START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Sep 2016)

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wrxtasy Offline
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Exclamation  START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Sep 2016)
Post: #1
September 2016 update

Introducing the News Flash Section:

- Long awaited - comprehensive Multichannel (>2.0) PCM Audio output and HD Audio Passthrough added to well supported versions of LibreELEC Jarvis on various AMLogic S905 Hardware Platforms thx. to the AMLogic LE Kodi developer kszaq. See HERE & HERE for details. Smile

I've decided to re-organise these three posts to attempt to make it easier for Newbies and the less technical Kodi users to understand and pick the right Kodi Hardware.

I'm only going to list well Supported Kodi Hardware here. Cheap, unsupported, buggy Android Kodi Boxes from China really are a waste of time as you will constantly be upgrading trying to find something that works reliably. Don't believe the marketing Hype or Paid for Amazon or YouTube reviews either with nearly all of these devices, most of it is complete bullshit. "Supported" does not means everything works in this Android Hardware space.

Also Rockchip and Allwinner devices are not recommended either due to their lack of official Kodi software support.
Discussion of devices "Fully Loaded" with banned pirate laden Apps and Kodi Addons will not be tolerated.

Questions and Answers

Q. Where is all the Audio and 3D hardware information ?
In a seperate post, found HERE
Or go straight to hdmkv's dedicated 3D device thread found HERE

Q. I want a Kodi media player, priced around $100 or less for use with my 1080p TV, that will play any 1080p content I throw at it with few limitations ?
  • RPi3: runnning LibreELEC Kodi. The Gold standard in Software support and with Kernel drivers for all manner of attached external hardware.
  • Entry level 8bit 1080p Frame Packed 3D, and can decode all 5.1/7.1 HD audio to output as Multichannel PCM (>2.0) including FLAC.
  • Plays nearly all 1080p content you throw at it. To decode Bluray VC-1 content, a licence has to be purchased separately.
  • Major limitations - no hardware HEVC(h.265) decoding, relatively slower micro SDHC only storage.
  • No 5.1/7.1 Dolby True HD, DTS-HD MA/HRA Audio passthrough (bitstreaming) and comparatively slow older hardware that developers have impressively taken as far as it will go. Smile
  • Direct competitor in this space is the ODROID C2.
  • LibreELEC / Kodi Jarvis running on various AMLogic S905 platforms - A/V playback has now surpassed the RPi3 in virtually everything but Frame Packed 1080p 3D video.
  • Users report Kodi is faster on AMLogic devices vs RPi3 when running LibreELEC as well.

Q. I want something faster, that I don't have to assemble myself even if it costs more than $100 ?
  • Chromebox: (various manufacturers) running LibreELEC Kodi. Excellent Software support and with Kernel drivers for all manner of attached external hardware. Much faster then RPi3 due to SSD storage and faster RAM and more powerful CPU/GPU.
  • No 1080p Frame Packed 3D but you get comprehensive PCM Audio output & HD Audio passthrough support.
  • Major Limitation - No built in HDMI-CEC control, same for all Intel boxes
  • Other options - Intel Cherry Trails, Braswells, and NUC's. The i series NUC's are very flexible but can get expensive.
  • Apple TV4 running MrMC found in the tvOS App Store. This version of Kodi will have a bunch of Kodi Addon and Skin limitations, as certain parts of Kodi code had to be taken out to get the App into the tvOS App store.
  • HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro: running Android Lollipop 5.1.1
  • A fast, decently supported Android only media player, The Q10 can mount a 3.5" Hard Drive Internally.
  • Comprehensive Multichannel PCM and HD Audio output.
  • 2160p(4K) HEVC decoding, HDR10 and 1080p Frame Packed 3D video output supported.
  • Major Limitation - microstutters when playing 23.976fps 1080p Frame Packed 3D video content at 24Hz.
  • No DRM 1080p HD video streaming possible from the likes of Netflix, HBO etc.
  • Imprex PQ processing engine annoys video purists as it cannot be fully Turned OFF. Others love it.
  • External video player software used with HiMedia Q5/Q10 devices, there are Kodi features missing.
  • Disappointingly for the price paid for the Q10, the remote is a regular PITA Infra Red D-PAD Air Mouse. A RF Wireless one will need to be purchased separately for proper Android Apps control. Kodi will have no such issues.

Q. But what about playing this HEVC (H265) stuff I keep hearing about ?
  • Well you have two options, Software decoding using a machines CPU or using dedicated Hardware HEVC decoding. Using Software decoding you will run into CPU decoding limits eventually, where there simply is not enough CPU processing power to get the job done.
  • For decent quality HEVC Software decoding, you really want an Intel machine with lots of CPU power.
  • A Chromebox as a minimum. Intel i series NUC's or Apple OSX hardware are much better, especially for 10bit HEVC decoding.
  • Intel Linux Hardware HEVC decoding support is found HERE
  • 10bit video decoding, but 8bit color video output for virtually all Kodi devices. The nVIDIA Shield can do HDR10 in 4K @ 59.94/60Hz.
  • Major limitations for nearly all Intel Hardware - no HDMI 2.0. Skull Canyon+ has HDMI 2.0.
  • No inbuilt HDMI-CEC control hardware on any Intel gear. Had to be purchased separately (Pulse8)
  • Major limitation for Intel Apple Hardware when running OSX only - no HD Audio Passthrough and no 24p video sync for ultra smooth video playback. Apple hardware running Windows via Bootcamp has no such limitations.

Q. Those Intel NUC's, Q10 Pro and Apple hardware are too expensive for me. What about Hardware HEVC decoding machines around $100 or less ?

NOTE: - Using regular Android Lollipop Apps with the devices in this section is nowhere near as remote control friendly as using Android TV (leanback) Apps or the FireTV's. You will have to use an Air Mouse, and for some that is a major PITA, especially if its Infra Red.
Having said that with WeTek devices there are some tweaked Android TV Apps that work fine with the included D-Pad remotes, see HERE for further details

When using various versions of Kodi you don't need an Air Mouse at all and life is much easier. Smile
  • Be aware there are 1080p 8bit hardware HEVC decoding machines and 2160p (4K) 10bit HEVC decoding ones.
  • The is no 1080p Frame Packed 3D video output from AMLogic devices.
  • However you do get excellent video quality - Motion Adaptive, Edge Enhancing - Hardware deinterlacing from AMLogic devices.
  • WeTek Core: Excellent Software support from WeTek. A dual boot Android Lollipop + OpenELEC/LibreELEC machine.
  • Excellent, responsive RF Wireless Air Mouse remote control.
  • 5.1 / 7.1 HD Audio Passthrough using WeTek (Jarvis) Media Player.
  • Major Limitation - 1080p 8bit HEVC decoding only, 2160p limited to max 30fps over HDMI 1.4
  • WeTek Hub: Excellent Software support from WeTek. A dual boot Android Lollipop + LibreELEC machine.
  • 2160p 10bit HEVC decoding, but video output is only 8bit color. Video quality is still very good.
  • 5.1 / 7.1 HD Audio Passthrough both in Android Lollipop and LibreELEC 7.1
  • Multichannel PCM (> 2.0) Audio output when using WeTek (Kodi Jarvis) Media Player and LibreELEC (See the Hub review thread)
  • Revision C AMLogic S905 SoC, to fix Satellite 2160p HEVC TV video playback.
  • Major Limitation, the D-Pad Air Mouse remote sucks. A RF Wireless one will need to be purchased separately for regular Android Apps control.
  • WeTek Play2: Excellent Software support from WeTek. A dual boot Android Lollipop + LibreELEC machine.
  • Basically the big brother to the Hub with 2GB RAM and with the ability to plug in single DVB TV Tuners into the box.
  • You can tune, record, timeshift, and play Live DVB T/T2/C, S2 or ATSC TV in Android on this box with the purpose built WeTV App.
  • 5.1 / 7.1 HD Audio Passthrough both in Android and LibreELEC 7.1
  • Multichannel PCM (> 2.0) Audio output when using WeTek (Kodi Jarvis) Media Player and LibreELEC 7.1
  • Major Limitations, the D-Pad Air Mouse remote function still sucks. DVB Tuners are not Dual Tuner modules. Single only.
  • WeTV App for Android TV - Tuner use, is Beta Software at the moment with bugs and features missing like no grid style EPG.
  • A RF Wireless - Air Mouse Remote control will need to be purchased separately for regular Playstore Android Apps control.
  • MINIX U1: Good Software support from MINIX.
  • 2160p 10bit HEVC decoding, but video output is only 8bit color. Video quality is still very good.
  • Very nice MINIX NEO A2 Lite - Wireless - Air Mouse - Keyboard remote control available.
  • 5.1 / 7.1 HD Audio Passthrough (excluding FLAC)
  • Major Limitations - Android Lollipop only machine, No Multichannel PCM (> 2.0) Audio output.
  • Running an older Revision B AMLogic S905 SoC, still fine if you do not need Satellite 2160p HEVC video playback support.
  • ODROID C2: running LibreELEC Kodi. Very good manufacturer and AMLogic community Software support.
  • Quite a bit faster than a RPi3, especially when using eMMC flash storage
  • 2160p 10bit HEVC decoding, but video output is only 8bit color. Video quality is still very good.
  • 5.1 / 7.1 HD Audio Passthrough inc. ATMOS & DTS:X
  • Multichannel PCM (> 2.0) Audio output supported. FLAC and AAC content users will be happy.
  • Major Limitations - running an old Linux Kernel results in relatively poor externally connected USB Hardware support compared to RPi and Intel. HardKernel do support their own cheap external Hardware peripherals.
  • However, modern USB DVB Tuners now get V4L Kernel driver support when running LE 7.1 media_build edition on the C2.
  • Revision B AMLogic S905. (Rev. C S905 C2's may be on sale now)
  • Other options - Intel Cherry Trail and Braswell can do Hardware or Hybrid 1080p HEVC decoding I believe. Ask in the individual Intel Kodi Hardware threads for current support status.

Q. I see ultra budget AMLogic S9xx boxes, and they seem too cheap to be true, there must be a Gotcha ?

Yes there are plenty of problems, and you have to decide if the risk vs reward is worth it with these devices.
They really are DIY tinkering devices, put some time in and get rewarded. Especially if running LibreELEC Kodi.
Major AMLogic Android issues are:
  • Deceptive marketing, "supported" does not mean everything will work properly.
  • The worst quality Firmware for Android going, often right on the bleeding edge with plenty of bugs.
  • Usually loaded with Piracy Apps and banned, broken Addons resulting in no Kodi user forum support.
  • Poor quality parts used, boxes sold mainly for Video Piracy purposes, Fake, unlicenced Hardware but the very worst is..
  • Dodgy, fake power supplies, that may or may not short out and catch on fire. Its a lottery.
  • A good post about power supplies HERE
  • Nearly all device sellers are "Ship and Forget", before they move on to the next shiny new buggy Android device.
  • For Kodi use only on these boxes, LibreELEC is the only way to go.
  • Even then you have to be very careful your particular Box is supported first

Q. I want a Kodi box with quality deinterlacing for Live TV viewing from my backend server or HDHomeRun ?

In order of video quality and device speed:
  • Intel boxes like the Chromebox, Cherry trails, Braswells, NUC's
  • All AMLogic devices like the ODROID C2, WeTek's Hub and Core and the MINIX U1 that all have dedicated deinterlacing Hardware.
  • The RPi3 that uses high quality Hybrid CPU/GPU software deinterlacing.
  • Avoid - unless fixed - nVIDIA Shield and the FireTV's and the older Google Nexus Player.
  • See HERE for ATSC TV streams - nVIDIA Shield Support (USA)

Q. Ok , but I have a shiny new 4K (2160p) TV what devices can use this properly ?
  • Firstly you need a device that has a HDMI 2.0 connector so you can view 4K video in all its glory with few limitations. All other regular hardware devices with HDMI 1.4 connectors will be limited to 4K video up to 30Hz. However this is not really a limitation as most 4K movies will usually play at 23.976/24fps just fine over HDMI 1.4 provided you can decode 10bit 4K HEVC video.
  • nVIDIA Shield:
  • HiMedia Q5/10 Pro
  • MINIX U1
  • WeTek Hub & Play2
  • Intel Skull Canyon NUC
  • Other options - Intel Hardware even if they only have a limited HDMI 1.4 connector.

Q. I keep hearing about this Android TV OS and how remote control friendly it is, what Kodi devices support that ?

Discontinued device in this section is the Google Nexus Player, see the post below for details.
  • nVIDIA Shield - the King of Android Kodi boxes, you get what you pay for here in a powerful media player, light gaming device.
  • Running Android Marshmallow underneath the Android TV (leanback) interface results in Android Apps designed specifically for very easy remote control use on a big screen TV. Very family friendly. Plug n Play.
  • Will pretty much play anything you throw at it, comprehensive HD Audio support as well.
  • Regular Android OS updates adds new features all the time like...
  • Exclusive Shield features such as Netflix in HDR, YouTube 4K 60fps, VUDU 4K with Dolby Atmos, Plex Media Server..
  • Major Limitations - relatively limited selection of dedicated Android TV (leanback) Apps. Regular Android Play Store Apps will need to sideloaded
  • No 4K or 1080p Amazon Prime video streaming officially supported, but a Sony TV Amazon App can be sideloaded to give 1080p and 2.0 Audio for Prime streaming. How long this lasts until cracked down on by Amazon is anyone's guess.
  • No 1080p Frame Packed 3D support, just like the AMLogic and FireTV devices
  • Current Firmware update 3.2 has broken TV deinterlacing for non ATSC - U.S. users.
  • There are now a bunch of users complaining about poor quality Video Upscaling output with the Shield, see HERE for details.

Q. But I need 4K / 1080p Amazon Prime video streaming, what Kodi hardware options do I have ?
  • Note here - Kodi or SPMC (Kodi fork) will have to be sideloaded on Amazon devices.
  • A version of Kodi called MrMC released by one of the talented, core Kodi developers can easily be downloaded. It will have a bunch of Kodi Addon limitations, as certain parts of Kodi code had to be taken out to get the App into the Amazon App store
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick - really an entry level Kodi Amazon Android device, slower and with more limitations than the next two..
  • Amazon Fire TV1 and Fire TV2 (4K) - the FTV1 has S/PDIF Optical and the FTV2 lacks optical but can decode HEVC and VP9
  • Running a version of Android Marshmallow called FireOS 5 results in remote control big screen TV friendly Apps.
  • The FireTV2 is a fast, well priced Kodi / Prime media player.
  • Various App limitations - Compare Android Streaming Media Players HERE
  • Known problems - TV deinterlacing has never been a strong point on the FireTV's.
  • Refresh switching and 24p video sync has also been an issue, however that may be changing with a soon to be released Firmware update and greater MrMC and SPMC software support.
  • Limited Apps selection, side loading regular Android Apps, not in the Amazon App store, can be a PITA for some.
  • Lots of self reading for everything Amazon can be found in the AFTVnews

Q. I've heard only certain Android or Win10 Kodi machines can play 720/1080p or 4K DRM copy protected video streaming ?

Yes that is correct. Netflix is very particular about which devices they 720/1080p or 2160p (4K) certify and NO cheap Android devices from Asia, can or are willing to get the required certification and HDCP keys to stream copy protected video content. They will be limited to 480p Max resolution for protected video content. See the Green comparison link above for further details.
Supported 720/1080p DRM Kodi devices:
  • nVIDIA Shield (4K + HDR)
  • Amazon Stick/FTV1 + FTV2 (4K)
  • Intel machines running Win10, using either dedicated Apps or a Web Browser (Eg. Amazon Prime), very likely other OS's as well.
  • WeTek's Core , Hub and Play2 devices (note audio is 2.0 only)
  • Apple TV4

Whew ! Tongue

(This post was last modified: 2016-09-21 16:14 by wrxtasy.)
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wrxtasy Offline
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Post: #2
Original detailed technical Post
(updated April 2016)

This is a follow up to Poofyhairedguys great thread from 2015 that I have been asked to write up.

Before we get started and as general observation over the last couple of years. The best Kodi devices have a decent, active, knowledgable, respected manufacturer device support forums. Manufacturer experience with previous successful, similarly specced, Kodi Hardware devices also is very important, particularly when it comes to cheap Android boxes.

Devices running special Custom versions of XBMC / Kodi exclusively, such as Rockhip will NOT be listed in this section as Kodi users eventually run into too many Kodi problems down the track and into the future when manufacturers abandon the hardware platform all too quickly.
Most Kodi devices triggering External media players to be even capable of video playback also fall into this category.

Be warned:
Hardware discussions (such as the Tronsmart S95) containing GPL2 Infringing XBMC versions from the VidOn company will not be tolerated in this thread and heavily moderated.
The XBMC / Kodi developers deserve utmost respect for the unpaid volunteer work they put into the XBMC / Kodi project and Parasitic companies like VidOn profiting from that unpaid work are not welcome at all on a Kodi forum.

All the devices listed below support important, Kodi core features. These include:
  • HDMI 1.4
  • Dynamic refresh rate switching, based on source video's fps.
  • 24p, if you are visually sensitive to video panning <--> judder this is important.
  • 5.1 Audio Passthrough
  • 3D SBS/HSBS playback (Half resolution)
  • 8-bit H264/AVC/mpeg2 (+more) Hardware video decoding
  • Nicely synced 23.976fps video output and finally....
  • Quality video deinterlacing for Live TV and to support PVR users.
Bonus features on various platforms, some of which are fast becoming mainstream:
  • 10-bit vs 8-bit Is it all just marketing hype ?
  • 4K and HDR - High Dynamic Range
  • Is 4K really that important at this present point in time anyway, see 4K limitations HERE
  • Hi10P Anime decoding.
  • Full 1080p 3D
  • HDMI 2.0
  • H265( HEVC) hardware decoding at up to 4K - output at up 60Hz if using HDMI 2.0
  • Built in S/PDIF - Optical
  • VP9 decoding for 4K YouTube at 60Hz
  • Dolby Atmos / 7.1 HD Audio passthrough (bit streaming)
  • HDMI CEC remote control.
(2015-12-18 13:14)JustAnotherUser Wrote:  So, whats your goto media box (non HTPC), Kodi or non-Kodi, when you want to watch a film with playback that just works?
(hint for Newbies - click the Blue hyperlinks)

NOTE: 24p = 23.976 PLUS 24fps nicely synced video output for smooth video playback, so long as your Display device has a matching 24p Movie or Cinema mode capability.

So consequently Rockchip devices. Apple Mac's running OSX or the ATV4 are all not listed here, even tho Mac's run Kodi very nicely with a couple of annoying limitations.

The ATV4 is showing great potential too with a fork in the Kodi media player Software for it called MrMC
This is a first for a Kodi derived App to make it into the Apple TV App Store. Congratulations to the MrMC devs.
- Cue the MC Hammertime music Mr DJ !Wink

24p capable devices using standard video codecs 7.1 HD Audio passthrough considered here...
The two carryover 2015 Kodi reigning champs still have a lot to offer...

- Most flexible, best supported, pure Kodi media player device = RPi2, running OpenELEC or OSMC.
  • It may be a bit slow for some, lacking 4K and hardware HEVC decoding, but good full 1080p resolution 3D is a bonus.
  • Nice quality Hybrid deinterlacing when Overclocked running Kodi Jarvis.
  • Plays virtually anything you throw at it, including Software decoding of low bitrate 720p HEVC when Overclocked.
  • Comprehensive HDMI CEC control. In fact the Gold standard in HDMI CEC.
  • This is very much a DIY media player, buy the parts and construct. Like Lego with a bit more Tech !
Excellent bang for your buck ($$)

A very worthy alternative would be the $37 1080p HEVC hardware decode capable - ODROID C1+
RPi2 vs C1+ comparison HERE

** New Kids ** on the block here include the upgraded, faster RPi3 that will now software decode and playback low bitrate 8-bit 1080p HEVC and the 10-bit 4K HEVC hardware decode capable ODROID C2 that also has HDMI 2.0.

24p / 4K devices from here onwards....

- Intel Haswell/Broadwell microarchitecture based Celeron devices running Linux / OpenELEC
  • Devices in this category include Chromeboxes from Asus, HP, Acer, Dell, and Lenovo, as well as the Zotac BI320, HP Stream Mini, HP 260 G1.
  • All running Intel Celeron 2955U/2957U (Haswell) or Celeron 3205U /3215U (Broadwell) CPU's
  • Software decoding of low/medium bitrate 8/10-bit 720/1080p HEVC and Hi10P is now possible on these devices.
  • Much faster than RPi2, due to its powerful GPU/VPU and SSD combo.
  • Kodi loves powerful GPU/VPU combos. CPU capabilities are not so important for a quick Kodi media player, but do help with heavy skins.
  • Very mature, bug free Intel Haswell/Broadwell microarchitectures -- a very solid Kodi platform choice.
  • Top Spec, Top of the range deinterlacing, details HERE
  • No Hardware decoding of Interlaced VC-1 content (Linux driver issue)
Great bang for the buck, and Very popular. Chromeboxes have excellent support from Kodi's own - Mr Chromebox aka Matt Devo. Smile

24p / 4K / H265 (HEVC) Hardware decoders start from here...

- Intel Skylake, Braswell & Cherry Trail microarchitecture based devices
  • Great support as well shown from the Kodi developers
  • The Braswell platform is slowly becoming the 2016 Chromebox.
  • You get what you pay for here, which is massive flexibility and a lot of grunt in the higher priced NUC's.
  • Top Spec, Top of the range deinterlacing for some NUC's, details HERE
  • Software decoding of any demanding or problematic video codecs (eg. 10-bit HEVC) on i3/ i5 / i7 NUC's, means virtually all video playback problems are covered here.
  • i series Intel, definitely recommended for Hi10P Anime fans.
  • Kodi outputs decoded 10-bit video as 8-bit, however may change during the year.
  • 4K Limited to 30Hz due to HDMI 1.4 limitation, unless a DP to HDMI 2.0 adapter purchased.
  • No Hardware decoding of Interlaced VC-1 content if using Linux / OpenELEC
  • Disappointingly - No HDMI CEC control built into Intel, like other devices listed in this thread, some boxes do have IR receivers.
  • HDMI CEC can be added via a Pulse8 HDMI CEC Adapter
However, for basic 4K/2K/1080p video playback, Intel i series NUC's are complete overkill and overpriced for Kodi use only.

- Then we get to the Army of AMLogic devices including the likes the S812-H WeTek Core and the S905 MINIX U1.
There is also swarm of cheaper AML devices shipping out of Asia daily. For a first timer its hard to find a decent, reliable Kodi Android device.

Its very common with dirt cheap Android devices to come with lots of Bugs and no after sales support. Most are absolute rubbish, using pump and dump Marketing techniques to seduce unwary newbie buyers. False product reviews are very common.

Both the Core and the U1 are running the Android Lollipop OS, which results in a faster Android OS due to modern ART Android runtime optimisations, compared to Android KitKat you get on an older MINIX X-8H+.
I would no longer recommend any expensive Android device running KitKat because of this in 2016

Quote:You need all the after sales support you can get with new Android Hardware. I cannot stress this enough.
The best Android device support comes from the 3 Kodi Diamond Sponsors - MINIX, nVIDIA and WeTek.
You get what you pay for with Android hardware devices. Smile

24p / 10-bit / HDMI 2.0 from here onwards...a peek into the future...without a Delorean !

You will need a compatible 4K HDMI 2.0 10-bit TV to take full advantage of these devices.
10-bit Video gives over 1 Billion colors vs 16,777,216 for 8-bit, see HERE for further details.
Even though these devices can decode 10-bit, video output will be 8-bit only due to lack of video player Software support (this includes Kodi)
  • The new AMLogic S905 has a fresh out of the wrapper, Android Lollipop 5.1.1 SDK, new Linux Kernel and comes with upgraded 10-bit / HDMI 2.0 tech specs compared to the S812-H's.
  • Excellent AMLogic VPU Hardware deinterlacing when using the amcodec decoder. However Android mediacodec uses inferior ff-mpeg2/h264 Software deinterlacing.
  • Speed is a tiny bit quicker compared to a Lollipop equipped S812-H device, but with a reduced number of cores in the GPU/VPU.
  • HD Audio Passthrough is activated in Android API Level 22 Firmware and will work when Kodi finally supports it in Krypton.
  • As all this is very new, users need to be aware the Firmware is immature with bugs currently being ironed out.
  • 3D MVC (half res.) is a mixed bag too.
  • Hi10P H264 Anime decoding is not supported on the AMLogic S905's.
  • Even bug free 10-bit video output is an unknown quantity at this stage, and there are Hardware Problems with current SoC's.
  • After sales support is usually a BIG problem with dirt cheap AML Android devices.
S905's can be used as Fast cheap, 10-bit decoder, HDMI 2.0 boxes for those on a budget. If you can find one with decent firmware they represent good value, just beware of the current bugs for full Kodi feature compatibility.

Family friendly with Apps that are specifically built for remote control usability on a big screen TV....
Is this the new Android Kodi Champ ?

- The nVIDIA Shield
  • A slick, fast, 24p, Plug N Play, 10-bit HDMI 2.0 - Android Kodi media player & games machine.
  • This is a class leading ARM CPU/GPU tech spec box. You do get what you pay for here.
  • Currently running a Android Marshmallow 6.0 OS underneath the main screen Android TV launcher interface.
  • This sleek box will give you up to 4K Netflix using HDCP 2.2 too.
  • Only Netflix will give you proper 10-bit video output. The rest (inc. Kodi) only output 8-bit video.
  • HD Audio passthrough not activated in any normal Kodi version yet. Coming in Kodi 17.0 Krypton.
  • 25/50fps mpeg2 TV is still causing some problems.
  • For TV viewing the Shield uses Hardware deinterlacing comparable in quality to the Chromebox or WeTek Core
  • Software deinterlacing however is poor.
However, Kodi users have fallen in love with the superbly remote control friendly - Android TV OS launcher.
This OS has been designed with the primary consideration, being ease of use from the couch with a remote control in hand. Flexibility and App variety is quite limited compared to the regular Android Lollipop OS and may be a Big problem for some as side loading other Apps will be needed. There is no Autoupdating for these side loaded Apps.
Further details on Apps are found HERE.

Android Marshmallow released, details HERE. Huge upside when a mature solid platform emerges in 2016.

Compare Android Streaming Media Players HERE

Plug N Play - remote control included - 8-bit - Kodi Media Players around $100 or less.

Only Google Widevine Level 1, and Netflix certified DRM devices are listed for Full 1080p HD streaming.
This rules out nearly all cheap Android media boxes as they will only give you a max resolution of 480p for copy protected paid DRM video streaming services. All MINIX Android devices have this 480p limitation unfortunately.

- Amazon FireTV Hardware

For Amazon Prime members wishing to stream 4K / 1080p DRM video using the superior Amazon Prime App your only option is a AFTV2, AFTV1 or a Fire TV Stick as all other Kodi hardware devices will only give you 480p Prime video streaming.
  • AFTV / Stick runs the user friendly Fire OS based upon Android 5.0. AFTV1/2 is fast and fluid.
  • 8/10-bit 1080p HEVC Hardware decoding now possible on the FireTV2
  • No 24p video sync on Amazon Hardware, no Automatic Refresh Rate Switching either.
  • mpeg2 Interlaced content will be software decoded and software deinterlaced using inferior Bob or Software Blend.
  • mpeg2 Live TV viewing is problematic on AFTV1 or the Stick. H264 TV, hardware decodes and plays back better.
  • 4K video on AFTV2 is limited to Approved Amazon Apps only with 4K @ up to 30fps.
  • The AFTV1 has a S/PDIF Optical that is missing from the AFTV2.
  • The Firestarter, Open source App adds a lot of funtionality and is used to sideload Kodi.
  • The Fire TV Stick should only be used for 1080p DRM video streaming and light Kodi use. It will struggle as a primary Kodi device for a demanding Kodi user.
  • Lots of self reading for everything Amazon can be found in the AFTVnews
Amazon FireTV devices are primarily DRM video streamers First that also happen to run Kodi, with a bunch of Kodi limitations that may annoy some users. It pays to do some research before purchase.

- Google Nexus Player
  • Compare Streaming Media Players HERE
  • running remote control friendly Android TV OS launcher with a Android Marshmallow OS 6.0, details HERE
    (This video review also details Live TV Options)
  • Download Kodi from Google Play Store, add a HDD to the micro USB port and you are good to go. Kodi Autoupdates too.
  • WiFi(ac MIMO) only device, Ethernet to micro usb adapter needed to be purchased separately for a hardwired connection. $15 Ethernet to micro usb Adapter HERE
  • USB Hub needed to connect more than 1 usb device.
  • No 24p video sync so just use the standard 60Hz setting.
  • mpeg2/h264 deinterlacing is using the basic Bob or Software blend method, nice integration with HDHomerun tuners with the Marshmallow OS update.
  • There are however some deinterlacing playback problems, see HERE
  • Some codec playback problems as listed HERE (may have been fixed with recent Firmware update ?)
  • Android TV OS means less Apps to choose from compared to the normal Android OS, so side loading of some Apps may be needed. Further details on Android TV Apps installation is found HERE
Google Nexus Players have been on sale for as low as $25 in 2015, an absolute bargain at that price !

- next is the new WeTek Core.
  • 4K H264/H265/HEVC capable @ up to 30Hz.
  • HD Netflix approved device, plus proper DRM certification for other 1080p Streaming Apps.
  • Dolby and DTS licences included as well for proper Audio decoding using Android Apps.
  • 24p and autosyncs nicely for 24p 1080p Netflix playback too.
  • Fast Android device, OpenELEC Kodi speeds would rival Intel Platforms.
  • Flexible Android Lollipop 5.1.1 / OpenELEC OS / dual boot device. Switch OS's during a reboot using the remote control.
  • Regular Android Lollipop Apps not as remote friendly as Android TV OS ones. Still perfectly usable though.
  • The redeeming feature is you get the full monty selection of regular Apps from the Google Play Store, so no side loading of these regular Apps needed and these also Autoupdate.
  • However, Android TV OS - YouTube App works, a modded 1080p Netflix TV OS App has just been released too.
  • Super responsive. RF Wireless Remote control, no line of sight needed. Very accurate Airmouse function.
  • Excellent Motion Adaptive Hardware deinterlacing.
  • Excellent Support from WeTek, a OpenELEC and a Diamond Kodi Sponsor.
WeTek Core Limitations:
  • mpeg2 video found in .vob files (i.e. old DVD Rips) produces stuttering playback. Mostly Fixed.
    For Android at the moment use the Android MX Player App and playback of this combo is fine.
  • 29.97fps VC-1 stutters very slightly. 23.976fps VC-1 plays back perfectly.
  • Also some users initially confused by the regular Android OS Air Mouse functionality and integration.
  • 1080p Netflix Audio is 2.0 only. Blame the dumb Netflix restrictions for this limitation.
  • HBO GO will not work on the Core as it needs a Microsoft Playready licence.
WeTek have hit a value for money sweet spot with the Core, offering a very well supported, flexible Kodi / OpenELEC / Android device. Superb Android Kodi HD Audio support with proper licensing and value adding has made this a popular Kodi device.

The WeTek Core is my current daily use, ethernet connected Kodi media player as I need Excellent h264/mpeg2 25/50fps deinterlacing quality for fast action sports TV viewing and PVR use, in a fast OpenELEC / Android Lollipop OS - Kodi box. The recently tweaked HD Netflix - Android TV OS app for the Core has put a big smile on my dial.

A Killer feature for this box is currently under testing, that is Global Android Dynamic Refresh Rate switching. This means now any Android App can change a TV's refresh rate for near perfect video sync when video playback starts. A first I believe for an Android platform. Smile

I also compile and release OpenELEC - Kodi distributions for the WeTek Core and ODROID C1+

PS. for PVR users.
In my house is a DIY, dirt cheap little speedy AMLogic S805 - 1080p OpenELEC HEVC wee beastie called the ODROID C1+ that serves as my TvHeadend PVR server and OpenELEC development box.
Its a quite a bit faster than a RPi2 and a bit of a bargain actually for 5.1 Audio / Kodi only use. The MK808B Plus is also a very similar cost effective device when running OpenELEC.

(This post was last modified: 2016-07-19 05:14 by wrxtasy.)
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wrxtasy Offline
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HD Audio and 3D

Hires 24-bit/192Hz Kodi Audio limitations discussion found HERE

7.1 HD Audio Passthrough (bitsteam) or lossless Multichannel PCM Audio Kodi devices.
(updated August 2016)

Want to run your own suite of Audio / Video Test clips ?
Well then hdmkv has kindly written up a Wiki page just for that very purpose:

Audio & Video Test Clips HERE

5.1 / 7.1 Multichannel PCM (RPi) audio output info, from the esteemed Mr Noggin... (updated by wrxtasy)

Raspberry Pi 2/3 (and various other hardware platforms) have 5.1 / 7.1 PCM audio output capabilities over HDMI, allowing for HD Audio lossless decoding to 7.1 PCM for Dolby True HD, DTS-HD MA, FLAC and PCM multichannel audio tracks, as well as support for AAC and other multichannel audio formats (AAC is the Freeview HD audio standard in the UK) to be output without a lossy transcode to DD 5.1. The Pi 2/3 is recommended for HD Audio decode (as the Pi 1 can run out of CPU horsepower)

If you have a 7.1 audio system in particular then this is a useful thing to know - as other systems with limits to 5.1 DD/DTS (*) and 2.0 PCM will only give you 5.1 sound. (This is a different argument to that of whether you can hear the difference between lossy compressed DD/DTS and lossless compressed Dolby True HD/DTS HD-MA/PCM/FLAC)

(*) Apart from a small number of 6.1 DTS-ES tracks, which are far from widespread.

Dolby ATMOS Confirmed Platforms
- Mac's running Windows, see HERE
- Intel Chromeboxes / Braswell's running OpenELEC / Kodi
- Intel NUC's
- WeTek Hub / Core running the WeTek Jarvis 16.x mediaplayer
- HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro
- Basically any Platforms that support 7.1 HD Audio Passthrough (Bit streaming)

7.1 HD Audio Passthrough (Bitstreamed) capable from within Kodi

- ODROID C2 (LibreELEC), also various AMLogic S905 boxes running specific versions of LE / OE.
- WeTek Hub and Play2
- Chromebox, Braswell
- Intel NUC's and Mac's running Windows (via Bootcamp) as well.
**Note: HD Audio driver issues when using Windows with Celeron Braswell's and the ASUS Chromebox

NOTE: With Android HD Audio passthrough, potential purchasers should check in the relevant thread to ask if their AVR is supported first, as all this Android Audio development is very new, some platforms still have HD Audio passthrough issues.

7.1 HD Audio Passthrough using custom versions of Android / Kodi
- MINIX NEO U1 running XBMC MINIX with limitations, see HERE
- WeTek Core, Hub and Play2 running a custom version of WeTek's Jarvis 16.1 Mediaplayer, see HERE
- HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro

7.1 HD passthrough support using development versions of Android / Kodi or SPMC
- nVIDIA Shield, see HERE

5.1/7.1 HD Audio decoding to lossless Multichannel PCM audio output:
- Apple devices running OSX / Kodi
- Various Intel devices - NUC's, Chromebox, Braswell
- Intel Cherry Trail microarchitecture, running Windows.
- RPi 2/3
- nVIDIA Shield (can do full HD Audio passthrough using native Android Apps).
- Google Nexus Player
- Amazon FireTV2
- WeTek Core, Hub running WeTek's Jarvis 16.1 Mediaplayer, see HERE
- WeTek Play2 running WeTek's Jarvis 16.1 Mediaplayer and LibreELEC 7.1
- ODROID C2 running LibreELEC 7.1

NOTE: Reported Kodi Channel mapping Bug - details are found HERE


Excellent 3D rundown by hdmkv, the man who dreams in 3D Eek

3D video and formats come in several flavors:
  1. Anaglyph, viewable via red-cyan glasses (now a dated technology)
  2. Side-by-side (SBS), also known as HSBS (half-SBS), commonly found in Blu-ray re-encoded MKV's
  3. Top-and-bottom (TAB), also known as HTAB (half-TAB) or HOU (half over-under), commonly found in Blu-ray re-encoded MKV's
  4. Full MVC MKV, usually Blu-ray rips via MakeMKV (retains main movie only)
  5. Full 3D ISO, usually full disc rips (or, can also be movie-only extractions via tsMuxeR)
  6. Full SBS or TAB, which retains the same full resolution as #4 and 5, but not via the more efficient MVC method. Full SBS/TAB is uncommon, are usually much larger filesize of MVC, and only certain HTPC's will be able to play properly
For all intents and purposes, we really only care about #2 to #5 above.

3D HSBS and HTAB videos can be played by almost any media player, even those not advertised to. Almost all 3D-capable displays will be able to join the two halves and render a complete 3D picture. But, it's half resolution of what's found in Blu-rays as you're just getting a total resolution of 960x1080 (with HSBS) or 1920×540 (with HTAB).

However, a full 3D Blu-ray is encoded using a technology called MVC (Multiview Video Coding). It has 2x full 1920x1080 frames for each eye. When decoded, then rendered as "frame packing," you will have a total resolution of 1920x2205, with an effective display resolution of 1920x1080 for each eye. 3D Blu-ray players can obviously handle this, but home theater enthusiasts here obviously want Kodi-capable media players that can play MVC MKV's and/or 3D ISO's with full MVC decoding and full frame-packed output, bitstreaming of full HD audio, and flawless playback. Demanding bunch aren't we?! Smile

Kodi 3D media players fall into 5 camps:
  1. [Linux] Decodes MVC in full and renders 3D in full, natively via Kodi: the one and only Raspberry Pi. Pi3 is recommended as 3D performs better with its extra horsepower.
  2. [Windows] Decodes MVC in full and renders 3D in full, natively via Kodi MVC builds for Intel hardware. This has now become the ultimate 3D solution for many as it's native Kodi, with full HD audio bitstreaming, all framerates output perfectly, and with added benefit of Netflix/Amazon HD streaming via Windows app or web browser.
  3. [Android] Decodes MVC in full and renders 3D in full, via an external player, with Kodi as just the front-end. HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro works this way, as does previous-gen Q5/Q10 4K3D. There also are custom Kodi-integrated 3D players like Zidoo X6, HiMedia H8 Octa, but they suffer from key issues (like macroblocking, no 23.976) to really be taken seriously.
  4. [Android] Decodes MVC in full, but renders 3D in half (so resulting quality will be similar to HSBS and HTAB). This uses Koying's MVC hack and works to varying degrees on AMLogic Sxxx boxes like WeTek Core, Minix U1, etc. and nVidia Shield TV.
  5. [Android] VidOn solution (offered by Minix and Tronsmart). VidOn is a GPL and trademark infringer, and they rely on a proprietary solution for MVC 3D. Their 'Pro' payware Kodi fork provides Blu-ray menus, 3D and HD audio... however, 3D is similar to #4 (half-rez). My recommendation is to avoid VidOn altogether, not only because of GPL/trademark violations, but because their solution exhibits several key issues (no 23.976, and in fact all videos output at same resolution as UI, unstable, and basically unreliable).
Thanks to all talented Kodi developers (@popcornmix, @Koying, @afedchin, et al) for their work on MVC 3D.

Questions? Need recommendations?
What are the best full resolution 1080p 3D Kodi media players?

Please see this dedicated 3D thread.
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-14 07:39 by wrxtasy.)
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tiho Offline
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Post: #4
What about this : Confused
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Mike_xbmc Offline
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(2015-12-21 05:50)tiho Wrote:  What about this : Confused

The first post specifically stated devices based on Rockchip SoCs weren't going to be listed.
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wrxtasy Offline
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Don't make mistake of buying a cheap Kodi Android device based on fancy tech specs alone. Nor slick marketing that comes with the usual deceptive Newbie reviews. Its a Very very common mistake.

The reason Rockchip are not included on the list is because according to Koying, the lead Android Kodi developer here. Rockchip does not use the standard Android API (Application Programming Interface) and use custom Kodi code to even play A/V content.
This is not the way forward for the Open Source Kodi project, Android branch. Kodi is gradually being coded to operate primarily using the standard Android Media Codec (amc) interface. Libstagefright has already been given the chop in Kodi Jarvis.

Then there is the little matter of Rockchip being unwilling to work with the Kodi developers, even tho they have been given the opportunity to do so. No 24p video sync, and so it goes on.

AMLogic are the complete opposite with their open-ness and willingness to help.
(This post was last modified: 2015-12-28 06:57 by wrxtasy.)
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dukester Offline
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Post: #7
hardly able to consider the minix and wetek "cost effective" amlogic devices considering they sell for 3 times the price of most amlogic devices.

Quote:AMLogic devices to keep an eye on would be the very recently released AMLogic S905 series like the new Lollipop equipped MINIX U1. Other S905's will be coming in 2016, from well known reputable manufacturers. Devices that are not rushed to market, like dirt cheap stuff from Asia with lots of Firmware bugs and NO support.

isnt that kind of a contradictory statement, the MINIX U1 was one of the first rushed to market s905 boxes and it was borky as can be when if came from the asian factory full of bugs.

Main System - HTPC - Intel I3 6300 - Asrock z170 - 16 GB DDR4 Kingston HyperX - 128gb Adata SSD - 55" LG 4K 3D Display - Pioneer VSX 1130-K - 7.2.2 speakers
Other devices currently in use - 2 Fire TV's - Nexus Player - RPi 2 - MiniMX s905
Ubuntu Server - 12 TB NAS - MYSQL - Torrent Box
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hdmkv Offline
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@wrxtasy, thanks for taking on responsibility for this thread. Glad to see it get a reboot. Happy to help w/3D; maybe just a short summary w/link to the stickied thread on 3D I maintain would suffice.

[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
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wrxtasy Offline
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Cheers, maybe PMail me a draft short Summary listing the Ultimate in 3D down to the bog standard. I only really want 24p devices that work or show possible potential like the MVC ones coming in 2016.

I'm not looking for massive detail as that is what your thread is for and Hyperlinking is better anyway.
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wrxtasy Offline
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(2015-12-21 14:51)dukester Wrote:  hardly able to consider the minix and wetek "cost effective" amlogic devices considering they sell for 3 times the price of most amlogic devices.
Show me a detailed comprehensive review, the likes of what hdmkv produces, testing ALL the features of these cheap S905's from a Knowledgable Kodi user first. I have yet to see any review with the detail required for Kodi users to make an intelligent informed choice. Even basic core Kodi feature testing is usually missing in very lightweight reviews.

Then also show me this for any device under consideration:
Quote:...the best Kodi devices have a decent, active, knowledgable, respected manufacturer device support forums. Manufacturer experience with previous successful, similarly specced Hardware devices also is very important
And I have not even started yet on C++ coders contributing to the Kodi and OpenELEC projects you don't even know about behind the scenes on GitHub.

Koying most of the time when coding for Kodi Android is like a one man band and needs all the help he can get.
Now please show me how these dirt cheap Asian AMLogic device manufacturers are contributing to the Kodi project ?

A bunch of them are actually parasitic leaches, that contribute sweet FA and distribute Banned Kodi add-ons.

Quote: the MINIX U1 was one of the first rushed to market s905 boxes and it was borky as can be when if came from the asian factory full of bugs.
Look its the same with any Android device, the big thing was they did not advertise shit that did not work and guess what, excellent support and one Firmware update a week since the device was released is very quickly squashing any problems.

WeTek had an annoying a 24p bug recently too. It took them 3 days to fix, and then they published that code, which will benefit other S812 AMLogic platforms. This is how you earn respect from the Kodi Open Source community. Such an example is found HERE

Sure you can by cheap Android gear that may work more or less the same as more expensive products if you like a bit of DIY.
BUT for Newbies you cannot base your judgement on price alone because you will run into Firmware problems, then who are you gonna call ?
Any device will not be cost effective at any price unless you can get serious bugs fixed promptly.
You can bet the talented guys that could actually help will look the other way as they frankly don't have the time or are employed by some other manufacturer. The Kodi devs. too will rarely get involved with Firmware issues.
(This post was last modified: 2015-12-22 05:42 by wrxtasy.)
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wrxtasy Offline
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Bump as 3D devices rundown added.

Thanks to hdmkv Smile
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hdmkv Offline
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Thanks again for giving this topic/thread new life.

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psysfaction Offline
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Thank you for the good write up.

I would add a line in HD-Audio about Atmos and the soon to be released DTS:X.
For me this is one of the more exciting things that happened lately for home cinemas.

I have been using Atmos and it works well under Openelec with a Braswell Chip.

Sadly Atmos will not be possible with the Pi since it does not send the Metadata if it is decoded into PCM streams.
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noggin Offline
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(2015-12-27 03:46)psysfaction Wrote:  Sadly Atmos will not be possible with the Pi since it does not send the Metadata if it is decoded into PCM streams.

Yes - and I'm not sure there are :

a) Open Source Atmos decoders (so the Pi will treat it as 5.1 True HD?)
b) A standard to carry decoded 7.1.2 (and 7.1.4?) content over HDMI in PCM format

If you have Dolby Atmos and DTS:x content you must use HD Audio bitstreaming. AIUI Intel solutions that support HD Audio bitstreaming work OK with Dolby Atmos, but getting a 3D MVC capable box with HD Audio bitstreaming (without resorting to Windows/Android and external players) is not straightforward. You can get 3D MVC from a Pi 2 with HD Audio decoded (but not Atmos/DTS:x) and you can get 2D from an Intel solution (with HD Audio bitstreamed). Getting 3D with DTS:x or Dolby Atmos is currently tricky. You're probably best off with a Blu-ray player for this at the moment...
(This post was last modified: 2015-12-27 11:59 by noggin.)
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wrxtasy Offline
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(2015-12-27 03:46)psysfaction Wrote:  Thank you for the good write up.

I would add a line in HD-Audio about Atmos and the soon to be released DTS:X.
For me this is one of the more exciting things that happened lately for home cinemas.

I have been using Atmos and it works well under Openelec with a Braswell Chip.

Sadly Atmos will not be possible with the Pi since it does not send the Metadata if it is decoded into PCM streams.
Added Psy. Cheers.

Also added $100 Android DRM Kodi media players section as Android Lollipop / Marshmallow has made quite a difference to Kodi usability on Android media player platforms lately. These Google Android ART OS runtime optimisations, combined with the Lollipop OS have made a big difference to what has come before.

I'm an 5.1 Audio / OpenELEC Kodi guy and I never thought I would end up using an Android Lollipop device as my daily media player. Even I'm surprised that I'm saying that. Smile
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