Freebox mini 4K Android TV set-top box launched in France

by on March 17, 2015

Stephan Jukic – March 17, 2015

The spread of 4K ultra HD TVs, technology and ecosystems in Europe keeps moving along.

The latest iteration of this is the new set-top box with Android TV software and full support for 4K ultra HD TV content that has recently been launched by French internet and TV programming provider Free.

The box, called the Freebox mini 4K, features a 1.5 GHz Broadcom BCM7252 ARM Cortex-A15 dual-core processor and support for a number of potential sources of 4K and Full HD content including streaming, terrestrial, on-demand and recorded video content.

The Freebox mini 4K is already being delivered to the homes of customers throughout France and the chipmaker Broadcom also says that its BCM7252 processor will be garnering even wider availability later this month.

Broadcom itself has already staked out a place in the 4K video ecosystem thanks to its other new lines of 4K UHD 5G WiFi chips for 4K media devices. Two of these go by the model names BCM7448S and BCM7449S and as system-on-a-chip (SoC) chips, are designed for maximizing connectivity in set-tops like the Freebox as well as gateways and other video client technologies.

Furthermore, these Broadcom chips and the BCM7252 SoC that’s going into the the Freebox in France all support key standards for compatibility with 4K media. We’re referring here to standards like the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance 2.0 (MoCA 2.0) Standard, High Efficiency Video Code (HEVC, also called H.265) and Google’s own less widespread competitor to HEVC, the VP9 standard.

Going back to the Freebox mini itself, the package actually consists of two distinct devices. One a player of 4K digital media and the other a powerful little server for handling the media.

The server side of the Freebox is built to work with Free’s own internet service and also supports ADSL2, VDSL2 and fiber optic connectivity. Furthermore, it has a 4 Gigabit internet service capacity through its Ethernet ports, comes with 802.11n WiFi and also features an Esata port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and an integrated Femtocell (small, low-power, signal-receiving base station) for more robust reception of signals from content sources.

The player part of the device, on the other hand, is a smaller box that supports both 4K and Full HD 1080p content, offers support for HEVC/H.265 encoding, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, three USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot. It also comes with a Blutooth remote and a microphone for voice search features.

Like many other Android TV boxes, the Freebox can be used to stream internet video, play games or manage third-part applications from the web. It also works with Google Cast for locating content on your mobile device (phone, tablet laptop) and beaming it to the TV that the Freebox mini attaches to.

The Freebox mini is possibly the second Android TV device yet released to support 4K ultra HD media, after the Nvida Shield Video Game console with its own built-in Android TV software, which was unveiled earlier in March and will be going on sale as of May.

The Freebox mini's only other competitor in 4K UHD Android TV is the Nvidia Shield console

The Freebox mini’s only other competitor in 4K UHD Android TV is the Nvidia Shield console

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