• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Chromecast / Android TV Box vs. Blu-ray player with multimedia features ...

graz_lag

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
1,235
Likes
1,270
Location
Le Mans, France
#1
I am in the process of setting up an Audio/Video corner for my daughter, I have a quite good experience in setting up Home Theaters, but "zero" experience on the current Chromecast Android TV Box trend ...

The Audio/Video corner is going to be setup with :

- a TV set, to watch Netflix, YouTube, movies, and photos stored on our centralized NAS
- a pair of amplified speakers (AudioEngine A5+) to provide sound to the TV set, as well as for music listening of FLAC files stored on our centralized NAS, and in streaming from Qobuz
- for the connectivity, both Ethernet 1000 Mbps and WiFi are available
- she's not interested in gaming
- little interest in playing discs, either CD or Blu-ray
- no interest in setting up a 5.1 audio system, the 2.1 based on the A5+ and a subwoofer will be OK

As I am an old Home Theater user to me the obvious piece of gear to add as source to the above-list is a Blu-ray player with multimedia capabilities.
By means of such a player, my daughter can cover all her needs via the RJ45 wired connection and UPnP streaming, with the Android phone as remote.
A Blu-ray player with a "decent" 5.1 RCA audio feature will satisfies the Hi-Fi configuration requirement to the AudioEngine amplified speakers.

My short list for such a player contains the followings :
Panasonic DMP-BTD500 (2012, of which I know the audio decoding qualities as it was serving in our HT before the Oppo 105 but relatively poor in terms of multimedia capabilities)
Samsung BD-J7500 (2015, this is the best of the three in terms of multimedia capabilities)
Samsung BD-F7500 (2013)

Till here ... it has been very easy for me.

Now, what advantages can we expect if an Android Box TV is used as source instead of one of the said Blu-ray players ?
Going a little bit further, might a little SB PC like the Khadas VIM2 + KODI interface be a further alternative option ? (Obviously coupled with the Tone board for the DAC task.)

Merci beaucoup for your feedback !!!
 
Last edited:

miero

Active Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Messages
167
Likes
154
#2
If you want a Netflix support make sure that device is listed on https://devices.netflix.com/ or that a manufacturer of that device explicitly claims a Netflix support.

For example my Android TV set-top-box does not support Netflix - application refuses to start.
 

graz_lag

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
1,235
Likes
1,270
Location
Le Mans, France
#3
If you want a Netflix support make sure that device is listed on https://devices.netflix.com/ or that a manufacturer of that device explicitly claims a Netflix support.
You're right, issues with Netflix are reported on several forums, it looks that Netflix works smoothly on the Samsung BD-J7500 player.
Thank you very much for the warning.
 

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
2,144
Likes
1,760
Location
UK
#4
What phone OS does she like?

Have you thought about the amazon fire things?
 

graz_lag

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
1,235
Likes
1,270
Location
Le Mans, France
#5
What phone OS does she like?

Have you thought about the amazon fire things?
She's an Huawei with the latest Android and looks to be happy with it, so no indication she will move to Apple ...

Amazon Fire : sure that I saw it (one cannot miss Amazon ads ...) but I am uncertain the audio output can be of quality ... When the Panasonic DMP-BTD500 was in the place as our HT player, I did compare it with the SqueezeBox Receiver, which was a CD-DAC based network player, but the Panasonic was the clear winner. I doubt these Android Boxes might be audio-wise, any better than a DAC like the SqueezeBox ...

Either one of the above-listed players are available for a budget from 75 to 100 EUR on the second-hand market, for a machine in excellent conditions.
So the budget is not going to be a factor helping me deciding either ... :rolleyes:
 

BDWoody

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
1,253
Likes
2,000
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
#6
I am in the process of setting up an Audio/Video corner for my daughter, I have a quite good experience in setting up Home Theaters, but "zero" experience on the current Chromecast Android TV Box trend ...


Merci beaucoup for your feedback !!!
My recommendation would be to go with the Nvidia Shield. It's a Roon node if you're into that, but has well integrated built in apps for Netflix, Tidal, etc. You can get the cheaper version without the big HD since you don't need that. The shield shows up as a cast option on any Android device, so that gives you many options for sourcing. You could use the RCA outs from your TV to feed the speakers (I have a pair of audioengine's... Love them) or you can use the USB from the shield to feed a DAC and then to the speakers. The USB connection works perfectly for me. I have an oppo BDP 93 that I don't use in favor of the shield. Although known as a gaming device, it really is quite capable as either a recognized endpoint or genuine source.

So many ways to do it these days... An abundance of choices indeed.

Cheers
 

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
2,144
Likes
1,760
Location
UK
#7
Does the TV have optical output?

I'm out at the moment, will write up my experiences with some of the options later?
 

graz_lag

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
1,235
Likes
1,270
Location
Le Mans, France
#8
... I have an oppo BDP 93 that I don't use in favor of the shield ...
In my old book I would have setup the opposite ... giving the priority to the Oppo 93, yeah I know that in the old book ... :rolleyes:
The Nvidia Shield is available at around 100 EUR or so, then in the same budget for the Blu-ray player.
The only cons I see is the need of a stand-alone DAC, not a bit deal thanks to the KHADAS Tone Board though ...
I am going to search more infos on this Nvidia Shield.
Cheers
 

Willem

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
825
Likes
1,018
#9
My children are very happy with their Chromecast (for video). I have offered them a BD player, but they did not want to have one. Chromecast has such a big market presence that almost nobody can afford not to provide an app for their service. It is cheap and excellent. If your daughter wants to stream audio, I would recommend a Chromecast Audio (the inbuilt DAC is excellent). Streaming from online services like Spotify is easy. A NAS can be accsesed though Bubble UPnP, but that requires a bit more tech skills to implement.
 

Roen

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Oct 14, 2018
Messages
590
Likes
205
#10
I am in the process of setting up an Audio/Video corner for my daughter, I have a quite good experience in setting up Home Theaters, but "zero" experience on the current Chromecast Android TV Box trend ...

The Audio/Video corner is going to be setup with :

- a TV set, to watch Netflix, YouTube, movies, and photos stored on our centralized NAS
- a pair of amplified speakers (AudioEngine A5+) to provide sound to the TV set, as well as for music listening of FLAC files stored on our centralized NAS, and in streaming from Qobuz
- for the connectivity, both Ethernet 1000 Mbps and WiFi are available
- she's not interested in gaming
- little interest in playing discs, either CD or Blu-ray
- no interest in setting up a 5.1 audio system, the 2.1 based on the A5+ and a subwoofer will be OK

As I am an old Home Theater user to me the obvious piece of gear to add as source to the above-list is a Blu-ray player with multimedia capabilities.
By means of such a player, my daughter can cover all her needs via the RJ45 wired connection and UPnP streaming, with the Android phone as remote.
A Blu-ray player with a "decent" 5.1 RCA audio feature will satisfies the Hi-Fi configuration requirement to the AudioEngine amplified speakers.

My short list for such a player contains the followings :
Panasonic DMP-BTD500 (2012, of which I know the audio decoding qualities as it was serving in our HT before the Oppo 105 but relatively poor in terms of multimedia capabilities)
Samsung BD-J7500 (2015, this is the best of the three in terms of multimedia capabilities)
Samsung BD-F7500 (2013)

Till here ... it has been very easy for me.

Now, what advantages can we expect if an Android Box TV is used as source instead of one of the said Blu-ray players ?
Going a little bit further, might a little SB PC like the Khadas VIM2 + KODI interface be a further alternative option ? (Obviously coupled with the Tone board for the DAC task.)

Merci beaucoup for your feedback !!!
What TV will you use? I think that is going to be your primary concern.
 

DDF

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2018
Messages
307
Likes
332
#11
I have two android boxes (one an Nvidia Shield), 2 smart TVs (Sony about 6 yrs old and Samsung ~3 yrs old) and a smart Blu-Ray (Sony, 5 yrs old). The android boxes offer significant advantages:
- direct support of USB keyboard in all apps. This will be a big consideration for your daughter. Using a remote to select a letter in a grid as a typing substitute will get old quickly
- much broader utility, accepting Android apps for things like social media etc. She'll probably definitely want YouTube and a good browser and possibly Spotify. My Sonys support none of these. Note though that I've read of numerous Youtube & browsing issues with the Amazon Fire stuff
- much better look/feel from the apps
- the apps are maintained and updated regularly. My Sony TV/Blu hasn't put any effort into updating the apps in a very long time and it shows
- more choice and better direct integration with UI/remote apps on her phone
- can integrate a camera nicely for Skype or video calling. Samsung disabled Skype app on my TV because they got hacked and TVs were turning on the camera and broadcasting camera video to 3rd parties without their knowledge or consent. Samsung couldn't fix this so my TV's camera is DOA and there is no Skype now. These sorts of issues are non existent on Android
- ability to easily integrate a VPN. You may want this if she uses social media

Android boxes come in 2 flavours: stock android like a glorified smartphone, or Android TV which is easier to use and more feature rich for settings. Stock android doesn't support Netflix in 1080p (480p) but Android TV does. Android TV drawback is that it doesn't support all apps in the Play Store (I recommend asking her which she wants to use). And if she's into free streaming (legal here in Canada) such as Mobdro or CinemaHD, you have to sideload it on Android TV to install. Not a big deal given you're technical.

For Android TV, I agree Shield is the way to go. HW is brilliant and its well supported with a great interface layout. For standard Android box, get one with decent HW so that its future proof and streaming is lag free. HW is based on smart phone platforms and the cheaper ones will have the performance of a junky smart phone. I went with a MINIX NEO U1 over a year ago and its been brilliant with zero issues but not sure what the latest/greatest is today.

Other info I collected when I bought the Shield:
Chromecasts: no Amazon Prime support
Roku: can't install VPN directly, has to be on router (will slow down rest of house)
Amazon Fire TV with ethernet adapter
Amazon Fire Tv stick with ethernet adapter. It won't connect up a hard drive or a keyboard. No native youtube app. Can use Firefox browser for youtube which works (need to enable turbo mode), quality iffy "As a replacement for the YouTube app, it fails slightly. The picture quality is not as good as on my AppleTV, nor as good as it was previously with the Amazon YouTube app. But, otherwise it’s reasonable" "A way to watch YouTube from Fire TV, but video quality is not good, low resolution and a bit dark" "Firefox browser resets to the search page every time it’s opened"
 

Sal1950

Major Contributor
The Chicago Crusher
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
6,274
Likes
4,128
Location
Central Fl
#12
I use a Samsung K8500 4K UHD blu-ray for my app streaming. Netflix and the rest I've used on it have been without issue.
As mentioned above it supports a cheap USB keyboard/mouse just fine.
If purchasing a new TV, most today are smart and include a android OS and all the apps so you may not need to purchase anything additional.
 
Last edited:

Soniclife

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
2,144
Likes
1,760
Location
UK
#13
I had a WeTek Hub (android TV box) for a few days, it went back, not a great experience, less fussy people might have found it fine.

The chromecast audio is great at what it does, and we now know it measures fine. If you want music with the TV off this deserves serious consideration.

For streaming I use a Samsung BD-H6500 bluray player, it's a little slower than ideal, but everything works in a sensible way, and it has all the streaming services, and it get's the frame rate correct at all times, this drives me mad when it's wrong, but many people don't care. It supports casting from most of the phone apps to playback on it, no need for a keyboard. It's interface for LAN playback isn't great, so bad I gave up and used Kodi on a Pi, which is really good for local playback of everything. It's possible the newer ones you listed are much better for this, for occasional use it's OK.
 

graz_lag

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
1,235
Likes
1,270
Location
Le Mans, France
#14
What TV will you use? I think that is going to be your primary concern.
We are going to recycle a Plasma LG (42PJ350), so nothing fancy for the time being.
It has the usual HDMI 1.3, audio line-in, optical digital audio out.
We will see in June with what more recent model she will want to go.
The Blu-ray player with the 5.1 audio out would have let me transfer the video via the HDMI, and the audio to the AudioEngine A5+ via the RCA connections.
 

graz_lag

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
1,235
Likes
1,270
Location
Le Mans, France
#15
... I would recommend a Chromecast Audio (the inbuilt DAC is excellent) ...
It is a pity but Google has just announced Chromecast Audio is going to be discontinued ... they have declared they will continue to offer assistance for Chromecast Audio devices, though.
It is only WiFi, no LAN wiring, which is not my favorite way of streaming audio.
In any case, it would require a downstream DAC via the Toslink connection in order to get the best sound-wise.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ents-of-chromecast-audio-digital-output.4544/
 

BDWoody

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
1,253
Likes
2,000
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
#16
In my old book I would have setup the opposite ... giving the priority to the Oppo 93, yeah I know that in the old book ... :rolleyes:
The Nvidia Shield is available at around 100 EUR or so, then in the same budget for the Blu-ray player.
The only cons I see is the need of a stand-alone DAC, not a bit deal thanks to the KHADAS Tone Board though ...
I am going to search more infos on this Nvidia Shield.
Cheers
The Shield feeds an Auralic Vega DAC through it's USB at the moment. My non HDMI Krell Preamp does all the non critical theater stuff through the optical out from the TV (DTS, THX, etc.), But I can switch to the Vega if I just want stereo.
 

BDWoody

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
1,253
Likes
2,000
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
#17
The Shield feeds an Auralic Vega DAC through it's USB at the moment. My non HDMI Krell Preamp does all the non critical theater stuff through the optical out from the TV (DTS, THX, etc.), But I can switch to the Vega if I just want stereo.
You don't need a standalone DAC...
 

graz_lag

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 13, 2018
Messages
1,235
Likes
1,270
Location
Le Mans, France
#18
You don't need a standalone DAC...
So the Shield does the function of digital transport (or transfer) from the wired/wireless LAN to the USB, correct ?
Hmm ... interesting ...
Oui, you need a DAC, who else is going to cover that task ? In your setup, the Auralic Vega ...
 

BDWoody

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
1,253
Likes
2,000
Location
Mid-Atlantic, USA. (Maryland)
#19
So the Shield does the function of digital transport (or transfer) from the wired/wireless LAN to the USB, correct ?
Hmm ... interesting ...
That's correct. It's a very slick little box. You can run HiRes through USB, completely bypassing it's internal Android processing... If you choose.

It becomes a proper, quite flexible network endpoint for this use very nicely.
 

bigx5murf

Active Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
245
Likes
96
#20
The problem with the multimedia BDP's are that eventually support just seizes, and you start losing features. I had a near TOTL BDP that this happened to (Marantz UD7007). The android boxes are better in this regard, because even if support stops, you can usually hack their software yourself to keep them working. But these things are usually really limited in hardware, and soon become too slow to work with newer software smoothly.

I personally just re purpose old outdated PCs. I get them often for nothing. Put in a SSD, max out the ram, and add a cheap HDMI video card.
 
Top Bottom