NanoPi K2

What, not ANOTHER board from FriendlyArm? And yes, you’d be right to wonder why I’m doing a bunch of articles on them right now – well, it just so happens I got a box of stuff all at once so I thought I’d get them all out of the way at once.

K2[7]

So – why another board? If you’ve read my various blogs you will know that regardless of what operating system these SBC board from various places are supposed to come with,  I usually end up putting these boards onto Debian or more decently command-line Ubuntu and running my script on them.

The only exception were a couple of earlier boards from these guys which ended up as media centres – Kodi etc.  The T3 boards.  Well, they’re good but compared to a good phone, most of these Android installations are either low resolution, slow speed or both.  Indeed on a daily basis I end up apologising to the wife as the Android crawls along. I like to blame old versions of Android but ultimately most of these SBC boards are not as fast as a good phone. I often say in conversation – if only they’d use the chips used in phones…

And so it was that I opened up the K2 board from FriendlyArm and the big claim is 4K video. I had to give it a go, didn’t I, so I downloaded the Android setup from their site.

Now this board has a number of special features.  Firstly it has an infra-red input and they supply an infra-red handset – so no messing around – it just “works”.  Another feature which I don’t think any of the other boards manage – this board is size-compatible with the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 – and that means – yes, you can use any of the millions of Raspberry Pi cases out there – and there are some beauties!!!  Nice.

Even then I wasn’t that optimistic about Android – after all I already have a media centre running and it takes some setting up – did I really want to go through all that again?

Ok, well I’ll cut a long story short.. YES, ABSOLUTELY. This is lovely. So the board has 2GB RAM which is more than any Raspberry Pi has ever had or apparently ever will. It has a standard microSD and I JUST happen to have a 64GB microSD which will give BAGS of room for movies.

And so I guess you’d expect me to rant on for ages about various features? Well, I’m not. It works and works extremely well. I’ve tried YouTube and Chrome searching for high quality movies and everything I throw at the board runs flat out – maximum settings I can see on Youtube are 1080p and the quality is excellent – my monitor isn’t high enough res for true 4K but watching the smooth videos I have no doubt the claim pans out. The remote works a treat. The only thing that is missing is a 3.5mm jack which would have been good as my HD computer monitor doesn’t have a loudspeaker attached!!

I say it is fast – it is but if you REALLY want to go to town there’s an eMMC connector on the board… personally I’m happy with the SD.

You can look up the specs online on the link above, but in short, an Amlogic S905 with a Mali graphics processor, 2GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, WIFI, BLUETOOTH, audio via HDMI or Bluetooth,  Oh, my headphones – hang on… testing…RIGHT – that sorts the audio – the Bluetooth works a treat with my little GEAR4 speakers – no problem.

I’m running this with the heatsink attached – which also has a fan but a fan is always a daft idea in a media centre… and… yes, I think you can likely get away without needing the fan… the fins are cool enough to touch continuously.  Right – I’m off to find a nice box for this.

Oh and it has a proper power connector but I just plugged in the microUSB connector and that’s working a treat.

 

Update August 2017: After months of using this board as a media centre - it has performed flawlessly.  I have two of this and have just installed the Official Ununtu release for it. "the script" installs flawlessly on this board -  however I have to say, right now, the supplied WIRINGPI which comes with the Ubuntu release - is bust...  "sudo gpio i2cd" was obviously never tested as it gripes about this board not being a NEO2 !!!  Not good. I reported the problem and the answer was that it should be removed - WiringPi not yet supported on the K2 - that's not good!!!!

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

71 thoughts on “NanoPi K2

  1. Well, I remain impressed -you can buy this board and with VERY little intelligence - as long as you can download the image onto an SD - you are ready to go including remote control. I think they've done a great job.

    Ok, if it could simultaneously run Debian - that would be nice but then I'm being greedy - and I've never tried running Android from the command line - for all I know they could be similar.

    1. Peter

      Like you said this is a great board for people new to this sort of thing. I am definitely new. How did you manage to get this board to recognize your entire 64GB SDCard? The image Friendly Elec has provided is for 8GB cards only. I got it to mount properly I think, but once I am booted up I only have 2.25GB of free space. EaseUS Partion Master shows that I have 50ish GB unallocated. Thank you for any help you can provide.

      1. No it isn't - on first load it should resize automatically - check their WIKI. Something wrong there... I have mine running the TV and it's working a treat. Do let me know... if it isn't working we can contact them to see what the solution is.

        1. Thank you for the quick reply. Here is a screenshot of EaseUS Partion Tool. After several reboots into the nanopi k2 it only shows 2.28GB.

          1. I've just been to check - and you are right - I only have a couple of GB left. Incidentally on the WIKI they say use cards of AT LEAST 8GB - I certainly would not use a card that size - too small for Android if you're planning on doing anything with it..

            http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/wiki/index.php/NanoPi_K2

            Yup - mine has only 2.8GB left. I'm writing off to them now... also maybe they'll see this in here but of course as I write this in the morning they've probably given up for the night if not the weekend.

            1. I've just realised - on the WIKI it DOES say to do the following - and I always get annoyed by this assumption that you have a Linux PC handy...

              sudo umount /dev/sdx?
              sudo parted /dev/sdx unit % resizepart 4 100 unit MB print
              sudo resize2fs -f /dev/sdx4

              and.... it doesn't make the slightest difference... right - onto it.

                  1. Given that I don't what you've tried that hasn't worked I might be suggesting something useless however in cases like this where an SD card ends up partitioned incorrectly my process is:
                    1) Insert the SD card into the card reader inside / attached to the local machine
                    2) Obtain a copy of the bootable GParted live CD iso: http://gparted.org/livecd.php
                    3) Boot the GParted o/s with VirtualBox by "inserting" this iso into an existing appliances' optical drive
                    4) Once booted, start GParted and re-partition the SD card as required. Be gentle, extending / adding space to the end of an existing partition should work fine.

              1. Re Linux PC,

                Peter, assuming you are using Windows 10, you have a number of options for running Linux right on your Windows PC.

                First is the Ubuntu subsystem which is a Windows Feature you can install as soon as you declare yourself as a "developer" in Windows Settings.

                Second is to use a VM of course. Hyper-V, VirtualBox or VMware.

                Finally, you can now use Docker for Windows which takes control over the Windows Hyper-V virtualisation feature and makes it really easy to add both Windows and Linux Docker environments.

      2. hey peter,
        1) use ubuntu and install gparted.
        2) insert the sd card in pc
        3) run gparted and make the unallocated space a part of 2.25 gb partition, if there are some errors, dont use all the unallocated space at once, do it twice
        4) insert back in pi, enjoy 60 gb

  2. There are a couple of other SBC cloning RPi dimensions and position of connectors:

    - MiQi (Rockchip RK3288, a lot more powerful than S905 boards/boxes like this here)
    - ASUS Tinkerboard (also RK3288, so a lot more powerful than S905 boards/boxes)
    - ODROID-C2 (same S905 and therefore exactly same performance as NanoPi K2)
    - ODROID-C1+ (S805 based and therefore slower than the above)

    Soon:

    - Rock64 (RK3328, 64-bit, Gigabit Ethernet + USB3, this will probably rock 😉 )
    - Banana Pi M2 Berry (just a stripped down BPi M2 Ultra with R40 and same horrible software/support)

    Unfortunately most of the above boards feature Micro USB for DC-IN (Rock64 being the exception, the Pine folks who'll release this soon had such a support nightmare with Pine64 being powered through Micro USB that they finally learned the lesson and use now a barrel plug (3.5/1.35mm) instead).

  3. As Peter mentioned, what stands out is their image or software support. You can get this up and running in minutes. There was literally no lag in 4k playback as well. They have amalgamated the features of tinker board and ordroid c2 and priced it well.

    1. Huh? Where's the problem with 4K playback in Android on any TV box platform?! Where's a single S905 TV box not able to do that? Where's the news?

      If that's true http://www.cnx-software.com/2017/04/13/40-nanopi-k2-board-is-powered-by-amlogic-s905-processor/#comment-541949 and FriendlyELEC really just throws out an Android image and won't support Linux anytime soon or at all then this would be pretty lame (since why the hell shouldn't a S905 Android thingie work well with Android?)

      Currently there's only Android here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/8xn2iirciznqh/S905

      But since this is just another (rather boring) S905 device of course Linux runs on it and since Amlogic paid BayLibre developers for doing mainline work on Amlogic SoCs all the fancy stuff will soon work even with mainline Linux. Armbian for ODROID-C2 (K2's sibling with same features minus Wi-Fi/BT) will support mainline kernel pretty soon and then after exchanging .dts file this will also run on K2.

      1. Tkaiser - appreciate your feedback and help from time to time and you make some great points - but please quit being so negative about anything that isn't Armbian! FriendlyArm in this case have put out a good (if old) working Android complete with infra-red remote control that works out of the box without having to fiddle with anything so this will be good for beginners. In other parts of the blog you'll note they have put more effort in recently than some other board manufacturers. If you have an Android 7 that works out of the box for this complete with IR I'll take it all back. The Bluetooth works out of the box as well. Not tested WIFI but I'll add that in shortly.

        1. Huh? I'm not negative, I'm just asking what's special about an Android SoC being used with Android? There are tons of S905 based Android TV boxes out there running... Android. Where's the point mentioning that there's now another SBC using Amlogic S905 that can currently be used for nothing else than... Android? You reviewed an S905 TV box without enclosure (and yeah, of course IR works with every Android TV box out there)

          Fortunately Mindee confirmed in the meantime that they're working on Linux (it's the first time ever that FriendlyELEC commented on that! Please see the CNX link above) and then it starts to get interesting. But as already said: there's nothing special about this since what works with one S905 device will work with every other S905 device too. It's really that easy.

          IMO the most interesting part about K2 is with which eMMC modules FriendlyELEC will come up with.

          1. Well there you are - something positive. I wonder if Mindee can comment on eMMC - it might be nice to get a little extra speed. And you said of course - IR works with every Android box out there - and of course you're right - but this is not an Android box - it's a board and one that with Debian or whatever could also be used for other things - indeed it might be possible to access the IO from Android for all we know at this point.

  4. Funny, Armbian/Linux already running on K2: https://forum.armbian.com/index.php?/topic/4150-friendlyelec-nanopi-k2-s905/&do=findComment&comment=31195 (I don't follow progress around S905 devices closely or at all).

    And with this huge commit Igor added yesterday support for mainline kernel for S905 devices: https://github.com/armbian/build/commit/b779446b58139eddcb779e8cc7cd37c2d2b6f989

    So rather soon all the fancy stuff currently being Android only will both work with Amlogic's 3.14 kernel as well as latest and greatest mainline kernel (and then such a SBC starts to make sense since now it's just the equivalent to an overpriced S905 TV box and not a real SBC 😉 )

    1. Both of those links look like fine work - but work in progress - and the main Armbian site does not mention this board for the K2 yet. When it does I'll take a look. Mostly I am interested in Debian or Ubuntu - in this case I've tested the board with FriendlyArm's Android - it works perfectly out of the box with the remote control and that works for me. Not everything in the world is Armbian.

      1. Armbian or Linux isn't interesting at all if you only care about Android 😉

        Again: K2 is based on Amlogic S905 so what's newsworthy here unless FriendlyELEC comes up with Linux support?! Are you kidding? There are tons of S905 boxes running Android around (and Android for S905 is always just Android for S905 -- there are NO DIFFERENCES between any of those devices). Why do you even mention K2?

        1. In that case TKaiser can you point us to an Android 7 for this unit - or even an Android 6 that again works out of the box with IR so not needing any technical knowledge to set up? And as Mindee has just confirmed they will provide other operating systems soon. I should point out that, just as an example, FriendlyArm do participate in these discussions and respond to feedback - we could compare that to the OrangePi people who never, EVER respond to any communications I send.. let's wait and see as this is a relatively new board for them, what happens. Ubuntu + WiringOP would be nice for sure but of course for completely different purposes.

  5. Thanks for the review. Quite capable for $40. Might want to add the price to your review as price is pretty key in evaluating these boards.

    1. Thanks Chris - it is not cheap but I tend not to get into the pricing because the overall price depends very much on where you live. For example - American products for me are usually quiet expensive as we have that whole courier/customs/vat thing - on small products from China it usually makes sense to send by normal China post in which case there is rarely a duty/vat issue either in Spain or the UK (I stress, small items). Also some customers insist on using couriers - my experience of some of them is well documented and generally I would not touch some of them with a bargepole - you may recall DHL advising a supplier to increase the stated value of a product - which of course meant that not only did VAT and DUTY go up but so did DHL's charges. I ended up paying three times the worth of the product.

      If I was sitting in the UK I could get a "genuine Pi for £30 and probably get postage free - in the USA I've seen them even cheaper - here in Spain I'd probably get a significant postage to deal with... so it all depends where you are.

      So given an international audience I tend to leave it to others to lookup pricing.

  6. Thanks for your review and feedback. FriendlyELEC not only design and make hardware, but also build the software. We surely provide linux for K2 in the future.

    P.S. this board's name "K" is from Kodi, when I installed Kodi 17.1 in android, I don't know why it can work so smoothly with the attached IR controller.

  7. Great review, and exciting to see some 4k support in SBCs these days!

    Has anyone used 4k video in earnest, and compared the different file encoding methods during playback? I imagine that h.264 and h.265 will be fine, but what about HEVC encoded videos?

    Would be great if this is an up and coming 4K Kodi appliance 🙂

    1. HEVC is only a different name for h.265 and the interesting question is at which bit depths HW accelerated decoding works and where it needs software decoding (since then only 4 Cortex-A53 cores running at 1.5 GHz are too weak)

      S905 devices are nothing new BTW 😉 and there exist some sites specialized on this aspect of these devices (freaktab.com for example)

      1. Ah, see, I knew that but completely failed to remember it whilst writing the comment 🙂

        I know they're not new, but I'm particularly curious if Kodi on Linux will ever run on them well.

        1. I'm not that much into S905(X) stuff since I use those ARM gems mostly without display attached. But by just searching through Amlogic subforum over at Armbian I would believe there's a lot happening currently.

          Kodi with full 4K support should be possible in Android on every S905(X) device out there (but Amlogic's Android seems to be an outdated 5.1) but community as well as the different SBC vendors seem to do a great job (there's another SBC based on S905X: Khadas Vim). Libreelec on Linux is already running with legacy kernel and even mainline kernel seems to be ready soon.

          Just compiled a full OMV image for ODROID-C2 with mainline kernel (4.10.17) and will now do some NAS performance testing to get the idea how S905 behaves when running with more recent mainline kernel (headless of course 😉 )

    1. Nice to here, about Ubuntu, pity friendlyarms forum moderator chensy said "Hi
      K2 only provides the android system.

      Thanks! "

      Left hand Right Hand problem me thinks 🙂

      1. Wrong moderator - tell him we have ALREADY BEEN TOLD that Linux is on the way.

        I guess in any company it is hard to keep everyone up to date and the moderator may not even be company!

  8. Hi Pete,

    Thanks for another very useful review. It convinced me and I bought one - fired it up last night and it does seem very 'snappy' indeed - no lag in Android and it ships with a recent version of Kodi (17.1 or 17.2 I think) - which it then allowed me to update to 17.3. All seems very good apart from... CPU temperature.

    I didn't buy a FriendlyARM heatsink - so initially I ran it bare and the processor was too hot to touch for any length of time. I've not got a spare Raspberry Pi 14mm one left so temporarily bodged it with 4 of the smaller RPi heatsinks but it's still pretty hot. This is running the standard Android image downloaded from FriendlyARM.

    I will try sticking it in a Raspberry Pi case with a mini fan - and get a proper heatsink - I've just noticed that their standard heatsink/fan unit is quite large so this explains why a tiny heatsink does not seem sufficient - I wish I'd added the official one to my original order now but it's easy to get carried away in the checkout process and endure serious wallet lightening...

    1. Just been back on the FriendlyARM site and noticed there wasn't a standard fan/heatsink 'add on' offered on the K3 product page - but they do list one that looks like the one in the photo but is described as being for the Nano Pi M3.

      http://www.friendlyarm.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=70&product_id=133

      Would this be the same one, do you think? I don't want to buy one that doesn't fit.

      I'd welcome suggestions from anyone regarding other fan/heatsink combos that might fit and would work well - i.e. on Banggood/Aliexpress/eBay etc

      1. I had the same issue ordering mine. Went with the M3 heatsink hoping for the best. Happy to report it fits perfectly. The case for the the K2 doesn't have much in the way of vents on the top though.

        1. Thanks for confirming it fits okay Josh - appreciated

          I have the standard K2 case but one of the attractive features of the K2 is it sharing form factor with the RPi2/3 and I have numerous Raspberry cases of different design kicking around to experiment with if air flow/space is an issue.

          I dropped an email to FriendlyArm this morning but you and Pete have beaten them to it in replying. I have not heard back yet.I also enquired regarding cooling options for my two NanoPi 2 Fire boards as they also run hot. I await theoffcial reply but shall order myself an M3 heatsink gizmo in the meantime.

          Cheers Josh and Pete!

    2. IMHO, this board is disappointing...
      if you just want a mediacenter, go to amazon, look for android tv box, take the ones with at least 4 stars and more reviews, order by price descending and job done, you'll pay quite the same and you'll have a proper boxed board, a remote, and so on, with same specs as this board...

      if you want an SBC to tinker with, there are way better options... the PI in its name is just bad advertising, or worst...

      it works well as a mediacenter? Well, IT IS! It's just a naked screenless smartphone... don't know why you guys see so many good things in this... it's just the bare minimum of what to expect!

      here's the cheapest one found on amazon, there are sure even cheaper ones:
      https://www.amazon.com/Cewaal-installed-Amlogic-Quad-Core-Streaming/dp/B01FDA9E3A/

      1. Antonio... the "Pi" in ALL of the non-Raspberry Pi devices is misleading - most of the manufacturers make a big play on the connector being identical to the Raspberry Pi without coming out in the open to point out that actually you can't use the software tools you're used to with a "real" pi. However, with the recent availability of WiringOP and WiringNP things are getting better.

        1. absolutely, you did a great work, with python, too, so they're now usable and many of them can do jobs that an RPiX did till now... but quite all of the "good" ones are NOT using smartphone like SOCs... it's a pricey board useful only as a mediacenter, for which task there are better options...

          1. I agree, you echo what I said in comment #1 in this article. If the end goal is a media player it's just a lot less hassle to buy one with the equivalent of this board inside. Go that route and you'll get a power supply, a prepackaged board in a reasonable enclosure, onboard eMMC storage included etc

    3. Hi Darren - I run mine with the official heatsink which has a fan in it. Because the fans tend to be noisy, I run the fan off the 3v3 supply instead of 5v and it works perfectly - we're watching stuff from the Internet (Kodi) on a daily basis without any issue.

      1. That's a top tip, Pete...under clocking the fan on the lower voltage. Good skills. I may try the same on some of my Orange Pi family boards. I have quite a comprehensive SBC collection (intrigue quickly turned into obsession!)

  9. Ok, so on the resizing front - I forgot I had a laptop with MINT Linux on it - I went to that - started up GPARTED as root (from the command line which seems a DAFT way to start up a program meant for the graphical desktop) and put in my SD - the last partition looked ok but the bare at the top showed it was not fully utilised. I right clicked on the last partition and ticked CHECK - and that was that.... put it back into the K2 - the full amount of SD was now available in Android.

    DEAD easy when you know how, bloody impossible when you don't - which is why FA need to do this automatically on first boot - support - you reading this one???

  10. Oh while I'm here - I had some overscan on the board - not on my monitor but on my TV which meant some of the image was missing on the left and right.

    I'd previously downloaded ADB onto my PC and so I enabled usb debugging on the board, plugged it into the PC and ran the following in the Windows command prompt...

    adb shell wm overscan 40,10,40,10

    Worked for me - those values (default 0,0,0,0) represent shrinking the image from left, top, right and bottom respectively. If you have overscan your values might be different - start at 0,0,0,0 and work your way in. Settings survive reboot.

  11. Hi.. I had one main problem, and one no so big.
    I want to use first for torrent, then I don´t have write access from the torrent apps. Not sure why. I tried with my usb 1tb on ntfs, and with a 16gb usb formated from android. Both of them doesn´t work.
    Now I moved to the linux distro, but the video doesn´t work so good, but at least torrent works fine.
    Do you know how to have write access to external devices?
    And the second problem, the fan is really loudly, there is any way to lower the speed to reduce the noise? Thanks in advance.
    Muadiv.

    1. Hi - thanks for that - ultimately it turns out i had a laptop with Linux - and gparted and expanded it that way - now happily running as a media centre. Thanks for that info.

      1. Hi!
        I decided to intall libreelec due i couldn´t set up android under a fixed IP
        I´ve been using libreelec osmc etc and it´s very easy to get fixed IP ( very useful to a better behaviour of certain add -on or program. otherwise android was working quite well on k2 apart from some freezing problems.
        So K2 is working smoothly and very fast ( in comparison with my old raspberry pi 1B+ hehehe)
        Saludos/Best regards

        1. According to that post - "No, Ubuntu Core is completely snap-based: apt is not available. ". Must be a parallel universe because every Ubuntu Core I've ever used has apt-get in it... I'd never even heard about Snap. I just tried a couple of machines ... "Snap: command not found"...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *