Banana Pi M2 Plus Review
The Banana Pi M2+ is Sinovoip Company’s sixth-generation single-board computer with an upgraded SoC which provides even more power for computing tasks packed in a tiny small board (65 x 65 mm). The board features a brand new Allwinner H31 ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core processor along with 1GB DDR3 and 8G RAM eMMC flash running at Clock speed up to 1.2 GHz, Capable of H.265/HEVEC 4K Video decoding.
As for OS support, the board supports Android including popular Linux distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, Firefox OS available to download from Sinovoip company forum. Other interfaces included are USB, HDMI, USB OTG, DC, Gigabit Ethernet port, WiFi, BT, Camera interface, and 40 pin GPIO array interface, compatible with the Raspberry Pi B+ board. For further details including prices you are welcome to check the links listed below:
Banana Pi M2+ Review:
- A Closer Look at the Banana Pi M2
- Hardware Platform
- Operating Systems, Software Compatibility
- User Experience
- Banana Pi M2+ Overview (Video)
- Antenna, WiFi, Bluetooth
- Final Words
- Pros / Cons
Banana Pi M2+ Main specifications:
- SoC: Allwinner H3 quad-core Cortex A7 (Up to 1.2 GHz)
- GPU: Mali 400MP2 @600MHz,Supports OpenGL ES 2.0
- Memory: 1GB DDR3 (SDRAM shared with GPU)
- Storage: Micro SD card (Max. 64GB), 8GB EMMC Flash
- USB : x2 USB 2.0 host ports + Micro USB / OTG port (power only)
- OS: Android 4.x, Ubuntu, Debian, Raspberry Pi Image
- Connectivity: 10/100/1000 Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi ( AP6212 Module )
- Buttons: Power, Recovery, Uboot.
- Dimensions : 65 x 65 mm
- Weight: 48 grams
- External WiFi antenna interface.
- Power Supply: 5V DC @ 2A
- Debugging: UART pins for serial console
- Camera Interface: CSI connector
- GPIO Header: 40-pin R-Pi compatible header
- Video / Audio: HDMI 1.4
- LED: Power led, Status led
- IR: IR Receiver on board.
Banana Pi M2 Package
Banana Pi M2 Unboxing
A Closer Look at the Banana Pi M2
The M+ is a very compact single-board computer in a square shape measuring 65 mm. The board is powered with an H3 Allwinner processor running at a Clock speed up to 1200 MHz. On the backside, you have two USB version 2.0 ports, HDMI 1,4 Interface, LAN and the power input socket. The power requirements for operating the board are 5V – 2A. It’s highly recommended using a SINOVOIP power adapter (not included in the default package) or using the OTG port with a standard USB – Micro USB type cable.
Banana Pi M2 Board
Banana Pi M2 Board Layout
- 40 Pin Headers
- Debug TTL UART
- Memory: 1GB DDR3
- Micro SD Card Socket
- uBoot Button
- Reset Button
- HDMI 1.4 Interface.
- 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN.
- x2 USB 2.0 host ports
- Power Button
- Micro USB / OTG port
- Wi-Fi Antenna interface.
- Realtek LAN Module.
- AP6212 WiFi & Bluetooth Module.
- IR Receiver
- Camera Interface
- 8GB eMMC
- SoC: Allwinner H3 quad-core Cortex A7 + Mali 400MP2
The default package only includes the Banana Pi M2+ Board. SINOVOIP Company provides extra essential Accessories at additional cost. For example, Acrylic plastic housing composes of segments (parts), assembled together to form a squared shaped box. Another item worth considering buying if you need good reception is the external Antenna that might be handy for streaming videos across a WiFi network.
Banana Pi M2 Board | Accessories
In terms of hardware, the M2+ has pretty decent specifications that include Allwinner H3 quad-core Cortex A7 Processor, Mali 400MP2 GPU, 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC Flash. Hardware requirements that are more than enough to run Linux distributions and playing and streaming videos at FHD 1800P resolution.
OpenELEC / Kodi Support
From my personal tests playing with the OpenELEC Media Center image which is based on KODI Jarvis Version 16.1 most video files played well, especially video files sampled at 1080P up to 2K resolution. It’s important to mention that 4K Videos are also supported, but not all will play smoothly do two “bottlenecks” which are the ability of the Mali4000 MP2 GPU to decode high-resolution videos and the fact that the hardware comes with HDMI 1.4 output limited to 4K @30fps. That being said, playback should be better the raspberry PI 3 board and it will defiantly play the most popular video formats sampled at resolutions between 360P-2K.
Operating Systems, Software Compatibility
SINOVOIP Company constantly provides fixes and updates through their GitHub community, including their forum with a joint contribution of open source developers, which also share new images as they come out. The M2+ board currently supports a wide selection of operating systems (list below) and continuing to grow.
List of Linux distributions / OS:
user experience was nothing but good playing with few popular Linux distributions from this list, such as Ubuntu Mate, Raspbain, OpenELEC, Fedora. Everything worked well and distributions also came pre-installed with the sound drives, which saves users extra time installing and compiling them. LibreOffice Office Suite also came pre-installed in all distributions and loaded relatively fast with the AllWinner H3 quad-core processor. Also no complaints in the connectivity area. Both Wi-Fi and wired LAN worked well without any complications or tech issues.
Ubuntu Mate Screenshots (Educational Edition)
Banana Pi M2 Quick Overview
WiFi, Bluetooth, Antenna
The M2+ is equipped with a built-in Broadcom AP6212 WiFi / Bluetooth chip that saves the hassle in buying an extra WiFi and Bluetooth adapters that occupy additional USB ports. Another good idea by SINOVOIP was adding an on-board external antenna socket (not included the default package), which improves signal strength and provides optimal streaming experience when the M2+ isn’t nearby an access point/modem.
I had issues with on-board Bluetooth support with most, if not all of the OS images. Perhaps a driver issue that needs fixing. Although the Bluetooth daemon service was up and running I wasn’t able to run a device discovery scan and connect my wireless keyboard through the Bluetooth manager. This issue was informed to SINVOIP and they are currently working on fixing the problem.
The 3db / 5db WiFi Antenna accessory is a cheap item you can buy trough the company AliExpress or purchased separately for a few extra dollars and connects directly to the on-board Antenna socket trough provided antenna wire. From my personal tests comparing a series of bandwidth speed tests between a tablet PC right next to the M2+ unit, both located in the same spot and distance from my router. Bandwidth test results were the same, with transfer speeds ranging between 36-40Mb, indicating everything is working as it should.
The Antenna item includes:
- 1x 2.4GHz 2db Wi-Fi Antenna – (Male) RP-SMA Connector.
- 1x Antenna Cable Wire.
- x1 Washer.
- x1 Nut.
Banana Pi M2 With 3db / 5db Antenna
The Banana Pi M2 is an excellent board that offers both built-in Wi-Fi support and 1 Gigabit LAN Interface. The H3 quad-core processor does a decent job in running Linux distributions including android OS. SINOVOIP tech support is also relatively good offering newer updates and OS images when available. For a retail price of $33 you get the board without any accessories, If you invest $7 you can get it with the nice acrylic transparent housing that saves extra time in designing and building one. Overall It’s an excellent buy and I recommend!
- Wide Selection of OS to choose from.
- On-board Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Support.
- On board 8GB eMMC.
- Optional Kit: External Antenna + Case.
- Gigabit Ethernet.
- On-board Bluetooth support doesn’t work (Software issues).