SmartXX v2 LE/SE Hardware Review
>> There still many reviews that I have to write and I have been working hard on this the last few days to catch-up with the delays. Here's the one I owe you for a longest ... the SmartXX v2 PCB SE pack including the recently released v1.6 recovery PCB.
Official Website:: http://www.smartxx.com
Where to buy::
USA and Canada: BMMods.com, Extreme-Mods.com, Divineo.com
Europe: FreakWare.com, Divineo.co.uk
With some delay (blame me), here's the chip/hardware review of the SmartXX v2 Special Edition Pack. A separated overview/review of the latest SmartXX OS software will be done later.
Here a pictures of the 'simple' SmartXX v2 package. It includes the chip itself of course, a headerpin, a pre-stripped wire (for D0/Lframe) and a SmartXX case sticker all packed in an anti-static bag.http://220.127.116.11/4/smartxx/Smartxx_v2_01.jpg
The sample we received from freakware is the Limited Edition Halloween edition, with the orange PCB color. The 'normal' Special Edition Pack contains exactly the same but with a blue PCB color (like the chip in the image above). The Limited Edition Halloween edition is no longer in production, but the 'normal' Special Edition still is.http://18.104.22.168/4/smartxx/PB250043.JPG
This package includes: a SmartXX v2 PCB modchip, a Xebian(info) (Debian for Xbox) pressed CD, a SmartXX case-sticker, a "xbox v1.6 Recovery PCB", a headerpin (not on image above, but it's in the pack) and an USB-adapter allowing you to easily connect USB devices like keyboard, mouse and others.
Hardware Feature List:
* Ultra Highspeed SysCon
* 4MB Hardware protected flash rom (max. 8MB)
* Emergency recovery switch
* Quicksolder Install & PIN-Header Install
* GND / 3.3 & 5 Volt solderpads
* LED (1x blue and 1x red) for Status / Programmable
* Direct Bootup Config (Emergency Recovery)
* External Switch Connector Port
* X-Display Support
* Dual-side X-Display contrast control
* Highspeed Transporter IO BUS 4 Port !
* Highspeed transport IO bus ( LCD/I2C/SPI/LPC) Port
* Works on any XBox ( v1.0-v1.6 )http://22.214.171.124/4/smartxx/Smartxx_v2_02.jpghttp://126.96.36.199/4/smartxx/Smartxx_v2_03.jpg
The SmartXX v2 PCB comes with a few 'optimizations' compared to the original v1 PCB.
* The LCD contrast pot is now accesible from both the front and back of the PCB. So even if you install your modchip using the headerpin method you can easily access the LCD contrast pot.
* The 6 dip-switches have been replaced by 1 switch on PCB v2. This has probably been done as cost-saving ... 5 of the dip switched where never really used by end-users, so it has been replaced by 1 normal switch. This switch allows you to change between the normal mode and the emergency recovery mode (if you main SmartXX OS flash is broken for any reason).
* The green led became blue. The red led is still red.
* On the backside of the PCB there is now a new SmartXX logo.
The PCB is still of the same high quality as the original v1 PCB, thick/solid PCB and all ICs are very cleanly installed. The ICs themselves haven't changed, the controller is still a highspeed QuickLogic chip and the flash is a 4MB MX chip (some early v1 chips were AMD afaik).
It's also clear SmartXX thrusts their own quality as they offer 1 year of warranty if you buy your chip from one of the 'SmartXX Warranty Centers'.
This is the USB adapter that is now delivered with the SmartXX SE/LE package. It fits nicely in the Xbox controller ports. It has a design looking a lot like the design of the connector on the official controllers ... thus matches nicely with the look of the Xbox console. There's also a blue led on the adapter that allows you to check the status of the USB connection.
This USB adapter will allow you to connect any type of PC USB-peripherals with your Xbox. It's very useful for Xbox Linux distros that have support for several USB devices (keyboard and mouse being the most important and useful for Linux), but also some homebrew Xbox applications have support for a PC keyboard or even mouse.
The Xebian CDhttp://188.8.131.52/4/smartxx/xebiancd.jpg
This is the CD that comes with the SmartXX LE/SE package. The CD is not burned but pressed which should make it readable even in the worst Xbox DVD-drives.
As the name of the CD says ... it includes Xebian (the Debian Linux distro for Xbox), but it will also contain all the installation guides and manuals and other info found on the smartxx website. You'll also find 2 pdf files to print out a SmartXX or Xebian DVD-cover for the CD.
The v1.6-recovery PCBhttp://184.108.40.206/4/smartxx/PB250048.JPGhttp://220.127.116.11/4/smartxx/PB250050.JPGhttp://18.104.22.168/4/smartxx/PB250046.JPG
This is the recovery PCB for Xbox v1.6/v1.6b that has recently been added to the SmartXX LE/SE pack.
It allows you to easily repair the missing data points on the Xbox v1.6/v1.6b LPC. Just place the PCB on the back of the Xbox motherboard so the LPC holes matches with the holes on the recovery PCB ... and you can directly repair (solder) the missing LAD's on the Xbox v1.6(
LPC. Advantage is you don't have to buy/cut/strip wires or search for the points on a diagram. You could call it the 'quicksolder' method to repair LPC. This will not really make the points easier to solder, but it's certainly a lot faster.
The recovery PCB is not of the same high quality of the modchip PCB, but that's probably to keep the PCB as thin as possible so it doesn't touch the inside of the xbox case and also to keep the production price low (after all you get it in the LE/SE package without any price raise).
Again the image above is from the Limited Edition Halloween edition - the 'normal' LE/SE pack will contain exactly the same recovery PCB, but in blue. This recovery PCB is also sold separately.
Compared to when the first SmartXX originally launched, Team SmartXX has also been working to optimize a few other things:
- You will now find full quicksolder and headerpin installation guides in english for all Xbox and SmartXX versions on their website.
- While the SmartXX was original hard to find outside germany, the SmartXX modchip is now also widely available on many internet shops all around the world.
+ Very high quality PCB build.
+ Modchip is very stable in operation.
+ Fully compatible with xbox v1.6.
+ Huge 4MB flash that should be more then enough space to save all your bioses on.
+ Safe chip to use, with the recovery mode you should always be able to restore even if something goes wrong with the SmartXX OS bios image.
+ LCD contrast pot now also accessible from the back of the PCB.
+ All solder-install methods possible: quicksolder, headerpin and using wires (connected to quicksolder pads)
+ The SE/LE pack offers a great and complete package with an USB adapter, CD with all manuals and the Xebian distro and a recovery PCB for faster installation on Xbox v1.6(
+ 1year warranty from 'SmartXX Waranty Centers'
- No 1st party solderless adaptor yet. Seeing the succes of solderless solutions ... it's still something missing in the current SmartXX offerings.
(December 7 16:42 EST)