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Android TV vs Android OS TV box?

Discussion in 'Android TV' started by pmcd, Jun 7, 2015.

  1. pmcd

    pmcd Active Member

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    There are official Android TV devices such as the Nexus Player. They run Android 5. Then there are a zillion Android TV boxes running Android 4.4 and sometimes even Android 5. Most come from China. Apart from the reliability, support, etc ... issues can someone explain the differences between the two, especially if the run Android 5. If a box has Google Play access then what are the implications for things like Netflix and similar sites? It's very confusing. Can they even access those sites and if so then are they restricted to lower resolutions? Can they run using only a remote or are we really just connecting a tablet to a TV? What about DRM issues?

    Any explanation would really be appreciated. Many people seem to actually prefer these unofficial Android TV boxes.

    Philip
     
  2. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    I don't have an official Android TV box but I do have an unofficial Android mini PC, running AmLogic S802 with 2GB RAM and 8GB storage, using Android 4.4.2. I have been using it since last December. The biggest shortcoming for me, all of the mainstream subscription services either don't work very well or not at all, everything I have tried, Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, Xfinity TV Online, HBO GO. The boxes are apparently not approved for any of those services, either lacking proper DRM handling or the fact it is rooted excludes it from approval. There may be some way to spoof the services, make it look like an approved device but I haven't read anything that makes me believe that is going to be a reliable solution.

    Wi-Fi performance is pretty poor also but most everything else works farily well, I can run the apps I use and web browser and performance is good for a cheap mini PC. I have never gotten Adobe Flashplayer to work with any of the browsers, some claim it can work but most comments make me believe that isn't true, at least not now. There is a Flash plugin for the Dolphin browser but it has never worked for me. Support is terrible, bugs are rarely addressed except by the community at Freaktab.com and firmware updates are a pain to find and install.

    I also have a Chromebox which is a little better for the subscription streaming services, still not great, and a more stable polished device, pages load faster, and it has flash support for the browser.

    Without owning the NVIDIA Shield or one of the less expensive Android TV boxes, I think any of those would be worth the premium compared to the no name Chinese Android mini PCs for the mainstream market. I think the people that prefer the unofficial boxes do so because of the lack of approval, ease of hacking and access to the piracy sites. For the mainstream market, there is no comparison between the two types of devices, nobody I know in real life would find any value with my Android mini PC. Netflix at 480p only would probably mean it goes back in the box and back to the online suppler, no local stores would carry these things because of how poorly they handle the mainstream uses.
     
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  3. pmcd

    pmcd Active Member

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    Thank you for the great explanation. I had a feeling there had to be a catch. The advertising for these boxes is very deceptive. Am very happy with my Fire TV's but Plex has been acting up on them recently ( it transcodes almost everything versus almost nothing just a while back) so I have been looking around at various temporary alternatives. The Nvidia Shield is far too expensive for a non-gamer such as myself and the Nexus Player is similar to the Fire TV. Hopefully more media oriented Android TV's will emerge.
     
  4. jschall

    jschall Member

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    My experience is vastly different from @ChrisG8's.

    I have two "Chinese boxes" - an Equiso stick with two cores at 1 GHz, and a Hossen box with 4 cores at 1.6 GHz. Both with Mali 400 GPUs. Both run KitKat.

    And I HAD a Nexus Player for a couple of weeks until its Wifi died on me.

    I continue to enjoy Netflix and Kodi and Popcorn Time on both of my Android media streamers.

    I do miss my SONY NSZ-GS7 Google TV for its ease of use, though.

    So my answer to @pmcd is - the new "official" Android TV boxes may have better hardware specs, but the end user experience is not much different than the zillions of Chinese boxes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  5. jschall

    jschall Member

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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  6. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure how that is different, Kodi and Popcorn Time are popular for piracy purposes and unless you are able to play Netflix at 1080p with those boxes, I see nothing you have accomplished that is different than my statements. I stated they all handle the mainstream subscription streaming services poorly or not at all. I consider Netflix at 480p handling Netflix poorly.
     
  7. jschall

    jschall Member

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    Kodi associated with piracy? Wash your mouth out, @ChrisG8!

    Popcorn Time, maybe.

    As for the resolution of Netflix playback on Mali 400 and KitKat, I confess I have no idea how many pixels these old eyes are viewing. As long as it's stutter-free, I'm getting my $8/month worth.

    I will eventually upgrade my "Chinese boxes" to the latest hardware, but as for the Lollipop/Marshmallow user experience, I have not seen any compelling reason to update.
     
  8. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    I have Mali 450, the hardware is capable of HD picture quality but Netflix won't allow 1080p on those boxes, not Netflix's fault I am sure, it is the result of contractual requirements by the content owners. If the mainstream streaming services worked well, the box would be good although the cobbled together OS based on a tablet OS wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea.
     
  9. pmcd

    pmcd Active Member

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    I'd be fine with 720p Netflix. Not sure about 480p. Unfortunately, there are no successor's to the Google TV which I find appealing. The Fire TV has been the only one really but it's really only useful because of the way it works with Prime and my Fire tablet. The situation for non-gamers is somewhat bleak as everyone wants in on what they imagine will be a new era in inexpensive gaming. Do Linux users get Netflix in 720p or higher?

    It's pretty clear that the driving force behind most media player sales is free access to paid content. The video content owners, cable companies and the whole established video distribution system have done everything they can to keep the status quo. They are out of touch with most people I suspect. It is very complicated of course but unless things change I suspect the unofficial Android TV players will keep selling. With Android 5 Chromecast is supposed to become part of the system so that should lead to even further confusion.
     
  10. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    The Chromebox runs a special OS based on the Linux kernel - and I believe the Chromebox can get Netflix in 720P. ChrisG8 can you confirm?
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  11. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    I dropped Netflix and subscribed to Amazon Prime a few months ago but that is my recollection, the Chromebox I have would play Netflix at 720p and 3000kbps.
     
  12. pmcd

    pmcd Active Member

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    @jschall

    Thanks for the link to the onD. I know someone with the pro version. At $180USD this is a very expensive media player. As far as I can tell it is basically a Kodi box running under Android. So very similar to the Pivos, MyGica, etc ... but with a neat Air Mouse. I should imagine it makes for a good Plex client with no transcoding. That is what I am most interested in. As far as Netflix, Hulu Plus and other premium sites it will basically be widescreen SD (DVD quality) like all the other unofficial Android TV boxes. For now I have resorted to using Kodi on my Fire TV with an AddOn called PlexBMC. That does no transcoding and does keep track of what we have watched. Unfortunately, Apple did not come out with an Apple TV with an App Store. That is really what we need given that we mainly live in the iOS world. Sigh ... nothing seems to be the ideal Plex client.
     
  13. intersav

    intersav New Member

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    I think that the Android boxes are the future. I own My Matrix TV for the last few months and enjoy content on Kodi. The Addons List is also pretty huge and for a one-time payment I got tons of channels and content available to enjoy. It is an affordable, yet quality solution.
     

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