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Xtream Codes IPTV Panel 2.4.2 Review – Part 4: Tutorial to Change the Main Server, Backup & Restore the Database

March 20th, 2017 3 comments

This is the fourth part of a review about Xtream Codes IPTV Panel, software to become your own content provider, and manage streams, clients, and resellers. The first three parts:

  1. Review of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Professional Edition – Part 1: Introduction, Initial Setup, Adding Streams…
  2. Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management
  3. Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 3: Updates and New Features for Version 2.4.2

Main Server Change – Part 1: New Server

Changing your Main Server could bring you troubles, if you do not know what you are doing. Many different reasons to change the Main server such as  crashes, new one. making a Load Balancer to be a Main Server…

Remember, it’s all about the existing backup, and you’ll restore your backup later, after successfully changing the Main Server. That is not difficult and everybody can do it. But if you install your backup with your former configurations-Servers etc, it will need some corrections after the backup install is finish, and for example all your Clients, Servers ( and your Old Main Server) will be in again after you install your backup.

I’ll try to explain what that’s all about and show different examples.

  1. Changing the Main Server sounds and looks pretty easy, piece of cake, right?

But let me tell you, it’s not! Be absolutely sure about what you are doing before. We start with “Manage Server” left side in the Panel.

Then you scroll down to the end and you’ll see this:

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Warning: Make sure that you took all necessary steps before you press this button, all will be gone in a flash… BEFORE YOU Press MAIN SERVER CHANGE

Step 1: Do a Manuel Backup; this is still possible, since Xtream-Codes thought it would be a good idea to take the manually install Backup-Button off the road, for later installing your FULL BACKUP again by yourself!. NOT A GOOD IDEA, Xtream-Codes!

Step 2: Do a fresh automated backup on Xtream-Servers.

  • Database Manager—Remote Backup Now

Step 3: Take your time to think about your scenario! What do you want to do? Changing to a brand new Main? Formatted the old one only? Making an Existing Load balancer Main now? You see? Different procedures. It needs different preparing on this step of the game.

You have to think about the existing BACKUP, with all your clients and streams in, right? Or you want to loose them? I guess not. Again, think about, that the backup and later installing of your backup contains all your streams, clients etc…but also the old Server configurations.

Have also your ROOT ACCESS from the Panel at hand, because after pressing the CHANGE-Main Button…it happened a few times, that I could not login anymore in the CMS without root user/pass. You can find this Root USER/PASS in your Client Area WHMCS with Xtream-Codes,

Click My SERVICES—-

Press this then after:

And you see all what you need after:

We now change the Main to a NEW ONE:

After pressing the Button

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A warning pops up, asking, “Are you Sure”?

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We press OK! Seat belt on, and then this should come (In former versions I was simply getting kicked out the CMS, and have to login with Root user/pass only, Admins could not. This seemed to be fixed to a friendlier follow up now…)

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Now you put your NEW MAIN’s IP and SSH ROOT Password in, also your MYSQL ROOT Password, if any. If you are not sure, then in most cases simply put your ROOT SSH in again. Also, check the SSH Port, standard is Port 22, except if you changed it before. Don’t care about the rest now; you can change it later easily. Your New MAIN SERVER will install now, if all necessary data’s was right. And after a couple of Minutes, your New Main is installed

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After Installation of your NEW Main is finished, you want to restore the backup. Like I said, Xtream-Codes gives you right now (Sure that they will bring it up again) only the choice to install a Remote Backup from Xtream Codes Servers. To do this, you do as follows: Go DATABANK Manager and you see all your Remote Backups

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Right click the curved red and green arrow (load Backup), and after you choose your Remote Backup, this shows up:

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Press OK, and you see that Databank with all your Values is restored.

NEXT STEP, like I mentioned already above: after your Backup is installed, you will see, that your former OLD MAIN SERVER seems to be installed again! YOU HAVE TO GO ‘EDIT-SERVER…EDIT MAIN… and CORRECT IP AND SSH! This will do it then!.

And after successful installing the new Main (if he is a brand new one) , and installing the Backup then after, you Main will show the former IP of your Main, cause he was still in the installed backup in!

No problem at all, simply go edit Main-Server, insert again IP and SSH Root Password, and right SSH port, commonly Port 22, if you don’t changed it in your New Main.

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It also appears that your Load Balancers need a FULL REMAKE

PRESS FULL REMAKE ALL LB’s

AFTER PRESS FULL REMAKE ALL LOAD BALANCERS, HERE WE GO

It is possible, that you have to have to repeat this action with remaking all Load balancers. But be assured, it will work.

This was Part 1 of CHANGING the MAIN SERVER. I guess you know, what follows later, the little bit more complicated procedure of Changing The Main under different scenarios:

  1. We make an existing Load balancer to a NEW MAIN
  2. The preparation to do this

Changing Main Server – Part 2: Convert Load Balancer to Main Server

Scenario: We want a running Load balancer as a new Main Server! The right now “running” Main we want to send in retirement, right? This example requires that you have a few Load Balancers up and running. In case you have only 2 dervers in total, it’s not so complicated at all. Like I said above, each scenario is different. There are Admins with 20 or more Load balancers, and there are small ones, with 2 or 3 in total.

Do exactly Step by Step as follows, no twisting, no turning, no upside down please.. 🙂

Step 1: You go to TOOLS left Side, and transfer temporarily all streams from the future Main Server to another Load balancer of your choice! That’s how I have done it, not sure it will work later if you go another way, letting the streams on the future Main (the Server is a LB right now), but we have to delete this Server later out of the Panel configuration to make him Main! Reason: After we push the Remote-Backup back in, he will appear as a Load balancer again, and we can’t make him a Main Server without deleting him in the Panel.

Go exactly this way right from the start! NO REMOTE BACKUP BEFORE!! (Still hope that Xtream-Codes will implement the old feature back in soon, because not many can handle phpmyadmin, to implement a databank backup by their own later, or they should put a “hint or kind of warning” in before, something like Remote Backup now? Just in case the Admin forget it! Remember also, that the cron job “Remote Backup” is only once each 24 hours, so better do this manually Remote Backup before.)

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In general, a good idea in safety reason, the Remote Backup’s, it is a way more safe then before. Here we go now:

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After you’ve transferred your Main Server’s streams to another server, check first, the Main is really empty, it will need sometimes 1 or 2 or more minutes, depending of the quantity of your transferred streams. Now we have an empty Main, it’s the one, we do not need anymore after.

We have also to transfer the streams from the Load balancer we want as a NEW MAIN, making him completely empty. No streams on it. We do the same with the Load balancer we want as Main now! We are transferring his streams to another Load balancer the same way we have done before with the Main who has to go.

Step 2:

We do a REMOTE BACKUP after we transferred all streams, and to be on the safe side, a manual Backup to your Computer as well. First you press BACKUP DATABASE (the Backup File will load down to your computer), and direct after, we press REMOTE BACKUP NOW (Backup is loaded into Xtream Codes Server).

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Step 3:

We go MANAGE SERVER and at the bottom we see Main-Server-Change again:

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Let’s summarize what we have done.

  1. We have the Main and the future MAIN now with no Streams on it
  2. We are still in the process to change our Main Server
  3. Backups are already made (we are with an empty Main Server and an empty Load balancer right now)
  4. We have all our necessary data’s, IP and SSH Root Pass from the Load Balancer we want to put as a New Main. Login data’s ROOT for our CMS, just in case…

After that, we go MANAGE SERVERS-EDIT SERVER-DELETE SERVER.

We delete the Load balancer we want as NEW MAIN. Now we can press the Button Main Server Change.

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All necessary follow up’s standing already in Part 1 above!

We are ready to go!

  • Just in case you forgot or out of whatever reason you prefer to do a manually “load” of your saved databank backup, it’s also possible with phpmyadmin later.
  • In case you cannot do, open a ticket, XC is happy to help you out!
  • Don’t forget, Xtream-Codes support is not open 24/7!
  • And one of the most important last steps, after successfully installed the new Main, don’t forget to switch the old former MAIN OFF!
  • Switch him off, or make a new install! and sure you have to sort out your streams later, balancing them again.
  • In all other cases, like you have only 2 Servers, the procedure is similar and not complicated, cause of your limited streams, and clients. This example was written in case you got a few more Load Balancers running.
  • Don’t hesitate to open a ticket in case you are in trouble, Xtream Codes will help you in any cases.

I hope this little How-To helps you guys a little.

Ray

Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 3: Updates and New Features for Version 2.4.2

March 8th, 2017 No comments

This is the third part of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel review. IPTV Panel Professional Edition is a software to build your own IPTV Server from scratch. It supports all common Streaming Protocols as an Input and it is powered by FFmpeg & nginx. If you have not done so already, you may consider reading the first two parts:

  1. Review of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Professional Edition – Part 1: Introduction, Initial Setup, Adding Streams…
  2. Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management

Here are the major changes since Part 2:

And part of the company’s announcement of the release:

Why choose IPTV Panel Pro?

IPTV Panel is powered by many Open Source Tools. These are only few reasons why we believe our software is different from our competitors:

Stability: Our software is powered by FFmpeg to do the Restreaming & Transcoding of your streams. FFmpeg is the leading multimedia framework, able to decode, encode, transcode, mux, demux, stream, filter and play pretty much anything that humans and machines have created. It supports the most obscure ancient formats up to the cutting edge. No matter if they are designed by some standards committee, the community or a corporation.

Security: We provide an Addon who will increase the security of your Streams even more. We guarantee that it will be hard, even impossible for someone, to steal your streams.

Fast & Lightweight: We are using NGinx to serve the Streams to your Client’s, which is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) & most stable Web Server currently. Our solution can be used even in a simple VPS. Everything has been optimized & tuned.

True Load Balancer: When it comes to load balancing, the iptv panel has been made in such way that lets you add your own external servers. By adding a new external server into the current installation offers you many advantages. You can split the load, you can change the streaming flow, you can add/change servers of your Videos and much more

Statistics & Interface: We have built our solution in a way that you can find what you want fast and easy. No matter how many external servers you added, you have everything in one place, you can search, export Statistics, view Client’s Connections from one single interface.

Let’s got to work and test the new Version 2.4.2.

You will notice that the fingerprint addon is now free but it is limited to ONLY send one messages to a specific client and not massive as the pay version add-on does.

Complete Changelog: https://forum.xtream-codes.com/topic/3552-v242-released/

Before getting down-under, here are some very useful advices right in the beginning of Part 3:

Flood Setting (General Setting-Security Settings)

As you can see, the optimal setting for most users is 80 in Flood Limit, and 2 in Request Frequency. This setting will block ONLY customers with no valid or expired Lines! Their IP simply will be blocked and can be seen in BLOCK IP/CIDR Section later, where you are able to unblock as well if you want.

We also see the “XC Support ALLOW AUTO-LOGIN”. This you activate by putting YES in.

If you create a Ticket with XC Support, just tell in the Ticket your CMS Address (URL of your Panel) and inform them, that you activated Auto Login.(Don’t forget to set it to NO after your ticket is closed)

MAG BOXES and Co, like TVIP and BLOMC Boxes, Emulators, Clones and other Stalker Middleware Boxes!

Advice: Pay attention that you have the latest Firmware installed.

Many problems for inexperienced users of the Panel can occur, like the Box gets blocked, cannot load the Portal, or you do the most common mistake in choosing an image to lock the MagBox. (my opinion: inexperienced user’s should not lock the mag boxes with an image. If you have detect Reshare/IP Lock Plugin, you can lock him with IP-LOCK feature.)

Hint: Many clients are having trouble to put the Portal in their boxes, after they bought it, so I’ve included a useful video showing how to put a Portal in a MagBox for your customers.

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You can do as follows to unlock the MagBoxes:

Run on Database Manager the command:

Update: This feature was taken OFF from Xtream-Codes a couple of days ago… Not a good decision, more Tickets will be created as a result, I guess.

Look once a while into your SECURITY CENTER

Suspicious Files will be seen there, on all of your servers, as well as intruders or hacking attempts.

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The “DASHBOARD” has now the much asked for  Clients’s Connection Geo again, what we know from the older Version 1.

The meaning of the shown geographical connects is, it shows all CLOSED CONNECTIONS. (It would be more useful if it would show the actual real-time connects out of the countries, or is “show from yesterday” such important ? Maybe I am wrong..:))

Hint: After pressing the FIX & OPTIMIZE Button in Database Manager, all current so called “closed” connections are gone….(Guess, starting all over the counting of “all closed conections..still looking for a sense in this..)

Update: The function to install a manually downloaded Databank Backup is also gone now after a few more “pushed” Pre-Updates from Xtream Codes. (Opinion: Not a good idea at all! I think it has to be implemented again)

Before v.2.4.2

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And after Update to v.2.4.2

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The Clients’s Connection Geo

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The huge and most important Section of creating Sub-Resellers from a Reseller-Panel (Since Version 2.3.1)

I must say, why not before? Great idea, great feature! Giving your Reseller A the choice to create a Sub-Reseller B!

So far so good, if there would not be the pricing sector. I try to bring here light into the darkness.

Let’s start with “how to activate” this feature, for the Admin of the panel.

Here we go: MANAGE GROUP MEMBERS; edit the Group-Member of your choice

Then you see 4 Choices in Section Section SubResellers

  • Can Resellers in this Group create SubResellers
  • Credits Cost for Creating Subresellers
  • Can resellers alter the packages prices of their sub-resellers
  • Can Resellers select specific packages to assign to their subresellers

Now I will try to explain the most important part for Admin’s and also Resellers.

Who create a Sub-Reseller. The Margin, the pricing.

A lot of confusion about that, as most of the Admin’s also the Resellers’, who create a Sub-Reseller. Note: Only Reseller A can create a Sub-Reseller B, and that is then the end of the line, a Sub-Reseller can not create another Sub-Reseller.

Pricing, Margins and about Profits

We call here in the following examples with ADMIN (the Owner of the Panel), Reseller A (created from the Admin) and Sub-Reseller B (created from Reseller A).

Admin charges Reseller A with 1 Credit / 1 Euro.

Reseller A creates a Sub-Reseller B, and now Reseller A sells Credits to Sub-Reseller B, right? But for sure Reseller A wants to make a profit, remember, Reseller A pays 1Credit/1Euro already, so his created Sub-Reseller B should be charged more than 1 Euro for 1 Credit, right? The easy way for Reseller A would be to calculate in percentage, meaning: If he wants 50% Profit, he has to charge Sub-Reseller B 1.50 Euros for 1 Credit.

Other way, if the Admin charges the Reseller A 5 Euros for 1 Credit, then Reseller A could theoretically charge every price what is over his own price of 5 Euros.
Example: 1 Month – 1 Credit (Reseller A’s price is 5 Euro, he charges the Sub-Reseller B 7 Euros).

I hope that brings a little light in Reseller-SubResellers pricing politics.

Here’s what the official text says about this all:

We prepared a Subreseller system for you, and to prevent any downtime, we just applied the new system, in all the current v2.3.1 panels. If you are reading this, and you have the new version v2.3.1, you should have the new system embed.

This system gives the ability to groups where the Reseller status is ON, to be able to make their own reseller which we call subreseller.A subreseller has similar features and abilities like the Main Reseller, with the difference that his Users, Credits & Packages are being controlled by his owner.
Features

Reseller can make their own resellers (subresellers)
Resellers can remove some of the packages for their subresellers
Resellers can adjust different credit costs for any of the packages that are assigned by the administrator
Subresellers users & credits, are being controlled by the resellers who made them
Administrator can edit the permissions from the Admin Panel -> Manage Member Groups
Administrators can now edit the Packages and apply different credit costs per Reseller (the current system is per group). Now he can do both. ( Manage Registered Users -> Edit -> Assign Packages )

Reseller A sees this in his Panel:

New “TOOLS” Section (Very Useful)

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Many new features, like changing Streams DNS old2new, transfer Live-Streams from a server of your choice to another; fix Vod’s names (the VOD name should be correct and exactly match), Reset all ISPs restrictions for all your users (in case you activated IP Lock before, ex: customer at home with box on ISP A, his mobile phone on ISP B)

Update IMDB Details (needs some overhaul, not correct working in tests)

Clear different kind of Log’s, MagBox events and more.

Conclusion: Highly Useful

Movies Section

I know definitely now, like I mentioned already in Part 1 and 2, that the developers are not great fan’s with movies. There is still the almost whole range of movie editing section missing, and I would also like to see, that a Movie and a Stream could directly being assigned into a bouquet.

By the way…I never really managed to sort the categories out. Meaning that a category could be moved around of choice, up or down. At first place, at the end. And so on.

There is a section MANAGE CATEGORIES, but I must confess, I never came clear with this. Sorting categories works by pressing one “category” down, and move it up or down. Results are shown only in Magboxes later. VLC & Co? No chance at all. All mixed up. Stream Tools seemed promising, But somehow I missed here something, I guess. For me useful only in deleting streams and even mass delete is of no problem.

The ALL-NEW BOOST Setting in v. 2.4.2 (ATTN. ONLY FOR MAIN-SERVER)

To go there, MANAGE SERVERS, edit Main…Performance Settings, activate BOOST PERFORMANCE to YES.

Requirements to activate this BOOST

The Bad News: Totally EMPTY MAIN SERVER, not one single Stream on it, and no VOD, completely empty!
The good News: Before v.2.4.2 the recommendation was a 40-core Beast! You read it right, a “cheap” 40-core EMPTY Main was necessary, to enjoy the boost.

This is not necessary anymore, since update to 2.4.2! A minimum 8-core to 16-core will do the job now, if you should decide to use this boost, yhat results in more stability, and even faster stream connects, panel and on client side.

My personal recommendation is, minimum 32GB RAM with a 16-core server.

This gave me good results in extensive testings.

The ALL-NEW GUI of the Dashboard

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As we can see in the first picture, the usage of the network is continuous measured, and absolutely exact! In case of overloading your bandwidth, you will be warned about.

For Security Lovers.

As you see, with Xtream-Codes Backups Cronjob’s, you will be safe and sound, always. You even will be warned if your peer uses a HIGHLY UNSAFE cracked Panel Version v.1 with YOU BET…BACKDOORS!

Pros

  1. Amazing new features, too much to count even, everything is possible!
  2. Faster then ever, more stable then ever before
  3. Very fast reconnects of streams, with no kind of interrupts for clients.
  4. Highly flexible kind of configurations possible
  5. Compared to competitors, very cheap prices
  6. Brilliant Security settings
  7. Great and responsive Support (Thanks to Despoina and colleagues)
  8. Easy understandable GUI (if you invest a little time in the beginning)
  9. Brilliant and superfast transcoding
  10. Xtream-Codes even creates new long awaited Plugin for E2 (soon released)

Cons

  1. No assignment of streams or Vod’s direct into a bouquet till now possible
  2. Categories sections should be more flexible, regarding sorting the Lists
  3. NO REAL MOVIE EDITOR SECTION! Still….

Conclusion

Xtream-Codes is just on the jump to be a big player in the IPTV scene. It is to hope that the developers will go on and listen to the needs of their clients, like they do till now. I want to thank the Developers and the whole XC-Team for the support I received during the last months. You do an amazing job, and it was my pleasure to be a part of Xtream Codes.

Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management

October 4th, 2016 13 comments

Dear readers, after part 1 of Xtream Codes Panel v.2.2.0 EVO review, here is part 2. I tried hard to get all in two parts, but “to be exhaustive” there will also have to be a part 3…

Movie Editing Section

xtream-codes-movie-editing

As we can see, it’s only possible to assign a movie into a single category, a SELECT BOUQUET Option under the Category would be more then useful. So while Movie Editor Section is useful right now, it still needs improvement.

Also taking each movie by hand for editing, after, for example, a Main server crash or changing the Main, is really something, a waste of time. Some of the issues / possible improvements include:

  • No mass edit of movies to bouquets
  • If changing the category of a movie, I found no working method to change in a bulk.. Even if I tried to delete the “content” of a bouquet, it was denied.
  • Left Hand Section, Mass Edit Streams allows only live streams to be edited.
  • Stream Tools! To be able to delete the falsely assigned movies. With the result of the complete addition process later on, and the transcoding process has to be repeated all over again…
  • I strongly advice customers/user’s of the Xtream Codes Panel to name their movies in a kind of unique, retrievable way later on. If not, and if you try to sort them later by assigning them in to a bouquets, you stand in front of all the movies, the way you loaded them up. No kind of Movie editing (re-naming) possible, before you load them to transcode. The mass edit movie section is simply missing.
  • This great piece of Software NEEDS A MOVIE EDITING SECTOR

The options available right now:xtream-codes-movie-editing-options

xtream-codes-movie-editing-subtitles-transcoding

  • Manage Categories has to be more specific to meet the needs of the customer.
  • Right now I was not able to really sort the categories to my preferred sequences. Did I miss here options? I couldn’t find it.
  • Edit Category function is limited to change the name only.

xtream-codes-movie-editing-category

  • Again, if you have already tons of movies assigned to a category there’s no other way to assign them in a bulk right now. A time waster.

General Warnings

To be on the safe side, do not fill your HDD up to the limit. Max 70% should give more stability.

Attention: If you rent a dedicated server, seeing the offer for example, let’s say 2x 2TB, you should know that after a normal install, you’ll only get 2TB. That is because one is mirrored, in case you loose the first partition, it would be fatal, right?

So, better let it this way, do not use the whole size. Agreed?

Having issues with reconnecting interrupted streams, I filled Xtream Codes panel with over 200 streams, and around 500 movies. I checked the stopped streams, and most connected again after manually pressing the “start/restart stream” button. But these are rare cases only, overall I must say the platform is absolutely stable.

I found a few times the ‘Guilty-ONE” for this: It was not Xtream Codes Panel, it was the miserable Streams I got from a friend for testing purposes.

Security settings (Fight the Intruders by blocking them)

Handle this setting carefully! Especially if you give a trial List to a customer, he will zapp through the channels quickly, or VLC crash often, how we all know..

Wrong or too hard settings will block him immediately.

A good setting should be as follows:

  1. General Settings->Security Settings->Flood Limit to 6 or 8
  2. Request Frequency in Seconds to 1.

Security Settings Section

Back to the Security “plugins”

xtream-codes-security-pluginsBLOCK IP/CIDR

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We see the IP’s or better, the intruders (hint: After you set-up the Flood Limits in General-Security/Settings)

Here we go, nice to look at… but why not show directly the “customer by name with IP”?. In the end, we have to make the decision whether to unlock the IP or keep him locked. It’s only working if a server with a fixed IP started the attack, dynamic IP’s appear soon then if the IP changed.

And in case no internal customer, let’s say a simple “from outside” or no customer would be a great help. Going through the log files  to find out if it us a customer or instead a competitor trying to slow down your server (we are all nosy, aren’t we?) makes no sense and no fun. Reason: time extensive if dozens or hundreds of logs!

Live Streams-Video on Demand Section

Manage Stream/Add New Stream

xtream-codes-live-streams-vodThere is also one relatively “unique” function; you should handle with care, or best ask the seller of the LEGITIMATE streams, if he allows that you use the “Use Direct Source & don’t restream it”. This means all coming traffics are not on your side, the connected server takes it all. You should be able to see the other side. But I guess you know already.

You can also redirect the Stream to the Original Source, so that your customers connect through your own DNS. Doing so, setting to yes, your URL will show up in the Bouquet List later. But again, be aware, choosing NO, your user will not connect to your server in any case. I tested it by letting the user connect over my DNS. I thought, I would see any client connecting through my DNS, but you will not, in both cases. No matter Client Connection Logs or in Manage Lines, he is simply invisible to you. I guess, after all not the smartest idea.

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Security Section

General settings->Security Settings

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Useful if you find the “right” setting. The Flood Limit shows the number of requests specified in “Request Frequency”. I started with 5 requests within 3 seconds, result: I got blocked myself and no idea why. I just watched one channel, no fast channel switching, no nothing. This seems to getting interesting, I thought.

Switched to 8 requests in 3 seconds range. Activated my test users… Result: 2 Android boxes getting blocked.

Mhhhh, I go deeper in this then after, and because of English is not my native language, haha, we “none-english” have sometimes a problem to understand the language. And…I found it! My mistake! Definitely to 90% only, haha! And 10% I give to Xtream Codes back, because they should really be more specific about this classy feature, which is highly useful!

Advice: Give 3 options, or 4, the ordinary customer can use! Like: LOW-Standard-HIGH-HYPER Settings, pre-configured! (Also the option for manual settings).

I know I know…but remember this: Many customers are not common with these terms; they simply do mistakes resulting in blocking customers who do nothing wrong at all, which could lead to losing customers.

Standard should be: 10:1, or 20:1 ((flood limit:request frequency), but hard to say for sure in my opinion. And even this could maybe cause some troubles, if a nervous user zapping the channel’s in a lightspeed and the playlist is huge…

For example: Each zapping under 1 second is 1 evil request, collected and memorized by the panel! 10:1  means, 10 times under 1 second is OK, but then… the 11th try would blocked them! This is a hard decision to make for each panel user, if he has a huge playlist with many customers. Some customers could complain, if they get blocked, and I don’t want to talk about the non-stop checking the Security Settings, and look for blocked IPs.

Recommendation: Invest in a DDOS Protection with your server, every hosting provider is offering this. Also let this setting to OFF (0) in the beginning, and get used to everything first. You can then implement the settings you are comfortable with lateron.

Resellers – Registered Users Section

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Reseller Section

Registered Users and Reseller

When I started to work with the panel and getting used to it, this was the first category I started with. I expected something like: REGISTER RESELLER, or similar. Registered means already already registered, right?

Let’s start with “Register New User”. This feature is mainly used, to create a new RESELLER of yours, a now you want to give him access to a reseller panel. Let’s create one!

xtream-codes-register-new-user

As we can see, you have to provide the follwing details for the new user (reseller in this case):

  • Username (Whatever you want to call the reseller)
  • Password (Please 6 digits minimum, out of security reasons, phrases are also useful)
  • E-Mail (Email address of your reseller, without one you can not create a new reseller)
  • Default Language (right now only English is possible)
  • Group Members (see the next Section, Group Members)
  • Reseller DNS (Reseller Only) – Here you can specify the reseller’s own DNSs
  • Credits (reseller Only) – The amount of money the Reseller payed you, usual is 1 credit = 1 UK pound or other currencies)

Section Manage Group Members

xtream-codes-create-new-group
First of all, a little explanation here on this important part. As we’ve already seen above, we can “register” a new user, reseller in this case with “REGISTER NEW USER” option (I would rather see a “Create new Reseller” button). But here is the point: If you register a new future reseller, you have to assign the payment formalities later (ex: 300 Euro = 300Credits), but also how much for 1 month, 3 months or any other kind of subscription (time frame), and the reseller can create lines for his own customers later, and see his own costs each time.

Assigning them (the resellers) all in one category, named reseller, let you later no choice to give different kind of subscription prices. (ex: Reseller A 1 month =6 Euro, Reseller B 1 month 8 Euro), so that’s why Xtream Codes has a great feature in creating groups.

You can simply create a new “group”, let’s say Group elcap in my case, and assign reseller A to it. Now your Reseller A is a Group Member of “elcap” group. Next step, you want to give him prices and time frames of each line he creates.

xtream-codes-price-options

As you can see, I created the trials , 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months, and also a VOD package for the reseller part of group elcap.

You start with Resellers -> New Package (Adds a new Package)

xtream-codes-resellersWe see the following options after clicking on New Package:xtream-codes-resellers-new-package-1

xtream-codes-resellers-new-package-2

You first need to name the package, mark it as Trial or Official Package (1-12 month or else later, you are free in your decision), you can even pair the line with the ISP provider of your client by first connection. (Attn.: need additional plugin to buy).

Useful only if you create a Package for a RESTREAMER (Restreamers are able to put your bouquets/packages on their server(s) and use them as there own streams), as they have a fixed IP in any case.

In this example we give 20 connections to a Restreamer

xtream-codes-resellers-restreamer

Meaning: You can give your whole LEGITIMATE stream list, or assorted ones, like a bouquet you filled with specific streams before. In any case, your Restreamer you are selling to, is only able to open 20 connections on his server. The amount of connections you assign to him is what he pays for.

Settings Prices with Manage Packages

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Edit a packagextream-codes-resellers-edit-package

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A complete option to edit your before assigned package (Manage Package->Edit Package).

Here’s the output of my own created packages Create them for your own needs, everything is possible!

xtream-codes-subcription-examples

Manage ROOT (Registered Users)

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By clicking on Manage Root you get the following options:

xtream-codes-users-manage-root

Here you can change your ROOT username/password given by Xtream Codes for your panel.

You can change both passwords here later, if you do not wish to use the old ones once given from Xtream Codes after you ordered and paid for your panel. Handle this carefully, write it down and copy it to safe locations, just in case of a crash of the main server (see upcoming part 3, with simulated crash of the Main server)

I initially planned to finish this review into two parts, but there are so many options, I have to do at least one more part.

I also have to repeat Options and Features for better understanding later on. See you guys on Part 3 soon, which should include:

  1. Changing the Main Server (through my extended kind of tests, I worked a couple of days on this, and the results should benefit all of us who are using this software and working with it.)
  2. Finishing the features for good, I promise
  3. The “Have’s” and the “Have Not’s
  4. Enumerations of the Top 5 settings to use
  5. Results after a new installation (Simulated Crash of the Main Server)
  6. The Pro’s & the contra’s
  7. The Competitors of Xtreme-Codes Panel
  8. Be aware of some kind of hosting services (Strange experiences with 2 “Big Ones”! Troubleshootings)
  9. The Conclusion
  10. Preparing a little Manual (PDF format, to help you guys)

[Update: During finishing my work on the huge Part 3 of the Review Xtream Codes Panel Version.2.2.0 EVO, there was yesterday, 08th October, an update to Version 2.3.0 EV0, with a lot of new Features and Improvements!

So, I will need a little longer to finish the Part 3, please stay tuned.]

Review of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel Professional Edition – Part 1: Introduction, Initial Setup, Adding Streams…

September 22nd, 2016 9 comments

Today I’ll start the review of one of the streaming software available on the market, with version 2.2.0 EVO of IPTV Panel Professional Edition developed by Xtream-codes.

The Software is mainly used for the so-called IPTV broadcasting, but also with great potential for all kind of other content delivery applications such as audio and business streaming, cloud video transcoding, and all other kind of global streams.

What is IPTV?

Wikipedia definition:

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as a LAN or the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats. Unlike downloaded media, IPTV offers the ability to stream the media in smaller batches, directly from the source. As a result, a client media player can begin playing the data (such as a movie) before the entire file has been transmitted. This is known as streaming media.

IPTV services may be classified into three main groups:

  • Live television, with or without interactivity related to the current TV show;
  • Time-shifted television: catch-up TV (replays a TV show that was broadcast hours or days ago), start-over TV (replays the current TV show from its beginning);
  • Video on demand (VOD): browse a catalogue of videos, not related to TV programming.

IPTV is distinguished from Internet television by its ongoing standardisation process (e.g., European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and preferential deployment scenarios in subscriber-based telecommunications networks with high-speed access channels into end-user premises via set-top boxes or other customer-premises equipment.

This review will contain results mainly for the “end-user” or business owner, who already owns or bought legitimate streams, as Xtream-codes IPTV software does not provide any video streams, and “only” helps distributing your content.

If starting from scratch, producing your self-made streams, it’s already professionally explained in the video below using Xtream-codes IPTV panel on AMD MOI Pro IPTV streaming server.

I would love to do this by myself, but I would be in need of the necessary hardware. TBS can provides future producers of streams with all the required and necessary hardware.

Installation Process

After you registered at https://xtream-codes.com and placed your order, you get access (after payment) to your unique default root username, default root password, and your CMS Address.

You can now login with both credentials, and start adding your server addresses. Your Server IP and SSH Password is required, and the whole process is pretty straightforward.

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If necessary, you can add a second Load balancer Server by the same method. If you need more Load balancers (LB’s) in the future, you will have to pay an extra Fee. Xtream-Codes call this “plugins”, but I guess it’s a simple SSH Protocol.

They activate on their server side, like: 2/4/6 LB’s…. Again, the first LB is free of charge.

The Graphical User Interface (GUI): Xtream-Codes Panel

xtream-codes-iptv-guiIf you are confronted the very first time with it, it might be confusing at first with all the available options, but be assured, that after 1 or 2 days you’ll be getting used to it. Many features and possibilities are waiting for you, and it also a few have’s and have not’s. Let’s start with the “have’s!

One of the great features in version 2.2.0 Evo is the Transcoding process. Here a general overview of the 2 Versions: Profesional and Minimal Editions.

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-professional-version-2

Xtream-Codes also offers a Minimal Edition of this software for a cheaper monthly price (19 Euros per month vs 59 Euros per month)

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-minimal-editionAs you might expect, the professional edition adds several features including:

  • Load Balancing by adding servers (1 is free, all others must be bought)
  • Manage all servers in a very simple and powerful interface
  • MAG Devices Support
  • New powerful transcode System supporting almost every function
  • Every stream is playable (more protocols support)
  • Faster zapping time (instant)
  • Powerful Logging & Search System
  • Stream Statistics
  • Http Live Streaming (HLS) Output
  • iOS/Android Client Area Portal
  • More lightweight

The Menus & Options  of the Panel

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The Transcoding or Video-Conversion process

This is one one of the “Highlights” of Xtream-Codes IPTV Panel. I’ve tested over a hundred different kinds of formats, from Blu-ray-MKV, different AVI’s, FLV, MP4, WMV, MOV and OGG. Each time the transcoding process was successful.

I also tested quite a few homemade AVI’s without transcoding, all watchable later on. But for professional hosting, large sized movies should be encoded before transferred to your server, in my opinion. The reason is mainly the later ability for your future customers to watch the movie streams, without any kind of freezings or bufferings. Due to Internet limitations, and nowadays also server bandwidth problems, the movies should be transcoded in 720p maximum and the file size should be around +/- 1GB each. The bitrate should be somewhere around 2 – 3000k maximum. This would later almost guarantee the freeze free availability of the stream, if the user owns a decent Internet connection. Not everybody have an 200 Mbit/s and up broadband connection.

Sure, there are higher bitrates possible and many customers already crying for lossless FHD’s streams. In my eyes often a wishful thinking. Too many components playing a huge role in the Internet world, and last but not least there’s always the question of bandwidth.

encoding-vs-transcoding

“What’s the difference between encoding and transcoding?” was one of the first questions I had when I started working with video’s and IPTV streaming. I had always used them interchangeably and after a quick Internet search I was surprised that I did not find a clear answer.

While encoding and transcoding both represent ways of converting files between formats, there is a distinct difference:

  • Encoding, by definition, takes analog source content and converts it to a digital format. For example – converting a video on a VHS tape to an mpeg file or a video DVD.
  • Transcoding takes an existing digital format and converts it to a different digital format, like taking a sample video and converting it to an adaptive bitrate format such as HTTP-Live-Streaming.

Despite the clear differences by definition, I’ve noticed that only technical experts tend to use the term with distinction. People getting started with video are often left behind and confused between the terms like I was. I hope that with this short note, we were able to shed some light on this myth….

Here you can see the different kinds of VIDEO and AUDIO transcoding codecs available:

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The Preset option allows you to select between ultra fast and very slow transcoding options, which should also affect the video quality.

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The Video Profile option (in my opinion too many Apple’s…)

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Setting the average video bitrate

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Other Transcoding Options

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Main server and load balancer monitoring

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3rd Load balancer

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Load Balancer Settings

Load balancing Chart? What this feature is doing exactly? As stated before, IPTV Panel Pro has load-balancing mode that will redirect your users automatically to other servers in a case of huge load. The load-balancing chart is being used to control the SOURCE flow or how the stream source will be transferred to your servers.

You can draw any flow you want depending on your needs.

iptv-load-balancerBoth servers will take the stream from the source in the configuration above.

iptv-load-balancer-proxy

In this case, the server “Load balancer 1” will read the stream from the source and at the same time he will transfer the same stream to the second server.

Implementing LEGITIMATE Streams in your Panel and Managing Streams

Attention: Many customers make here a major mistake, with the result of missing audio and other misbehaviors in the stream later. What Video & Audio Codec should I use if I transcode later?

Xtream Codes has added many video & audio codecs but not all of these codecs are supported for IPTV use. To be on the safe side, you should always use the H.264 as video codec and AAC as audio codec for IPTV use.

iptv-panel-live-stream

As we can see, importing a live stream, a movie or a radio broadcast stream was never that easy. We start by adding a live stream.

Two options here: One single stream, or multiple streams! If you import multiple streams, you need the file/stream list containing all of your streams.

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We have several options later, how the streams can act. For better understanding, it’s theoretically possible that you “restream” your legitimate bought streams later. In other words…in some cases, you may want to sell these streams to other resellers.

Through this setting you can block your streams to be “restreamed” later on, if you really try to sell some of your streams in time by choosing a category or bouquet later for your customer. Streams marked here as “yes” will not work for your customer.xtream-codes-restream-block

xtream-codes-stream-control Very useful are the “Quicktools” in the Manage-Streams Section:

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Adding a New Movie

You can also add a movie you uploaded to your server previously, or even from a remote source.

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If you add a movie from your own server, it works over the integrated file browser, while if you want to stream from a remote location, simply type in the location.

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You can set read “Input Source in Native Frames”, and  if you are transcoding, set it to YES.xtream-codes-imdb-database

You like to have a picon for your Movie? Here you can add a IMDB ID.

But here we go…Movies! It is common in this business, that once a while a server is having issues, and most times the load balancer also gives up. If this happens, and no matter the backup of your data bank, you are in troubles. You may have tons of movies in backup, and must re-assign them all again to a server manually.

This feature is definitely missing in the editing movies section. There are only 3 parts: Add New Movie, Import Multiple Movies and Manage Movies.

The scenario: You transfer in an emergency case over ssh protocol sftp-wise all your movies to an other server. You set up a new OS or reinstall one, and you get a new root password. After making a new server with Xtream Codes Panel, so far, so good. But you have to assign them later, all of them! A mass-edit regarding assigning movies to the main server or one of the load balancers would do it! Saving a dramatic amount of time for a customer. I repeat myself here, I mentioned that above already, regarding “add a new stream”. No reason for me to think of right now, that it should not be possible to assign this stream to a bouquet, and not only in to a category.

Adding a New Radio

It’s the same procedure as adding a video stream. You can import a single or multiple Streams from a file.

Creating new Client/Customer Lines xtream-code-user-details-2

Creating a new customer line is a piece of cake; just fill up the necessary fields. Like user, a unique password if you wish so, you even can use the created line in a stalker portal, but watch out then, please read:

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-mag-devices

If a customer has a MagBox for example, the better option is to bind the box over the MAC address. It is even possible to bind a before created simple m3u Playlist to a newly created MAC address. Simply go to “Add New Mag Device” and associate the existing line to it.

xtream-codes-iptv-panel-mag-stbPortals for Mag-Devices are like “http://yoursite.com:port/c/”

Features, Options, Security

xtream-codes-security

Restreamers Finder

Another useful feature is the so-called Restreamers Finder. In these days there are many restream software’s for ordinary users on the market, like Hola addons for Android Systems and many more.

Block User Agent

Not absolutely clear about this feature. What is a “User Agent”? A User Agent is normally a short string that web browsers and other applications send to identify themselves to web servers. Unfortunately, most browsers falsify part of their User-Agent header in an attempt to be compatible with more web servers. Useful, but I find that the manual assigning of each single user agent is a hell of a work. There are preconfigured block lists already in the Internet and it would be from great help, if Xtream Codes would allow loading a whole list.

Block IP/CIDR

IP blocking is clear, but what is a CIDR? Classless inter-domain routing (CIDR) is a set of Internet protocol (IP) standards that is used to create unique identifiers for networks and individual devices.

The IP addresses allow particular information packets to be sent to specific computers. Shortly after the introduction of CIDR, technicians found it difficult to track and label IP addresses, so a notation system was developed to make the process more efficient and standardized. That system is known as CIDR notation.

Resume? Absolutely useful!

There is still some work to do specially in the editing sector, one of the most important parts of streaming software:

  • Searching for Bad Movies (a dog’s work if hundreds/thousands of movies)
  • Adding a new stream and assign it direct into a bouquet, would be more then useful.
  • Mass edit Movies features (ex:Assign Movies to a server in bulk)

Part 2 (…coming soon)

  1. Finishing the part of the most important features
  2. Comparison the “Have’s” and “Have Not’s”
  3. Results after a new installation (Simulated Crash of the Main Server)
  4. The Pro’s
  5. The Contra’s
  6. The Competitors of Xtreme-Codes Panel
  7. Be aware of some kind of hoster (Strange experiences with 2 “Big Ones”! Troubleshootings)
  8. The Conclusion and resume

Ending the first part, I want to say thanks to Xtream-Codes for giving me the tools and the necessary “LB Plugins” (Naaaa, not a plugin, Xtream-Codes! Call it a Addon better!) to start.

[Update: Part 2 is up @ Xtream Codes IPTV Panel Review – Part 2: Movie Data Editing, Security, Resellers, Users and Pricing Management ]

KowanTV Click Linux IPTV Box Review

August 25th, 2016 8 comments

CNXSoft: Ray reviews Amlogic S812 powered Linux based KowanTV Click TV box with allegedly access to over a thousand free IPTV channels. While the hardware is pretty standard, you pay a (hefty) premium to access their IPTV servers, and it reminds me of Jynxbox Live which I reviewed a few years ago.

I received one these rare Linux stream boxes. It’s called TVone Entertainment hub, advertised as: KowanTV Click To Play Entertainment Hub European American TV Channels Live Broadcast Video on demand IPTV BOX 1000+ Free Channels, and provided by GeekBuying for this review.

KowanTVKowanTV Click Specifications

System
Operating System Embedded Media OS( linux )
CPU Amlogic S812( ARM cortex-A9 )
GPU Mali-450 Octo-core
RAM 2GB RAM
ROM 8GB Flash Memory
Communication
Wifi Connectivity IEEE 802.11 b/g/n  2.4GHz/5GHz
Ethernet 10/100M
Bluetooth Yes
Media
Video Supported Video (up to 4K) – MPEG1/2/4,  H.264,  H.265,AVC, VC-1 , RM/RMVB , Xvid , DviX3/4/5/6, RealVideo 8/9/10
Audio Supported MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, OGG, AC3, DDP, TRUEHD, DTS, DTS HD, FLAC, APE
Picture Supported JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PNG
Resolution 4K*2K
Range RF Remote Receiver  15M
Dolby Digital Decoder Up to 7.1
Internet Requirements Supports most standard dsl connections ADSL, ADSL 2 and ADSL 2+ , cable Internet and Wifi (including 3 g and 4 g speeds )
Interfaces
HDMI Port HDMI 1.4
Other Interfaces HDMI, Optical Audio, Ethernet, USB 2.0*2,DC IN
Dimensions & Weight
Dimensions 135*125*27mm/5.31*4.92*1.06in; Product 12.8*10.6*2.2cm/5*4.2*0.9inches
Weight 550g/19.40oz; Product 264g/9.45oz
Package Contents
1 x KowanTV Entertainment Hub
1 x Kowan RF Remote
1 x HDMI cable
1 x Power adapter (A right AC Adapter will be sent as your shipping country)
1 x Micro USB Remote Charger Cable
1 x Set-up Guide

Unboxing and first impressions

After opening the package, we see the top of the box and the fancy looking RF remote, covered in soft foam, a USB 2.0 to Micro USB (1 meter), and a HDMI cable v.1.4 (1.5 meter) together with a quick setup manual and the power supply.

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On first sight, all looks from high quality in a straight forward design. But stay tuned, this box will show some surprises.

One of the big “advertisements” of this box is, that it would come with a preload (or after OTA updates) of over 1000 Channels. The company also provided a comparison table showing differences with “standard Android TV boxes”. Kowan TV1 is the box being reviewed here, as Kowan TV2 also include dual DVB-T2/C & DVB-S2 tuner.

KowanTV_vs_Android_TV_Box

Surprisingly the number of TV stations after my first connection was just 95 channels.

I got suspicious and tried to figure out, what’s really behind the Kowan TV1! The firmware is simply a kind of modified Linux/Kodi Modification, similar to Arnubox Mach 10 Pure Linux! A mixture of renewable OTA TV links and a integrated Kodi styled Addon GUI.

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It reminded me directly of my bad experiences with Arnubox Mach 10, with similar specifications, also using Amlogic e S812 ARM Cortex-A9 processor with an octa-core Mali-450MP GPU.

I tested the quality of the “live links” and it was a new experience. Never ever before I saw streams such bad video streams, almost all in a range between 500 and 800k, meaning they are not watchable on big screens at all. Most streams are delivered by FilmON add-on.

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I connected 3 different brands of Wireless mouses without success, and even Mele F10 Deluxe did not work. Then I tried a standard USB keyboard, no success either. This box only seems to work with the original remote, a handicap what could be fatal one time.

The box is also advertised with Bluetooth capability, but I could not find any such setting in the settings menu or anywhere else, so I guessed it might be some sort of permanent Bluetooth connection, and tried different devices with “searches”…result: none at all. So one way to work around the issue could be to use a USB Bluetooth dongle instead, which I did, but again unsuccessfully…

After connecting my Samsung soundbar HW-K950, Kowan TV1 box showed us its first bright side, as it delivered a real Dolby experience. After a web search, I found out that a box with the same promises and advertisements was advertised in 2011. So it looks like a remake of a hard-to-sell device…

Video Test Results

Resolution Video Format Local Playback Network (Wi-Fi/LAN) Playback
720p (1280*720) AVC ([email protected]) Playing correctly Playing correctly
1080p (1920*1080) AVC ([email protected]) Playing correctly Playing correctly
 2160p (3840*2160) HEVC (H.265) – 10Bit Playing correctly Playing correctly with pre-Buffering
4K (4096*2304) AVC ([email protected]) Playing correctly Playing correctly with pre-Buffering
4K TS HEVC files HEVC (H.265) Does not play / play with artifacts and stutter Does not play / play with artifacts and stutter

Conclusion

KOWAN TV1 Linux seems like a promising system. It shows great performance, but I also experienced issues with connecting built-in Kodi addons to servers (both through Ethernet and WiFi), signing-in into YouTube, some add-ons did not work, and the remote control was useful but quite flawed.

The biggest disappointment was, that this box delivers the advertised “over 1000” channels only by using pirate Kodi addons only. As I mentioned previously, I also manged to get 95 live channels, and half of them would not even open because of endless pre-buffering, so it was more then disappointing.

On the bright side, this “Kodi machine” has good picture quality, and managed to play almost anything thrown at it (within Amlogic S812 chipset limitations – no TS files). Local network performance proved to be quite good, though with long pre-buffering for heavy 4K content. There are also some services reminiscent of the old NMT (network media tanks), which allows things, like torrent download and playback, and other interesting options.

PROS

  • Live Streams with EPG
  • Very nice Remote with keyboard function including backlight and rechargeable battery via a micro USB port. Range tested up to 12/15 meters
  • Relatively easy to handle GUI
  • No Temperature issues

CONS

  • The price… definitely.
  • Works only with original remote control
  • Nothing more than a modified Linux running Kodi in the background.
  • 95 “live Streams” are delivered through Kodi’s IPTV simple client, which once a while needs an update over the so-called update when starting the box! There would be a premium package to book later on, but this is normally free (FilmOn licensed live stream Inc.).
  • If you want to watch movies, you have to launch Kodi add-ons, with long pre-bufferings and all kind of bad effects delivered by these freebies.
  • The whole experience is within the confines of Kodi, there’s no getting out.
  • The Channel update experience was less than encouraging, as the device was unable to connect to the update server quite a few times. Much like most of other “pure Linux” based TV boxes, a manual update through a USB/SD Card is not possible since the  firmware is not public

Entertainment systems running on Linux never really made their way to the end consumers in the past through their handicap to be married to Kodi only somehow. More successful Linux boxes, such as the Mag boxes, use different middleware  offering end users a simple way to connect to a IPTV portal. I wish Kowan TV1 would have gone this way in compiling a real hybrid able to run a nicely done GUI with Kodi together with portal compatibility. This would have made it a real unique box with potential, and not ending up being an overpriced Kodi Entertainment System, although the name Kodi does not appear at all in the the modified GUI.

The specifications are about the same as any of the other Amlogic S812 based boxes out there, and the main difference remains the operating system. The manufacturer markets the box as better than its Android counterparts, but I found it to be a mixed bag.

The default skin that was custom made for the box, requires some getting used to, if you are used to the standard confluence Kodi skin. But it works quite well, If you come from Android, or even Windows boxes, this Linux box will require some adjustments. It might be the right fit for you, but you will need to know that it’s Kodi only, and there is nothing else, no matter the modified GUI, which is on the other hand, an improvement to standard Kodi systems, for an inexperienced or older user.

Did I like it? Not really. I was disappointed with some of the issues I found as my expectations were higher for a dedicated box.

Would I recommend it? I would, but only for people with limited technical understandings and who just need a capable kind of Entertainment/Kodi box, and are willing to live with its limitations, and extremely higher than average price.

GeekBuying kindly provided the sample for review, and if you still want to purchase it, you can do on on their website for $199 (No typo). Free shipping and a free Tenda F3 N300 wireless router somewhat soften the high price tag. It can also be found on Aliexpress and eBay for the same price.

Mini Review of MECOOL BM8 TV Box with Android 6.0 and Kodi 17.0

August 22nd, 2016 49 comments

CNXSoft: An other review by Ray for an Amlogic S905X powered TV box provided by Videostrong.

MECOOL BM8 specifications

The specifications are pretty standard, except for the large flash:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905X quad core Cortex A53 @ 2.0GHz with a penta-core Mali-450MP GPU
  • Memory – 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash + card reader for SD/SDHC/MMC cards
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K*2K “super HD video” with HDR support and AV outputs
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 port
  • Supports HEVC (H.265) decoding

The TV box runs Android 6.0.

Unboxing

The box comes with 3 different Power Adapters, a HDMI cable, power supply and a completely oversized (20cm/5cm) remote control with  “learning modes ability”. No manual was inside the box.

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The Videostrong MECOOL BM8 is a 4-core Android TV box, very small and astonishingly smart. Both its length and width are only 95mm and the height is just at a amazing 19mm. You can hold it in your palm.

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Review / Impressions

Videostrong MECOOL BM8 is one of the new Android 6.0 TV Box models in 2016. Android 6.0 is to improve user experience compared with other versions of TV Boxes. People can install or uninstall software, games and application programs more convenient and easily. Android 6 is supposed to handle the old memory handling of older Android versions better and more effective.

Mecool_BM8_Android_Launcher

Videostrong MECOOL BM8 comes with Android 6.0.1 OS, an impressive 2GB RAM, and a massive 32GB storage. It provides users with a better experience to enjoy 4K Ultra HD video. Crispy Pictures and a fantastic sound quality are delivered by this very well designed box.

The device booted in just 13.8 seconds the first time, and the second time even faster. This box reboots in a shocking 11.4 seconds! Boot times are with a 500GB USB HDD and a MeLe F10 Deluxe remote. Those are the best results I ever saw so far with an Android box!

I tested Bluetooth with my iPhone 5S, and it worked flawlessly. MeLe F10 Deluxe air mouse also just worked with out issues. I could install all apps I wanted with the Google Play store.

Kodi is working in a glance, gone the times, where we have to wait endless time, before Kodi switched off, now in 1 to 2 seconds done. The Box comes with a Krypton 17.0 (compiled 28. July 2016.)

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

By my opinion not a good choice, Krypton Kodi is still in “pre-release” and if you want to install a “build” later on, you may have to uninstall and go for the latest Jarvis Release 16.1. Not many builds made for Krypton right now.

In the apps Section we find a Kodi ADD-ons updater. What this App really does, stays unknown, no update to find, because of the newest version already installed.

Truly one of the better boxes. I never have had any kind of “bad feeling”, by using and testing this box. Big Points collect this box in the field of IPTV and streaming. Glas clear picture, crispy sound. I connected my Samsung Dolby Soundbar, and the result was great. So it should be and has to be!

I am not a big fan of fancy lab testing, these results are often not to read or to handle for the ordinary customers. A TV Box should give no headache, so easy is that, and I must say, this box gives the buyer no headache or trouble at all. I highly recommend this box for the average use.

Benchmarks

Vellamo 3.2:  Browser 2026; Metal 1057; Multicore 1520

Mecool_BM8_Vellamo

Antutu 6.2.1: Overall 34429;  3D 3026; UX 13714; CPU 12396; RAM 5293

Mecool_BM8_Antutu

Conclusion

IPTV Fan? This Box is for you! Kodi Fan? This Box is for you!

  • Pros:
    • Speedy LAN, great Wi-Fi, perfect Bluetooth 4.0
    • Highly stable, smooth and fast firmware
    • Superfast booting
    • Nicely designed, small and compact
    • Very good value for the money
    • No temperature issues
  • Cons
    • Again the Remote, to huge, to unhandy

Wholesalers can purchase MECOOL BM8 from Videostrong on Alibaba. I could not find the device on any Chinese online stores at this time [Update: Geekbuying offers MECOOL BM8 for $68.99], but GearBest sells a similar looking – but with lower specs (1GB/8GB) – MECOOL HM8 TV box for $29.75 including shipping.

ROOFULL MRX 4K Android TV Box Review

June 30th, 2016 3 comments

CNXSoft: I’ve got many requests to review TV boxes, but I don’t always have time for them all, so from time to time I get people who help me do reviews, and this review of Roofull MRX TV box powered by Amlogic S905 processor had been done by Ray, who like me has been playing with many other Android TV boxes.

ROOFULL MRX Specifications

  • Operation System – Android 5.1
  • CPU – Amlogic S905 64-bit Quad core Cortex A53 up to @2GHz
  • GPU – Penta Core Mali-450
  • RAM – 2GB DDRIII
  • ROM – 16GB eMMC flash
  • SD Storage expendable up to 32GB
  • Bluetooth – BT 4.0
  • Antenna – Built-in antenna for WiFi
  • Media
    • UHD 4K x 2K: Support
    • Full HD 1080P: Support
    • HEVC H.265/H.264: Support
    • Video/Picture Decoding Support: *.mkv,*.wmv,*.mpg, *.mpeg, *.dat, *.avi, *.mov, *.iso, *.mp4, *.rm and *.jpg file formats
    • Audio Format Support: MP3,AAC,WMA,RM,FLAC,Ogg
  • Communication
    • WiFi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz)
    • Ethernet: 10/100/1000M LAN
  • Button & Interfaces
    • Power Button
    • 1x  RJ45
    • 1x HDMI A Type, HDMI 2.0 (4K/2K @60fps)
    • 1x AV port
    • 1x S/PDIF
    • 1x Micro SD card slot
    • 1x DC in Jack (5V/2A)
    • 2x Standard USB port

Roofull MRX Unpacking

PackageMRX_PackageAccessories include: IR remote control, power adapter, HDMI cable and Quick Start Guide.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

First impressions, settings, overview of the features

The housing MRX TV Box is made of good quality plastic in black color. The upper part of the housing cover has a power button; the sides of the device are made of shiny plastic. On one side are two USB 2.0 ports, OTG port and micro SD card slot. On the rear panel are: 5V DC jack, AV port, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0 port and an optical S/PDIF port.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The box has to be powered on by pressing the power button upper right side. Nice teddy bear appears, saying hi, booted in exactly 20.71 seconds, I checked again the boot-up time, and surprisingly under 20 seconds, 19.89 seconds. Wow!

Pressing the power button while running offers “suspend/shutdown/reboot choice”. After the box is powered on, and LAN connected, it loaded TeamViewer QuickSupport for further support, great feature.

Teamviewer_TV_Box

For TV and IPTV Fans: Great launcher!

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I upgraded to Kodi 16.1 and it ran flawlessly, superfast and really stable.  The box itself is superfast, no glitches, no nothing, highly stable, highly responsive. Network connectivity is also good both with the LAN connection, faster than I saw till now on other boxes, and WiFi is outstanding. This box beat them all, and it makes absolutely no difference between Wifi and LAN while playing IPTV streams… The box also comes rooted.

ROOFULL_MRX_Apps

By my opinion, well done, Roofull!! A fresh breeze after so many miserable boxes going through my hands!

Tests/Benchmarks

No Antutu results, as they are often not traceable.

The MRX TV Box scored 4427 (MINIX Neo U1 – 4346, Beelink Mini MX – 4272, K1 PLUS – 4199, ZIDOO X6 Pro – 4331) on from me much-liked Ice Storm Extreme.  Ice Storm Unlimited scored 7355 (nice-nice-nice!!!!).

Below you see the results with Vellamo and GPUbench. MRX TV Box internal memory benchmarks: Read 32.49MB/s – Write 12.78MB/s. RAM copy speed was 2307.92MB/s.

GPUBench_MRX_Benchmark

GPUBench Results

MRX TV Box plays video files in 4K (also 60fps) without any major problems (very nice!!). The following table compares Kodi and MX Player (changed to 1.8.4 Pro V.) for some video samples. Also scores well with playing the videos on YouTube.

Typical 1080p KODI MX Player
MPEG2 / MP2 2.0 – 6.7Mbps OK OK
MPEG4 / MP3 2.0 – 7.4Mbps OK OK
H264 / AAC 2.0 – 7.1Mbps OK OK
VC1 / WMA3 2.0 – 24Mbps OK OK
VP8 / VORBIS 2.0 – 7.9Mbs OK OK
4K Video
MyHillside– H264 / AAC 2.0 – 24fps OK OK
GermanCastles -H264 – 60fps OK OK
Wildlife – 96fps OK OK
Skyfall – H264 / AAC 2.0 – 10Mbps OK OK
Beyond-China – h264/AAC 2.0 OK OK
GreatWall H265/HEVC OK OK
ThailandFruits – 60fps OK OK
HD Club Berlin – H264 / AAC 2.0 – 60Mbps OK OK
H.265/VP9 Video
Messenger – H265-HVEC / AAC 2.0 – 15Mbps OK OK
Youtube – VP9 / 1080p OK OK

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Highly stable Android system!
  • No kind of any temperature problems
  • Superfast, System acts fast and snappy!
  • Nice features like teamviewer support
  • Superb Kodi integration
  • Excellent price-performance ratio
  • Good 4K Video Playback
  • Great Launcher
  • Good Value for the money
  • NO compatibility Issues
  • Nice Design

Cons:

  • Definitely the standard remote control, used in almost every box in China! This box deserves better!
  • Internal streaming from USB or SD/HDD without any major issues, IPTV stream in FHD (1920p and up) I would recommend in these cases a LAN connection!

ROOFULL MRX TV box can be purchased for $65.99 on Amazon US, directly on the company’s website for $67.99, or on Aliexpress for $75. Some more information, including contact info, can be found in the product page.