Getting Started with Android on the Libre Computer Renegade
What is the Libre Computer Renegade?
The Libre Computer Renegade is a maker board powered by a Rockchip RK3328 system on a chip (SoC). It boasts a quad-core 3D GPU with OpenGL ES 2.0 support, 4K HDR compatibility, and an HDMI 2.0 output. There's a beefy 4GB of DDR3, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 connectivity, and H.265 plus VP9 playback.
Libre Computer ROC-RK3328-CC hardware specs:
- Rockchip RK3328 SoC
- 4GB of DDR4
- HDMI 2.0, HDR support
- USB 3.0 connectivity
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Quad-core 3D GPU with OpenGL ES 2.0 support
- H.265, H.264, and VP9 compatibility
How to Make a Libre Computer ROC-Rk3328-CC Renegade Android TV Box
Creating a Libre Computer ROC-RK3328-CC Android 7 PC is pretty simple. While I'm calling this an Android TV box since you'll need an external monitor as a display, the version of Android is actually a tablet-optimized version of Android. First, you'll need a Libre Computer Renegade board. I suggest the 4GB variant as you'll benefit from additional computing power over the A case is optional but recommended. Additionally, you'll need a power supply, microSD card for the operating system, and peripherals like a keyboard and mouse.
What you'll need to run Android on Libre Computer ROC-Rk3328-CC:
- Libre Computer ROC Rk3328-CC board
- Android OS
- microSD card
- DC 5V3A PSU
Total cost: $40-80 USD. The 1GB version of the Libre Computer Renegade standalone board retails for around $40. I recommend the 4GB RAM iteration. The Android image is free to download, and a microSD card plus keyboard and mouse are pretty affordable if you don't already have them.
Install Android on the Libre Computer ROC-Rk3328-CC
First, download the Android Libre Computer Renegade image. It's an img.gz file so you'll need to extract it using a program such as 7Zip. Decompress the GZ file and mount the resulting image file to a microSD card with an application like Etcher. Once the Android image is mounted to your boot media, pop it into the Libre Computer ROC-Rk3328-CC and boot into Android.
Hands-on With Android on the Libre Computer ROC-Rk3328-CC
At first boot, the Libre Computer Renegade loads a barebones version of Android. It includes basic apps such as a music player, image viewer, file explorer, and a version of Kodi for Rockchip-powered devices, RKMC. There's no app store, but I was able to install Aptoide for loading a bevy of apps such as Plex, Netflix, Hulu, RetroArch, and The Conduit HD.
I installed the Plex Kodi addon and FunimationNOW Kodi addon within RKMC and was able to stream anything from my Plex server. Plus, local video and audio, including 1080p Blu-Ray rips complete with 5.1 tracks, played flawlessly. Furthermore, Android apps I loaded installed without a hitch. While Station OS features a functioning RKMC release, it was cumbersome to configure since I had to first change the language settings. Plus, its built-in emulator simply pales in comparison to beefy offerings like RetroArch. As such, the vanilla Android image for the Libre Computer ROC-Rk3328-CC is far superior.
The Libre Computer performed similar to the Raspberry Pi 3 B+. Though you can run PSP games, emulation is better suited to running Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo 64 games or older systems like the Atari 2600 and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I did fire up some native Android games including "The Conduit HD" and was pleased with its performance.
Overall, Android on the Libre Computer ROC Renegade delivers a phenomenal experience. General web browsing is snappy, and it ran virtually every app I threw at it. I mostly concentrated on multimedia use such as video streaming and gaming, although it's perfectly suitable as a basic Android desktop. Hulu didn't play, but that seems like an issue of running the app on an uncommon Android OS.
Who Should Use Android on the Libre Computer Renegade?
If you're in the market for an Android TV box, a device such as the Nvidia Shield TV, WeTek Play 2, or Xiaomi Mi Box S. Those devices are simply more powerful and offer hassle-free apps. But for a DIY Android desktop, the Libre Computer ROC-Rk3328-CC Renegade is an awesome choice. Android developers might consider a Libre Computer Renegade as a test environment for in-development apps. While it's functional for general web browsing, as a desktop you'll probably prefer a Linux distro instead like Armbian, Ubuntu, or Debian. As an Android HTPC or game console, the Libre Computer excels. Monetary savings don't yield enough incentive to opt for this do-it-yourself Android device over an Android TV box like the Shield TV, but it's a useful backup. Ultimately, I suggest this route for DIYers seeking an engaging project which results in a functional, fun Android PC.
Running Android on the Libre Computer ROC-RK3328-CC: Final Thoughts
Though I've got no shortage of single-board computers, streaming devices, and PCs strewn about, I'll definitely keep the Libre Computer Renegade in rotation. Moreover, I quite like Android on the ROC-RK3328-CC, and plan to keep a microSD card of its Android release lying around as a daily driver on that board. It's easy to use, pairs well with my Rii mini keyboard and wireless Xbox 360 gamepad, and lends itself well for a tiny, ultra-portable Android HTPC and game console. Though I can't recommend it instead of a pre-built Android TV box, it's a nifty DIY solution. Developers and multimedia junkies definitely benefit most from a Renegade Android PC, though it's a worthy endeavor for any hobbyist.
Your turn: What Android devices are you using?
Leave your feedback...