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

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

Time to really simplify the Hardware section for Newbies, this time I'm trying to not get bogged down in heavy technical details

NOTE: There are known limitation and bugs with All the boxes listed below, Post#2 Needs to be read as well for all the Technical details.

Questions and Answers - Recommended Kodi devices.

Nearly all Kodi devices in this section will come with Kodi community, and proper seller and manufacturer after sales support.

Q. I'm a Newbie on a $100 budget using a 1080p TV, I do not need HD Audio and have no audio/video receiver (AVR).
I just want to plug in and power up, and run Kodi with minimal fuss. I don't care about anything else ?
  • Xiaomi Mi Box, mini review HERE
  • WeTek Hub
  • Which device is better for use as a Kodi media player, well read this and make up your own mind.

Q. Fastest - Appliance like - pure - Kodi only boxes running LibreELEC Jarvis (Highly recommended for Kodi use only):
  • Intel Hardware including the Chromebox
  • ODROID C2 (using eMMC Flash storage)

Q. I like to do a bit of DIY and don't mind getting my hands a little bit dirty and learning something in the process ?
(all devices running LibreELEC Kodi Jarvis, unless noted)
  • RPi3
  • ODROID C2
  • WeTek Play2 running this ATV OS ROM and SPMC
  • ASUS Chromebox
  • Intel Hardware
  • Various cheap AMLogic S905 devices, do NOT buy AML S912 devices.

Q. I need the most stable, proven, bullet proof, 1080p Kodi use only, box going around ?
  • ASUS Chromebox running LibreELEC - Kodi Jarvis

Q. Most stable, working, mature, Android Lollipop 5.1.1 - AMLogic Firmware only - Kodi device sellers:
  • MINIX
  • WeTek

Q. Most versatile Kodi boxes, that easily dual boot to Android or LibreELEC Kodi:
  • WeTek Core
  • WeTek Hub
  • WeTek Play2

Q. Kodi boxes that are the most family friendly, with Apps specifically designed for use on TV's, virtually Plug n Play ?
  • Xiaomi Mi Box, using SPMC (Kodi fork aka modded Kodi version)
  • nVIDIA Shield, using SPMC
  • Amazon devices, using MrMC (Kodi fork)
  • Apple TV4 running MrMC

Q. Android Kodi boxes with up to 4K online streaming Apps, Netflix, Amazon (Prime) Instant Video etc & some light gaming:
  • nVIDIA Shield (the fastest Android box of them all) (1080p AIV)
  • Amazon Fire TV2
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (untested for Amazon Instant Video)
Compare Android Streaming Media Players HERE

Q. I need proper 1080p/4K Amazon (Prime) Instant Video streaming, with a DIY sideload of the Kodi App ?
  • Amazon devices - Amazon Stick - Fire TV1 + Fire TV2 (4K)

Q. What about devices for 4K HEVC (H265) video playback over HDMI 2.0 to my non HDR capable 4K TV ?
  • All AMLogic S905 devices including WeTek's, MINIX U1, ODROID C2 + others
  • Xiaomi Mi Box
  • nVIDIA Shield
  • Amazon FireTV2 running MrMC (Kodi fork) or Kodi Krypton beta6
  • HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro
  • Zidoo X9S

Q. I need HDR10 and 4K video playback support ?
(NOTE: UHD HDR10 Bluray's cannot even be self ripped due to uncracked copy protection)
(4K Netflix has HDR10 streaming content)
  • nVIDIA Shield (Netflix)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (Netflix)
  • HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro
  • Zidoo X9S (read its dedicated thread very carefully for issues)

Q. I don't care about price, I want versatile Audio & Video playback in a fast, powerful Kodi media player ?
  • Intel I series NUC's & Apple Macs
  • nVIDIA Shield

Q. I need to playback my 1080p 3D ISO Bluray Rips in Full HD ?
(extra research before purchase needs to be done for Android 3D ISO media players)
  • RPi3
  • Various Intel Machines running Windows
  • HiMedia Q5/10 Pro (beware 3D video playback micro stutters)
  • Zidoo X9S (read its dedicated thread very carefully for issues)

Q. I need full HD Audio passthrough support including Multichannel (>2.0) PCM output of 24bit/192kHz FLAC ?
(NOTE: all devices using an Android OS have 16bit Audio output limitations when using Kodi)
  • WeTek Hub / Play2 (LibreELEC)
  • ODROID C2 (LibreELEC)
  • Various cheap AMLogic S905 devices running LibreELEC Kodi
  • Chromeboxes
  • Intel Hardware, inc. Macs running Windows

Q. I need a device with a built in TV Tuner that has basic PVR functionality ?
  • WeTek Play2

Q. I need a device with proper video deinterlacing for Over the Air (OTA) TV streaming from my HD Homerun or PVR server ?
  • RPi's.
  • Intel Hardware
  • All AMLogic chipset based boxes, eg the WeTek, MINIX, ODROID devices plus others.
  • nVIDIA Shield
  • Apple TV4 using the superb Channels App - but only for ATSC / US users only !

Q. Best devices that have an option to purchase a Top quality wireless remote control with a Integrated Mini Keyboard
  • various MINIX AMLogic Boxes, using the A2 Lite Remote

Q. I need a Kodi box that can play 720/1080p or 4K DRM copy protected video streams such as Netflix, HBO etc. ?
  • nVIDIA Shield (4K + HDR)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (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, Play2 (audio is 2.0 only, unless you use this ROM on the Play2)
  • Apple TV4



The News Flash Section:

Buggiest Android Kodi Box award of the quarter goes to:

- Any AMLogic S912 box running Android Marshmallow 6.0, like the Beelink GT1 as an example. Don't get hoodwinked by clever marketing and Tech specs people. Its been awarded a D by our very own @hdmkv. A D for Do Not Bother!
There is NO LibreELEC Kodi support for AML S912 devices either.

Along with that warning, those considering buying any dirt cheap, unsupported Android Kodi boxes needs to Read This

And if that does not convince you that all unsupported AMLogic boxes with Android Marshmallow 6.0 are rubbish at the moment for semi-serious Kodi use, then read this post about DTS Audio passthrough issues.



The Good News Section Smile

- Official Google Android TV OS licensed - $69 - Xiaomi Mi Box released. This has some Audio and Video limitations for serious Kodi use at the moment (see Mini Review) but is expected to improve, with proper Firmware support from Xiaomi.
Click for Lon's, trusted YouTube mini video review. (Kodi 11:00 minute mark)

- Amazon Instant Video App (Android TV OS - Sony TV App) - now confirmed with 1080p playback on the nVIDIA Shield, audio reported as 5.1 as well.

- 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 developers kszaq, kwiboo & longchair
See HERE & HERE for details. Smile
(This post was last modified: 2016-11-26 09:29 by wrxtasy.)
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wrxtasy Offline
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Location: Perth, Oz
Post: #2
October 2016 update

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.

The Piracy Box Sellers and Youtube Promoters Are Killing Kodi



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'm a Newbie and simply want to unbox and power up a device and Kodi is sitting there ready to go. Plug n Play.

These devices will either come packaged with special Hardware optimised versions of Kodi or you simply download various flavours of Kodi easily, from the individual Apps stores.
  • WeTek devices - Core / Hub / Play2 - come packaged with WeTek Media Player - WeTek's optimised version of Kodi Jarvis 16.1
  • MINIX U1 - comes packaged with XBMC for MINIX - again a version of Kodi Jarvis 16.1
  • Zidoo X9S- comes packaged with ZDMC - a version of Kodi Jarvis 16.1 for use with a custom external video player App.
  • HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro - a pre-installed Android wrapper App has to be run first to enable Kodi to then use an external video player App.
  • nVIDIA Shield - simply download Kodi Jarvis 16.1 from the Google Play Store. SPMC preferred and highly recommended.
  • Amazon FireTV's - download MrMC from the Amazon Apps Store - MrMC is a version of Kodi Jarvis 16.1
    ( it has some limitations however with Skins and Addons, but is well supported)
  • Apple TV4 - download MrMC from the Apps Store - MrMC (same limitations as above)
  • Intel Boxes running Windows 10 - download Kodi from the Microsoft Store

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.
  • 2160p(4K) HEVC decoding, HDR10 and 1080p Frame Packed 3D video output supported.
  • Multichannel PCM audio output and and HD Audio passthrough.
  • PCM Audio is limited to max 16bit/192kHz, testing done by @looun HERE
  • NO Bit perfect audio output possible with any Android device. No Android device is recommended for top quality FLAC Audio output.
  • Major Q5/Q10 Limitation - microstutters when playing 23.976fps 1080p Frame Packed 3D video content at 24Hz.
  • No DRM 1080/2160p 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. Smile
  • External video player software used with HiMedia Q5/Q10 devices, consequently there are some 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 software decoding.
  • Intel Linux Hardware HEVC decoding support is found HERE
  • 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.
  • Nearly all the Android / LibreELEC boxes mention in this post support Hardware decoding of 2160p(4K) 10bit HEVC (H265)
  • 10bit video decoding, but 8bit color depth video output for virtually all Kodi devices.
  • The nVIDIA Shield can do HDR10 video output in 4K @ 59.94/60Hz. HDR10 output for the HiMedia Q5/10 Pro and Zidoo X9S as well.

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.
  • Poorer quality parts used, boxes sold mainly for Video Piracy purposes, which Kodi wants nothing to do with.
  • Power supplies are sometimes questionable quality. 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 by LibreELEC in the first place.

Q. I want a Kodi box with quality deinterlacing: DVD ISO playback & 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 Core, Hub, Play2 and the MINIX U1 that all have dedicated deinterlacing Hardware.
  • nVIDIA Shield now nVIDIA has fixed a 25/50fps Hardware deinterlacing bug with a v3.3 Firmware update.
  • The RPi3 that uses high quality Hybrid GPU/CPU hardware/software deinterlacing.
  • Avoid - unless fixed - Xiaomi Mi Box, HiMedia Q10, Zidoo X9S, FireTV's and the older Google Nexus Player.

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. Be aware 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
  • Zidoo X9S
  • MINIX U1
  • WeTek Hub & Play2
  • ODROID C2
  • 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.
  • Recommended well supported Kodi version here for the Shield is SPMC by the skilled developer @koying
  • 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 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 5.1 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
  • There are now a bunch of users complaining about poor quality Video Upscaling output with the Shield, see HERE for details.
  • Users reporting No LFE/Sub-woofer signal with 5.1/7.1 (PCM) output. Multichannel FLAC and AAC Audio will have issues.
  • For those advanced users concerned about colorspacs in 4K and perfect video output, the Shield Firmware 3.3 update thread is an essential read about ongoing issues.

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.
  • MrMC update adds 4K support, Refresh Rate Switching, 24p/25p/30p support, Plex Client - see HERE for details.
  • 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 Windows 10 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)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (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

W.


Archived hardware - Technical Posts:
(Ignore the ODROID forumheader)

Kodi START HERE - archive APR 2016.pdf
(This post was last modified: 2016-11-10 04:55 by wrxtasy.)
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wrxtasy Offline
Newbie Moderator
Posts: 4,893
Joined: Feb 2012
Reputation: 173
Location: Perth, Oz
Post: #3
HD Audio and 3D

Android Hi-res 16-bit/48kHz Audio limitation 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
- Various AMLogic S905 Boxes running LibreELEC 7.x images.

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



3D

Excellent 3D rundown by hdmkv, the man who dreams in 3D Eek
(V4)

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: 2016-10-21 07:07 by wrxtasy.)
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tiho Offline
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Post: #4
What about this : http://www.geekbuying.com/item/GeekBox-O...wodPbMD9A. Confused
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Mike_xbmc Offline
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Post: #5
(2015-12-21 05:50)tiho Wrote:  What about this : http://www.geekbuying.com/item/GeekBox-O...wodPbMD9A. 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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Post: #6
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 Online
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Post: #8
@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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Kodi A/V Samples wiki
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wrxtasy Offline
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Post: #9
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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Post: #10
(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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Post: #11
Bump as 3D devices rundown added.

Thanks to hdmkv Smile
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hdmkv Online
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Post: #12
Thanks again for giving this topic/thread new life.

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psysfaction Offline
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Post: #13
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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Post: #14
(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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Post: #15
(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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