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4K - HTPC selection
#1
Wink 
I am planning to buy a new HTPC for Plex server, Kodi and PlexBMC. I will also have to purchase a new TV, but I do not believe that OS Android on for e.g. Sony is perfect and I will still need some proper HTPC. The question is which one is good for me. I am keen to use 4K and I believe that makes me to incline more in Pine 64+ way.

From what I understand Pine 64+ (not sure about ODROID-C2) can not play 4K under Linux because Kodi does not support it, but under Android this should be fine. I will probably have to explore some remote capatibilities and other things, but this is a way to go.

I did not wated to have 2 NAS servers running 24/7 since I already have this one at home.

1) Does it make any sense to buy Raspberry Pi 3 when its not able to run 4K video?
2) Do you guys have any experience with Pine 64+/ODROID-C2 and 4K playback? I need to be sure that this is reliable before I will buy it.
3) If there are any other HTPC devices like these then what should I buy for 4K video?

Thanks a lot.

Huh
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#2
Before you even get started the GPU in the Pine 64+ being a Dual core Mali 400 MP2 is at least six years old.
In tech terms it is an absolute dinosaur and no longer suitable for a Kodi media player in 2016. Certainly not 4K.

The AMLogic S905 in the C2 has a Mali 450 that certainly supports 4K video playback, and also comes with HDMI 2.0 and a 10bit 4K HEVC(H265) Hardware decoder. Be aware you need HDMI 2.0 for full 4K 24/25/30/50/60Hz video playback capabilities and not just be limited to 4K at a max. of 30Hz refresh rate, you get with HDMI 1.4.

Basically the C2 as a LibreELEC / Kodi media player, will eat the Pine64+ for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With two desert helpings on the side without breaking sweat.

Have you read the Pine64+ FAQ ?
https://www.pine64.com/product

Quote:PINE64 provides Almost full motion playback of up to 4K H.265 high-definition video.
Sounds like Marketing B.S. to me.



Your choice is pretty simple you either want 4K Hardware support or you don't, the RPi3 is a mighty fine 1080p media player, but no 4K and no Hardware HEVC decoding, which is really needed for 4K going forward into the future. Plus it does not have HDMI 2.0 either.

There is a whole Army of cheap AML S905 devices out. But you will not get after sales seller support for them and the Firmware is usually lousy.

There are other properly supported AMLogic S905 4K devices out as well, the MINIX U1, the soon to be released WeTek Hub and you can always spend more money as the nVIDIA Shield comprehensively supports 4K as well. These all have the required HDMI 2.0 connector as well.

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#3
Image
First decide what functions / features you expect from a system. Then decide for the hardware. Don't waste your money on crap.
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#4
Yes, I want 4K hardware, because I find buying non-4K to be bad choice these days where there is lots of 4K content comming our way. Its like buying iPhone 1 (old like Rambo) when there is 6/7 out there (I do not love Apple that much, but this is rather easy explanation). I really have no idea about which CPU is newer and lost track about this like 10 years ago.

I would like to make a list, so Pine 64+ is out of the game, ODROID-C2 is still in the game and there are "new players" in the game:
- nVidia Shield
- MINIX U1
- WeTek Hub (not yet released)

I would also like to mention that I will make my decision and purchase not sooner than in 3 months, so I have plenty of time for new devices that are about to be released.

Which one of these or lets say two of these should I focus on?

Thx guys.
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#5
(2016-05-05, 16:38)Mufimufin Wrote: 1) Does it make any sense to buy Raspberry Pi 3 when its not able to run 4K video?
Pi 3 makes a lot of sense if you want a low cost HD player. Unless you have 4K content you need to play then HD is not a huge limitation. There is very little 4K content you can play on anything other than the nVidia Shield or Amazon Fire TV 2, which have support for 4K content now (outside of Kodi) using Netflix or Amazon.

Pi 3 does a great job with SD and HD, 3D and plays HD Audio losslessly decoded to PCM 5.1/7.1.

Quote:2) Do you guys have any experience with Pine 64+/ODROID-C2 and 4K playback? I need to be sure that this is reliable before I will buy it.

Yes - I have had good success with 2160/50p and 59.94p HEVC content on the C2. This content is not widespread and not yet something I'd be buying a box for as the HDR specs we will use for high-end 4K are still fluid. The C2 doesn't have DTS-HD support at the moment, but will bitstream True HD alongside DD and DTS. Currently no PCM 5.1/7.1 output either. VC-1 interlaced support still lacking too.

So Pi 3 better for audio currently and does 3D and interlaced VC-1, C2 better for video as it does 4K and HEVC. Both great value. C2 probably the longer term bet but not as solid yet.

Ignore the Pine 64.

Keep an eye on the Wetek boxes.
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#6
I have just checked those boxes above and here is the result:
1) Nvidia Shield is not being sold in my country and I would therefore have to look abroad. Its price is not that bad, but when I add toll, VAT and shipping I am starting to think whether custom PC build would not be a better choice. What I like is the fact that this is a game console and I wanted to have some even when I do not have time for it, but sometimes we have visitors, get drunk, etc. and this could be a good thing to do. Another thing I am affraid of are limitations of this box because the last time when I had something like that I ended with my old Windows Vista based laptop (Sony Vaio FW31J) as my HTPC and this one can play 99,99% of what I throw at it through my Plex Server. These are however not deal breakers and if someone more experience tells me that this is my best option I will still consider it.

2) MINIX U1 - Basically the same as above except the fact that this is being sold in my country and its rather cheap. There seems to be a problem with the performance of its internal player , but Kodi seems to be fine - https://www.avforums.com/review/minix-ne...view.12167 .

3) Wetek Hub does not seems to have that good hardware capatibilities as others - http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/03/09/w...processor/ . Only 1 Gb of RAM.
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#7
I was thinking about Pi3 earlier, but as mentioned above when I buy new 4K TV and Pi3 these two will probably not go that good together (Ferrari and Fiat) and I will regret my decision.

Regarding the content there are lots of options these days, so this is really not my concern. These numbers will grow in the upcoming years.

Before I discovered these small boxes I was thinking about building custom HTPC or "retire" another of my laptops.

Regarding that audio requirements. I would love to buy some at least 5.1 receiver and repro set, because I am used to that from home and TV audio is not sufficient anymore. My HTPC should therefore support it (from the content) if possible.
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#8
Beware becoming a slave to hardware specs. Software and firmware support and updates are far more important. No point having great specs with buggy software that doesn't get fixed. Wetek have a great reputation for support.
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#9
You are right and this should indeed be one of my selection criterias.

The only thing I update on my HTPC now is Kodi version (Plex Server and other apps are on my custom build Linux Mint NAS). I have disabled updates for Windows Vista completely and I also believe that these are not being released anymore.

Since everything will have to be combined now I am thinking about the fact whether Android OS on these boxes can run Plex Server and Kodi at the same time? I am little affraid of this and it would be good to have Linux based HTPC between the final 2-3 options before I will make my decision. That is because it seems that Android OS does not still contain all apps I am used to have on my current Linux based NAS (e.g. Sonarr, Couchpotato, Sabnzbd) and I do not want to have another 24/7 Linux NAS in that new place where I am planning my HTPC for.

Which one of those boxes that are still "in the game" you would buy if you were me and why?
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#10
I'd add to your list:
- HiMedia Q10 Pro available now, or upcoming Q5 Pro. Can do HDR 10-bit and Dolby Vision
- Kaby Lake Intel h/w, if you're willing to wait until year's end. 10-bit, yes. HDR, no
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
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#11
Thx.

That 10-bit capability is interesting. I also like the fact that Q10 seems to support internal hard drive. Is not 1.4a only HDMI an issue (not 2.0 UHD)? I think that you refer to this thread 265888 (thread) , right? This box is not yet in our country, but I can buy abroad if necessary. What is the difference between HiMedia Q10 and Q11?

I have just found that Evolveo Android Box Q5 4K box have problems with external hard drives because of Android. Is that the one you had on your might or something else more "upcoming"?

I will probably not be able to wait longer than until 9/2016. Which one of those mentioned in this thread is your favorite then?

Btw. are these boxes capable of running 24/7 with low consumption, sufficient cooling, etc. if necessary or this is rather "turn on demand" thing?
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#12
For 4K right now, nVidia Shield or HiMedia Q10 Pro. Former is expected to get HDR update, but latter already has it, and playback is smoother for every kind of 4K I've thrown it, with excellent PQ. With Shield, some 4K exhibit judder, especially noticeable in pans.

WeTek Hub/Play2 should be available soon, and offer more 10-bit 4K choices, but won't have HDR. Not that there's much HDR content at present anyway, other than samples and demos. But, if/when we can rip UHD BD's, that's another story.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
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#13
If there is some noticeable judder then shield is no go for me.

I still have some time, so perhaps there will be some more recommendations from other users in this thread and also valuable experience not only with these, but also with those new boxes.
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#14
(2016-05-05, 23:29)Mufimufin Wrote: Since everything will have to be combined now I am thinking about the fact whether Android OS on these boxes can run Plex Server and Kodi at the same time? I am little affraid of this and it would be good to have Linux based HTPC between the final 2-3 options before I will make my decision. That is because it seems that Android OS does not still contain all apps I am used to have on my current Linux based NAS (e.g. Sonarr, Couchpotato, Sabnzbd) and I do not want to have another 24/7 Linux NAS in that new place where I am planning my HTPC for.

Which one of those boxes that are still "in the game" you would buy if you were me and why?
Forget about Android completely. It s not going to run those Apps at all. You need to get an i Series Intel NUC for Plex transcoding. 4K will be limited to 30hz video output over HDMI. i.e. Movies are 23.976/24fps so you will be fine.
Hardware decoding of HEVC recommended for 4K, and for that a Skylake NUC would be needed.

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#15
That looks good! Does any of these Intel NUC boxes have HDMI 2.0 for 4k @ 60 hz? It seems that all of them have HDMI 1.4. I am not sure what I will miss without 2.0, but since this is out for some time would not it be good to choose a device with this version of HDMI?

Do I need Plex transcoding? I mean can I run Plex Server + 4K with any of these boxes without transcoding and lower quality / frame rate? Its basically going to be on the same machine. If that will be a problem then perhaps I should ditch Plex Media Server on this new set-up and download content from my other Plex Server manually (be a monkey from time to time)? I do not use Plex on smart phones and tablets, so this is not an issue.

Which one of these Intel NUC boxes is the most suitable for my purpose? I have noticed they have i3, i5 and i7 editions.
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