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Win Intel HTPCs/NUCs & Kodi-native 3D MVC Playback
I'm still get the annoying "python27.dll" missing error w/April 7 build, so have stuck w/April 1... but, nice to hear it's a good build, assuming it installs/runs fine.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
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Comparative Intel MVC 3D Review:
Dell Inspiron Micro 3050 vs. Intel D34010WYK NUC
Updated on May 8, 2016


Overview:

This will be my last review for a while, for self-funded h/w tests. Until Kaby Lake h/w (adding full 4K) arrives at the end of the year, I've settled on an Intel h/w for my dedicated home theater. This was after trying out i5-4570 latop with Intel HD4400 (already had it, but laptop isn't ideal for HT use), DN2820FYKH Celeron NUC, Beelink BT3 with Intel Atom x5-Z8300, and finally D34010WYK i3 NUC and Dell 3050 Micro with Celeron J1800. The last two are evaluated in this comparative review...

Both D34010WYK NUC and Dell 3050 are first-rate Intel boxes with first-rate 3D MVC and HD audio bitstreaming! There are just a couple of key differentiators that may push you, like did me, to one. In my case, I'm keeping the D34010WYK NUC.

In my initial testing of D34010WYK, I had mentioned possibly noticing some ghosting and edge enhancement with 3D. May have had to do with the extra glasses of wine that evening Wink, because upon in-depth testing (with several 3D ISO's, for longer periods), I'm not seeing any such issues. I've now also watched two 3D movies all the way, and both looked great. Also, both D34010WYK and Dell 3050 don't suffer from the dreaded lip-sync error, at least with the April 1 Kodi Windows MVC build I'm relying on for now.


Verdict: Based originally on afedchin's April 1 Kodi 17 MVC Windows build (limited re-testing done w/May 5 build)
  • Overall grade: A+ for both (Dell 3050 is the all-inclusive budget champ, while D34010WYK is the performance horse)
  • PQ = A++ (As many have already chimed in, 3D just looks amazing on compatible Intel h/w, with excellent depth, details and punch!)
  • AQ = A (All formats bitstream; only Dolby Digital Plus is broken in Kodi 17 master at this point, but there's a temporary workaround; see below)
  • User experience = A- (Windows by itself doesn't have that media player feel, but Launcher4Kodi comes to the rescue)
  • Ease of set-up = B+ for both (Some effort is necessary; not that plug-and-play media player with NUC, and for Dell, crapware clean-up; see below)

As I've alluded, the reason for this comparative review isn't to proclaim one "best". That wouldn't be fair as we're talking about a 'budget' Celeron vs. a higher-level performer with i3. Also, just 2GB of preinstalled RAM on Dell vs. 4GB I opted to install on the i3 NUC. It's about the cost to performance ratio, set-up effort, and about the differentiators that may matter to you in spending more for the i3 NUC.


My Dell 3050 Set-Up Details ($125 used off eBay):
  • Nothing to build, or even put together; it's all-inclusive (32GB SSD and 2GB RAM), plus Windows 10 64-bit
    (Learned, of course after having bought it for more, that Dell 3050 has gone on sale for $98 or less, for new. Seriously, no brainer at that price!)
  • Took over an hour however to remove all the preinstalled (cr)apps Angry by Dell, and run CCleaner (including registry scanning, clean-up)
  • Graphics/audio driver combo that worked best was latest as recommended by Intel's Driver Utility

My D34010WYK NUC Build and Set-Up Details ($191 used NUC w/new SSD + RAM):
  • Intel BOXD34010WYK D34010WYK i3-4010U with power cord ($142 shipped, off eBay, used, but nice condition!)
  • ADATA Premier Pro SP310 SATA 6Gb/s mSATA Solid State Drive ASP310S3-32GM-C ($26 via Amazon)
  • Crucial 4GB Kit (2x2GB) DDR3 1600 MT/s PC3-12800 CL11 SODIMM 204-Pin CT2KIT25664BF160B/CT2CP25664BF160B ($23 via Amazon)
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit unregistered w/some limitations (Free)
    (If you can gets your hands on Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 64-bit, use that as @sarcoptic has suggested as it's a pared-down build)
  • SSD and RAM installs were a snap. Just be aware D34010WYK takes mSATA SSD, not the more common 2.5" SSD
  • The best graphics/audio driver combo is v.Beta 15.40.23.4444. But, keep an eye out for later versions

Photo Gallery:

watch gallery



Performance:

With any HTPC set-up, my Windows install is kept minimal (I don't have the LTSB version yet), with only Kodi, Launcher4Kodi, CCleaner and Google Chrome installed. Nothing else, other than background Windows processes, running or installed. Launcher4Kodi is what gives Kodi under Windows that OpenELEC, set-top box or media player feel as you're powering on and booting right into Kodi.

Kodi runs fluidly, and is responsive on both systems in this review. But, some differentiators...
  • [Boot up] Press power button to Windows 10 desktop: Dell about 21 seconds; D34010WYK 18 seconds (minor)
  • [Windows/Kodi use] Both snappy, but D34010WYK is ultra-fast by comparison (you can feel it)
  • [Launch Kodi] Dell 7.5 seconds; D34010WYK just 3 seconds (adds a little time to overall power-to-Kodi straight boot)
  • [Kodi with local movie/TV libraries] Both snappy, neither have lags, but D34010WYK is noticeably quicker (you can feel it)

See my signature below for my HT gear and set-up, basis for this evaluation.

A/V Tests: Applies to both systems, except where noted...
  • [Audio] DD5.1 (640Kbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DD+ 5.1 = fail (no audio)
  • [Audio] DD+ 7.1 = fail (no audio)
    (For DD+ 5.1/7.1, the issue is in Kodi 17 master; disable DD+ under audio passthrough to get lossless multichannel for now)
  • [Audio] TrueHD 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] TrueHD 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] ATMOS = pass*
  • [Audio] DTS (1.5Mbps) = pass
  • [Audio] DTS HRA 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS HRA 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS-HD MA 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS-HD MA 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] DTS:X = pass*
  • [Audio] AAC 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] FLAC 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] LPCM 5.1 = pass
  • [Audio] LPCM 7.1 = pass
  • [Audio] 96kHz, 192kHz and 96kHz/24-bit = all three pass
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 (VOB from a DVD rip) = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:0 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 MPEG2 1080i 4:2:2 = perfect playback on D34010WYK; stutter, jumpy playback on Dell
    (D34010WYK is the first Kodi-capable box I've tested that plays MPEG2 4:2:2 well. @alanisrox69 informed me only non-Kodi WD TV and Popcorn Hour media players have been able to play this demanding video type for him. They're usually high bitrate C-Band satellite captures. Although Dell had issues with this, it did slightly better than Beelink BT3. Most media players, including HiMedia Q10 Pro and nVidia Shield exhibit green-pixellated mess or no picture at all with this)
  • [Video] 59.940 MPEG2 720p = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper '23.97' framerate (as my projector indicates)
  • [Video] 24.000 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970/60.000 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 25.000/50.000 1080p H.264 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 23.976 1080p VC-1 = pass, perfect playback at proper framerate
  • [Video] 29.970 1080i VC-1 = pass, buttery smooth playback by D34010WYK, and on Dell, after initial few seconds of slight stutter, fine
  • [3D MVC] 23.976 3D ISO = pass, perfect playback (my PJ shows '23.94' oddly (vs. '23.97', but didn't notice any frame skips or microstutters)
  • [3D MVC] 23.976 3D MVC = pass, perfect playback (same as above)
  • [3D MVC] Left/right eye swap = pass
  • [Forced subtitles] SRT, PGS forced subs supported in MKV and ISO
  • [Bitrates] Birds clips up to 90Mbps = no sweat, perfect playback
  • [Bitrates] Jellyfish clips up to 255Mbps = no sweat, perfect playback
    (I don't test higher than 255Mbps as there's no point; no existing or upcoming 4K is expected to go higher than 128Mbps)
* For ATMOS and X, I don't have capable h/w set-up yet, but I'm confident both will bitstream these based on users-in-the-know's verifications.


Extras:
  • Both systems will do HD steaming of Netflix, Amazon, etc. (either via Windows store apps or simply via Google Chrome) as added value, making this better options over most Android boxes.
  • For Logitech Harmony remote control users, adding D34010WYK is a snap. No MCE or FLIRC dongles needed, as D34010WYK has front IR. For Dell, you'll need to use an IR dongle or try Bluetooth.

Support:

A+, via this thread with helpful user insights, and via @afedchin's developmental thread. @movie78 and I've chatted about this, and our only concern is that @afedchin seems like the sole developer behind MVC support in Windows, which we're all benefiting greatly from. While it's great to have @afedchin dedicated to this, I hope other Kodi developers get involved, or if there are and we're unaware, would love to know.


Wrap-Up:

I ended up settling on D34010WYK NUC, but had I never tried it for whatever reason, I'd most likely be just as happy with Dell 3050. But, Intel D34010WYK's extra power, power-to-straight-boot-into-Kodi of about 21 seconds (vs. about 29), ability to play just buttery smooth even those most demanding video types, and integrated IR all together are what pushed me over. But, whether D34010WYK is worth 50% or so more cost for these differentiators for you, that's a very subjective call.

Bottom line, it's a great time for us 3D MVC and all-in-one box enthusiasts with Kodi with Intel h/w, with plenty of options Big Grin! Just see post #1!
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
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(2016-04-09, 20:08)hdmkv Wrote: I'm still get the annoying "python27.dll" missing error w/April 7 build, so have stuck w/April 1... but, nice to hear it's a good build, assuming it installs/runs fine.

I'm pretty sure the missing python27.dll affects people who don't have python installed since I'm not seeing this issue. To fix it easily you could install python and add it to your environment variable.
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Thanks... just install this? And, which version: 2.7.11 or 3.5.1? I know nothing about python, other than the snake variety Wink.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
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(2016-04-09, 20:51)hdmkv Wrote: Thanks... just install this? And, which version: 2.7.11 or 3.5.1? I know nothing about python, other than the snake variety Wink.

Are you talking about the Burmese ones Laugh?

I didn't have to install Python, just copied python27.dll from an old Kodi install.
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To \Kodi\System\, or just to \Kodi?
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
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(2016-04-09, 21:13)hdmkv Wrote: To \Kodi\System\, or just to \Kodi?
To \Kodi
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I would try installing this first Python 2.7.11 - 2015-12-05. As suggested after the install it should already be picked up by windows and Kodi. No messing with copying files etc...
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(2016-04-09, 20:10)hdmkv Wrote: [

I ended up settling on D34010WYK1 NUC, but had I never tried it for whatever reason, I'd most likely be just as happy with Dell 3050. But, Intel D34010WYK1's extra power, power-to-straight-boot-into-Kodi of about 21 seconds (vs. about 29), ability to play just buttery smooth even those most demanding video types, and integrated IR all together are what pushed me over. But, whether D34010WYK1 is worth 50% or so more cost for these differentiators for you, that's a very subjective call.

Bottom line, it's a great time for us 3D MVC and all-in-one box enthusiasts with Kodi with Intel h/w, with plenty of options Big Grin! Just see post #1! INDEED BlushBlushBlushBlushBlushBlushBlushBlush

Great comparison write up, you have made my decision a little bit more easier now...
Going to put my order in!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks!
MY CURRENT MEDIA PLAYER | MY HOME THEATER
MINIX NEO U9-H LIBREELEC v18 Leia | EGREAT A5 | NVIDIA SHIELD
SAMSUNG QLED QN65Q7 | Sony 43 Android TV HDR
XBOX ONE X UHD BLU-RAY | PS4 PRO 4K w/PSVR
ONKYO SBT-A500 DTS X | ATMOS 3.2.1
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For the i3 I assume as you bolded it?
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
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(2016-04-09, 21:41)hdmkv Wrote: For the i3 I assume as you bolded it?

i3 4010u or the i5 4010..

Going to have a glass of vodka then i will make a pickLaughLaugh
MY CURRENT MEDIA PLAYER | MY HOME THEATER
MINIX NEO U9-H LIBREELEC v18 Leia | EGREAT A5 | NVIDIA SHIELD
SAMSUNG QLED QN65Q7 | Sony 43 Android TV HDR
XBOX ONE X UHD BLU-RAY | PS4 PRO 4K w/PSVR
ONKYO SBT-A500 DTS X | ATMOS 3.2.1
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Regarding the lip-sync errors, can some of you test it with this test pattern from Spears & Munsil - AV-Sync Test Pattern
The pattern has Dolby/Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. The first 3 are center channel only and the next 3 are front right & left. I think the pattern needs no instruction. Just carefully observe on which frame the moving square is when you hear the beep. If it is in one of the negative ones, audio is ahead and if on positive audio is behind.

I measured AV-Sync with this test pattern using a Sync-One2 on my Haswell HTPC. This is what I found: (the first number is at the start of the clip and the second number is towards the end of the clip

3/25 build
Refresh Rate on. No delay set
Dolby - +23ms +18ms
Dolby TrueHD - +146ms +99ms
DTS-HD Master Audio - +200ms +162ms

Refresh Rate off. Intel HD graphics output set to 1080p23Hz.
Dolby - +15ms constant
Dolby TrueHD - +77ms constant
DTS-HD Master Audio - +103ms constant

4/1 build
Refresh Rate on. No delay set
Dolby - +48ms +51ms
Dolby TrueHD - +136ms +140ms
DTS-HD Master Audio - +181ms +184ms

Refresh Rate off. Intel HD graphics output set to 1080p23Hz.
Dolby - +24ms constant
Dolby TrueHD - +98ms constant
DTS-HD Master Audio - +106ms constant

I didn't find any difference after FF/RW.

For comparison, these are the numbers from nVIDIA Shield and SMPC 16.2.0
Dolby - -93ms -142ms
Dolby TrueHD - +17ms -38ms
DTS-HD Master Audio - -65ms +4ms (After 1.5 min of playback, the sync seems to settle down within 0 to 5ms).
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(2016-04-09, 20:51)hdmkv Wrote: Thanks... just install this? And, which version: 2.7.11 or 3.5.1? I know nothing about python, other than the snake variety Wink.

no need to install anything

with 0401 build installed goto program files x86/kodi and copy python27.dll to somewhere, install new version, take python27.dll and return it to program files/kodi (youll notice it missing from 0407)
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
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(2016-04-09, 22:44)wesk05 Wrote: Regarding the lip-sync errors, can some of you test it with this test pattern from Spears & Munsil - AV-Sync Test Pattern
The pattern has Dolby/Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. The first 3 are center channel only and the next 3 are front right & left. I think the pattern needs no instruction. Just carefully observe on which frame the moving square is when you hear the beep. If it is in one of the negative ones, audio is ahead and if on positive audio is behind.

I measured AV-Sync with this test pattern using a Sync-One2 on my Haswell HTPC. This is what I found: (the first number is at the start of the clip and the second number is towards the end of the clip

3/25 build
Refresh Rate on. No delay set
Dolby - +23ms +18ms
Dolby TrueHD - +146ms +99ms
DTS-HD Master Audio - +200ms +162ms

Refresh Rate off. Intel HD graphics output set to 1080p23Hz.
Dolby - +15ms constant
Dolby TrueHD - +77ms constant
DTS-HD Master Audio - +103ms constant

4/1 build
Refresh Rate on. No delay set
Dolby - +48ms +51ms
Dolby TrueHD - +136ms +140ms
DTS-HD Master Audio - +181ms +184ms

I didn't find any difference after FF/RW.

This is interesting, I can see differences in sync with different types audio types in 0407 build, I think we can use Kodi a/v sync adjust to get measurements, but it's still slightly subjective.
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
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@wesk05 and @dukester, I'll do the python27.dll copy you've suggested. Also, added this tip to post #1.

Just pared-down my home theater gear. RPi's, gone. All cheap Chinese Android boxes, gone. HiMedia Q10 Pro (pre-production unit soon to be replaced w/production version) and nVidia Shield are my only Android boxes. Still have faint hope nVidia will add MVC, but if not by year's end, it's gone as well.

Getting rid of all Intel h/w except D34010WYK1 NUC and Dell 3050. Former in dedicated HT (below), latter replacing Pi2 in secondary room w/3D display. I'm gonna be busy auctioning off all the removed gear on eBay. Saving up now for ATMOS and DTS:X sometime this year. Need new AVR and 4x height speakers.

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