Android - Zidoo X9S & X8 (4K / HDR / 3D / HD Audio): Review & User Impressions

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hdmkv Offline
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Thumbs Up  Zidoo X9S & X8 (4K / HDR / 3D / HD Audio): Review & User Impressions
Post: #1
Quick updates March 10, 2017:
  • Zidoo has announced their 3rd RTD1295-based player, the Zidoo X10.
  • Beelink has a RTD1295 player coming out, called Beelink SEA.
  • Fairly major new firmware v1.3.0 beta has just been release for X9S. The big surprise is full Blu-ray menu (BD-Java) support! But, 2D ISO's only for now. Also includes what looks to be significantly better handling of external subtitles. Nice work Zidoo Nod!
    Re: 3D BD menu support & external subs:
    mirror88 Wrote:We are working with change Region code and support 3D blueray,About download subtitles we have some interesting ideas and are trying to achieve it


=========================
Zidoo X9S: A/V Performance Review
=========================


Updated January 30, 2016

Overall Verdict: A- (Based on firmware v1.2.10)
> Read about & download firmware v1.2.10 for X9S
> Read about & download firmware v1.2.10 for X8
  • A/V performance: A- (Some stability/reliability-related issues may remain, as well as proper 4K rendering; awaiting user reports)
  • Picture quality: A (w/native/external player) | B+ (w/ZDMC)
  • 3D-specific performance: A (Both 3D ISO's and MVC MKV's play great! Excellent depth, dimensionality, clarity)
  • 4K-specific performance: B+ (Ever-so-slight juddder w/VP9 remains, and color space/switching issues may remain; awaiting user reports)
  • User experience: A-
  • Value for money: B+ (for X9S at $129-149 off Amazon) | A- (for X8 at $109 off Amazon)
  • Support: A- (So far, very good! Zidoo should continue to make improvements, and focus on reliability)
Disclaimer #1: The ratings above and review below are both objective and subjective (but, ultimately subjective, and most based on my impressions). Any media player will either pass or fail A/V tests, but for 3D quality and PQ, I rely on my eyeballs Smile. The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine, not Kodi foundation’s, and not any kind of a consensus grade. Also, I never let manufacturers influence what I write. The Kodi foundation or team have nothing to do with any content in this post.

Disclaimer #2: Zidoo relies on an external player solution, and ZDMC (Zidoo's Kodi 16.1) and it are separate apps that aren't really interconnected in any meaningful way. When the external player option is enabled in ZDMC (pic), most of the video playback is pushed to the external player as only it supports 3D MVC, has better PQ, etc. So, ZDMC only acts as a front-end to manage your movie and TV libraries with a nice skin, posters and metadata. As ZDMC and the external player don't really 'talk to each other', you'll have to rely on playback settings in the external player separately (as ZDMC's HD audio and other settings have no effect on it). If what you want is a Kodi-native 3D playback solution, go for Intel h/w with MVC builds.



Other A/V-centric Reviews: For comparison, also check out a review of Zappiti's RTD1295-based 4K HDR player here.


Overview:

When Zidoo announced the X9S and posted bold, 'seemingly convincing' claims and screenshots, I was skeptical, but interested enough to look and read about it. Had no desire to request a sample for review though. I previously reviewed their X6 Pro, and subsequently read about shortcomings with X5, so thought I'd take a wait-and-see approach w/X9S. After reading some more posts and seeing some more pics, I changed my mind (got intrigued enough) and figured why the heck not?! Big Grin

My thanks to Zidoo for sending me a review unit. I had let @mirror88 know that if I didn't find that X9S mostly delivered, after only investing a little time, I'd stop right there, not bother further, and not even post a review. Well, I'm happy to report that Zidoo's X9S is actually very good, and does a great deal right already Smile. Seems like this time's the charm for them. There are a few issues remaining at this point, but no major deal-breakers IMHO. It's evident that Zidoo has been working diligently, resolving issues and trying to make A/V-centric performance improvements. I believe X9S/X8 are slightly better than HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro at this point (as latter stick lack proper 23.976 for 3D MVC).


Photo Gallery: (also showing all proper settings for optimal A/V playback)



A/V Performance:

Overall, very impressive. The only real issues remaining may be around 4K render and stability. VP9 4K has minor judder, with playback not perfectly smooth like HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro and nVidia Shield. Beyond this, X9S supports automatching switching even for 3D SBS/TAB videos. It does proper refresh rate switching for 23.976, 24.000, 25.000/50.000 and 29.970/30.000/59.940/60.000. HD audio now seem solid across all 2D/3D containers, w/all formats, including ATMOS/X and multichannel PCM.

There's also an issue with external subtitles being rendered poorly. See this.

[Image: DXzH1mx.jpg]



Video Demo:



Box Performance:

The X9S boots up to main user interface (Android launcher) in about 29-30 seconds, after pressing 'power' button on remote. Not that quick, but not slow either. The box itself is quite snappy, and I didn't notice any lags, whether navigating around the main UI, or browsing my large movie/TV libraries (couple of thousand titles).

Zidoo's wrapper solution from ZDMC (to call up and open video in external/native player) is much faster than HiMedia's on Q5/Q10 Pro. It's also more elegant, feeling more like an integrated, seamless solution (even though it obviously isn't). ZDMC is Zidoo's fork of Kodi based off official Jarvis 16.1. The wrapper isn't implemented via a custom playercorefactory.xml file (like HiMedia does) in ZDMC (Kodi's) userdata folder because I looked and didn't find it. So, if you want to customize which types of videos opened with native player vs. ZDMC, there doesn't seem to be a way to do it.


Support:

So far, Zidoo has provided solid support. They've posted fairly frequent f/w updates, and been responsive in Kodi and Zidoo forums. They've also complied with GPL2 rules and posted ZDMC source code.

Tips & Tricks:
  • Make sure, in ZDMC's settings, under Videos > Discs, to choose 'Show simplified menu' next to 'Blu-ray playback mode'. See here and here.
  • Long-press the 'Power' button on remote to bring up power options. I opted for single press of 'Power' button to have X9S power off directly. This made it easier to program my Harmony remote for proper activity shutdown
  • Use the remote's red and green buttons to program useful functions like 'Stop', 'Record' (from HDMI), etc.
  • Use the remote's number keys to jump to specific times in the native player (thanks @mirror88)
  • Attach a USB MCE remote dongle (like Ortek) and get additional useful functions like FF, REW and skip back/forward (even w/native player) (thanks @timstephens24)
  • Prefer to use official Kodi 16.1 with wrapper for external playback? Check out @Lony's tutorial at Zidoo forum


Zidoo X8/X9S vs. Other Kodi 3D Boxes: See here.


Box Build Quality & Remote Control:

Very nice! Well-packed; actually like WeTek's level of attention (just minus all the extra accessories they include). X9S itself doesn't sport a cheap case, but aluminum, and feels really sturdy. The remote is lightweight plastic though, and cheap-feeling. It lacks a 'Stop' button; I just can't understand why so many Android box manufacturers skip out on this basic yet very important function button. When using native player, you need to press 'Return' twice to close playback. With ZDMC, you need to press 'OK' key, then choose stop icon on OSD. However, you can program the red or green button on the remote to act as a single-key press 'Stop' (see this). Also missing from the remote are FF/REW and skip forward/back commands, which forces you to bring up the OSD navigation to scan back/ahead in videos.

Thankfully, X9S programs easily w/Harmony remote using "Zidoo" and "X9" via MyHarmony app.

Two wi-fi antennas are included (for attaching to X9S), but any serious a/v phile knows better to stick w/wired for issue-free video playback over NAS Smile. What's also unique about X9S is its HDMI-in port for recording video fed through from another HDMI video source. Another nice touch is the hard on/off power switch on the back, something lacking from most Android TV boxes.


HDMI Recording Feature:

I was planning on making a video on this, but noticed that Zidoo already did one, so let me instead write about what HDMI-in can and can't do.

If you plan on recording from any HDCP sources (that have copy-protection enforced, like TiVo), fuggedaboutit Smile, unless you invest in a HDCP-stripper (like HDFury). Picture-in-picture (PIP) works with any HDMI source however. Here's the rest of the skinny on the HDMI-in feature:
  • PIP works well. You can position it anywhere over the Zidoo UI and apps (like ZDMC), and even toggle it full screen (and back). The catch is that you really need a keyboard (or air-mouse) connected. There's no audio (only video) with the source in the PIP window (as it should be). Once you toggle if full screen, audio returns. There is aliasing, moire and jaggies in the PIP window video, but the actual full screen video and recording appear to be free of artifacts.
  • While using the HDMI-in app, X9S can occasionally get bogged down a little, so be patient for a second or two for it to unhang.
  • The HDMI out and in ports on the back of X9S are too close to each other. You may have trouble pushing in both, as I did, with certain HDMI cables w/'fatter' heads.
  • Maximum recording resolution is 1080p, at 10Mbps, w/2-channel audio (no 5.1).
  • You can record to internal flash storage, attached USB external HDD or to SMB/NFS shares (latter is what I did).
  • Recordings from non-HDCP sources work fine, and the quality of captured .ts files seem good.
See photo gallery above for screenshots of this feature.


Wrap-Up:

Zidoo X9S is a really pleasant surprise. After X6 Pro and X5, I was expecting another kinda half-baked media player, but Zidoo has obviously taken a better approach with X9S (and X8). They've resolved several issues since release (audio drop-outs, MVC functionality, etc.) and continue to diligently support these players. So far, so good.

[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
Kodi 3D MVC Hardware Options
Kodi A/V Samples wiki
3D: Intel D34010WYK w/Kodi MVC build | Zidoo X9S
2D: nVidia Shield TV (2nd gen)
(This post was last modified: 2017-03-10 19:32 by hdmkv.)
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mirror88 Offline
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Post: #2
Hi.Thanks for you review.
Quote:3D MVC MKV's not playing in 3D mode
We tested MVC-3D-MKV would be auto playing 3D model(framepacking)
Can you provide the sample file for us?also please provide the "3D flip-eyes" file to usSmile
Quote:3D ISO's default to playing via ZDMC internal dvdplaye
v1.2.3 solved it,will playing via external player all the times,maybe you can test again.
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-24 03:02 by mirror88.)
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hdmkv Offline
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Post: #3
Hi @mirror88, that 3D MKV MVC sample you linked to is one I posted to Kodi a/v samples wiki. Let me try that one and others.

Re: flip-eyes, will send you link to a right-eye first 3D sample tomorrow.

Re: 3D ISO's defaulting to external player when enabled, will check again w/few more titles and report back.

[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
Kodi 3D MVC Hardware Options
Kodi A/V Samples wiki
3D: Intel D34010WYK w/Kodi MVC build | Zidoo X9S
2D: nVidia Shield TV (2nd gen)
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-24 03:11 by hdmkv.)
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nickr Offline
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Post: #4
Can you point me to the zdmc source code please?

If I have helped you or increased your knowledge, click the 'thank user' button to give thanks :) (People with less than 20 posts won't see the "Thank you" button.)
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looun Offline
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Post: #5
(2016-09-24 01:55)hdmkv Wrote:  Overall Verdict: B (almost a B+, with potential for an 'A', really; just not there yet)

(Based on firmware v.1.2.3)
  • A/V performance: B+
  • 3D-specific performance: B+
  • 4K-specific performance: TBD
  • User experience: B+
  • Value for money: B+
  • Support: B

Undecided i quote and not quote

i think x9s is two device in one:
- Android player.
- Linux player stile: zidoo player and media center remember me lot of good linux player

i quote Overall Verdict B for ZDMC and SPMC/KODI

but

zidoo app Overall Verdict is near to A
  • A/V performance: A+
    zidoo player have better video quality than zdmc ( though media codec surface work ), more sharped more detail.
  • 3D-specific performance: A
    zidoo player is very nice and clear
  • 4K-specific performance: TBD i can not test
  • User experience: A media center is very good file manager with classic tv remote control
  • Value for money: B+ price is little high
  • Support: B too early

TV Panasonic plasma 3D 50GT30 - AMPI Onkyo TX-NR818 Speaker Magnat 5.1 + Front Hight (LH/RH)
AndroidPremiumPlayer blog - HI - Frequency Switcher
Himedia Q10 Pro - HiMedia Player Q5 4K3D - Zidoo X9S - Beelink BT3
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boblo Offline
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Post: #6
How is the support for playing DVD ISO's (unencrypted, naturally)?
Does the X9S play DVDs with folder structure (VIDEO_TS directories)?

I've read that Q5/Q10 Pro support for this matter is mediocre at this moment and that they do not play VIDEO_TS directories.

Thanks in advance.
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-24 14:51 by boblo.)
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Skank Offline
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Post: #7
Do 3D mvc iso's play in 3d with perfect 23.976?
Cause himdeia q10 pro doesnt, there you see microstutters
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hdmkv Offline
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Post: #8
Can't say as my Epson PJ is proving unreliable when checking its 'Info' tab to see FPS. For 2D, it shows reliably most of the time (w/me occasionally needing to stop playback, restart to verify). With 3D, my PJ almost always shows it's getting 24.000, even though all 3D MVC MKV's and ISO's are 23.976. Not just via Zidoo X9S and HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro, but via my trusty Intel NUC (which always gets framerates right) and even XBOX One w/actual Blu-ray discs.

As for microstutters, I plan to finally watch a 3D movie all the way tonight, keeping a close eye. But, I've watched the full end credits of a 3D movie, and the scrolling was smooth; didn't notice any frame skips/jumps.

Some MVC MKV's are playing in 3D, others not. Weird. Will send @mirror88 additional samples (the 'Ruin' 3D clip I posted to a/v wiki a while back, which he tested with, does play in 3D). Also, with MVC MKV's, there's quite a bit of stutter when video starts, then mostly stabilizes. However, I still notice judder, and playback isn't completely smooth.

3D ISO's are playing a lot better. PQ is excellent. Unlike the last Realtek SoC media player I had, and liked, RTD1186, as leveraged by Mede8er in their X3D series, PQ isn't little soft like it was with that SoC, and forced subs also work with RTD1295. Picture is sharp/detailed and 3D has excellent depth with RTD1295 and its native player.

[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
Kodi 3D MVC Hardware Options
Kodi A/V Samples wiki
3D: Intel D34010WYK w/Kodi MVC build | Zidoo X9S
2D: nVidia Shield TV (2nd gen)
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-25 02:04 by hdmkv.)
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bongchillog Offline
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Post: #9
Here is the review i'm waiting...

Thanks hdmkv
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nickr Offline
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Post: #10
@hdmkv, please convince me that Zidoo are complying with the GPL2. Either that or the thread goes to the bin.

If I have helped you or increased your knowledge, click the 'thank user' button to give thanks :) (People with less than 20 posts won't see the "Thank you" button.)
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Skank Offline
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Post: #11
Looun said zidoo native player is better picture quality than zdmc.. Isthat true? I thought zdmc was using the same external player (wrapper)?
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3dgeek Offline
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Post: #12
@hdmkv

PQ on 3D playback as good or better than Pi?
As good as on Intel Nuc?
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-25 10:23 by 3dgeek.)
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bongchillog Offline
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Post: #13
I like the zidoo x6 pros native player than zdmc.
Plays my bmdv files accurately, maybe im sold to this than the himedia q5 pro after hdmkvs review


Sent from my iPhone (typie typie)
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hdmkv Offline
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Post: #14
(2016-09-25 07:27)nickr Wrote:  @hdmkv, please convince me that Zidoo are complying with the GPL2. Either that or the thread goes to the bin.
I'm not Zidoo, so no idea...
@mirror88, please share code per GPL rules. You have a good, promising player in X9S, and I'd hate for this to be a VidOn-type situation. @nickr has already requested a couple of times.

@nickr, if it gets to the 'trash bin' point, please let me know so I can at least save information and not lose the work; thanks.

[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
Kodi 3D MVC Hardware Options
Kodi A/V Samples wiki
3D: Intel D34010WYK w/Kodi MVC build | Zidoo X9S
2D: nVidia Shield TV (2nd gen)
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-25 16:41 by hdmkv.)
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hdmkv Offline
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Post: #15
(2016-09-25 09:32)Skank Wrote:  Looun said zidoo native player is better picture quality than zdmc.. Isthat true? I thought zdmc was using the same external player (wrapper)?
Yes, true. Native (directly or via wrapper) PQ = A. ZDMC PQ (internal dvdplayer) = B+. ZDMC is clearly relying on a different player than native/external. I'm also finding a/v performance different between the two. Hoping to post completed review today. Spent about 4 hours with X9S yesterday, and mostly like what I'm seeing so far.

(2016-09-25 10:22)3dgeek Wrote:  @hdmkv

PQ on 3D playback as good or better than Pi?
As good as on Intel Nuc?
With 3D ISO's, yes. With MVC MKV's, no. Zidoo has some work to do on latter (triggering 3D mode w/all MVC MKV's consistently, and resolving stuttering issues). With 3D ISO's, X9S is as good as Pi2/3 and Intel. Watched two 3D movies (one all the way, other halfway, both ISO's) last night, and 3D is really strong. That quality in sense of depth, lack of ghosting, vibrant picture, all present.

(2016-09-25 13:43)bongchillog Wrote:  I like the zidoo x6 pros native player than zdmc.
Plays my bmdv files accurately, maybe im sold to this than the himedia q5 pro after hdmkvs review
You mean X9S's native player? X6 Pro's is an embedded solution and never quite did 23.976 properly, and macroblcoking was still present last I checked (although that was couple of months ago, and I gave away my X6 Pro review sample). Zidoo's wrapper from ZDMC to native/external player is better implemented than HiMedia's (it's faster, and 'feels' more seamless).

[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
Kodi 3D MVC Hardware Options
Kodi A/V Samples wiki
3D: Intel D34010WYK w/Kodi MVC build | Zidoo X9S
2D: nVidia Shield TV (2nd gen)
(This post was last modified: 2016-09-25 16:37 by hdmkv.)
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