Mini PC maker MeLE has been a popular maker of set-top box style mini PCs for the last year or so but the new MeLE M3 should turn a few heads for its excellent peripheral port options.
The M3 is powered by Allwinner’s A20 dual-core Cortex A7 SoC CPU with dual-core ARM Mali-400 MP2 graphics engine, clocking along at 1GHz. Its accompanied by 1GB of RAM and only 4GB of on-board flash but its preloaded with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) operating system. That internal storage can be expanded through the built-in SD card slot, which is good for cards up to 32GB.
However, the real bonus with this unit is the myriad of peripheral ports on the back.
First up, the M3 comes with a dedicated DC power socket, not a microUSB port doubling as power – so that’s a good start as it means you can use a standard (we believe 12VDC but that’s yet to be confirmed) power brick should you need a replacement.
But what impresses us greatly is the three video output options. You can go with VGA output, HDMI or composite video. Occasionally a mini PC might offer you two options, but rarely three. But it also has three audio output options too – composite AV, audio via HDMI or the optical S/PDIF socket right on the end. That makes it one of the most versatile mini PCs we’ve seen, although other MeLE options can match this.
Networking is well catered for with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi inside and RJ45 port on the back delivering wired 100Mbps Fast Ethernet connectivity. And there’s plenty of room for external periperhal with three USB2.0 host ports – two on the back and one on the left-hand side.
With that lot on-board, you’ve got everything to create a low-cost PC or multimedia center connected to a PC monitor, old-school CRT TV or your big-screen TV. The only thing missing is Bluetooth.
According to androidpc.es, you can find this one on Focalprice for about €60 but we’ve seen it floating around Aliexpress for around $85 including shipping. It’s also available on eBay for $75 including shipping. The package includes AC adapter, a reasonably decent remote control and short composite AV cable.
The choice of Allwinner A20 processor here means performance won’t be able to match models packing Rockchip’s RK3188 quad-core Cortex A9 CPU or even Allwinner’s own A31 quad-core Cortex A7 offering. It’ll also be behind Rockchip’s first-generation RK3066 dual-core Cortex A9 CPU. Not only does the RK3066 use faster Cortex A9 cores, it clocks them at 1.6GHz, a 60% increase over the M3′s A20 CPU. Furthermore, the RK3066 features the quad-core Mali-400 MP4 GPU engine against the A20′s Mali-400 MP2 dual-core option.
So bottom line, while the MeLE M3 should perform well as a media player, it won’t be the fastest option on the market for Android gaming. That said, few mini PCs can offer the number or variety of peripheral ports as this M3 appears to do.
|Processor||Allwinner A20 dual-core Cortex A7|
|Clock||Up to 1GHz|
|GPU type||ARM Mali-400 MP2|
|Operating system||Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)|
|External storage||SD card, up to 32GB|
|Wi-Fi connectivity||802.11b/g/n (inc. RJ45 Fast Ethernet)|
|No./type of USB ports||3 x USB2.0 host|
|HDMI form factor||v1.4 (inc. VGA and composite AV, optical S/PDIF)|
|Announce Date||September 2013|
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