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Zidoo X9S: A/V Performance Review
Updated May 19, 2019

Latest news: ZDMC 18.2, based on Kodi Leia 18.2, is now available; see support thread at ZDMC forum.

Overall Verdict (Based on firmware v2.1.25):
  • A- (for X9S & X10)
  • B+ (for X8, since not as powerful/snappy)

> Read about & download firmware v2.1.25 for X9S
> Read about & download firmware v2.1.25 for X8
> Read about & download firmware v2.1.25 for X10
  • A/V performance: A (Plays high bitrate ISO's and HEVC videos with ease, with proper framerates across the board)
  • Picture quality: A (w/native/external player via ZDMC) | B+ (w/ZDMC internal player option)
  • 3D-specific performance: A (Both 3D ISO's and MVC MKV's play great! Excellent depth, dimensionality, clarity)
  • 4K-specific performance: A (No banding w/10- or 12-bit. Slight juddder & audio dropouts w/VP9 only. Auto refresh + resolution + colorspace switching working great!)
  • User experience: A-
  • Value for money: A- (for X9S and X8) (X9 is usually $149, X8 usually $109, and X10 usually $229, all off Amazon)
  • Support: A- (Solid, but communication could be better)

Disclaimer #1: The ratings above and review below are both objective and subjective. But, 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 17.6) is more a front-end. When the external player option is enabled in ZDMC, video playback is pushed to the external player as only it supports 3D MVC, has better PQ, etc. If what you want is a Kodi-native 3D playback solution, the only real option these days is Raspberry Pi 3 B+ w/LibreELEC (3D MVC MKV & 3D ISO both supported, but no HD audio & no 4K).

The following review is for X9S, which I've owned since launch...

Zidoo's X9S has been around for over 2 years, and the company has done a more than respectable job evolving of it with improved A/V playback, 3D support, 4K and HDR compatibility, refresh+resolution switching, and overall user experience. Models X8 and X10, which were released later, have also benefited from the same improvements (but always lag a little behind on f/w updates by Zidoo).

A/V Performance:
Overall, impressive! The Zidoo X-series (or the Zidoo Z-series) are the local media players to beat for home theater enthusiasts! The X9S supports refresh rate + resolution + colorspace switching for 23.976, 24.000, 25.000/50.000 and 29.970/30.000/59.940/60.000 1080p and 4K videos. HD & object-based audio is solid across all 2D/3D containers, w/all formats, including Dolby ATMOS/DTS:X and multichannel (L)PCM.

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.

So far, Zidoo has provided solid support via f/w updates, but they don't communicate as well or as often as we'd like. 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'.
  • 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)

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.

Zidoo X9S is a pleasant surprise... a solid Chinese manufacturer box with solid support. It's an all-rounder local media player for home theater enthusiasts! Why an A- and not a solid A or A+? Because It's a cumulative score. Zidoo now seems more focused, unsurprisingly, on their newer Z-series. I've ordered one to try out.
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.
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.
Can you point me to the zdmc source code please?
(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


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
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.
Do 3D mvc iso's play in 3d with perfect 23.976?
Cause himdeia q10 pro doesnt, there you see microstutters
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.
Here is the review i'm waiting...

Thanks hdmkv
@hdmkv, please convince me that Zidoo are complying with the GPL2. Either that or the thread goes to the bin.
Looun said zidoo native player is better picture quality than zdmc.. Isthat true? I thought zdmc was using the same external player (wrapper)?

PQ on 3D playback as good or better than Pi?
As good as on Intel Nuc?
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
(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.
(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).