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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.

Linux 4.9 Release – Main Changes, ARM and MIPS Architectures

December 12th, 2016 2 comments

Linus Torvalds released Linux 4.9 on Sunday:

So Linux 4.9 is out, and the merge window for 4.10 is thus open.

With the extra week for 4.9, the timing for the merge window is obviously a bit awkward, and it technically closes in two weeks on Christmas Day. But that is a pure technicality, because I will certainly stop pulling on the 23rd at the latest, and if I get roped into Xmas food prep, even that date might be questionable.

I could extend the merge window rather than cut it short, but I’m not going to. I suspect we all want a nice calm winter break, so if your stuff isn’t ready to be merged early, the solution is to just not merge it yet at all, and wait for 4.11. Just so you all know (I already bcc’d the main merge window suspects in a separate mailing last week, I’m just repeating myself here to avoid anybody being confused about timing).

Anyway, back to 4.9 itself.

I’m pretty sure this is the biggest release we’ve ever had, at least in number of commits. If you look at the number of lines changed, we’ve had bigger releases in the past, but they have tended to be due to specific issues (v4.2 got a lot of lines from the AMD GPU register definition files, for example, and we’ve had big re-organizations that caused a lot of lines in the past: v3.2 was big due to staging, v3.7 had the automated uapi header file disintegration, etc). In contrast, 4.9 is just big.

Admittedly a chunk of that is the new greybus staging support, but that really isn’t the bulk of it – it’s just another small detail in the overall “yes, v4.9 is big” picture.

Other than just the size, 4.9 looks fairly normal. A bit over two thirds drivers (staging, GPU and networking are the bulk of it, but it’s all over), with the rest looking fairly normal too: arch updates, documentation, generic networking, filesystems..

The shortlog (16k+ commits, with another 1100 merge commits to round things out) is obviously much too big to put here, and wouldn’t be legible anyway. So as is my wont, I’m appending just the log of my merges.

Linux 4.8 brought us an HDMI-CEC framework, a new kernel documentation system is now based on Sphinx, a user-space GPIO subsystem and tools, file systems improvements and more.

 

linux-4-9-changelogSome of the notable changes for Linux 4.9 include:

  • Greybus staging support. While Project Ara has been canceled, the code is still used in one Motorola phone, a Toshiba chip requires it, as well as other undisclosed users.
  • File systems improvements for CIFS (bug fixes, idsfromsid mount option, better reconnection handling), BTRFS (bug fixes), NFS (bug fixes and new features such as server-side copy), F2FS (bug fixed and performance improvements), EXT-4 (“Lots of bug fixes and cleanups”) , and XFS (iomap-based DAX infrastructure and XFS delalloc rework + bug fixes)
  • Improved security with virtually mapped kernel stacks, and memory protection keys
  • AMDGPU now supports older Radeon graphics cards, virtual display support, and improved reset.

Some interesting ARM architecture fixes and new features:

  • Allwinner:
    • Allwinner GR8 – Preliminary SoC support
    • Allwinner AXP209 PMIC – GPIO support
    • Allwinner A31 – SPDIF support
    • Allwinner A23/A33 and A31/A31s – sunxi-ng CCU driver
    • Allwinner A33 – Display Driver
    • Allwinner A64 – USB PHY support
    • Allwinner H3 – PWM support, I2C support
    • AXP806 PMIC – regulator support
    • AC100 RTC / codec IC – mfd driver, RTC driver
    • New boards and devices – Orange Pi PC Plus, Olimex A33-OLinuXino, Orange Pi Lite, Inet q972, Empire Electronix M712, Orange Pi Plus 2, Orange Pi Plus 2E, NanoPi NEO.
  • Rockchip:
    • PCI – Update Rockchip rk3399 host bridge driver DTS and resets
    • Rockchip RK808 PMIC driver
    • Rockchip DDR clks and rk3399 driver tweaks
    • phy driver for Rockchip usb2phy, internal PCIe PHY, and USB Type-C PHY on rk3399
    • update compatible strings for Rockchip efuse (RK3399)
    • Support for Tronsmart Orion R86 set-top-box (RK3368), Rockchip RK3288 Fennec reference board, Firefly RK3288 Reload platform
  • Amlogic
    • Network, clocks, and usb driver changes for meson-gxbb (S905)
    • Secure monitor firmware for Amlogic SoCs, and an NVMEM driver for the EFUSE based on that firmware interface
    • Amlogic 64-bit DT changes: added  USB host, I2C, SPI flash controller, PWM, mailbox, MHU, pinctrl: add pins for SPI, I2C, SDIO
    • Updates IR support for newer SoCs
    • net: new stmmac glue driver
  • Samsung
    • Added Samsung Exynos Low Power Audio driver (LPASS = Low Power Audio SubSystem)
    • samsung clk driver update: sound subsystem related clocks, addition of DRAM controller related clocks for exynos5420
    • Device Tree Update:
      • Enable HDMI on Arndale Octa board.
      • Update list of clocks for FIMC-IS block on Exynos4x12.
      • Remove skeleton.dtsi to fix DT compiler warning.
      • Cleanup of DT files
      • Allow compile testing of exynos-mct clocksource driver on ARM64.
      • Document Exynos5433 PMU compatible
      • Set chosen serial bitrate which allows proper serial output when bootloader does pass all the data in command line
  • Qualcomm
    • ASoC bug fix for simultaneous playback and capture
    • Added Qualcomm external bus interface 2 (EBI2), used in some mobile phone chips for connecting flash memory, LCD displays or other peripherals
    • Add a skeletal TSENS drivers for  MSM8916/MSM8996. TSENS is Qualcomms’ thermal temperature sensor device
    • Add MSM8916/APQ8016 display support
    • Updates for MSM8916 including TSCR, SMSM/SMP2P, and MBA reserve
    • Enable defconfig options for QDF2432
    • Added Qualcomm DragonBoard 820c single-board computer in 96boards form factor, LG Nexus 5 Phone
    • Device Tree Changes:
      • Rework dr_mode on APQ8064 and Nexus7
      • Add MSM8974 BLSP1 UART1 port
      • Add AP148 SATA mapping
      • Fixup MSM8660/MSM8064 SPMI/MPP IRQs
      • Add Nexus7 IMEM/reboot reason
      • Add Honami touchscreen support
      • Add TSENS support on MSM8974, APQ8064, and APQ8084
      • Add APQ8060 Dragonboard PM8058 LEDs
      • Rework VPH PWR REG for MSM8974
  • Mediatek
    • Add Mediatek thermal driver for mt2701
    • Driver for mt6577 auxdac found in mt2701, mt6577 and mt8173
    • Some DRM driver fixes
  • Other new ARM hardware or SoCs:
    • Marvell Armada 8040 development board, Netgear WNR854T router, Armada 395 SoC platform, GP board Armada 390 DB development board
    • ZTE ZX296718 STB SoC
    • SocioNext UniPhier LD11 TV SoC
    • Broadcom BCM958525er, BCM958522er, BCM988312hr, BCM958623hr and BCM958622hr reference boards for Northstar platform, Raspberry Pi Zero board
    • NXP i.MX 7 Warp7 reference board, Gateworks Ventana GW553x SBC, Technologic Systems TS-4900, and Engicam IMX6UL GEA M6UL computer-on-module, Inverse Path USB armory board
    • Renesas r8a7792/wheat and r7s72100/rskrza1 development boards
    • ST Microelectronics STi B2260 (96boards) single-board computer
    • TI Davinci OMAP-L138 LCDK Development kit, beagleboard-x15 rev B1 single-board computer

There has been a fair amount of MIPS changes in Linux 4.9 too, some of them are:

  • Various updated to MIPS core arch code –  generic DT-based board & Flattened Image Trees (.itb) support, per-device DMA coherence support, bug fixes for KVM, uprobes, c-r4k, ptrace and more
  • Octeon – Delete dead code and files, change to use all memory into use by default, add DTS for D-Link DSR-500N, etc…
  • Pistachio – Remove ANDROID_TIMED_OUTPUT from defconfig
  • TX39xx & TX49xx – Move GPIO setup from .mem_setup() to .arch_init(), convert to Common Clock Framework
  • txx9wdt – Add missing clock (un)prepare calls for CCF
  • BMIPS – Add PW, GPIO SDHCI and NAND device node names, add DT examples for BCM63268, BCM3368 and BCM6362, add support for BCM3368 and BCM6362, etc…
  • Code changes for PCI, CPC, GIC, SMP, USB host, cpuidle, fbdev, auxdisplay…
  • mt7620 -Delete unnecessary assignment for the field “owner” from PCI
  • BCM63xx -Let clk_disable() return immediately if clk is NULL
  • pm-cps – Change FSB workaround to CPU blacklist, Use MIPS standard lightweight ordering barrier and completion barrier, etc…
  • SEAD3 – Rewrite to use DT and generic kernel feature
  • Malta – Rewrite to use DT
  • Loongson1C – Add CPU support for Loongson1C, add board support, add defconfig, and add RTC support for Loongson1C board

The full list of changes can be found in Linux 4.9 changelog with comments only, generated using git log v4.8..v4.9 --stat. You’ll also find a more readable list of changes for Linux 4.9 once kernelnewbies.org is updated.

V-Bridge Muses DTV Modulator and Video Encoder Review – Part 2: Muses-β Turnkey Solution Demo

November 12th, 2016 No comments

V-Bridge Muses-α and Muses-β boards can be used to respectively broadcast video to DTV standard from your PC, and as a turnkey solution taking any HDMI, CVBS, or USB inputs. The VATek SoC used in those  board support various DTV standards including DVB-T, DVB-C, ATSC/QAM, DTMB, ISDB-T/TB up to full HD resolution. I’ve received an early prototype for each, and I’ve already taken pictures and show how to assemble both Muses-α and Muses-β kits in the first part of the review. Today, I’ll show a demo with Muses-β turnkey solution taking HDMI input from an Android TV box (R-Box Pro), encoding and modulating the video to DVB-T, before broadcast it to an Android STB with a DVB-T/T2 tuner (U4 Quad Hybrid). This tool could be useful to test STB featuring ATSC or ISDB-T too, as those two standards are not supported in my country, and I could instead generate signals within my office.

muses-beta-video-encoder-dtv-demodulator-demo

U4 Quad Hybrid (Left), Muses-Beta Kit (Center) and R-Box Pro TV box (left)

You could also connect it directly to your TV, but for this review it was easier to show with an external device, and my TV is using a coaxial input instead of a female F-connector, so that made it easier. If you connect it to your TV, you could still combine your local TV station signal with Muses-Beta signal by using a 2-way splitter as shown below.

2-way-splitter-antenna

The company provided a cable to connect the RF board to tuner directly, but you could also use the type of antenna shown above instead. The power level is -12dBm, which means it won’t affect others, and should not break any laws in your country. If you need longer range you’d need to use an amplifier, and check with your local authorities if you need any specific licenses.dtv-antenna

Now that the connection is done, let’s have a look at the LCD display, since it;s used to configure the DTV standard, frequency, and many more options. I did not have to change much for this demo. First I select DVB-T and QPSK modulation.

muses-beta-dvb-t
Then set the frequency to 628 MHz as it’s one of the listed frequencies in U4 Quad Hybrid.
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And kept HDMI to 720i-60, as the prototype can only handle HD resolution (720p) smoothly, and while Full HD (1080p) is possible it won’t be that smooth yet, but should be in the final hardware.
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There are many options as shown in the UI chart below.

User Interface State Machine (Click to Enlarge)

LCD User Interface Options (Click to Enlarge)

If HDMI input is detected, the LCD should then soon show three full squares on the top left indicating video is being broadcast with whatever standard you’ve chosen. In order to get the signal I had to configure U4 Quad Hybrid set-top box with the frequency, bandwidth, and delivery system  I selected for the modulator.

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And it worked pretty much out of the box, as you can see from the photo below showing U4 Quad Hybrid menu overlaid over the DVB-T signal showing R-Box Pro user interface. Please ignore the vertical lines, as it’s just a problem with LG 4K TV.

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I’ve also shot a video showing the setup, and how well it works. Sadly, the video I selected does not play optimally in R-Box Pro (the video source), but I found it only after the review, and other videos are being broadcast normally without smoothness issues nor audio cuts. But the important in the video is to show how easy it is to configure the system and that it works reasonably well. Quality will obviously suffer a bit compare to the source since its re-encoded and HDMI output is set to 720p.

Latency & video quality can be adjusted using three profiles: High Quality (500ms), Average (300ms) and Low latency (200ms). You’ll find some more details in the preliminary? Muses Turnkey Product user’s manual.

The kickstarter campaign is still on-going with 21 days to go. Muses-β kit with the LCD control board – as reviewed in this post – requires a $559 pledge, but if you prefer to replace the STM32 Board and LCD display by your own control board (API will be provided), you can get Muses-β board with AV input board and RF board for $399. I’ll test the cheaper $200 Muses-α board connected to a computer in the next few days in part 3 of the review.

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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xtream-codes-iptv-server-success

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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

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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 ]

WeTek Play 2 4K Android Set-top Box with ATSC, DVB-S2 or DVB-T2 Tuners is up for Pre-order for $120

August 19th, 2016 48 comments

With WeTek Play 2, initially unveiled as WeTek Play+, we now have a successor to WeTek Play with the same ATSC, DVB-S2/S, DVB-T2/T/C tuners, but much better specs thanks to Amlogic S905-H processor, 8GB storage, 2GB memory, and support for HDMI 2.0 and 4K60Hz video decoding allowing you to watch 4K UHD channels via your satellite dish for example. The device can be pre-ordered for $119.90 with the tuner of your choice, and shipping is slated to start on September 6th.

WeTek_Play_2

WeTek Play 2 specifications have changed slightly since January:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905-H rev. C quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with  penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8 GB eMMC 5.0 flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz with HDCP 2.2 support
  • Audio – HDMI, optical S/PDIF
  • Video codecs – H.265 (10bit) & H.264 AVC up to 4K60Hz, H.264 MVC, MPEG-4 ASP, VC-1, AVS, MPEG-2, MPEG-1 up to 1080p60
  • Audio codecs – MP3, AAC, WMA, RM, FLAC, Ogg, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS
  • Tuners – Modular (replaceable) tuners for DVB-S2 (Satellite), DVB-C/T/T2(Cable/terrestrial), and ATSC (terrestrial for North America and South Korea)
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 (Ampak AP6335 module)
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports
  • DRM – Playready and Widewine; Netflix HD supported
  • Misc – IR receiver, IR extender port, 3.5mm jack RS-232 port,
  • Power Supply –  DC 12V
  • Dimensions – 180x125x42 mm

The receiver runs Android 5.1.1 with Kodi 16.1, and ships with a remote control, an update nail, an HDMI cable, an RS232 cable, and a power supply.

Amlogic-S905-digital-tv-tunerI’ve been sent a review sample, which has been stuck in customs for about 2 weeks, but I expect it to be “liberated” sometimes next week. You can find more details on WeTek Play 2 product page.

U4 Quad Hybrid Android TV Box Unboxing and Teardown with DVB-T2, DVB-S2 and ATSC Tuners

January 22nd, 2016 24 comments

Yesterday, I wrote about U4 Quad Hybrid Android Digital TV receiver based on HiSilicon Hi3796M processor, and supporting for DVB-T2/T/C, DVB-S2, and ATSC standards. Today, I’ve received the device, taken a few pictures, and torn it down to find out more about the hardware. The full review will come out in a few weeks.

U4 Quad Hybrid Unboxing

DHL did their job quickly as I received the set-top box in about two days in the following package.

U4_Quad_Hybrid_PackageThe box comes with a 12V/1.5Am AV and HDMI cables, a WiFi antenna, an IR remote control requiring two AAA batteries (not included), a user’s manual in Korean language only and… a separate tuner…

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So let’s check that tuner more in details…

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The demodulator chip is LG3390A, so an ATSC tuner is included in the package. Not very useful in Thailand, but it’s good to know it’s included. I also open the cover of the bottom connector.

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And if I’m correct, what we have here is Aihora AV2012 DVB-S2 tuner chip, so that little expansion board should support both ATSC and DVB-S2.

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The box itself look fairly nice. We’ve got a USB 2.0 host port and a a USB 3.0 host port on the side (both limited to 500 mA), as well as a micro SD slot, the AV port, and a mini USB port for an IR/LED extension cable (not included). The rear panel features ANT IN and LNB IN antenna connectors, coaxial S/PDIF, the WiFi connector, HDMI output, 10/100M Ethernet, and a power jack for the 12V input.  If the antenna ports do not mean much to you, a look to the Korean user’s manual may help, as ANT IN is referred to “Ter In” and LNB IN to “Sat In”, which should be the left connector if for DVB-T2/T/C and the right connector for DVB-S2/T2, and if you want ATSC + DVB-S2, you simply need to insert the ATSC tuner. The sad part is that doing so would void your warranty according to the sticker on the rear panel… So I don’t really get it.

You could also watch the unboxing video for something more visual.

U4 Quad Hybrid Teardown

You’ll need to remove three screws to open the device. The one on the rear panel above the HDMI port, and two on the bottom of the case.

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There’s a sticker in Korean on the bottom about Shenzhen Sosci Technology, which specializes in, you guessed it.. LED aquarium lights! I’m not sure if there are other companies with the same name, and I picked the wrong one, or they simply chose to diversify. The MAC address suffix 00:11:AD points to Shanghai Ruijie Digital Technology, an Internet service provider, and the company that actually sent me the product is called Shenzhen Vivant Technology, so lots of parties involved here!

U4 Quad Hybrid Board (Click to Enlarge)

U4 Quad Hybrid Board (Click to Enlarge)

The board called W96M_MAIN VO.4 feature the HiSilicon processor with a heatsink, an 8GB FORESEE NFEFEH68-08G eMMC flash, two SKhynix H5TQ4G63AFR DDR3 chips (2x 512MB), and Realtek RTL8188ETV Wifi module.

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If we zoom in on the tuner area, we can see AVL6762TA DVB-T2/T/C demodulator, and on the main board itself and located on the bottom right of the picture above, Hisilicon Hi3136 is the DVB-S2/S demodulator.

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There’s also two LEDs, an IR receiver, and a 4-digit LED panel on the front of the board.

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There’s basically nothing on the bottom of the board, except S1 switch which should be the firmware recovery button.

I’d like to thanks Shenzhen Vivant Technology for sending a review sample, and you contact them if you wish to purchase in quantities. They also sell U4 Quad Hybrid for $119.99 shipped by DHL on Aliexpress, but a cheaper option is to go with China Post for $106.69 instead.

WeTek Play+ Amlogic S905 Android Set-Top Box Features a Tuner with a SmartCard Reader and an mSATA SSD Bay

January 9th, 2016 33 comments

When WeTek announced the WeTek Core, some people were disappointed that they did not include a tuner like in the original WeTek Play, but the company has been working on a successor called Wetek Play+ that is based on Amlogic S905-H quad core processor and supports DVB-S/S2, DVB-C/T/T2, ISDB-T and ATSC tuners with a smartcard reader, as well as an extra store with an half-size SSD slot.

WeTek Play+ (Click to Enlarge)

WeTek Play+ (Click to Enlarge)

WeTek Play+ specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905-H (Revision C) quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with  penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 2 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC 5.0 flash + micro SD card slot + mSATA SSD socket (implemented via USB to SATA)
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60Hz with HDCP 2.2 support, and AV port
  • Audio – HDMI, AV (stereo), optical S/PDIF
  • Tuners – Support for DVB-S2, DVB-C/T/T2, ISDB-T and ATSC tuners
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports (external), 2x internal USB 2.0 ports
  • DRM / CAS – Playready and Widewine included, Smartcard reader for tuner
  • Misc – 3.5mm jack RS-232 port (TBC)
  • Power Supply –  DC 12V
  • Dimensions – N/A
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The TV box will run Android 5.1, but while I don’t have much more details about the software, I’m pretty sure it will run a recent version of Kodi, WeTek Theater for live video via the tuner, and WeCloud Antenna for IPTV channels, just like on WeTek Play.

Amlogic S905-H means the box with have the DTS and Dolby license to downmix audio on any apps, and not only Kodi, and Revision C is a new revision of the chip that apparently fixes bugs with 4K 10-bit HEVC DVB-S2 streams. I did notice the video freezing for a few seconds before resuming with some 4K DVB-S2 samples on two Amlogic S905 boxes, respectively K1 Plus and MINI MX, but I could not reproduce the issue with MINIX NEO U1 and XBMC for MINIX. I’m sure the MINIX box did not have the revision C of the processor since it’s very new, but it’s quite possible there are several bugs, and there must be a reason for Amlogic to create a new revision, so it will be something to check in the future if you want to make you sure you don’t have this bug, and want to buy a device with the latest revision.

The smartcard reader shown on the left of the first picture will be useful for people needed to have premium channels via the tuner. I’ve not been told which standard it supports yet. Since USB to SATA implementations are not exactly equal, with some Genesys Logic chips providing really poor performance, I’ve been informed that the performance was good enough to record 4K DVB streams, but I don’t have raw numbers.

I often see HDCP 2.2 and DRM mentioned in product specs, even for cheap Amlogic S905 devices, but usually they don’t have the right keys and firmware for this, and again WeTek Play+ will definitely support both.

I don’t have pricing nor availability information, but WeTek Play+ looks like a pretty good device on paper.

Dune HD Solo 4K is a High-End Media Player with a SATA Bay, a DVB-T2 Tuner, and Sigma Designs SMP8758 Processor

December 26th, 2015 10 comments

Dune HD, a company specializing in “high-performance digital media players”, has just unveiled Dune HD Solo 4K media player based on  Sigma Designs SMP8758 dual core Cortex A9 processor, supporting 10-bit HEVC video decoding up to 2160p @ 30 fps, HD audio pass-though, and including a SATA tray.

Dune_HD_Solo_4KDune HD Solo 4K specifications:

  • SoC – Sigma Designs SMP8758 dual core Cortex A9 processor @ 1.2 GHz with an ARM Mali-400 GPU and VXP image processing engine
  • System Memory – 1GB
  • Storage – 4GB flash for firmware, internal HDD rack with hot swap function for a 2.5″ SATA drive, SD card reader (TBC)
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b up to 1080p60 and 4K @ 30 Hz (including 23.976, 25, 29.97, 50, 59.94Hz refresh rates), and composite video
  • Audio Output – HDMI, analog stereo audio, coaxial S/PDIF (shared via AV port). 24-bit /192 KHz audio support
  • Video codecs – MPEG2, MPEG4, XVID, WMV9, VC1, H.264, H.265, H.265 Hi10p; support for very high bitrate video (up to 100 Mbit/s and higher)
  • Video file formats – MKV, MPEG-TS, MPEG-PS, M2TS, VOB, AVI, MOV, MP4, QT, ASF, WMV, BDMV, DVD-ISO, VIDEO_TS
  • 3D video formats – MVC, Side-by-side, Top/Bottom
  • Audio codecs – MPEG-1/2 layer I/II/III, AAC, LPCM, WMA, WMAPro, FLAC, multichannel FLAC, Vorbis, WavPack, APE (Monkey’s Audio), ALAC (Apple lossless), AC3 (Dolby Digital), DTS; support for very high quality audio (up to 192 kHz / 24-bit). Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD MA, and Dolby Atmos pass-through to AV receiver
  • Tuner – DVB-T/T2 RF IN
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi with two external antennas, optional Z-Wave controller for home automation
  • USB –  2x USB 2.0 ports (1x rear, 1x front)
  • Misc – IR extender port, on/off switch
  • Power Supply – 12V DC IN power connector
  • Dimensions – N/ADune_HD_Solo_4K_SATA

The media device support dual boot Linux + Android with the Linux OS featuring Dune HD media player functionality, and the Android OS providing access to Android apps.

Supported file systems include FAT32, EXT-2/3/4, and NTFS, all with read and write support. The player also has some other media features that are often missing or poorly supported in cheaper devices with as Blu-ray playback and menus, true 24p output (23.976Hz), NAS function, MPEG-DASH and HLS streaming support, etc.. . Solo 4K can also be an home automation gateway thanks to Control4 software.

I’ve never used a product with Sigma Designs SMP8758 processor, but I reviewed Popcorn Hour VTEN with SMP8657, that’s basically the single core version of the processor, and video playback and HD audio pass-through all worked very well, yet with some bugs at the time of review.

Dune_HD_Solo_4K_ConnectorsCloud Media also introduced Popcorn Hour A500-Pro media player with Sigma SMP8758 via a crowdfunding campaign where you could get it for $399 instead of $599 (MSRP) retail. Although both players as a different set of features, Dune HD Solo 4K should be a better deal once it becomes available in February of 2016 for 299 Euros (MSRP) [Update: price with VAT is 349 Euros]. You can find more details on the product page.