Egreat A10 Android Media Player Review

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E-great or E-not so great?

by hodg100 Jul 28, 2017 at 7:53 AM

  • SRP: £279.99

    What is the Egreat A10?

    While the Egreat A10 runs on the Android OS, the manufacturers are placing the device in the dedicated media player category, alongside the likes of Zappiti, Popcorn Hour and Dune, with the emphasis on playback via their own media player software, rather than relying on a third-party solution, i.e. KODI. Like many, the Egreat A10 promises an awful lot in terms of compatibility with a myriad of media formats including HDR, 4K, 10-bit HEVC, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X among the headliners. The Egreat A10 also boasts full Blu-ray ISO Menu support and 3D Blu-ray playback on the marketing materials, which is very unusual for an Android based player and, if it all comes together as promised, this will be a formidable entry in what is a very crowded market. The A10 is priced at £279.99 in the UK, although if you don’t need the built-in 3.5” SATA Hard Drive bay, the Egreat A5 should offer the same performance and feature set at the significantly reduced cost of £149.99.

    Specification

    The Egreat A10 uses the same HiSilicon Hi3798CV200 processor found in the HiMedia Q5 and Q10 Pro, as well as a Mali 720 GPU, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage. The device comes running Android 5.1.1. (Lollipop), although we’re told that Egreat will provide an update mechanism to Android 7 (Nougat) in the future.

    Design & Connections

    Egreat A10 Design & Connections
    The build quality of the Egreat A10 is impressive with its brushed, black aluminium casing exuding a professional look. It’s billed as being rack-mountable – which it is – but it’s not full-sized with dimensions of 310 x 66 x 255 (HxDxW), although it is much larger than your average Android TV box. The front panel folds down to reveal a hot-swappable 3.5-inch SATA HDD bay, with a maximum storage capacity of 8TB. To the left of the hard drive bay is a display panel which shows you the current time, when you’re not using it for playback, or time elapsed/remaining in the content you’re viewing plus the resolution output. Alternatively, you can just switch it off in the settings menu, if you prefer.
    Egreat A10 Design & Connections
    You can see on the back panel that the Egreat A10 sports a cooling fan but we can’t recall ever hearing it during playback – even with the remarkably hot weather we've had in the UK recently. Although there are options for its control in the Settings Menu, if you do find it an issue. To the right of that, is a power switch and power connector – the PSU is built-in – and an RS232 connection for integration with ‘Smart Home’ systems. Towards the middle of the rear plate are Toslink SPDiF and Coaxial digital audio outputs and, further to the right, RCA stereo audio jacks. The HDMI 2.0a port sits next to a USB 3.0 port which sits alongside a USB 2.0 port. Above those we have another SATA interface, although this one isn’t of the hot-swap variety. Finally, there is a Gigabit Ethernet port, along with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability – dual antennas are supplied in the box and attached to connections at either end of the rear panel.

    Egreat A10
    The supplied remote is of good quality and joyously features back-lit buttons. There’s an infra-red learning function so you can map controls from your TV (or perhaps soundbar/AV receiver) to it in order to minimise any coffee table clutter. Egreat has included dedicated buttons on the remote to switch between audio tracks and subtitles, which will be a bigger boon to non-English speakers than it was to me but it is a useful feature no doubt. The only (small) complaint we had is that the directional and OK buttons provide relatively loud feedback when pressed.

    Menus, Setup & Features

    The user interface of the Egreat A10 is very pared back and minimalist, with just five options available from the Launcher for Video, Music, Photo, All Files and Settings. In fact, aside from the Settings, the ‘homescreen’ is really just a file explorer allowing you to locate your various media from local and networked storage. It’s a little bit disappointing that it’s not possible to add subfolders from your networked shares (SMB/NFS), other than by manually entering the details, rather than using the search feature but once it’s done, you don’t need to do it again. Matching of movies and TV shows to poster art and metadata is a remarkably speedy process using the Egreat Mediaplayer, although you need to be careful on how you name files and, ideally, you’ll want to include the year of release in the file name. If anything, the scraping algorithm of the A10 is a little bit too ‘enthusiastic’ and it picked up some video files that weren’t actual movies and added them to the poster wall. Unfortunately, the only thing you can do to edit individual file data is alter the name and we’d like to see some more flexibility here. Although personally I tend just to rip the movie, only, those that like to keep the full ISO will be pleased to note that the A10 fully support Blu-ray and DVD menus, as well as region switching.

    Note: The above observations were made on release firmware 1.2.0. We have subsequently tested the A10 using the Beta 1.2.5/1.3.0 release firmware and it is now possible to search network shares that are subfolders and individually delete unwanted/mis-scanned files. In fact, the poster wall and Egreat Media Center functionality and usability is much improved and these changes should make their way through to the release software very soon.
    Egreat A10 Menus, Setup & Features
    Egreat A10 Menus, Setup & Features


    As well as the built-in media player, the Egreat A10 also comes with a pre-installed, premium version of VidOn XBMC, which is a fork of open source software, KODI. This gives you a lot more flexibility in organising your media with all the bells and whistles of KODI 16.1 (Jarvis) but with much better support of the chipset than the mainline release. Now, we are aware that VidOn are personas non grata in the KODI community for apparent/alleged breaches of software agreements so you may want to avoid it. We’ll avoid directly commenting on that issue and we will only be conducting tests using the internal player. The Hi3798CV200 processor also brings with it the Imprex 2.0 processing engine which possesses Darbee-like capabilities. We find a bit hit-and-miss, in all honesty, and while it can be impressive in one scene, it can look unnatural in the next so we chose to disable it.
    Egreat A10
    Egreat A10

    As we alluded to earlier, courtesy of the RS232 port, the A10 can integrate with dedicated control systems and, specifically, the device is certified by Control 4, which increases its appeal to the custom install market. We understand Zappiti is doing well here, right now, so clearly Egreat is looking for some for that revenue as well.

    Video & Audio Performance

    As we said above, our audio-visual tests are focussed on the Egreat Media Player solution although you can expect very similar performance through VidOn, if you choose to go down that route. One thing we would say is that Egreat’s intent is to concentrate development on the internal player and KODI/VidOn is not a priority, so if you’re a big fan of KODI – and there’s nothing wrong with that – then you’re probably best seeking an alternative solution.

    Testing was done via a NAS over a wired Gigabit network, as well as from a USB 3.0 hard drive, on a Samsung UE65JU700 via a Yamaha RXV-679 AV Receiver. So let's kick-off with the Ultra HD/4K tests:

    4K Tests

    Egreat Player

    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24.000fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/25.000fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MKV/59.940fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/23.976fps
    3840 x 2160/HEVC/MP4/29.970fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/59.940fps
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/59.940fps
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/TS/23.976fps
    3840 x 2160/AVC/MP4/50.00fps
    4096 x 2160/AVC/MP4/24fps

    Having already spent a lot of time reviewing the HiMedia Q10 Pro, we are very aware of the capabilities of the HiSilicon chipset and it is, no doubt, very impressive. The A10 chomped through all the Ultra HD tests and was able to automatically adjust the video refresh rate to complement the frame-rate of the content. This held true at all resolutions although it should be noted that, like all Android devices at present, there is no ability to switch resolutions dependent on the content. While the processing of the chipset is of a high standard, there is almost no doubt that if you own a 4K TV from a major manufacturer, it's scaling of sub UHD-content will be superior to that of the A10, so we would advise setting output accordingly. It's a bit of a chore but pays dividends in terms of picture quality.

    We don’t currently list tests for HDR content, as the test TV is merely HDR signal compatible rather than being a fully-fledged HDR model but it does possess a faux HDR mode which the Egreat A10 engaged with all of the HDR 10 clips we've accumulated. A first in testing is that it would also play Dolby Vision HDR clips to our non DV TV, albeit in SDR but that's the best that could be hoped for. We understand that Egreat is currently pursuing Dolby for certification but we wouldn't hold our collective breath on that ever actually happening.

    SD/HD/Interlaced

    Egreat Player

    720 x 576/MP2/mpg/25.000fps - Interlaced
    Good deinterlacing
    1280 x 720/AVC/MP4/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.00fps - Interlaced
    Good deinterlacing
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/24.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/25.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/29.970fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/30.000fps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/59.970fps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/ISO/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/23.976fps
    Stutter
    1920 x 1080/VC-1/MKV/29.970fps
    Stutter

    The Egreat A10 displayed everything 1080p, and below, without any issues whatsoever with the same flawless dynamic refresh rate switching capabilities as with the UHD testing. The A10 had no problems with any of the popular codecs, bar VC-1 which is traditionally tricky for Android.

    There has, at least to the best of our knowledge, been only one Ultra HD Blu-ray disc that has been 'cracked' to allow it to be played as a digital file but if it ever were to become commonplace, you would want a player with at least the capability to replay content at bitrates up to 130Mb/s.

    High Bitrate

    Egreat Player

    1920 x 1080/AVC/M2TS/23.976fps & 90mbps
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 100mbps
    1920 x 1080/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 110mbps
    3480 x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 120mbps
    10-bit 3840 x 2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 120mbps
    3840x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 140mbps
    10-bit 3840x2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 140mbps
    3840x 2160/H264/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps
    10-bit 3840x 2160/HEVC/MKV/23.976fps @ 200mbps

    The Egreat A10 is such a player with more than enough headroom in our tests from USB storage and from our NAS over a wired Gigabit network. It's unthinkable that we wouldn't have had the same success with a SATA hard drive inserted in to the A10's bay, although we weren't in a position to test that.

    One of the prime aspects of the A10's marketing hinges on its playback of 3D video and, again, we weren't to be disappointed.

    3D

    Egreat Player

    1920 x 1080/AVC/ISO/23.976fps Frame Packed
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Frame Packed

    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Side by Side
    Use menu button to dictate 3D mode to engage TV
    1920 x 1080/AVC/MKV/23.976fps Top & Bottom
    Use menu button to dictate 3D mode to engage TV

    The only fly in the ointment is that the A10 plays 3D ISO at exactly 24 frames per second, rather than the actual - and fractional - 23.976 required so there's a stutter every 41 seconds, approximately. It doesn't sound overly bad on paper, but if you're a wee bit obsessive in any way, you might find yourself sitting there waiting for it to happen. Otherwise, playback of fame-packed, side-by-side and top-and-bottom files was excellent with all the pop and depth you would expect. A neat feature of the of the A10 is the ability to bring up the playback menu to force SBS or TAB instantly which should autoswitch your TV in to its 3D mode, as opposed to some devices where you'll need to delve into the TV menus to achieve this.

    Finally, and going out on a high note (pun intended, we take what 'gags' we can in audio-visual journalism), we come to the audio tests that were another area of strength for the Egreat A10.

    Audio

    Egreat Player

    AAC (Dolby Digital) 5.1
    AC3 (DTS) 5.1
    Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
    Dolby True HD 5.1
    Dolby True HD 7.1
    DTS HD-MA 5.1
    DTS HD-HR 7.1
    DTS HD-MA 7.1
    LPCM 7.1

    In actual fact, the A10 proved faultless here following the latest software update (1.2.3), including the RAW passthrough of 7.1 LPCM, which again marks it as unusual for an Android player. We don't have an object based audio capable AV Receiver for testing but 7.1 DTS-HD MA and Dolby True HD both played fine so the assumption - also backed up by user reports - is that Atmos and DTS:X pose no difficulties.

    How future-proof is this video streamer?

    4K Ultra HD playback up to 60 frames per second
    HEVC decoding Full HD
    HEVC decoding Ultra HD
    7 Channel HD Audio pass-through
    Netflix HD/4K
    3D ISO playback
    HDMI 2.0
    Over The Air (OTA) Software Updates
    Manufacturer version of KODI

    Conclusion

    9
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10

    Pros

    • 4K up to 60fps playback
    • HDR 10 capable
    • Frame packed 3D support
    • Immersive and HD audio passthrough
    • Very good build quality
    • Excellent connectivity
    • Well priced

    Cons

    • 'Ecosystem' not as comprehensive as some
    • Native media player possibly too basic
    • 3D ISO exhibits frequent stutter
    You own this Total 1
    You want this Total 2
    You had this Total 0

    Egreat A10 Android Media Player Review

    Should I buy one?

    The Egreat A10 is a very accomplished media player, boasting support for just about every video format and codec you could think of and probably more besides. Egreat, we think it would be fair to say, have previously occupied the middle tier of the Android TV box market but the A10 is definitely a credible effort in reaching for higher ground. The build quality is very solid with a brushed aluminium casing providing a modern, industrial look and the connectivity options are excellent and include HDMI 2.0a, RS232 serial connection, coaxial and Toslink digital audio outputs plus internal and external SATA ports for connected storage.

    The Egreat A10 ships with a licensed version of controversial KODI fork, VidOn, but our testing was based on that of the internal player. Egreat has improved the native interface and media scraping of the software to such an extent that it would comfortably cater for most users but if you’re looking for the latest KODI, we’d go as far as saying you’ll be better served by another device.

    There is almost nothing you could fault in terms of playback and the A10 will be play 4K up to 60 frames per second, whilst High Dynamic Range (HDR10) video is also supported although, at present, Dolby Vision isn’t an option. The Egreat also handles frame-packed 3D, in both MKV and ISO form, although 3D ISO does exhibit intermittent stutter owing to a slight mismatch of framerate and video output. The player also handles HD and immersive audio formats without issue and, as far as the Android market goes, it’s as capable as they come so as a straight-up media player, with few bells and whistles. Which means the Egreat A10 comes highly recommended.

    MORE: Read All Media Player And Network Video Streamer Reviews



    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £279.99

    The Rundown

    Build Quality

    9

    Performance

    9

    Networking, Internet, Streaming quality

    9

    Features

    7

    Set up, Menus, Remote

    8

    Value for Money

    9

    Verdict

    9

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