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.
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.
- 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 !
24p capable devices using standard video codecs only....no 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 !
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)
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.