This post is not intended to be a formal review but I would like to share my first impressions of the Vero 4k based on using it over the weekend. It may be of interest to people who are considering purchasing it.
My home A/V set up:
- Sony Bravia 46” LCD TV (not a smart TV)
- QNAP TS-253A NAS which is the media source
- Naim Mu-So hifi unit connected by Optical cable into the TV
- Vero 4k using LAN cable into the router and HDMI into the TV.
- IPhone 6 plus using the official Kodi remote app
Prior to the arrival of the Vero 4k I ran Kodi 16 on the QNAP NAS via the hybrid desk station. I’ve run Kodi on various devices over the years including raspberry pi so am familiar with how Kodi works.
Receipt and packaging
I placed the order on Monday morning and by Saturday it arrived on my doorstep in Mainland Europe. It was very well packaged with the box containing the Vero placed into a larger box containing foam pieces to cushion it from the inevitable knocks it would receive in transit.
Inside the Vero box is; the unit itself, a HDMI cable, a physical remote plus dongle, an IR receiver, a plastic bracket, a euro power supply and a small paper handbook. The handbook is very brief. It contains information about how to plug it in and turn it on but the bulk of it is the text relating to EC conformity and Liability/Warranty text. I would have appreciated a page showing a picture of the device where all the ports are labelled (similar to this). The distinctive shapes of the Ethernet, Optical and HDMI ports makes their purpose obvious but I was wondering if there was a difference between the two 3.5mm jacks and the purpose of two narrow slits on the side of the device.
Look and feel
The device quality is good. The plastic casing feels strong and the cables plug into it with a satisfying click. It is lightweight so can easily be mounted to the back of the TV using the included double sided tape.
The Vero has a premium price (£119) compared to similar devices so I thought the finishing on the plastic casing could have been slightly better - there was a small piece of plastic left over from the manufacturing process in one of the 3.5mm jack holes however this was easily removed using a cocktail stick. The label stuck on the back wasn’t quite square either.
On top is a nice OSMC logo and at the front is an LED which shows the unit is on. I think the price is more a reflection of the high hardware specifications of the device rather than its aesthetic qualities.
Upon first booting the device you reach the setup screen where you can choose the language, time zone and all the other things that are usual when you first install OSMC. You can also choose whether to use the OSMC skin or the Kodi 17 skin as the default. I chose the OSMC skin.
Before starting to configure the device I ran the updater to make sure I had all the latest bug fixes.
A quick run through the menus using the physical remote showed a very responsive and capable device.
OSMC/Kodi basically works out of the box but there are so many configuration options that it you can quickly spend a few hours customising it to the way you like.
Most things worked very well (e.g. adding addons) except for the items listed below. The issues I faced may be due to one or more of the following: Kodi Issue, Vero Issue, User issue (or a combination of the three! )
Adding sources using SMB shares: It’s been quite a while since I set up Kodi/osmc on my other devices so had to remind myself how to add SMB shares from my QNAP. This is where I ran into the first and most time consuming problem. I added the path to the Qnap NAS in the relevant box, gave a name for the source (“Music”) and pressed OK. Strangely it didn’t prompt me for the username or password to the network share. I selected the newly created source again but still nothing for the username/password. Anyway to cut a long story short, there are two unlabelled and therefore invisible fields where you can enter the username and password under where it displays the path to the SMB share. At this point I changed the skin to the Kodi default to see if it would help. The fields now were properly labelled/visible which made adding the source for music, films and TV shows much easier. I kept the Kodi skin from this point on wards
Home screen customisation: After I’d added my sources I started to configure the home screen menu items. Specifically I wanted to remove menu options that I never use such as Pictures, Radio and a few others. Thinking back to my earlier update of the Vero and issues with the missing labels I thought a reboot of the device could be useful. This is where I had the second issue - upon rebooting the device, my home screen menu customisation wasn’t saved, it had reverted to back to the default Kodi menu items. I re-customised my homescreen a second time and then rebooted the device again to see what would happen. Same thing - the Kodi skin reverted back to the default. Third time lucky though– customised the home screen one more time and I switched off the device using the menu instead of rebooting it. Turned the device on by physically removing / replacing the power cord (there is no manual on/off button) and was pleased to see that my homescreen skin settings had indeed been saved this time.
Official Kodi remote for iPhone: Using the physical remote in conjunction with the onscreen keyboard is a bit of a ball ache so I opened the app on my phone to make navigating the interface quicker and to gain access to the keyboard on my phone. The “find Kodi” option in the app didn’t find the Vero 4k (it can find osmc on my old raspberry pi). I manually entered the IP of the Vero 4K and then could use app to navigate the device. A prompt appeared on the app saying that it needs to enable TCP within the Kodi instance. I clicked enable and it seems to work fine. Having the app find the Kodi device by itself is preferable because it will enter the MAC address of the device into the configuration settings by itself. You can use things like wake-on-Lan. I’ll add this manually at some point into the app.
Bluetooth: I played with the Bluetooth settings because eventually I’d like to connect the Vero to Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones which I intend to buy. Before purchasing these expensive headphones I wanted to ensure I could connect to a Bluetooth device and output the audio. After scanning for Bluetooth devices a list is populated within the menu but all these devices are shown by MAC address not by name – so I had no idea of what I was trying to connect to. Eight items appeared in the list but were they my devices or that of a neighbour? I had no luck connecting to any of the eight devices using Bluetooth. I couldn’t connect to mu-so nor my phone. I do have a little JBL Bluetooth wireless speaker somewhere at home. I’ll spend a bit more time with this to see if I can get that to connect. To be continued…
Wireless: My Vero is connected using a cable rather than wireless. I thought that possibly the wireless/Bluetooth hardware may be integrated into the same chip internally and may assist with the Bluetooth issues I was experiencing. I clicked the box to enable wireless but this caused the vero to hang completely. I left it for 5 minutes but it remained unresponsive. Needed to unplug the power cable and reinsert to reactive the device.
Summary after one day use:
- Fast responsive device
- Easy set up
- No issues playing any media so far. No artefacts or sound glitches.
- CEC works fine with my Bravia remote. No configuration was necessary.
- Addons: So far I have only added Filmon and UK turks addons which also work without issue
- Personal preference: the Kodi 17 skin is clearer and easier to use than the osmc skin
- Would have liked a physical on/off button on the device. However, once properly configured I suppose the idea is to have it as an always on device.
I’ll update this post once I’ve used the device for longer.