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START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Dec 2020)
Hi,

Joined this thread at page 105 and read up to the latest. I am a well-seasoned KODI user (since original XBOX) - had various Android boxes over the years and past 3 years have been running a NUC (i3 Haswell) and OpenELEC / LibreELEC .  Just bought a 4K HDR TV and the NUC is fine for everything H.264 but no good for H.265 HEVC stuff so looking for replacement.

All my media is on a Windows 2016 Server (SMB & NFS Shares + MySQL KODI DB) so good networking (be it AC Wifi or Gig LAN - Some of the 4K stuff I have can peak at over 120mb/s so needs to handle this)
I have an Asus RT-AC88U router so WiFi is as good as it gets.

Requirements:
- UI (KODI / OSMC) must be buttery smooth - my NUC is perfect so MUST be as good.
- Must support H.265 including 10bit HEVC 
- 3D not required.
- HDR is not mega important - but support would be a bonus.
- Dolby / DTS / DTS-HD / Dobly EX Pass-through required - set up is BOX > YAMAHA YSP-2700 > SONY TV
- Not too fussed about Netflix / Amazon Video - can do this through the TV.
- Youtube 4K would be nice - but again not mega important as TV can handle this.
- TV Tuner support not necessary as run separate TVHeadend with DVB-S2 tuners (so as long as it can run TVHeadend client in KODI) - That said, support for USB DVB-T/T2 Tuner may also be a bonus so I can utilise the aerial.
- Easy(ish) to configure - not tech shy but tbh I cba with too much faffing nowadays!
- Budget not an issue - but don't want to spend more than £300 (cost of new i3 NUC, SSD + RAM) - The less the better as long as it fulfils my requirements!

Options from reading the last 40 odd pages...
1.) New NUC Kaby Lake (NUC7i3BNK)
2.) Vero 4k
3.) MINIX U1
4.) MINIX U9-H
5.) ODROID C2

I was kind of set with the new NUC, but if I can save a few quid with an alternative then great!

What do you guys reckon? Have I missed anything? Which would be my best bet? Advantages / Disadvantages to each would be great?

Thanks,

Jon
Reply
(2017-10-19, 11:57)sirfragalot Wrote: Requirements:
- UI (KODI / OSMC) must be buttery smooth - my NUC is perfect so MUST be as good.
= buy a Kaby Lake NUC because it is complete overkill for Kodi only. Splash the cash, but run Windows only currently for reliability, especially HD Audio.
Nothing will beat a SSD equipped NUC with Dual Channel memory. If you want butter this is it. Wink

Quote:- Must support H.265 including 10bit HEVC 
- HDR is not mega important - but support would be a bonus.
HDR = AMLogic S905X or S912 = Vero 4K or MINIX U9 because they have sorted out refresh and 1080p / 4K resolution switching with hands off - colorspace support for HDR Kodi Krypton, when doing so. (NVIDIA Shield has problems with this)

Quote:- Dolby / DTS / DTS-HD / Dobly EX Pass-through required - set up is BOX > YAMAHA YSP-2700 > SONY TV
= Any of the devices listed will do that. AMLogic ones will need to run LibreELEC Kodi or OSMC unless you use a U9.
The Kaby Lake NUC will need to run Windows, because Linux/LibreELEC Kodi has HD Audio passthrough DP > HDMI 2.0 adapter reliability issues - though knowing the LE Intel guys that should get fixed.

Quote:- TV Tuner support not necessary as run separate TVHeadend with DVB-S2 tuners (so as long as it can run TVHeadend client in KODI)
Yes any of the boxes running LibreELEC Kodi Krypton will give you that.

Quote: - That said, support for USB DVB-T/T2 Tuner may also be a bonus so I can utilise the aerial.
Quite possibly with the AMLogic boxes running a media build of LibreELEC Kodi Krypton, that has backported Linux DVB drivers from a more modern Linux Kernel. Definitely with any NUC.

Quote:- Easy(ish) to configure - not tech shy but tbh I cba with too much faffing nowadays!
= Kodi only  = LibreELEC Kodi Krypton or OSMC, unless you want to deal with Frequent Android Firmware updates that add new features and then break existing ones or Windows ongoing maintenance.
What is the plan for a remote control ?
A properly designed Wireless remote makes a BIG difference to any Kodi box.

Quote:- Budget not an issue - but don't want to spend more than £300 (cost of new i3 NUC, SSD + RAM) - The less the better as long as it fulfils my requirements
= Buy a Apollo / Kaby Lake NUC and enjoy running Windows and all that entails if you want relative bug free Intel. I believe Intel currently has no HDR Kodi Krypton support.

Want to save some money and not sacrifice that much at all in speed vs Intel ?

The AMLogic S912 HDR 4K HD Audio capable MINIX U9, comes with a decent Wireless remote.
Install LibreELEC Kodi Krypton(click) to a microSDHC card (easy to do, use a Sandisk) and then either install that into eMMC internal storage, nuking Android or just install all of Kodi's data to internal storage for a snappy setup.
You can even Dual boot to internal Android (or an Android TV ROM) for 4K YouTube etc.
It will play virtually anything you throw at it without batting an eyelid.

Non HDR = ODROID C2, overclocked a wee bit and running LibreELEC Kodi Krypton only from eMMC storage with a Wireless remote.
That way you can even hide the not so pretty case anywhere. Boots to LibreELEC Kodi in 9 seconds.
I'm currently using mine with a Xiaomi Mi Box remote and a $4 CSR v4.0 BT USB dongle and that combo makes for one snappy setup.
Again plays virtually anything you throw at it.

The MINIX U1 is also non HDR in a nice quality package, again with a decent integrated Wireless remote.

These four will have Gigabit Ethernet/LAN:

1.) New NUC Kaby Lake (NUC7i3BNK)
3.) MINIX U1
4.) MINIX U9-H
5.) ODROID C2

Best WiFi: (still would not use WiFi for reliability, especially for 4K)

1.) New NUC Kaby Lake (NUC7i3BNK)
3.) MINIX U1 (MIMO Dual Antennas)
4.) MINIX U9-H (MIMO Dual Antennas)

That should about cover it.

W. Smile

Reply
Great stuff, thanks...

Want to avoid Windows ideally as need a 10 foot approach - don't want to boot into Windows, load kodi, deal with Update Tuesday, etc!

If I am reading right, you are basically saying bang for buck the Minix U9-H is the best option to fulfill HDR at the moment due to;
-ability to run LE from eMMC OR dual boot Android /Android TV ROM / LE
-Wifi (MIMO Dual Antennas)
-decent wireless remote included
-4K HDR capable

Is there a difference between MINIX U9 and U9-H?

And you would only go for the Vero 4K over the MINIX U9-H if you want and out-of-the-box solution? (I understand OSMC is installed to eMMC from factory?) The MINIX has better hardware (and just as much support) than the Vero 4k?

If I go down the MINIX U9 /U9H route -
- where best to source this from in the UK? ebay?
- if it where you, would you just nuke the android install, stick LE on eMMC and be done with it? or dual boot LE / Android TV ROM? (I assume the only thing I would gain is YouTube HDR with the Dual Boot option and Android TV?)
- the only thing that worries me is the lack of gig LAN due to some of the content I have is 100 - 160mb/s+ and don't want stuttering (hence why I askif Wifi is AC and MIMO then this should be better than 100mb LAN?)

Thanks again.

Jon
Reply
(2017-10-19, 13:35)sirfragalot Wrote: If I am reading right, you are basically saying bang for buck the Minix U9-H is the best option to fulfil HDR at the moment due to;
-ability to run LE from eMMC OR dual boot Android /Android TV ROM / LE
-Wifi (MIMO Dual Antennas)
-decent wireless remote included
-4K HDR capable
Yes, especially with its included Gigabit Ethernet, the Vero 4K comes with 100M only Ethernet and for the really high 4K Bitrates you mentioned is going to struggle until more development work is put into its networking performance.

Quote:Is there a difference between MINIX U9 and U9-H?
There is no U9 - we just get sick of typing U9-H Wink

Quote:And you would only go for the Vero 4K over the MINIX U9-H if you want and out-of-the-box solution? (I understand OSMC is installed to eMMC from factory?)
Yes out of the box, ready to go the Vero 4K is better than the U9. That is it's target market. Plug N Play with excellent after sales support.

Quote:The MINIX has better hardware (and just as much support) than the Vero 4k?
Yes - LibreELEC has massive support now for AMLogic devices. It's the biggest section by far of the entire LibreELEC forums. Just not the biggest userbase - yet ! Wink

LibreELEC on the U9 would get minor updates from @kszaq the LE developer once or twice a month at the moment. The S912 in the U9 is a bit quicker than the S905X in the Vero 4K. Not by much but it is noticeable.

Dual Band / MIMO - Dual Antennas / AC WiFi is going to be better than anything else, as I already listed before.
No idea about 4K HDR YouTube - I suspect it's exclusively Google Chromecast Ultra and some 4K HDR TV's only at the moment.

Basically with these DIY Dual boot AML / LE boxes you pick what suits. Run this, nuke that - whatever satisfies each individual.
At least you have flexibility and a choice if you can do some minor DIY Smile

I would purchase hardware from somewhere that you can return the device easily if any problems ever do happen to arise - like Amazon ?

Reply
(2017-10-19, 13:55)wrxtasy Wrote:
(2017-10-19, 13:35)sirfragalot Wrote: If I am reading right, you are basically saying bang for buck the Minix U9-H is the best option to fulfil HDR at the moment due to;
-ability to run LE from eMMC OR dual boot Android /Android TV ROM / LE
-Wifi (MIMO Dual Antennas)
-decent wireless remote included
-4K HDR capable
Yes, especially with its included Gigabit Ethernet, the Vero 4K comes with 100M only Ethernet and for the really high 4K Bitrates you mentioned is going to struggle until more development work is put into its networking performance.

Quote:Is there a difference between MINIX U9 and U9-H?
There is no U9 - we just get sick of tying U9-H Wink

Quote:And you would only go for the Vero 4K over the MINIX U9-H if you want and out-of-the-box solution? (I understand OSMC is installed to eMMC from factory?)
Yes out of the box, ready to go the Vero 4K is better than the U9. That is it's target market. Plug N Play with excellent after sales support.

Quote:The MINIX has better hardware (and just as much support) than the Vero 4k?
Yes - LibreELEC has massive support now for AMLogic devices. It's the biggest section by far of the entire LibreELEC forums.

LibreELEC on the U9 would get minor updates from @kszaq the LE developer once or twice a month at the moment. The S912 in the U9 is a bit quicker than the S905X in the Vero 4K. Not by much but it is noticeable.

Dual Band / MIMO - Dual Antennas / AC WiFi is going to be better than anything else, as I already listed before.
No idea about 4K HDR YouTube - I suspect it's exclusively Chromecast Ultra only hardware at the moment.

Basically with these DIY Dual boot AML / LE boxes you pick what suits. Run this, nuke that - whatever satisfies each individual.
At least you have flexibility and a choice if you can do some minor DIY Smile

I would purchase from hardware somewhere where you can return the device easily if any problems ever do happen to arise - like Amazon ?

Thank you, looks like I will gove the MINIX U9-H a whirl then. 

On Prime:
MINIX NEO U9-H + MINIX NEO A3, 2017 Android 6.0 Smart TV Box 4K HDR Mini PC 64-bit Octa-Core With Six-Axis Gyroscope Remote Fly Mouse Wireless Keyboard with Voice Input [2GB/16GB/4K/HDR/DTS]. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XBLPXR4/r...6zbMED9HYY

Or with the simple remote:
MINIX NEO U9-H, 64-bit Octa-Core Media Hub for Android [2GB/16GB/4K/HDR/XBMC]. Sold Directly by MINIX Technology Limited. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06WP4JHD5/r...6zb3D4WJCF

Or ebay this one that comes with both remotes:
https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=...2505670600

Look right to you? 

Also, a link to the best guide for flashing LE to eMMC would be awesome (I assume this is reverseable if I do want to go dual boot?) 

Ta
Reply
You definitely need the Wireless A3 MINIX remote. The IR only one is highly directional - like most AMLogic boxes.

There have been reports of annoyances with the Wake from sleep function of the MINIX A3 Lite remote vs the previous A2 Lite remote. Apparently some user are not happy with the tiny delay when you pick the remote up and it senses motion and wakes up.

I've only ever had the A2 lite remote so cannot comment. Batteries lasted 6 months of heavy use in that one.

DIY - [8.1.10] LibreELEC 8.2 for S912 (click)
Ignore the S912 warning - that was from before when the GPU video drivers were a bit rubbish, before @kszaq optimised them. Audio and Video playback were unaffected due to video decoding being handled by the co-processor VPU on AML devices.

If you read section (d) from here that is basically the same process for the U9, except you need a S912.img.gz (obviously):

AMLogic S905(x) -  LibreELEC / OSMC - Kodi Krypton - 4K Options:

Reply
Excellent, thank you.

Just found the thread on the MINIX forum too. I assume I just go for the latest build? 8.1.10 / LE 8.2?

Most grateful for your time and effort btw, thanks again!
Reply
No problems.
Yes just go for the latest 8.x - follow the DIY on the LE forums and ask questions over on there as well if issues arise and you will pretty quickly get help for anything.

Reply
Great stuff. Ordering now.

Thanks!
Reply
(2017-10-19, 13:55)wrxtasy Wrote:
(2017-10-19, 13:35)sirfragalot Wrote: If I am reading right, you are basically saying bang for buck the Minix U9-H is the best option to fulfil HDR at the moment due to;
-ability to run LE from eMMC OR dual boot Android /Android TV ROM / LE
-Wifi (MIMO Dual Antennas)
-decent wireless remote included
-4K HDR capable
Yes, especially with its included Gigabit Ethernet, the Vero 4K comes with 100M only Ethernet and for the really high 4K Bitrates you mentioned is going to struggle until more development work is put into its networking performance.

We have made some good improvements now.
iperf shows a solid 96Mbps.

I will send you a PM shortly to test
Reply
(2017-10-18, 06:53)nickr Wrote: Netflix works via a Kodi addon.
Since when did this happenHuh?

Netflix within Kodi has always been a bit of a shitstorm hasn't it?

Did I miss some huge news?

I don't recally Netflix working WITHIN Kodi, at 1080p with 5.1, let alone 4K?
Reply
Netflix in Kodi only in Alpha versions of Kodi v18 Leia at the moment.

For 32bit LibreELEC Leia you have to separately install Widevine binaries from a Chromium webbrowser, and H264 video streams are software decoded with ffmpeg. Intel Hardware has enough CPU ponies for 1080p H264 software decoding with 5.1 EAC3 Audio for both Netflix and Amazon Video. AMLogic S9xx can only do max. 720p 5.1, until Zerocopy optimizations get sorted out.

With Android Kodi Leia on platforms that already have Widevine L1 DRM binaries as part of Firmware you can Hardware decode 1080p Netflix & Amazon with 5.1 Audio.

On any platform that also has proper Kodi dynamic refresh switching you also get ultrasmooth Netflix & Amazon Video playback.

How reliable this is all going to be is anyone's guess.

Reply
Regarding s905 soc's does the new s905w suffer from dark video like the s905x or has this been sorted as they run android 7.1?
Or would a better option be a s905 with android 5.1.

I am buying a box for a friend who wants android and budget is very low around 30-40.

Thanks
Reply
Minix U9-H box came today.

Literally took minutes to get LE running off USB3.0 stick (left my sandisk SD card at work Sad ) - gotta say; so far so good - its slick. Adding my media libraries and will have a proper play tomorrow.

Nice one!
Reply
(2017-10-20, 22:11)sirfragalot Wrote: Minix U9-H box came today.

Literally took minutes to get LE running off USB3.0 stick (left my sandisk SD card at work Sad ) - gotta say; so far so good - its slick. Adding my media libraries and will have a proper play tomorrow.

Nice one!

FWIW there have been a couple of us that haven't had good luck with SD cards on this latest release but the USB sticks work perfect. I tried 3 different SD cards, 2 Samsungs and a Sandisk before getting it to work on a USB stick.
XBMC specs: MINIX U9-H LibreELEC 4K all day

Home Theater - Samsung 65KS8000 - Denon 3200- Ascend Acoustics speakers - Maelstrom 18in sealed sub 7cu ft - Behringer EP2500

UNraid Server – Pentium G3258 – MSI - H81M-P33 – Antec HCG-400M PS - 8Gb RAM
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