START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Nov. 2018)
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November 2018 update

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, TV deinterlacing, DD/AC3, DTS, 7.1 HD Audio & which Apps. What TV and audio hardware do you currently have ?

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 LibreELEC Kodi Krypton, unless noted. Easiest to hardest to setup, Wireless remote purchase recommended)
  • Vero 4K+ (OSMC) - Plug n Play.
  • ODROID C2 / WeTek Hub & Play2
  • MINIX U1 & U9
  • Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices running Android Nougat OS 7.1.2 or LibreELEC or CoreELEC.
  • Lots of Extra info in this POST

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 are most important for Kodi and LibreELEC speed.
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 Apollo/Kaby 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 Hardware decoding all video content using OSMC / LibreELEC Kodi Krypton using a S9xx ARM chipset.

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 colorspace output after auto resolution switching)
You also want Gigabit Ethernet for trouble free High Bitrate 4K HDR networked streaming.
  • AMLogic S905D, S905X, S905W and S912 devices running DIY LibreELEC Kodi Krypton or CoreELEC Kodi Leia(click)
  • Plug n Play - a Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi Krypton
  • Click HERE for AMLogic HDR feedback details.
  • Some AML S905D or S912 devices like the MECOOL KI Pro, Vero 4K+ and MINIX U9-H have Gigabit LAN.
  • WiFi is NOT recommended for reliable high bitrate 4K Bluray Rips streaming.
  • The combos mentioned above can also do decent HDR > SDR conversion for 4K non-HDR video output to a 10bit non-HDR 4K TV.
  • 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 AMLogic devices, running OSMC / LibreELEC / CoreELEC are better than both the more expensive Intel "Lake" NUC's and the NVIDIA Shield for auto, mixed 1080p / 4K HDR Kodi Krypton 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 with lightning fast interface fluidity and you need the highest picture quality CPU Software upscalers you might be disappointed with comparatively cheap AMLogic LE boxes.
  • 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
(Highly recommended for those needing Kodi only - Vero 4K+ and C2 include TV / AVR --> HDMI-CEC control)
  • Intel / AMD x86-64
  • Chromeboxes, the ASUS being the most popular.
  • ODROID C2 (using eMMC Flash storage, can be CPU/RAM overclocked)
  • Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi - Plug n Play.
  • DIY LibreELEC Kodi Krypton on a AMLogic S912, like the MINIX U9-H

Q. Fastest, most powerful Android TV OS - Kodi streaming box ?
  • NVIDIA Shield

Q. Fastest, most powerful regular Android tablet OS - Kodi streaming box ?
  • MINIX U9-H

Q. Fastest, 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, 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) - (still very new, might be buggy for Kodi Leia)

Q. What simply upgrade can I do to increase Kodi media player responsiveness ?
  • Avoid low powered 2.4GHz Bluetooth remotes due to 2.4GHz Radio Freq. interference issues. (ie. the Shield BT remote issue)
  • 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 and Android TV.
  • Both the MINIX A2 and the OSMC remotes include a Plug N Play USB Wireless Mini receiver dongles.
  • LibreELEC Kodi Krypton 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 devices



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)
  • ODROID C2
  • Vero 4K+ (OSMC)
  • WeTek Play2 - dual boot LE / unofficial Android OS ROM and SPMC
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computers
  • ASUS Chromebox
  • Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices, lots of community support for these on the Freaktab Forums(click)

Q. Which devices are reference hardware used by LibreELEC developers themselves to run Kodi on ?
NOTE: RPI2 = RPi3 ; Generic = Intel / AMD x86_64
These devices run stable LibreELEC and can autoupdate themselves as well.
Q. I need the most stable, proven, bullet proof, 1080p Kodi use only,  boxes going around ?
NOTE: No 8/10bit HEVC Hardware decoding with these devices so there will be limitations Software decoding and playing back 10bit content.
(10bit CPU Software - HEVC decoding generates significant amounts of chipset heat)
  • ASUS Chromebox running LibreELEC
  • Raspberry Pi3 Model B+

Q. Most versatile Kodi boxes, that very easily dual boot Android / unofficial Android TV to LibreELEC 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 ?
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (really buggy Oreo Firmware)
  • Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • Amazon devices, using MrMC (Kodi fork) or Sideloaded Kodi
  • Apple TV 4(K) running MrMC (Click)

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 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 ?
  • Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD
  • Apple TV 4K (using MrMC App)
  • All AMLogic S9xx devices including WeTek's, MINIX U1, ODROID C2 + others
  • MINIX U9
  • Vero 4K+ (OSMC)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (buggy)
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • Amazon FireTV2 (limited to [email protected]), Fire TV3 pendant, FireTV Stick 4K
  • HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro
  • Zidoo X9S
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computer with a GeForce GTX 960 or later Nvidia graphics card, preferably
    GeForce GT 1030 or better. (Windows 7/10 only)
  • Intel x86-64 computer with Apollo Lake or Kaby Lake CPU or later (users still need to check for Displayport > HDMI 2.0 adapter issues)

Q. I need HDR10 and 4K video playback support ?
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) & there are other issues, details HERE (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 (LibreELEC - 16bit/192kHz)
  • ODROID C2 (LibreELEC - 16bit/192kHz)
  • Vero 4K (OSMC- 24bit/192kHz)
  • Various cheap AMLogic S905 devices running LibreELEC Kodi (24bit/192kHz) or Android Nougat OS 7.1.2 (16bit/192kHz)
  • 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 Krypton ?
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 Krypton settings - bottom left)
  • WeTek Play2
  • WeTek Hub
  • MINIX U9
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (uses backported Nougat Audio code)
  • AMLogic S9xx devices running Android Nougat 7.x 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 ?
NOTE: Major Deinterlacing issues with some Krypton PVR Clients have been widely reported on ALL Android devices (click)
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
  • 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 LibreELEC/OSMC Kodi)
  • Raspberry Pi's.
  • NVIDIA Shield - OTA TV users need to use Kodi Leia or the Live Channels App, or the HDHomeRun App >> However this has Issues - click HERE for detailed info.
  • 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.
  • Android Kodi Leia should have various fixes for better TV deinterlacing.
  • AMLogic Android devices running Kodi Leia only output half motion deinterlacing, it's OK, but no good for fast sports action 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. ?

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 - 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 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 to support DD only audio receivers.

The Apple TV's also do DD+ > multichannel LPCM decoding to support older HDMI connected AVR's.
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 !

Only very specific devices, noted below can run the Amazon Prime Video App properly.

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.


  • 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 3/4 (1080p)
  • 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)** Buggy Oreo Firmware, audio drops with 5.1 DD+ audio.
  • Amazon Fire TV devices, the Gen3 pendant (HDR), NEW FireTV Stick 4K (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.

  • Flash DIY Android TV ROM's:
  • MECOOL "Pro" series of devices (1080p SDR Netflix only)
  • ABOX A4 (1080p Netflix)
  • WeTek Hub & Play2** (1080p SDR Netflix)
  • ** ATV Netflix on Play2 also allows transcoded 5.1 AC3 Audio via HDMI/SPDIF, joining the older Apple TV's & Amazon FireTV1 that can also do this.
  • MINIX U9-H (1080p SDR Netflix,
  • Do NOT rely on DIY, Android TV ROM devices, if copy protected video streaming is a must have requirement now and into the future.
    ** devices with Strikes thru them due to uncertified Netflix status and the Android TV Netflix App now Not working at all.



Finally -  the Good News... Nod

October (2018):
  • Amazon release the Best bang for the Buck cheap media player on the Market in the FireTV Stick 4K (click). Amazing value if you can put up with Amazon's FireOS interface promoting Amazon content all the time, with unwanted advertising.
  • In the USA - Ematic release a Google certified, budget, Android TV Oreo 8.1 - Jetstream 4K Ultra HD (click) that is far more stable and with better connectivity vs the buggy Xiaomi Mi Box running Oreo 8.0
July (2018):
  • Overdue - Android TV Oreo Firmware updates released for the Xiaomi Mi Box & NVIDIA Shield. Many Mi Box owners also buy Pitchforks to Skewer Xiaomi with due to the Buggy Oreo Firmware, rendering their Mi Boxes nearly un-usable. Sad Details in the Mini Review HERE.
May (2018): December(2017):
  • It's back to the future with pre alpha Kodi v18 Leia available for the XBOX one (click)
  • Apple is always late to the party - BUT with a tvOS FW11.2 update for the Apple TV 4K, they are close to the Holy Grail of media players with auto frame rate and dynamic range matching (click) implemented system wide, and working with most Apps.
    Hello smooth video playback for virtually every App. Smile
  • Amazon Video finally comes to Apple TV & MrMC (highly modded Kodi Jarvis fork) joins the party too with a MrMC v3.3.1 update (click)
November:
  • AMLogic S905X, S905D and S912 recommendations added for 4K HDR Kodi video playback when running LibreELEC Kodi or OSMC Kodi Krypton, due to reliable 1080p / 4K refresh and resolution / colorspace switching that also includes HDR > SDR conversion and HD Audio passthrough inc. Atmos and DTS:X as part of the package.
September:
  • Apple announce the Apple TV 4K with HDR10 and Dolbyvision support, which will definitely cause a disturbance in the 4K home streamer media player market. Hopefully the Kodi fork - MrMC is updated to support Apple's new hardware.
  • The AMLogic Kernel wizard @kszaq fixes long standing LibreELEC Kodi - S912 GPU graphic driver problems. The S912 is AMLogic's flagship chipset and when running LE results in one snappy Kodi HDR10 capable media player combo.
July:
  • HiMedia release a half decent (from all reports) Android Nougat 7.0 Firmware update for the Q5/10. Kodi Krypton still needs a Wrapper. Kodi is used only as a graphic front end for external media player software.
June:
  • NVIDIA Shield Experience 5.2 OS update released.
  • Pre-release LibreELEC/OSMC AML S905X/S912 10bit / HDR / Dithering testing has commenced with a Nougat Linux Kernel.
  • WeTek release WeOS 3.1 - a pretty decent Android Marshmallow OS upgrade for the Hub & Play2 that enables 4K Netflix EDIT: 4K Netflix currently broken. Makes a good Firmware base for 3rd party unofficial Android TV ROM's.
  • Kodi Pirate Addon crackdown commences - involving courts and Website operators being sued. These 3rd party illegal Addons have nothing to do with official Kodi. Clueless Android Kodi users still complain. Kodi moderators don't give a sh1t ! Wink

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.

W. Smile

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Thread Rating:
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Messages In This Thread
START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Nov. 2018) - 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


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