Help Selecting a Decent Smart Option for a Dumb TV

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by juzz86, Jan 26, 2020.

  1. juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    G'day All,

    I'm hoping you guys might be able to help me pick a suitable device for the bedroom telly, which we've just replaced.

    We've currently got a WDTV Live installed, which is serviceable bit a bit limited in 2020. The WDTV gives us Netflix, YouTube and local (USB) playback - local USB playback is 95% of the duty for the bedroom currently.

    I'd like to expand this to Netflix, Stan, the freeview apps (10 Play, SBS On Demand, 7 Plus) and retain the local USB playback features. We have a Foxtel sub, so that's a consideration but of little importance.

    No Ethernet into the bedroom, so it's gotta be WiFi - signal in here is alright, so not a big issue.

    I've scouted out:

    - nVidia Shield (lovely, but $$$)
    - Telstra TV (looks like an Aussie-centric Roku)
    - Roku (looks good but the US-centric is a bit of a turn-off, headphones in remote appeals)
    - Cheap Android Box (have experience with these and they're good, but slow boot-up and lights everywhere and we hate air mice remotes)
    - Blaupunkt Android TV box (we have an Android TV in the lounge and wifey loves it, but the Blaupunkt one omits local USB so that's a deal-breaker)

    Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing? I have a decent QNAP NAS so if the local USB absolutely had to disappear it probably could, but we tried streaming initially when I installed the NAS and it was a stuttery mess - and we're not pushing 4K blu-ray rips, mostly old 720p or worse rips.

    Cheers! :thumbup:
     
  2. guy.incogneto

    guy.incogneto Member

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    People have a lot of praise for the Mi Box systems

    It seems to tick off all your requirements
     
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  3. OP
    OP
    juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Completely missed that option mate and looks like exactly what I'm after - Android TV with USB.

    Legend, thanks heaps :thumbup:
     
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  4. ThE_BiG_O

    ThE_BiG_O Member

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    Also have a look into the Vodafone TV box. No need to be a vodafone customer to buy/use one. I bought one of those for my parents and it's been great so far - easy interface, nice remote. Has USB port so you can attach an external HDD. I installed Kodi on it and it has no issues playing rips off the HDD. All the apps you listed can be installed from the Google Play store and if there's something that isn't there then they can usually be sideloaded. Most apks for nvidiashield will work on vodafone tv, e.g. Kayo.

    One negative is that there is only a HDMI output and no optical/coax audio which restricts choices for audio output.
     
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  5. Radley

    Radley Member

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    You can't beat it. Supports HDR and 3D audio (Atmos/DTS:X) and has a very fast processor. I've had one for years and it's been really good. Well worth the money.
     
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  6. Kommandant33

    Kommandant33 Member

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    Thanks for the heads up on this - I am just about to look into a box for our loungeroom TV, as it's the old Samsung SmartTV which no longer supports PLEX - can you confirm that PLEX can be installed on this easy enough?

    This is the other thing I was eyeing off - although for OP and a bedroom TV, these features probably ain't worth the money...

    Sorry for hi-jacking your thread momentarily, juzz86
     
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  7. OP
    OP
    juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    No worries at all Komm, happy if it helps more than me mate.

    Thanks fellas, that Vodafone TV looks like it'll do the job perfectly as well - better priced than the Mi Box to boot. Komm's on the money for the Shield too - too much of it would be wasted in this instance.

    My Lounge Android TV has a built-in Media Player - is this a device-specific thing, or is it a built-in feature of Android TV? I don't mind loading Kodi or MX or something alongside if I have to. Any of you guys have any experience here?
     
  8. Raptor_Eye

    Raptor_Eye Member

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    Can always get a HDMI audio extractor for that bit :)
     
  9. NerfDude

    NerfDude Member

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    Go for the mi box unless you need the built in tuner.

    The Vodafone TV hasn’t had a software update since mid 2018. There is apparently meant to be an android 9 in the pipeline but I’ll believe that when I see it.

    You can install Plex on either of these.

    install Kodi for playing back local files. There is also a fantastic Kodi addon for foxtel Go which will work ok on either device. The mi box supports refresh rate switching and just generally better to use, IMO. (I own both).
     
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  10. Martyn

    Martyn Member

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    How many HDMI ports does the replacement tv have?

    If it's at least 2, maybe just keep the WDTV live one one port, and put a Chromecast on the other port?

    Chromecast will take care of your streaming requirements & WDTV live can be used for all of your USB content.
     
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  11. OP
    OP
    juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Thanks mate, software versions and tuners don't worry me here so much, but I'm interested in how you found the Mi Box generally better than the Vodafone? Smoother through UI? Foxtel addition for Kodi is handy to have.

    That's the current setup mate - neither of us are very keen on streaming from a mobile device while sleeping (we go to sleep watching TV and auto-shutoff the TV later) for whatever reason. So we're seeking to amalgamate a bit! :thumbup:
     
  12. Haillion

    Haillion Member

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    I have a Foxtel now device. These are a capable 4k device with the added input for you terrestrial aerial for fta tv channels as well as Google play and streaming apps for Foxtel, Netflix etc. Its quite good for casting from a phone or tablet like a chromecast does. There is a usb port and a host of apps like Plex or kodi from the play store.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
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  13. OP
    OP
    juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Another reasonable-looking option there mate, thankyou. We already have a (satellite) Foxtel sub and don't have access to Now - what is the advertising like throughout?

    The only thing that gives me pause with this and the Vodafone one is that they're likely advertising-heavy, and I won't be using either service. A pre-loaded app or two I can handle no worries though.
     
  14. Haillion

    Haillion Member

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    You can opt out of the recommended viewing which is based on your activity in fox and Netflix. This would normally show a run of programs available in three sliding multi program menus. This also encompasses where your apps menu shows up for your installed programs. It's not unmanageable for general use but I tend to just ignore what parts of it I don't use at the expense of one or two clicks on the bluetooth remote. Free to air is mixed with the Foxtel now sub when choosing live tv on the second tab and the third is dedicated to Foxtel on demand.
     
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  15. Martyn

    Martyn Member

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    I'm not sure if you're aware, but it's not your mobile device that's doing the heavy lifting. All your mobile device is doing with Chromecast is giving it instructions i.e. play show xyz off netflix and the chromecast does the rest.

    You can check by casting something, and then either turning your phone / wireless off and chromecast will keep working.

    As long as you power the chromecast through the tv's usb port, whenever your tv auto-shutoffs, the chromecast will also stop.

    If you've already got a satellite Foxtel sub, have a look at their multiroom option. We've got it at home, and it allows us to watch nearly all Foxtel programs (and more importantly live channels) on each of our tv's without having new boxes installed etc.

    https://www.foxtel.com.au/shop/upgrade/multiroom.html
     
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  16. OP
    OP
    juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Your experience is greatly appreciated mate, thankyou. Seems like another decent option to consider.

    I had no idea the phone just performed the 'handshake', but that makes total sense when I step back and think about it - thanks for the explanation mate.

    Out of curiosity, do you ever have trouble accessing your Foxtel package options through their website? We are on an ageing, flaky MyStar2 box and I've been half-tempted to price up a new box, but not tempted enough to hold on the phone and be pressured into one. I can't ever seem to load my plan details on there?
     
  17. Martyn

    Martyn Member

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    I can't help on that front, I've got Foxtel through Telstra on an IQ3 box. I haven't had any issues changing the package options online, other than having to chat to an online rep to enable multiroom as it wasn't available by default.

    I'd be surprised if Foxtel didn't offer to upgrade you for free to an IQ4 if you indicated you wanted to leave...........
     
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  18. OP
    OP
    juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Thanks for your help mate, appreciated. Plan's up in March, so I'll give them a tingle later in the month :thumbup:
     
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  19. NerfDude

    NerfDude Member

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    I have since given the Mi Box to a family member who loves it, they only use Plex to stream from my server and YouTube, connecting to iPhone hotspot.

    Here are my issues with the VTV (still in occasional use at my house, just for Kodi Foxtel addon - my main device is AppleTV)
    -Foxtel go via casting to the in built chrome cast didn’t work properly - video was jerky on the 50fps sports channels. 25fps low bit rate content was ok. Works fine with the Foxtel Go Kodi add-on.
    -It was constantly popping up asking me to set up my HDHomerun tuner, when I did so, interlacing was broken. Have since disabled a few of the system apps and their notifications and haven’t seen it lately. The inbuilt TV tuner was also unreliable when I had the antenna directly connected. I have marginal TV reception at my house sometimes so this may be a contributing factor.
    -no refresh rate switching which makes it unsuitable for watching anything that is not 25/50fps (IF you have a proper 24p capable display, and are sensitive to frame rate issues its a dealbreaker - many are not. I can’t use it for anything other than Foxtel Go for this reason)
    -when playing back 50fps video, if a GUI is overlaid on the screen it lags and chokes. Again not a big deal but takes away from the polish of the experience.

    I don’t use these features any more so no personal experience but:

    Seen reports of the built in chromecast crashing.
    Seen reports of YouTube app being unreliable.


    You say software versions aren’t important but androidTV is a complex OS and if the vendor isn’t fixing issues (albeit niche ones I guess ?) I find it hard to recommend the device, when the Mi Box S is not much more expensive and gets regular support and updates. The VTV does have a nice remote with more buttons and it is locally available, and its a bit cheaper. I would also steer far clear of the blaupunkt device as I don’t trust them to get it right straight away if at all.

    It’s entirely possible you wont have the issues I had or they wont matter to you.
     
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  20. OP
    OP
    juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    You know mate I should've just taken the plunge and bought last week, but I've been head-down reading all weekend and it seems like the Mi Box ticks all the... boxes... for us.

    I have a Xiaomi account and stuff from previous phones so getting set up isn't an issue, but can I do it without a Xiaomi account?

    I am an absolute plebian when it comes to video framerate - as is the wife. So thankfully, precision here isn't paramount. I note what you say about the ChromeCast and whatnot - I've got a similar intermittent issue with casting to the Lounge Room from my PC, but not from other devices - weird. The local library is mostly old conversions - 720p and below, so we're absolutely bargain-basement in regards to playback requirements.

    The Blaupunkt is off the table due to no local USB - that's a deal-breaker unless I put some time into working out why the NAS stutters - reading tells me Hardware Transcoding is probably the culprit, I just need to sort out how to disable transcoding entirely.

    Thanks for the advice so far also mate, it's appreciated. You guys have given me a fair bit to ponder and I really value the first-hand experiences :thumbup:
     

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