Android TV packing containers have come an extended, great distance since I began this website again in 2013.
In reality, streaming units and cord-cutting normally have come a great distance, too.
Give it some thought.
Going again to 2013, the third era Roku was launched in spring of that yr. Chromecast got here out in the summertime. The Amazon FireTV and Nexus Participant wouldn’t come out till 2014. The NVIDIA Defend was barely even considered again then.
Nothing out there had dependable 4K streaming. To be trustworthy, nothing again then even had dependable Wi-Fi.
- 0.1 The “Must Have” Android TV Box Features…
- 0.2 1. 5.1 Audio Passthrough
- 0.3 2. H.265 hardware decoding
- 0.4 three. Android 5.1 Lollipop (or greater)
- 0.5 four. Dynamic Refresh Fee Switching
- 0.6 5. OTA (Over The Air) Firmware updates
- 0.7 6. 1080p 3D
- 0.8 7. HDMI 2.zero
- 0.9 eight. USB three.zero
- 0.10 9. Twin-Band Wi-Fi andor Gigabit Ethernet
- 0.11 10. The newest inventory model of Kodi
- 1 Bonus: Overestimated options to keep away from
- 2 The Verdict
The “Must Have” Android TV Box Features…
In case you’re shopping for one other TV field this yr. what are a few of the specs that you have to be on the lookout for?
I’m going to interrupt it right down to an inventory of the highest 10 Android TV field options I’d need in my subsequent gadget, and a few bonus options to search for as nicely.
I’ve acquired to say, although, that no Android field that I’ve seen to date has all of those options, and the extra you add, the extra you’re going to pay for them. Decide and select what’s essential to you.
Consider these as a place to begin. Or a buying listing.
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1. 5.1 Audio Passthrough
One of the requested Android TV field options is 5.1 Audio Passthrough in KodiXBMC.
However, what’s audio passthrough?
Audio passthrough, merely put, is whenever you need to ship the sign from the participant by means of to a different system with out truly doing something to the sign.
Put one other means, when a film is ripped from a Blu-ray or DVD to a digital file, the sound is compressed a lot the identical because the video is. Typically, when you’ve got a house theater receiver, you need to have the acquired course of that sound, not your TV field.
In case your media file has DTS, Dolby Digital or 5.1 Encompass sound, and your receiver can decode that sign, you’ll get a lot better sound through the use of the audio passthrough slightly than letting your TV field deal with it.
The excellent news is that this function has been a part of XBMC and Kodi for years as a result of Kodi is designed to run on a number of hardware platforms. The dangerous information is that many units merely weren’t designed to reap the benefits of this functionality.
Fortunately, most Android packing containers at this time have some kind of audio passthrough functionality and lots of are 5.1 encompass sound succesful.
Nonetheless, if in case you have a pleasant AV receiver, you’ll need to ask some particular questions on how the TV field handles totally different audio codecs.
The way to earn bonus factors: Units that provide a 7.1 Audio Passthrough with out upping the price
2. H.265 hardware decoding
Let’s begin firstly: What’s H.265?
H.265, which you’ll additionally see written as HEVC or Excessive-Effectivity Video Encoding, is a compression normal for video. Consider it because the requirements for the way to make your uncooked video information smaller and simpler to transmit over a community – just like the Web.
Video information are large. The typical Blu-ray film is between 10-25 GB in measurement, and even that has some type of compression on it to make it smaller.
HEVC H.265, in a nutshell, will “chunk” up the image into smaller segments with much less element with a view to get a few 50% higher compression effectivity than H.264 and – right here’s the kicker down the street – help for as much as 8K decision.
If you would like the technical particulars of the way it manages this, there’s an excellent article on StreamingMedia.com which fits into the small print. However be warned, the article will get actually technical, actually quick.
Why is a hardware H.265 HEVC decoder higher?
OK, so we would like a HEVC H.265 decoder on our subsequent gadget. Examine. However don’t most of them have already got it?
Sure and no. Most Android TV packing containers that run Kodi may have some kind of HEVC H.265 decoder. However, it’s often a software program decoder, moderately than a hardware decoder.
What’s the distinction?
All of it comes down to hurry. In common, a hardware HEVC video decoder will outperform a software program decoder each single time.
When you’ve acquired a model new Android field with nothing on it, that will not be a problem. However, as units grow old, and we add extra stuff to them, there’s extra calls for being placed on the OS. In different phrases, extra packages competing for CPU time….
….and meaning much less assets out there to play your video file utilizing software program decoding.
A hardware HEVC decoder beats a software program HEVC decoder each time.
three. Android 5.1 Lollipop (or greater)
There are a ton of units that include Android four.four inventory, even from some fairly huge producers. So why not KitKat?
Give it some thought this manner. Once you purchase a tool, you anticipate it to have the most recent stuff, proper?
Would you purchase a model new PC with home windows eight? Or a brand new Mac with Mountain Lion?
No. You’d anticipate (rightfully) for them to have Home windows 10 or El Capitan on them.
A more moderen working system has all the bug fixes and efficiency enhancements, to not point out help for the longer term.
So what does Android 5.1 Lollipop supply particularly over Android four.four?
- A completely new programming library (Android Runtime) that lowers startup time, saves disk area and handles reminiscence higher than its predecessor
- Help for OpenGL ES three.1 for higher 3D and 2D graphics rendering
- Materials Design for a greater, extra trendy interface
- Audio enter and output by means of USB units
I can’t stress sufficient, with out getting too technical, that the necessary factor on that record is the primary one: the brand new ART Android RunTime. It provides units with the sames specs real-world efficiency will increase over the identical system operating Android four.four KitKat.
In case you plan to have hold your TV field for any size of time, future-proof it as a lot as potential by ensuring it has at the least Android 5.1 or larger.
four. Dynamic Refresh Fee Switching
What’s Dynamic Refresh Price Switching?
I would like you to attempt one thing. The subsequent time you’re in your PC or laptop computer, go into the Show Settings and alter the decision.
Did you see the place the display went black after which got here again on? When that occurred, the pc modified how briskly it was re-drawing (refreshing) the picture on the display.
The “magic number” for refresh price is 60Hz. That’s the purpose the place the human eye not sees any blinking.
What does this imply for you? Nicely, Kodi’s interface can natively run at 1080p and 60Hz, so the menus will look flawless. The issue is once you play a video file that has a refresh price aside from what you’re set as much as view.
For those who run a 24Hz film file on a 60Hz show settings, then it’s going to look horrible.
Right here’s the kicker: each video file can have a unique refresh price, and you could have to manually change the settings for every one.
All of it depends upon how the video file was encoded.
Enter Dynamic Refresh Price Switching.
What Dynamic Refresh Fee Switching will do is to regulate the refresh price routinely between the supply and the TV. That method, if in case you have a 24Hz supply and a 50Hz TV, it should routinely sync these so to get the perfect image attainable. If you need extra particular info, head over to Noggin’s publish on the Kodi boards.
On the software program aspect, that is dealt with inside Kodi utilizing the “Adjust Display Refresh Rate” and “Sync Playback to Display” settings. However, what concerning the hardware?
When you have an Android TV field that may mechanically change the output as properly, it provides you much more choices – most significantly, the power to do that outdoors of Kodi.
In case you have software program (Kodi or some other media participant), hardware (your TV field), and a TV that may mechanically change refresh charges on the fly, you’ll by no means have to fret about altering your video playback choices each time you begin a brand new video.
5. OTA (Over The Air) Firmware updates
Right here’s one of many largest errors I made when shopping for my first Android TV field: I didn’t consider how I’d replace the system.
I imply, who thinks of updating a model new gadget?
It is best to. And I’ll inform you why.
The primary Android TV packing containers are know-how hacks. The identical goes for a Raspberry pi. They’re a weaker’s dream come true, however a nightmare for a non-technical consumer.
To replace the firmware you needed to obtain a picture file and a particular USB burning device, then boot the gadget into restore mode – often by sticking a toothpick right into a small gap behind the system whereas concurrently turning it on.
Significantly….who needs to try this?
OTA firmware updates, that are typically referred to as FOTA (Firmware Over The Air), modifications all that.
The OTA replace app which can examine to see if an replace is on the market. In that case, it downloads it and installs it, identical to your telephone or PC would do.
Shockingly not each producer does this.
If you wish to save your self a variety of complications down the street, you’ll make OTA firmware updates a must have function on your subsequent Android field.
6. 1080p 3D
I’m going to make a confession. I hate 3D films.
However, sufficient of you studying this website have been enthusiastic about it that I’ve included it on this listing. If it’s one thing you want, then learn on. When you’re like me and don’t care about 3D in any respect, I gained’t really feel dangerous in case you skip on right down to the subsequent merchandise.
Sony launched a brand new file format referred to as MVC: Multiview Video Coding. It’s a variant of the H.264 video compression commonplace which principally captures two video streams (views) on the similar time. Once you put these two streams collectively, your eye is tricked into considering the picture is in 3D.
When finished proper, this can be a actually cool function…for those who’re into 3D films.
Once more, I’m letting my bias present. Sorry.
The difficulty is, that it’s hardware-intensive and never many producers get it utterly proper. Even the heavy hitters within the TV field area (Defend, FireTV, Chromebox and Nexus Participant) don’t help MVC 3D. On the time of this writing, solely a few smaller producers have any type of MVC 3D performance.
Even people who do help it, don’t implement it utterly. There’s a operating thread on the Kodi boards the place totally different Kodi TV packing containers are examined for 3D compatibility utilizing an entire host of various standards. I extremely advocate you test it out.
7. HDMI 2.zero
Why is that this necessary?
Would you like UHD 4K video at 60 frames per second? You then’re going to wish the additional bandwidth of HDMI 2.zero
Now that I’ve obtained your consideration, discovering out if a tool has HDMI 2.zero often takes a bit of little bit of digging.
Most system producers will put a variety of emphasis on specs which are comparatively minor, for my part. They’ll proudly flaunt that their TV field has Bluetooth four.zero, Miracast or (gasp) WiFi. On the similar time, they’ll miss necessary particulars like what HDMI model their gadget has.
HDMI 2.zero was launched in 2013 and has one main enchancment over the extra widespread HDMI 1.four: bandwidth.
These 4K alerts take up a whole lot of bandwidth – to the tune of round 10Gb per second. In principle, HDMI 1.four has that functionality, nevertheless it pushes the bounds of the know-how. HDMI 2.zero elevated the capability to a most of 18Gb/second, which is greater than sufficient for 4K UHD at 60fps.
The underside line is that you could be not be streaming numerous 4K content material proper now, however with extra individuals buying and selling of their 1080p TV’s for 4K, the content material can’t be far behind.
eight. USB three.zero
I’m always stunned by the variety of units that also have USB 2.zero. And never simply TV packing containers….however mainstream laptops and desktops too.
USB three.zero was launched all the best way again in 2008. It had efficient speeds over 10-times quicker than USB 2.zero. And in the event you needed to make use of it for charging, the USB three.zero port virtually doubles the facility dealing with functionality from USB 2.zero.
So why isn’t all the things USB three.zero?
Not every thing wants it, to be trustworthy. Should you’re hooking up a mouse, keyboard, SD-card adapter, microphone, audio system or any variety of units the place pure velocity isn’t an element, you will get by simply nice utilizing USB 2.zero.
However, should you’re hooking up an exterior arduous drive….say to stream films from…..you then’re going to need to have no less than one USB three.zero port in your system.
In the event you don’t, you then’ll nonetheless be caught on sluggish USB speeds which can have an effect on the standard of your movies.
9. Twin-Band Wi-Fi andor Gigabit Ethernet
Having a quick USB three.zero connection is nice for streaming movies in case you’re enjoying from a tough drive related on to your Kodi field, however what about should you’re streaming from a Community Hooked up Storage (NAS), one other pc and even from Netflix?
That’s the place you’re going to wish some critically quick networking hardware.
It’s the previous “weakest link” analogy. Your community is simply going to be as quick because the slowest element within the chain.
I don’t find out about you, however once I take a look at the utmost velocity of a community adapter, both wired or wi-fi, I feel that I’ll by no means use that a lot bandwidth in one million years.
However, there’s extra happening in my community than simply that one system. I’ve 4 smartphones, three tablets, a laptop computer, a Chromebook, a wired desktop PC, two wi-fi printers, numerous sensible units, oh, and three TV packing containers on my community at any given time.
My bandwidth will get eaten up fairly shortly.
It’s necessary to beef up your wi-fi units, and never simply when it comes to uncooked throughput. They must be smarter, too.
What’s dual-band Wi-Fi, and the way can it assist?
A dual-band router accommodates two wi-fi radio adapters – 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Lots of them will have the ability to transmit on each bands (frequencies) on the similar time.
One of many causes that there are two totally different frequencies is that 2.4GHz and 5GHz alerts will bounce round your home in several methods. A 5GHz sign can carry extra knowledge and can be quicker than a 2.4GHz sign, however it doesn’t undergo your front room wall (or another strong object) almost as nicely.
Having a dual-band router and community adapter helps to compensate for community slowdowns by shifting the sign routinely to the frequency that’s underneath much less stress or has much less interference from outdoors sources.
Alternately, when you’ve got the choice, utilizing wired Gigabit Ethernet may give you constant throughput with out having to fret about interference or sign degradation.
Both approach, just remember to’re utilizing the identical velocity networking elements on every thing. It’s no use having an 802.11ac router for those who’re TV field can solely deal with 802.11n. It’ll work, however you’ll be restricted to the a lot slower 802.11n speeds.
10. The newest inventory model of Kodi
I’ve all the time been a “latest and greatest” sort of individual.
I replace software program and gadget drivers religiously and I’m all the time checking to see what the brand new options are and in the event that they’re one thing that I can use.
So I simply don’t get it when individuals flip off automated updates – particularly for one thing as very important to your Kodi field as KODI!
Staff Kodi builders put plenty of effort and time into creating the perfect media middle potential. They’ve taken suggestions and requests from the official Kodi boards and turned that into cool new options for us to play with.
In the event you don’t replace Kodi in your Android TV field, you’ll miss out on all of those future updates.
Aren’t the Customized Kodi Builds higher?
A fast Google seek for “custom Kodi builds” returns about 400,000 listings, extra for those who seek for “custom XBMC builds.”
I imply no disrespect to any of the newbie builders on the market who’re contributing and enhancing to the Kodi platform. The group exists due to them, they usually deserve lots of credit score for preserving it going of their spare time.
However when somebody creates a customized model, that model turns into splintered off from the primary program.
Consider it like getting off the freeway and on to an entry street that runs along-side of the primary street. That entry street might get you to the identical location ultimately, however it should undoubtedly be slower as a result of there’s extra individuals utilizing the primary street. It’d even take you someplace completely totally different that you simply don’t need to go.
Once I check a tool, I’m utilizing no matter customized model the producer installs, in addition to the newest secure model of Kodi that I obtain from both Google Play Retailer, or Kodi.television.
I’m a reviewer. That’s my job to check the whole lot.
However alone private units….you higher consider that once I’m sitting down to observe a film that I’m utilizing a inventory Kodi set up.
Bonus: Overestimated options to keep away from
There are such a lot of actually cool issues coming down the pipe proper now. However there’s additionally some questionable stuff too.
Right here’s a brief listing of issues that I’d warning most individuals to keep away from proper now. Two of the three gadgets on this record are nice however, for most individuals, shopping for them proper now’s simply going to be a waste of cash.
There’s a distinction between 10 bit video encoding and 10 bit colour. We’re speaking concerning the latter one.
10 bit colour will have the ability to present extra variations in shade than eight bit. Principally, the three main colours (purple, blue and inexperienced) may have 2ˆ10 or 1024 totally different variations in hue, which means over one billion attainable variations in colour.
Superior, proper? Nicely…..
Your Blu-ray participant gained’t truly help that many colours so that you’ll by no means truly see any 10-bit content material on it. Techhive put it greatest once they stated this:
So the place’s the hype? It doesn’t matter what your HDTV can do, you’re in all probability by no means going to see any 10-bit content material on it. Neither broadcast HDTV nor Blu-ray help deep shade. If a studio launched a film on Blu-ray with 10-bit colour, that disc wouldn’t work on any present participant. It might, in impact, be an entire new format incompatible with any present disc participant.
File 10 bit colour within the “maybe later….” class.
7.1 Audio passthrough
Similar goes for 7.1 Audio passthrough.
Should you’ve obtained a kick-ass house theatre system with 7.1 audio system and a devoted room to observe your films, let me ask you a query:
Are you actually watching your films on a TV field?
I’d guess you’re not. In case you’ve obtained that loopy a set-up, you’ve in all probability received higher (i.e. costlier) gear. Respectable 7.1 audio system value anyplace from $600 to upwards of $3000.
For those who’ve acquired that type of system, my subsequent film night time goes to be at your home.
Twin-Booting to Home windows
If I needed to decide one TV field function that was full and utter hype – this may be it.
Twin-Booting to a number of working methods on one system is pointless for 99% of the individuals who would purchase the gadget.
It’s nice in case you’re making an attempt out a brand new OS, or for those who’re making an attempt to economize by having one gadget do a number of issues.
However in all seriousness, you’ll get a lot, MUCH higher outcomes from having one field to run Android and one field to run Home windows, in the event you completely want two units.
However I’d additionally argue that you simply don’t want two packing containers anyway. Decide one system and run with it.
So what do you assume?
Do you’ve another must-have TV field options? Something you assume ought to (or shouldn’t) be on this listing?
Tell us within the feedback under!