I have a lot of video-files in x264 format, Xvid, etc., which I enjoy watching on my 32" LG TV. It has a built-in function which means it can play and RW/FF through these files as if I was watching a DVD. I have always loved really this function.
Now I would like to have a second 32" TV in my private room, and also be able to watch video-files on it. But I can no longer find any 32" TV's which can do this! All the TV's I find are over 40" big, and that is much, much too large for my little room!
I have only been able to find a 32" LG which can, but it doesn't have a central "foot" but instead has supports on either side, which means the table it sits on has to be as wide as the TV itself. My table isn't!
So I find my only option is to buy a 32" HD monitor/TV without the ability to play video-files, and instead hook it up to an external box which can play the files.
That would be fine by me, but I can't find any such box!
Years ago, I thought they were all over the place! At least, that's what I thought those boxes did. Don't they exist anymore?
The only thing I can find, is something called "Android TV boxes", which look nifty, but I am unsure what they do.
All that is described, is that they can stream video. I have no need for this at all. My entire collection of video is on hard drives, and I enjoy watching it off USB thumb drives.
So I would like to ask if anybody knows whether one can put USB-drives into such Androids TV-boxes, and whether the boxes can play the video-files smoothly?
One of the things I so enjoy about my TV, is how super smooth the playback is. With my computer, I can always sense a teensy amount of jitter, and I think that's because my TV has buffering dedicated to only this single task, leading to a much smoother playback.
As far as I understand, Android TV-boxes are really just small computers, which don't have dedicated video-buffering hardware, and I am worried that a computer won't have the same smoothness of playback as a dedicated piece of video-hardware like my TV does.
Am I worrying needlessly?
I would really be thankful if someone would tell me about their experience with such Android-boxes, or if someone could point me in the direction of a another box which can play video files from USB thumb drives, etc.
Thank you so much.
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Note that the RPi is limited to 1920x1080. And it doesn't support h.265 (HEVC) in hardware so you have to use software decoding, and the CPU isn't strong enough for 720p or higher h.265. It's fine for x.264 (AVC) at 1920x1080 and lower. It can play MPEG 2 video with the CPU but you need to buy an MPEG 2 license (<US$5) if you need to play HD MPEG 2 video. You'll want to have a USB mouse and keyboard during setup, but you an get away with just a remote control after that. I currently use an RPi 3B as my media player.
The Android boxes are cheaper if you don't need 4K and HEVC. They start around US$35. The ones that support 4K and HEVC start around twice that much.
Here's a recent thread about these players:
They poster eventually bought an inexpensive android box. He appears to be happy with it.
Last edited by jagabo; 10th Apr 2018 at 20:38.
Thanks to both you guys, jagabo and redwudz!
My maximum needs are to show 1920x1080 at 25 fps.
But usually, what I watch is 1280x720 or lower resolution, and almost all of it ix x264.
I have nothing in 4K, and only a few things in x265, but it would be nice enough to be able to view x265.
You say RPi doesn't have x265-support in hardware. Does that mean that it does have x264-support in hardware, or is it just that the CPU is strong enough to handle it on its own?
Thanks for all the information and pointers. It was really nice of you to help me out. I am very grateful.
The RPi's GPU (graphics processor) is capable of H.264 decoding but not H.265 decoding. The RPi's CPU is not powerful enough to provide smooth playback of H.265 video in HD resolution.
Android TV boxes with an Amlogic S805, S905 or S912 SoC (System on a Chip) have GPUs which are capable of hardware decoding for HD H.265 video. Of these, the S912 is the newest SoC with hardware decoding support for more video formats than the others, plus 4K resolution.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
Whichever you choose, a wireless keyboard is a must. Navigating through the interface with a regular remote is too slow and clunky.
I bought a cheapo s905 box about 2 years ago. $40 CAD free delivery (about $32 USD)
I use it the same way as the OP intends - it's just in a spare room for playing files. I hardly it use - it's collecting dust - but it works well. I think it's a bit more powerful than the RPi (it can play more than L4.1 AVC, up to L5.1). IIRC think RPi will choke on some AVC files or certain settings like lots of reference frames or b-frames. The s905 plays basically everything. But it can choke on some HEVC files (HEVC isn't fully accelerated) . I haven't used it enough to say what it exactly chokes on, but for AVC profiles and settings it's compatible with common ones up to L5.1
I have a wireless USB keyboard but I never use it. I've never updated it (stock os, stock firmware) , never use apps, or internet, or stream, or extra features, and it's faster using the remote for what I use it for (just playback) . The bundled media player is actually more lightweight , simpler than kodi . I don't use cataloging, tags or anything like that for this. It's just a simple media player for me.
Thanks so much for all the info! It's a big help.
Poisondeathray, thanks for all your input! Everything you describe is useful information for deciding what I should do.. I really appreciate it.
And lingyi, thanks to you as well.
Last edited by Subhuti; 12th Apr 2018 at 10:24.
More information on the Amlogic S912 SoC:
Note that the Amlogic S912 succeeded in the playback tests where the hardware decoder supported the video format, resolution and frame rate but failed when the hardware decoder lacked support for them. However, since H.264 videos with the problematic characteristics are uncommon, the device's failure to play them isn't a deal breaker for most users.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329