Best Buy Media Boxes of 2016

JabbaNut

Well-known Member
I think the real problem is not the boxes but the content service providers. Even big name manufacture seem to need to jump through hoops and multiple software releases to get hardware working acceptably.
 

couto27

Active Member
We might see Amazon Video for the Nvidia Shield in 2017, this image show up too early some couple days ago in their website and later removed.



Probably we will see the new Nvidia Shield 2 at CES217
 

scartlead

Active Member
The fire TV V2 would have been a decent review option.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
I've used numerous devices this year and have had difficulty finding any that is completely reliable. None are as reliable as the best BD players that I have used but they do have the fancy UI. The vast majority of my files are 1080p BD MKV rips.

WDTV - Last generation and too slow to boot and obviously not 4K.
Minix Neo U1 - Undefeatable lip sync.
Shield - Got the hardware but frequently letdown by the software. Not remotely surprised if it crashes mid-movie.
Popcorn Hour A500 - Good player, box and app. But struggles with some files that others can play. Mostly reliable but can be flakey. Scraping needs some effort.
Himedia Q10 - wrapper solution not ideal and stuttery with some files.
Zidoo X9S - stuttery playback.
FireTV - Good for streaming services but no Atmos or HDR etc
Dune HD Solo - Reliable player but too expensive, quietly dropped android after promising it, not the most exciting interface.

I'm currently using the Popcorn for local streaming and FireTV for services. Of all of them I'd have to rate the Dune as the best player from a file support perspective but Popcorn as the most complete package. Not surprisingly they are the two most expensive.
 

chamelious

Active Member
I've used numerous devices this year and have had difficulty finding any that is completely reliable. None are as reliable as the best BD players that I have used but they do have the fancy UI. The vast majority of my files are 1080p BD MKV rips.

WDTV - Last generation and too slow to boot and obviously not 4K.
Minix Neo U1 - Undefeatable lip sync.
Shield - Got the hardware but frequently letdown by the software. Not remotely surprised if it crashes mid-movie.
Popcorn Hour A500 - Good player, box and app. But struggles with some files that others can play. Mostly reliable but can be flakey. Scraping needs some effort.
Himedia Q10 - wrapper solution not ideal and stuttery with some files.
Zidoo X9S - stuttery playback.
FireTV - Good for streaming services but no Atmos or HDR etc
Dune HD Solo - Reliable player but too expensive, quietly dropped android after promising it, not the most exciting interface.

I'm currently using the Popcorn for local streaming and FireTV for services. Of all of them I'd have to rate the Dune as the best player from a file support perspective but Popcorn as the most complete package. Not surprisingly they are the two most expensive.
This is real shame to hear. I've been considering getting something to future proof, though my old ish Samsung tvs built in dlna client works almost flawlessly for the time being. Guess I'll be forced to build a htpc when the time comes.
 

nenito2k

Active Member
i'll stick to what i advice many people: android boxes are crap.
the only media player that has been working since day one are the one from MED8ER....period, they are by far the best out there for people not looking for netflix etc...
 

Tboggie

Active Member
IMHO, the Nvidia Shield has been the best media player I have used, and since its pass-through support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio, I have retired my HTPC and other media players.
 

nigelbb

Distinguished Member
I'll second that comment that Android boxes are crap. The hardware may be wonderful but the manufacturers use Android because it's free but then they don't put any effort into cleaning up the rough edges & making it work properly. Amazon show what can be done with Android as the Fire TV 4K just works & has a slick fast interface.

For simply playing your own HD media the Roku 3 with Plex is a brilliantly simple & reliable solution.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
For simply playing your own HD media the Roku 3 with Plex is a brilliantly simple & reliable solution.
But there is no passthrough of HD audio for Atmos etc... on the Roku. Roku isn't primarily a local file streamer its designed like the FireTV for apps and the like.

Of course if you don't care about HD audio you might as well put Kodi on a Firetv and then you have a genuine one box solution for everything and it works without issue unlike most other android boxes.
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
I'd go against the "Android boxes are crap" thoughts in that it depends on the box.

Many Android boxes are cheap junk, churned out by the bucketload with no thought to ongoing development, bug fixing, does it even work properly the day we build it etc.
However there are some of the more expensive boxes that do have support, development etc, but you have to pay more for them.

I'm pretty happy with my MiniX UI. It plays everything I throw at it, it plays it well, it gets updated regularly and it's never thrown a hissy fit at me when I'm in the middle of watching something.

But....

It's not as stable as my NUC with OPENelec on it. Nor is it quite as polished.
 

tredman

Distinguished Member
The big problem with android boxes, IMO, is the messy non-remote friendly interfaces and stability. Proper Android TV solves most of this - it has a great interface with some really neat features (the Google live channels with a hdhomerun is brilliant, exactly the sort of innovation a media box should offer)

Since the 3.3 update on the shield a lot of the stability problems have gone away and I'd say SPMC in particular is pretty rock solid - I've not had a crash with local media for a very long time, only issues I ever have are with live TV playback from my tvheadend server, but since I now use the hdhomerun mostly this is less of an issue.

I really do wish there was a slightly more cost effective option out there for proper android TV - there is the mi box, but as it uses an aml chip it has issues with proper video decoding and the Amazon video app will not work.
 

Kotatsu Neko

Well-known Member
It's always puzzled me why AV Forums chooses such oddball streaming boxes to spotlight. Is this just a nudge, nudge, wink, wink get your KODI pirate Sky TV streams here sort of thing?

If it's genuinely for people who still rip blu-rays and stuff them onto giant NAS drives then I guess well done for keeping the old ways going.

Wouldn't these kind of articles be more relevant to most people if they focussed on mainstream options, which is to say, the Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV? You can throw the two main game consoles in there too as they're frankly better for streaming than the Apple TV and Fire TV. These devices still cater to ripped or stolen content as they have Plex and the ability to play files over a network or from a USB stick.

Android makes little sense on a TV for most people. Outside of customised versions of Android TV which some smart TVs have, the off the shelf offerings are next to useless for using the big streaming services. You get Netflix, and that's about it. Even NVidia's high end Shield box could only manage a weak SD only port of iPlayer.
 

tredman

Distinguished Member
It's always puzzled me why AV Forums chooses such oddball streaming boxes to spotlight. Is this just a nudge, nudge, wink, wink get your KODI pirate Sky TV streams here sort of thing?

If it's genuinely for people who still rip blu-rays and stuff them onto giant NAS drives then I guess well done for keeping the old ways going.

Wouldn't these kind of articles be more relevant to most people if they focussed on mainstream options, which is to say, the Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV? You can throw the two main game consoles in there too as they're frankly better for streaming than the Apple TV and Fire TV. These devices still cater to ripped or stolen content as they have Plex and the ability to play files over a network or from a USB stick.

Android makes little sense on a TV for most people. Outside of customised versions of Android TV which some smart TVs have, the off the shelf offerings are next to useless for using the big streaming services. You get Netflix, and that's about it. Even NVidia's high end Shield box could only manage a weak SD only port of iPlayer.
You get full HD iPlayer on the shield, plus 4k shortly.


Edit - and the fire TV is an android box too and, unless things have changed, is really not a good choice for local video playback due to poor frame rate options.
 

Kotatsu Neko

Well-known Member
You get full HD iPlayer on the shield, plus 4k shortly.


Edit - and the fire TV is an android box too and, unless things have changed, is really not a good choice for local video playback due to poor frame rate options.
Nice that they updated that, but there's still no ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, Now TV, or Amazon Prime is there?
 

tredman

Distinguished Member
Nice that they updated that, but there's still no ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, Now TV, or Amazon Prime is there?
ITV hub, demand 5 and Amazon video can be sideloaded and work very well. Not sure on now TV as I've never used it and heard it only offer low res videos?

Amazon is coming officially shortly, which is pretty amazing as it's not on many non-amazon boxes.
 

JabbaNut

Well-known Member
The big problem with android boxes, IMO, is the messy non-remote friendly interfaces and stability. Proper Android TV solves most of this - it has a great interface with some really neat features (the Google live channels with a hdhomerun is brilliant, exactly the sort of innovation a media box should offer)

Since the 3.3 update on the shield a lot of the stability problems have gone away and I'd say SPMC in particular is pretty rock solid - I've not had a crash with local media for a very long time, only issues I ever have are with live TV playback from my tvheadend server, but since I now use the hdhomerun mostly this is less of an issue.

I really do wish there was a slightly more cost effective option out there for proper android TV - there is the mi box, but as it uses an aml chip it has issues with proper video decoding and the Amazon video app will not work.
Kodi and it's forks don't support Amlogic going forward and the Kodi forks all carry the Kodi faults forward.

( nuts really considering Wetek Play 2 Processor (CPU): Quad-core (Amlogic S905H) )

In Android better using SPMC, for Amlogic chips, it is a Kodi Fork where developer loves Nvidia but gives Amlogic love to.

People wanting truth not bias opinion read this SPMC 16.1.1 (Kodi 16.1 Android’s Fork) Adds Bluray 3D ISO Playback, HD Audio Pass-through, and Other Improvements
 
Last edited:

mtenga

Distinguished Member
Nice that they updated that, but there's still no ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, Now TV, or Amazon Prime is there?
Which is why its really still a two box world, or use the inbuilt apps on TV and an external box for HD rips. I'm hopeful that in 2017 the Xbox One S, in conjunction with Plex, will eventually become a one-stop shop with UHD disc support, HD local files and full network services. It is not there yet.

ITV hub, demand 5 and Amazon video can be sideloaded and work very well. Not sure on now TV as I've never used it and heard it only offer low res videos?
But which side loaded app will do Amazon 4K/HDR?
 

tredman

Distinguished Member
Kodi and it's forks don't support Amlogic and the Kodi forks all carry the Kodi faults forward.

( nuts really considering Wetek Play 2 Processor (CPU): Quad-core (Amlogic S905H) )

In Android better using SPMC, for Amlogic chips, it is a Kodi Fork where developer loves Nvidia but gives Amlogic love to.
Wetek have their own aml kodi fork - weplayer. Works really well, plus they open it up to other aml boxes too if you sideload it - very nice of them.

It's done by codesnake, one of the original aml devs.


Edit - SPMC and weplayer don't solve the mi box problem though - it runs android 6.x and aml video decoding was removing from firmware, but they have not implemented mediacodec correctly, so it's fubared. See the kodi forum thread for more info.
 

tredman

Distinguished Member
Which is why its really still a two box world, or use the inbuilt apps on TV and an external box for HD rips. I'm hopeful that in 2017 the Xbox One S, in conjunction with Plex, will eventually become a one-stop shop with UHD disc support, HD local files and full network services. It is not there yet.



But which side loaded app will do Amazon 4K/HDR?
None, yet, but it seems it's coming - probably linked to shield 2 announcement. Personally I use my TV app for Amazon 4k, but I'm contemplating getting rid when my prime expires. Other than man in the high castle and grand tour it's pretty poor.


Edit - I (well the kids:) ) got an Xbox one S for Xmas, going to check it out today. Not a fan of Plex though really, so I suspect that will be my problem.
 

Kotatsu Neko

Well-known Member
ITV hub, demand 5 and Amazon video can be sideloaded and work very well. Not sure on now TV as I've never used it and heard it only offer low res videos?

Amazon is coming officially shortly, which is pretty amazing as it's not on many non-amazon boxes.
You really, really shouldn't have to side load anything. That simply shouldn't be a thing anymore. It harks back to the dark days of digital media, where people would manually tag their huge MP3 collections and set up network attached storage in their basements. It's nuts, to be frank.

Not sure I get your point on Amazon. They seem to be on every smart TV of note and on every games console. They're even on the Roku too. The only big gap is the Apple TV, but given how much Apple and Amazon hate each other that's perhaps not surprising.

Now TV is 720p, but unless you want to either subscribe to Sky or wait many, many months for blu-ray releases, it's the only way to watch HBO content without stealing. And I'm not a thief.
 

JabbaNut

Well-known Member
Wetek have their own aml kodi fork - weplayer. Works really well, plus they open it up to other aml boxes too if you sideload it - very nice of them.

It's done by codesnake, one of the original aml devs.


Edit - SPMC and weplayer don't solve the mi box problem though - it runs android 6.x and aml video decoding was removing from firmware, but they have not implemented mediacodec correctly, so it's fubared. See the kodi forum thread for more info.
There is a easy fix for that but we leave Kodi to stew in their own juice.
 

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