TV Boxes

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    TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:22 am

    This is related to cord-cutting but I think it might deserve its own thread. So a "TV Box" is the very generic term for a device that attaches to your TV and lets you play streaming internet content; in most cases it also allows for playing your own locally-stored content (e.g. installing a Plex server), but not in all cases. The term "Android TV" is not to be confused with "Android TV Box". The former is a version of Android targetted specifically at the TV Box market (i.e. no touch screen, among the most obvious differences). The term "Android TV Box" refers to the hardware device which typically runs stock Android, not Android TV. Confusing. There is also, apparently, an issue with Netflix streaming full-HD content -- because the device has to be specifically sanctioned by Netflix to do so, most Android TV boxes will not do this (certainly not 4K content and in many cases you are limited to probably DVD quality).

    On the h/w side of things, the main contenders are:

    Nvidea Shield ($300 for basic model, $400 for media server version -- I assume that adds storage)
    Roku (Roku-4 is $135, Roku Premiere Plus is $110, Roku Ultra is $160)
    Amazon Fire TV (not sure if this will work in Canada or if what it offers that the others don't will work)
    Apple TV (never buy Apple, so no idea of the cost but expect it to be more than the others)
    Android TV box (a ton of different options available here, most under $100)
    Smart TV running Android TV (if you are shopping for a new TV you should certainly consider this option as the "TV Box" is built-in)

    OK, that's a quick summary of what I know. A quick summary of what I don't know would take me too long to write. Hoping that some of you can chime in so we can all learn together.

    Right now I have an old ChromeCast on the upstairs TV and it's really ticking me off. When I start playing a Netflix show from my phone to it, I veryq uickly lose the interface to control the playback. And not just pause/rewind, but also when I finish watching an episode, I can't stop it. I just walk over and pull the USB cable from the dongle to power it down. Weird. It used to work fine, before.

    If/when I cut the cord I will be using Netflix (as well as other sources) more heavily, so I definitely will need a TV box of some sort. On the downstairs tv, it has Netflix built in so, short-term, not an issue. Not sure if there is a CraveTV app for it but I'll certainly check it out (it's an LG Smart TV so there's hope). I also have a PS-3 co-located so that's another option. Worst case, I'll buy a second TV box of some sort.

    Does anyone know more about the Netflix HD limitations? Exactly what am I missing when using a generic Android TV box? With an Android TV box I can install Kodi or Showbox and pretty much any other app I want/need. I doubt I would have the same flexibility on the Shield or even a device running Android TV (versus stock Android). I will need Netflix, Crave, access to website streaming (e.g. HGTV.ca). Do the Shield boxes allow me all of these options? What about the grey-ares like Kodi/Showbox? Which ones will not have those?

    Lots more questions to come.


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by Cap'n Clutch on Mon May 01, 2017 12:12 am

    Get a Kodi box and the Exodus add on for movies and TV shows


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Mon May 01, 2017 6:33 am

    A "Kodi box" is, essentially, an Android TV box with the Kodi app installed. Netflix will not stream HD on these devices.

    https://devices.netflix.com/en/

    Netflix supports Apple TV, ChromeCast, Roku, Shield Amazon Fire, LG and Nexus player. Never heard of Nexus player or LG streaming boxes.

    Doing a quick google, I can install Kodi on Shield. Probably others as well (Kodi runs on just about anything). May not be as easy as going to the Play store but will be doable. I also did a quick Google and find that you can cast Kodi and ShowBox to Chromecast. I'll have to try that out.

    ShowBox is a lot easier to use. I'd certainly recommend that over Kodi for an in-law install. I am pretty tech savvy but had problems with Kodi. At one point I even installed an app which configured Kodi for you. I think it buggered things up very nicely. In the end i had to uninstall everything and start from scratch following a different installation video. Everything works now but it certainly was not easy.

    With ShowBox everything just works right out of the box. Except you won't find ShowBox on Play store, on account of the fact that it is illegal, whereas Kodi without it's add-ons is ok.

    ShowBox is great for the latest stuff but, for example, I could not find either Ally McBeal or Picket Fences on ShowBox, but got them right away on Kodi (Exodus).

    That said, the UI on ShowBox is better, and the UX is out of this world by comparison.


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Mon May 01, 2017 12:39 pm

    Reading up a bit more, the Shield runs Android TV, and so do many of the Smart TVs that are "Netflix Recommended". The Xiaomi Mi-Box also runs Android TV. Hmm, interesting, I wonder if Netflix will stream in HD using that box?


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Tue May 02, 2017 4:43 pm

    Ugh, I just tried using ShowBox to cast to my Chromecast. Instructions were ether incomplete or pain wrong. Managed to get it to work, eventually, but then I tried playing American Gods and it said my device (Chromecast) could not play it. There are other apps that claim to allow any video to be played on Chromecast, but not sure if that would work with ShowBox, and of it's doing some on the fly transcoding then it would likely lead to copy video.

    I might have to knuckle under and get a Shield.


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by Hobiesens on Thu May 04, 2017 9:40 am

    It seems that there are many of us using android boxes....

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/piracy-android-box-free-tv-1.4098249
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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Thu May 04, 2017 11:16 am

    They talk about stamping out Adroid TV boxes, but Nvidia Shield and Amazon Fire run the Andoid TV OS, which is a version of Android streamlined for TV boxes. They can install Kodi or ShowBox on those, no problem. Good luck banning sales of those boxes.

    And that doesn't prevent me from installing either of those apps on my phone. Last night I was able to stream Attack on Titan S2 from my phone to my TV using the ChromeCast dongle. I've got an older one and it won't play some of the videos (e.g. could not play American Gods). But I should also be able to stream via my PS3, and then I suspect the issue playing certain videos will go away.


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by DefenceWinsChampionships on Fri May 05, 2017 9:06 am

    wprager wrote:They talk about stamping out Adroid TV boxes, but Nvidia Shield and Amazon Fire run the Andoid TV OS, which is a version of Android streamlined for TV boxes. They can install Kodi or ShowBox on those, no problem. Good luck banning sales of those boxes.

    And that doesn't prevent me from installing either of those apps on my phone. Last night I was able to stream Attack on Titan S2 from my phone to my TV using the ChromeCast dongle. I've got an older one and it won't play some of the videos (e.g. could not play American Gods). But I should also be able to stream via my PS3, and then I suspect the issue playing certain videos will go away.

    If I am not mistaken there are some versions of TVs which now have Android built into it. Not just Smart TV, but Android apps themselves which includes Kodi.
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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Fri May 05, 2017 11:51 am

    DefenceWinsChampionships wrote:
    wprager wrote:They talk about stamping out Adroid TV boxes, but Nvidia Shield and Amazon Fire run the Andoid TV OS, which is a version of Android streamlined for TV boxes. They can install Kodi or ShowBox on those, no problem. Good luck banning sales of those boxes.

    And that doesn't prevent me from installing either of those apps on my phone. Last night I was able to stream Attack on Titan S2 from my phone to my TV using the ChromeCast dongle. I've got an older one and it won't play some of the videos (e.g. could not play American Gods). But I should also be able to stream via my PS3, and then I suspect the issue playing certain videos will go away.

    If I am not mistaken there are some versions of TVs which now have Android built into it. Not just Smart TV, but Android apps themselves which includes Kodi.

    You are not mistaken. Several TVs now run Android TV OS. I'm pretty sure this means you *can* install apps from PlayStore on these sets, and Kodi is one of those apps. However Kodi comes bare-bones, and official Kode add-ons will not give you much more than access to YouTube or paid-subscription services.

    What I'm trying to say, is that I have no idea if Android TV OS allows (or makes it easy) to update your Kodi app with plugins that will let you watch pirated stuff.


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Fri May 05, 2017 12:21 pm

    A quick google search turns up instructions on installing Kodi on your smart tv using either PlayStore or downloading and running the .apk file directly from Kodi's website. Which likely means you can, similarly, download and install all those plugins that allow you to watch other stuff.

    But since neither of my TVs run Android TV (one is not even a "smart" TV) I am still on the hunt for an Android TV *box* of some sort.


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Tue May 16, 2017 9:05 pm

    Just found out that the WeTek boxes are certified by Netflix to stream full HD. The latest - WeTek Play 2 - is a so-called hybrid box that dies both streaming and OTA.



    You can get it at BestBuy for $180. You can record or pause live TV directly to internal storage, which won't give you much. Add a USB drive for capacity. Looks like you can only record one show at a time, although I found one thread taking about recording two shows, but this was with the DVB-T tuner (different terrestrial broadcast protocol used outside of NA). Is it possible that the ATSC tuner only supports recording one channel while the DVB-T Tibet allows two? Or perhaps the reviewer mis-configured the ATSC tuner somehow? Not sure. The base Tablo is a dual tuner so it's hard to believe this would be a single.

    Still, unlike the Tablo this one runs Android (WeOS skin), cones with Kodi preinstalled, and in sure you can install ShowBox of you wanted.




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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by Cap'n Clutch on Wed May 17, 2017 10:38 am

    My android box cost me $40. Nothing fancy but it has everything I need and by everything I mean Kodi with Exodus downloaded. I also have the CBC Sports App which airs all the Sens playoff games perfectly.

    If you want all those bells and whistles I suppose it's worth the extra 140 bucks though.


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Wed May 17, 2017 12:46 pm

    We hardly ever watch TV in realtime, so the ability to record is more than bells 'n whistles.

    Your $40 Android TV boz will only stream Netflix at 480p. There are likely other limitations because, let's face it, even on AliExpress a good one will cost you a bir more than just $40


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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by DefenceWinsChampionships on Wed May 17, 2017 12:49 pm

    I know of some people in the city who sell pre-configured boxes for $100.
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    Re: TV Boxes

    Post by wprager on Wed May 17, 2017 1:45 pm

    Or you can d/l and install a preconfigured Kodi bundle. There are plenty of different one available. By the same token you can d/l and install ShowBox, which I find has a much more intuitive/easy interface. If you don't care about some old, obscure show, then ShowBox is the better choice, IMO.


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