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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media Players with new 4K HDR tech - Apps - support:
Best 4K Amazon Prime Video & Netflix media player (Apps can stream DolbyVison) = Apple TV 4K (DV iTunes & VUDU as well)
runner up is the 2018 FireTV Stick 4K, the 2019 Amazon Fire TV Cube and the new 2019 Nvidia Shield TV.
NEW in this category is the Google Chromecast (Android TV) dongle running Android TV v10.0

Most powerful Plug n Play media player = Apple TV 4K, which ironically has to use the MrMC App for Kodi type support.
Has DolbyVision support for various non Kodi streaming Apps - eg Netflix, iTunes, VUDU. Read the review for limitations.

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

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

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

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

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

24p Kodi use on Android devices:
(only devices that are Kodi refresh rate switching capable)
(all devices listed above running OSMC / LibreELEC / CoreELEC / Windows - Kodi can do auto refresh & resolution switching)

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

PS. The 6 Android media players listed above can also do 5.1 DD+ > DD audio - 24p 720/1080p Netflix with auto refresh switching when using the..
Kodi Leia Netflix Addon

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

Best support = Raspberry Pi models and the new 2019 onwards AMLogic chipset CoreELEC Kodi Leia devices.
Runner(s) up are the Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield and the recent Amazon FireTV devices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Notes:

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

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

W. Big Grin

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:
(updated October 2020)

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, OSMC or CoreELEC supported devices. Firmware (& OS) testing is open to all Kodi users, a testing system is in place before every major LE, OSMC or CE Kodi update.
Any major bugs get quickly squashed with minor updates.
The support forums are very active with knowledgable developers & users. The LE / OSMC /CE 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
Impressively. Firmware support generally continues on for many years with Apple Hardware.
As an example the 7.5+ year old ATV 3 is still getting FW updates.
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 expensive Shield TV provides the best ongoing support for 5+ years now.
Downsides are that every major Firmware and Google OS update - whilst bringing OS feature improvements also comes with additional annoying bugs that then needs a user self installed Nvidia Shield test Hotfix image to rectify.

Restricted Beta Firmware testing takes place with Knowledgable users.
Android Kodi devs use the Shield for Android TV - testing and development.

Xiaomi - Mi Box - all Mi Boxes are now on a stable Android TV v9.0 Pie update.
For the 2016 box - this is Quite remarkable for a cheap Chinese produce product.
Restricted Beta Firmware testing takes place with Knowledgable users.
FW support and feedback seems to be Facebook driven.

2020 Google Chromecast (Android TV) Dongle - we are expecting decent Firmware support from Google selling their own Android TV product.

Ematic - Jetstream 4K Ultra HD - also now updated to a stable Android TV v9.0 Pie OS.
Currently a great budget, Google Certified, Netflix approved device, for Android TV OS use available.

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.
Amazon listen to user feedback - there are regular bug fixing Firmware updates, they are not Android bleeding edge OS releases but focus more on stability.
The active AFTVNews (click) website is the place to go for all AFTV gossip.
Amazon Hardware updates seem to happen yearly at the moment.
Kodi cannot be directly installed from the App Store, but can be easily sideloaded.

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 update their Chipsets used every 1 - 2 years.
Firmware updates with these devices seem to halt at the 2 year period, which coincides with the best Firmware stability.
This may improve from Android Pie onwards due to Google OS improvements to enable easier updates for device manufacturers.

Android Pie 9.0 on these is snappy and has great performance 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 will have buggy WiFi and Bluetooth & other features.
Again consult the Freaktab website - AMLogic S9xx section for user feedback.

AML S9xx series are dirt cheap devices for the excellent community driven 4K HDR HD audio - CoreELEC Kodi OS 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:

Archived Material:
March 2020 update

VERY important - Media Player Firmware Updates & Watchlist (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, broadcast TV deinterlacing, DD/AC3, DTS, 7.1 HD Audio & which specific Apps.
What TV and audio hardware do you plan on connecting to ?

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 CoreELEC Kodi Leia, unless noted. Easiest to hardest to setup, Wireless MINIX A2 lite remote purchase recommended)
  • Vero 4K+ (OSMC) - Plug n Play.
  • New: ODROID N2 - CoreELEC Edition (click)
  • Various cheap, Gigabit LAN equipped AMLogic S912, S905X2 devices running CoreELEC Kodi Leia from a USB stick / microSDHC like the Ugoos X2 / X3 Cube

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 is most important for Kodi everyday usage.
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 Kaby/Gemini 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 an ARM Mali GPU is Hardware decoding all video content if running OSMC / CoreELEC Kodi Leia.

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 SDR / HDR colorspace output after auto switching)
You also want Gigabit Ethernet (1000M) for trouble free High Bitrate 4K HDR home networked streaming.
  • New: ODROID N2 - CoreELEC Edition
  • Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi Leia
  • Greater detail - Split out into it's own dedicated thread - 4K HDR10 - State of Play thread - important media player limitations (click)
  • 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 GigaE LAN equipped, AMLogic devices, running OSMC / CoreELEC are better than both the more expensive Intel "Lake" NUC's and the NVIDIA Shield for auto, mixed 1080p / 4K HDR Kodi Leia 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 really only the new AML S922X / A311D devices with great ARM GPU's or a snappy Nvidia Shield will meet your needs.
  • 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
  • Intel / AMD x86-64
  • New: ODROID N2 (using eMMC flash storage)
  • New: AMLogic chipset devices with a S922X / A311D chipset like the Khadas VIM3 or Ugoos AM6
  • ODROID C2 (using eMMC flash storage)
  • Vero 4K+ running OSMC Kodi - Plug n Play.
  • New: DIY CoreELEC Kodi Leia on a AMLogic S905X2 / X3 chipset devices equipped with GigaE (1000M) LAN.

Q. Fastest, most powerful Android TV OS - Kodi streaming box ?
  • Nvidia Shield
  • New: Runner(s) up are the Verizon Stream TV, the Air TV Mini and Mecool KM3

Q. Fastest, most powerful regular Android tablet OS - Kodi streaming box ?
Q. Fastest, most powerful, 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)
Q. What simply upgrade can I do to increase Kodi media player responsiveness ?
  • Avoid the early 2017 Nvidia Shield's low powered 2.4GHz Bluetooth remotes due to 2.4GHz Radio Freq. / USB3 interference issues.
  • 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 / CoreELEC and Android TV.
  • Both the MINIX A2 and the OSMC remotes include a Plug n Play USB Wireless Mini receiver dongles.
  • LibreELEC / CoELEC Kodi Leia 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 / CoreELEC devices
  • New: Nvidia Shield users recommend the WeChip G20 wireless Air Mouse Voice remote these days.

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)
  • New: Ugoos AM6 (Android Pie 9.0 / CoreELEC (click))
  • ODROID N2 (CoreELEC + various other OS)
  • Mecool KM3 / KM9 Pro Deluxe running Android TV Pie / CoreELEC Kodi.
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 computers
  • ODROID C2 (CoreELEC)
  • ASUS Chromebox
  • Raspberry Pi's (LibreELEC or OSMC)
  • Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices, lots of community support for these on the Freaktab Forums(click)

Q. I just want a stable, well supported, 1080p Kodi use only,  box ?
  • Vero 4K+
  • ODROID N2 - CoreELEC Edition
  • RPi's, Chromeboxes and Intel / AMD running LibreELEC Kodi.

Q. Most versatile Kodi boxes, that very easily dual boot Android / unofficial Android TV to CoreELEC Kodi:
(AMLogic S905D Devices include a single MUX - TV Tuner + SPDIF(Optical)
  • Ugoos AM6
  • Mecool KM3 / KM9
  • 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 ?
(Easiest to use Wireless remote found on FireTV 4K and most Google Certified Android TV devices (click) - Shield's remote is the worst)
  • New: Verizon Stream 4K and the Air TV Mini - HDMI dongles
  • Xiaomi Mi Box (pretty stable Oreo firmware these days - remember to Factory Reset on Pie 9.x OS upgrade)
  • Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD
  • Nvidia Shield
  • Amazon devices, using MrMC (Kodi fork) or Sideloaded Kodi
  • Apple TV 4(K) running MrMC (Click)
  • Mecool KM3 / KM9 Pro Deluxe (no HD Netflix on these)

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 demanding 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 and the new backlit MINIX remotes have wake from sleep issues)
  • The Wireless MINIX A2 Lite Air Mouse 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 ?
  • Basically any modern device sold as 4K capable will be able to decode 8/10bit HEVC.

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 on 2015/2017 Shields and all non 4K, Android TV user interfaces and elements will still have to deal with Poor picture upscaling (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 (CoreELEC)
  • ODROID N2 / C2 (CoreELEC)
  • Vero 4K (OSMC- 24bit/192kHz)
  • Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices running CoreELEC Kodi Leia
  • 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 Leia ?
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 Leia settings - bottom left)
  • New: Ugoos AM6 (possibly the Ugoos X2 and X3 Cube as well)
  • WeTek Hub / Play2
  • MINIX U9
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • 2016 Xiaomi Mi Box - NOT the 2018 Mi Box S
  • AMLogic S9xx devices running Android Nougat 7.x - ONLY - 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 ?
Ordered from best deinterlacing picture output quality to the worst. In reality the Intel / AMD, AMLogic (CoreELEC OS), 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 7.x or earlier & Kodi/SPMC Jarvis or CoreELEC / OSMC Kodi)
  • Raspberry Pi's.
  • NVIDIA Shield** However 1080i mpeg2 TV - stuttering video playback (click) have been reported.
  • 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.
  • Virtually all AMLogic Android devices running Android Kodi Leia only output half motion deinterlacing, it's OK, but no good for fast sports action ball sports 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. ?
(lots of traps lie ahead)

Audio Limitations:
  • 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 externally connected 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 properly Dolby Audio licensed 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.
  • This 5.1 DD audio can then be passed thru various model TV's and out via Optical/ARC to older audio equiptment.
  • The Apple TV's also do DD+ > multichannel LPCM decoding to support older HDMI connected AVR's.
  • Only the XBOX ONE and Apple TV HD/4K is approved to stream Netflix Atmos Audio

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 !

Amazon Prime App can be sideloaded on to various devices that cannot download it from the Google Playstore.

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.
Android TV devices also have to be Google Certified Android TV Certified (click) - and also to be Netflix Approved.

  • PLUG n Play:
  • New: Verizon Stream 4K and the Air TV Mini - HDMI dongles (4K HDR Netflix / 4K HDR Amazon Prime Video / 4K VUDU)
  • Ematic Jetstream 4K Ultra HD (4K HDR Netflix)
  • NVIDIA Shield (4K HDR Netflix / 4K HDR Amazon Prime Video / 4K VUDU)
  • New: 2019 Nvidia Shield (4K HDR & DolbyVision Netflix / 4K HDR Amazon Prime Video / 4K HDR DV VUDU)
  • 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)
  • Amazon Fire TV devices, the Gen3 pendant (HDR), NEW FireTV Stick 4K / 2019 Cube (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.

  • 1080p SDR Netflix:
    (Can only get Android 1080p Netflix with a special, difficult to use - tablet / mouse version of Netflix OR use the Kodi Leia Netflix Addon)
  • WeTek Hub & Play2
  • MINIX U9-H
  • Intel / AMD x86-64 that can CPU Software 1080p H264 video when running LibreELEC - using the Kodi Leia Netflix Addon
  • Rockchip RK3399 Hardware running LibreELEC Kodi.
  • New: Mecool KM3 / KM9 - these Apps (click) may re-add Netflix ATV support
  • New: ODROID N2 ( 1080p Netflix - CoreELEC OS)
  • New: Other AMLogic S922X / A311D chipset devices running CoreELEC Kodi.

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. The LibreELEC / CoreELEC / OSMC guys provide excellent Kodi Linux support.

W. Smile
(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
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
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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