How to use Skype on an MK802 Android Mini PC
Having Problems with running Skype on the MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC?
The MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC is a great gadget to upgrade your HDTV into a Skype device....if you can get it to work properly that is. The quest to get the proper software and hardware setup in order for Skype to work has been challenging to say the least.
The perplexing thing about the MK802 Mini PC and Skype is that Skype is one of the apps that comes preloaded on the unit. However, the MK802 Mini PC does not come with either a built-in microphone or video camera. Users are expected to set up Skype on their own.
Unfortunately, the manufacturers of the MK802 Mini PC, Rikomagic, has not provided much information on how to do this except for an announcement that the new version of the firmware has support for USB webcams.
The Rev2 Firmware was released in mid-July and users have been having varying degrees of success in getting USB webcams to work properly in Skype on the MK802 Mini PC.
The advantages of using the MK802 Mini PC as a Skype device
As you will read below, setting up the MK802 Mini PC to be used as a Skype device together with your HDTV is not a simple process but other than this, there are quite a few advantages to using the MK802 Mini PC.
- The MK802 Mini PC runs on Android. This means that it is possible to upgrade the Skype app when a new version is made available by Skype. On a dedicated Skype device or a SmartTV that supports Skype, you need to wait for the device manufacturer to release an updated version for the device.
- The Android OS especially Android 4.0 is designed for use on tablet computers with bigger screens and higher screen resolutions. The user interface is easy to maneuver especially with a wireless mouse or touch pad.
- Running Skype on the MK802 Mini PC is a low cost solution. Add on Skype devices run into the hundreds but a full solution using an MK802 Mini PC can be as low as US$100.
- Running Skype on the TV is more approachable especially for older users. A TV is a common household appliance that most people are familiar with while Skype on a PC or laptop seems much more daunting.
First, a little essential reading
If you already know about the workings and basic setup of the MK802 Mini PC, you can skip this part and move on to the next section.
If you currently do not own an MK802 Mini PC or if you are a newbie to the Android 4.0.4 operating system, I would recommend that you read my MK802 Android 4.0 Mini PC Review to find out what the MK802 Mini PC is all about and why it is such a sought after gadget currently.
Next, I have also written another article on the MK802 Mini PC titled "Turn Your TV into a Smart TV with the MK802 Android Mini PC". You should read this article for a very detailed step-by-step guide (with many photographs) on how to connect the MK802 Mini PC to an HDTV, options on powering it up and how to connect USB peripherals such as keyboard and mouse to the MK802 Mini PC.
The article also gives a quick intro to the Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system plus a list of common apps that run on the MK802 Mini PC.
Once you have read through these two articles, you are ready to tackle the slightly more complicated steps in getting Skype to run on your MK802 Mini PC.
STEP 1: Upgrade the MK802 Mini PC to Firmware Rev2
The first step is probably the trickiest step of all if you are unfamiliar with firmware upgrades. Before you do anything, check if your firmware requires upgrading. Under the Settings menu, click on About (scroll down if you don't see it) and check the Android version. If it is 4.0.3, you need to perform the firmware upgrade.
The firmware is the program code that is installed on the persistent memory of the device. It is the "brains" of the device and a firmware upgrade is almost like doing brain surgery to replace the brain.
Sounds scary doesn't it? In a brain surgery, if you botch the surgery you can kill the patient. If you botch up a firmware upgrade, you can also kill or "brick" the device. Why "brick"? If you mess up a firmware upgrade, you can use your dead device as a brick.
Are you still around? Good! If that didn't scare you off then you are ready to enter the world of firmware upgrades. The good news is that if you follow the instructions carefully, chances are everything will work out as expected. So make sure you read the entire instruction carefully at least twice and take note of all the suggested precautions.
Detailed instructions for upgrading the firmware can be found at Firmware Upgrade and Linux for MK802 Android Mini PC. Links to all the required files including the new firmware itself can be found on the article itself.
If anything goes wrong, do not panic as usually it is recoverable by just restarting the firmware upgrade process.
You will know that you have done the firmware upgrade correctly when you look at the About page under the Settings menu and you see that the Android version is 4.0.4. The original firmware was 4.0.3.
STEP 2: Selecting a compatible USB Webcam and microphone
Although Rikamagic claimed that the new Firmware Rev2 has support for USB Webcams, they did not reveal the fact that not all USB Webcams are supported and to confuse matters more, no list of compatible hardware was released either. So it was left to the MK802 Mini PC users to do the trial and error testing.
Please note that I did not personally test all the hardware listed here as I do not have the time or resources to do so. The devices are listed based on feedback from users on various forums on the internet. Devices that do not work perfectly are noted in the description so please read the description carefully.
So far, no one has been able to identify a USB webcam that has both the camera and the microphone working together. For unknown reasons, only one of the functions work and to get both video and audio working, you will need to combine a working camera and a working microphone.
I am happy to update that there are users who have reported on webcam models that have both camera and mic working.
Meanwhile, the following webcams have been tested and they are found to be not working with the MK802:
- Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000
- Trust 110T Spacecam
- Creative N10225
- Microsoft LifeCam VX-3000
- Logitech C200
Updates to STEP 2: Selecting a compatible USB Webcam and microphone
The response from MK802 users who have been trying to get their webcam (and other USB devices) to work under Skype has been fantastic. I have been getting so much feedback that it is easier for me to just separate the updates to a section of their own. Latest updates are at the bottom of the list.
- User Efi in the comments section belowhas managed to get both camera and mic on a Microsoft LifeCam VX-800 to work together with a USB Audio adapter. I am not sure if the adapter is required though.
User Marcoco has tested the VX-800 and confirms in the comments section below that the mic does not work on its own and probably requires the USB audio adapter for the mic function.
- Another user fenyx has clarified that he used a USB sound card's mic input to get a normal mic with 3.5" jack to work. So it is highly possible that Efi used the LifeCam VX-800 as a camera and the USB Audio adapter for the mic function. I'm adding a precaution to the VX-800 for now until I get further confirmation.
- User and lensmaster nick-chen-5494 commented that he has managed to identify a working webcam/mic combo, the Logitech Webcam C210. When he first plugged it into the MK802 (Firmware Rev2), only the camera worked but after he side loaded the Google ICS Voice Search apk from the XDA-Developers Forum and rebooted the device, he found that both video and audio worked.
This is the very first confirmation of a working camera and mic using a single device. Try installing the Google ICS Voice Search and see if you can get it to work on a different camera. Good luck!
Nick's configuration: MK802 1GB, FW Rev.2, Logitech C210 webcam, Google ICS voice search apk installed.
- A user, batrarobin, from Rikomagic MK802 forum has confirmed that Microsoft LifeCam VX-700 works fine for both video and audio.
- User nevillmo has commented that he is using the Logitech C525 HD Webcam and both camera and mic are working. He first connected the C525 webcam to the OTG or mini USB port and it did not work for either camera or mic.
Then he changed it to the full sized USB port and only the camera worked. Next he added a powered USB hub to the full sized USB port and he connected his C525 to the hub and he managed to get both camera and mic to work.
On a side note, the camera and mic works in Skype but using the built-in Android camera app, only the camera works and no sound is recorded.
nevillmo also noticed that the MK802 uses the Linux UVC driver when the C525 was plugged into the MK802. The list of USB webcams that support the UVC driver can be found at http://www.ideasonboard.org/uvc/.
Perhaps now we can turn the witchcraft into science. Great job nevillmo!
- User Marcoro tested the LifeCam VX-800 which was originally reported to have the camera working. He installed the ICS Google ICS Voice Search apk from the XDA-Developers Forumas recommended by user nick-chen-5494. He got the mic working and now I have graduated the LifeCam VX-800 from the camera only group to the camera plus mic group.
Marcoro has recorded the entire process on video and uploaded to YouTube. Thanks Marco and great job!
- User Mk802 has tried out the Logitech C170 Webcam and both mic and camera work on Skype. Video quality is poor as it is only a VGA camera and he complained of lag.
- Another user, Stefano, has verified that the Logitech Webcam C210 works for both camera and mic in the comments section below.
- User Avaya in the comments section below that the Logitech Quickcam for Notebooks Pro works for for both video and audio out of the box with the MK802 II. The camera has to be connected to the standard USB port and not the USB OTG port.
- User Mal found that the Logitech QuickCam Orbit AF works out of the box for video and mic.
- User Aris in the comments section below has commented that the Toshiba Camileo B10 camera works for video only. The Toshiba Camileo B10 is actually a HD camera that also has a webcam mode.
- Yet another user krivolapov has confirmed that the Logitech Webcam C210 works for both video and mic in the comments section below. So far this is the webcam with the most confirmations.
- User Adainair shared that the Gembird CAM90U webcam fully works in Skype ver 18.104.22.1685 from the Google Play Store on his MK802 II. However he is not using the official firmware and neither did he mentioned which firmware he is using.
USB web cameras that has both working camera and mic
Here are the USB webcams that have been identified by MK802 users as having working cameras and microphones. Please take note of extra software requirement that may or may not be necessary. Unfortunately, at this moment, getting Skype to work properly is more akin to witchcraft than science.
User nevillmo has identified the Logitech C525 Webcam as having both working camera and mic. He first connected the C525 webcam to the OTG or mini USB port and it did not work for either camera or mic.
Then he changed iit to the full sized USB port and only the camera worked. Next he added a powered USB hub to the full sized USB port and he connected his C525 to the hub and he managed to get both camera and mic to work. This is the first HD webcam on the list.
Microsoft LifeCam VX-800 - Black
The LifeCam VX-800 was originally on the camera only list and required a USB sound card to get a working mic. User Marcoro installed the ICS Google Voice Search apk as recommended by user nick-chen-5494 and he managed to get the mic working without the USB sound card.
Microsoft LifeCam VX-800
User and lensmaster nick-chen-5494 has managed to get Logitech C210 to work fine for both video and audio. Originally, the mic did not work but after side loading Google ICS voice search apk from XDA forums (see update in section above for link), both video and audio worked.
Configuration: MK802 1GB, FW Rev.2, Logitech C210 webcam, google ICS voice search apk installed.
Another user Stefano1963 has also commented in the comments section below that the C210 works for both audio and video using Firmware Rev2 on a 1GB MK802.
Microsoft LifeCam VX-700
Another webcam that has been confirmed to have working camera and mic under Skype. Feedback is from user batrarobin on Rikomagic MK802 forums. Camera is only VGA.
Microsoft LifeCam VX-700
STEP 3: Connecting the camera and microphone to the MK802 Mini PC
The third and last step is by far the easiest. You need to plug in both the working camera and microphone to the USB port on the MK802 Mini PC.
If you have other USB devices such as keyboard and mouse already occupying the two USB ports on the MK802 Mini PC, you will need to add a USB port.
Unlike the webcam or microphone, most if not all USB expansion hubs will work with the MK802 Mini PC. I have yet to come across any complaints of USB hubs not working.
The only problem you may encounter is that if you plug in too many devices via a non-powered USB hub, the hub may not be able to supply enough power to power all the devices at once. In this case, an externally powered USB hub may be necessary.
Before you start Skype, please make sure you update it with the latest version from the Google Play store. The one that is pre-installed in the MK802 Mini PC is quite outdated.
Once you have updated Skype, start Skype and test both your camera and microphone. If you face any problems, try swapping the USB ports and/or plugging both the camera and microphone directly to the USB ports on the MK802 Mini PC instead of using a USB hub.
If you have an old USB webcam or microphone/headset that you have lying around, try that out first before buying one that is on the list. If you find that it works either fully or partially, share it with other MK802 users here by giving a full description of the brand and model number plus details or what worked and what didn't. Thank you.
On a similar note, if you have tested a USB webcam or microphone and found it not to work at all, please share it with other MK802 users by listing it here. Please provide full description with brand and model number. Thank you.
If you managed to get your MK802 Mini PC working with Skype, congratulations and I would greatly appreciate it if you can list down your working combination of webcam and microphone that you used in the comments section below. It would be of great help to other users.
I will be updating this article on a frequent (at least once a week) with any new information. If you wish to be updated of the updates as well as my Squidoo related information, please follow me on Twitter below.
Please share your working device combination with others here. Your contribution is greatly appreciated. Thank you.