Did you buy a tv box because the seller told that you can have free movies and tv program and even cut the cord right away?
Did you buy a tv box to watch IPTV, then after few months the box was not able to stream program anymore and seller told you to upgrade to new box?
Did you buy a tv box but later found that you the hardware not allow you to upgrade to higher Android version?
Did you buy a tv box but now it is sitting on the desk collecting dusk because you can not use it to do something else?
Hey, so why don't you just DIY your own TV box within your budget, learn how to configure and upgrade the box and able to reuse the box for other projects? Here, I will share with you my experiences to build tv box for home entertainment from a non technical housewife. So here we go!
I purchased my first tv box around two years ago. It was a Mi Box Gen 3 with Android 4.x and 1GB internal memory. This box was using Simplified Chinese language interface. It came with Shafa and other China related apps installed by the seller. Kodi and some popular add-ons were also included. However, after using it for one month, I had to send back for repair several times.
The problem I had with this box was Kodi will be deleted every time I cleared cache with Shafa app. Another problem was inconsistent wifi connection performance of this Mi Box. Sometimes it was so slow that I can not play any HD stream. The Mi Box don't have Ethernet connection so debugging is difficult. Overall, this is a box that you can not rely on to cut the cord. Most of the problems related to not enough memory or Shafa deleted Kodi app during cache cleaning.
What the seller did was re-install entire apps into the box again and again using his master copy. I asked for that copy so that I don't have to drive from such a long distance so many times but he refused. So I started to google around so that I can do the repair myself. I learned how to install Kodi, add-ons and Android apps on Mi Box with expanded memory on SD card. The Mi Box wifi connection is the major problem to me. I am not longer using this box now.
Raspberry Pi 2 credit card size board.
As I was leaning how to install Android apps and Kodi add-ons through google, I found articles that discussed about using Raspberry Pi 2 to play Kodi. I purchased Raspberry Pi 2 board, power supply and casing from RS Online in Malaysia. It was a great learning curve for me to DIY the tv box. However, later I found the steps were so simple and almost the same for all devices.
For this Raspberry Pi 2, all I need was a good Micro SD card, free software tool such as SD Formater (when reuse Micro SD), download OSMC from internet and write the image into SD card. Then install Kodi add-ons and I was good to go! In later stage, I also purchsed Raspberry Pi 3 and Zero W and used the same installation steps.
I was very happy with the performance of Raspberry Pi. I was able to stream 720p and 1080p video smoothly via Kodi. However, Raspberry Pi family do not support 4K video. I was not able to install other Android apps when using OSMC.
Raspberry Pi 3 credit card size board. Same dimensions with Pi 2.
Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 in black casing. You can use this casing for Asus Tinker Board as well.
The little cute Raspberry Pi Zero W.
I did not have the chance to install stable Android into Raspberry Pi before I migrate to Asus Tinker Board and Rock64. There are now some stable Android developments for Raspberry Pi 2/3. Good news is Google going to support Raspberry Pi with Android. So try it if you have Pi 2 or 3.
Asus Tinker Board credit card size board. Same dimensions with Raspberry Pi 2 and 3.
I purchased Asus Tinker Board in April this year when it was only available in UK and Taiwan. With the previous experiences from Raspberry Pi, I was able to boot up Android 6 the first hour after I receive the card. I downloaded Anroid 6 image from Asus support website and use Win32Imager to burn the image into Micro SD before receiving Tinker board. Good thing was Tinker board can re-use Raspberry Pi 2/3 casing and power supply.
I like the interface of TinkerOS Android. The new one also include a APK Installer app.
With Tinker Board, I was able to install many great Android apps, such as Kodi, TerrariumTv, Dangbei and so many China apps, MegaHD etc. I like the Android interface of Tinker board. It is so easy to use. I also installed FTMC (a Kodi fork) and a patch to enable hardware acceleration on Tinker Board. In fact, I always use FTMC on Tinker board nowadays as it is able to take full power of hardware from Tinker Board. 4K streaming is just fantastic from this great product of ASUS. I have no complain for this product.
Rock64 credit card size board. You need to cut out some portion of Raspberry Pi 2/3 casing to fit this board.
My Rock64 in action. Streaming 1080p and 4K video smoothly.
I received my Rock64 4Gb this month from Pine64. Rock64 has three versions, with internal memory of 1Gb, 2Gb and 4Gb. As you can see from the price vs specifications, it is definitely outperforming Raspberry Pi 3 and Asus Tinker Board. It has only 2 USB2.0 vs 4 in Raspberry Pi 2/3 and Asus Tinker Board. However, it has one USD3.0 for higher speed data transfer and better power management. This board also don't have bluetooth and wifi connection. I have to purchase additional dongle and currently still waiting for it.
Rock64 Android TV interface.
I was also able to boot up Rock64, run Kodi and other apps within hours after receive the box. I downloaded Android TV 7.x from Ayufan. I don't like the Android TV interface but this hardware is really Raspberry Pi killer! Video streaming with any resolutions (720p, 1080p and 4K) are so smooth and no complain for the quality at all.
So who is the winner?
I am not using the Mi Box, Raspberry Pi 2, 3 and Zero W anymore. I am currently using Asus Tinker Board and Rock64. Why? Performance!
In term of value for money and performance, Rock64 is the winner for all 1GB, 2GB and 4GB version. But if you need smart DNS to view China programs, the lack of wifi support for Android image is a problem. I am waiting for my dongle to test out.
If you do not use these board as TV box, you can use them in other projects, such as robotic controller, home alarm system, weather station and many more.
So, why you want to buy tv box from the shell? Build it on your own and give you more control, flexibility and value for money!
|Mi Box 3 MDZ-09-AA||Raspberry Pi 2||Raspberry Pi 3||Raspberry Pi Zero W||Asus Tinker Board||Rock64|
|Release Date||Jul 2014||Feb 2015||Feb 2016||Feb 2017||Apr 2017||Sep 2017|
|CPU||Quad-core Cortex-A9 2.0GHz||Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 900MHz 64-Bit||Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 1.2GHz 64-Bit||Single-Core 1GHz||Quad-Core Cortex-A17 1.8GHz 32-Bit||Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53 1.4GHz 64-Bit|
|GPU||750MHz Mali 450||250 MHz Broadcom Videocore IV||Broadcom Videocore IV||Broadcom Videocore IV||600MHz Mali-T764 GPU||Mali-450 MP2 GPU|
|Internal Memory||2GB DDR3||1GBSDRAM @ 400 MHz||1GB LPDDR2 @ 900 MHz||512MB||2GB LPDDR3|| |
|Operating System||Android 4.4||Linux and many more||Linux and many more||Linux and many more||Android 6, Debian via Tinker OS||Android 7.1, Debian, and Yocto|
No built-in Wifi.
10/100 Mbits Ethernet
802.11n and Bluetooth 4.1
10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet
|802.11 b/g/n wirelessand Bluetooth 4.1|| |
802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.1
|Gigabit Ethernet port|
|USB 2.0||1||4||4||2 (Micro USB)||4||2|
|HDMI||HDMI 2.0 4K@60fps||HDMI Full HD||HDMI Full HD||mini-HDMI Full HD||HDMI 2.0 4K@60fps||HDMI 2.0 4K@60fps|
|Power||5V 2A||5V 2A||5V 2A||5V 2A via micro USB||5V 2A||5V 3A|
|Casing(USD)||Come with the box||8||8||6||8||8|
|Power Supply(USD)||Come with the box||8 (Or using old handphone power supply. Make sure 5V 2A)||8 (Or using old handphone power supply. Make sure 5V 2A)||8 (Or using old handphone power supply. Make sure 5V 2A)||8 (Or using old handphone power supply. Make sure 5V 2A)||7 (Or using old handphone power supply. Make sure 5V 3A)|
|Micro SD||8Gb or 16Gb is enough||8Gb or 16Gb is enough||8Gb or 16Gb is enough||8Gb or 16Gb is enough||8Gb or 16Gb is enough||8Gb or 16Gb is enough|
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