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Sky’s Now TV Box teardown pictures: A close cousin to the Raspberry Pi

TV & AVBlog
by Desire Athow
, 08 Aug 2013Blog
Sky’s Now TV Box teardown pictures: A close cousin to the Raspberry Pi

I received my Now TV box (thanks, Marcel!) and the first thing I did, as a geek, was pulling it apart. Something easy to do once you identify which screwdriver bit to use and in less than a minute I was in. The box is made up on two covers, a back and a tiny (and tightly) integrated motherboard. There’s an IR sensor, A/V out, a reset button, an HDMI connector and power in.

The only components I could identify include the Broadcom BCM595002 (power controller), a Toshiba TC58NVG1S3ETA00 (256MB flash) and a Samsung K4P2G324ED (256MB LDDR2). There’s at least another wireless chip (possibly from Broadcom) that hides below a metallic cover that doubles as an antenna. Accessories include a PSU that outputs 8W, a remote control with two batteries and a HDMI cable.

Unlike the Roku LT, it doesn’t do analog stereo and is not an open platform per se but that was expected. Sky is likely to be subsidizing the box, mimicking what Amazon has been doing with the Kindle for eBooks.

It is likely that the same Broadcom BCM2835 application processor, as used on the Roku LT and the Roku 2 series, has also been implemented here. We couldn’t find it which means that it may be hiding under the (raised) RAM module as part of a POP component. The BCM2835 is an ARM11-based model which means that it is likely to be slower than a Cortex-A5 SoC. Clockspeeds are unknown at this point; you can learn more about it here.

Regardless though, it will be interesting to see whether someone somewhere manages to hack into the box and install something else than the proprietary code that powers the Now TV box. Expansion capabilities are limited because of the lack of physical connectors. There’s no USB ports, no card reader, Bluetooth or Ethernet connectors and this was done deliberately to reduce the complexity of the box, to reduce its functionality and slash the bill of material as well.

In a nutshell, the Now TV box does shares a fair few components with the popular Raspberry Pi DIY computer and is a once-in-a-lifetime bargain at £10. My advice: grab it and hack it.

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