My original question was aimed at having one box “do it all”. Today, I have two: a Roku for internet streaming and the Vero4K for playing local content. Both boxes do video and audio very well. Of course, both have their competitors, all with pros & cons.
Towards the theoretical goal of having one box, the hardware redesign/upgrade (if needed) I assume is a surmountable issue. If it’s merely software, with Kodi or OSMC, that too seems like it could be addressed. I realize that I am a non-technical person probably trivializing a complex challenge.
My guess is, the licensing barrier is the real problem.
Today, I have to switch inputs between the 2 little boxes and keep 2 remotes handy. The Roku costs about half what the Vero4K does, so for under 200 I can watch everything I want across two boxes. Having high quality video and audio in my home at my finger tips is worth it.
The AppleTV 4K is probably as close you’ll get. So long as you don’t need bitstreamed audio on locally-stored files, don’t need 4K/HDR on YouTube, and don’t care about MVC/frame-packed 3D, it does just about everything else (with one or two eccentricities).
It’s not that you are wrong to expect improvements – but what is the nature of the improvements that you can expect? Kodi and OSMC are under constant development – but their development is more of an evolutionary nature. It’s probably a bit utopian to expect radically new features like 4K/HDR support for the major streaming services when that is known to be essentially impossible due to licensing restrictions. You can, however, probably expect improvements in rendering, a more fluid interface perhaps, better colour, and things of that nature …
What makes you think you won’t be able to use your vero 4k + 10 years from now to watch 1080p and 2160p video ? As long the format specification’s dont change drastically that should be no problem.
You say that as if its a bad thing. There is plenty of people that buy the vero because it runs open source software and is highly customizable. While the HW is not spectacular the software that runs on it is so customized that every bit of performance is squeezed out of the hardware which is also nice and not a bad thing.
I don’t have a 4K TV, so I don’t play anything more than 1080p, but I jumped at the Vero 4K because the software is the only truly open solution for media playback. Being based on Debian instead of Android allows the user to do almost anything with the box fairly easily. There are literally thousands of applications that can be added with apt-get install ..., and plenty of resources to help users configure them.
It also means that there are many ways to make your local media available for playback (Kodi’s built-in support, fstab mounts to NAS, USB device, etc.), and all are, again, widely documented even if this forum didn’t exist.
But devices that are pure streamers (Roku and FireTV sticks, etc.) with no real support for local media are practically being given away in cereal boxes. You can choose whatever you want and never pay more than US$50. So, solve all your streaming problems with one of those plugged into an AVR/processor/whatever, and use the Vero for what it excels at: watching media that is stored in your home.
If my laptop would have been “stuck” in Windows Vista you can guess I would have a way less useful machine right now. But I have been able to update legally to Windows 10.
You don’t have to agree with me, as I’ve already said. And I get all those issues related to “fully legal” apps, hence, I asked for dual-boot to make the box more flexible.
If you dig into coreelec builds you could find that some of those builds are able to offer, virtually the same service for 99% end users than the Vero. Even HDR10 in comunity builds for 905,912,… You could load one of those builds in some android boxes with not too many headaches, although it could demand a bit of time, tests an care, but not rocket-science needed, granted. And in some of them it seems you can even get a dual-boot machine for half of the price.
And coreelec, libreelec, and Kodi team also support their users through their forums.
I personally still haven’t put time in those alternatives, but honestly, for a “geek user”, with no fear to deal with images, ssh, configs, etc… it seems a very interesting approach.
If we were talking about a box which is priced around 100€… I would feel more “ok”. A generic box would be cheaper but you get a bit more risks and a worse support. … But 140€… I’d certainly love to suggest this box but …now I can’t for this price. Hence I’d just like to get a bit more in the support side. No more and no less.
¿ Why do you see as “strange” ?
The OP asked about it … ¿ can’t I ?
P.D. And I’m done right now. Not trying to push anyone, just showing my point.
Well, A: you pay at least pounds for dollars here in the UK, and B: they’re all terrible. Chromecast Ultra, for example, isn’t capable of outputting at anything other than 50 or 60Hz, and I can’t tolerate 3:2 judder; Roku Streaming Stick+ can’t output 23.976Hz correctly either - it outputs 24Hz instead, and thus repeats a frame once every ~41 seconds; most devices here in the UK can’t output 4K from Amazon Video, even though the same device can in the US; not all that many can produce 4K/HLG from iPlayer; it’s just crazy.
Sure, but it’s not like you won’t be able to update to later versions of OSMC and Kodi. In fact, another selling point of the Vero 4K is guaranteed support (in the form of software updates) for a period of four years. How many Android boxes offer that?
You know that CoreELEC shares a Linux kernel with OSMC, right…? The two teams collaborate.
I gave the price as an example…there were Black Friday deals for less than US$20…even if that was £20, it’s still quite reasonable.
If all those devices that are authorized and certified by various streaming services are so bad in the UK, then complain to them…don’t complain that the Vero doesn’t support DRM-infested streaming services.
The reason there are Kodi solutions for some platforms is that the streaming services offer some kind of app for those platforms, and the Kodi plugin just runs that app when it wants to display the content. Once that happens, you are no longer running Kodi, and you will have the exact same kind of problems you are having with any of the authorized devices.
So, why would you expect a device that has to bend/break those licensing rules (because there is no available app) to be able to do better? We all understand why these streaming services require closed systems (because DRM is broken by design), so an open system would not only have to figure out the DRM problem, but then be able to handle the unencrypted data, which can be completely proprietary (and change at any time), since it’s expected that it will only be used on a closed system.
This will probably end up a pretty long post; but I’d like to cover a few things.
We’re aware that there are devices out that are favoured because of easy access to services and DRM protected content. If there was an easy way to add these services in without compromising what OSMC is, we’d be doing that now.
With Widevine certification and HDCP; we’d be able to do 1080p for most services via Android using a dual-boot based solution. The restrictions for content usually come in at 4K resolution. I believe this is what happened with Netflix on WeTek devices – and output of up to 1080p was possible.
However, Netflix then retroactively changed the rules; shutting out customers from receiving these services. That’s a big worry for me. It probably wouldn’t reflect well if you bought a Vero 4K + on the premise that you could watch Netflix via an official app; and support for it was removed spontaneously and we could not tell you or even confirm if it’s coming back.
I think that if we were to add official support for these services; we should only add them if and only if we can provide the same experience or a better experience than other devices. That means being able to watch Netflix at 4K if a user wishes etc.
Vero 4K / 4K + supports TEE (Trusted Execution Environment). This makes it possible (in theory) to have a fully encrypted video pipeline under Linux; with OSMC. The bootloader would be locked; but this wouldn’t make a difference for the end user. You’d still have an open source environment and complete freedom of the device; as encrypted content would be handled by a different, secure part of the chip.
With this, someone could go and build a Kodi add-on, and we could push Netflix at 4K. The SoC vendor (AMLogic) even have the userland implementation finished. Providers such as Netflix are currently on the fence. When discussing this with them, they are more open to the idea than they were three years ago.
We’ll never be able to please everyone based on price point, but the goal is to deliver as much as we can at a ~£100 price point and be competitive. The Vero 4K + has been very well received.
A large number of sellers on popular ‘deals’ websites use very cheap and cheerful parts to put it politely. They purchased refurbished or unsuitable (lowly binned) chips and offer flash sales to recoup losses. I’ve done some analysis on the BOMs of some devices sold; and I’d take a guess that most sales are making between $2-3 per device. At this price point, I think you’re unlikely to see any level of support beyond shipping.
These boxes are unlikely to offer OTA updates; and at that profit margin and price point, I don’t really blame them.
We aim to produce monthly updates. We didn’t do one in November, because we’re in a limbo between Kodi v17 and Kodi v18; and we wanted to dedicate more time to improving video playback for 4K displays.
These aren’t just maintenance updates, but also updates to improve the user experience and add more functionality. You wrote to me about this via PM a couple of days ago, and I elaborated on some of the things we are working on in more detail.
We are at the point where we need to significantly re-develop OSMC as well as some of the infrastructure behind it; and we are investing a lot of time and money in to that behind the scenes.
I’ve noticed that people start to understand the value proposition of OSMC when something goes wrong. While this may be anecdotal, I’ve noticed from the forums and emails that a user often starts to appreciate OSMC after they have experienced a problem and found a resolution for it. Strangely enough – something will be better received if it’s broken and then fixed, than if it works out of the box.
I think you might have oversimplified this one.
GPL software does not mean that there are no costs involved. There are about 200 patches on top of Kodi; which is one of the many packages that make up OSMC. This costs time and money to maintain. If a set top manufacturer just ship the Kodi APK on top of Android, then they do not have this responsibility to consider.
But you can’t just go out and take a chip and sell it. You’ll need to certify it, license it (HDMI). This takes time and money as well.
AV1 is a draft specification, but support has been added using dav1d for the next release. There is a lot that can change though as the decoder is not finalised. I don’t think we will see much material in this format for a few years; but I may be wrong.
And you will.
But it sounds like you are saying you would like us to add specific features for you. We can do this – if feasible. Adding a half-baked implementation of several streaming services doesn’t make sense; when most people’s TV’s built in apps will do a better job.
Quite. The Fire TV stick is effectively sold at cost (and likely a loss leader on events like Black Friday) which exists to encourage people to subscribe to Amazon Prime.
I don’t think it’s possible for a device to do everything. Spotify seemed to do a good job in unifying a large number of labels and companies with different interests to deliver music under one roof. I think with video, this is unlikely to happen. We have Apple; Netflix and Amazon spending large sums of money trying to be king and even supermarkets now trying to get in on the action. I think we will infact see an even more fragmented streaming market over time.
A large number of improvements (particularly HDR) are developed by OSMC are used by CE and we remain a significant contributor to their kernel and project.
Obviously not. Not “for my eyes only”. Have I said that ?. Come on.
I just could have expectations which could be way different than other ones (like adding BD-J support). If you add JRE to support that’s a clear improvement and a new feature which could benefit many users. You’d never see me complaining about it. Granted.
The problem here is that just asking for a clear set of possible incoming features is seen like a “selfish and unreasonable petition”, a “taboo”.
I just have to feel bad because I’m asking for the possible incoming new features ?
As far as I know (though I could be wrong) very few chances that medium-to-high rate AV1 coded streams could be decoded without the help of a HW integrated decoder. In any case I agreee that it doesn’t seem a issue in the following 2-3 years.
That’s unfair. I haven’t returned your box because it does its job. I was just pointing that my view of support at this price range may come with added features along the product life cycle. Am I wrong just for asking ? Really ?
We’re looking in to it. But promising something before it comes to fruition can lead to disappointment. Lessons learned there.
Absolutely not – and I hope you know that. Anyone can request a feature, which is why we have an entire section called ‘Feature Requests’ on this forum. I read every single post on this forum and always make a list of requests and feasibility. There are some things we won’t be able to do; but I’m always happy to tell you this clearly.
You can do up to 1080p now, which isn’t bad for a draft decoder.
We will keep adding features to the device, and hopefully that is clear.
Whether these features will necessarily be beneficial to you, I can’t answer.
I still feel like we are just getting started with things, and this is only the beginning. There’s always work to do – and there’s more to OSMC than Kodi.
Any plans to implement this in the (near) future? It would be the cherry on the cake. Currently using the Vero with NetFlix and Amazon Prime @720p but 1080p HW-accelerated would be great. Don’t mind a locked bootloader…
Just a shower thought… considering the cpus in our mobile phones are getting stronger and stronger and I don’t think I’m alone when I say most of us never use it to it’s full potential. How awesome would it be if we could hook our phones to our vero like devices and use the phones cpu to play 4k content on our media players
You can do that with a Chromecast. But the results aren’t all that impressive, because it requires the phone’s CPU to encode video in real time, which is a lot more computationally demanding than decoding it. It’s like expecting your phone to act as a transcoding Plex server.