START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Dec 2020)
#1
The Best Of - categorised - media players on the market:
- personal opinions after viewing/testing hardware over the last 4+ years.
(updated December 2020)
Hint: click the BLUE links

WARNING ! - All hardware running Kodi will have issues with Atmos audio dropouts with high bitrate Atmos Disney (click) & THD/Atmos audio (click) Bluray Rips - the exception is the Nvidia Shield that has a fix in the Android OS - ExoPlayer (click) - AND on that platform you have to use Plex (click) for playback.

WARNING ! - All MINIX remotes are now NOT recommended, unless you want to get really annoyed with broken functionality, see this post (click)
A popular, reliable 3rd party remote is the WeChip G20S (click). Plug it's mini USB RF dongle in and it just "works"
Also recommended is the G30S. And now there is NEW slicker G40S (click) too.
These "S' version remotes have Infra Red Learning, and Air Mouse and Voice search capabilities, see HERE (click) for details.

Special Interest 2020 ARM-Mali GPU Comparison Chart (click)

4K HDR10 Kodi only:
(all need to be Gigabit Ethernet (1000M) equipped if you want - ultra reliable - home networked - 4K HDR Bluray rips playback)
Useful detailed reading >> 4K HDR10 - State of Play thread - important media player limitations (click)

Best Plug n Play - 4K HDR + HD audio (inc. Atmos) - Kodi only media player = ODROID N2 (click). Running CoreELEC Kodi (click). It just "works".
Also includes an excellent, high quality onboard DAC (click)
N2 comes packaged with the best passive heat sink thermal cooling solution I've seen for the price paid.

Runner up is the well supported Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi, which also supports 1080p 3D
Note: currently stable Vero 4K Firmware does not do complete 4K HDR Metadata passthru - such extra support is found using Release Candidate test Firmware (click)

Others quality solution are the cheaper AMLogic S905X3 devices like the Gigabit LAN equipped ODROID C4 (click) or Ugoos X3 Cube (click), running CoreELEC.

Fastest 4K HDR + HD audio - Kodi Leia only media player = the snappy ODROID N2+, running CoreELEC Kodi Leia.
runner up is the Ugoos AM6 Plus (click)

Fastest & most powerful 4K HDR + HD audio - Windows Kodi v19 Matrix media player = the latest, 10bit HEVC capable Intel x86_64 + Nvidia or AMD GPU. See this specific thread(click).
(this is the combo you want for very demanding, very bling, graphics intensive Skins)

Android (TV):
Best Google certified - Android TV OS media player, that can also do 4K HDR + HD Audio - Android Kodi = 2019 NVIDIA Shield TV Pro
Runner up is the powerful 2019 Amazon Fire TV Cube, that runs Amazon's optimised FireOS, based on Android v9.0. HD audio might be a bit problematic on FireTV devices due to recent Firmware updates.

Other (non HD audio) options are the:
NEW Google Chromecast (Android TV) dongle running Android TV v10.0, the Android TV Pie 9.0 devices such as Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD (USA only at the moment), the Engel EN1015K (click) (Europe) & the Vodafone TV with TV tuner (Australia only)
The Android TV Pie 9.0 - Verizon Stream TV (click) the Air TV Mini (click) or the TiVo Stream 4K (click) is the latest generation of budget AMLogic Chipsets and faster vs the Mi Boxes, Jetstream, Engel and VTV. The new TiVo Stream 4K currently has buggy HDR / DolbyVision.

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

Android tablet/touchscreen OS:
Ugoos with their AM6 and X2 / X3 Cube have the best devices in this category. They also easily Dual Boot Android / CoreELEC Kodi.
Beelink with their GT-King linup would be runners up.
MINIX might be in contention once they fix bugs with the U22-XJ Firmware.

HDMI Stick / Dongle:
Kodi & Android Apps in a HDMI Stick / Dongle form factor - the 2018 FireTV Stick 4K. is a clear winner.
Has excellent AC WiFi MIMO performance and a very well sorted out, reliable Wireless remote as well.
Read about its limitations carefully.
Excellent Bang for the Buck. Faster vs a Mi Box.

1080p only then the USD$17.99 2020 Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite(click) is the clear winner.

Comparing Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire TV Cube Device Specs (click)

Also there is the NEW 2020 Google Chromecast (Android TV) dongle running Android TV v10.0

Others in a dongle form factor - Verizon Stream TV (click) the Air TV Mini (click) & the TiVo Stream 4K (click)

Bang for the Buck:
Best 4K SDR/HDR + HD audio = the AMLogic S922X - ODROID N2+ (click)
Add a USB mini dongle receiver Wireless remote like the WeChip G20 and you are good to go.

Most Kodi only Bang 4K SDR/HDR + HD audio = various Gigabit LAN - AMLogic S905X3 devices running CoreELEC Kodi Leia (click) such as the Ugoos X3 Cube(click) or ODROID C4 (click). The cheap 4GB RAM, Gigabit/1000M - X96 Max Plus (click) and the X96 Air (click) are pretty popular.

In the 4K Android Kodi - streaming - space the Amazon FireTV Stick 4K is the winner. ($15 - 480Mbps Ethernet adapter needed)

1080p / 5.1 audio only - the Android Kodi streaming winner is the new 2020 Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite(click), slightly better performance vs the older 4K version. The Stick 3 variant has a slightly better wireless remote with additional Volume, Mute and Power buttons.

SDR only:
Best 1080p/4K SDR + HD Audio - Kodi only media player = a tie ODROID C4 or a Ugoos X3 Cube.
runner(s) the army of cheap AMLogic S905X2 / X3 devices (CoreELEC). The cheap 4GB RAM, Gigabit/1000M - X96 Max Plus (click) and the X96 Air (click) are pretty popular.
*** Excluding RPi4 due to poor thermal cooling implementations out of the box, and software for stable Kodi use still being a WIP.

3D:
Must have 3D Bluray Rips & HD audio support = basically see this thread (click).

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, the 2019 Amazon Fire TV Cube and the new 2019 Nvidia Shield TV.
NEW in this category is the Google Chromecast (Android TV) dongle running Android TV v10.0

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

The DIY market:
Overall winner = ODROID N2+
Runner(s) up is the Khadas VIM Series (click) & the Ugoos AM6 Plus (click)

For 1080p Linux projects = the very well supported - Raspberry RPi 4
Runner up is the ODROID C4.

Live Broadcast TV & High Quality deinterlacing:
Use devices running a Linux based Kodi variant. ie. LibreELEC, CoreELEC, OSMC - or Windows for best high quality deinterlacing results. The Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi Mi Boxes and Apple TV 4K(MrMC) deinterlacing works properly as well.
The Amazon FireTV Sticks have finally fixed deinterlacing with a v6.2.7.3 FW update (click) - works great !

Other Amazon hardware deinterlacing status - Unknown - for anything to do with high quality - Kodi deinterlacing.
Virtually all AMLogic Android devices running Android Kodi Leia only output half motion deinterlacing, it's OK, but no good for fast action ball sports type viewing.
Android v9.0 Pie and greater Firmware on AML devices seems to have properly working deinterlacing for some devices.

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 lineup, they also does Kodi Leia auto resolution switching
runners(s) up are the Xiaomi Mi Boxes & the excellent Amazon FireTV Sticks & 2019 Fire TV Cube, plus the Ugoos X2 / X3 Cube & AM6
All other cheap Android devices cannot do out of the box - Kodi auto refresh rate switching.

PS. The 6 Android media players listed above can also do 5.1 DD+ > DD audio - 24p 720/1080p 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 models and the new 2019 onwards AMLogic chipset CoreELEC Kodi Leia devices.
Runner(s) up are the Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield and the recent Amazon FireTV devices

Avoid Intel, which has virtually no inbuilt CEC support, a Pulse8 HDMI CEC adapter would be needed.

Wireless Remote Controls:
Clear winner = the 2019 / 2020 Fire TV Stick / Cube remote controls (Stick Lite missing a few buttons). Simply has everything you want with a traditional remote button layout.

Mixed bag = 2019 Nvidia Shield (stupidly place Netflix button), Google Android TV dongle (stupidly placed Volume control button), Apple TV 4K (no Mute button plus Trackpad not that easy to use. Needs a Silicon cover)

Worst Remotes = early 2017 Nvidia Shield remotes + MINIX T5 & new MINIX backlit remotes (horrible mini pauses to wakeup, plus chews thru batteries)

Highly regarded 3rd party USB Mini dongle Wireless remotes = WeChip (or clones) G20S, G30S, G40S and also the old, non backlit MINIX A2 Lite Mini Keyboard remote.

WARNING !
Also Avoid the new TiVo Stream 4K that has really badly broken HDMI CEC. It needs a bug busting FW update. CEC bug fixes for the TiVo have already been released (click)

The TiVo Stream 4K , 2020 Dynalink Android TV Box and now the new Nokia Streaming Box 8000 all output everything as HDR, all the time which causes problems on 4K HDR TV's when trying to view SDR content.

Other new devices to avoid are the MINIX T5 and U22-XJ, see HERE (click)

In general old AMLogic chipset devices running the Android OS have had unreliable broken HDMI CEC for a long time. and should be avoided - unless - they are the only HDMI connected device on your TV. The late 2019 and onwards AMLogic chipset devices running CoreELEC (& OSMC) Kodi have CEC bug fixes available for them.

Important Notes:

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

See the Media Player Firmware Updates & Watchlist in this (click) thread.

W. Big Grin



Messages In This Thread
START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Dec 2020) - by wrxtasy - 2015-12-21, 03:43
The right box for me - by tyem - 2016-01-13, 15:29
Jesus Box - by kellyvb - 2016-03-04, 20:18
Thanks for the Help! - by jmc15john - 2016-11-09, 16:44
Jarvis crashes and wipes - by gotthis2000 - 2017-01-10, 22:14
RE: Jarvis crashes and wipes - by nickr - 2017-01-10, 22:58
T95Z Plus Android TV Box - by gooner1971 - 2017-03-17, 13:04