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START HERE - Pick the Right Kodi Box (updated May 2020)
Thanks for the links... emailed the seller (stupid BestBuy marketplace) and the seller can't verify what's for sale or the specs because part of the description says mini, part say ultimate, photo of the previous model and title called it axGear. Asked if it will upgrade to ver7 because sounds like some will and some wont based on serial numbers, and he links me to a more expensive model with less ram, less space and a quadcore not octacore.

Kinda scrapped the idea of buying that one. Sounds like a gamble of what will show up at the door.
Operating System: CoreElec with Kodi 18
System: Beelink GT1 Ultimate - Android 7.1, Amlogic S912 Octa-Core 1.5 GHz, 3GB DDR4
Storage: WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra NAS - 2x4TB WD Blue (WD40EZRZ)
Display: 55" TCL 55R615-CA 4K TV
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The experience i have with cheap android boxes is really not good.. ( i wish someone could post something different)

So personally i cannot recommend anything at this price tag Smile 

If you can afford maybe invest a bit more ? 

Always check first post for recommended hardware to suit your needs..
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(2019-01-30, 23:16)solamnic Wrote: The experience i have with cheap android boxes is really not good.. ( i wish someone could post something different)

So personally i cannot recommend anything at this price tag Smile 

If you can afford maybe invest a bit more ? 

Always check first post for recommended hardware to suit your needs..
Problem is that I don't want to spend $200cad on a box, then wipe it out for OpenElec, which will probably wipe out the warranty as well. Especially since I haven't seen much about reversing the process if it needs to be exchanged or something. Plus, still got the TV to pay for and the NAS this week. Smile

So many makes and models though, like everything else, there's likely a few good cheaper ones, and a few over priced ones that you're just paying for the name.

Looking at the first post "Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices running Android Nougat OS 7.1.2 or LibreELEC or CoreELEC" comes up often as recommended, which is what I'm looking for.
Operating System: CoreElec with Kodi 18
System: Beelink GT1 Ultimate - Android 7.1, Amlogic S912 Octa-Core 1.5 GHz, 3GB DDR4
Storage: WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra NAS - 2x4TB WD Blue (WD40EZRZ)
Display: 55" TCL 55R615-CA 4K TV
Reply
(2019-01-31, 01:51)THRobinson Wrote: Problem is that I don't want to spend $200cad on a box, then wipe it out for OpenElec, which will probably wipe out the warranty as well. Especially since I haven't seen much about reversing the process if it needs to be exchanged or something. Plus, still got the TV to pay for and the NAS this week. Smile

You are aware you flash a Samsung EVO microSDHC with CoreELEC and insert it and run that OS entirely from the SD card in a Dual Boot setup. The Android OS remains untouched on internal EMMC flash storage.

The next option if you want a bit of a speedup is this:

HOW TO Boot from SD card, use internal memory for data

Again the internal Android OS remains untouched with that procedure.

If you want the best Android Kodi the NVIDIA Shield is the device to buy. Best Firmware support vs any other android device on the market.

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(2019-01-31, 02:23)wrxtasy Wrote: You are aware you flash a Samsung EVO microSDHC with CoreELEC and insert it and run that OS entirely from the SD card in a Dual Boot setup. The Android OS remains untouched on internal EMMC flash storage.

...

If you want the best Android Kodi the NVIDIA Shield is the device to buy. Best Firmware support vs any other android device on the market. 

Arg! the 'this site uses cookie' bar popped up, clicked ok and deleted what I was typing.  Confused

Anyways... Nvidia Shield is a flat no. $230CAD and likely more than I need. 99% of my library is 1080p under 5000kbps H265. I'll only have maybe a half dozen 10bit 4K movies... I won't be playing games or anything like that which I suspect is where the extra power (higher specs) comes into play on many of the pricier boxes.

So... Core/OpenElec runs off an SDCard? or 'can' run off the card? When trying to see how this process is reversed (not much online by the way) at the OpenElec site I was reading how someone couldn't because OpenElec when installed wiped out the hidden partition with the restore files on it. Plus, when I came across the boxes as an option, people said to wipe out Android and install Core/LibreElec... wipe out being the keyword there.

Basically this started when I was asking about required hardware for making a new media player because mine's old, large, loud and doesn't handle 10bit H265. Someone said get a cheap box and wipe it out and use OpenElec on that instead. Looked at $40CAD boxes... was told specs too low so went to $80CAD, told right specs but get a better brand, $110CAD, then told they're essentially crap and went up to $230CAD. By Monday I suspect Android boxes will all be garbage and the way to go is a miniPC and a $400 Minix Neo.  Rofl

I think for my usage, S912 3GB/32GB Octacore with gigabit lan will work. I am still a bit confused on a few specs, looking at that chart linked a few posts back for example, audio support, some will do DTS, some DTS and TrueHD, some Dolby.... is that a hardware or software limitation.... ?
Operating System: CoreElec with Kodi 18
System: Beelink GT1 Ultimate - Android 7.1, Amlogic S912 Octa-Core 1.5 GHz, 3GB DDR4
Storage: WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra NAS - 2x4TB WD Blue (WD40EZRZ)
Display: 55" TCL 55R615-CA 4K TV
Reply
As i ve said before the 1st post provides more than enough information on players that work as intended..

You can always "test" something that isnt tested here and report on the results Smile
(i have tested (and paid of course) countless media players (kodi or not) - starting from Popcorn hour 1).

(btw the problem with Android boxes is their firmware... they tend to have lots of bug that are never fixed - their manufacturers release firmware updates for a few months and then they move to the next model - similar to cheap android phones)
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(2019-01-31, 17:40)solamnic Wrote: As i ve said before the 1st post provides more than enough information on players that work as intended..

You can always "test" something that isnt tested here and report on the results Smile
(i have tested (and paid of course) countless media players (kodi or not) - starting from Popcorn hour 1).

(btw the problem with Android boxes is their firmware... they tend to have lots of bug that are never fixed - their manufacturers release firmware updates for a few months and then they move to the next model - similar to cheap android phones)
It does... and it doesn't. Again, one line that pops up very often in the first post is "Various cheap AMLogic S9xx devices running Android Nougat OS 7.1.2 or LibreELEC or CoreELEC" which, when mentioned, tend to get poo-poo'd pretty quickly. Big Grin

Firmware was something I wondered about as well. A lot of these boxes, even the ones that tested well in that chart linked a few posts back... I can't find a website for at all. Beelink was one of the few that I could, and has it's own forum. Tried to join it to ask a question but the verification email never showed up, tried 3 times and just nothing. They at least seem to have firmware updates though. But... if bypassing Android and using CoreElec, how important are the firmwares?

Beelink GT1 Ultimate TV Box Android 7.1 DDR4 3GB ROM 32GB Amlogic S912 Octa Core Support 4K H.265 Output 1000Mpbs/LAN Dual WiFi Media Player... about $113CAD on Amazon.ca. About $25 more than wanted to spend, but specs seem good, and a website available. 

Reviews... very hard to base an opinion on. Every box seems to have 10% 1-star reviews. Still good to look at, but really gotta pick and choose with those. Just read one complaining that Covenant quit working so gave a 1-star... absolutely not box related at all.

T95Z Max, was another I was eyeing up. Has a clock on the front, I'd rather no lights at all though, basically same specs as the Beelink except DDR3 memory not DDR4. $87CAD though. I think this is their site. Confusing because says they make them, but, I see Beelink listed there as well...Huh

TX9 and Z69 were shortlisted as well based on the linked chart.
Operating System: CoreElec with Kodi 18
System: Beelink GT1 Ultimate - Android 7.1, Amlogic S912 Octa-Core 1.5 GHz, 3GB DDR4
Storage: WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra NAS - 2x4TB WD Blue (WD40EZRZ)
Display: 55" TCL 55R615-CA 4K TV
Reply
(2019-01-31, 17:02)THRobinson Wrote: I think for my usage, S912 3GB/32GB Octacore with gigabit lan will work. I am still a bit confused on a few specs, looking at that chart linked a few posts back for example, audio support, some will do DTS, some DTS and TrueHD, some Dolby.... is that a hardware or software limitation.... ?

All the AMLogic box advertising you see will be listing the Android OS's capabilities only. And even then you have to take what is written with a grain of salt.
It really does not matter anyway when you Dual Boot and run an alternative, optimised OS dedicated to Kodi ...

Excluding Bluray DolbyVision and 1080p 3D - AMLogic S905X, S905D & S912 media players when running LibreELEC / CoreELEC, or in the Vero4K+'s case - OSMC Kodi will quite literally play any standard encoded audio or video content you want to throw at them. And I do mean anything all the way up to Dolby Atmos and 4K HDR Bluray Rips.

The OS's, Firmware and modded Kodi are the key here with these devices. LE / CE / OSMC have been built from the ground up to run Kodi as bug free as possible and the Linux based OS's and Firmware are highly optimised by each LE / CE / OSMC team for each specific hardware family they are run on, be that Intel, AMD, RPi or AMLogic.

High Bitrate 4K HDR Bluray Rips need a device with Gigabit Ethernet (1000M). Be that either built into the media player or using a USB3 > Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

Wireless remotes, like the USB Mini dongle ones (eg MINIX A2 lite) are Plug n Play.
Any Mini Keyboard comes in real handy for Kodi Keyboard shortcuts (click)

Virtually all Infra Red remotes on these cheap Android boxes are rubbish.

BTW: all but one of the OpenELEC developer's abandoned the project and are now operating LibreELEC.
CoreELEC is a LibreELEC fork specifically focused on Linux / AMLogic Kodi Leia. Wink

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Sorry, meant LibreElec. Used OpenElec for over a year then this Xmas was thinking, hey, when was the last time I saw an update, then found out it was no more and switched to LibreElec. Still keep calling it OpenElec out of habit. Big Grin

I've always had a PC with SATAIII drives in it for media... but with all the devices now wanting to stream off it, I decided to switch to a 2-Bay NAS for my 2x3TB drives. Getting the WD My Could EX2 Ultra. Specs seem ok, reviews are good, know the brand... Cat6e ethernet cable to the android box... TP-Link TL-WR1043N 10/100/1000 router 10 feet away which is where the NAS will also be connected. 

Ideally, I wanted to just wipe Android off, no dual boot just straight CoreElec with Kodi 18. Make it as fast as I can. Try it a few months and see how it goes, then buy 2 more for the other 2 TV's. Those will probably get S912 2GB Quads... not used nearly as much as mine, older 1080p TVs, mostly used for the occasional 1080p 4000kbps H264/H265 movie, maybe YouTube. They have cable TV and watch it 95% of the time... even movies on TV that I have on the server so, why bother. Mostly just want to get rid of the Dell desktops that take up space and likely use way more hydro.

Remotes, I'm hoping I can get my Sony universal to work with the Android box. I really hate needing 2 remotes. It works now with LibreElec, but mostly because I modded my case with a Flirc board (not usb stick so can't transfer over) and the other TVs have the HP iR receiver plugged in. Hoping the iR on the boxes work with regular remotes. Though if they do I suspect I have to reprogram them. Never done that before with LibreElec. I also have a Rii... rarely used but handy for YouTube searches.

Is there an app or anything you guys use to benchmark and get the actual specs with? One thing I read was that a lot of these places making boxes, will say 3GB ram, and force the android OS to display 3GB when in fact there's only 2GB. Or an older chip than the S912. Actually faking the specs on screen. I'll open the box for sure to look and maybe check the thermal paste and mounting of the heatsink... but would be nice to run an app, get accurate specs in case I need to send it back because not what I ordered.
Operating System: CoreElec with Kodi 18
System: Beelink GT1 Ultimate - Android 7.1, Amlogic S912 Octa-Core 1.5 GHz, 3GB DDR4
Storage: WD MyCloud EX2 Ultra NAS - 2x4TB WD Blue (WD40EZRZ)
Display: 55" TCL 55R615-CA 4K TV
Reply
For S905X, S905D, S912 with LE/CE or Vero 4K with OSMC:
- Does not send the correct MaxFALL, MaxCLL HDR metadatas
- SD upscaling quality is very bad (compared to a RTD1295 or a software Lanczos3/Spline36)
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I've just "upgraded" my old box for a T95Q 4/64 mainly to use it with Kodi and to be able to keep all my media in one place ... I've an old Rii i8 Wireless keyboard copy which was really laggy with the old box and one of the reasons for upgrading but it's the same with the new one. I "borrowed" the wireless keyboard from my laptop and tried it and that works almost perfectly but not quite. 

I had put the receiver in direct line of sight but that didn't help and assumed it was the keyboard until I tried it today with my laptop and it works flawlessly from much further away.

Anybody any ideas what it may be and if there are any settings I can change, it's so bad twice when I've been trying to close Kodi I thought it had frozen the box so ended up re-booting it .... when it happened a 3rd time I just left it and about 45 seconds / 1 min later it closed it .... the buttons are totally intermittent for navigating around Kodi and the pause / play often just don't respond .... it really is bad.

If anybody has experienced similar and knows of any fix ... or wireless keyboards that may be more applicable would be appreciated.
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Question 
Hey guys and gals, 

I am looking to buy me a small & cheap dedicated device for playing back 1080p material with audio ranging from 6ch AAC, DD+ all the way up to DTS HD-MA & Dolby TrueHD (No DTS X nor Atmos). 
What I have gathered from this thread is that the small android box AMLogic S905W seems to take the price. 

I would just like to have some questions answered before I venture on to purchase one of these: 

1. Will I be able to use a Bluetooth Remote to control KODI?  
2. Can I use an external HDD to playback the files? (No streaming for me just yet
3. Can the device be set to always boot to KODI?  
4. In the future I might start streaming HBO, Netflix & ViaPlay - will the device be capable of streaming from these services? (I am a complete newbie in the world of streaming, as I only have 8mbit line at the moment).  

If another device is more suited for my usage, feel free to share - doesn't matter if it's Linux, Android, DIY or prebuilt. I really just want a cheap setup that does the job without any hassle (after being set up that is). 


Cheers!
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And oh, I need 24p auto refresh rate change. I cannot do without it.  

Could not edit my previous post
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(2019-02-08, 00:59)Emulle Wrote: Hey guys and gals, 

I am looking to buy me a small & cheap dedicated device for playing back 1080p material with audio ranging from 6ch AAC, DD+ all the way up to DTS HD-MA & Dolby TrueHD (No DTS X nor Atmos). 
What I have gathered from this thread is that the small android box AMLogic S905W seems to take the price.

Hi mate. Welcome. Smile

The S905W really is entry level and I would only use it for 1080p & DD+ and HD audio running CoreELEC Kodi.
The specific ones with the included USB mini dongle (rounded) remote do not have Bluetooth. You really need a USB mini dongle receiver remote to use CoreELEC.

Quote:I would just like to have some questions answered before I venture on to purchase one of these: 

1. Will I be able to use a Bluetooth Remote to control KODI?
No. Bluetooth remote's - getting them to be fully compatible, if they connect at all in the first place is one big can of worms.
USB receiver Mini dongle remote's / keyboards are a lot more compatible, because they are Plug n Play. Plug USB receiver in and away you go.

The MINIX A2 lite remote is my personal favorite.

Quote:2. Can I use an external HDD to playback the files? (No streaming for me just yet
Yes but some Android devices have issues these days with NTFS or exFat formatted hard drives. Especially the new Fire TV Stick and the Mi Boxes and a bunch of other Android devices running Android Oreo. No issues with the Linux based Kodi OS's like LibreELEC or CoreELEC.

Quote:3. Can the device be set to always boot to KODI?
Not sure about Android, but LibreELEC / CoreELEC boots straight into Kodi. I would not use cheap Asian sourced boxes for Android Kodi anyway.

Quote:4. In the future I might start streaming HBO, Netflix & ViaPlay - will the device be capable of streaming from these services? (I am a complete newbie in the world of streaming, as I only have 8mbit line at the moment).
This is where you have to buy legit Netflix approved and DRM certified devices.
All the dirt cheap Android TV boxes from Asian sellers will not have the necessary approvals. See Post #1, down near the bottom of this very thread for detailed specifics.

Quote:And oh, I need 24p auto refresh rate change. I cannot do without it.

LibreELEC / CoreELEC / OSMC Kodi capable devices CAN definitely do that as well as all DD+ and all HD audio passthrough.
Cheap Android devices definitely can NOT do auto 24p - well apart from the cheap Amazon Fire TV's.



Everything is a compromise, nothing is perfect especially at the cheap end of the market.

Just recently I've been playing around with small, powerful RK3399 equipped - Rockchip devices which will come into their own in 2019 for Kodi...
Best DIY bang for the buck, especially for LibreELEC Kodi Leia is actually the Rock Pi-4 (click) - you only need 1GB RAM for LibreELEC.
It does not do HDR properly - or HD audio passthrough yet - but it's RK3399 is a damn fast, powerful chipset. A LOT faster than dirt cheap RPi's or S905 AMLogic hardware.
With LibreELEC Kodi - 5.1 DD+ and 7.1 HD audio is decoded into 5/.1 / 7.1 LPCM - so there really are no audible differences anyway. Works well.

The Kodi Leia Netflix Addon (click) can be used with CoreELEC or LibreELEC Kodi Leia. Only downside is it does not always stream 1080p Netflix for some reason. The RK3399 can software decode 1080p Netflix. AMLogic devices are limited to 720p Max.



Cheapest 24p auto refresh switching, Netflix approved, DRM certified Kodi capable media player is the new Amazon 4K Fire TV Stick.
Does not do 7.1 HD audio passthrough, but again decodes to 7.1 LPCM. Do not use it for watching broadcast interlaced TV from a HDHomerun.

USB Hub's need to be used for Hard Drive connection - even then I'm not sure NTFS or exFat formatted HDD's are compatible with Amazon's Fire OS.
You would have to ask in the Fire TV Stick thread specifically about Hard Drives.

Fire TV 4K has the best wireless remote in the business.
It's the closest cheapest device you will find to a network streaming - "All in one" media player on the market.

W.

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(2019-02-01, 10:53)djnice Wrote: For S905X, S905D, S912 with LE/CE or Vero 4K with OSMC:
- Does not send the correct MaxFALL, MaxCLL HDR metadatas
- SD upscaling quality is very bad (compared to a RTD1295 or a software Lanczos3/Spline36)
 We are working on MaxFALL/MaxCLL
SD upscaling is a limitation of the HW, so we can't improve it

S
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