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Little Black Box Runs XBMC

Discussion in 'Streamers & Network Media Players' started by planthead, Apr 26, 2013.

  1. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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    ah ok. Then I better let Peter confirm :) I dont have box yet to test with
  2. TLBB

    TLBB Member

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    This is not possible on the ARM boxes and therefor disabled by default. (you were right)
  3. stewartie4

    stewartie4 Member

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    I had a generic box with exactly the same specs that I bought for $70, I flashed the j1nx build to it which I must say is very stable and only crashed occasionally.

    I am wondering what the USP of this box is considering it is the same old specs of all the other generic android boxes out there for a higher price. In fairness I suppose this box will get better support and it has a nice remote, but still for $60 more I don't see how it is justified.

    The mele a1000g has a quad core processor a better gpu and 2gb of ram, absolutely blows this out of the water - for $120 - $140 depending on where you look so I guess my question is..... what makes this box stand out from all the other cheaper boxes with the same spec and why is it underpowered when you look at rivals with a similar price tag.

    I know this is my first post, I'm not trolling or trying to start a flame war, I would just like to know if i'm missing something!
  4. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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    There are people who will take the public J1nx build and install it onto a machine. They then have to layer on all the apps they want, configure, and generally do techie things to it to get it to do what they want. If they have problems they have various forums and the community to help them along their chosen path.

    The commercial build in The Little Black Box isnt for those people. Its for the people who want to buy a machine, plug it in and you're ready to go. It will prompt for your region, configure things, and then install relevant apps for your region. Choose the UK and it will install iplayer, 4od, itvplayer etc. Install it in Germany and it will install arte & ARD players for example. The TLBB guys have determined which apps are relevant for which region and they will be auto installed. With a homebrew you have to do that yourself from the various repositories. Of course with tlbb you can still install additional apps from various repositories too. Additionally, TLBB will also have autoupdates for XBMC etc. It'll download and apply patches as required with just confirmation from you. If you homebrew you will have to download and apply all the updates yourself. It also has a factory reset option to get rid of all those plugins you installed and cant get to work.

    Also, with tlbb being a commercial product it will be backed up with a service and support centre based in the UK. You may still need to reach out to the community for help but at least you can talk to somebody for help too.
  5. stewartie4

    stewartie4 Member

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    Oh, ok I see what you mean. Although there are plugins out there that do the auto config based on region (XBMC HUB Wizard) and reset to defaults/downloads new updates (HUB Maintenance). If it works like you say it does it may just take away the "nerdy" stigma associated with XBMC, because I must admit, it takes some tweaking to get perfect.

    Still, I don't see why this justifies the extra $60, especially considering boxes such the pivos are the same price and have just as much support and are what xbmc linux and android was developed for in the first place.
    I also noticed that this box is a linux only box, whilst the pivos and many other android boxes have the choice of either xbmc linux or android.

    With that being said, it does look like a very nice box, I just don't know why it's being described as "something new", a "game changer" when it's running a public build of xbmc with a few tweaks on 2 year old hardware :)
  6. JeffD

    JeffD Active Member

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    You must be coming from the PC world, as in the world of ARM devices then spec's can & do lie.

    For these low powered ARM devices the most important element is hardware acceleration/decoding in order to get smooth 1080p from blu-ray rips, this is done by the VPU on the SoC, this is completely different from the GPU which is only used for the interface and overlays.

    The TLBB will have proper hardware acceleration as the SoC manufacturer AMlogic has co-operated with the community enabling developers to take advantage of the VPU. This is why any AMlogic based device will tend to have the best user experience at the moment.

    However the Mele has a SoC by Allwinner who have flat out refused to co-operate with the open source community, thus there is no hardware acceleration available except from approved Allwinner software on Android. In Linux the situation is even worse as you can forget any proper hardware acceleration altogether from a Allwinner based device.

    What this means is that while it would appear that the TLBB will easily cope with 1080p blu-rips, the Mele on the other hand will probably struggle big time despite appearing on paper to be superior.
  7. JeffD

    JeffD Active Member

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    Since you are talking dollars, I guess you are from the US?

    Outside of the US the Pivos is very expensive, here in the UK the Pivos sells for £125 ($190) so it's £40 ($60) more expensive than the TLBB.
  8. stewartie4

    stewartie4 Member

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    I see what you mean about the hardware decoding, that's what's been worrying me.
    The way I look at it is I can always use an external player to get around that issue until it is fixed, in the mean time i have a much better box in terms of power for every other task such as browsing the web etc. , 2 times the RAM and quadruple the internal storage, plus it has android.

    I know what you mean but looking future-forward I will have a much more powerful box for when everything is fixed and for 20 dollars less!
  9. JeffD

    JeffD Active Member

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    That's the thing, it won't be fixed with that Mele.

    Under Android there's 2 ways to get hardware decoding:

    1. The Android Stagefright API which the Allwinner A10 in the Mele doesn't support.

    2. Using a decoder code block from the SoC manufacturer, which many companies like Allwinner only give out under NDA restrictions, this means no open source project such as XBMC can make use of this code.

    With linux it relies on a decoder code block being supplied which Allwinner have done, but it's buggy as hell and simply doesn't work properly. Allwinner have shown no inclination to help anyone improve it and have certainly sohwn no desire to make any improvements themselves.

    So forget about anything based on an SoC from Allwinner.
  10. stewartie4

    stewartie4 Member

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    Using an external player hasn't failed me in the past so using it again will not be a problem. Anyway there has been some progress on the android forum regarding allwinner, getting hardware decoding to work on the a10, also the ouya is based on the allwinner A31 and it is supported by xbmc.
    So I think writing it off and saying it will never be fixed is a bit of an exaggeration! :)

    anyway this still doesn't answer my question of price and performance; The little black box is using 2 year old hardware so

    1. Why is it not cheaper
    and
    2. If not cheaper then why is it not more powerful?


    I know it sounds like i'm nit picking but it just sometimes seems like more powerful generic boxes are ignored in favor of another box when there is not much special about it, arguably it does less than these boxes as it is an XBMC only box.

    thanks for your responses so far, Jeff and graham :)
  11. NX3

    NX3 Active Member

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    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  12. JeffD

    JeffD Active Member

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    Yeah players such as MX Player will probably work ok as being closed sourced apps they are willing to sign the NDA's from companies like Allwinner.

    As has been said, a cheap generic box may look good on paper, but good luck in getting any support if there are bugs with the firmware, count on having a lot of frustrations with things no working with no response as to when things will be fixed. I see it all the time over on the XBMC forums, questions like why does streaming not work over wifi? why no AC3 passthrough? and many other things due to these people buying generic devices with little to no manufacturer support. Giving decent support, particularly like I guess Graham will do for the TLBB is expensive, hence the price difference.

    Yes a couple of unknown developers seem to be working on the Allwinner libraries for Android, but again all work done is hidden from the XBMC devs, so while things have improved, in my view they'll never be fully fixed. What makes you think Ouya uses a Allwinner SoC? it uses an overclocked Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC which can be used with the XBMC Stagefright builds.

    In my view the only way these companies will learn to be more open with the development community is if us the consumer do not give them sales, and instead give our money to the like of Pivos & TLBB. I detest the way some of these companies like Mele/Allwinner leech off the open source community without ever giving anything back.

    But that's just my opinion.
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  13. stewartie4

    stewartie4 Member

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    I understand what everyone is saying thanks! still, it doesn't stop me from wishing the little black box had the option of xbmc or android and was a little more powerful for the money :)
    I was thinking maybe if possible a dual boot with there being an option at boot either XBMC or android.
  14. boomboomboom

    boomboomboom Member

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    It's very simple to install all the plug-ins for XBMC.

    See here for instructions for how to do it in less than 5 minutes: How-To Instantly Configure XBMC with the XBMC HUB Wizard Beta Addon | XBMC HUB

    Android XBMC is getting better all the time. It's preferable in many ways because you get all the other Android Apps.

    Something with a dual-core Amlogic M6 chipset (3x faster than the M3 in TLBB) + Pivos XBMC with hardware decoding + the guide above would give you fast verstaile XBMC with 1080p and 5.1 audio passthrough. That setup is available from UK stockists for less than £50.

    Or you could wait for the quad-core Amlogic M8 chipset due in the summer. Geniatech have stated that their players will be designed for XBMC. I can't imagine a quad-core MyGica Amlogic M8 box selling for much more than the TLBB..
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2013
  15. WhiteHartMart

    WhiteHartMart Active Member

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    I've no doubt that the video playback will be absolutely fine with this. I ran a Mygica 510b with a Linux build and it was perfect.

    My concern is over the UI speed. For me it's the UI skins that put the icing on the cake for XBMC. I'm not expecting this to run anything much other than Confluence. Looking at the trailer I'm not even sure the skin it ships with its running terribly smooth?

    At £85 approx I'm considering an Ouya which seems to run heavy skins like Aeon Nox ok. Then again about £50 more will get a Celeron NUC which is more tempting still!
  16. colonelblighty

    colonelblighty Active Member

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    ^^ to be fair I'm thinking the gigabyte brix celeron version is looking mighty tempting as its an ivy bridge processor unless I'm mistaken and as long as its priced competitively with the intel equivalent then it's topping my list at the moment
  17. WhiteHartMart

    WhiteHartMart Active Member

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    Forgot about that one - any firm pricing info anywhere?

    Still keeping my eye on TLBB as a system for bedroom but not sure I can justify the extra outlay over another Mygica. I'm willing to be convinced though!
  18. colonelblighty

    colonelblighty Active Member

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    No pricing anywhere but hopefully they'll start appearing soon. I'm figuring TLBB would be fine fo me but the brix or nuc gives you a bit more scope or the future
  19. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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    By the time you have added memory and an mSATA ssd you have tripled the price of the tlbb
  20. WhiteHartMart

    WhiteHartMart Active Member

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    No need for an SSD. OpenElec works like a charm off a USB stick. No issues with heavy skins or library navigation.

    NUC plus 2gb Ram should come in around £140 :)
  21. NX3

    NX3 Active Member

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  22. stewartie4

    stewartie4 Member

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    Agreed. The Ouya alone will blow this box out of the water and is an official sponsor of XBMC.
    There is nothing whatsoever special about the little black box other than the software it is running, which, by the way is just pivos xbmc linux and a few addons!
    Good luck Ouya!
  23. next010

    next010 Active Member

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    The Ouya is not so good, (fans getting stuck, sticky buttons), unstable software and is also limited to libstagefright version of XBMC which is experimental and less than optimal way of getting hardware decoding under Android.

    On top of that it also lacks an SD card slot so XBMC has nowhere to save it's data too which makes these kind of devices unstable when it fills up the internal storage which is very quickly done if you download any coverart. Finally the Ouya doesn't have DTS licensing support only Dolby.
  24. WhiteHartMart

    WhiteHartMart Active Member

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    Anyone ordered one of these?
  25. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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    Yeah me, 500 of em :)
  26. bubblegum57

    bubblegum57 Member

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    I am running Neon on the Mygica, try it yourself.

    :thumbsup:
  27. WhiteHartMart

    WhiteHartMart Active Member

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    Greedy :D

    Any ideas when you'll be getting them.

    I see there is a .co.uk site for them now also - have they got another UK distributor?
  28. ThEshorTstraW

    ThEshorTstraW Member

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    I was going to start a new thread but this will do nicely.

    Can .tar.gz files be executed under XBMC Linux?
  29. graham.myers

    graham.myers Active Member

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    Sorry, I thought I'd replied but must have forgotten to hit send:rolleyes:

    Last update was the units were being flashed with the latest firmware 18th and 19th to introduce automatic updates and a few other bits and they should be leaving on the 20th and so should arrive at the distribution centre w/c 24th. TLBB will take their pre-order stock and start sending out the units then.

    The .co.uk site is still TLBB, the shopping section will direct you to the .nl site for pre-orders. We're building a new .eu site with more detail such as specs etc and that will be online soon. At the same time .nl and .co.uk will stop taking pre-orders and probably just redirect to the .eu where you will choose and be directed to your local reseller.
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    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  30. YitEarp

    YitEarp Well-Known Member

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    Just stumbled upon this. Looks like it could be what I need. Anyone have it yet not read the whole thread?

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