Jan 09 2014

Howto: Custom ROM on Ugoos UT1

Ugoos UT1 Custom ROM

I think that the great and powerful hardware of Ugoos UT1 does not reach its full potential because of slow user interface which also has some usability issues. This in mind I searched for an alternative firmware (ROM) that would be lightweight and easy to use.

Where to Get?

There is a great Freaktab forum that has also a category for Android TV boxes and Ugoos in particular. There are several ROMs with their significant features listed.

RKBatchTool vs. RKAndroidTool

There are two common tools to flash Android devices that have Rockchip processor chipsets: RKBatchTool and RKAndroidTool. Which one you need depends on which ROM you would like to flash.

RKBatchTool

RKBatchTool


RKBatchTool takes just one *.img file and does the job while RKAndroidTool takes separate kernel and system files. Also RKAndroidTool is not very intuitive as you need to know correct memory addresses in hexadecimal values.

RKAndroidTool

RKAndroidTool

Recovery Mode

Connect to PC

Connect to PC

First connect the UT1 to your PC via USB cable. Then shut it down from the power switch on the back. Then find a sharp object (a paper clip) and push the recovery mode button down as shown in the picture. Keep the button pushed down and switch it on from the power switch. It will boot into a special recovery mode.

Pin and Switch On

Pin and Switch On

Windows will install the driver but if you have trouble with the driver, please install Moborobo. After drivers have been installed you may start RKBatchTool or RKAndroidTool.

RKBatchTool Rockusb Device Connected

RKBatchTool Rockusb Device Connected

RKAndroidTool RKAndroid Loader Found

RKAndroidTool RKAndroid Loader Found

RKBatchTool shows green “2-1-2” in “connected devices” while RKAndroidTool says “RKAndroid Loader Found”.
RKBatchTool

With RKBatchTool you choose your *.img file in “FW Path” and press “Restore”.

wasserROM

Based on what is written about the different ROMs and user experience, I decided to try wasserROM v. 1.2.4. Among others, it has the following nice features:

  • Android 4.4 Kitkat application launcher
  • 1080p support with different frame rates
  • Fixes “Device not supported” in Google Play (identifies itself as Galaxy S3)
  • Supports standby mode
  • Rooted
  • Provides an overall performance boost

Also, wasserROM is in one *.img file and it mean it can be installed with RKBatchTool which is way easier to use than RKAndroidTool.

Installation

Installing ROM

Installing ROM

App Verification

App Verification

Rooting is not required so you may go ahead and fire up RKBatchTool and browse to the *.img file and press “Restore”. When RKBatchTool updates the firmware (ROM) the UT1 will reboot itself twice. The first boot screen has the green droid and some text about the progress. This will not show longer than a few seconds and it reboots itself again. This time it will display an animated boot screen and then shows the desktop. First there is a confirmation dialog asking you if Google should check all installed apps for harmful behavior. I answered no but it kept on popping up annoyingly. I rushed to the settings and changed the the security setting to disable it permanently.

Display Settings

Display Settings

About Screen

About Screen

In the display setting you may choose 1080p if your display (or TV) supports it. Mine does not so I chose 720p. You may also choose either 60 Hz or 50 Hz refresh rate, I chose 50 Hz because that is commonly used in Europe. In the About device screen it is shown that the Android version is still 4.2.2 and that the UT1 identifies itself as “GT-I9300” which means Samsung Galaxy S3. The build number says “wasser-firmware v1.2.4”.

One serious drawback is that the great Rockchip remote mobile app does not work with wasserROM v. 1.2.4. However it is possible that it will be fixed in future releases. Also with the physical remote that came with the device, there is no way toggling between a normal mode and the cursor mode. It makes it very difficult to use because some apps require “touch” use.

Desktop and App Drawer

wasserROM Desktop

wasserROM Desktop

The desktop looks simple with only few UI elements. On the top there is Google search bar and at the bottom there is an app drawer button and a black status bar with some functions, such as volume up/down and shut down. The status bar can be hidden to clear up some space and to run apps full screen.

App Drawer

App Drawer

The app drawer looks as above. Nothing special, just a collection of installed apps.

Nova Launcher

I wanted the Google search bar removed from the top of the home screen. It is not possible unless you swap to another launcher. The home screen in Android is in fact an app itself. It determines how the desktop looks and it launches other apps.

Nova Launcher

I wanted to have a very simplified single desktop with all my video streaming apps. Now I am pretty satisfied with my Ugoos UT1.

Please note that a custom launcher, such as the Nova, is possible to install even with the stock firmware. This will address some of the usability issues of the stock ROM.

Incompatible Apps

One of my problems with the stock firmware was to get NBA Game Time app installed and auto-updated because it could not be installed from Google Play. Because wasserROM identifies itself to Google Play as Samsung Galaxy S3, I hoped that the NBA Game Time app could now be found in Google Play as well. Unfortunately this was not the case as you will see below.

NBA Game Time App Not Found

NBA Game Time App Not Found

It remains a mystery to me why Google Play does not show it in the search results. Maybe it is because wasserROM, as well as the stock ROM, say that they are tablets and not phones. So I had to do the same tricks as with the stock ROM to get it installed.

wasserROM: Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Faster boot time (ca. 40 s)
  • Good support for native HD resolutions
  • Pre-rooted
  • No bloat software

Cons:

  • Rockchip remote mobile app does not work
  • Toggle between normal navigation and cursor mode does not work with the physical remote control
  • Shut down button in the GUI does not work
  • Google Play Store app compatibility not 100%

Conclusion

It takes some computer knowledge to replace the stock firmware with a custom ROM. If you need some of the features they provide (for example native full HD resolution, Dolby Digital S/PDIF pass-through to amplifier), it may be worth the effort. If you just need some usability improvements and a simpler home screen, you would be better off with a custom launcher.

25 Responses to “Howto: Custom ROM on Ugoos UT1”

  • Al Small Says:

    Great How to Tutorial. I appreciate all your work and thanks for posting it. I have one question which I haven’t seen addressed. When down loading with the Ugoos UT1 how can I get it to download to the USB Thumb drive??? Which set up do I use and what settings do I set it at??

    • arinium Says:

      Hi Al Small,

      I personally don’t use USB thumb drive and unfortunately don’t know how to change the default download location. Anyone else?

  • HaVo Says:

    Many thanks for this – really good – explanation. Please be informed that mr. Wasser updated his wasserrom a few days ago. It seems to work well.

  • jimmy Says:

    What remotes work with these boxes. Air remotes? The little ones with keyboards and stuff? I have the satechi version of this box, same stuff. I need to change the kernel and ROM and use a little air mouse keyboard combo.

    • arinium Says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      I bought a Lofree MT-200 to be used as a remote. It is a wireless touchpad that has also a keyboard mode built-in. I am not perfectly satisfied with it as it has some usability issues. I will write a review of it as soon as I have the time.

  • jimmy Says:

    mine does run XBMC well though. and I use TV launcher app from the App Market.

  • jimmy Says:

    I wish caynogemod had a Rom for these tv boxes. I’ve putcm on other phones and had great upgrades come to life, keeping old and bad phones running up to date.

  • jimmy Says:

    Any one else use a keyboard? I was to snag 1 from Amazon, but need to know which 1 works.!! Like this 1.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00BALK9CM/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?qid=1395586296&sr=8-3&pi=SX200_QL40

    • arinium Says:

      I have tried plugging in several different PC and Mac keyboards, both wireless and with wires, and they have all worked. I am pretty darn sure that the QQ-Tech wireless keyboard you have linked also works.

  • jimmy Says:

    What’s a great Rom and kernal to install on these? Is there a blue tooth we can add to make sharing easy?

    • arinium Says:

      Unfortunately the Ugoos UT1 does not have Bluetooth hardware. I have not yet tried others but the wasserROM so I guess you have to try the others to find out.

  • jimmy Says:

    I hv a Logitech keyboard, but box doesn’t find keyboard or usb dongal.

  • jimmy Says:

    I got my Logitech k700 keyboard to work. I thought this thought might be the case.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ63_4ISt-A&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • jimmy Says:

    Now I need to get hulu plus activated. Wife likes now that keyboard is working.

  • jimmy Says:

    If anyone is having problems with xbmc, try installing xbmc beyond. It’s designed more for these processors. Meaning rock chips 3088 and 3188. I found you should install xbmc wizard and a few other add-ons. Arm 6 or 7 for video players aswell.

  • son vietnam Says:

    tôi không nhận ra sdcard, sory tôi không biết tiếng anh

  • son vietnam Says:

    me not recognized sdcard, sory me not know english

  • jimmy Says:

    Hi all! Please add archos pro and all codecs for archos. This is a great player for your movies on usb and another great player option. You will want this as well, Google show box app and install it! show box is as good as netflix or Hulu.

  • jimmy Says:

    Does anyone have kit Kat 4.4 on there box?

  • jimmy Says:

    I have netflex black installed v 2.1.2, Hulu, red box, amazon prime and show box. Anything I’m missing? What’s some of your favorite apps guys?

  • Theodoulos Says:

    You were the most clear post that I have seen. I was looking for hours how to install the firmware. Their official guide sucks.

  • Staffan Says:

    Hi, You have a great post. But I have tried to install the 1_rk3188_andriod4.4 kitkat_1080p_allminipc both from Win7 and win 8 pc thorugh the RK Batch Tool 1.7.
    But I get same problem with installing USB-driver “device driver was not succesfully installed”, but I get the Moborobo to communicate with the UT1.

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