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InFocus Kangaroo PC Review - [Pico PC]

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#1 tazer

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 02:51 PM

Afternoon all. My review has been delayed due to rebuilding the worm block on my G11 but ccs_hello kindly reminded me of my prior commitment (thank you) and there's no time like the present right?

 

A few weeks ago I purchased the InFocus Kangaroo PC. I'm a big fan of these new tiny Atom based PC's. Lots of power in a small form factor. Just perfect for my needs. As luck would have it, it's about half the price of the ZBOX I purchased last year and has better specifications. If I forget to leave it uncovered and it dews over and fries? No big deal. Better a $99 PC than a $1,500 laptop.

 

So, what is the Kangaroo? It's a pico-PC running an Atom X5-Z8500 CPU. This is Intel's newest, thinnest, lowest power consuming, quad core, x64 Atom CPU. It comes with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of SSD storage, Intel HD Graphics, Windows 10 Home, a micro SD slot, and a dock with one each of USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and one HDMI port. Oh, and it has a built in battery that will run it for 4 hours of 'casual' use.

 

1.jpg

 

There it is in the box with cradle attached. Similar in size to a CD and very thin. It has a nice semi-matte finish on what I believe is an aluminum chassis.

 

2.jpg

 

The cradle simply pulls out. If you buy a separate one, you never have to uncable your gear. Just bring the Kangaroo with you and dock it. You don't even have to power it off because it has a builtin battery. Note the power plug isn't fully seated. Initially I though there was an issue, but you have to press it in very firmly to get it to seat properly. It stays in place very well.



#2 tazer

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 02:58 PM

Here are some pics of the edges, so you can see where the various ports and such are located:

 

3.jpg

 

That's the docking port. Looks proprietary but I hear rumor that InFocus may produce other docks that are compatible.

 

4.jpg

 

The power button is slightly recessed and has some play, so it's not easy to accidentally press it. That rectangular inset is actually a fingerprint reader. I haven't used it but it might be a nice feature if you really want to lock down your astro-imaging session [seriously, I don't know what I'd use it for.] There switch in the middle doesn't have a use as of yet, but I heard that there may be some features for it soon. Of course there's some ventilation, as the unit is passively cooled.

 

5.jpg

 

Not sure what that is. Perhaps some more ventilation? The white ring is a power indicator. Orange when the battery is low, blue when on AC or fully charged.

 

6.jpg

 

There's a micro-USB port that can be used for charging (in addition to the dock based 12VDC/3A port.) You're supposed to be able to connect it to an iPad via the micro-USB port and use it like an external monitor/mouse. There is a micro-SD port as well. I've got my class 10 64GB card in there. And of course more ventilation.



#3 tazer

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 03:06 PM

7.jpg

 

There it is with everything plugged in and powered on. The light ring is pretty bright, so if you don't keep it covered, you may need to tape it. The ZBOX let you disable the power indicator in BIOS, I haven't checked the Kangaroo yet.

 

 

8.jpg

 

It does come with Windows 10 Home. You can barely make out the specs in this over-compressed JPEG, but they're there. My screen is 1920x1200 and browsing the Internet, checking email, feels pretty normal on it.

 

 

a.jpg

 

Stellarium does feel a little slow. Keep in mind that it's full screen, no ground layer added. It gets up to 22 frames per second. Definitely usable but you can tell this is a PC you don't want to play 3D games on.



#4 tazer

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 03:15 PM

b.jpg

 

My de-facto test suite. Load up CdC, connect to a virtual ASCOM scope, slew it to M97, then plate solve it in AtroTortilla after connecting to the same virtual scope. Voila! 23 seconds to load, rescale, and solve and it didn't even max out the CPU. Plenty left for doing other things if need be. Note that the RAM usage is at 1.2GB used. Still 800MB free.

 

 

c.jpg

 

There she is plugged into a powered USB 3.0 hub. My QHY5L-IIM is connected, along with a keyboard, mouse, and a micro-USB cable. Note that the 12VDC power cable is missing. The Kangaroo is being charged via micro-USB in this image. I found that it was very slow to charge this way while the system was running.

 

 

d.jpg

 

And there's PHD2 running with 1.0s guide exposures. CPU usage is 4.8% in this photo. With 0.01s exposures the CPU usage jumps to about 14%. I'll never even come close to taxing it with my usage case. Also note that the power is unplugged in this picture, so it's running entirely on battery. No charging cables in use (the hub was plugged in and powering the QHY5L-IIM though.) I left PHD2 looping 1s exposures for 3.5 hours before the battery got low enough for me to be concerned about it powering off.



#5 tazer

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 03:21 PM

All in all, not a bad little device. I did forget to mention that it is WiDi compatible, so if you've got something that supports WiDi, you can remotely broadcast to it.

 

Some things I did to get it where I wanted.

  • I disabled malware scanning as it definitely slows things down
  • I set my WiFi connect to 'metered' so Windows wouldn't try to download updates
  • Windows 10 Home leaves the Remote Desktop feature disabled, so I ran RDP Wrapper to re-enable it

It connects to an AP in my under the mount box, and I connect to that from in the house. I haven't tested it's range yet, but my ZBOX was getting me 20-30Mbps while it was out in the yard and I was on the couch.

 

So far so good. At this point I definitely give it a thumbs-up. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be glad to answer what I can. I do plan on testing it this weekend but it's running so well that I'd be shocked if I ran into an issue.

 

Mark



#6 ccs_hello

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 06:18 PM

Mark, 

 

Great review.  Thank you!  I hope I will receive mine very soon.

BTW is it Win 10 home 64 or 32 bit?  How much free space does the C: drive have?

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#7 tazer

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 07:09 PM

It's 64-bit. That's the one thing that I didn't like about the ZBOX. 64bit CPU but 32bit boot loader, so they put 32bit Windows on it.

 

I've got 14.6GB free after installing all of my apps. That's with a default CdC install, Stellarium 14 with all star databases loaded, AtroTortilla+CygWin and only the data files I need for my imaging FoV, PHD2, ASCOM v6.1, and a few other utilities.

 

Write speeds on the internal SSD (eMMC) seem to be upwards of 50MB/s (sequential). Not particularly speedy but if you're not doing anything disk intensive you'll never notice. If you need more storage you can pick up a 64GB microSD card for $24 or a 128GB card for $82:

 

http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B007WTAJTO

 

I have the 64GB version and am seeing writes speeds of around 15MB/s (sequential) on the Kangaroo. Only half the speed of its rating but I typically point my camera's download folder to it. It'll read as fast as the eMMC can write, so no problems going that way. Both are faster than my WiFi connection to it when it's outside.

 

I have an older 128GB SSD plugged into it via a USB3.0 adapter and from the eMMC storage I get 128MB/s (sequential) with it. The bottleneck probably being the eMMC storage.

 

Altogether not a bad little device so far. I'm considering picking up another one and Velcroing it to the TV.

 

Mark



#8 bluesteel

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 11:43 PM

Any word on if linux distributions run on the mini computer properly? Bluetooth in that thing?

#9 tazer

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 07:46 AM

It does come with Bluetooth 4.0 and the WiFi is 802.11ac. I haven't used the Bluetooth capabilities though, so I can't speak to it's performance.

 

Mark

 

Edit: I haven't tried to install a different OS on it, but it does look like it should be doable. I don't believe the BIOS/UEFI is locked down (i.e., I think there's a secure boot option but it can be disabled.)


Edited by tazer, 11 November 2015 - 07:51 AM.


#10 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 07:47 PM

Thanks for the review. Looks promising.

#11 ccs_hello

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Posted 13 November 2015 - 09:31 PM

Folks,

 

Just wish to mention one potential issue:

this miniPC being tiny (small chassis with thin Aluminum cover) and quiet (fanless) actually has to trade-off such niche

with its CPU+GPU's true potentials.  I.e., it can reach its thermal throttling point easily.

 

Also its SoC (CPU + GPU) X5-Z8500 is pretty good in benchmarking number.

The GPU actually does support Intel "Clear Video HD" technology with a major caveat (to be discussed later...)

 

P.S. indeed its DC power jack needs to be push in with a (scary amount of) force, if you insert it in central line.  Then it will "lock" pretty firmly with almost no protrusion on metal part..  I also do not recommend pull it out very often.

.

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello


Edited by ccs_hello, 13 November 2015 - 09:34 PM.


#12 Dhellis59

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 12:19 AM

Great review.  Thanks for sharing.  I am just getting up to speed with remote AP.  As I write this, I am imaging M33 via my laptop in my driveway controlling my telescope.  I am sitting in my big chair in my living room.  

 

I am duly impressed with myself being my first time and all.  But I am nervous about leaving my laptop with all my personal and business information outside unattended!

 

This sounds like a viable and inexpensive replacement.  Can you share total cost to get everything up and running?  And does it completely replace the need for having a laptop by the scope?

 

Thanks,

 

Darryl



#13 space_eagle28

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 11:24 AM

Nice and interesting review. Thanks for sharing. :)



#14 ccs_hello

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 11:25 PM

Searched the Internet and no one is posting a teardown.  So here it is...

 

Remove 2 screws near docking connector.  Pry open the cover (the Kangaroo side.)

 

Here it is.

DSC00590a.jpg

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#15 ccs_hello

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 11:27 PM

Took out the RFI shield. 4 screws removed.

DSC00591a.jpg



#16 ccs_hello

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 11:29 PM

Pop the main board out and flip it over.

DSC00593a.jpg



#17 ccs_hello

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 11:32 PM

Took out 3 screws (marked on hole #1, #2, and #3) to remove the copper heatsink.

DSC00595a.jpg



#18 ccs_hello

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 11:35 PM

This provides a general idea on how to cut the back cover open and build a better heatsink.

DSC00597a.jpg



#19 bluesteel

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 12:51 PM

Awesome! Thanks for the pictures and teardown! :D



#20 ccs_hello

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 10:04 PM

About

Kangaroo PC Teardown

 

My plan is to cut a bigger copper heatsink and have it exposed to the outsode.

When needed, I'll add a fan.

 

Left: a copper heatsink with 4 heatpipes (have the aluminum fins removed already)

Right: another copper heatsink

 

Either way I have to use a heavy duty jigsaw to cut to size, then find a way to mount it (3 screws as in post #17.

DSC00598.JPG

 



#21 soylent

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 02:55 AM

i gotta say, its a good little system; im currently testing one my self.  so far, the results are promising



#22 catalogman

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 12:56 PM

Any word on if linux distributions run on the mini computer properly? Bluetooth in that thing?

 

Here's a video of an installation of Ubuntu on the Kangaroo:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=OgV-K3NKc7k

 

                                                                   -- catalogman



#23 ccs_hello

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 06:59 AM

Adding two update:

 

1. InFocus is a commercial brand of Foxconn (which is the OEM mfg of iphones).

 

2. New 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC version (now $169)

    This version no longer has Windows 10 Home license (due to exceeding MS max spec for free license)

    Kangaroo plus Pico PC
    see  https://www.youtube....h?v=kEG_F-VF5pg

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#24 ccs_hello

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Posted 27 March 2016 - 09:22 PM

One additional info on the Kangaroo PC:

 

it's WiFi module is Intel AC7265.

It no longer supports AP mode in Win 10.  (It appears that up to 8.1 the driver support is still there.)

P.S. it can still support Ad-hoc mode as well as WiFi Direct. 



#25 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 04:03 PM

A few questions about the Kangaroo:

1.  What is the power supply voltage?  5v or 12v?

2.  What is size of the power tip?  5.5/2.1?

3.  Have you ever had any issues of the Kangaroo overheating such that it shut down or anything like that?

4.  Without a monitor connected, I assume you remote in from another device.  Do you need an HDMI dummy plug in the HDMI port to have full 1080 resolution, or does it do that natively?  

5.  "It no longer supports AP mode..."  What does that mean?  One of the features I read about the Kangaroo is that you could flip a button on the outside to enable an ad hoc network to remote in from another PC.  That's a nice feature and would save the pain of having to manually set up an ad hoc network.

 

Thanks in advance.




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