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

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)
  • 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:
    (Can only get 1080p Netflix with a special, difficult to use - tablet / mouse version of Netflix OR use the Kodi Leia Netflix Addon)
  • MECOOL "Pro" series of devices (1080p SDR Netflix only)
  • ABOX A4 (1080p Netflix)
  • WeTek Hub & Play2** (1080p SDR Netflix)
  • 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 device 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

All about - > 3D

Excellent 3D rundown by hdmkv, the man who dreams in 3D Eek

3D video and formats come in several flavors:
  1. Anaglyph, viewable via red-cyan glasses (now a dated technology)
  2. Side-by-side (SBS), also known as HSBS (half-SBS), commonly found in Blu-ray re-encoded MKV's
  3. Top-and-bottom (TAB), also known as HTAB (half-TAB) or HOU (half over-under), commonly found in Blu-ray re-encoded MKV's
  4. Full MVC MKV, usually Blu-ray rips via MakeMKV (retains main movie only)
  5. Full 3D ISO, usually full disc rips (or, can also be movie-only extractions via tsMuxeR)
  6. Full SBS or TAB, which retains the same full resolution as #4 and 5, but not via the more efficient MVC method. Full SBS/TAB is uncommon, are usually much larger filesize of MVC, and only certain HTPC's will be able to play properly
For all intents and purposes, we really only care about #2 to #5 above.

3D HSBS and HTAB videos can be played by almost any media player, even those not advertised to. Almost all 3D-capable displays will be able to join the two halves and render a complete 3D picture. But, it's half resolution of what's found in Blu-rays as you're just getting a total resolution of 960x1080 (with HSBS) or 1920×540 (with HTAB).

However, a full 3D Blu-ray is encoded using a technology called MVC (Multiview Video Coding). It has 2x full 1920x1080 frames for each eye. When decoded, then rendered as "frame packing," you will have a total resolution of 1920x2205, with an effective display resolution of 1920x1080 for each eye. 3D Blu-ray players can obviously handle this, but home theater enthusiasts here obviously want Kodi-capable media players that can play MVC MKV's and/or 3D ISO's with full MVC decoding and full frame-packed output, bitstreaming of full HD audio, and flawless playback. Demanding bunch aren't we?! Smile

Kodi 3D media players fall into 5 camps:
  1. [Linux] Decodes MVC in full and renders 3D in full, natively via Kodi: the one and only Raspberry Pi. Pi3 is recommended as 3D performs better with its extra horsepower.
  2. [Windows] Decodes MVC in full and renders 3D in full, natively via Kodi MVC builds for Intel hardware. This has now become the ultimate 3D solution for many as it's native Kodi, with full HD audio bitstreaming, all framerates output perfectly, and with added benefit of Netflix/Amazon HD streaming via Windows app or web browser.
  3. [Android] Decodes MVC in full and renders 3D in full, via an external player, with Kodi as just the front-end. HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro works this way, as does previous-gen Q5/Q10 4K3D. There also are custom Kodi-integrated 3D players like Zidoo X6, HiMedia H8 Octa, but they suffer from key issues (like macroblocking, no 23.976) to really be taken seriously.
  4. [Android] Decodes MVC in full, but renders 3D in half (so resulting quality will be similar to HSBS and HTAB). This uses Koying's MVC hack and works to varying degrees on AMLogic Sxxx boxes like WeTek Core, Minix U1, etc. and nVidia Shield TV.
  5. [Android] VidOn solution (offered by Minix and Tronsmart). VidOn is a GPL and trademark infringer, and they rely on a proprietary solution for MVC 3D. Their 'Pro' payware Kodi fork provides Blu-ray menus, 3D and HD audio... however, 3D is similar to #4 (half-rez). My recommendation is to avoid VidOn altogether, not only because of GPL/trademark violations, but because their solution exhibits several key issues (no 23.976, and in fact all videos output at same resolution as UI, unstable, and basically unreliable).
Thanks to all talented Kodi developers (@popcornmix, @Koying, @afedchin, et al) for their work on MVC 3D.

Questions? Need recommendations?
What are the best full resolution 1080p 3D Kodi media players?

Please see this dedicated 3D thread (click).

Media Player Firmware Updates & Watchlist:
(November 2018)

What is Firmware ?
It's a class of Software that basically provides low-level control of a devices hardware.
Serious bugs in this can cause all manner of headaches for the end user.

If users are going to spend decent $$$ on a media player, especially one that uses Apps. You want to ensure that there are regular, bug fixing Firmware updates from the device manufacturer / seller.
Also it is a VERY good idea to have a well frequented and active English, seller support forum for such device support.

The Gold Standard for Firmware & OS updates:

In No particular order...

The officially LibreELEC or OSMC supported devices. Firmware (& OS) testing is open to all Kodi users, a comprehensive testing system is in place before every major LE or OSMC Kodi update.
Any major bugs get quickly squashed with minor updates.
The support forums are very active with knowledgable developers & users. The LE / OSMC developers optimise the OS, Firmware and Kodi for each hardware device supported.
Results speak for themselves. Smile

Apple TV 4/4K - they have a widespread, open to the general public, comprehensive Firmware testing system in place before every major tvOS Firmware update.
Any major bugs get quickly squashed with minor updates.
Apple have complete control over ATV 4(K) hardware, the OS and the Firmware and it shows in the polish of their end product. Smile
Firmware support generally continues on for many years with Apple Hardware.
Perversely ATV's cannot direct install Kodi. The highly modded, Kodi Jarvis based, MrMC App is a great alternative, installed from the Apps store.

Android devices Firmware updates:

For Android TV devices - there is no contest - NVIDIA with their Shield provides the best ongoing support for 3.5 years now.
Whilst Firmware testing is not completely open to the public - NVIDIA do conduct closed group testing before major updates.
The Shield support forums are very active with knowledgable users.

Downsides are that every major Firmware and Google OS update - whilst bringing feature improvements and bug fixes also comes with additional annoying bugs, some ongoing, that NVIDIA can never seem to be able to completely squash quickly, eg. ongoing color output problems.
This can be a problem when you do not control the Google OS that a device uses or NVIDIA developers do not promptly - bug bust and support the old v3.x Linux Kernel used.
Android Kodi devs use the Shield for Android TV - testing and development.

Xiaomi - Mi Box - Xiaomi might seem to have finally gotten the message after a very buggy July 2018 Oreo 8.0 Firmware update.
Bugs are slowly being fixed after a LOT of bad press.
Minimal Firmware testing done before major updates and NO english support forum.
EDIT: It seems there are English/Chinese language communication difficulties as well that are slowly be addressed to hopefully fix bugs.

2016 Mi Box (model MDZ-16-AB) would still be running Android Marshmallow if bought new.
With the new 2018 Mi Box S - Oreo 8.1 - Firmware quality should be more stable.
Xiaomi are the stark example of a mass produced Chinese box manufacturer / seller - mainly interested in selling smartly designed, cheap devices in the millions to non demanding users.

Ematic - Jetstream 4K Ultra HD - much better out of the box with Android TV Oreo 8.1 Firmware vs the buggy Oreo 8.0 seen on the Mi Box.
I've not yet seen an English support forum.
It remains to be seen how ongoing Firmware support will be from this new entrant into the Android TV market.
Currently the best budget, Google Certified, Netflix approved device, for Android TV OS use available.
Pity it only sells in USA Walmart stores currently.

Amazon Hardware - Amazon modify the Android OS and call it FireOS and generally rely on 3rd parties to provide the Firmware, which they lightly modify and bug bust.
Overall results are fine for mainstream non demanding users, however recently even demanding users are getting extra Firmware features like auto Frame Rate Matching.
There are regular Firmware updates, they are not Android bleeding edge OS releases but focus more on stability.
Amazon Hardware updates seem to happen yearly at the moment.
Kodi cannot be directly installed from the App Store, but can be easily sideloaded.
The new really, impressively spec-ed - cheap 2018 FireTV Stick 4K has landed.

HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro & Zidoo X9S - provide ongoing Firmware updates even if they are not Android bleeding edge releases.
I believe they are up to Android Nougat 7.1 releases.
Focussed on the Android 1080p 3D / UHD - Bluray Rips, HD audio market mainly.
Both have English support forums with passionate (3D) users.

AMLogic devices:

MINIX & WeTek - used to provide very good support for their hardware but this seems to finish after about the 2 year mark.
The root cause of this stems from AMLogic not providing ongoing Android Software Development support for the AML chipsets used in devices.
The MINIX support forum seems to have mysteriously vanished about 3 months ago. No explanation given by MINIX since it's return.
When such support was provided it was great, providing active English support forums with regular Firmware updates.

Still great Android Kodi platforms even with old stable Firmware, because they do auto Android Kodi refresh switching, and...
Can do Android Kodi Leia DD/DD+ - 24p 1080p Netflix, using the new Kodi Leia Netflix Addon.
Android Kodi devs still use these devices for testing and development.
Excellent devices for LibreELEC / CoreELEC Kodi.

Other cheap AMLogic devices in general: ->>taking into account AMLogic seem to cycle their Chipsets used every 2 -3 years.
Firmware updates with these devices seem to halt at the 2 year period, which coincides with Firmware stability. Android Nougat 7.1.2 on these is pretty good for the price paid.
Firmware support mostly is with Over the Air updates and English support is left to the community driven Freaktab Forum (click).
Even then it's Buyer Beware as some devices Firmware is abandoned shortly after their Flashy Website - BS marketing launch.

Cheap, brand new AMLogic chipsets, generally have the buggiest Android Firmware on the market when first released.
This is what you get with the budget, Chinese mass produced end of the market.
AML S9xx series are dirt cheap devices for the excellent community driven 4K HDR LibreELEC / CoreELEC Kodi releases.

W. Smile


The Buyer Beware List ! No

The (July 2018) Oreo Firmware update for the Xiaomi Mi Box has introduced a number of serious bugs. Click HERE for the Mini Review

  • Avoid Android devices running Marshmallow 6.x.x Firmware unless they comes from MINIX or WeTek.
  • Avoid ALL Rockchip & Allwinner Android boxes for Kodi.
  • The included Infra Red only remotes on cheap Android devices cannot control touchscreen Android Apps properly. Kodi OK.

The Freaktab website provides a lot of support for installing improved alternate Android Firmware.

Newer AMLogic Android Nougat 7.1.1 Boxes have some important bug fixes in Android Firmware.
AML S905/S905X/S912 boxes do make excellent 4K LibreELEC Kodi Krypton devices. Smile

The Gotchas - I was unaware of that ! ..... Eek

Known issues across various platforms:

WRXTASY EDIT: - personal opinions after viewing/testing hardware over the last 3+ years.
(updated 8th November 2018)

The Best Of - categorised - media players on the market:

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

Using official Kodi or modded versions of Kodi:

4K HDR10:
(all need to be Gigabit Ethernet equipped for home networked - 4K HDR Bluray playback)

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 Google certified - Android TV OS media player = NVIDIA Shield
runner(s) up are the new Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD (USA only at the moment) & the Vodafone TV with TV tuner (Australia only)

Best Plug n Play - 4K HDR + HD audio (inc. Atmos) - Kodi only media player = Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi.
runner(s) up are the DIY AMLogic S9xx devices like the MINIX U9 - with Android / LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi. Careful - Not all S912's are GigaE.

Fastest 4K HDR + HD audio - Kodi only media player = MINIX U9, running LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi.
runner(s) up are the AMLogic S912 devices with Gigabit Ethernet (1000M) and the Vero 4K+

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

Required reading >> 4K HDR10 - State of Play thread - important media player limitations (click)

SDR only:
Best 1080p/4K SDR + HD Audio - Kodi only media player = a tie ODROID C2 or a MINIX U1 (due 10bit HEVC hardware decode capable)
runner(s) up are the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (1080p only) or ASUS Chromebox (no hardware 8/10bit HEVC video decoding on both)
** Beware you need tip top chipset cooling on RPi's when doing HEVC software decoding. Otherwise expect overheating issues.
All running LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi.

Fastest & most powerful 4K SDR + HD Audio Kodi only media player = the latest Intel / AMD x86-64 hardware running LibreELEC Leia.
(this Intel / AMD x86-64 combo is what you want for demanding, very bling, graphics intensive Skins)
The AMD Ryzen 5 2400 G running LibreELEC Leia is one to keep an eye on. AMD Ryzen HDR status unknown.

Must have 3D Bluray Rips & HD audio support = Zidoo X9S Pro
runner(s) up = HiMedia Q5/Q10 Pro, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
Read very carefully about Zidoo X9S & Himedia Pro issues in THIS post.

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

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

Bang for the Buck:
Best 4K SDR/HDR + HD audio = any AMLogic S9xx device with Gigabit Ethernet running LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi (S905 chipset is SDR only)
Add a USB mini dongle receiver Wireless remote and you are good to go.

Best 1080p SDR + HD audio = any AMLogic S905W device running LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi
runner(s) up are the AMLogic S905X devices and the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (no hardware HEVC video decoding on RPi)

The DIY market:
Overall winner = MECOOL M8S Pro L due DIY Android TV ROM's and dual boot ability for Android TV <<-->> LibreELEC / CoreELEC Kodi. Be aware no Chromecasting available with this device.
Does 1080p Android TV App - Netflix as well. Gigabit Ethernet can be addd with a ASIX chipset USB3 > GigaE adapter.

For 1080p Linux projects = the very well supported - Raspberry Pi 3 (Model B+)
Runner up is the ODROID C2.

Other DIY Kodi capable boards are the Libre Computer (Le Potato) & Khadas (VIM2 series)..
And then you have a whole AMLogic army of cheap LibreELEC / CoreELEC capable devices.

Adding a USB mini dongle receiver Wireless remote makes these devices very flexible. Especially Mini Keyboard remotes like the quality MINIX A2 lite.

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 , also does Kodi Leia auto resolution switching
runners(s) up are the MINIX U9 and WeTek Play2
All other cheap Android devices cannot do Kodi auto refresh rate switching. Amazon FireTV's are getting some switching support.

PS. The 3 Android media players listed above can also do 5.1 DD+ > DD audio - 24p 1080p Netflix with auto refresh switching when using the..
Kodi Leia Netflix Addon

HDMI CEC control:
(not guaranteed to work due to TV manufacturers not adhering to CEC standards)
(LibreELEC and CoreELEC Kodi have a lot of HDMI CEC configurable options vs all others)

Best support = Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
Runner up is any AMLogic S9xx hardware, works best when running LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi
Avoid Intel, which has virtually no inbuilt CEC support, a Pulse8 HDMI CEC adapter would be needed.

Important Notes:
AMLogic S912 devices are mentioned a few times in this post, but be aware these devices will likely not work with LibreELEC or CoreELEC Kodi when Kodi v19 M comes around in over 1 years time. Android Kodi should, however continue to work.

Kodi v19 M will change it's Linux graphics rendering codebase and the current S912 Hybrid Linux/LE/CE GPU drivers will not be compatible.
There are open source GPU drivers currently under development, so anything could happen in over a years time.

W. Big Grin
(2015-12-21, 05:50)tiho Wrote: What about this : http://www.geekbuying.com/item/GeekBox-O...GwodPbMD9A. Huh

The first post specifically stated devices based on Rockchip SoCs weren't going to be listed.
Don't make mistake of buying a cheap Kodi Android device based on fancy tech specs alone. Nor slick marketing that comes with the usual deceptive Newbie reviews. Its a Very very common mistake.

The reason Rockchip are not included on the list is because according to Koying, the lead Android Kodi developer here. Rockchip does not use the standard Android API (Application Programming Interface) and use custom Kodi code to even play A/V content.
This is not the way forward for the Open Source Kodi project, Android branch. Kodi is gradually being coded to operate primarily using the standard Android Media Codec (amc) interface. Libstagefright has already been given the chop in Kodi Jarvis.

Then there is the little matter of Rockchip being unwilling to work with the Kodi developers, even tho they have been given the opportunity to do so. No 24p video sync, and so it goes on.

AMLogic are the complete opposite with their open-ness and willingness to help.

hardly able to consider the minix and wetek "cost effective" amlogic devices considering they sell for 3 times the price of most amlogic devices.

Quote:AMLogic devices to keep an eye on would be the very recently released AMLogic S905 series like the new Lollipop equipped MINIX U1. Other S905's will be coming in 2016, from well known reputable manufacturers. Devices that are not rushed to market, like dirt cheap stuff from Asia with lots of Firmware bugs and NO support.

isnt that kind of a contradictory statement, the MINIX U1 was one of the first rushed to market s905 boxes and it was borky as can be when if came from the asian factory full of bugs.
Main System - HTPC - Intel I3 6300 - Asrock z170 - 16 GB DDR4 - 128gb SSD - 65" UHD HDR Sony Android TV - Pioneer VSX 1130-K - 7.2.2 speakers
Other devices currently in use - 55" 3D UHD LG TV - 2 Fire TV's - Nexus Player - MiniMX s905 - Voyo Vmac Mini
Ubuntu Server - 12 TB NAS - MYSQL - Torrent Box
@wrxtasy, thanks for taking on responsibility for this thread. Glad to see it get a reboot. Happy to help w/3D; maybe just a short summary w/link to the stickied thread on 3D I maintain would suffice.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Cheers, maybe PMail me a draft short Summary listing the Ultimate in 3D down to the bog standard. I only really want 24p devices that work or show possible potential like the MVC ones coming in 2016.

I'm not looking for massive detail as that is what your thread is for and Hyperlinking is better anyway.

(2015-12-21, 14:51)dukester Wrote: hardly able to consider the minix and wetek "cost effective" amlogic devices considering they sell for 3 times the price of most amlogic devices.
Show me a detailed comprehensive review, the likes of what hdmkv produces, testing ALL the features of these cheap S905's from a Knowledgable Kodi user first. I have yet to see any review with the detail required for Kodi users to make an intelligent informed choice. Even basic core Kodi feature testing is usually missing in very lightweight reviews.

Then also show me this for any device under consideration:
Quote:...the best Kodi devices have a decent, active, knowledgable, respected manufacturer device support forums. Manufacturer experience with previous successful, similarly specced Hardware devices also is very important
And I have not even started yet on C++ coders contributing to the Kodi and OpenELEC projects you don't even know about behind the scenes on GitHub.

Koying most of the time when coding for Kodi Android is like a one man band and needs all the help he can get.
Now please show me how these dirt cheap Asian AMLogic device manufacturers are contributing to the Kodi project ?

A bunch of them are actually parasitic leaches, that contribute sweet FA and distribute Banned Kodi add-ons.

Quote: the MINIX U1 was one of the first rushed to market s905 boxes and it was borky as can be when if came from the asian factory full of bugs.
Look its the same with any Android device, the big thing was they did not advertise shit that did not work and guess what, excellent support and one Firmware update a week since the device was released is very quickly squashing any problems.

WeTek had an annoying a 24p bug recently too. It took them 3 days to fix, and then they published that code, which will benefit other S812 AMLogic platforms. This is how you earn respect from the Kodi Open Source community. Such an example is found HERE

Sure you can by cheap Android gear that may work more or less the same as more expensive products if you like a bit of DIY.
BUT for Newbies you cannot base your judgement on price alone because you will run into Firmware problems, then who are you gonna call ?
Any device will not be cost effective at any price unless you can get serious bugs fixed promptly.
You can bet the talented guys that could actually help will look the other way as they frankly don't have the time or are employed by some other manufacturer. The Kodi devs. too will rarely get involved with Firmware issues.

Bump as 3D devices rundown added.

Thanks to hdmkv Smile

Thanks again for giving this topic/thread new life.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Thank you for the good write up.

I would add a line in HD-Audio about Atmos and the soon to be released DTS:X.
For me this is one of the more exciting things that happened lately for home cinemas.

I have been using Atmos and it works well under Openelec with a Braswell Chip.

Sadly Atmos will not be possible with the Pi since it does not send the Metadata if it is decoded into PCM streams.
(2015-12-27, 03:46)psysfaction Wrote: Sadly Atmos will not be possible with the Pi since it does not send the Metadata if it is decoded into PCM streams.

Yes - and I'm not sure there are :

a) Open Source Atmos decoders (so the Pi will treat it as 5.1 True HD?)
b) A standard to carry decoded 7.1.2 (and 7.1.4?) content over HDMI in PCM format

If you have Dolby Atmos and DTS:x content you must use HD Audio bitstreaming. AIUI Intel solutions that support HD Audio bitstreaming work OK with Dolby Atmos, but getting a 3D MVC capable box with HD Audio bitstreaming (without resorting to Windows/Android and external players) is not straightforward. You can get 3D MVC from a Pi 2 with HD Audio decoded (but not Atmos/DTS:x) and you can get 2D from an Intel solution (with HD Audio bitstreamed). Getting 3D with DTS:x or Dolby Atmos is currently tricky. You're probably best off with a Blu-ray player for this at the moment...
(2015-12-27, 03:46)psysfaction Wrote: Thank you for the good write up.

I would add a line in HD-Audio about Atmos and the soon to be released DTS:X.
For me this is one of the more exciting things that happened lately for home cinemas.

I have been using Atmos and it works well under Openelec with a Braswell Chip.

Sadly Atmos will not be possible with the Pi since it does not send the Metadata if it is decoded into PCM streams.
Added Psy. Cheers.

Also added $100 Android DRM Kodi media players section as Android Lollipop / Marshmallow has made quite a difference to Kodi usability on Android media player platforms lately. These Google Android ART OS runtime optimisations, combined with the Lollipop OS have made a big difference to what has come before.

I'm an 5.1 Audio / OpenELEC Kodi guy and I never thought I would end up using an Android Lollipop device as my daily media player. Even I'm surprised that I'm saying that. Smile

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