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TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:27 PM, updated 2y ago

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Introduction

You are looking for an Android box or media player? You are not sure what to get? You want a second opinion? You just want to hang out here with cool people? Well, you came to the right place! biggrin.gif

We will try our best to help...where to buy, what type of box, official TV apps, etc. You want to ask about ahem apps/add-ons/IPTV services? Well I think its OK for a brief discussions but please, sellers no selling, users no showing off, and buyers no asking where to get them...Google is your friend. Provide some background, context and budget so that we can better recommend a box to suit your needs...

Everyone is welcome to participate, lets keep things civil. With that, let's get rolling...

Read post 3 below for some ideas on a few good boxes... Do us a favor, don't simply ask for new recommendation...you'd be asked to come back here & read Page 1. Do your own research, show what other boxes you're interested in, and we will chip in to help.


PS: First pages has been updated, sorry first few pages of comments may seem out of place. blush.gif

This post has been edited by dwRK: Jun 21 2017, 09:40 AM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:27 PM

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Android Box 101 

You probably know what is an Android Box. If not, its just a TV gadget running Linux kernel/Android OS. You install apps to play local or stream online contents. These are some basics to consider...

Android OS
Get Android 5.1 or higher. Android 4.4 is just too old.

Some boxes come with Android TV (Nvidia Shield, Mi Box International, Nexus TV), MIUI TV/GITV (Mi Box 3C/3S), Mango TV (Himedia HK/China). These TV OS are based on Android, and are TV remote friendly. You will not get full Play Store with Android TV. MIUI/Mango TV is for China which ban Google, and is somewhat troublesome to install Play Store. If you need Google, easier to get something else.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


Jailbreak/Root
Jailbreak is for Apple devices...while Root is for Android.
Jailbreak is freedom from Apple's control...Root is just write access rights to its root folder...

Rooting is not required for the box to work as a TV box, or to install TV apps. Some apps will not work after rooting.


RAM/ROM
I recommend 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM. 1GB RAM makes UI response slower, and could lead to buffering, depending on box/app. 8GB ROM is barely sufficient, after Kodi and a few apps you get about 1GB left. The box you like is only 8GB? Don't sweat it, just get it and manage your apk carefully. You can of course get more.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


System on Chip (SoC)
Amlogic S905, S905X, S912 are the most common. Others from Rockchip, Mediatek, Hisilicon, Allwinner, etc. They all work, the top flagships are obviously better. Right now Kodi with V17 is taking a hard-line approach with non-Google standard firmware by chip makers, hence some chips perform better than others with audio pass through & down mix.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


Dolby
If surround audio and video quality is critical, on-chip Dolby processing or licensed firmware is required. Everyone claims full support for pass-through and down-mix, but only a few does this well. Most other cheap boxes rely on software decoding and it can be a hit or miss.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


Miracast/Chromecast
Mirracast - To stream from phone to box, phone is active sending data from phone to the box. Most box will have this.
Chromecast - To stream from internet to box, phone act as controller to set up the internet-to-box streaming connection. Only Chromecast certified boxes have this.

Box I/O
Standard are HDMI, USB, 3.5mm AV jack, remote control. A wired/wireless/air mouse is a must have IMHO. Other connections that may be important:
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


Wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, Bluetooth headsets, USB DAC, USB camera, USB microphone, etc., these mostly all work.

Wi-Fi
Some boxes comes with external antenna, these will likely give stronger wifi connection. Some are dual band. Some has ac in addition to b/g/n. These all add to the cost but improve functionality and user experience.


Codec Support
Some jargons you will see...VP9, HEVC, H.265, H.264, RMVB, HDR, CEC, HDCP, 10-bit, AC3, DTS, blah blah blah...

If you have 4K TV, 4K AVR, then HDR10 & HDMI 2.0 will be important, but most box support anyways.

Most box claims they play everything...but it doesn't claim flawless playback. Check reviews to confirm. Most streaming formats are geared for widespread distribution, backwards compatibility and hence easy to decode...so don't worry about this too much. Just be aware sometime some old oddball file or two may be encoded strangely and can't be played well on any box except the PC...

This post has been edited by dwRK: Jun 14 2017, 01:58 PM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:28 PM

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What Android Box To Get?

1. Buy boxes from reputable manufacturers, the popular ones here are Himedia Q10/Q5 pro and Minix U9-H, U1, etc. If there is an issue, you get good OEM support, not to mention strong fan base. Is it worth paying about 2X the price of cheaper boxes?...It depends smile.gif We are paying for better built, better components, better AV, better QA/QC, better firmware support, etc. You can't tell these from comparing specs alone.

For AV quality, Himedia > Minix. For TV apps compatibility, Minix > Himedia.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


2. Buy boxes from strong brand and big fan base, such as from Bee-link, Alphawise, Tronsmart, Videostrong, etc. If something goes wrong, someone can help. There are vendor reps on Freaktab. These are cheaper so lots of people buy them. Be aware most S912 boxes (eg. Bee-link GT1) has a "dark screen/video" issue but has a quick workaround temporary fix. Those with latest Android 7.1 is fixed.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


3. Buy boxes that are known to be working well. Some brave soul has tested it first, and you know you are not alone... biggrin.gif see further below the box/user list...
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


4. Boxes to avoid?: Older generation Scishion V88 Plus, V99 Plus...many reports of problems. Also M9S Pro has few users complaining of fake amount of memory...

Boxes I Want For Myself (aka my recommendation):
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


Lowyat Dedicated Box Threads:
Beelink - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/4044338/+760
Xiaomi - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3561305/+920 
Himedia - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1849024/+2060 
Minix U9 - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/4057677
Divco - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1166235
Dune - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1879252
Unifi - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3594298/+1940
Chromecast - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/2898757/+160

Lowyat User and Their Box
There are probably many more boxes working well and not reported here... smile.gif most of these are fine.
MK22 Plus [JayceOoi].
Probox 2 [JayceOoi].
T95k Pro [JayceOoi].
Wetek Hub [JayceOoi].
R68 ii [Blurjoey].
GT1 [Blurjoey].
Z83-4 [JayceOoi].
S92 [JayceOoi].
M9S Pro 3/32GB [fruitie].
MX iv [BOTAK_WAI].
A95X S905X [GuyM].
H96 Pro+ [nikrizal].
Zidoo X1 ii [thena123].
Zidoo X6 Pro [thena123]...slow UI reported.
M9 Plus 4k [pluginbaby].
X92 [VeeJay].
KM8 pro [^pomen_GTR^] biggie
Vensmile U1 [dwRK]
KM8p


Old V1: https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3126605/+4940 


Some sample box list from Lazada, minimum Android 5, 2/8GB:
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


Find a box you fancy, Google research it first.  If lots of complains, don't buy.  There will be some complaints somewhere I guarantee you, need to assess if this is one-off or systemic problem. Boxes that benchmark well could still be problematic. Get those that have regular firmware updates and community support. 
 
Places to search for reviews
http://www.cnx-software.com/ 
http://freaktab.com/ 
http://www.eyalo.com/ 
https://androidtvbox.eu/ 
https://www.avforums.com/homecinema/reviews/ 
https://www.avforums.com/forums/network-vid...treamers.332/ 
http://www.avsforum.com/forum/39-networkin...nt-streaming/ 

This post has been edited by dwRK: Jun 14 2017, 10:49 AM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:28 PM

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Android Apps

IPTV is short for Internet Protocol TV...ie, uses internet to deliver streaming content. This includes Live TV and Video on Demand (VOD).

Live TV, is like your normal TV, you keep switching channels until you find one you like. VOD, you select show / movies you wanna watch.

TV Apps
You download and install from Play Store, from other markets, or direct source. They are mostly designed for phones, tablets, TV, not Android boxes hence can have issues as they are not sanctioned as such. So be aware that it might work today and not work tomorrow. These are reported working at some point in time. Just remember geo-restriction applies...

Kodi 16 - All boxes work, except very old ones
Kodi 17 - Android 5 and above. Has surround pass-through issue when streaming online contents.
SPMC - Kodi fork. 16.5 above needs Android 5.
FTMC - Another Kodi fork, supports Android 4 boxes.
Netflix (4K) - Best use your Smart TV, Nvidia Shield, Mi Box, sanctioned devices only.
Netflix (SD) - Netflix recently (2Q17) says no more support for rooted device... will work on most boxes.
Netflix (hacked apk) - Heard about it, i know nothing...
iFlix - Q10 pro, Q5 pro, Q16, U1, T95m, U9-H (DIGI internet), KM8 pro, ... most will work some won't
AOTG - Minix U9-H/U1/X8-H, Mi Box, Huawei HyppTV V8, Vensmile U1, Remix Mini, H96 Pro+ (no more after aotg update), R-Box Pro(hacked box?), Fire TV... boxes that doesn't work (all Himedias, all rooted boxes... )
HyppTV - Remix Mini, Mi Box, U1
YouTube (4K) - Chromecast Ultra, Mi Box?
YouTube - All boxes
Fire TV - Amazon Fire TV / Stick
Tonton - Q16,
RTM Mobile - Q16,

Fully loaded is a keyword for ahem apps, and normally they all work...unless abandoned by developer or its content blocked. Some apps are subscription-based.

Lifetime IPTV is ahem service, you're paying someone to manage the ahem app & content. I don't know what lifetime means... Forever? Your lifetime? Box life? IPTV still in business? The boxes sold together are typically low spec, worth RM 100-180...

Google "free TV movie streaming" and you get lots of hit what apk is what...a lot of these apks operates in the legally grey and black area...

Most of the TV apps above are geared for the western / English speaking market. For Mandarin speakers, the Shafa Market apk has links to whole bunch of China based TV apps, however most need VPN to work nowadays outside of China.


Lowyat TV App Threads
Kodi - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3943906/+2580
SPMC - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/4182519
Netflix - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3828808/+680 
iFlix - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3841807/+120
Astro - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/4156566/+660
HyppTV - https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/2918894/+2260


Utilities I Find Interesting
1. Set Orientation or Rotation Locker - Force landscape mode for Android TV OS with some sideloaded apks.
2. Network Monitor - View network speed between box & router while streaming.
3. Internet Speed Meter Lite - Shows daily/weekly/monthly data usage.
4. Teamviewer - remote access, control & mirror via phone. https://forum.lowyat.net/index.php?showtopi...post&p=83827691
5. CetusPlay - somewhat like Teamviewer but without mirroring; for remote control within the local network only.
6. Shafa Market - Lots of goodies smile.gif try it. Lots of links to China based TV apps, a few great utilities...
7. Droid buddy - A bit like Shafa, but only apps for the western market.


ROMs I Find Interesting
Superceleron – Selective boxes for more streamline/bug-free experience.
AndroidTV - Selective boxes for TV OS experience.
Nexus port -

This post has been edited by dwRK: Jul 6 2017, 05:39 PM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:29 PM

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Other Media Boxes

DVD Player/Media Center/HTPC/etc.
These are some really awesome media players, focusing on audio & video excellence. They are solidly built and really well supported by the OEM. They come with selected streaming apps and sometimes even browser. Mostly don't have Play Store.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


Closed System Boxes
Alternatives to Android boxes. Some have their own limited "App Store".
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


The free TM HyppTV box is an Android Box too...lots of folks trying to exploit it's full potential while TM tries to lock it down.

Satellite TV
The legal ones, only Astro. It's the most reliable (when not raining hard). A lot of program recycle, but for live sports & HK series, it's usually the most dependable.

Illegal ones tap into India, Taiwan, etc.

This post has been edited by dwRK: May 23 2017, 10:50 PM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:29 PM

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Cheap Box Manufacturers & Rebrands
If you're interested in who makes these cheap boxes, these are the manufacturers. Some are big resellers, who's who is difficult to decipher.
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


FCC Search
You can find who are the manufacturer through their FCC registration to sell in the USA:
https://www.google.com/search?&q=android+box+site%3Afccid.io

This post has been edited by dwRK: Apr 15 2017, 10:39 AM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:29 PM

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Network File Transfer and Streaming 
 
If you frequently transfer files to the box, this is the fast & easy method:
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


If you want to stream media from your PC or Phone, the services are already built into the box and PC. Phone may need some work smile.gif
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «


This post has been edited by dwRK: Mar 20 2017, 10:44 AM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:30 PM

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Simplistic Buying Guide
We all want it cheap, but sometimes it is worth to pay a bit more.
 
* You have or going to get movie projector (4K/3D/FHD) with big screen > 120"; big TV > 72"; good hifi or surround sound; get the top dogs from Himedia or Minix, alternately OPPO, Dune or one of those.
 
* You have growing up kids or elderly non-tech savvy parents, get Astro, HyppTV, or one of those Android TV OS boxes that can play iFlix, Netflix, etc. If you still live with your parents and can provide IT support, then any reliable box that meets your apk needs will do.

* You and your kids play a lot of console games, get the Shield, Xbox or PS4. For light gaming, get the better boxes, not entry level SoC.
 
* You want to control music playback using your phone without starting your TV or Projector; Himedia players with supported HiControl apk, run Plex for local content, or run Teamviewer or Wukong apps.

* You want reliable live HD sports or HK series; official channel is Astro. Get a box that can run Astro Go.

This post has been edited by dwRK: Apr 17 2017, 05:14 PM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:30 PM

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Streaming Bitrates & Internet Speed

Typical Movies & TV shows (Ahem APK Source)
4K / UHD file encoding 11.2 to 11.8 mbps; my Unifi Lite not fast enough, so stutter jer lor...
FHD file encoding 2.1 to 2.5 mbps; my Unifi DL speed ~3 mbps
HD file encoding 1.2 to 1.6 mbps; my Unifi DL speed ~2 mbps

(If you are using torrent sources...the bitrates are typically higher)

Providers' encoding variation for same movie/show varies about 0.1~0.2 mbps...of course there are some whose quality really sucks and I didn't even bother checking...

Info gathered during playback using Kodi & MX player...all streams are H264, AAC 2.0...

Interestingly most FHD/HD files are 23/24 fps...whilst the two 4K was 30 fps...


Netflix Recommend Internet Speed
4K / UHD - 25 mbps
FHD / HD - 5 mbps
SD - 3 mbps

This post has been edited by dwRK: Jun 27 2017, 03:47 PM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:30 PM

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del

This post has been edited by dwRK: Mar 20 2017, 08:49 AM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:31 PM

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del

This post has been edited by dwRK: Mar 20 2017, 08:53 AM
TSdwRK
post Feb 18 2017, 02:31 PM

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del

This post has been edited by dwRK: Mar 20 2017, 08:43 AM
fruitie
post Feb 18 2017, 02:52 PM

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Thanks for finally initiating this thread and hope it will benefit the rest. rclxms.gif
However, no piracy discussion ya. smile.gif
Khalid21
post Feb 18 2017, 02:56 PM

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good reading for android box beginners
BOTAK_WAI
post Feb 18 2017, 03:07 PM

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plateau
post Feb 18 2017, 03:15 PM

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Finally. An informative thread for tv boxes. It will definitely help newbies find the info they need and stop annoying senior members with the questions.

I remember asking for info in the previous thread as there was no TS 1st post info and getting shot for asking lol 😁...
Lurker
post Feb 18 2017, 03:22 PM

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Thanks TS for compiling!
state of abyssmal
post Feb 18 2017, 03:50 PM

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Nice info before i proceed to buy the box.
Now which one to get...hermm

Thanks. smile.gif
GuyM
post Feb 18 2017, 05:24 PM

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dwRK, suggestion to add/link for Android box review from our own k/tard JayceOoi & Blurjoey...

Congrats on V2
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post Feb 18 2017, 05:50 PM

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