2017 Apple TV 4K - using the Kodi fork - MrMC review
#1
Tongue 
30th Oct. 2018

IMPORTANT NOTE - the Kodi forums are NOT to be used for McMC App support.
Yes you can discuss the ATV 4K and how it all works but all MrMC App support should be conducted over on the actual MrMC forums (click)



Lets start by talking about Kodi forks (modified versions), what are they and why do they even exist ?

Usually they spring into existence when there is either a difference of opinion about the direction mainstream Kodi is heading, or developers simply want to optimise Kodi for specific Hardware.
Then there are restrictive App approval policies that various App stores enforce for their various hardware platforms, also known in various circles as the "Walled Garden". Others call it being security conscious.

In this ATV 4K situation we are talking about the Apple Developer Program License Agreement , which forbids any App from downloading and executing additional code that does not already come pre-packaged with the original App itself.
This is a Apple tvOS security enforcement policy. Click HERE for details.

That means no official Kodi App because it has the ability to install additional Skins, and a whole smorgasbord of extra Kodi Addons.

So why have I even bothered writing this review if MrMC is going to be a bit restricted and users have to pay for the full blown App ?
Well because like all Open Sourced Kodi Forks there are good ideas that Popup outside of mainstream Kodi that sometimes get fed back into Kodi itself.
SPMC's - Auto 1080p <<-->> 4K Resolution switching idea is one that recently springs to mind....

...And well simply because the ATV 4K and MrMC combo is a damn good SDR / 4K HDR - HD audio platform, with a beast of a Chipset under the hood. Smile

Lots of detailed Info and links about the ATV 4K over on the AVSForum (click)



ATV 4K Tech Specs (click)

  • 64 bit Apple ARM A10X Fusion SoC
  • 2.38 GHz 6 Core CPU
  • 12 Core Apple customised Imagination PowerVR GPU
  • 3GB LPDDR4 SDRAM
  • 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO; simultaneous dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Infra Red Receiver
  • HDMI 2.0a
  • Bluetooth - Siri rechargeable voice remote with dual Microphones, trackpad and accelerometer
  • Country specific power cable with No power brick.

The Good:
(tested with tvOS 12.0)

  • It's fast, slick and polished platform. Exactly what you expect of a Premium media player.
  • Tight integration and good availability of local Apps, particularly outside the USA. (I'm in Australia)
  • The Apple "TV" App for easy search and discovery of content across various video streaming Apps.
  • tvOS Frame Rate & Dynamic Range matching (click) that Apps like MrMC, Netflix, Prime Video, Plex, Infuse, Emby and more utilise which results in....
  • Ultra smooth video playback with the correct SDR / HDR color outputs no matter what content you throw at the platform.
  • Frame Rate matching is really important for non USA territories around the world that have to deal with 24p & 25 / 50fps video content.
  • Great hardware picture upscaling for viewing non 4K content on a 4K TV. In general picture outputs from the ATV 4K are really good.
  • 4K HDR > SDR dynamic range conversion possible for SDR only TV's.
  • A Dolby Audio Licence so all audio can be downmixed and output as 5.1 DD for DD only audio equiptment support.
  • DolbyVison capable for use with Netflix, iTunes, VUDU and Prime Apps. (Not MrMC). iTunes DV and Atmos content listed HERE
  • DolbyVision compatible 4K TV's that support the "low latency" streaming profile for the above Apps are listed HERE
  • No Bluetooth remote RF interference issues.
  • Excellent, easy to use Infra Red remote control learning of any IR remote using built in tvOS functionality.
  • Easy Harmony Remote integration, this POST has details.
  • Quick Siri Voice searching and control, you can even Voice install Apps and FFWD and RWD using voice alone.
  • The BT remote has an IR blaster, works great for TV or AVR volume control.
  • tvOS Apps - quick =Switcher and Killer (two taps of the TV remote button, and swipe)
  • Excellent thermal engineering and heat control.
  • A "set and forget setup", no need to continually fiddle with tvOS settings for mixed SDR / HDR and DolbyVision usage.
  • Ongoing, regular tvOS Firmware & MrMC updates, that fix bugs and add new features.
  • The most powerful Plug n Play media player on the market.

The Bad:

  • Difficulties holding the small slippery trackpad remote. Drop it on a hard surface and expect to break the glass trackpad, which is why....
  • I had to buy a Fintie silicon cover for the remote to add much needed grip, bulk and drop protection, plus it's coloured so I do not lose it easily.
  • No HDMI 2.0a cable supplied by Apple, the Amazon Basics 18Gbps ones work fine.

Important Limitations maybe Ugly for some:

  • Not so much ugly, but no MrMC - Passthrough (bitstreaming) audio works at all. (Apple tvOS limitation)
  • AC3, DTS, Dolby TrueHD & DTS-MA or HRA audio is decoded to multichannel 24bit 48kHz LPCM, for no loss in audio quality.
  • No passthrough also means No Dolby Atmos or DTS:x ->> the Dolby True HD or DTS-MA HD audio tracks will be losslessly decoded instead.
  • 192kHz FLAC audio will be resampled and output as 48kHz
  • Apple does not support the Google VP9 codec, consequentially all YouTube is 1080p SDR only.
  • No USB port, so all user content has to come from Home Networked file servers such as a NAS, PC / Mac or SMB capable routers with USB ports.
  • Some users are going to find Apple's restrictive App store install only policies and the inability to add extra Skins and Addons to MrMC a real limitation.
  • If that is the case then the ATV 4K - MrMC combo is not for you.

What has landed with tvOS 12.0:
  • Dolby Atmos audio support for use with iTunes, Netflix, VUDU & possibly Prime only streaming Apps at this stage.



MrMC Cool stuff:
(using MrMC v3.7.0 (click))

  • The clean modern fresh looking Apple like Ariana Skin
  • Video thumbnail scrubbing FWD and RWD thru video that is slick, accurate and fast using the remote's trackpad.
  • mySQL, Emby, Plex and TrakTV database integration, accessible from within MrMC. A Plex Skin as well.
  • LightEffects and Hue clients added to MrMC
  • Excellent YADIF2x full motion deinterlacing for OTA TV viewing. SD TV channels can also be "post processed" with MrMC video settings
  • The integration of tvOS dynamic Light and Dark mode for daytime and nightime usage.
  • Excellent integration of the MrMC App with the ATV's 4K remote using Apple's Human Interface Guidelines (click)
  • The heavily modded, MrMC is based on Kodi Jarvis so all the usual Kodi audio and video Scrapers, OTA TV - PVR's etc are still included.
  • Triple tapping the remote Trackpad, quick activates Subtitles, very handy !
  • Literally plays anything you throw at it.

watch gallery


MrMC Not so cool stuff:

  • As previously mentioned no additional Skins or Addons can be downloaded, you get only these extra Skins...
  • Skins - Amber, Ariana (default Skin), Black Glass Nova, MrMC, Opacity & PM3.HD4MrMC
  • Extra Addons included are - OpenSubtitles, Advanced Wake on LAN, Keymap Editor & Library Auto updater (works well)
  • BUG - Smart playlists work, but you cannot back out again to the main menu.
  • Global Search is missing ! - unfortunately I only ran across this one the other day.

Be aware MrMC is a Paid for App - with Lifetime support. Wink



Summing up...

The whole reason I bought the ATV 4K in the first place was for ultra smooth 24p Netflix Viewing and 25i / 50fps MrMC PVR support all in the one box so I do not get mismatched video frame rates and output refresh rates. This is pretty important for those of us outside the USA that have to deal with 25/50fps content as well.

I've followed MrMC's v3.7.0 progress for about 10 months now and it's morphing into a great media player built on the open source community's Kodi Jarvis foundations, even with some Kodi limitations.

Previously the visually jarring problem for myself and other people was the old dated Kodi Jarvis Skins MrMC used vs the new clean modern Estuary Skin used in Kodi Krypton.
The ex Kodi devs in the MrMC crew have a lot of Kodi miles and experience under their collective belts.
And now with the addition of @pecinko's new clean Apple like Ariana Skin it's time to shine ! Smile

Highly recommended.

W.

Reply
#2
Thanks for this overview. (And all the contributions to Kodi, MRMC, LibreELEC and no doubt countless others - when I see your avi I know it's usually worth listening).

Currently have an ATV 4 (non 4K) and an Odroid C2 running LibreELEC (plus a retired RPI 2 Kodi client which now runs DietPi and an Emby server).

Much like you I like the simplicity of the ATV (more importantly so does the wife). We also like having all the official apps like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, ITV Hub etc. on one box. AirPlay is also used a lot. And finally it's a nice always available HomeKit hub.

We don't really use any Kodi video add-ons. The only content add-on we do use is TuneIn radio.

But the local playback options on ATV have so far missed the mark. I've tried Infuse and VLC. And even early Kodi/MRMC in its infancy via the sideload method (reinstalling each time it expired...). But no, having the Pi/C2 as a separate plays all my local content box worked better. 

A few months ago I tried the lite version of MrMC, and as you allude to in your review it had the old skins and the wife didn't like it. But it had a lot of promise. I've been lurking and following the 3.7.0 Testflight thread with high hopes as the tight integration into tvOS, the new skin etc. all seem to point to me finally retiring the C2 (or more likely moving it to another room).

I've only seen snippets of Ariana over on the MRMC forums, so thanks for the gallery too. Looks good, and fits the tvOS style well IMO.
Reply
#3
A Dolby Audio Licence so all audio can be downmixed and output as 5.1 DD for DD only audio equiptment support.
vs.
AC3, DTS, Dolby TrueHD & DTS-MA or HRA audio is decoded to multichannel 24bit 48kHz LPCM, for no loss in audio quality.

As they mean literally the same, if I'm not mistaken. Huh

Also might worth to mention in the "Cons" segment, that it has no 3D MVC support at all. 

Isn't mentioned, but I guess the proper freque switching also for interlaced 59.94Hz material works well with MrMC...?

Still a bit unsure what "OTA TV support" of (or outside?) MrMC would mean? I guess add-ons like Simple IPTV doesn't work, or does it? I guess I will have a closer look at this somewhere...
Reply
#4
(2018-09-04, 16:20)Mount81 Wrote: A Dolby Audio Licence so all audio can be downmixed and output as 5.1 DD for DD only audio equiptment support.
vs.
AC3, DTS, Dolby TrueHD & DTS-MA or HRA audio is decoded to multichannel 24bit 48kHz LPCM, for no loss in audio quality.

As they mean literally the same, if I'm not mistaken. Huh
Actually they do not because tvOS has different audio setting options, namely:

- Use Best Available = 24bit 48kHz Multichannel LPCM - or use the next option instead...
- Change Format > Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital Stereo

and there is a seperate...
- Audio Mode > Auto (highest audio bit depth I assume) or 16bit

tvOS 12.x Beta also has Dolby Atmos Audio options, that is also shows in settings after HDMI EDID handshaking and confirmation of connection to an Atmos capable audio receiver.

Quote:Also might worth to mention in the "Cons" segment, that it has no 3D MVC support at all.
I'm actually not even going to mention 3D MVC due to no current 4K HDR10+ / DolbyVision - TV manufacturers even supporting 3D anymore.

Quote:Isn't mentioned, but I guess the proper freque switching also for interlaced 59.94Hz material works well with MrMC...?
Yes Fractional Frame Rate matching is supported in tvOS Firmware meaning 23.976, 29.97 and 59.94Hz.
I have a bunch of fractional FPS test clips I used for LE development.

The ATV 4K has enough CPU ponies to do YADIX2x 1080i h264 Software deinterlacing. The NVIDIA Shield does not (Koying confirmed that)

Quote:Still a bit unsure what "OTA TV support" of (or outside?) MrMC would mean? I guess add-ons like Simple IPTV doesn't work, or does it? I guess I will have a closer look at this somewhere...
OTA TV = Over The Air TV via an TV Aerial connected to an external TV Tuner/server like a HDHomeRun, TvHeadend, Myth TV etc.
You use the regular MrMC/Kodi PVR viewing Clients with those.

Reply
#5
I have meant AC3 and Dolby Digital means the same. So in your second quoted statement it seems contradictory, as if it supports DD passthrough, it wouldn't need to be converted to PCM. Or what am I missing here? Edit: Yea, you mean it CAN be converted (what I've just guessed in the first place), but not necessarily WILL BE, well than the two statement is still in contradiction, as the second statement isn't 100%-ly accurate as it suggest the AC3 will be converted to PCM in any case. But don't take that as bothering, I get it, but maybe other would be more confused than me.   

And yea, shame on the TV manufactures to neglect 3D nova days, regardless it is still an useful information for those who still have 3D (if maybe just FHD) TV, but also planning rather further with purchasing a timely media player, to just jump over the Apple.

And I know what OTA means, just not how it would work in MrMC.
Reply
#6
(2018-09-04, 18:22)Mount81 Wrote: I have meant AC3 and Dolby Digital means the same. So in your second quoted statement it seems contradictory, as if it supports DD passthrough, it wouldn't need to be converted to PCM. Or what am I missing here?
Yes you are missing something, the audio tvOS options I just outlined above. Please read them again.
All - AC3/DD or EAC3/DD+ IS decoded to multichannel PCM - IF the "Use Best Available" tvOS audio settings option is selected, no matter which App you use.

That is the master audio selector option.
If an audio receiver supports 5.1 DD only, I believe it's assumed that it might also handle 5.1 PCM audio too.
If not then just select the Change Format > Dolby Digital - tvOS audio option.

It really is "set and forget", just don't overthink it ! Wink

Reply
#7
Great work as usual Wrxtasy. Just happen to have a ATV4K in my car right now. I just want it for frame rate synced Netflix, and for that it's a bit too expensive..but yolo I guess.
Reply
#8
(2018-09-04, 11:25)wrxtasy Wrote: 4th September 2018

If you select from the “Top Shelf” e.g. Power in screenshot 1 of the gallery, will it play the episode or go the info screen for that episode? Is it customisable?

Cheers.
Reply
#9
Awesome reviw as all topics from you Smile

I have just one missing thing: the Siri remote should be replaces by a lets say Xiaomi bluetooth remote.

Are you aware of a remote capable of connecting over Bluetooth to the ATV? I connected my afternarket Xiaomi Mibox remote as it was recognized as a Keyboard, it sadly just sends the wrong keys.

If anyone knows a way to do something like that, appreciate an hint.

Regards
Vlaves
Reply
#10
(2018-09-04, 21:32)Vlaves Wrote: I connected my afternarket Xiaomi Mibox remote as it was recognized as a Keyboard, it sadly just sends the wrong keys.

If anyone knows a way to do something like that, appreciate an hint.

Regards
Vlaves

Have you tried editing the keymap using the add on?

https://kodi.wiki/view/Add-on:Keymap_Editor

I think support may have only been added in 3.7.0, so you may have to wait for its release to try:

https://mrmc.tv/forum/viewtopic.php?p=18663#p18663
Reply
#11
FWIW, MrMC on the Apple TV 4K actually can play single layer Dolby Vision files. I'm not sure if any other device on the market can do that. Unfortunately single layer DV playback is not that useful outside of playing demos. Hopefully dual layer DV playback (the type on UHDs) will be possible one day.
Reply
#12
(2018-09-04, 18:00)wrxtasy Wrote: I'm actually not even going to mention 3D MVC due to no current 4K HDR10+ / DolbyVision - TV manufacturers even supporting 3D anymore.
Um, alive and well on several 4K projectors from Sony, JVC, Epson, BenQ & Optoma Smile.
[H]i-[d]eft [M]edia [K]een [V]ideosaurus
My Family Room Theater
Reply
#13
(2018-09-04, 22:36)lockdown571 Wrote: FWIW, MrMC on the Apple TV 4K actually can play single layer Dolby Vision files. I'm not sure if any other device on the market can do that. Unfortunately single layer DV playback is not that useful outside of playing demos. Hopefully dual layer DV playback (the type on UHDs) will be possible one day.
By "dual layer" your mean those that have both the DV and HDR meta-track included? Can't the HDR "part" be muxed out somehow from the video to keep just the DV, i.e. with tSMuxer or similar?  Nevermind, I have just found out that dual layer DV means a completely different thing.
Reply
#14
(2018-09-05, 01:42)hdmkv Wrote:
(2018-09-04, 18:00)wrxtasy Wrote: I'm actually not even going to mention 3D MVC due to no current 4K HDR10+ / DolbyVision - TV manufacturers even supporting 3D anymore.
Um, alive and well on several 4K projectors from Sony, JVC, Epson, BenQ & Optoma Smile.
Seems DolbyVision is what Apple are concentrating on for the 4K streaming Apps. Has anyone release DolbyVision projectors ?

Reply
#15
As for 3D capable and HDR only 4K projector owners it still could be relevant far enough. IMO. DV would work only with streaming apps anyway (aside from demo videos), so that also narrows down those circle significantly, whose would care that much regarding.
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