Cheap TV box to run KODI with possibility to switch to Netflix/Plex/YouTube
#1
Hi.
I want to replace my old gear with sth realtively small (energy efficient - comparing to regular Windows based PC) and relatively cheap (below $120) STB.

Scenario:
  • main use: KODI, but with possibility to modify keymaps and speedup tempo: https://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=10023
  • H264/H265 is necessary
  • FullHD is sufficient, I don't own 4K TV, so I don't need it
  • 5 GHz WiFi and optionally 1000M ethernet
  • possibility to easily switch to AndroidTV-like fullscreen "apps" for Netflix, YouTube and Plex - like in common Android boxes - this is for my kids, they currently use them directly in "not-so-smart" TV, but it's pain the ass
I was reading hardware reccomendation topic, several RPi3 and C2 threads, Xiaomi Mi Box reviews and I'm still stupid.

There's no problem, when it comes do KODI alone. But the requirement is also to have these "external" apps.
Addons for Netflix/YouTube inside KODI is not a solution for me, because it's very complicated and my kids won't be able to use it.

Is it even possible to fullfil these requirements?
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#2
PS. I forgot to mention, that I need to be able to map my network drive (from NAS) over internet. There will be no disks attached directly to box.
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#3
If in the USA the $105 DirecTV deal for the really powerful, fast Apple TV 4K is/was a bargain, then you simply use the MrMC App (heavily modded Kodi Jarvis) to Network to a NAS.
Plays anything you throw at it.

Even simpler is the free Infuse App for playing content from a NAS. The most beautiful App you will find anywhere.
The ATV 4K IS the premier Netflix App media player so far as I'm concerned simply due to its Dolby Digital audio capabilities and tvOS Frame Rate matching.
You do not get these with Android TV when using Netflix.

Siri Voice searching is excellent. Picture quality is quite superb.
Even refurbished ATV 4K are great value.

Yep has Plex, and YouTube and all the usual suspects too, except Kodi. You can even voice Install Apps - Siri "Install Netflix App". Dead simple !

BUT beware the fragile glass trackpad remote. You MUST IMHO get a silicon cover for it to prevent drop breakage.



Android TV under $120 = The Xiaomi Mi Box. Does all the Apps you listed with it's pretty decent Android TV Oreo interface.

The about to be released Firmware update for it has fixed 2.4/5GHz AC WiFi and remote disconnection problems.
It has the best simple Wireless remote you can find anywhere.
Beware 5.1 audio passthrough is still broken with current Firmware.



Third option is the MECOOL M8S Pro L with Bluetooth Voice remote running Android TV Nougat. It's a bit more open and bug free vs the Oreo equipped Mi Box.
Can also run LibreELEC Kodi Krypton if you want to dual boot.



Personally I would still get the high quality ATV 4K if it's available for that bargain price, even if you have a 1080p only TV. It's a bit of a beast. It's simple and the Kids will love it.
The most powerful Plug n Play media player on the market.
Smile

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#4
Thank you for your great input!

Option 1: I personally dislike Apple very much. But even if this would be an option, in Poland I can get one at $199, so it's above my budget anyway.

Option 2: I was wondering about Xiaomi, but then I've read all the negative comments on it, and I'm not really sure for now... Is it really that bad?
Moreover, can I modify default KODI keymaps and apply speed-playback?
I don't need 5.1 audio, I don't have any additional speakers, built-in TV only.

Option 3: In Poland I can buy only M8S W, which have only 2,4GHz and (which is more important) require some stupid air mouse for Netflix, if I read the specs correclty?
Air mouse cannot be used by my kids.
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#5

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#6
I would like to buy something, that is available and may be serviced later in terms of warranty locally.
Not something, that is shipped from abroad.
Hence, this Mecool is not very well represented in Poland, while the Xiaomi is - it has "official" stores, I can get an invoice and the service/replacement is local.
Also, which may means sth (or not), it's officially listed on AndroidTV webpage.

I would read more about potential failures with Xiaomi to see, if this will in any way bother me (as I stated, I don't need 4K nor 5.1 sound, so many of the problems with this box is irrelevant for me).

Anyway, I would like to ask anyone with Mi Box, is the Android system similar to Android on phones?
Would I be able to install some kind of file manager and edit files or Android TV is completely closed?
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#7
(2018-08-17, 15:01)raven6679 Wrote: I would like to buy something, that is available and may be serviced later in terms of warranty locally.
Not something, that is shipped from abroad.
Hence, this Mecool is not very well represented in Poland, while the Xiaomi is - it has "official" stores, I can get an invoice and the service/replacement is local.
Also, which may means sth (or not), it's officially listed on AndroidTV webpage.

I would read more about potential failures with Xiaomi to see, if this will in any way bother me (as I stated, I don't need 4K nor 5.1 sound, so many of the problems with this box is irrelevant for me).

Anyway, I would like to ask anyone with Mi Box, is the Android system similar to Android on phones?
Would I be able to install some kind of file manager and edit files or Android TV is completely closed?
If you watch any European content then the Mi Box is not a good choice.  It doesn't support frame rate switching - so you won't get content at different frame rates automatically played at the best rate for your TV, and will instead either get judder or have to manually alter frame rate (if you can)

The Mi box also has issues with mounting external USB drives (or did) after a disastrous firmware update to Oreo.

I don't think anyone is recommending it at the moment.
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#8
(2018-08-17, 17:40)noggin Wrote: If you watch any European content then the Mi Box is not a good choice.  It doesn't support frame rate switching - so you won't get content at different frame rates automatically played at the best rate for your TV, and will instead either get judder or have to manually alter frame rate (if you can)
Which is exactly why we have been suggesting Apple TV 4/4K hardware that has this:

About frame rate and dynamic range matching on Apple TV (click)

OR you run LibreELEC Kodi Krypton on cheap AMLogic S9xx hardware, in a dual boot Android / LibreELEC configuration if you want comprehensive auto Frame Rate switching Kodi support.

Support + Kodi auto Frame Rate matching and proper video Sync is simply not possible on Cheap hardware running any Android Kodi.
If you are not worried about that then Android Kodi will be fine, the Kids will likely not notice.

The Mi Box is locked down tight. You cannot root it. It runs Android TV and all the Apps that were required in Post #1
Current bug status is over in Post #1 HERE (click)

The most stable, open, DIY cheap Android device that has working 1080p Netflix. Is the MECOOL M8S Pro L or Pro W.

Android phones run a touchscreen OS. Regular Android devices run a touchscreen/tablet Android OS, However there are very few of them that, at a cheap price, can do 1080p Netflix, simply due to having none of the required copy protection DRM certificates.

Again the MECOOL's are the exception, they have the required DRM and can stream 1080p Netflix.

So the cheap Android boxes of choice that can do 1080p Netflix are once again, the Xiaomi Mi Box or the MECOOL's with their Voice remotes. Both of which run Android TV and do not need any stupid Airmouse for Apps control.

Kodi Keymaps can be modded on any Kodi capable device, using either the Kodi Keymap Editor Addon or any Android File manager.

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#9
OK, so change of plans/requirements.
  • budget up to $100 and not even $1 more
  • no AndroidTV / AndroidTV-like system
  • pure Kodi, boot straight to Kodi/LibreELEC
  • no 4K videos, no HDR, no 5.1/Dolby/SuperHiFiUltravoxtron-Stereo audio
  • NAS/SMB/CIFS support
  • 5GHz WiFi or 1000eth
  • possibility to buy as brand factory-new with full warranty in Poland
This leaves 3 possibilities for me:
  1. RPi3
  2. Odroid C2
  3. Xiaomi Mi Box 3
I am switching my center of gravity heavily towards C2.
Would it be a good choice?
Is C2 better/faster than RPi3?
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#10
(2018-08-24, 10:59)raven6679 Wrote: OK, so change of plans/requirements.
  • budget up to $100 and not even $1 more
  • no AndroidTV / AndroidTV-like system
  • pure Kodi, boot straight to Kodi/LibreELEC
  • no 4K videos, no HDR, no 5.1/Dolby/SuperHiFiUltravoxtron-Stereo audio
  • NAS/SMB/CIFS support
  • 5GHz WiFi or 1000eth
  • possibility to buy as brand factory-new with full warranty in Poland
This leaves 3 possibilities for me:
  1. RPi3
  2. Odroid C2
  3. Xiaomi Mi Box 3
I am switching my center of gravity heavily towards C2.
Would it be a good choice?
Is C2 better/faster than RPi3?
Yes C2 is faster vs RPi3, especially if you use eMMC flash storage and give it an Overclock tickle. (remember you need a eMMC Module Reader too !)

C2 works perfectly fine getting power from a USB port on a TV with THIS cable (click), so long as no 2.5" power sucking Hard Drives are attached.
You can then power OFF / ON the C2 with the TV remote which if you are lucky can then also be used for HDMI-CEC LE Kodi control.

The other decent options are the Gigabit (1000M) equipped S905D boxes. You get LE up and running from a USB stick first and then "Install to Internal" and wipe Android completely. Boots fast and straight into LE after that.

I would recommend this $10 Plug n Play - USB WiFi dongle remote for LE Kodi, you can remap all sorts of buttons using the Kodi Keymap Editor Addon.
You will have a pretty responsive LE Kodi device then Smile


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#11
Thank you for all the answers.
As for remote - I've got my own RF remote/mini keyboard (M3X), which is perfectly good for me.
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#12
(2018-08-24, 10:59)raven6679 Wrote: OK, so change of plans/requirements.
  • pure Kodi, boot straight to Kodi/LibreELEC
  1. Xiaomi Mi Box 3

Xiaomi Mi Box 3 can't run LibreELEC.
Amlogic Odroid N2_S922_4G, Amlogic Box X92_S912_3/32G_Android.7.1.2,  X96Mini_S905W_2/16G_Android.7.1.2 and Mecool KM8_S905X_2/16
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#13
(2018-08-24, 12:50)Sholander Wrote:
(2018-08-24, 10:59)raven6679 Wrote: OK, so change of plans/requirements.
  • pure Kodi, boot straight to Kodi/LibreELEC
  1. Xiaomi Mi Box 3
 

Xiaomi Mi Box 3 can't run LibreELEC. 
Yes, but it has KODI as an "option" to run.
Sorry, that I had phrased this point incorrectly.
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#14
PS. important question - is C2 able to install Kodi 18 alpha?
I'm using great Netflix plugin, which works only with 18 (no 17).
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#15
Yes the CoreELEC guys are doing Linux Kodi v18 Leia support for AMLogic hardware at the moment, do a Google search.

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