START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated January 2020)
#3
Media Player Firmware Updates & Watchlist:
(updated November 2019)

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 4+ years now.
However a recent Nvidia forums update is now a complete train wreck and universally despised. Grrrr !!!!
Seems like Nvidia are intentionally trying to drive customers away.
Seriously what the hell are Nvidia doing lately ?
No

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.
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.
Beta Firmware testing is now conducted before Firmware updates, and FW release quality is noticeably better.
Such update are a lot slower now vs the previous really buggy Oreo FW releases.
FW support and feedback seems to be Facebook driven.

EDIT: Mi Box FW v2550 has just added Kodi auto Frame Rate Matching. For the 2016 box - this is Quite remarkable for a cheap Chinese produce product 2.5+ years after initial release. Recent FW v2573 has now fixed DD+ audio dropouts too.
Mi Box S Beta - Android TV Pie 9.0 FW testing is in progress as well.

Oreo 8.x Firmware on the Mi Boxes has been pretty stable for 2019.



Ematic - Jetstream 4K Ultra HD - much better out of the box with Android TV Oreo 8.1 Firmware vs the buggy Oreo 8.1, initially seen on the Mi Box S.
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 a great 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.
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



(Archived)...

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:

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Messages In This Thread
RE: Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated Dec. 2015) - by wrxtasy - 2015-12-21, 03:52
The right box for me - by tyem - 2016-01-13, 15:29
Jesus Box - by kellyvb - 2016-03-04, 20:18
Thanks for the Help! - by jmc15john - 2016-11-09, 16:44
Jarvis crashes and wipes - by gotthis2000 - 2017-01-10, 22:14
RE: Jarvis crashes and wipes - by nickr - 2017-01-10, 22:58
T95Z Plus Android TV Box - by gooner1971 - 2017-03-17, 13:04