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    Best OTT (Over-The-Top content) internet TV Box?

    At the moment I am using a Raspberry Pi 3 running Recalbox & KODI Dual Boot Images: matthuisman.nz/201…tml

    The cost for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B was £45.50 all in with the P&P.
    With that I got the:

    Raspberry Pi 3 - Model B: £30.00
    Official Raspberry Pi 3 Case: £6.00
    Official Raspberry Pi 3 Universal Power Supply: £6.00
    Raspberry Pi Heatsink: £1.00
    P&P: £2.50
    (If you haven't got a spare Micro SD and HDMI cable, you will also need to pick them up)

    It is super stable and does run really well but it is missing a few things. It doesn't do 4K, but honestly this isn't an issue. My TV only does 1080p anyway so I am not really missing out on that feature.

    What I am missing out on with my Raspberry Pi 3 setup is Netflix. For iPlayer and ITV Player the kodi addons work well for that, but for other On-demand/Live streaming content, Kodi still kinda sucks.

    The Raspberry Pi also lacks HEVC support. Most of the videos on my Plex Media Server (PMS) are encoded to H.265. The problem is the Pi can't play them and the PMS doesn't even try to re-encode them for playback on the Pi.

    I have ordered the Nexbox A5 (http://www.geekbuying.com/item/Nexbox-A5-Amlogic-S905X-4K-KODI-Android-6-0-TV-BOX-369029.html).

    No clue when it will turn up (its been over a week already) so have no clue if it is any good.

    What I like about it, is it is using the Amlogic S905X SOC. This CPU can do hardware decoding of HEVC and VP9 (the new web video codec) and supports Android Marshmallow. It being able to run the latest Android software does open up a whole lot of possibility.

    The CPU should also be good enough for gaming/retro gaming (but would have to test this myself).

    I was just wondering what people think is the best route to go when it comes to buying OTT Boxes.

    I would love to get the NVIDIA SHIELD TV but can't justify paying the price. If I wanted to get an Android Gaming TV box I would probably get the Mad Catz M.O.J.O

    Problem with the Mad Catz M.O.J.O is it 'does' have a very good high-end CPU, but can't do hardware HEVC playback. Plus it is running a really old version of Android.

    17 Comments

    Depends, I kinda gave up with low energy small boxes and settled with an i7 Windows HTPC with HDMI-CEC which just covers everything from TV to gaming (Hyperspin for retro) to server duties (I prefer Emby and Emby for Kodi instead of Plex)

    Original Poster

    drasim

    Depends, I kinda gave up with low energy small boxes and settled with an … Depends, I kinda gave up with low energy small boxes and settled with an i7 Windows HTPC with HDMI-CEC which just covers everything from TV to gaming (Hyperspin for retro) to server duties (I prefer Emby and Emby for Kodi instead of Plex)



    I am happy to spend around £60. Anymore then that I might as well look at the high-end options. But my needs in a OTT Box are minimal. I just want something that can do hardware playback for most of the modern codecs and can run streaming services like Netflix. I would also like it to be able to do some retro gaming.

    Would also be nice if it was supported and got updates for at least 2 years. Something running Marshmallow from the get go I could live with (as long as it is stable). As it is running fairly up-to-date software I wouldn't get to upset if it never gets a update.
    Edited by: "pinguy" 18th Aug 2016

    pinguy

    I am happy to spend around £60. Anymore then that I might as well look at … I am happy to spend around £60. Anymore then that I might as well look at the high-end options. But my needs in a OTT Box are minimal. I just want something that can do hardware playback for most of the modern codecs and can run streaming services like Netflix. I would also like it to be able to do some retro gaming.



    I know your budget is £60.00 so why not look at something like Amazon Fire TV 4K they are just over at £80.00


    pinguy

    I am happy to spend around £60. Anymore then that I might as well look at … I am happy to spend around £60. Anymore then that I might as well look at the high-end options. But my needs in a OTT Box are minimal. I just want something that can do hardware playback for most of the modern codecs and can run streaming services like Netflix. I would also like it to be able to do some retro gaming.Would also be nice if it was supported and got updates for at least 2 years. Something running Marshmallow from the get go I could live with (as long as it is stable). As it is running fairly up-to-date software I wouldn't get to upset if it never gets updated.



    Know what you mean, I went from Raspberry Pi 2, to netbook running Openelec, to Amazon Fire TV which was actually pretty good apart from lack of hardware MPEG-2 decoding which was a dealbreaker. Then caved into HTPC.
    Good luck in your search though.

    Original Poster

    haritori

    I know your budget is £60.00 so why not look at something like Amazon … I know your budget is £60.00 so why not look at something like Amazon Fire TV 4K they are just over at £80.00



    Lack of Google Play is a bit off putting.

    Original Poster

    I did ordered the Leelbox M8S and it ended up being junk (sent it back for a refund). Didn't even have a recovery installed so I couldn't pull the firmware and check it out. The firmware/software was very buggy. Hardly any Android apps would work on it. The main one being Plex. It crashed every time I opened it.

    Next one I am trying is the Nexbox A5. Its fairly new and hasn't got many reviews yet. It is running Android 6.0 so it is very up-to-date (supports the new HDR feature & external memory as internal). I might even be able to side load the Android TV launcher (leanback) that uses voice controls.

    The price isn't bad either (£33.96 when I ordered it). If it is any good will post an update. But honestly at this stage I am thinking the Raspberry Pi is the best option for most people. The hardware is well documented and is easy to develop on. The problem is it isn't very powerful. If it had HEVC & VP9, 5G Wifi and 2G's of RAM it would be a killer single-board computer (SBC).

    Got my fingers crossed that the Amlogic S905X will be easy to work with. As ODROID uses Amlogic I am guessing it is well documented.

    pinguy

    Lack of Google Play is a bit off putting.



    Fair enough, I reckon for £60.00 its either Pi or a Android Box. problem is they all have their shortcomings.

    Original Poster

    haritori

    Fair enough, I reckon for £60.00 its either Pi or a Android Box. problem … Fair enough, I reckon for £60.00 its either Pi or a Android Box. problem is they all have their shortcomings.



    I am just trying to get an open discussion going. Would love to know peoples thoughts. These OTT Boxes have been around for awhile now. Kinda surprised there isn't a clear best option yet for boxes priced around the £60 mark.

    It seems the clear best choice is the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, but that seems extremely overpriced for what it is (when you think the Mad Catz M.O.J.O costs £59.99).

    As is, it seems to go:

    NVIDIA SHIELD TV
    Amazon TV
    Raspberry Pi 3

    But none of these seem great to me.

    The NVIDIA SHIELD TV costs to much.
    Amazon TV is to locked down.
    Raspberry Pi 3 lacks a lot of features due to hardware limitations.
    Edited by: "pinguy" 18th Aug 2016

    The AMLogic S905X boxes are very good for media playback although the software still needs a little improvement.

    You can get them with 2GB Ram etc from about $34, or $25 with 1GB ram. The new S912 boxes are coming in at about $55.

    Neflix HD/4K is limited to approved devices only. It's a very limited list, Android wise the main ones are the FireTV and the Nvidia Shield, the Fire doesn't have google play and the Shield is expensive. Xiaomi are due to launch a new Mi Box very soon that's a full Google TV device so should have Netflix HD/4K and be a fair bit cheaper although there's no price yet, it also runs the AMLogic S905X like the box you just got.

    Original Poster

    dcx_badass

    The AMLogic S905X boxes are very good for media playback although the … The AMLogic S905X boxes are very good for media playback although the software still needs a little improvement.You can get them with 2GB Ram etc from about $34, or $25 with 1GB ram. The new S912 boxes are coming in at about $55.Neflix HD/4K is limited to approved devices only. It's a very limited list, Android wise the main ones are the FireTV and the Nvidia Shield, the Fire doesn't have google play and the Shield is expensive. Xiaomi are due to launch a new Mi Box very soon that's a full Google TV device so should have Netflix HD/4K and be a fair bit cheaper although there's no price yet, it also runs the AMLogic S905X like the box you just got.



    Its a real shame the Mi Box didn't go for the AMLogic S912, but it seems the AMLogic S905X is good enough.

    Only looked into it a bit but what I have read is that the Mi Box is only going to be sold in the US. I guess if I wanted I could import it but fear it will use 1080i instead of 1080p. So may not scale well on UK TVs.

    Until it is released I guess no one will know for sure. But if it is running Android and not region locked it should be easy to get it working on UK TVs.


    Edited by: "pinguy" 18th Aug 2016

    Original Poster

    dcx_badass



    Have to admit the NEXBOX A1 does seem tempting.

    Anyone own a NEXBOX that can share their experience?

    Is the software/firmware sh*tty or do they run pretty well??
    Edited by: "pinguy" 18th Aug 2016

    pinguy

    Have to admit the NEXBOX A1 does seem tempting. Anyone own a NEXBOX that … Have to admit the NEXBOX A1 does seem tempting. Anyone own a NEXBOX that can share their experience? Is the software/firmware sh*tty or do they run pretty well??


    Have a look at this:
    cnx-software.com/201…ar/

    You'll never notice a difference for media playback and general use though.
    Edited by: "dcx_badass" 18th Aug 2016

    Original Poster

    dcx_badass

    Have a look at … Have a look at this:http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/08/15/amlogic-s912-android-tv-boxes-list-so-far/You'll never notice a difference for media playback and general use though.



    But the firmware/software makes a huge difference. All the devices may be using the the same SOC, but it all depends on who has optimized the software the best.

    If the software is garbage the box will be cr*p. Doesn't matter if they are all using the same hardware. The software is key when picking one of these Android Boxes.

    Edited by: "pinguy" 18th Aug 2016

    pinguy

    But the firmware/software makes a huge difference. All the devices may be … But the firmware/software makes a huge difference. All the devices may be using the the same SOC, but it all depends on who has optimized the software the best.If the software is garbage the box will be cr*p. Doesn't matter if they are all using the same hardware. The software is key when picking one of these Android Boxes.


    I meant a difference between the S905X and S912. Also CNX-Software reviews the software of nearly all of them. Freaktab usually has custom roms you can crossflash across boxes as well.

    pinguy

    But the firmware/software makes a huge difference. All the devices may be … But the firmware/software makes a huge difference. All the devices may be using the the same SOC, but it all depends on who has optimized the software the best.If the software is garbage the box will be cr*p. Doesn't matter if they are all using the same hardware. The software is key when picking one of these Android Boxes.



    In all honesty I went through the same things myself. I ended up looking upon it as the amount of outlay buying stuff that ended up crap even taking your Pi3 at £45.50 and now thinking of spending cira £60 you could have bought a Shield during the Amazon Prime Day. Mine ended up costing £75 (£10 credit for Audible Trial, £10 for buying gift vouchers err can't remember where the other £5 came from lol). Justifying the cost even at full price I though was still fine taking it as paying £12.50 per month for media that I use everyday (I work evenings so never really watch live telly). So to sum up, stop throwing money at the other box's and take the plunge, you will not regret it!

    cecilmcroberts

    In all honesty I went through the same things myself. I ended up looking … In all honesty I went through the same things myself. I ended up looking upon it as the amount of outlay buying stuff that ended up crap even taking your Pi3 at £45.50 and now thinking of spending cira £60 you could have bought a Shield during the Amazon Prime Day. Mine ended up costing £75 (£10 credit for Audible Trial, £10 for buying gift vouchers err can't remember where the other £5 came from lol). Justifying the cost even at full price I though was still fine taking it as paying £12.50 per month for media that I use everyday (I work evenings so never really watch live telly). So to sum up, stop throwing money at the other box's and take the plunge, you will not regret it!



    ​Agreed. spend a little extra the first time , buy the best you can. It will save you money in the long run because you won't be spending money on cheap alternatives that don't do what you want.

    stoney73

    ​Agreed. spend a little extra the first time , buy the best you can. It w … ​Agreed. spend a little extra the first time , buy the best you can. It will save you money in the long run because you won't be spending money on cheap alternatives that don't do what you want.


    Whats the best you can get now though??
    Shield isn't available anywhere...
    Amazon OS makes you side load everything and makes it feel cheap
    What else is there other than these dodgy boxes???
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