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#265820 13-Feb-2020 01:46
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There are a lot of posts asking about streaming devices. I thought it would be a good idea to try and make a post to summarize what’s available. I’ve mostly tried to summarize what’s readily available in the NZ market rather than relying on importing devices. That means that Roku is not discussed as it’s not really suitable for the NZ market.

 

I’m also deliberately not addressing Smart TVs as they change too quickly and the support for them can be bad. If your TV works fine for your needs that is great, don’t buy something else. If the apps have stopped working then keep going.

 

There are 3 main ecosystems that are available in NZ. Tv OS (Apple), Android TV (Google) and Chromecast. Google certified Android TV boxes can also be used as a Chromecast so if there is no native app then you can generally cast to Android TV from a native app.

 

There are also a couple of special devices like Vodafone TV I’ll talk about separately.

 

I am deliberately not talking about Android boxes that can be connected to your TV. These devices run the phone version of Android. Generally you can’t run Netflix on these and they have all sorts of strange quirks as they are running hacked software. If you need to read this you shouldn’t consider one of these boxes.

 

Apps:

 

Generally if there is a streaming app being produced it will be released on the Apple TV. The only real exception to this is Google Play Movies. You can play the content but it involves a work around.

 

Chromecast is also very widely supported. It’s not universal but it’s pretty close.

 

Android TV doesn’t have quite the same range of native apps (but it’s still pretty good). Google assistant works as you would expect and it does have something else that other platforms lack. Kodi.

 

For those who are not familiar with Kodi it came from a project called XBMC, which was a universal media player for the original X Box. Kodi is a platform which allows users to play content from local, network and streaming sources. Kodi does not run on Apple TV.

 

As well as it’s native features Kodi has a framework which allows anyone to build an Add On. This has enabled all sorts of clever things like IPTV clients, Streaming add ons for many services (TVNZ on demand, Sky Sports Now, etc etc). They are generally not official and could stop working at anytime but the community is incredibly active and supportive.

 

Kodi has a mixed reputation as there are a lot of illegal streaming add ons available, it is usually the platform running on the dodgy boxes sold as having free Sky, Foxtel and Movies. If you buy one of these boxes you are a pirate and they could stop working at any time.

 

This isn't an issue with Kodi but rather the pirates making these plugins and pirating the content.

 

If you do use Kodi and want NZ services there has been some great work done by Matt Huismann. I can't link to his site but a quick google search will help you.

 

IPTV:

 

You can watch live TV on a streaming device. Kodi supports IPTV via add ons and you can run apps like GSE IPTV on Apple TV and Android TV. There is a really informative thread here with more information.

 

Chromecast. Typically these cost around $70 on special.

 

It’s a small, cheap dongle that attaches to your TV. What is not to like? For many people nothing, it’s the perfect device. For me it isn’t. When I sit to watch TV I want to use a remote control to browse or search my content, not do it via my phone. YMMV but often people will first buy a chromecast before upgrading to other devices.

 

 

 

Apple TV

 

This costs between $300 and $400. Apple TV has the widest app support and generally does what it does very well. You can have multiple app store accounts on one device and therefore run international apps as well as the one from NZ. Being an Apple device it gets regular updates and is well supported.

 

Voice search works but Siri isn’t supported in NZ. There are work around as it is supported in Australia.

 

There are a couple of limitations though. The first is the remote. The Apple TV remote has a touch pad rather than conventional buttons. This makes fast forwarding or rewinding content very fast but it is very polarising. Some people love it, some hate it. Try and have a good play in the store as you do reply on the remote. Voice search works well for me as well.

 

It also has limited CODEC support. It does not support YouTube in 4k. Google uses a proprietary format for this and the Apple TV doesn’t support it. They do support Dolby Atmos (but only on the 4k version) but no other HD formats.

 

If you are going to pay for an Apple TV buy the 4k version, even if you have a 1080p TV. It is quite a bit faster and will likely be supported longer by Apple. If all you are doing is streaming just buy the 32GB version. If you want to load a lot of big games you might need the 64GB version but it’s pretty unlikely IMO.

 

For most people I recommend the Apple TV. It isn’t perfect but it is the device I use nine times out of ten. It’s also the device I bought for my Mum as it only runs native apps, so I don’t have to support it much at all.

 

 

 

Xiaomi MiBox S

 

This is the basic Android TV device that I use and recommend. It’s a limited device with 8GB of storage and 2GB of Ram but it is cheap at $130, has a really decent remote and generally works pretty well. It is faster and has a better interface than Android TV on my Sony TV and I like the device. It currently runs Android TV 8.1 and gets semi-regular updates.

 

It isn’t as fast as something like an Nvidia Shield or an Apple TV 4k but it plays HD audio and tops out at 4k HDR @60fps so it can hold it’s own. You can plug a USB hard drive into this and I take mine away when we travel to play cartoons for the kids.

 

If you buy an Mi Box, and ethernet is available, do yourself a favour and but a USB to ethernet adapter. It’ll give you a generally more reliable experience. I use and recommend the UGreen USB 2.0 version as the Mi Box only has a USB 2.0 port. Have a look here for more information.

 

If you want to tinker with Kodi or can’t stretch to an Apple TV this is a good device.

 

 

 

Nvidia Shield

 

This is like a Mibox on steroids. I haven’t owned one of these but the feedback I have read is mostly very favourable. Very fast, well supported and very capable. You are looking at $300-$400 to buy one of these locally in NZ but you can import for less.

 

There are a few versions of this device. The currently sold versions are the 2017 version with 16GB of storage and 3GB of RAM as well as a couple of 2019 versions. The basic one looks like a tube and has 2GB of Ram and 8GB of storage while the Pro version has 3GB of Ram and 16GB of storage.

 

These are by far the best android tv devices on the market, with lots of codecs and maximum flexibility due to Android. You get a gigabit ethernet port and a beast of a device. You can use this as a plex server but I wouldn’t as you would still need network or local usb storage. As always there are a few caveats.

 

The remote on the 2017 isn’t very good although reviews I have read say that the new one is better. I haven’t owned one of these but a number of users on Geekzone have said they hate the remote. It’s also pretty expensive and for most users I would say the Mi Box is fine.

 

 

 

Dish Smart VU X

 

This is a very small Android TV box with a nice trick – it has a freeview App. I bought one of these for my mother in law and she is pretty happy with it. For $130 it’s a cheaper device. You have the play store so you have access to all the native Andoid Apps as well as Kodi. It is a but gutless though.

 

Only 1GB of ram so performance can be a bit sluggish as well as sometimes running a bit hot. My other concern with this is that support could be a bit lacklustre as it’s being produced by a smallish company. It’s software is also pretty buggy. If you are considering one take a look at the thread here. https://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=83&topicid=243399&page_no=1

 

If I had the choice I’d buy a Mi Box S rather than one of these.

 

 

 

Vodafone TV Gen 2

 

Firstly even though this is a Vodafone device it runs on any ISP and doesn’t have subscription fees. There is no issue using one of these on Spark or any other ISP

 

I haven’t owned one of these but it’s a cool idea. It doesn’t run Android TV but a special version of Linux. This means that it’s app library is limited but it has a very cool concept.

 

It supports live IP streaming as well as having a 72 hour buffer of live channels and 500 hours of cloud PVR storage. If you primarily want to watch New Zealand TV and want included PVR functionality this is a good device. You can add sky channels and various other services.

 

The PVR doesn’t work perfectly as there are some rights limitations and the device is still pretty new. There have been a heap of bugs but Vodafone have been working pretty hard to get these sorted.

 

I love the idea of this device but it’s still pretty early in it’s implementation

 

If you are considering buying this take a look at the thread here: https://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=40&topicid=254293&singlepage=yes

 

 

 

Fire TV Stick

 

This is Amazons streaming device running it’s custom flavour of Android. It does not have access to the play store but you get access to the Amazon store as well as being able to sideload normal Android Apps. At $79 for the basic Edition it is amazing value. It is only 1GB of Ram with 8gm storage but it runs ok. The 4k version is has 1.5GB of RAM and is better but less readily available in NZ.

 

If you like the Amazon UI this is a good device but it will always push you in the direction of Amazon services first. I hate the UI but the quality is good and it works well. You get Alexa onboard as well.

 

If you are in the Amazon camp this is a very good device with a nice remote.

 

 


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  #2417014 13-Feb-2020 01:47
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Any feedback or corrections please let me know :)


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  #2417032 13-Feb-2020 07:15
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Great idea.

Perhaps add the live channels ability of Android TV. I have the Mi Box S (with Android TV 9) and with live channels and Matt Huisman's URLs one can watch Freeview, like the Vodafone TV 2.

In November last year at the GZ IRL hosted by Vodafone, Vodafone said they are working on bringing the Vodafone TV app store to NZ. In Europe there are already thousands of apps. Vodafone are in discussions with Disney to bring the Disney+ service.

 

Also add the what native support there is for the most common streaming services used in New Zealand.
Mi Box S: Disney+, Netflix, YouTube, Play Movies, TVNZ On Demand etc
Vodafone TV: Freeview, Neon, Netflix, YouTube

 

Also network support
Mi Box S: ethernet via USB adapter (as you noted), Wifi 2.4GHz & 5Ghz, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Vodafone TV 2: ethernet and WiFi 5GHz only
Chromecast:
  i) Ultra: ethernet, 2.4GHz & 5GHz WiFi, 802.11ac
  ii) v3: 2.4GHz & 5GHz WiFi, 802.11ac


 
 
 
 


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  #2417594 13-Feb-2020 20:16
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I have Mibox s and bought this to play movies from my external hard drive because my TCL tv updated from android 7 to 8 and unable to play movies from drive after this, and playing movies on Mibox s was working fine so relieved to have this working and able to play movies just worked perfectly also having Kodi available was a bonus.Then Mibox s updated from android 8 to android 9 pie and now can't play any movies as doesn't recognize 3tb ntfs drive anymore and chromecast also broken plus not able to connect bluetooth headphones any more just continously says connecting and does nothing so at the moment i just have useless Mibox s until they get updated. Checking google searches and forums no solutions and have done 3 factory reset with no changes so would not recommend Mibox until fixed.


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  #2418596 13-Feb-2020 21:11
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johny007g:

I have Mibox s and bought this to play movies from my external hard drive because my TCL tv updated from android 7 to 8 and unable to play movies from drive after this, and playing movies on Mibox s was working fine so relieved to have this working and able to play movies just worked perfectly also having Kodi available was a bonus.Then Mibox s updated from android 8 to android 9 pie and now can't play any movies as doesn't recognize 3tb ntfs drive anymore and chromecast also broken plus not able to connect bluetooth headphones any more just continously says connecting and does nothing so at the moment i just have useless Mibox s until they get updated. Checking google searches and forums no solutions and have done 3 factory reset with no changes so would not recommend Mibox until fixed.


I’m beta tester of Mi Bix S Android TV 9. Can you PM the details of the problems you are having and I’ll post it on their beta testers Facebook page.



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  #2419643 14-Feb-2020 02:06
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Kiwifruta:

 

Great idea.

Perhaps add the live channels ability of Android TV. I have the Mi Box S (with Android TV 9) and with live channels and Matt Huisman's URLs one can watch Freeview, like the Vodafone TV 2.

In November last year at the GZ IRL hosted by Vodafone, Vodafone said they are working on bringing the Vodafone TV app store to NZ. In Europe there are already thousands of apps. Vodafone are in discussions with Disney to bring the Disney+ service.

 

Also add the what native support there is for the most common streaming services used in New Zealand.
Mi Box S: Disney+, Netflix, YouTube, Play Movies, TVNZ On Demand etc
Vodafone TV: Freeview, Neon, Netflix, YouTube

 

Also network support
Mi Box S: ethernet via USB adapter (as you noted), Wifi 2.4GHz & 5Ghz, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Vodafone TV 2: ethernet and WiFi 5GHz only
Chromecast:
  i) Ultra: ethernet, 2.4GHz & 5GHz WiFi, 802.11ac
  ii) v3: 2.4GHz & 5GHz WiFi, 802.11ac

 

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

You can play IPTV on Apple TV as well. I'll think about how to best add it.

 

The app support is such a sh*ts how at the best of times I don't want to add future apps - there is just as good a chance of them not coming.


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  #2419653 14-Feb-2020 06:47
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Can a programmable remote such as the Harmony support the ATV4?  




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  #2419654 14-Feb-2020 06:51
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tdgeek:

Can a programmable remote such as the Harmony support the ATV4?  



Yes, absolutely.

 
 
 
 


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  #2419682 14-Feb-2020 08:41
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johny007g:

I have Mibox s ...Then Mibox s updated from android 8 to android 9 pie and now can't play any movies as doesn't recognize 3tb ntfs drive anymore and chromecast also broken plus not able to connect bluetooth headphones any more just continously says connecting and does nothing so at the moment i just have useless Mibox s until they get updated. .../p>



That is all a bit sad.
My MiBox S continues to operate well as expected. Online updated to Android 9 build 2231.
All my 1 & 2TB NTSF formatted drives, Seagate and WD, are recognised through the connected UGREEN USB 3.0 Hub and Gigabit Ethernet adapter with the now added bonus of full read/write capability.
Just checked Chromecasting from my Samsung 10.5" Tab A via Netflix and MX Media Player movie watching. Perfect casting.
I do not own any bluetooth headphones. Both my bluetooth speakers, Sony & Xiaomi are paired and work perfectly but I much prefer direct 3mm aux. audio connection or HDMI anyway.
My MiBox 3 also continues to work well.


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  #2420657 14-Feb-2020 08:48
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You might like to link to this thread with information about USB ethernet adapters that work with the Mi Box.


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  #2420760 14-Feb-2020 09:59
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I am not sure if you are keeping the list to "buy-and-use" but Kodi on a Raspberry Pi is a good option (you covered Kodi, but not the Pi option), such as the excellent work done by @apsattv and "he who cannot be named" for streaming TV channels.  I find a Pi3 is better at this (more consistent, faster response, more stable) than the SmartVU that I also have.

Kodi can also work as the target for Airplay, allowing casting from Apple devices, and has CEC which allows the use of the TV remote to control Kodi (maybe add a WAF measure to list?)


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  #2420770 14-Feb-2020 10:29
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timbosan:

 

I am not sure if you are keeping the list to "buy-and-use" but Kodi on a Raspberry Pi is a good option (you covered Kodi, but not the Pi option), such as the excellent work done by @apsattv and "he who cannot be named" for streaming TV channels.  I find a Pi3 is better at this (more consistent, faster response, more stable) than the SmartVU that I also have.

Kodi can also work as the target for Airplay, allowing casting from Apple devices, and has CEC which allows the use of the TV remote to control Kodi (maybe add a WAF measure to list?)

 

 

 

 

Depends if the point of the thread is to show devices that can use the New Zealand subscription services or not (lightbox/netflix etc etc), rather than just freeview live tv via IPTV.  As with Kodi I don't believe you can access on demand shows can you?

 

 





Previously known as psycik

OpenHAB: Gigabyte AMD A8 BrixOpenHAB with Aeotech ZWave Controller, Raspberry PI, Wemos D1 Mini, Zwave, Xiaomi Humidity and Temperature sensors and Bluetooth LE Sensors
Media:Chromecast v2, ATV4, Roku3, HDHomeRun Dual
Windows 10
Host (Plex Server/Crashplan): 2x2TB, 2x3TB, 1x4TB using DriveBender, Samsung 850 evo 512 GB SSD, Hyper-V Server with 1xW10, 1xW2k8, 2xUbuntu 16.04 LTS, Crashplan, NextPVR channel for Plex,NextPVR Metadata Agent and Scanner for Plex


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  #2420812 14-Feb-2020 11:27
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Apple TV, of both iterations, has not been updated/refreshed since Sept 2017 when they released the 5th Generation.

 

However signs of a new Apple TV with an A12 bionic chip were uncovered in the iOS 13.4 beta in January, suggesting Apple is working on a refreshed model that could debut sometime in 2020. Apple often unveils new products in March, so there's a possibility we could see a new Apple TV at that time.

 

Beyond an updated processor and a "T1125" codename, there's little else known about the new Apple TV.

 

Hopefully they will redesign the remote, incorporate better Youtube support and other codec's and include Siri for us Kiwis.

 

EDIT: grammar and year date corrections

 

 





iMac 27" (late 2013), Airport Time Capsule + Airport Express, iPhone7, iPad6, iPad Mini2

 

Panasonic Blu-ray PVR DMR-BWT835 + Panasonic Viera TH-L50E6Z, Chromecast Ultra, Yamaha AVR RX-V1085


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  #2420942 14-Feb-2020 12:26
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A question re controlling the ATV via means other than its own remote: while I get that one could use a Harmony or similar third-party remote, what are controls via CEC like, eg using the TV remote? Does that provide enough control to be a viable alternative?

 

As a comparison, I've found that most of the time I can get by using the TV remote to control our Amazon Fire TVs; I'm wondering if this is a potential solution to those put off by the original ATV remote as well...


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  #2420983 14-Feb-2020 13:13
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Handle9:

 

Any feedback or corrections please let me know :)

 

 

No corrections, just a comment. As a user of Android boxes myself, I feel something can be said in their defence. The main thing is that they are very cheap. I think the first one I bought (still in use) was about $30 on AliExpress. They can still be had for not much more than that.

 

I have had some issues with this one, but for the price, it actually works pretty well. I use it for watching TV in the bedroom. I have Kodi on it and I watch the Freeview IPTV streams, as well as Australia. I also view some overseas stuff, mainly news sites and Zattoo, but iPlayer and ITV also work ok. Sometimes I get buffering that shouldn’t be there but that seems to only happen on certain sites at certain times. It has to do with HD on the apps because I don’t get it on the Windows browser, where I have more flexibility.

 

Navigation can be a pain on phone apps but I have found some pretty good workarounds. I still have to fiddle to get to what I want, but it is not that big a deal. The remote has a mouse function that makes it easy to switch back and forth, and an air mouse enables me to emulate the wheel function, which is sometimes necessary for scrolling. I also just use the Chrome browser for sites I don’t have apps for.

 

When I just want to watch something in bed, having to toggle a few things to get to it is not the end of the world, especially if the alternative is no TV or a much more expensive device. For casual bedroom use on a 24 inch Panasonic, the cheap box is fine. Not everything has to be state of the art.

 

In the lounge our main device is in fact an Nvidia Shield. It works fine as an Android box, but I have found navigation on it to be more of a pain than on the cheap box. The remote is completely useless for my purposes and I don’t use it at all. Instead I have programmed everything I need into a Harmony together with a FLIRC which does exactly what I want. I also have Kodi on it. I’m not sure about NZ On Demand because I never watch it. I prefer Australian content and some other sites.

 

I have found the Shield to be a pain because it doesn’t support apps I want and I have had to do a lot of workarounds to get them the way I want them, but it now works pretty well for me. There is nothing wrong with the device itself, just the curbs put on the way it can be used. Not everyone in the world wants to watch Netflix or YouTube. The limits can be got around, but it takes some extra effort. I don’t use the Shield interface at all, but have it set to go straight to Kodi, where I use Favourites shortcuts and some add-ons for flexibility. It now does pretty much what I want.

 

My point is that there are different ways of doing things for different purposes and one size does not fit all. On this basis I would not rule out Android boxes completely. There is also a use case for these, depending on one’s needs and patience.

 

 





I don't think there is ever a bad time to talk about how absurd war is, how old men make decisions and young people die. - George Clooney
 




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  #2421109 14-Feb-2020 16:29
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davidcole:

 

timbosan:

 

I am not sure if you are keeping the list to "buy-and-use" but Kodi on a Raspberry Pi is a good option (you covered Kodi, but not the Pi option), such as the excellent work done by @apsattv and "he who cannot be named" for streaming TV channels.  I find a Pi3 is better at this (more consistent, faster response, more stable) than the SmartVU that I also have.

Kodi can also work as the target for Airplay, allowing casting from Apple devices, and has CEC which allows the use of the TV remote to control Kodi (maybe add a WAF measure to list?)

 

 

 

 

Depends if the point of the thread is to show devices that can use the New Zealand subscription services or not (lightbox/netflix etc etc), rather than just freeview live tv via IPTV.  As with Kodi I don't believe you can access on demand shows can you?

 

 

 

 

You definitely can watch most NZ stuff on Kodi due to Matt Huismanns repo. It really is very good.

 

Netflix isn't so easy, it can work but can also get broken. If a device isn't supported by Netflix I won't add it. It is THE core service for streaming and it doesn't make sense to include devices that don't have support.

 

The point of this thread is for devices that are readily available in NZ and are supported, not every option in the global market.


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