The popularity of XBMC / Kodi boxes are at a all time high and this VidOn Box review presents you with one more option to help you decide. While some may prefer to have a full powered HTPC NAS Combo, many may prefer standalone devices that can function as compact media center. Raspberry Pi and Amazon Fire TV are two devices that are capable of serving as Kodi media centers. But they are not designed specifically for running Kodi. There is definitely room for media centers that are specifically designed to run XBMC or Kodi and this is where the newly introduced VidOn Box fits. This VidOn Box review presents it capabilities and limitations as Kodi media center. [Read: What is HTPC, aka Home Theater PC, and what is it used for?]
VidOn XBMC Box
VidOn, an official Kodi sponsor, released the VidOn Box late last year to specifically function as a media center. It retails for $69.99, which includes one year of VidOn premium membership (discussed later in this review). Being an Android based device, it also allows running Android apps and even comes preinstalled with Google Play store. [Read: 5 Must have Android apps for HTPC or Home Server control]
VidOn Box Specficiations:
- CPU:Cortex™-A7 Quad-core CPU
- GPU: PowerVR™ SGX544MP2
- RAM: 1GB DDR3
- Storage: 8GB
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n
- OS: Android 4.4
- HDMI Output Up to 1080P
- Video: M2TS, TS, MP4, MKV, AVI, VOB, H264, MPEG2, RMVB, FLV, WMV, etc.
- Audio: AC3, DTS, MP3, PCM, etc.
- Picture: JPG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF
- Language: Multi-language
- Ethernet: RJ45 interface, 10M/100M adaptive
- Wi-Fi: 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n
- Remote: Support IR remote, can also remotely control through your iPhone and Android Phone
- Accessories: Adapter, IR remote, Operation Manual
- Power Supply: Input: 5V/2A
- Input Voltage of Adapter: 100V-240V
- External Storage Capacity: Up to 3TB hard drive/USB host, can support up to 8 USB devices via USB Hub with separate power supply.
VidOn Box Review
Now that you know what VidOn Box is, let us look at how it functions as a XBMC or Kodi media center. The hardware won’t blow you out of your minds but make no mistake, the VidOn Box is capable of playing full HD content at 1080/24, 3D videos, DTS-HD/Dolby TrueHD HDMI passthrough. [Read: 20 Best Kodi addons in 2015 to help you cut the cord]
Appearance and Material Quality
The first impression is the packaging box, which had a minimalistic design that makes you think the content may be of premium quality. And that impression holds true. The VidOn box felt sturdy, premium, and had a futuristic / stylish look. One difference compared to Amazon Fire TV or the Google Nexus Player is the presence of Antenna. Aesthetically this could be problem for some people. The VidOn Box remote control with its soft rubber coating felt good to hold and operate.
When you turn on the VidOn Box for the first time, you are presented with the setup wizard. You will have to use the included VidOn membership card to create an online account. Then, use the VidOn account credentials to complete the setup wizard. If you have setup an Android phone before, then this should be a smooth sailing for you. [Read: All in one HTPC and Internet PVR How-To]
Software and Interface
VidOn media center, a customized launcher for the VidOn box, is clean and well thought out. All the important apps are easily available through the homescreen. You can even make it boot to XBMC automatically. VidOn also provides one-click installer shortcuts for commonly used media center apps such as Netflix and Hulu. There is also a file browser integrated into the launcher that allows browsing through attached USB drive or even network drives (NFS and SAMBA) and play media files on the VidOn XBMC. Also the VidOn interface is fixed at 720p (will be updated to 1080p in future or use can use install this update now) but videos are played at their original resolution.
I thought the naming was a bit confusing: VidOn Media Center and VidOn XBMC. VidOn clarified that VidOn media center is the launcher and VidOn XBMC is the customized version of XBMC. Another confusing thing is the presence of 2 XBMC I icons on the home screen. According to VidOn, the current default and stable VidOn Box XBMC version is 12.X Frodo. But they provide one-click XBMC installer for version 13, which is still in Beta. It will be installed as a separate app and so you will have 2 XBMC icons on the homescreen. Once you install the latest version of VidOn XBMC/Kodi, you will have to manually remove the previous version. [Read: 5 Best Kodi skins for media centers]
Considering that Kodi 14.0 has been out of nearly a month, VidOn box is slow in receiving updates. While you can download Kodi and manually install it or install SPMC from the play store, the VidOn customized version of XBMC (VidOn XBMC) does have certain unique features like Bluray menu navigation that most players in its class don’t have.
Continue reading VidOn Box review in the next page…