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Pick the Right Kodi Box (UPDATED FEB 2015)
Is there an alternative to the Asus Chromebox answer for "[The "I Just Want the Best Kodi Experience I Can Get in A Small Quiet Box in 2015" Category]" ?
I guess that would be a simple Windows box with same/better hardware, for about $250-$300 range.
How is ASUS VivoPC-VM40B-02? http://www.amazon.com/Asus-VivoPC-VM40B-...00KU54KPQ/
Very shiny!

I wouldn't count windows in the equation really.

An alternative is RPi2.

If you were stuck on windows then a Liva or a BI320 might be good choices.
If I have helped you or increased your knowledge, click the 'thumbs up' button to give thanks :) (People with less than 20 posts won't see the "thumbs up" button.)
(2015-05-26, 06:18)nickr Wrote: Very shiny!

I wouldn't count windows in the equation really.

An alternative is RPi2.

If you were stuck on windows then a Liva or a BI320 might be good choices.

Thank you, I am not really stuck with windows, but I just don't want to have to fiddle with programming/formatting and all that settings, plus I have a windows friendly environment so I'd prefer to keep it same and familiar, especially when I am not home, kids & wife can easily use the device as a computer if they just need to check youtube quickly, etc, and sharing from one Win PC to another, also be able to port my existing XBMC setup from my Current Win 7 system to a new one. My existing PC is getting extremely loud and it's lacking gigabit, faster ram, 5.1 audio, etc.

Lastly, my new HTPC should be OK to handle external BluRay drive if I decide to get rid of my PS3 one day. I miss watching BD time to time, so it would be nice, but not %100 necessary. I guess Liva probably can't handle these and it doesn't have enough USB ports to power my 3 passport drives and all other stuff I have going on with my PC.

For the price, you are getting everything with Asus, although I am not very confident in Intel Celeron 1007U Processor

I know there are others with proper Intel processors like
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6856164010 with Core i3-4010U
and
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6856102052 with Core i5-4250U

And GIGABYTE one has an offer now from newegg and it comes with SSD and RAM, though 64GB can only be boot drive, not much can be stored in there.
(2015-05-26, 05:56)hyde01 Wrote: Is there an alternative to the Asus Chromebox answer for "[The "I Just Want the Best Kodi Experience I Can Get in A Small Quiet Box in 2015" Category]" ?
I guess that would be a simple Windows box with same/better hardware, for about $250-$300 range.
How is ASUS VivoPC-VM40B-02? http://www.amazon.com/Asus-VivoPC-VM40B-...00KU54KPQ/

I have a vivo pc with kodi and I'm pretty happy with it. However I installed ubuntu, and configured a few minor things.

The only real issue I'm having is with audio output through HDMI. Sometimes, for no obvious reasons, HDMI audio refuses to work. I usually manage to revive it by starting ubuntu native media player...
(2015-05-26, 05:56)hyde01 Wrote: Is there an alternative to the Asus Chromebox answer for "[The "I Just Want the Best Kodi Experience I Can Get in A Small Quiet Box in 2015" Category]" ?
I guess that would be a simple Windows box with same/better hardware, for about $250-$300 range.
How is ASUS VivoPC-VM40B-02? http://www.amazon.com/Asus-VivoPC-VM40B-...00KU54KPQ/

in that case, why aren't you looking at the HP Stream Mini / Zotax BI320 (Haswell Celeron 2955/57U), or MSI Cubi (Broadwell Celeron 3205U), or even a Core i3 NUC? That Asus is a terrible value with outdated hardware
(2015-05-26, 07:25)hyde01 Wrote: Lastly, my new HTPC should be OK to handle external BluRay drive if I decide to get rid of my PS3 one day. I miss watching BD time to time, so it would be nice, but not %100 necessary. I guess Liva probably can't handle these and it doesn't have enough USB ports to power my 3 passport drives and all other stuff I have going on with my PC.

For the price, you are getting everything with Asus, although I am not very confident in Intel Celeron 1007U Processor
Yep listen to Matt, he knows his shit. Wink

These recent Intel Haswell and Broadwell Celerons in the HP/Zotac/MSI are perfect for what you want.
- Run Kodi very well and nice for lightweight Windows duties.
- Has all the USB Ports you could want
- Does not sound like a jumbo jet when operating !

You will get far better value and a nice elegant device if you ditch the BluRay. Its really not worth the hassle.
- Definately don't buy dated ASUS hardware.
- Have a read up about the HEVC codec as well. You will most likely want to be able to decode that and if that is the case seriously consider the Broadwell MSI Cubi over anything else mentioned.

(2015-05-25, 23:50)Topken Wrote: Take a look at the Zotac BI320 then since it has a built in Toslink port and there are 2 models the fully loaded with 2gbs of ram a 64gb mSATA ssd and wIndows 8.1 with bing then there is the barebones model which is missing everything including the mSATA slot but a 2.5" 64gb SSD plus 2gbs of ram running openelec might be cheaper then the chromebox.

Great tip.

The zotac bi320 goes for 133 euro' s, the ci320 for 155. The gigabyte brix bxbt 2807 for 120, brix btce 2955 for 155. These are all barebones.
The mede8er 3d is about 133,-
A pi2 kit will set me back about 60,-

Which option will give the best value for the money?

Tnx!

Edit: barebones.
Go with something popular and proven here on the forums with a Haswell 2955U Celeron in it. Best low cost VPU/GPU for Kodi.
That being the Zotac BI320. Add RAM, SATA3 SSD and possibly a Flirc IR receiver.

Zotac BI320 thread here:
forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=211925&page=2

RPi2 will give you 3D MVC mkv playback. 3D MVC iso's playback coming down the pipe.
Be aware the RPi2 can also do Optical out if you get a Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II usb adapter.
You will also then need a IR receiver like a Flirc for the Harmony remote. But HDMI-CEC control is built into the RPi2.

(2015-05-26, 11:32)wrxtasy Wrote: Go with something popular and proven here on the forums with a Haswell 2955U Celeron in it. Best low cost VPU/GPU for Kodi.
That being the Zotac BI320. Add RAM, SATA3 SSD and possibly a Flirc IR receiver.

Zotac BI320 thread here:
forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=211925&page=2

RPi2 will give you 3D MVC mkv playback. 3D MVC iso's playback coming down the pipe.
Be aware the RPi2 can also do Optical out if you get a Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II usb adapter.
You will also then need a IR receiver like a Flirc for the Harmony remote. But HDMI-CEC control is built into the RPi2.

Thank you!
If i add the ssd and ram i get the same price as the previously mentioned MSI cubi.
So I'm back at 220-230. I guess the better value would be the cubi if I understand the previous posts correctly.

I will read up on the window vs openelec discussions and order away Smile
I was about to pull the trigger on the Asus Chromebox (want to connect it to my TV and install Kodibuntu to stream flash-based movies) but the MSI Cubi pride drops seem tempting. Does the Asus Chromebox have any edge over the MSI Cubi? Obviously I would miss the great E-Z Setup greated for the Chromebox (I'm not used to installing Linux/Kodi).
(2015-05-26, 22:45)Tigerman82 Wrote: I was about to pull the trigger on the Asus Chromebox (want to connect it to my TV and install Kodibuntu to stream flash-based movies) but the MSI Cubi pride drops seem tempting. Does the Asus Chromebox have any edge over the MSI Cubi? Obviously I would miss the great E-Z Setup greated for the Chromebox (I'm not used to installing Linux/Kodi).

the Cubi is one generation newer than the ChromeBox (Broadwell vs Haswell), but outside of GPU-assisted HEVC decoding on Windows, the hardware differences are negligible. And outside of flashing the custom firmware on the ChromeBox, installation of OpenELEC/Kodibuntu is identical - just install from USB media.

If you're going to run Linux, the Cubi doesn't have any real performance advantage. When the Cubi is selling at normal price ($150 barebones), the ChromeBox is the better buy if you don't need a larger SSD.
(2015-05-26, 08:47)Matt Devo Wrote: in that case, why aren't you looking at the HP Stream Mini / Zotax BI320 (Haswell Celeron 2955/57U), or MSI Cubi (Broadwell Celeron 3205U), or even a Core i3 NUC? That Asus is a terrible value with outdated hardware

Thank you so much, I am just getting used to these new processor numbering/naming, I understand now anything 29xx and above is good, of course 32xx is better. No, I am yet to see anything with Core i3, I am sure they are out there, but it gets very pricey, over $400 because all i3's i've seen are barebones, while I like the barebone, I just don't want to spend too much to make it a whole. At $150-$200, it's reasonable but since non of them accept 3.5" drive, I am lucked out when it comes to saving money. This would mean $50 for a drive, $50 for ram, add wifi card, I am over $350 for that.

Thank you once again, so this is perfectly fine for regular HD playback and possible future 4K playback, as well as 4K off youtube?
http://www.amazon.com/HP-Stream-200-010-...B00R7R1GWK

At $180, this is really amazing, although the only thing I am worried about is the storage, this has only 32GB SSD. I guess it should be fine for OS drive and keeping everything outside via USB, should be OK, right?


(2015-05-26, 09:54)wrxtasy Wrote: Yep listen to Matt, he knows his shit. Wink

These recent Intel Haswell and Broadwell Celerons in the HP/Zotac/MSI are perfect for what you want.
- Run Kodi very well and nice for lightweight Windows duties.
- Has all the USB Ports you could want
- Does not sound like a jumbo jet when operating !

You will get far better value and a nice elegant device if you ditch the BluRay. Its really not worth the hassle.
- Definately don't buy dated ASUS hardware.
- Have a read up about the HEVC codec as well. You will most likely want to be able to decode that and if that is the case seriously consider the Broadwell MSI Cubi over anything else mentioned.

I guess the alternative is this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6883218045
$255 with shipping, no tax. But specs are nearly identical to HP box, Intel 2957U and 2GB DDR3, except 64GB instead of 32GB. Is it really worth the difference? Perhaps having more ports (5 USB) and flash reader is benefit.

Yep, I gave up on BD playback, I think it's not worth trying to get something that can playback and also worry about codec purchase, compatible driver, etc.. I'll just keep PS3 for BD for now.


(2015-05-26, 11:32)wrxtasy Wrote: Go with something popular and proven here on the forums with a Haswell 2955U Celeron in it. Best low cost VPU/GPU for Kodi.
That being the Zotac BI320. Add RAM, SATA3 SSD and possibly a Flirc IR receiver.

Zotac BI320 thread here:
forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=211925&page=2

RPi2 will give you 3D MVC mkv playback. 3D MVC iso's playback coming down the pipe.
Be aware the RPi2 can also do Optical out if you get a Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II usb adapter.
You will also then need a IR receiver like a Flirc for the Harmony remote. But HDMI-CEC control is built into the RPi2.

I know your response was to someone else, but it applies to me too, does Zotac take 2.5" regular drive? Just spotted a 500GB for $40 on sale, although it didn't list 9.5mm height but I assume it should be fine.
So that's $105 Barebone, $50 for 8GB RAM, $50 for HDD, $80 for Windows license (or is it more expensive now?), we are up to $280 already.
Is there a reason for anyone to go with Zotac ZBOX-BI320-U instead of ZBOX-BI320-U-W for $255 which comes with everything one needs to run Kodi?

Do these Zotacs and HP's offer sound over HDMI?
The Zotac BI320 is currently going for $200 on amazon fuly loaded. AKA 64gb mSATA SSD, 2GB of ram and windows 8.1 with Bing

http://www.amazon.com/Zotac-Celeron-DDR3...00M2UKY1Q/

The BI320 will handle Audio over HDMI just fine the built in Toslink/SPDIF connector is just a major plus for the ZBox.

Also the Zotac will indeed handle a 2.5" HDD unlike the Chromebox. so thats another + in its favor over the chromebox.
(2015-05-27, 00:41)hyde01 Wrote: Thank you so much, I am just getting used to these new processor numbering/naming, I understand now anything 29xx and above is good, of course 32xx is better. No, I am yet to see anything with Core i3, I am sure they are out there, but it gets very pricey, over $400 because all i3's i've seen are barebones, while I like the barebone, I just don't want to spend too much to make it a whole. At $150-$200, it's reasonable but since non of them accept 3.5" drive, I am lucked out when it comes to saving money. This would mean $50 for a drive, $50 for ram, add wifi card, I am over $350 for that.

not quite - Intel's product naming/numbering is positively confusing for the average consumer (and even some tech folks). The U-series Celeron processors are basically cut-down U-series Core i3's, but the N-series Celerons are based on the Atom architecture. So a 2955U blows the doors off a N2940. Stick with a U-series CPU and you'll be ok.

Quote:Thank you once again, so this is perfectly fine for regular HD playback and possible future 4K playback, as well as 4K off youtube?
http://www.amazon.com/HP-Stream-200-010-...B00R7R1GWK

At $180, this is really amazing, although the only thing I am worried about is the storage, this has only 32GB SSD. I guess it should be fine for OS drive and keeping everything outside via USB, should be OK, right?

basically has the same limitations as the Haswell Chromebox I mentioned before, but works/comes with Windows.


(2015-05-26, 09:54)wrxtasy Wrote: Yep listen to Matt, he knows his shit. Wink

Smile

Quote:I guess the alternative is this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6883218045
$255 with shipping, no tax. But specs are nearly identical to HP box, Intel 2957U and 2GB DDR3, except 64GB instead of 32GB. Is it really worth the difference? Perhaps having more ports (5 USB) and flash reader is benefit.

Yep, I gave up on BD playback, I think it's not worth trying to get something that can playback and also worry about codec purchase, compatible driver, etc.. I'll just keep PS3 for BD for now.

Basically the same as the ChromeBox/HP Mini, but slightly different configuration. Whether it's worth it or not depends on your use cases. If you're not needing BluRay playback, then do you really need (or want) Windows? If not, then the ChromeBox is your best buy, followed closely by the HP Mini.

Quote:I know your response was to someone else, but it applies to me too, does Zotac take 2.5" regular drive? Just spotted a 500GB for $40 on sale, although it didn't list 9.5mm height but I assume it should be fine.
So that's $105 Barebone, $50 for 8GB RAM, $50 for HDD, $80 for Windows license (or is it more expensive now?), we are up to $280 already.
Is there a reason for anyone to go with Zotac ZBOX-BI320-U instead of ZBOX-BI320-U-W for $255 which comes with everything one needs to run Kodi?

Do these Zotacs and HP's offer sound over HDMI?

All these Haswell/Broadwell boxes support full HD/lossless audio over HDMI.
(2015-05-27, 01:13)Topken Wrote: The Zotac BI320 is currently going for $200 on amazon fuly loaded. AKA 64gb mSATA SSD, 2GB of ram and windows 8.1 with Bing
http://www.amazon.com/Zotac-Celeron-DDR3...00M2UKY1Q/

The BI320 will handle Audio over HDMI just fine the built in Toslink/SPDIF connector is just a major plus for the ZBox.
Also the Zotac will indeed handle a 2.5" HDD unlike the Chromebox. so thats another + in its favor over the chromebox.

That's a fantastic find, thank you for that discovery! I was thinking it was a nice deal for $245 at Newegg, there we have it for $200 at Amazon with much more generous return policy and support, compared to Newegg.
They are identical, if I am not mistaken:
http://www.amazon.com/Zotac-Celeron-DDR3...00M2UKY1Q/
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...6883218045

I guess the only shortcoming(s) is the lack of WiFi and Bluetooth in Zotac in comparison to HP.

(2015-05-27, 01:24)Matt Devo Wrote: Intel's product naming/numbering is positively confusing for the average consumer (and even some tech folks). The U-series Celeron processors are basically cut-down U-series Core i3's, but the N-series Celerons are based on the Atom architecture. So a 2955U blows the doors off a N2940. Stick with a U-series CPU and you'll be ok.
Thanks, I actually wanted to find something with i3, but no luck. Does Zotac or HP make one with i3? I think the only ones I saw with i3's are barebone Intel NUC's and those get pricey. Is there an example I can use as benchmark to include in my comparison (so far it's a short list of HP 200 and Zotac BI320)

(2015-05-27, 01:24)Matt Devo Wrote: basically has the same limitations as the Haswell Chromebox I mentioned before, but works/comes with Windows.
Basically the same as the ChromeBox/HP Mini, but slightly different configuration. Whether it's worth it or not depends on your use cases. If you're not needing BluRay playback, then do you really need (or want) Windows? If not, then the ChromeBox is your best buy, followed closely by the HP Mini.

I want a seamless transition from my 6 year old vostro which I spent a long time to configure with EventGhost and most of my movies are in .flv format. Plus, I am using several plugins that rely on windows streaming, and it's overall compatibility that I want to maintain throughout the house with other devices. What is it that makes chromebox a good (or better) alternative? I noticed there is no easy way to install Kodi (I thought chromebox could just run android version, I was mistaken of course) additionally, I am also considering giving a chance to AmiDuOS for my android trials, I am not sure how secure this is, that's going to be something to try after I make sure it's safe and secure.
-

When I look at HP Stream 200, I see a very nicely built little hardware, the only thing that worries me is the hard-drive. Does it come with recovery software for SSD swap? Or do we need to clone it first? I am not sure if we can install a clean windows in this and use the license from the original installation and be able to get all drivers easily. While I should be able to live with 22GB of available space for on-board storage, at some point I would probably need to upgrade that, so I might as well do that from beginning with a $90 128GB SSD.

(2015-05-26, 08:47)Matt Devo Wrote: in that case, why aren't you looking at the HP Stream Mini / Zotax BI320 (Haswell Celeron 2955/57U), or MSI Cubi (Broadwell Celeron 3205U), or even a Core i3 NUC? That Asus is a terrible value with outdated hardware
I don't know if there is some problem with Asus hardware, I checked a newer version ASUS VM42-S075V, which comes with 2957U and 500GB HDD/4GB RAM, for $230 and the reviews aren't very stellar. I guess it's too new.
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