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Pick the Right Kodi Box (UPDATED FEB 2015)
Thanks again for the help ...

Yes, I was confused because I didn't understand why because the license the Pi could decode HD audio to Multichannel PCM... No licenses when purchasing = no fees the vendor need to pay ...

But if the Pi or WeTek has the right hardware then, by software (the open source projects you talked about) they can decode to Multichannel PCM ;-)

Great news!
Desktop & HTPC System:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 @ 2.66GHz || 4 x 2GB DDR2-1066 Kingston @ 1066MHz
Sapphire HD 6450 1GB || Dell UltraSharp 2009W @ 1680x1050 (using DVI) || Philips LCD 42PFL8404H @ 1920x1080 (using HDMI through Yamaha SR-301)
Yamaha YHT-S401 (SR-301 Receiver + NS-BR301 Speaker)
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-4000
I don't see a scenario in the first post that exactly addresses my needs. If the answer is somewhere else, it's buried in nearly 90 pages of posts.

I'm looking for something to feed a 36" TV in the bedroom viewed from about 4-5m (13-17') away:
  • 1080p output (could probably get away with 720p in reality; if we want to watch something in decent quality, we'll watch it in the living room on a bigger screen and from a shorter distance);
  • Sound - over HDMI, nothing special as it will play through the cheap TV speakers;
  • streaming ripped DVDs, family videos, and recorded TV (probably from a Win 7 box running WMC, so in .wtv format) - mainly SD, some 720p, even less 1080p - over wireless N (preferably 5 GHz);
  • controlling a PVR back-end on the Win 7 box;
  • occasional internet browsing and streaming YouTube and similar, maybe Netflix;
  • able to be hidden/mounted behind the wall-mounted TV which is a couple of inches out from the wall to allow access to the integrated DVD player and tilted downwards slightly (so there is probably 3 inches of clearance if I mount it on the back of the TV nearer the top or on the TV wall mount's upper cross-bar);
  • good BT performance for use with a BT air mouse/remote/keyboard (although a 2.4GHz dongle would be an okay fall back, just don't want to lose a USB port if I don't have to - the main thing is that it will be hidden so IR is not a good option);
  • non-proprietary and not tied to content channels that are geoblocked or irrelevant outside the US;
  • access to apps, other than perhaps YouTube, Netflix or similar apps (rather than using a browser) is probably a low priority but nice to have nonetheless;
  • quiet, especially when not in use (naturally, as it's in the bedroom), and quick start up from power off/standby;
  • less than US$120

It seems to me that a relatively modest Android box or stick would do the trick (albeit one with dual-band wifi, so maybe not so modest). Is there any point in going with windows or a Chromebox? Is there anything specific that meets these specs?

To allow for easy switching between Kodi, browser and other apps using the remote, would it be best to run Kodi in the main OS or dual boot OpenELEC from a USB or microSD?
I would recommend an android box with Amlogic S812 chipset. Something like a Tronfy MX IV Telos box or beelink S82 plus or GTQ S812.
3 y.o. android boxes are too slow.
1) Recorded TV playback with good quality deinterlacing:

- Chromebox ------>>>>>> Get this if you want to playback all codecs without hassle, apart from 4K/1080p HEVC.
- RPi2
- An AMLogic S8xx box

2) Remote control Android Apps, (you may need to use an Air Mouse)

- An AMLogic S8xx box

3) Do you want sorted out Firmware that will give you 1080p HD Netflix and HD on other video streaming Apps with minimal hassle on an AMLogic box ?

Yes > WeTek Core (out 1st Nov - only AMLogic box available with 1080p HD copy protected video streaming apps.)

No > MINIX Neo X8-H Plus or some other S812-H box. (720p Max. copy protected streaming Apps)

The WeTek and MINIX AMLogic boxes mention above happen to come from Kodi Diamond Sponsors. The companies behind them actually care about stable, regularly updated Firmware. Yes you can get cheaper AMLogic S812-H devices but you will also get less than satisfactory Firmware with a bunch of desirable Kodi features missing. (23.976 / Dynamic Refresh Switching + more)

EDIT: Note all AMLogic boxes will have Kodi playback problems with mpeg2 content in .vob files. (ie DVD ISO's).
All Ok if these mpeg2 DVD's are ripped to any other containers like .mpg etc
29.97fps VC-1 Interlaced Rips will also have playback problems.
I have not tried Android Apps like MX player with these types of problem files yet.

Thanks j-m-s and wrxtasy. Wrx, like you, I'm based in Perth. That's why I want to keep away from the US-centric proprietary boxes.

What's wrong with Rockchip boxes, particularly RK3288 ones? How are they at playing mpeg2 content in .vob files?

Are there any sticks worth considering?

I don't think that we would be bothered if we were limited to streaming at 720p from internet sources. That's DVD quality, which is fine for a bedroom TV. I honestly don't think we'll stream much that isn't already stored on our network. We don't currently have a Netflix or other paid subscription but that's not to say that we won't at some point in time. Still, unless being limited to 720p would mean that we would not have access to certain content (i.e. it is only available at 1080p or higher), I don't see a problem with the limitation.

I anticipate that 80% or more of the box's use would be streaming from our network and most of that would be recorded TV from the WIn 7 box in .wtv format or a networked Panasonic Blu-Ray/PVR in whatever format it uses, about 10% would be streaming from online sources (predominantly YouTube unless we subscribe to Netflix or some other subscription service, in which case this might increase to 15-20% with a corresponding decrease in network streaming) and the remaining 10% browsing and my wife playing Solitaire. I would prefer to view all network-stored videos in Kodi and avoid other apps, like MX Player or VMC, for the convenience and, most importantly, WAF (and KAF).

If 720p is fine for streaming from online sources, do we need an s812-H box or can we get away with something lower powered like an S802, S805 or even an MX dual-core box? Keeping in mind that this is not for home theatre use but for the bedroom on a smallish screen from a fair distance where picture quality is not as important as ease of use and stability. I guess that the biggest issue will be to find something with 5GHz wifi built-in.

Again, for this mix of uses, is it okay to just run everything, including Kodi, under Android or should I consider dual booting with OpenELEC for Kodi?

Where can I find a list of Kodi sponsors as I see the benefit in buying a product from a business that actively supports it.
KODI Sponsors
  • Rockchip have poor Firmware, I'm not even sure they do 23.976fps video sync on the RK3288. Have a look at the fun and games a more modern SoC like the Rockchip 3368, thats in the Zidoo is having even getting the basic Kodi features working. I don't know of their mpeg2 content in .vob files playback status. Nor their deinterlacing capabilities.
    (*someone please add to the this info)
    Sad Rockhip Owners support group HERE
  • AMLogic on the other hand, in the hands of Kodi forum Sponsors like WeTek and MINIX have made great progress working together to implement 23.976/59.94Hz video output and more. This has been working since about Nov. last year.
  • These DVD Rips are going to be a problem unless you get something like a Chromebox or RPi2 or a Win. Box. You are going to have to pony up the $$$ for a Chromebox or Windows option.
  • If you want decent Web browsing speeds, either a Chromebox compatible BT Keyboard and mouse in conjunction with a Dual Boot - OpenELEC - Chrome OS - Chromebox. Or a AMLogic S812 / S802 with a Remote control Air Mouse / Keyboard function will be the answer.
  • casual Netflix and YouTube are far better using a remote control and Android Apps, than through a Web browser or through Kodi. Even a cheap seperate device like a Chromecast would be an option, smartphone or tablet to control this.
  • If you have inadequate WiFi in parts of your house consider a dual band WiFi extender. I have all Apple gear in the house and use a AirPort Express in the back of the house to extend the network and fill in the dead zone. It has not missed a beat, bought it from the refurbished store. I can stream HD mpeg2 TvHeadend streams easily from the front of the house, through 4 concrete walls. Its better getting stuff like this correct in the first place, than limiting yourself to any particular device or an expensive usb WiFi dongle.

    I actually have a cheap, spare AMLogic S805 - ODROID C1 running OpenELEC that may cover most of your 720p needs, apart from .vob DVDRips. Excellent for TV viewing and a fast little wee beastie it is when running OpenELEC. See my Signature below for details if interested.
    Jailbroken Chromecast sitting here too. Smile

    For the money, and your .vob and TV deinterlacing needs . I would give up on Web browsing and Netflix and just get a RPi2

    This new device here looks very good too and would cover all your needs in a single boot setup as an alternate to the Chromebox.
    Tronsmart TV Box Ara X5

Thanks wrx.

My thoughts on your suggestions:
  • So Minix and Wetec are the only manufacturers of non-proprietary Android boxes who are sponsors? I had hoped that there would be more.

  • Deinterlacing - I doubt that my aging eyes would be able to see poor deinterlacing on a 36" screen from 5m away. I doubt my wife would care. It would be different if we were watching something on the big screen in the living room but, for the bedroom TV, ease of use and stability are far more important than outright picture quality. I don't have any exotic file formats to play either - mainly mpeg2, mp4, flv and mkv. Just thinking 'out loud': if the recorded TV is streamed from a Win 7 machine with an okay-ish (for about 4-5 years ago) graphics card (ATI Radeon HD5450) can it deinterlace on the fly as it streams?

  • playback of ripped DVDs in .vob format is a bigger issue but I have a couple of months before this unit would be pressed into service so I have time to convert them to H.264 MKV format. This would liberate some disk space too so it would be win-win really.

  • I am thinking about using a Bluetooth air mouse/remote with a keyboard on the reverse side. I know that these aren't the best for text entry (I used to use a Dinovo Mini with an HTPC a few years ago) but should be fine for limited use. We can always use one of the wireless keyboards we have floating around for set up and maintenance.

  • This unit is for a new house we have bought in country NSW (in a regional city). In fact the wife and ankle-biters are already there; I have a bit of work to finish up in Perth so I'm racking up the frequent flyer points in the meantime and moving over permanently in the new year. All of the internal walls in the new house are plasterboard so the wifi signal is strong everywhere. The house has extensive Cat6 wiring but there is no network point near the bedroom TV (it's on the other side of the room) so aesthetics dictate that wifi handles the networking. The wireless router is the standard iiNet ADSL modem/router that they give you with a new connection and is 2.4GHz only. Out the back of the house, across a paddock (not ours), I can connect from 100m or more away; in the other direction, where there are houses on 1/4 acre blocks down the street with all of their wifi networks competing, I can connect from about 50m away so it's a good strong signal from the router. The bedroom TV is upstairs almost directly above the router about 4m below so I have no concerns over getting a 2.4GHz connection. However, I am planning on re-purposing a dual band modem/router that I am currently using in Perth as an additional AP plugged into an upstairs centrally-located network point to service the bedrooms, all of which are upstairs. I anticipate that most of the network access upstairs will be to access media so I want to take advantage of the 5GHz band for the higher speed. I am sure that I will have some hand over issues between the upstairs and downstairs APs with mobile devices but fixed devices should be fine.

  • Because I won't be physically around much over the next few months for support, I want to stay away from OS's and hardware with which I am not familiar (and moreso that the rest of the family are not familiar with). That rules out Linux and Chrome OS for now; even though I am sure that the learning curve isn't very steep, I'd prefer no learning curve for now. A Win. box seems like overkill in terms of $$$ and processing/memory requirements and I don't plan to go anywhere near AppleTV, even though iOS devices narrowly outnumber Android devices in the household. This same consideration rules out a RPi2.

  • The Tronsmart Ara X5 looks tasty but seems a bit over the top for my current needs plus over my budget. Tronsmart isn't a sponsor, is it? Thanks also for the offers of the ODROID and the Chromecast but I think I'm going to go with Android this time around.

So, what's the best value for money, US$120 max., dual-band wifi, Android box (or stick - I'm interested in sticks because they are easily hidden away) with acceptable, but not necessarily cutting edge, graphics and, preferably, made by a Kodi sponsor or at least with good, stable, supported firmware (KK or Lollipop)?
Ha Ha, let me guess your a touch typist, judging by that stream of text....... Wink

We have come full circle now, if you want stable sorted out Firmware in a Plug and Play Android package with excellent support.
Its the Kodi sponsor's devices to go for, these are both AMLogic S812-H devices:
  • MINIX NEO X8-H Plus (Android KitKat)
  • the new WeTek Core (Dual Boot Android Lollipop / OpenELEC)
Other AMLogic SoC's running Android will be too slow or dated.

I'm beta testing the WeTek Core at the moment and for my requirements (very similar to yours) its brilliant.
Live TV Streams from a backend server, Android Lollipop, Apps, Kodi 15.2, Web Browsing, HD Netflix, RF Air Mouse Remote Control and a whole bunch more all in the one device. Add a BT Keyboard and your good to go.
Released 1st Nov at a rumoured price of EUD 109 (USD $125), inc. TNT Air Freight to the door.
See my Signature below for a review.

If you think I'm banging on about Kodi forum sponsors here a bit, well your right. The reason being is that they actually know how to produce a Android Kodi compatible device with decent stable Firmware. You should see the carnage over on the Kodi - Android sub-forum with users buying cheap devices with frankly crap firmware, no support, and it all ends up in tears.
Plus the MINIX and WeTek devs have actually contributed (a lot) behind the scenes with code that benefits the wider Kodi community, and for that they deserve all the praise i can give them. Smile

(2015-10-21, 09:32)wrxtasy Wrote: Ha Ha, let me guess your a touch typist, judging be that stream of text.......

No, just typed it during my lunch break. I tried to insert a blank line between each dot point so that it would be less of a wall of text but it wouldn't work for me.

(2015-10-21, 09:32)wrxtasy Wrote: Other AMLogic SoC's running Android will be too slow

Too slow in what respect?

(2015-10-21, 09:32)wrxtasy Wrote: If you think I'm banging on about Kodi forum sponsors here a bit, well your right. The reason being is that they actually know how to produce a Android Kodi compatible device with decent stable Firmware. You should see the carnage over on the Kodi - Android sub-forum with users buying cheap devices with no support and it all ends up in tears.
Plus the MINIX and WeTek devs have actually contributed (a lot) behind the scenes with code that benefits the wider Kodi community, and for that they deserve all the praise i can give them. Smile

I have no issue with this. I want to avoid the pitfalls of unsupported devices.

The Wetek Core looks very interesting at that price although the lack of a stop button on the remote is a bit of a concern. Not an issue if I buy a Bluetooth all-in-one air mouse/remote/keyboard.

I hope this is a more acceptable amount of text. Less than 120 words (my bits, that is). Wink
Too slow in the respect of snappiness of the Android interface, App switching, Web browsing will be painful.
It just won't be a pleasant Android experience.

In regard to the WeTek Core remote control, I too was of the opinion that a stop button was needed. But its not that much of a PIA and only a few extra button clicks to stop.

Also you can use this Kodi Addon:
Add-on:Keymap_Editor (wiki)
To reprogram buttons easily. I'm going to repurpose the back Button in a Stop during video playback only.

EDIT: Just used the Addon, very easily done to reprogram the Back into Stop and works well Smile

antman68, you are right in that you do not need 4K video.
but since you get boxes like this:
for $80, why buy a box with an old chipset just to save 10 bucks?
these new boxes with S812 chipset have a very good and clear picture, have a very fast GUI and most also support dolby sound.
and you will still be happy with them in 2 years.

if you connect a webcam they also work good with skype, facebook or line. and you can even print.
I wonder why WETEK want to sell the Core box as it is the same hardware like a lot of chinese companies are selling.
The "Play" with DVB tuner was somewhat unique, but without tuner?
(2015-10-21, 19:07)j-m-s Wrote: I wonder why WETEK want to sell the Core box as it is the same hardware like a lot of chinese companies are selling.
The "Play" with DVB tuner was somewhat unique, but without tuner?

Because it is google certified and has Netflix in HD - decent Kodi performance, with good deinterlacing and Netflix in HD is something I have been after for a LONG time!
1. Stable Firmware that actually works properly with Kodi.
2. Regular Updates to squash any bugs Guaranteed.
3. From a Known Kodi Sponsor, so you know what you are actually getting is quality.
4. 24p HD Netflix
5. OpenELEC, that just works properly as well.
6. Support Support Support

Basically you get what you pay for with Android Kodi devices, spin the roulette wheel and save a few $$$
You might get lucky, but mostly you won't with these Chinese Android devices with no support.
They use a pump and dump marketing, worse still users even end up being Alpha Testers of their Firmware. Sad


i have a pivos xios with linux since 2 years.. But now i want to upgrade it because it is really slow..

i am navigating in the forum couple of days but i am really confused Smile

i look some threads and i say to myself: "yes i must to buy chromebox"... After than in another thread i say; "no no it must be Raspberry Pi 2" etc etc...

as a result; i have nothing in my hand Smile Please help me..

-my price limit is up to 200$
-very important for me is audio issue it must be awosemo support (Passthrough and decode) i have Sony AVR and i am use it with this.
-and ofcourse speed

3D and 4k support is important but not deadly...
Also IR Remote is important but not deadly...

Which hardware is for me? chromebox? Intel NUC? HiMedia? RPi2 ? as you see i am really confused... so many options..
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Pick the Right Kodi Box (UPDATED FEB 2015)4.2726