stalling or slowing. Granted our shop WiFi access point is virtually unloaded and we have a very good fiber to VDSL Internet connection, but the Kangaroo can apparently keep pace if there's decent WiFi capacity. 

Then tried some YouTube and other tests while running CoreTemp but because I'm on WiFi YouTube wouldn't let me past 360P. NVidia and others have 1080P demo videos, and running those full screen consumes about 60-75% of processor, according to Task Manager, and the core temperatures  start rising towards limits pretty quickly in this fanless unit, then throttling kicks in and you can notice some minor tearing of the image but it continues to chug away fairly well without serious stalling or complete drops. So as we all suspected the smaller the box or stick the faster it heats up and then throttles back to self-protect. The throttling kept the Core temperatures 5-6C below the rated junction limit of 90C, its cool here today so in a hot location this throttling would kick in sooner. Watching CoreTemp the maximum throttling seems to drop the speed to 25-30% of maximum and the chip cools quickly then it cycles up and down from 30%-100% every 10-15 seconds. I bet the same test on an Intel Stick would show worse over time, also if it were hotter here today.  

Next I installed the Rise Player latest version and set up Windows auto-logon via the registry. Rise Vision install did not kill the display scaling, so I had to set that myself to get it to a 1920x1080 display on Rise.

On our basic demo presentations of static images and text it runs perfectly, no real visible difference to an Intel NUC i3  that is our demo room workhouse.

There's one very cool feature. The Kangaroo is designed to move place to place and has an internal battery that's good for 3-4 hours, and because it's plugged into a dock you can just unplug it and move it to another dock without shutting it down. Also, it would just ride through a short power failure without losing anything but the monitor image as long as the WiFi stayed up. Think of it like a laptop or a built in UPS in that tiny little Kangaroo package that's costing $99 US these days with a dock and Windows 10 Home.

I suspect that the Kangaroo+ with 4 Gb of Ram and 64 Gb storage would run demanding applications better, but at more money because it's about $140 without OS. Apparently Windows 10 can be licensed for free or close by OEM's up to certain memory or speed capacity, hence the big jump to having to buy and install an OS.

Conclusions:

I love this thing, Kanagroo's parent is In Focus which is part of FoxConn who build iPhones for Apple, so there is some credibility and history and I'm betting the reliability will be reasonably good and the throttling helps protect them from smoke and flame failures.

In the Kangaroo, we have a very tiny, creative (dock and packaging) and functional Windows 10 Home based Rise Vision HDMI WiFi Player at the US$100 price point for low to moderate display demands and possible even full time video which I don't need to fully test for my needs. If Rise had a highly demanding demo presentation for benchmarking I'd be happy to run it and report back.

I'll leave it running in our demo area for a while, we've been looking for a solution like this for a while and we'll probably manufacture a compact external Kangaroo Dock wall mount including  a small brushless fan and a mounting area for the Kangaroo Power supply. The joke there would be that that mounting and fan  done properly in low volumes will probably cost us almost what the Kangaroo does, but we'll get better performance and sleep better at night when we sell one.
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Benjamin

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Excellent review!!  I ordered one a couple of days ago so I could do my own tests too.  Let me know what you come up with as far as a case.  I have given some serious thought to getting the 4 gig version, but not for RIse.  I'm hoping if the 2 gig version works for Rise, we'll stick with that and use the 4 gig for more demanding projects. 
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I look forward to your comments.

I figure with fan forced cooling (there are vent slots on two sides) we might get a significant improvement in continuous performance and better life. I was surprised how fast and far the throttling took the clock speed down, obviously that's a serious issue with the Sticks as well.

But this Kangaroo just kills it on bang for buck compared to anything I've seen so far. What's next $50 Windows players?
  
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This is also of general interest for Stick and Small format players, and sheds some light on CPU throttling. 

I decided to test Kangaroo under load, to evaluate speed and if a fan could help, before we cut metal on our Kangaroo fan system..

The Kangaroo is a Quad Core Atom, nominal speed 1.44GHz burst to something like 2.24 GHz. Using a freeware load tester, HeavyLoad to keep CPU at 100% for time and exercise memory and GPU and Coretest to monitor CPU Core Temperatures and the resulting clock speed. Clock speed started to degrade after only 1-2 minutes and as the Kangaroo heat soaked it settled in to around 700-800 MHz, with bottoms as low as 390 MHz for short periods. Here's a screen shot of that heat soaked mode:

 

Note, there seems to be almost no bottom to clock speed, so a heat soaked Player will grind down towards sludge pretty quickly and stay there. I suspect what many complain about as stutters and stalls are a result of throttling up and down. But once hot, you're luck to see 50% of nominal performance and might see as low as 25% in bursts.

Next we added a small brushless fan casually directed thru the holes on the side of the Kangaroo. Within a minute or two the speed went past nominal rating and settled at 2100-2300 MHz, actually 50% over the rating, which means the unit can operate almost full time in the burst mode with adequate cooling. Here's a screen shot of the same test a few minutes later:


So adding a fan to the Kangaroo potentially increases the performance under 100% load by approximate 50% over nominal rating and  between 300-500% under maximum loads when compared to a fanless version. 

We're mounting and hardware guys mostly (RPT Motion Inc. www.digitalsignmount.com ) and we have our own CNC shop and will be quickly developing a wall mount for the Kangaroo and dock with integrated fan and mount for the power block for our own integrated mounts., We'll sell it to other applications and while it won't be cheap in small quantities I think it will simplify player mounting and wiring and bring the Kangaroo into a much more serious signage player option and will also add reliability as well with lower temperatures under all loads. Anyone who is interested in such a mount please email me at peter@rptmotion.com  and I'll keep you on a list for more information when it is ready.

Anyone who's having stuttering or dropping problems with Sticks or other compact Windows players should try this same simple test: download Coretest and HeavyLoad and stress the player to see exactly how slow it throttles to under maximum load. Not all are easy to relocate and or add a fan to, but after these tests I really think the worst problems of the Sticks are compact packaging and heating under demanding use while mounted in a compromised location (back of a hot monitor usually).

Have a great day and stay cool.
 
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Awesome!
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Did some more simple heat testing of Kangaroo PC and Rise Vision. Our demo shop is cool at this time of the year (18C this am) and Kangaroo PC is in fee air not behind monitor or subject to any extra heat load.

Base Presentation is Rise Simple Video which is a loop of single placeholder at 1920x1080.
Used CoreTemp and Tack Manager to monitor CPU Temperature and loads.

Without additional cooling, the single window played fine, CPU temp hit 74C (throttling becomes aggressive at 80C and really slow at 85C Limit). Adjust for a more normal player ambient and I'd expect it would still play well but operate full time at maximum heat.

I then added another identical placeholder scaled to 80%. The overlap lets me see lag between placeholders and I presume the scaling adds CPU load. Two 1080p videos really adds heat, and peak throttling becomes full time within about 10 minutes. It's a vicious circle as throttling reduces heat but any process takes longer so less heat for more time equals no gain. After heat saturated the two videos drop well out of sync, a sign that the placeholders are waiting somewhere more often.

Ran a three placeholder version, now with 60%,80% and 100% videos, all playing the same loop of 4 videos. This one heated to sludge within a couple of minutes and peak processor speed dropped to about 70% of rated. This would definitely be a huge problem in a real world hotter environment.

I repeated these tests with a casually placed DC fan blowing through the side ports of the Kangaroo and we saw a huge difference. Full burst speed was always available and there was negligible lag between the placeholders, even on 3 videos playing. Peak Core temperatures were in the 60-65C range and everything ran smoothly.

Here's a picture of the screen with 3 overlapping video windows, you can see that they're very closely sync's to each other.




The CPU throttling is quite impressive at quickly hitting max speed when needed, then drooping way back. Windows 10 and Rise Player seem to do a solid job and the loads spread across the multiple cores very well.

My conclusion is that almost any player could benefit from decent cooling or a cooler location. The benefits would be significantly increased performance and much better reliability.  

Especially for small fanless units, Sticks and those players mounted in hot environments, if you're having Rise Player issues take a look at heat as the cause.

Download and install CoreTemp and set it to stay always on top and use Windows 10 Task Manager also set on top. I can get both of those running before Rise Player starts up.

We will be building a Kangaroo Cooler because it looks like a Rise Player cool Kanagroo will perform as well or better than a hot NUC i3, cost much less and last longer.
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You are loving this, aren't you ))) Thanks, man, that was very helpful and now we are planning different fan positioning for our few next builds. There will be one fan blowing directly towards the vent holes of a player.
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Thanks Darius, and you're welcome. We do tend to be hardware geeks here.

Our core business for the past 35 years is Industrial Automation including High Speed motion systems that must run 100% of the time 24/7/365 for many years, and where failure can be dangerous, so we try to take a very technical approach to reliability of power and removal of heat.

Media players seem simple and generally are, but the environment of digital signage can destroy of render them buggy them pretty quickly. Modern hardware throttles to save warranty claims and smoke and flame failures, but that throttling can make software fail.

As the digital signage market expands reliability will be a key issue, so I thought data like this should be shared to get some people thinking. Screens randomly down at a distance will eat profit and good will pretty quickly. Good reliability will sell more installations.

Everyone usually wants to blame software, but bad power and heat are as big a problem. After running the 3 video presentation above all weekend without any problems (fan on) a few hours today without fan and the middle placeholder is now all black and won't recover. They're all playing the same video files, so that section just crashed because something didn't happen in time and it's still locked up. Restart the player with the fan on it and it immediately runs perfectly. I'm impressed with how solid the Rise Vision player remained as I've pushed the player to the point of buggy heat.

So yes, on any installed player looking at Temperature in real live conditions is a critical part of the install if you care about reliability.

You don't need to move a lot of air or make a lot of noise is it's well directed, but not all units will respond as well as some just don't have holes in the right place or are just too compact. 

Stay cool.
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Just a quick update on a casual thermal test of an Intel i3 NUC:

We use an aftermarket aluminum case (SilverStone PT15) and NUC is D34010WYK lowest priced and performance which has DisplayPort and Intel HD graphics that are Intel Collage capable.

Running HeavyLoad to load CPU and GPU to 100% for several hours, we never got even close to CPU throttling in 20C ambient air. In fact we remained 30C or more below CPU Temperature limits.

Your results may differ with different flavors of NUC with higher or lower power CPU, this i3 is a 15 watt mobile two core at 1.7GHz, but I believe it benchmarks faster than a 4 core Atom.

Based on this, I think it's probably hard to load a basic NUC to CPU throttling in a normal signage environment, but small format Atom based players need to be looked at carefully.