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Full Version: START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated October 2019)
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October 2019 update

WARNING ! - the S922X chipset - Beelink GT-King has an ongoing, serious hardware Ethernet stability issue (click)

VERY important - Media Player Firmware Updates & Watchlist (click)

For those that do not want to get bogged down in the detail below...
..The Best Of - categorised - media players on the market (click)

The Kodi forum will NOT help you at all with device Firmware support. Nor Banned Kodi Addon support.

Links to individual Hardware threads for the devices discussed below >>> Click HERE



Questions and Answers - Recommended Kodi devices.

BIG TIP for Newbies - pick what Kodi media player features are most important to you first, make a list.

Eg. 24p, 1080p only or 4K HDR, broadcast TV deinterlacing, DD/AC3, DTS, 7.1 HD Audio & which specific Apps.
What TV and audio hardware do you plan on connecting to ?

Nearly all Kodi devices in this Q&A post will come with Kodi community, and proper seller and manufacturer after sales support.

$$$$ - Show me the Money !

Q. I'm a Newbie on a tight 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 ?

Q. Best 1080p/4K Bang for the Buck - Kodi only, HD Audio (bitstreaming) device ?
(All running CoreELEC Kodi Leia, unless noted. Easiest to hardest to setup, Wireless MINIX A2 lite remote purchase recommended)
Q. What are the recommended best Bang for the Buck microSDHC cards ?
Do not base you decision on sequential speeds, Its Random 4K Read / Write performance that is most important for Kodi everyday usage.
The Wirecutter - Best microSD Cards (click)

Q. Those AMLogic S9xx boxes look grossly underpowered for 4K HEVC(H265), should I be looking at Intel NUC's. ?
Only the very recent Intel Kaby/Gemini Lake and onwards series of NUCs will match the cheap AMLogic S9xx's for video playback (excluding 3D MVC).
The NUCs are more powerful for CPU software video decoding , but that's not really that relevant when an ARM Mali GPU is Hardware decoding all video content if running OSMC / CoreELEC Kodi Leia.

Q. I basically want a HD Audio capable (inc. Atmos & DTS:X) 4K HDR10 Kodi media player that just works with minimal hassles ?
(devices must have working auto refresh & auto 1080p / 4K resolution switching and correct SDR / HDR colorspace output after auto switching)
You also want Gigabit Ethernet (1000M) for trouble free High Bitrate 4K HDR home networked streaming.
  • New: ODROID N2 - CoreELEC Edition
  • Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi Leia
  • Greater detail - Split out into it's own dedicated thread - 4K HDR10 - State of Play thread - important media player limitations (click)
  • Users with 100M only Ethernet devices have reported a USB3 > Gigabit UGREEN adapter (click) works and enables higher data transfer rates for high bitrate 4K HDR video playback.
  • Yes these cheap GigaE LAN equipped, AMLogic devices, running OSMC / CoreELEC are better than both the more expensive Intel "Lake" NUC's and the NVIDIA Shield for auto, mixed 1080p / 4K HDR Kodi Leia video playback.
  • There is no need to continually fiddle with Operating System or Kodi settings for optimal 1080p / 4K HDR picture outputs once initial device setup is complete.
  • Just be aware, if you are a ex Intel user wanting to use a really demanding Skin like Aeon MadNox really only the new AML S922X / A311D devices with great ARM GPU's or a snappy Nvidia Shield will meet your needs.
  • This is a reality check warning !
    Wink



Speed - Red boxes run faster !

Q. Fastest - Appliance like - pure - Kodi only boxes booting straight into LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi or OSMC Kodi
  • Intel / AMD x86-64
  • New: ODROID N2 (using eMMC flash storage)
  • New: AMLogic chipset devices with a S922X / A311D chipset like the Khadas VIM3 or Ugoos AM6 - avoid the Beelink GT-King.
  • ODROID C2 (using eMMC flash storage)
  • Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi - Plug n Play.
  • New: DIY CoreELEC Kodi Leia on a AMLogic S905X2 chipset devices equipped with GigaE (1000M) LAN.

Q. Fastest, most powerful Android TV OS - Kodi streaming box ?
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • New: Runner up is the Mecool KM3

Q. Fastest, most powerful regular Android tablet OS - Kodi streaming box ?
Q. Fastest, most powerful, media player on the market - running the Kodi fork - MrMC ?
  • Apple TV 4K

Q. I want a device that does auto Frame Rate Matching for silky smooth 24p video playback ?
Why is Frame Rate Matching a wanted feature anyway ? (click)
  • All devices running OSMC / LibreELEC / CoreELEC / Windows Kodi
  • Android devices >>> NVIDIA Shield, Ugoos AM6, MINIX U9, WeTek Hub and Play2
  • Apple TV 4K using various Apps - the big one being Netflix - that can Frame Rate Match (click), the only media player platform that can do so with that App !
  • Amazon FireTV hardware (click)
  • New: Rooted AMLogic Android devices using this following DIY 2891405 (post)

Q. What simply upgrade can I do to increase Kodi media player responsiveness ?
  • Avoid the Nvidia Shield's low powered 2.4GHz Bluetooth remotes due to 2.4GHz Radio Freq. / USB3 interference issues.
  • Buy a USB mini dongle - Wireless remote, like the highly compatible MINIX A2 Lite or Wireless Harmony Remotes.
  • Even better is a Wireless remote that can also learn Infra Red commands from the original remote for device Power OFF / ON.
  • There is also a OSMC Wireless remote available that works out of the box with LibreELEC / CoreELEC and Android TV.
  • Both the MINIX A2 and the OSMC remotes include a Plug n Play USB Wireless Mini receiver dongles.
  • LibreELEC / CoELEC Kodi Leia now has support for the excellent, simple, $10, ultra responsive, bluetooth - Xiaomi Mi Box aftermarket remote.
  • This HERE (click) $10 USB dongle WiFi Voice remote would work as a Plug N Play with a bunch of Android / LibreELEC / CoreELEC devices
  • New: Nvidia Shield users recommend the WeChip G20 wireless Air Mouse Voice remote these days.



What about DIY ?

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, unless noted)
  • Raspberry Pi's (LibreELEC or OSMC)
  • New: ODROID N2 & C2 (CoreELEC)
  • Mecool KM3 / KM9 Pro Deluxe running Android TV Pie / CoreELEC Kodi.
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computers
  • ASUS Chromebox
  • Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices, lots of community support for these on the Freaktab Forums(click)

Q. I just want a stable, well supported, 1080p Kodi use only,  box ?
  • Vero 4K+
  • ODROID N2 - CoreELEC Edition
  • Rpi 3's, Chromeboxes and Intel / AMD running LibreELEC Kodi.

Q. Most versatile Kodi boxes, that very easily dual boot Android / unofficial Android TV to CoreELEC Kodi:
(AMLogic S905D Devices include a single MUX - TV Tuner + SPDIF(Optical)
  • MECOOL S905D devices (working L1 DRM + HDCP 1.x)
  • WeTek Play2



AAA - Android TV, Apple and Amazon ?

Q. Kodi capable boxes that are the most family friendly, with Apps specifically designed for use on TV's, virtually Plug n Play ?
(Easiest to use Wireless remote found on FireTV 4K and most Google Certified Android TV devices (click) - Shield's remote is the worst)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (pretty stable Oreo firmware these days)
  • Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • Amazon devices, using MrMC (Kodi fork) or Sideloaded Kodi
  • Apple TV 4(K) running MrMC (Click)
  • Mecool KM3 / KM9 Pro Deluxe (no HD Netflix on these)

Q. What about buying one of those 4K - Android TV's from Sony or Sharp/Philips for Kodi use ?
  • May be OK so long as you are not a demanding Kodi user expecting everything to just "work"
  • The one advantage is all non 4K content will be picture upscaled to 4K by high quality 4K TV hardware upscalers.
  • Firmware is generally poor for Kodi Audio compatibility. Forget about HD Audio and even basic 5.1 DTS Audio will cause issues.
  • A very informative Review from @CiNcH is worth reading - The Sony Android TV Experience (2017)

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/A3 Lite Remote (Note: the A3 lite remote has wake from sleep issues)
  • The Wireless MINIX A2 Lite Air Mouse remote is a quality remote that works with a LOT of media players using a USB dongle - Plug n Play



What exactly is Android TV (click) ?
  • Android TV has a different Google Playstore vs the regular tablet Google Playstore. Android TV specific Apps cannot be installed from the regular tablet Google Playstore and there is a more limited Android TV Apps selection.  But those ATV Apps are much easier to use, especially when used with included Wireless Voice remotes.
  • Regular tablet Playstore Android Apps usually do not work properly on Android TV devices.
  • Amazon devices have no Google Playstore, but instead have there own FireOS Apps store - with more Apps vs Android TV.
  • Apple TV 4/4K devices have no Google Playstore, but instead have there own tvOS Apps store - with more Apps vs Android TV.
  • Android TV boxes (think Shield, Mi Box, Jetstream 4k Ultra HD) use a simple remote and simple Apps designed for use on the TV screen.
  • Amazon FireTV and Apple TV hardware uses a simple Interface and Wireless remotes as well.
  • All devices can use Voice searching with a compatible Wireless remote.
  • All other regular tablet/touchscreen based - Android OS boxes need a Wireless Air Mouse or touchpad Keyboard to use touchscreen Apps.  
  • Those Apps are much harder to use on a TV screen. A lot of people hate using tablet Apps on a TV screen with any sort of mouse.
  • Included Infra Red only remotes will not work properly with touchscreen/tablet Android Apps.
  • All versions of Kodi do Not need an Air Mouse remote or touchpad Keyboard to use properly.



4K HEVC & HDR devices

Q. What about devices for SDR 4K HEVC (H265) video playback over HDMI 2.0 to a SDR only capable 4K TV ?
  • Basically any modern device sold as 4K capable will be able to decode 8/10bit HEVC.

Q. I have a new, expensive 4K TV, which devices give me the best upscaled picture quality ?
  • Basically you are trying to get a 4K TV to use it's superior, high quality , hardware picture upscalers when displaying all non 4K content.
  • Intel hardware has always been known for high quality picture upscaling. NVIDIA Hardware (inc. GPU cards) not so much...
  • Unless media player hardware can already do decent hardware picture upscaling (like the Apple TV 4K), you want a device that can do auto 720/1080p <<-->> 4K resolution switching those are....
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computers.
  • All AMLogic S9xx devices running OSMC or LibreELEC / CoreELEC Kodi
  • Zidoo X9S and (and possibly HiMedia Q5/10 ?)
  • NVIDIA Shield running Kodi Leia, however virtually all other Apps and all non 4K user interfaces and elements will still have to deal with Poor picture upscaling (click)
  • The new 2018 - FireTV Stick 4K I believe also does auto resolution switching.



Scare the pants off me in 1080p 3D !

Also see the dedicated 3D post below

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)
  • Raspberry Pi's
  • Various Intel Machines running Windows, and a special Fork of Kodi.
  • The DIY Intel - with Windows 10 and GeForce GTX 960 or later Nvidia graphics card solution, preferably GeForce GT 1030 or better.
  • HiMedia Q5/10 Pro - using an external (non Kodi) software solution.
  • Zidoo X9S - using an external (non Kodi) software solution. Has full Bluray Menu support.



Gimme the best Audio !

Q. I need full HD Audio passthrough support including Multichannel (>2.0) PCM output of 16/24bit/192kHz FLAC ?
NOTE: all devices using an Android OS have 16bit Multichannel 48/96kHz PCM Audio output limitations (click)
Read NVIDIA Shield - Multichannel Hi-Res audio limitations for extra information.
** Be aware HDMI only supports 24bit audio NOT 32bit **
  • Zidoo X9S (possibly does 24bit Multichannel audio - confirmation needed)
  • HiMedia Q5/10 Pro (confirmation needed)
  • WeTek Hub / Play2 (CoreELEC)
  • ODROID N2 / C2 (CoreELEC)
  • Vero 4K (OSMC- 24bit/192kHz)
  • Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices running CoreELEC Kodi Leia
  • Chromeboxes (24bit/192kHz)
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computers, inc. Macs running Windows.(24bit/192kHz except Sky/Apollo/Kaby Lake onwards)
  • Apple TV 4K audio capabilities are found in THIS review (click)

Q. I need Android 5.1 / 7.1 Audio passthrough (inc. Dolby Atmos/TrueHD, DTS:X/HD-Master) when using Kodi Leia ?
NOTE: Android devices must meet the Google IEC61937 standard, more details in Welcome to Android MediaCodec standards
(make sure "Expert" mode is enabled in Kodi Leia settings - bottom left)
  • WeTek Hub / Play2
  • MINIX U9
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • 2016 Xiaomi Mi Box - NOT the 2018 Mi Box S
  • AMLogic S9xx devices running Android Nougat 7.x - ONLY - Firmware
  • Zidoo X9S / HiMedia Q5/10 Pro (uses their own media player software and a Kodi front end interface)



Live Broadcast TV & High Quality deinterlacing

Q. I need a device with proper video deinterlacing for Over the Air (OTA) TV streaming from my HD Homerun or PVR server ?
Ordered from best deinterlacing picture output quality to the worst. In reality the Intel / AMD, AMLogic, Apple TV 4K and RPi's will be the most reliable.
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computers
  • ODROID N2
  • Apple TV 4K using the superb Channels App or running MrMC (highly modded Kodi Jarvis) ... equal with the following two...
  • All AMLogic chipset based boxes, eg the WeTek, MINIX, ODROID, Vero 4K devices plus others.
    (You have to use Android - Kodi/SPMC Jarvis or CoreELEC / OSMC Kodi)
  • Raspberry Pi's.
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • The previously mention Channels App (click) now has Android TV support.
  • The Plex DVR is an unknown quantity, careful self research should be done.
  • Avoid Amazon FireTV (inc. Stick 4K) & Xiaomi Mi Box hardware for anything to do with high quality - Kodi deinterlacing.
  • AMLogic Android devices running Kodi Leia only output half motion deinterlacing, it's OK, but no good for fast sports action ball sports viewing.

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


1080p/4K Netflix and Amazon Video streaming

Q. I need a Kodi box that can play 1080p or 4K DRM copy protected video streams such as Netflix, Amazon Video etc. ?
(lots of traps lie ahead)

Audio Limitations:
  • Important NOTE: Unless you have a HDMI connected Dolby Digital Plus Audio receiver, expect 2.0 Audio only from DD+ copy protected streaming Apps running on ALL externally connected Android TV platforms - like the Shield, Mi Box and Jetstream 4k Ultra HD.
  • If you have older Dolby Digital 5.1 only capable audio receiver hardware, only properly Dolby Audio licensed specific hardware platforms such as the Apple TV's, and Amazon Fire TV's can do Netflix / Amazon / VUDU / iTunes - DD+ 5.1 to DD/AC3 5.1 audio downmixing.
  • This 5.1 DD audio can then be passed thru various model TV's and out via Optical/ARC to older audio equiptment.
  • The Apple TV's also do DD+ > multichannel LPCM decoding to support older HDMI connected AVR's.
  • Only the XBOX ONE and Apple TV HD/4K is approved to stream Netflix Atmos Audio

The Apple TV 4/4K can also do Netflix App - auto Frame Rate Matching (click) - the only media player that can do so. Results are superb !

Amazon Prime App can be sideloaded on to various devices that cannot download it from the Google Playstore.

Viewing Paid for movies on numerous hardware platforms is now possible with Movies Anywhere (click)

1080p/4K Android Netflix / Amazon (Prime) Video is only possible on media players boxes that include Widevine L1 & HDCP 1.x/2.2 support in device Firmware. Prime Video also needs Microsoft Playready DRM.
Android TV devices also have to be Google Certified Android TV Certified (click) - and also to be Netflix Approved.

  • PLUG n Play:
  • Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD (4K HDR Netflix)
  • NVIDIA Shield (4K HDR Netflix / 4K HDR Amazon Prime Video / 4K VUDU)
  • Apple TV 4K (4K HDR & DolbyVision Netflix / 4K HDR Amazon Prime Video / 4K HDR DV VUDU / 4K DolbyVision iTunes)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (4K HDR Netflix / 4K HDR Amazon Prime Video)
  • Amazon Fire TV devices, the Gen3 pendant (HDR), NEW FireTV Stick 4K / 2019 Cube (HDR / DolbyVision).
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computers with GeForce GT 1030 or later Nvidia graphics card solution running Win10, using either dedicated Apps or a Web Browser. See HERE (click) for details.

  • 1080p SDR Netflix:
    (Can only get Android 1080p Netflix with a special, difficult to use - tablet / mouse version of Netflix OR use the Kodi Leia Netflix Addon)
  • WeTek Hub & Play2
  • MINIX U9-H
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 that can CPU Software 1080p H264 video when running LibreELEC - using the Kodi Leia Netflix Addon
  • Rockchip RK3399 Hardware running LibreELEC Kodi.
  • New: Mecool KM3 / KM9 - these Apps (click) may re-add Netflix ATV support
  • New: ODROID N2 ( 1080p Netflix - CoreELEC OS)
  • New: Possibly AML S905X2 hardware running CoreELEC Kodi.




Moral of the story with this whole post. It pays to buy something popular -  that gets (a) Kodi & device seller forum support and (b) seller and Chipset Manufacturer support for Firmware (especially Android) bug busting updates and upgrades. The LibreELEC / CoreELEC / OSMC guys provide excellent Kodi Linux support.

W. Smile
All about - > 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 (click).
Media Player Firmware Updates & Watchlist:
(October 2019)

What is Firmware ?
It's a class of Software that basically provides low-level control of a devices hardware.
Serious bugs in this can cause all manner of headaches for the end user.

If users are going to spend decent $$$ on a media player, especially one that uses Apps. You want to ensure that there are regular, bug fixing Firmware updates from the device manufacturer / seller.
Also it is a VERY good idea to have a well frequented and active English, seller support forum for such device support.

The Gold Standard for Firmware & OS updates:

In No particular order...

The officially LibreELEC, OSMC or CoreELEC supported devices. Firmware (& OS) testing is open to all Kodi users, a testing system is in place before every major LE, OSMC or CE Kodi update.
Any major bugs get quickly squashed with minor updates.
The support forums are very active with knowledgable developers & users. The LE / OSMC /CE developers optimise the OS, Firmware and Kodi for each hardware device supported.
Results speak for themselves. Smile



Apple TV 4/4K - they have a widespread, open to the general public, comprehensive Firmware testing system in place before every major tvOS Firmware update.
Any major bugs get quickly squashed with minor updates.
Apple have complete control over ATV 4(K) hardware, the OS and the Firmware and it shows in the polish of their end product. Smile
Impressively. Firmware support generally continues on for many years with Apple Hardware.
As an example the 7.5+ year old ATV 3 is still getting FW updates.
Perversely ATV's cannot direct install Kodi. The highly modded, Kodi Jarvis based, MrMC App is a great alternative, installed from the Apps store.



Android devices Firmware updates:

For Android TV devices - there is no contest - NVIDIA with their Shield provides the best ongoing support for 3.5+ years now.
EDIT: In recent months with the new Android TV Pie update - user will now feel like they are Guinea pigs testing Beta Firmware.
Bugs are now taking months to fix. Painful is an understatement for some.
Users suspect new Shield hardware might be under development.
And there is more...
However a recent Nvidia forums update is now a complete train wreck and universally despised. Grrrr !!!!
Seems like Nvidia are intentionally trying to drive customers away.
Seriously what the hell are Nvidia doing lately ?
No

Downsides are that every major Firmware and Google OS update - whilst bringing OS feature improvements also comes with additional annoying bugs.
EDIT: In a repeat performance to the Oreo 8.0 FW update - Nvidia's Shield - Pie 9.0 Firmware update has again introduced auto colorspace switching bugs for non Kodi Apps usage., along with other really annoying problems for 4K HDR Shield users.
Android Kodi devs use the Shield for Android TV - testing and development.



Xiaomi - Mi Box - Xiaomi might seem to have finally gotten the message after a very buggy July 2018 Oreo 8.0 Firmware update.
Bugs are slowly being fixed after a LOT of bad press.
Beta Firmware testing is now conducted before Firmware updates, and FW release quality is noticeably better.
Such update are a lot slower now vs the previous really buggy Oreo FW releases.
FW support and feedback seems to be Facebook driven.

EDIT: Mi Box FW v2550 has just added Kodi auto Frame Rate Matching. For the 2016 box - this is Quite remarkable for a cheap Chinese produce product 2.5+ years after initial release. Recent FW v2573 has now fixed DD+ audio dropouts too.



Ematic - Jetstream 4K Ultra HD - much better out of the box with Android TV Oreo 8.1 Firmware vs the buggy Oreo 8.1, initially seen on the Mi Box S.
I've not yet seen an English support forum.
It remains to be seen how ongoing Firmware support will be from this new entrant into the Android TV market.
Currently a great budget, Google Certified, Netflix approved device, for Android TV OS use available.
Pity it only sells in USA Walmart stores currently.



Amazon Hardware - Amazon modify the Android OS and call it FireOS and generally rely on 3rd parties to provide the Firmware, which they lightly modify and bug bust.
Overall results are fine for mainstream non demanding users, however recently even demanding users are getting extra Firmware features like auto Frame Rate Matching.
Amazon listen to user feedback - there are regular bug fixing Firmware updates, they are not Android bleeding edge OS releases but focus more on stability.
The active AFTVNews (click) website is the place to go for all AFTV gossip.
Amazon Hardware updates seem to happen yearly at the moment.
Kodi cannot be directly installed from the App Store, but can be easily sideloaded.



HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro & Zidoo X9S - provide ongoing Firmware updates even if they are not Android bleeding edge releases.
I believe they are up to Android Nougat 7.1 releases.
Focussed on the Android 1080p 3D / UHD - Bluray Rips, HD audio market mainly.
Both have English support forums with passionate (3D) users.




AMLogic devices:

MINIX & WeTek - used to provide very good support for their hardware but this seems to finish after about the 2 year mark.
The root cause of this stems from AMLogic not providing ongoing Android Software Development support for the AML chipsets used in devices.
The MINIX support forum seems to have mysteriously vanished about 3 months ago. No explanation given by MINIX since it's return.
When such support was provided it was great, providing active English support forums with regular Firmware updates.

Still great Android Kodi platforms even with old stable Firmware, because they do auto Android Kodi refresh switching, and...
Can do Android Kodi Leia DD/DD+ - 24p 1080p Netflix, using the new Kodi Leia Netflix Addon.
Android Kodi devs still use these devices for testing and development.
Excellent devices for LibreELEC / CoreELEC Kodi.



Other cheap AMLogic devices in general: ->>taking into account AMLogic seem to cycle their Chipsets used every 2 -3 years.
Firmware updates with these devices seem to halt at the 2 year period, which coincides with Firmware stability. Android Nougat 7.1.2 on these is pretty good for the price paid.
Firmware support mostly is with Over the Air updates and English support is left to the community driven Freaktab Forum (click).
Even then it's Buyer Beware as some devices Firmware is abandoned shortly after their Flashy Website - BS marketing launch.

Cheap, brand new AMLogic chipsets, generally have the buggiest Android Firmware on the market when first released.
This is what you get with the budget, Chinese mass produced end of the market.
AML S9xx series are dirt cheap devices for the excellent community driven 4K HDR LibreELEC / CoreELEC Kodi releases.

W. Smile



(Archived)...

The Buyer Beware List ! No

The (July 2018) Oreo Firmware update for the Xiaomi Mi Box has introduced a number of serious bugs. Click HERE for the Mini Review


  • Avoid Android devices running Marshmallow 6.x.x Firmware unless they comes from MINIX or WeTek.
  • Avoid ALL Rockchip & Allwinner Android boxes for Kodi.
  • The included Infra Red only remotes on cheap Android devices cannot control touchscreen Android Apps properly. Kodi OK.

The Freaktab website provides a lot of support for installing improved alternate Android Firmware.

Newer AMLogic Android Nougat 7.1.1 Boxes have some important bug fixes in Android Firmware.
AML S905/S905X/S912 boxes do make excellent 4K LibreELEC Kodi Krypton devices. Smile



The Gotchas - I was unaware of that ! ..... Eek

Known issues across various platforms:
WRXTASY EDIT: - personal opinions after viewing/testing hardware over the last 3+ years.
(updated June 2019)

The Best Of - categorised - media players on the market:

Important considerations include....
.. ongoing Firmware (& OS) support, auto refresh/resolution/colorspace switching, hardware quality, included wireless remotes, then finally price.

Using official Kodi or modded versions of Kodi:

Hint: click the BLUE links


4K HDR10:
(all need to be Gigabit Ethernet (1000M) equipped for home networked - 4K HDR Bluray rips playback)

Most powerful Plug n Play media player = Apple TV 4K, which ironically has to use the MrMC App for Kodi type support.
Has DolbyVision support for various non Kodi streaming Apps - eg Netflix, iTunes, VUDU. Read the review for limitations.

Best Google certified - Android TV OS media player = NVIDIA Shield
runner up is the 2016 Xiaomi Mi Box
Other options are the Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD (USA only at the moment) & the Vodafone TV with TV tuner (Australia only)
The new Android TV Pie 9.0 - MECOOL KM3/KM9 Pro (click) is the latest generation of budget AMLogic Chipsets and faster vs the Mi Boxes, Jetstream and VTV. Downside = no Netflix.

Legit Google Certified - Android TV devices found HERE (click)

Kodi & Android Apps in a HDMI Stick form factor - the 2018 FireTV Stick 4K. Has an excellent Wireless remote as well. Read about its limitations carefully.

Best Plug n Play - 4K HDR + HD audio (inc. Atmos) - Kodi only media player = Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi.
runner up is the snappier, ODROID N2 running CoreELEC Kodi Leia
Others are the AMLogic S9xx devices like the MINIX U9. or cheap Android S912's, running CoreELEC.
Careful - Not all S912's are GigaE. LAN equipped

Fastest 4K HDR + HD audio - Kodi only media player = the snappy ODROID N2, running CoreELEC Kodi Leia.
runner(s) up are the MINIX U9, Vero4K+ and the AMLogic S912 devices with Gigabit Ethernet (1000M).

Fastest & most powerful 4K HDR + HD audio - Windows Kodi Krypton media player = the latest, 10bit HEVC capable Intel x86_64 + Nvidia or AMD GPU.
(this is the combo you want for demanding, very bling, graphics intensive Skins)

Required reading >> 4K HDR10 - State of Play thread - important media player limitations (click)

SDR only:
Best 1080p/4K SDR + HD Audio - Kodi only media player = a tie ODROID C2 or a MINIX U1 (due 10bit HEVC hardware decode capable)
runner(s) up are the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (1080p only) or ASUS Chromebox (no hardware 8/10bit HEVC video decoding on both)
** Beware you need tip top chipset cooling on RPi's when doing HEVC software decoding. Otherwise expect overheating issues.
All running LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi Leia.

Fastest & most powerful 4K SDR + HD Audio Kodi only media player = the latest Intel / AMD x86-64 hardware running LibreELEC Leia.
(this Intel / AMD x86-64 combo is what you want for demanding, very bling, graphics intensive Skins)
The AMD Ryzen 5 2400 G running LibreELEC Leia is one to keep an eye on. AMD Ryzen HDR status unknown.

Must have 3D Bluray Rips & HD audio support = Zidoo X9S Pro
runner(s) up = HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
Read very carefully about Zidoo X9S & Himedia Pro issues in THIS post.

Media Players with new 4K HDR tech - Apps support:
Best 4K Amazon Prime Video & Netflix media player (Apps can stream DolbyVison) = Apple TV 4K (DV iTunes & VUDU as well)
runner up is the 2018 FireTV Stick 4K

Best 24p 4K HDR Netflix media player (inc. DolbyVision & Atmos) = the Apple TV 4K.
It can do Netflix App - Frame Rate Matching, the only media player with that capability.

Bang for the Buck:
Best 4K SDR/HDR + HD audio = the AMLogic S922X - ODROID N2 (click)
Add a USB mini dongle receiver Wireless remote and you are good to go.

Most Bang 4K SDR/HDR + HD audio = the 4GB/32GB - X96Max (click)^^^ - AMLogic S905X2 running CoreELEC Kodi Leia (click)
^^^ be aware many users have reported no sound from Optical/SPDIF port on this device.
runner(s) up are the GigaE equipped - AMLogic S912 devices and the 100Mbit S905X devices running CoreELEC Kodi Leia.
** S905X2 is about to be superseded by the faster S905X3, see this 2870298 (post) for details.

The DIY market:
Overall winner = Odroid N2 if you can afford it or the 4GB/32GB - X96Max

For 1080p Linux projects = the very well supported - Raspberry Pi 3 (Model B+)
Runner up is the ODROID C2.

Other DIY Kodi capable boards are the Libre Computer (Le Potato) & Khadas (VIM2 series)..
And then you have a whole AMLogic army of cheap LibreELEC / CoreELEC capable devices.

Adding a USB mini dongle receiver Wireless remote makes these devices very flexible. Especially Mini Keyboard remotes like the quality MINIX A2 lite.

Most interesting Dual Boot - DIY Bargain device of the moment:
The Google Certified - MECOOL KM3 / KM9 Pro, that can dual boot Android TV OS 9 Pie <<->> CoreELEC Kodi Leia.
Downside = No Android TV Netflix and only 100Mbps Ethernet. 2GB/16GB KM9 Pro "Classic" have very weak 2.4GHz only WiFi.
Android or CE Kodi can use the Kodi Leia Netflix Addon.

24p Kodi use on Android devices:
(only devices that are Kodi refresh rate switching capable)
(all devices listed above running OSMC / LibreELEC / CoreELEC / Windows - Kodi can do auto refresh & resolution switching)

Best Kodi Android media player = NVIDIA Shield , also does Kodi Leia auto resolution switching
runners(s) up are the 2016 Xiaomi Mi Box (Not 2018 Mi Box S) & the excellent FireTV Stick 4K.
Other options are the MINIX U9 and WeTek Play2
All other cheap Android devices cannot do Kodi auto refresh rate switching.

PS. The 5 Android media players listed above can also do 5.1 DD+ > DD audio - 24p 1080p Netflix with auto refresh switching when using the..
Kodi Leia Netflix Addon

HDMI CEC control:
(not guaranteed to work for everybody due to TV manufacturers not adhering to CEC standards)
(LibreELEC, CoreELEC & OSMC Kodi have a lot of HDMI CEC configurable options vs all others)

Best support = Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and the Vero4K+, also the AMLogic CoreELEC Kodi Leia devices.
Runner up is the Apple TV 4K
Avoid Intel, which has virtually no inbuilt CEC support, a Pulse8 HDMI CEC adapter would be needed.

Important Notes:
AMLogic S912 devices are mentioned a few times in this post, but be aware these devices need stable Linux GPU drivers to be able to be used with Linux versions of Kodi v19 M onwards. Android Kodi will still continue to work.

Kodi v19 M will change it's Linux graphics rendering codebase and the current S912 Hybrid Linux/LE/CE GPU drivers will not be compatible.
There are open source GPU drivers currently under development, such work has already begun using Panfrost GPU drivers:



W. Big Grin
(2015-12-21, 05:50)tiho Wrote: [ -> ]What about this : http://www.geekbuying.com/item/GeekBox-O...GwodPbMD9A. Huh

The first post specifically stated devices based on Rockchip SoCs weren't going to be listed.
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.
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.
@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.
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.
(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.
Bump as 3D devices rundown added.

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